Travel Down to the Tallest Underground Cave Waterfall in a High-Speed Glass Elevator

The tall and cavernous Ruby Falls in Tennessee

Nature can be generous and bless a community with two wonders in the same place. Ruby Falls near Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the U.S. It's located inside the scenic Lookout Mountain, making this one of the top destinations for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike.

Ruby Falls is 1,120 feet below the surface and is surrounded by smaller caves and myriad stalactites and stalagmites. To reach a prime viewing spot, a glass-front elevator was built. It travels down 260 feet, and the large glass interior doors allow guests to see the rockface whether they are coming or going. A one-way trip down this high-speed elevator takes half a minute, traveling at a speed of 600 ft/min.

So, how was Ruby Falls discovered? It was by accident; in the early 20th century, the construction of the neighboring railroad led to the closure of the Lookout Mountain Cave. In 1928, local cave explorer Leo Lambert put together a team of excavators and set to build an elevator from the surface that would lower visitors into the cave. During the process, a team member drilled into an 18-inch opening that led to a previously unknown cave. Marveled by the sight, Lambert named the waterfall and cave after his wife, Ruby.

During construction, the team removed an estimated five million pounds of stone from the shaft, which were later used to build the historic Ruby Falls Castle and Lookout Mountain Tower that greet visitors at the surface level. The original car sling, as Lambert envisioned it, welcomed visitors for over 90 years until it went through its biggest upgrade to date in January 2023.

Ruby Falls offers a series of tours, which range from a slow and gentle walk to an exciting lantern-lit adventure around the falls. Given the intricacies of the location, all tours are guided. As for the mountain that houses Ruby Falls, it rises 2,000 feet above sea level and offers majestic views of the Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River.

Ruby Falls is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the U.S.

Rocky formations at the Ruby Falls

It is housed inside Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Blue and yellow sunrise at the Lookout Mountain Cave

To reach a prime viewing spot, the glass-front elevator was built.

Rocky formations at the Ruby Falls

It goes down 260 feet, and the large glass interior doors allow guests to see the rockface as they travel up or down.

The tall and cavernous Ruby Falls in TennesseeEntrance to Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Ruby Falls

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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