Let me start off with an apology. This will be a looooooong post. So sorry. Because we did tons of stuff today. Awesome stuff to be exact! Our first stop of the day was the famous Ruby Falls.
Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall, located over 1120 feet beneath the surface, making it the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open to the public. There was no natural entrance for this cave. So back in the day, they drilled down into the limestone to make an entrance. All the limestone that was removed from the cave was re-purposed to build the castle-like entrance and surrounding walls. We took an elevator deep down into the cave to begin our 0.5 mile walk to see the falls.
The caves here have been open to the public since the 1930s. They had some cool formations that were labeled for our convenience, which was good for us since it was a bit hard to hear the tour guide being at the tail end of the group… and with a chatty toddler taking most of our attention.
We love exploring caves. The Sonora Caverns in Texas at the start of our road trip were pretty cool. And the beautifully preserved Kartchner Caverns in Arizona were the best we have seen. But the caves here at Ruby Falls made us sad. Lots of the formations here are broken. I am not talking about a few here or there. Like thousands of little stalactites on the ceiling as you enter the place. There is one large active formation on the path to the waterfall that the tour guide asked us to be especially careful not to touch… and what does the lady in front of us do? Hug it while her friend took a picture. AHHHH. So sad. Millions of years to form and a few handful of years to destroy.
But we are not here to see a cave, we are here to see a waterfall. When you walk into the room that the waterfall is in, the tour guides turn off the lights to give it a grand entrance. We were warned that the pitch dark moment in the cave might be a bit scary for Ava, so Dan picked her up to help avoid any screaming. But the dark wasn’t the thing that bothered her, it was the LOUD waterfall. Oh Ava.
The next stop on our trip were the Rock City Gardens. It might sound strange to go to a rock garden but this place ended up being much more fun for the kids… and Dan and I really loved it too. Originally this area of Lookout Mountain was bought by the Carters so they could build a residential neighborhood atop of a mountain with a golf course. I guess the golf course took a lot longer than expected and to appease the neighborhood, Mr. Carter built them a miniature golf course. The first one in the nation. And his wife fell in love with Rock City and started to create paths and eventually opened it up to the public in the 1930s.
There were a few parts that were not so fun at Rock City for a scaredy cat like me. Like a swing bridge. Ummmm, no thanks. Thankfully they had a nice and sturdy rock bridge for my crossing pleasure just to the right of the swinging one. Who do I look like, Indiana Jones?!?!
Just to the right of Lover’s Leap, they have a lookout that says you can actually see 7 states. Pretty amazing. But then I looked it up on wikipedia and they call it bull crap. Something about the curvature of the earth blah blah blah. Oh well.
We pumped Ava up for something called Fairyland Caverns. I guess the lady who built Rock City loved fairy and gnome statues and all that good stuff. And at some point created a cavern and put all her beloved statues inside.
Mr. Carter had an very original way of advertising his wife’s beloved Rock City Gardens. He painted “See Rock City” on more than 900 barns from Texas to Michigan. On our road trip across the southern part of this country, we haven’t seen one barn like this. But then again, we weren’t driving through too many country roads.
But on our next trip (and yes, there will be another trip… sorry mom), we will try our best to find one of these original barns. SEE ROCK CITY!
Our next stop of the day should have been the Incline Railway but we were so worn out from all of our walking… and we were starving. So we were off to Bea’s. An all you can eat at your seat restaurant with a lazy susan. Perfect for our tried legs. Walking to a buffet would have been the end of us. This place was pretty good and priced very reasonably.