|A visitor slides through Fat Man's Squeeze. (Ellen albanese/Globe Staff)|
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. - A serendipitous combination of natural and man-made wonders, Rock City is an otherworldly experience. This garden attraction features massive geological formations, such as the 1,000-ton Balanced Rock; more than 400 varieties of indigenous plant life; a reserve of white fallow deer, an Old World species found in the forests of Western Europe; a cave trail with mesmerizing fairy tale dioramas illuminated by ultraviolet black light; and a mountaintop lookout that takes in seven states.
In the late 1920s Garnet and Frieda Carter began to develop a large walk-through garden on their property. In 1930 Frieda marked the original path by winding a string through the giant rock formations. Rock City Gardens opened on May 21, 1932, at the height of the Depression.
Today visitors follow the "Enchanted Trail" bordered by well-labeled trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, as music plays through speakers mounted in trees. Highlights include the narrow Needle's Eye and Fat Man's Squeeze; a heart-stopping, free-swinging suspension bridge over a deep gorge; Tortoise Shell rock; and Lovers Leap, a gorgeous waterfall with a tragic romantic tale behind it. From the flag court, with its view of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Virginia, the cloud bank hovers below the mountaintop; this weather phenomenon is the reason the Civil War battle on Lookout Mountain was called the battle above the clouds.
Rock City Gardens, 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Ga. 706-820-2531 or 800-854-0675, seerock city.com. Open daily except Christmas at 8:30 a.m.; ticket desk closes between 5 and 8 p.m., depending on season. Adults $15.95, children ages 3-12 $8.95.