Connecting with friends and family on a road trip can lead you to amazing destinations. Local residents of any given area typically have insight and wisdom that help you avoid high volume traffic, bad eateries, and wasted down time. They are also the best tour guides you could ask for. They know the timing of getting in and out of points of interest, the best things to see based on your availability and, most importantly, the area’s hidden gems. Tallulah Gorge was one such adventure guided by my long lost best friend from elementary school. (Social media can be a good thing!)
Tallulah Gorge is a wonderful canyon at two miles in length and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Trails run along the rim with several overlooks, there’s an awesome suspension bridge, and you can even get a permit to hike the gorge floor (do some investigation, this permit is not easy to obtain due to its popularity).
The suspension bridge hangs 80 feet above the rocky floor and is not for the feint of heart. You can feel its sway as you walk across, especially if there’s an energetic crowd joining you. Once on the bridge, you will witness spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. (“Tightrope walkers have twice crossed the gorge, and visitors can still see towers used by Karl Wallenda.”) Our family of adventurers loves heights, but anyone with a bit of courage will find their way across the bridge.
This state park offers 20 miles of trails rated from easy to very difficult. There are a lot of stairs and changes in elevation so be prepared for a workout. We hiked the main trails down to the gorge and around the rim with all of the stairs in between. The number of stairs we climbed were seemingly equivalent to climbing the Statue of Liberty! We were sweating non stop in the summer heat and would’ve loved to cool off in the appealing water, but that’s off limits without the Gorge Floor Permit. Thankfully, the trails are in the shade almost the entire time and we packed plenty of water.
- The Tallulah Gorge is formed by the Tallulah River cutting through the Tallulah Dome rock formation.
- A series of falls known as Tallulah Falls drop a total of 490 ft in one mile.
- Tallulah Falls is composed of six separate falls: l’Eau d’Or, Tempesta, Hurricane (the tallest at 96 feet), Oceana, Bridal Veil, and Lovers Leap.
- The gorge is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia.
Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center
This center serves as an educational building which includes a visitor center, restrooms, and gift shop. You can explore the rich history of the area and learn about its fragile ecosystem. “The persistent trillium, monkey-face orchid and green salamander are protected species found within the gorge. An award-winning film takes viewers on a dramatic journey through the gorge, including footage of rock climbers and kayakers. A gift shop offers snacks, jewelry, toys, books, walking sticks, clothing and more.” Check out the awesome events calendar they have.
A hydroelectric dam operated by Georgia Power controls the flow of the river. Dam releases are planned to allow for awesome kayaking and whitewater rafting around the first two weeks of April and the first three weeks of November. Additional water releases are planned for weekends in the spring and fall to show visitor’s the natural beauty of the river’s flow.
- Website (https://gastateparks.org/Tallulahgorge)
- Hours: Park 8 a.m.–Dark, Office 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
- Fees & Passes: $5 parking, Annual passes available.
- Phone Numbers
- “For animals’ safety, pets are not allowed on the gorge floor, sliding rock trail, and Hurricane Falls staircase to the suspension bridge. Leashed pets are welcome on rim trails.”
- Gorge Floor Permits- We learned about this from our wonderful “tour guides.” The day we visited the park the permits had run out at the crack of dawn. Many people had been camping out the night before to guarantee their chances. This was definitely defined as a “busy day.” (It was July in Georgia 🍑🔥 so the heat definitely plays a factor.)
- Permits are required to access the gorge floor and can be obtained at the Interpretive Center on the day of your visit. They are free.
- You must wear proper footwear- no flip flops, crocs or the like.
- They only issue 100 per day!
- Call ahead before going if you plan to access the gorge floor. “Weather, rain, water flow conditions and scheduled water releases can restrict gorge floor access.”
Reservations, Accommodations & Facilities (from gastateparks.org)
- 2,739 Acres
- 63 Acre Lake
- 50 Tent, Trailer & RV Campsites
- 1 Pioneer Campground
- 3 Backcountry Adirondack Shelters
- 1 Picnic Shelter
- Visitor Center
- Sand Beach — closed until Memorial Day 2018
- Suspension Bridge
- Gift Shop
- 2 Playgrounds
Things To Do & See (from gastateparks.org)
- Canyon Climbers Club
- Educational Programs
- Flying Cloud Café Food Truck — weekends during the summer
- Hiking — 20 miles of trails
- Interpretive Programs
- Muddy Spokes Club
- Rock Climbing — permit required
- Whitewater & Aesthetic Water Releases
- Alpine Village of Helen (This quaint German village, created in the image of Bavaria, is on our bucket list!)
- Black Rock Mountain State Park
- Blue Ridge Mountains
- Chattahoochee National Forest
- Moccasin Creek State Park
- Southern Highroads Trail (Home to Minnehaha Falls)
- Goats On the Roof!
Family Adventure Rating ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Cost– If you’re in the area this is a super low cost adventure—$5 per car to enter and a little extra for travel expenses and lunch or snacks. The expense of this adventure is in overnight accommodations if you can not make it a day trip. Camping is offered here with reservations to keep costs low and adventure high.
Parking & Transportation– They have their own parking lot and roadside parking is available. You’ll get closer parking if you arrive early in the day and/or stay away from peak times. The lot is small for a state park, but probably suffices most days. They’re located along a highway so they’re easy to find. Coming from New York, this seems like a pretty rural area. I did not find any public transit options here.
Location– This location is either out-of-the-way for you or close-enough-to-check-out depending on what you planned. There are terrific things to see in the area so it’s definitely worth a day to explore. The state park is in the Northeast part of Georgia sitting super close to South Carolina with the Blue Ridge Mountains in sight. The ambience and surrounding attractions make this a great destination location.
Day Trip or Overnight– Unless you enjoy camping or happen to find a bed and breakfast, this will probably be a day trip for the area. (Or maybe you could find a long lost friend from grade school with a guest room! 😉)
Experience– Georgia is a fantastic destination with so much to offer. We were in awe of Mother Nature as we hiked the rim and into the gorge. Mother Nature was in her prime when she created this beautiful wonder. Experiencing Tallulah Gorge on our family road trip brought us closer together, as outdoor experiences tend to do.
Combination– You could easily spend an entire day (or longer) in this area. Check out the nearby attractions listed above.