We finally succumbed. For those of us who travel from the cold northern states along I-75 to Florida, those ubiquitous “See Ruby Falls” billboards along the highway finally won us over.
First, the positive.
The waterfall inside the cave is well worth seeing. It is a geologic wonder and several websites have designated it on of the top ten waterfalls in the United States. It is 145 feet high and was formed by acid groundwater eating away the limestone layers inside the mountain over 100 million years ago.
The trip begins with an elevator descent of 260 feet, then a meandering 700 yard walk, led by a guide, through beautiful cave formations to the waterfall. The history of the cave is fascinating, and the name, Ruby, was given as a tribute to the wife of Leo Lambert, who discovered it. The site almost became part of the national park system, but the day before the gift was to be finalized the owner died, and the family withdrew the offer. Hmm, maybe there is another story there…
The cave became a private, for profit venture, and there’s the rub. The whole enterprise is designed to make money – from the forced photographs, the cheesy guide commentary, the signs requesting tips, the colored lights, to the crowded tour groups.
However, if the label, “Designed by Nature” applies, this spectacular cave and waterfall
will take your breath away. Just make sure you are on the first tour at 9:00, hang at the
back of the group, and simply absorb it all.
Judy Bereza is a retired interior designer/kitchen expert, constant walker and “Nana” to four adorable grand children. She and her friends have hiked in Wales, Cornwall, Switzerland, Smokey Mountain National Park, Ireland and California.