What is Rock City?
Rock City Gardens is comprised of a 4100-foot walking trail situated at the top of Lookout Mountain near the Georgia and Tennessee border. The Enchanted Trail combines nature with quirky attractions, and as you stroll through this fairytale-like world, you’ll marvel at majestic waterfalls, geological wonders, botanical gardens, art exhibits, caves, crevices, towering boulders, mossy forests, and mythological creatures. It’s one of those places where any type of explanation can never suffice– you simply must see it for yourself.
Is Rock City in Georgia or Tennessee? The Best Attraction in Chattanooga?
Planning a trip to Rock City can be a bit confusing because the park almost straddles two states. While following entrance signs up the mountain, we crossed state lines from Georgia to Tennessee and then back to Georgia again all within the span of about three or four minutes. At the top of the mountain, we were once again in Georgia, and Rock City’s official mailing address and zip code places the attraction within the city limits of Lookout Mountain, Georgia. So technically, the park is indeed in the state of Georgia. However, big city Chattanooga, Tennessee lies just six miles down the road, so Rock City has always been considered one of the top tourist attractions for visitors to Chattanooga. For that reason, more people associate Rock City with Tennessee than with Georgia, and it’s not uncommon for people to assume that Rock City is located in Tennessee.
Rock City is located in Lookout Mountain, GA? – True.
Rock City is one of the best attractions in Chattanooga, TN? – Also True.
Basically, feel free to say whatever you like. Just be sure to visit. Here’s their official address:
1400 Patten Road
Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
And Here’s Why You Should Go.
10 Reasons to Visit Rock City – The Best Things to Do and See
Rock City has so many amazing things to offer, but these ten sights can’t be missed.
One of the first obstacles you’ll encounter on the mountaintop trail is the Needle’s Eye. We imagine it gets its name from its likeness to threading a needle. To continue along the trail, you must squeeze through its narrow crevice and emerge on the other side of the large, twin boulders that obstruct your path.
To reach the waterfall, you’ll have to traverse the Swing-a-Long Bridge. This wibbly, wobbly, suspension bridge spans nearly 200 feet and sways with your steps as you trod across it. If you’re afraid of heights (*cough* me *cough*), then you might want to take it slow, but that’ll just give you more time to admire the stunning views of Chattanooga Valley below.
High Falls Waterfall
This picture-perfect waterfall is 90 feet tall and provides breathtaking views whether you opt for a summer hike, a winter trek, or anything in between. It’s one of my favorite waterfalls in the world. And it’s by far one of the biggest highlights of any trip to Rock City Gardens.
Situated just atop High Falls on the jut of rock protruding out from the side of Lookout Mountain, Lover’s Leap is perhaps the most famous landmark at Rock City Gardens. A Cherokee legend tells the tale of two young lovers from feuding tribes. When a brave named Sautee was captured and thrown off the top of the cliff in this very spot, the beautiful Nacoochee, tormented by the loss, jumped to her own death behind him. You’ll reach Lover’s Leap after leaving High Falls, where the mid-level waterfall-viewing platform ascends to a wider observation deck on the outcrop of rock directly above the gushing waters.
See Seven States
On a clear day, while standing on Lover’s Leap, you can see seven states from the top of Rock City. Of course, that meant that it rained on the day we hiked to the summit, so we mostly just saw a whole-lotta fog and drizzle, but standing there was incredibly exciting nonetheless.
In this delightful little tunnel, colored windows cast a rainbow of colors on the opposite wall, making you wonder if unicorns will soon come galloping down the beaming lights before disappearing into a glittery puff of soft clouds and twinkling stars. It’s that magical.
I never expected to come across an entrance to a cave at the TOP of a mountain, and that’s part of this place’s charm. The other part is owed to the fact that there are fairies inside. Hundreds of fairies and sparkly, shiny things. And it’s oh-so-enchanting. And gloriously weird.
Fat Man Squeeze
What goes up must come back down. Completing the full-circuit trail at Rock City means that, sooner or later, after climbing to the top of Lover’s Leap and High Falls waterfall, you’ll have to begin your descent back to where your hike first began. If you continue following the loop, it will take you down through Fat Man’s Squeeze. And this was probably my favorite part of the entire hike. I don’t know why squeezing my tiny body through tiny spaces is so much fun for me, but I find it absolutely thrilling. Unless you’re a small child, it will be impossible to walk through this obstacle facing forwards. I have a rather small frame and narrow hips, and even I had to turn sideways to shuffle myself sideways through the narrow passageway. Once sideways, I had plenty of space, however. But if you’re a larger person, like my 240 pound boyfriend, you may find the tight fit to be a little less forgiving (but you should still make it through– my boyfriend absolutely loved it just like I did).
Where else are you gonna see a 1000-ton rock carefully balanced across a much smaller rock? A visit to this exhibit isn’t complete until you pretend to hold the entire world upon your shoulders like Atlas. You like mythology, right?
The Elder Flame Art Installation
Artist John McLeod installed this sculpture at Rock City Gardens in 2010. The park actually contains a handful of other artworks spread out along various paths, but this one is my absolute favorite. It looks like something out of a fantasy novel, and I like to think that a wizard placed it there for some greater purpose. Perhaps Mr. McLeod is secretly a sorcerer.
Special Events at Rock City Gardens
- During St. Patrick’s Day, the iconic waterfall at the top of Rock City flows green instead of crystal clear. The festival also includes live Irish music, Irish jig lessons, dance performances, costumed characters, Irish food, and specialty beer.
- Famous storybook characters come out to play during Fairytale Nights at Rock City in March and April. You’ll see fairies frolicking throughout the enchanted trail, and you’ll get the chance to meet Snow White, Prince Charming, Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, Merlin, and more. You can also train at the Knight’s Training Academy and get knighted by Queen Guinevere. Or have tea with Alice from Alice in Wonderland.
- Rock City celebrates Oktoberfest throughout Saturdays and Sundays in October with live German music, polka lessons, costumed characters, German food, and specialty beer. At Prospector’s Point, kids can enjoy storytelling with Ik the Troll King, paint pumpkins, or dig for geodes. The Fall Fairy will also be arriving for Rocktoberfest, bringing the enchantment of autumn with her. You can meet her and have your photo taken together next to the entrance to Fairyland Caverns at the Fall Fairy Haus. You can also meet Rocky the Elf–Rock City’s mascot–who will be looking adorable in his festive German lederhosen. Guided tours will be available to teach you about the history of Rock City Gardens, including the love for German folklore and fairytales that founder Frieda Utermoehlen Carter carefully integrated into all the attractions throughout the park.
Enchanted Garden of Lights
- Christmas lights transform many of the garden paths into a magical winter wonderland during November and December. You can also have a holiday buffet dinner with Santa, decorate Gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, design your own Christmas stocking and ornaments, and drink hot cocoa at the North Pole Lodge.
Rock City Raptors
- This Birds of Prey show is available seasonally (generally on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Bonus – Don’t Miss Ruby Falls
The entirety of Rock City, including its gorgeous High Falls waterfall, sits at the very top of Lookout Mountain, but another stunning waterfall flows hidden underground in a cave located more than 1,120 feet beneath that very same mountain. (article coming soon)