Monday, June 14, 2010

Falls to Fall for

I've fallen in love with Ruby Falls. This super cave opened 80 years ago and doesn't look a day over 30 million years old. There are certainly older caves -- I've seen a number with huge stalactites, stalagmites and columns. These formations are not particularly impressive in Ruby Falls.

There are lots of soda straws and some nice drapery. Flowstone is common in the cave.

On a recent press trip to Chattanooga, we had the opportunity to see two different faces of the cave. One evening we took a lantern tour of the caverns -- seeing them more like discoverer Leo Lambert might have seen them. Our guide, Bill Weichert, loves geology and he told us several times that he prefers the lantern tours to the more conventional lighted tour we took the next day. But he knows the cave like the back of his hand. For me, not so much. I was too concerned about keeping the light on the path so I wouldn't slip or trip and I found later that I'd missed many features of the cave.

The next morning we took the traditional tour. Purists may disdain the colored lights but, frankly, I loved them. Especially when we arrived at the highlight of the tour -- Ruby Falls itself. We could hear the water before we could see it. Then, around a corner, there it was -- 145 feet from top to bottom. Dramatic lighting and majestic music blended, making it an absolutely magnificent experience. We only had seven minutes to admire it -- and I spent my time snapping as many photos as I could -- hoping one would come out. Next time I go, I want to just stand and soak it in.

This is one of the easiest caves to visit. Visitors take an elevator 260 feet down to the beginning of the cave trail. The path is practically level -- less than two dozen steps in the 4/5 mile route -- it's the mountain that gets higher. By the time you reach the falls, you're over 1000 feet below the surface. Ruby Falls is one of Chattanooga's oldest attractions and still one of the best.

1 comment:

Pete Sleeper said...