Amazing Evenings at Point Park in the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park

Written by
Jason Barnette
Posted on
July 27, 2015
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Written by
Jason Barnette
Posted on
July 27th, 2015
Share story

During a ten-day stay in Chattanooga I visited Point Park three times and each time I was treated to a different spectacle. A hazy day with a canon pointed at downtown. One day an epic summer thunderstorm pummeled the city while I stood watching from the park. The final day the sky was filled with gentle wisps of clouds. If this was a sign of the endless natural entertainment I could expect I would be returning here over and over again.

Point Park is the northern tip of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee about a thousand feet above Chattanooga. It’s a satellite section of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park because of the significance of this site during the Battle Above the Clouds. Today it’s just a really great place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy amazing views.

A Civil War-era canon overlooks the Tennessee River and downtown Chattanooga from Point Park, part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, in Lookout Mountain, TN on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Copyright 2015 Jason Barnette

A Civil War-era canon at Garrity’s Battery in Point Park with a fantastic view of Chattanooga in the distance.

Don’t make the same mistake I made upon entrance to Point Park! There is a $5 per person admission at a kiosk just inside the massive stone arch entrance. But it’s not $5 per person per day. Rather the five dollar admission is good for an entire week. Yes, I paid $15 for my three visits to the park because I’m a good boy who pays admission on the honor system and I don’t always read the signs.

Once inside the park there are a series of concrete paths in all directions. One path cuts through the middle of the park toward a towering monument. Another path, the one I took, on the right hugs the edge of the park and subsequently edge of the mountain. A series of canons on the right face toward Chattanooga at an artillery setup, but the best view is the last artillery setup in a bend in the path called Garrity’s Battery (pictured above).

A summer thunderstorm passes over the Tennessee River toward downtown Chattanooga from a viewpoint at Point Park, part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, in Lookout Mountain, TN on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Copyright 2015 Jason Barnette

I spent thirty minutes watching this thunderstorm move across the Tennessee River, shroud downtown Chattanooga, then move off to the east.

The view at the battery was amazing and I spent an hour sitting there the first day I visited. When I returned the following day I continued along the path, down a series of stairs, and through the woods to Ochs Memorial Observatory. This was literally the tip of the mountain as far as visitors could go before descending a cliff. The exposed rock had been transformed long ago and now provides one of the most stunning scenic overlooks I’ve come across in the Southeastern United States.

On this particular day I had arrived just as an epic summer thunderstorm was sweeping across the landscape to the north. It was the first time I had ever been able to stand at an overlook and watch a thunderstorm move across the land. The sun was still shining on my face where I stood and it never rained so much as a drop. But I watched as downtown Chattanooga suddenly disappeared in the haze of heavy rain and thought to myself, “I bet all those people think the entire world is raining right now.”

Wispy clouds cover the sky in the late evening sun from a viewpoint at Point Park, part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, in Lookout Mountain, TN on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Copyright 2015 Jason Barnette

Moccasin Bend is a popular place along the Tennessee River, and the view from the Ochs Memorial Observatory is amazing!

I would return again the next day for my final visit to Point Park and Ochs Memorial Observatory. The overlook faces north, slightly northeast toward Moccasin Bend, an historically significant bend in the Tennessee River, and downtown Chattanooga. This point on Lookout Mountain is about a thousand feet above the city with a clear, uninterrupted view below. It’s one of the reasons this overlook is so amazing.

I had hoped to capture a photo of sunset colors splashing across the clouds (the sunset would have been almost 40-degrees to my left and out of frame, though). But the ranger at the visitor center dashed my hopes of ever achieving this shot. Point Park closes at sunset. The best sunset photos are usually 10-15 minutes after the sun passes below the horizon, and the overlook was a good ten minutes’ running distance from the gate. The ranger said most likely I would not make it and he would have run me off before capturing the shot.

Still I was satisfied with what I had captured. Clear views of downtown Chattanooga, epic summer thunderstorms, and peaceful evenings were good enough for me. I would capture a few photos then set the camera down and just enjoy the view. It was quiet up there, almost like you were floating in the clouds high above the Earth.

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