Chattanooga: Rock City
After our epic rafting adventure, Matt and I were so close to Chattanooga that we decided to go on another long-awaited adventure: Rock City. Technically the postal address for Rock City is in Georgia, but the Tennessee state line is just a couple miles away and it's part of "Lookout Mountain" which spans from Tennessee to Georgia. What you really need to know is that if you're in Chattanooga, you're really close.
All I expected from Rock City was a really good view. But for a view (and the recurring line "Rock City" that played over and over in my head set to the rap song "Rack City" which I'm not linking to because all I know is the rack city part and it's not the most uplifting song), $20 a ticket was kind of high. So luckily for us, there was a whole world of exploration.
Check out the little video, or follow the path through pictures below:
First off, this place is so big they provide you with a handy dandy map which includes a couple of different trails. But really, if it's your first time, there's just one that you should really follow. It takes you through the first of the rocks that reach high with so much greenery around them and a small waterfall here and there.
You'll have to squeeze through some of said rocks. Cleverly named passages like "Needle's Eye" and later one called "Fat Man Squeeze".
Eventually you'll get to Gnome's Land, where I imagine all the forgotten garden gnomes have come to find peace and eternal rest from being knocked over or mistaken for a fire hydrant by dogs.
You'll be led to two paths, one of which is a "Swing-a-Long Bridge" that spans 180 feet and — maybe you've guessed it — swings a little. It also includes incredible views of the Chattanooga Valley.
Then, you'll come to your first main look out point. This is also where you can apparently see seven states at once.
And just after that is relief from the heat with some misters and a shaded area where you can listen to musical acts perform.
Also some photo ops. (Back when Rock City was first founded by Garnet Carter, he had the brilliant idea to paint "See Rock City" on the sides of barns along American highways. Now it serves as an iconic symbol of Rock City and you can get your own bird house version in their gift shop. They also made a map of all the barns still in existence here.)
And then another trail!
To another viewpoint!
Through rainbow windows!
Passed a cool lizard!
To the real finale... Lover's Leap! Which has a sad naming story:
This rock that juts out from the side of Lookout Mountain gets its name from the Cherokee legend of two young lovers, a brave named Sautee and a beautiful maiden named Nacoochee, from two feuding tribes. According to the legend, Sautee was captured and thrown from the top of Lover’s Leap. Nacoochee, distraught from the loss, jumped to her own death. (Source)
To top it all off, there's this unexpected "Fairyland Caverns". At first it's a little dark and creepy, but I was completely impressed by the end. A collection of fairytales made into iconic sculpted scenes and painted with luminescent paint. It's pretty impossible to capture by camera just how cool this was. But I did try.
We really had a great time here. We went through the whole thing in just a couple hours and could have spent a little more time trying to catch one of their special shows but we were pretty drained by the end and ready to go.
I'm glad we did it, but it would have been a lot more worth our money if we had more time and could get the combo ticket to Rock City + Ruby Falls + Incline for $50 versus the $20 each we spent (which, when you're married makes it feel a lot more expensive now that that money is combined).
So if you have the time, go see all of it, and if you don't, I would say it's definitely worth at least one visit in your lifetime.