Tallulah Gorge State Park
Hike into this deep canyon to marvel at rushing waters and breathtaking cliffs.
Since the days of the horse and buggy, people have been drawn to Tallulah Gorge, known as the Niagara of the South and one of Georgia’s seven natural wonders. Carved by the Tallulah River from the Tallulah Dome rock formation, this vast canyon—2 miles long and nearly 1,000-feet deep—has six major waterfalls with dramatic names such as Hurricane and Tempesta.
Now a state park, there are more than 20 miles of hiking trails here, which lead visitors along the rim and down into the canyon.
Keep an eye out for unique flora such as monkeyface orchid and the endangered persistent trillium that are protected here.
Our favorite spot from which to admire the deep gorge is the rim overlook above L’Eau d’Or Falls, not far from the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center for visitors. From this high vantage point, there is an unobstructed view of the forested granite cliffs and the powerful rushing cascades below.
Each day, 100 permits are given out to those who wish to hike in the canyon. Permits are distributed at the visitors center, and they’re generally all spoken for by early morning. On hot summer days, swimming holes tucked in along the canyon trails are ideal for lazing the time away.
Another perk for permit-holders is access to a swinging suspension bridge that hovers 80 feet above the rushing waters of the gorge floor.
The power company dammed the Tallulah River in the early 1900s; most of the water is diverted through a tunnel to a downstream facility that generates electricity.
However, on designated weekends, water is released to restore the river flows to historic levels, allowing the thunder of the falls to roar as it did before the dam was built. Some of the releases are substantial enough for white-water activities, making these peak times for paddlers to visit.
The state park, established in 1993, includes a sand beach at the 63-acre lake upstream, a picnic shelter, fishing, camping, a 10-mile mountain biking trail and a 1.7-mile paved path laid over a section of the Tallulah Falls Railway, which catered to elite Victorian-era visitors. And the towers are still visible from where famed tightrope walker Karl Wallenda crossed over the gorge.
Whenever we visit, we feel grateful for the decades of conservation efforts by Georgians to preserve this landscape for posterity.