See Breathtaking Footage of the Tallest Underground Cave Waterfall in the U.S

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: July 25, 2023
© cendhika/
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Key Points:

  • In 1928 the discovery of Ruby Falls cave happened almost by accident.
  • The majority of Lookout Mountain is made from limestone.
  • This is a sedimentary rock that forms from millions of years of layers of shale, sand, and small rocks.

Ruby Falls is located in Lookout Mountain, just minutes from downtown Chattanooga and accessed easily via Interstate 24. It’s a popular tourist destination and never fails to impress visitors. Scroll down to watch the full video of this incredible natural geological feature.

How Were the Ruby Falls Discovered?

Ruby Falls cave was discovered almost by accident in 1928. A nearby cave, called Lookout Mountain Cave had been blocked off during the construction of a railway tunnel. Leo Lambers, a cave enthusiast, decided that he would like to re-open it as a tourist attraction. So, his company purchased the land and he formed a company. His plan was to drill into the mountain above Lookout Mountain Cave and transport visitors in an elevator. As drilling into the limestone got underway, they discovered a passageway measuring 18 inches by four feet. Inside, Lambert came across what we now know as Ruby Falls Cave with its amazing waterfall. It was named after Lambert’s wife, Ruby.

Rock formation
Ancient tectonic forces pushed up the limestone rock to form mountains with faults and fissures

©Bernard Hardman/

How Ruby Falls Cave Was Formed

The majority of Lookout Mountain is made from limestone. This is a sedimentary rock that forms from millions of years of layers of shale, sand and small pebbles. Over time they compact and eventually form rock. Ancient tectonic forces pushed up the rock to form mountains. They also formed cracks and crevices as layers of rock slid across each other. It was from one of these faults that Ruby Falls cave developed.

The development of caves like this is a slow process. Over many years, the limestone has been broken down by acidic rainwater. When, rain falls through air, it absorbs some of the carbon dioxide and absorbs even more from the soil. The carbon dioxide dissolves in the water and carbonic acid is formed. This is acidic enough to react with the limestone and over time the rock is used up and wears away. It is called chemical weathering.

Because the water table was much higher than it is now, there was water moving through the cave which further enlarged it.

The waterfall itself was formed by a sinkhole from the surface through which a stream fell!   

Watch the Gorgeous Footage Below!

Where is the Ruby Falls Cave Located on a Map?

The main attraction of this guided cave tour is a captivating 145-foot underground waterfall, accompanied by gift shops and cafes for visitors to enjoy. The attraction has a rich history to enjoy while you’re there!

Here is Ruby Falls Cave on a map:

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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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