The legacy attractions that decorate Lookout Mountain capture the unique spirit of Chattanooga. Ruby Falls embodies the spirit of the adventurer, inviting visitors to explore its subterranean waterfall. Rock City showcases the whimsical and quirky potential of Chattanooga, with its enchanting rock gardens and fairy tale settings that charm visitors into giggles one moment and awes them with scale and grandeur the next. Point Park touches the historian in all of us, offering a reflective journey into the past while providing panoramic views that bridge into the present. 

Rock City 

Perched facing East on Lookout Mountain, Rock City unfolds like a book. This natural wonderland, with its origins dating back to the 1930s, beckons visitors into a realm of geological marvels and imaginative storytelling. 

Rock City was envisioned by Garnet and Frieda Carter in the 1920s, initially as part of a planned community named Fairyland. Frieda, inspired by European folklore, began terraforming the area's unique rock formations and native plants into a captivating garden, which opened to the public on May 21, 1932.  

The "See Rock City" campaign began in 1935 as an initiative to attract visitors during the Great Depression. These simple yet effective ads were painted on barns across 19 states, becoming an iconic part of the American roadside landscape. The "See Rock City" barn paintings by Clark Byers gradually drew national attention. To this day, almost all travelers that traverse the roads around Chattanooga notice the scores of painted barns in the area directing folks to see rock city. This grassroots marketing effort played a crucial role in Rock City's enduring popularity. 

The development of Rock City was a labor of love and innovation. The Carters faced the daunting task of making the rugged terrain accessible, installing pathways, bridges, and the famous Swing-A-Long Bridge to navigate the dramatic rock formations. They also added attractions like Lover's Leap, Fairyland Caverns, and Mother Goose Village, blending natural beauty with fantastical elements to create an enchanting experience for visitors. 

A particularly intriguing aspect of Rock City's charm is the black light gnome display in Fairyland Caverns. These gnomes are maintained and restored by resident art specialist Matthew Dutton. These whimsical figures, originally created in the 1940s, have been meticulously maintained to preserve their magical glow under UV light, continuing to enchant visitors with their quirky appeal. 

Rock City is also noted for Garnet Carter's miniature golf course. He originally called it “Tom Thumb Golf” after the storybook character. As early as 1916, the Thistle Dhu (This'll Do) miniature golf course had popped up in Pinehurst, N.C., becoming one of the first of its kind in the U.S., however Rock City is often referenced as the “birthplace” of miniature golf because of the Tom Thumb course’s outstanding popularity, adding another layer of whimsy and historical significance to the site. This blend of natural wonders, imaginative artistry, and playful attractions has made Rock City a beloved destination for generations, embodying the Carters' vision of a place where fairy tales come to life amidst the breathtaking scenery of Lookout Mountain. 

Good to Know for visiting Rock City

Entrance Fee: 

Timed-entry reservations are required for your visit. See Rock City’s website for admission prices. 


Parking is free and there are two large lots. 

Accessibility Notes:

Partially handicapped accessible. The entrance at Gardens Gateway leads to an ADA ramp that takes guests to Legacy Lane. This portion of the Enchanted Trail allows guests in wheelchairs or with limited mobility access to enjoy the overlook at Lover’s Leap and the Seven States Flag Court. The round-trip distance is about 1/2 a mile. 


Any leashed pets are welcome to walk the Enchanted Trail or to dine in the pet section at Café 7.  

Additional Notes:

For visitors staying in Chattanooga – because Rock City is on the Georgia side of the mountain, it is very difficult to get an uber/lyft back into the city. 

Point Park 

Point Park stands as a memorial park with a commanding view of the Lookout Mountain Battlefield and the city of Chattanooga. Encircling the park is a paved walking path guiding visitors past various historic tablets, monuments, Confederate artillery positions, and scenic overlooks. Among the prominent monuments is the New York Peace Memorial, a testament to peace and reconciliation between Union and Confederate veterans post-war, courtesy of the state of New York. Positioned at the pinnacle of the mountain within Point Park is the Ochs Memorial Observatory, housing exhibits on Civil War signaling, photography, and Moccasin Bend visible below. 

Adjacent to the park, a visitor center offers exhibits delving into the Civil War campaign for Chattanooga, featuring a sizable painting titled "The Battle Above the Clouds." 

Good to Know for Visiting Point Park

Entrance Fee:

If you have a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, the passholder and three other adults may enter for free. Visit the park’s website to learn more about free entrance days and entrance fees. 


Free parking is available at Point Park in the parking lot behind the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center, there is also metered street parking 

Accessibility Notes:

The walkway through the park is wide and paved but does have some slope to it. We broke a sweat trekking back up to the entrance. Some of the viewpoints are accessible by both ramp and stairs, and some areas can only be accessed via stairway.  Learn more by watching their accessibility video


Dogs allowed on leash 

Ruby Falls 

Leo Lambert, a local cave enthusiast from Chattanooga, TN, played a pivotal role in the discovery and development of Ruby Falls. His journey began with a deep-seated interest in the original Lookout Mountain Cave, a site with a rich history of exploration by Native Americans, cave explorers, notorious outlaws, and Civil War soldiers. Lambert, familiar with the cave's legendary chambers and passages before it was sealed off by a railroad construction in 1905, harbored a longing to reopen it to the public. 

In 1923, Lambert, alongside a group of investors, set his plan into motion to drill an elevator shaft from another point on the mountain to regain access to the cave. The project commenced in the fall of 1928 and led to the accidental discovery of a new cave section, including the magnificent Ruby Falls, on December 28, 1928. Lambert and his team were the first to witness the waterfall's splendor, a moment that deeply moved them and propelled Lambert to share this natural wonder with the world. 

Determined to bring his vision to life, Lambert developed both the Lookout Mountain Cave and the newfound Ruby Falls Cave for public tours. He built the entrance building from limestone excavated during the construction, creating a grand entrance known as the "World's Most Magnificent Cave Entrance," and modeled after a fifteenth-century Irish castle, dubbed "Cavern Castle." 

From 1930 to 1935, Lambert offered tours to both caves, but Ruby Falls, with its unique formations and captivating waterfall, quickly became the more popular attraction. In 1935, the Lookout Mountain Cave was closed to the public, but Ruby Falls Cave has remained open, enchanting millions of visitors with its natural beauty and Lambert's legacy of exploration and discovery. 

During World War II, the cave served as a fallout shelter and a storage facility for various valuables, including art and historical documents.   

As Ruby Falls steps into the current era, it continues to captivate visitors with its blend of natural beauty and modern amenities. The historic site, known for being the site of the tallest underground cave waterfall accessible to the American evolved to include sweeping views of the Cumberland Plateau, thrilling zip lines, and award-winning special events. With sustainability at its core, Ruby Falls has embraced eco-friendly practices, earning recognition for its commitment to preserving the natural wonders of the cave for future generations. This fusion of conservation efforts, adventure, and history ensures that Ruby Falls remains a cherished destination, offering new discoveries and memorable experiences to all who traverse its depths. 

Good to Know for Visiting Ruby Falls

Entrance Fee:

Timed entry tickets are required to visit Ruby Falls and spots fill up fast—so plan ahead.  


Complimentary Parking, including buses and RVs 

Accessibility Notes:  

  • Due to natural formations, narrow passages and small groupings of steps, the cavern is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.  

  • Wheelchair accessible parts of Ruby Falls include Blue Heron Overlook, Village Plaza, Ticket Atrium, Village Gift Shop, Back Porch, restrooms, Castle Cafe, and the Castle front porch.  

  • The Cave Walk to Ruby Falls lasts on average 1 hour - 1 hour 20 minutes, and the path is paved, with a few steps at times. Ruby Falls offers a Gentler Walking Tour, for those who want a slower paced journey through the cavern. 

  • Guests with light sensitivities including photosensitivity and seizure disorder, should check with a physician before visiting. Specialty lighting and other visual effects are used in the cave and during the waterfall light show. 


Pets not permitted in the cave; however Ruby Falls provides four shaded, fenced outdoor kennels at no charge on a first-come, first-serve basis. Special considerations are taken for service animals. 


On Fridays, there is an after-hours specialty tour to experience the cavern like Leo Lambert did in 1928, with the cavern and falls illuminated only by the light of hand-held lanterns. 

Want to learn more about Lookout Mountain?

Check out part 1 of our Lookout Lore blog series, Exploring Lookout Mountain Lore: Unveiling its Rich History.