Fairyland Caverns is located at 1400 Patten Road in Rock City, high atop the east face of Lookout Mountain in Walker County, Georgia. Rock City is open for self-guided tours from 8:30 a.m. to dusk.
Before gaining entrance to Fairyland Caverns, visitors to Rock City explore ancient rock formations as they wander though quiet woodland paths and gardens that wind and snake through the 14-acres of fabulous greenery.
The trail carries you onward, through Goblin’s Underpass, under 1000-Ton Balanced Rock, to a 100-foot waterfall that cascades down the mountain at the world-famous Lover’s Leap, and the famous Swing-A-Long suspension Bridge that spans nearly 200 feet.
And standing at the Seven States Flag Court, legend has it, that on a clear day, one can see Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama in the distance.
Visitors will also see a solitary red-capped gnome who sits on the brink of a mountain boulder (like Rodin’s “Thinker” statue) as he looks down into the valley below.
Finally, you find yourself at the tunnel entrance to Fairyland Caverns.
As you descend through a long series of cave-like galleries, elves and gnomes are perched on trapezes and simulated rock shelves. There is also the Castle of the Gnomes, the Carnival of the Gnomes and gnomes brewing moonshine in a still.
Toward the end of the cavern you come upon The Mother Goose Village where staged-scenes from your favorite fairy tale characters abound, including Humpty Dumpty, Three Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue, Little Miss Muffit and the Cow That Jumped Over The Moon.
In conjunction with its 80th Anniversary, Rock City has several other new additions, including an audio tour and the return of the gnomes in the new Gnome Valley installation.
The mascot for Rock City Gardens is a white-bearded gnome named Rocky. He appears on advertising brochures and in the form of person in a Rocky Costume who welcomes visitors to the park.
NOTE: Rock City is so named because people in the region thought the rocks on top of Lookout Mountain looked like city buildings and the natural pathways within the rocks looked like streets. Rock City is 1,700 feet above sea level.
Rock City began when real estate developer Garnet Carter purchased 700-acres to build a housing development in 1924. He called the neighborhood Fairyland (after his wife’s love of European folklore) and named the streets after fairytale characters, for example, Red Riding Hood Trail, and Peter Pan Road. Garnet, the inventor of miniature golf, owned the Tom Thumb golf franchise.
While Carter was off building houses, his wife, Frieda took it upon herself to plant 400 species of trees, flowers and shrubs amidst the large stone bounders in an area near the Fairyland housing development.
On May 21, 1932, the Carters opened up Frieda’s Rock City Garden as a tourist attraction to showcase the natural wonders of the mountain and the graceful gardens dotted with imported German gnomes.
In 1947, Frieda Carter with the talents of Atlanta sculptor Jessie Sanders, began drilling through the rock to create the cave for Fairyland Caverns as an homage to her favorite childhood fairy tales. The narrow man-cave has blacklight-sensitive 3-D dioramas of gnomes and fairy tale scenes every ten feet or so.
In 1964, Sanders completed Mother Goose Village, based on the characters in various nursery rhymes. It is situated in the center of a dark room the size of a small auditorium toward the end of Fairyland Caverns.
To attract customers to Rock City Gardens, Garnet Carter hired Clark Byers to travel the highways and back roads of the region to paint the message SEE ROCK CITY on barns and birdhouses from Michigan to Texas to Florida. The idea worked and attracted people from all over. Eventually, Byers painted over 800 barns. Today, fewer than 70 remain to lead the way to this magical Georgia roadside attraction.
For the 80th Anniversary of Rock City in 2012, Jim Byers, the son of the original barn painter and Don Parris were commissioned to repaint the surviving signs, many of those are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since the death of Garnet (1954) and Frieda (1964) ownership of the Rock City attraction has remained in the family.
c/o Rock City
1400 Patten Road,
Lookout Mountain, GA 30750