February 15, 2021
Spend a day making a lifetime of memories with the ultimate road trip to Lookout Mountain. Located just 10 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, the mountain’s iconic attractions – the Incline Railway, Rock City and Ruby Falls – have been entertaining guests for generations.
The Incline Railway has made the breathtaking journey up the mountainside for 125 years, while visitors to Ruby Falls have been spellbound by geological formations deep underground for more than nine decades. And, “See Rock City” painted on the roof of roadside barns has beckoned travelers as an indelible piece of Americana.
Whether the vacation started out in a Model T when great-grandfather was just a boy or an SUV as today’s travelers hit the open road, Lookout Mountain has been a crowd-pleasing destination across every age and era.
While the excitement of a Lookout Mountain adventure is a constant, the attractions are continuously innovating to provide new and expanded experiences for their guests. Make 2021 the year to discover all the fun of a great Tennessee road trip.
Enjoy the thrill of riding up “America’s Most Amazing Mile” on the Incline Railway. In operation since 1895, it is the world’s steepest passenger railway and a designated National Historic Site and Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
Recent upgrades to the famed trolley-style railcars include more windows to fully appreciate the panoramic views and improved accessibility for ADA guests.
The Lookout Mountain Station at the top bustles with activity reminiscent of a vintage trolley station and features a fudge kitchen. Don’t miss the observation deck with stunning views of the Chattanooga Valley, and be sure to visit the machine room to see the giant gears that power the whole operation. The St. Elmo Station at the foot of the mountain features unique shopping and dining options including the local’s favorite place to get a treat, Clumpies Ice Cream Co.
See Rock City
Explore a world of wonders at Rock City. Perched 1,700 feet above sea level, the park includes scenic views, beautiful botanicals and unique and massive geological formations.
“See Seven States” at Lover’s Leap gives you the sweeping views of the valley below and beyond to seven states. (Hint: You’ll be standing in one of them, use the granite map to help you see which one!)
If you love a thrill, you won’t want to miss the famous Swing-A-Long bridge, spanning 180 feet. But don’t worry if you prefer a steadier path, take the Stone Bridge instead.
Rock City features more than 400 native species of plants and trees with beautiful blooms throughout the year. Artistry abounds from natural rock formations to sculptural installations by local artists found throughout the gardens
Continue the enchantment through Fairyland Caverns, a magical stroll past colorful vignettes depicting beloved storybooks and fairytales, each lit with retro black lights and enlivened with a rainbow of Day-Glo paint.
There are also a number of award-winning events and seasonal offerings that make each visit unique. On the terraces at Lover’s Leap, the delightful, seasonal restaurant Café 7 features outdoor dining, craft beer and Southern fare with a modern twist. Their pet menu ensures your furry friends enjoy their time here as well!
Seasonal birds of prey shows bring you beak-to-beak with Rock City Raptors. And, strolls on the “Enchanted Trail” throughout the year provide a different perspective on natural beauty – from early blooms in the spring to fall treks ablaze with color.
Discover the beauty below the surface. Ruby Falls is the nation’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public.
Accidentally discovered by Leo Lambert in 1928, the falls are named for his wife, Ruby. The following year, the geological sensation opened to the public and, today, welcomes guests from around the world to explore the mystery and magic of the underground cavern. Discover the spectacular waterfall located 1,120 feet below the summit of Lookout Mountain.
You descend 260 feet in a glass-front elevator to begin your guided Cave Walk adventure to view the thundering waterfall and ancient geological formations. Be on the lookout for unique formations like Angel’s Wing, Bacon, and the Mirror Pool in this subterranean wonderland.
For a different twist, try the Lantern Tour, where the trail and waterfall are illuminated only with hand-held lanterns. No need to worry about the weather on either of these tours as it’s always a pleasant 60 degrees with no rain inside the cave.
After exploring the deep, head up high to the historic Lookout Mountain Tower and Blue Heron Overlook for sweeping views of the Tennessee Valley, Cumberland Plateau and Tennessee River. For a unique perspective during select months, see the sights with a bird’s-eye view as you soar through the treetops on 700 feet of zip lines at High Point ZIP Adventure.
Also on-site, the Village Gift Shop features extensive curated collections designed to spark curiosity in geology and provide a lasting keepsake of your time at Ruby Falls. Make sure you snap a selfie in front of the Rock Candy Mountain!
More to See on Lookout Mountain
There’s even more to explore on Lookout Mountain. Hiking trails, Civil War history and the gorgeous view from Sunset Rock offer additional stops on the mountain.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols
COVID-19 safety protocols are in place, including reduced capacities at each attraction, timed-entry tickets, social distancing, hand sanitizer stations and regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
Advance reservations are required for Ruby Falls and recommended for the other attractions to ensure date and time availability.
Masks are federally required on public transportation, including the Incline Railway. There are also mask requirements at Rock City and Ruby Falls.
Learn more about traveling safe in Tennessee.
Lookout Mountain is filled with family-friendly attractions. Plan and reserve your tickets to see these iconic, must-see attractions in Chattanooga