Ruby Falls

Lookout Mountains Caverns

Useful Information

Ruby Falls. Public Domain.
Location: Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Eastbound on Highway I-24, take Exit 174 and follow signs to Lookout Mountain. Westbound on Highway I-24, take Exit 178 and follow signs to Lookout Mountain. From TN Aquarium, take South Broad Street and follow signs to Lookout Mountain.
Open: All year daily 8-20.
Closed 25-DEC.
Fee: Adults USD 16.95, Children (3-12) USD 8.95.
Adult Pass: Adults USD 30.95, Children (3-12) USD 14.95.
Groups (15+): Adults USD 15, Children (3-12) USD 8.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Jurassic limestones
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=1,280 m, T=14 °C.
Guided tours: D=60 min, V=400,000/a.
Bibliography: Ed Brinkley (1980): The History of Ruby Falls, 80 pp, Service Printing Co, 3d ed edition (1980)
John Wilson (1977): Lookout: The Story of an Amazing Mountain,
Address: Ruby Falls, 1720 S. Scenic Hwy, Lookout Mountain, TN 37409, TN 37409, Tel. +1-423-821-2544, Group Sales: 1-800-755-7105, Fax: +1-423-821-6705. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1905 entrance permanently sealed by a railroad tunnel.
1928 lift shaft excavated to Lookout Mountain Cave 128 m deep.
1929 cave opened to the public, with the original cave tours.
1930 Ruby Falls tour opened to the public.
1935 tour to orignal cave discontinued.
1970s alternate exit from Ruby Falls Cavern constructed which cost USD 100,000.
1985 tour path renovated.
2006 new elevator.

Ruby Falls. Public Domain.


Ruby Falls is a show cave located in Lookout Mountain, which is famous for its huge underground waterfall of the same name. It is very popular and has more then 400,000 visitors per year. Despite the location in Lookout Mountain it is not Lookout Mountain Cave.

The original Lookout Mountain Cave had a natural entrance on the banks of the Tennessee River at the foot of Lookout Mountain. It wass known for centuries, first used as a campsite by American Indians, later a hideout for outlaws and a Civil War Hospital. Many visitors left their traces, and there is a signature of Andrew Jackson who also visited the cave. This natural entrance was permanently sealed by a railroad tunnel built by the Southern Railway in 1905.

Leo Lambert, a local cave enthusiast, tried to open the historic Lookout Mountain Cave to the public again. In 1923 he formed a corporation for this purpose and purchased land above the cave. In 1928 a site for an elevator shaft into the original cave was selected and drilling began. After some time, when the shaft reached a depth of 79 m, a small crevice was opened, 60 cm wide and 1.20 m high. Mr. Lambert immediately decided to explore it and spent 17 hours on his first exploration trip. He came back with a description of a cave with beautiful formations and an amazing 46 m high waterfall, located 335 m inside Lookout Mountain. On his second trip he was accompanied by his wife Ruby Lambert. On this trip he named the waterfall - after his wife - Ruby Falls.

Mr. Lambert decided to develop both caves and to offer two caves tours. After 92 days of work, day and night, the elevator shaft reached the original cave. After installing the elevator and preparing the paths of the original cave it was opened to the public in 1929. Development continued in the new cave and 1930 the second tour to Ruby Falls was also opened to the public. At first the two caverns were shown on separate tours but the popularity of the falls far exceeded that of the lower cave and that trip was discontinued in 1935. For many years the elevator was still going down to the old cave and it was possible for researchers and cavers to visit the cave. In 2006 the old elevator was replaced by a new one, which ends at Ruby Falls cave. As the old elevator was sealed for security reasons, the original Lookout Mountain Cave is not accessible anymore.

The entrance building looks like a 15th century Irish castle and is called Cavern Castle. It was constructed from limestone excavated from the elevator shaft. Today it contains a Visitor Center with a small exhibition on cave formation and speleothems.