Inside Ruby Falls, Tennessee’s Underground Waterfall

For more photos and videos from the falls, explore the Ruby Falls location page.

341 meters (1,120 feet) beneath Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee, an underground stream winds its way through the caverns before plummeting to depths below. This site, known as Ruby Falls, has become one of the most famous tourist spots in the southeast United States, drawing visitors to capture the sight of the falls.

The caves of Lookout Mountain have a rich and storied history leading up through the 19th century, but in 1905 railway construction along the mountain shut off all access to the caverns, leaving it inaccessible to visitors. Inspired by the stories of the past, cave enthusiast Leo Lambert garnered resources to reopen the site by constructing an elevator shaft down into the cavern, and in 1928 construction on his project commenced. In excavating the shaft, however, Lambert discovered a new section of the cavern and—at its end—the waterfall.

Lambert named the falls after his wife, Ruby, and went on to develop the site into a destination for visitors with regular tours and Cavern Castle, an elaborate above-ground reception center. In time, Ruby Falls also came to be one of the first caves outfitted with electric lights. Now, colored lights illuminate the falls, making it an even more attractive destination for visiting Instagrammers.