Rated as one of America’s 20 Best State Parks by Adventure Journal and one of Georgia’s seven wonders, Tallulah Gorge draws admirers as one of the most breathtaking sites.
The Niagara Falls of the Southeast is a 1,000-foot gash in Tallulah Dome that drops the Tallulah River over six waterfalls in one mile. Mountain biking and hiking are popular here, as well as some serious multipitch rock climbing. But the real deal here is boating, rafting and kayaking the Tallulah when the upstream Georgia Power Company opens its dam, a few times a year.
Said to be one of the oldest geological features in North America, Tallulah Gorge has been forming for thousands of years. Prehistoric Indians discovered the canyon and hunted both along its rim and in its deep bottom. When the first European settlers arrived in the region during the 1820s, the word of the magnificence of the canyon and falls spread. The Tallulah Hotel opened in 1840 and with the completion of the railroad in 1882, connecting Atlanta to Tallulah Falls, people flooded to see the remarkable natural scenes and it became a major tourist attraction.
At the peak, there were seventeen hotels and boarding houses in and around the town that rented riding horses, offered billiards, tennis, and music for dancing in the major hotels. In 1883, tightrope walker Professor Leon crossed the gorge as part of a publicity stunt for one hotel. Then in July 18, 1970, Karl Wallenda became the second man to walk across the gorge on a tightrope; a feat that may soon be recreated by his great grandson in an upcoming event.
Just as the tourism boom reached its height, however, Georgia Power wanted to dam the Tallulah River to produce electricity and opposition of the natural setting was led by Helen Dortch Longstreet, the widow of Confederate general James Longstreet, in which the park’s trail system is named after. In 1992 Governor Zell Miller joined with officials of Georgia Power Company to announce a remarkable joint partnership to create Tallulah Gorge State Park. Visitors can now enjoy the spectacular 1,739 acres of wilderness with recreational opportunities and guides from Georgia’s State Parks.
Highlights of Tallulah Falls include:
The Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center that highlights the rich history of this Victorian resort town, as well as the rugged terrain and fragile ecosystem of the area. Additionally, an award-winning film takes viewers on a dramatic journey through the gorge.
Tallulah Falls School Founded in 1909 by the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs, providing comprehensive college preparatory education.
Arts & Crafts Galleries which feature local fine Southern art, folk art, original paintings and prints, pottery, photography, woodcraft, jewelry and hand blown glass. Shop for unique Native American Crafts, chainsaw art, gems, and many inspirational scenic paintings from the area.
Stay for the weekend in Cabin Lodging, or one of the many camping sites in the area. Enjoy this peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can hear the crickets chirp at night. Just bring your lawn chair and listen to Music on Bluegrass Square; located at the outdoor Tallulah Falls Opry House on Main Street. Bonfire, marshmallow roasting, and grilled hot dogs provided!
Recreation abounds with picnic areas, campgrounds, overlooks, 6 Hiking trails, stairs leading down into the gorge and even a suspension bridge that crosses the canyon 80 feet above its bottom. There is shore and boat fishing on all 3 lakes: Tallulah, Tugalo, & Yonah. Spend the afternoon picnicking at Terrora Beach, or play on the tennis courts. There is a public beach for swimming on Tallulah Lake & public playground located at the day use area of Tallulah Gorge State Park.
Tallulah Gorge State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. until dark. There is a $5 parking fee. The entrance is on U.S. 441 in Tallulah Falls, GA. Access to the canyon bottom is by permit only. Permits are free and can be obtained at the interpretive center, but note that ONLY 100 permits are issued per day. The park is extremely popular and the quota of permits is often filled first thing in the morning.
For more information call 706-754-7981
or visit gastateparks.org/TallulahGorge