Tallulah Falls and Tallulah Gorge, with Videos
Tallulah Gorge and Tallulah Gorge State Park are located in northeast Georgia, near the town of Tallulah Falls. The gorge is one of the deepest in the eastern United States, at a depth of 1,200 feet. It’s over two miles long and was carved by the Tallulah River.
Tallulah Gorge was once the most visited vacation spot in the Southeast. Visitors still flock to see the series of waterfalls with names like Bridal Veil, Hurricane, Oceana, Tempesta, and Ladore. It’s not surprising that TallulahFalls is often referred to as “Niagara of the South.”
Native Americans named the gorge and falls Tallulah, which actually has no translation. After the gorge was discovered by pioneers, word quickly spread. Most of the first visitors came from the University of Georgia, which was founded in 1785.
As interest in the gorge and falls increased, a railroad was built in 1882 to bring visitors. TallulahFalls became a boom town, with seventeen hotels, restaurants, and bars lining the dirt streets. In 1886, tightrope walker Professor Leon walked across the gorge on a cable as many tourists looked on.
As Atlanta expanded, the need for electricity for the city grew. Georgia Power focused on the TallulahRiver and planned to build a power dam in the gorge. This would cut off the water from the falls. A huge environmental battle ensued – one of the largest in U.S. history.
Georgia Power won the battle, and the dam was completed in 1912-1913. Power generation began in 1914. The water that once fed the falls had stopped flowing, and along with that, the tourists stopped coming.
In an attempt to draw tourists back to Tallulah Gorge, Karl Wallenda of the famous Flying Wallendas was invited to walk a tightrope across the gorge. He accepted the invitation and in 1970, he successfully accomplished the feat. In 1971, part of the movie Deliverance was filmed here. These two events increased interest for only a short period.
In 1992, Georgia Governor Zell Miller worked with Georgia Power to create a state park at Tallulah Gorge. The company and the state worked together to see the park to fruition, and Georgia Power increased the water flow to the TallulahRiver.
Activities at TallulahGorgeState Park
Visitors to the park can walk the rim trails. These are easy to navigate and are fairly level. The lookout points provide spectacular views! They always make me feel as if I’m being sucked down into the gorge, however – I have a terrible fear of heights. Railings along the rim trails provide safety.
For the more adventurous, permits for hiking to the gorge’s floor are available, via the Hurricane Falls Staircase. This is a strenuous hike, and you need to be in good shape to accomplish this. There are also more than twenty miles of trails for mountain biking, and a paved bicycle trail that’s almost two miles long. Rock climbing and rappelling are also offered, with a permit. Guided hikes take visitors to Inspiration Point, Devils Pulpit, and Needles Eye. Another guided hike takes visitors to the bottom of the dam to view Witch’s Head Rock.
One of the most memorable activities in the park is to slide down Bridal Veil Falls and into the pool below. The rock surface is fairly smooth, but it’s still best to wear an old swimsuit!
The 63-acre lake has a beach and provides swimming opportunities. There are also tennis courts, along with tables in the park for picnicking.
Whitewater rafting is popular on the TallulahRiver, as are kayaking, canoeing, and trout fishing. Deer hunting is also available during the legal season.
For those wishing to camp, there’s a pioneer campground and 50 campsites with hook-ups for RVs and camper trailers.
Tallulah Gorge wildlife and flora
Wildlife in the Tallulah Gorge area include whitetail deer, wild boar, black bear, wild turkey, and numerous small mammals. Puma sightings have also been reported. Birds include vultures, swallows, hawks, phoebes, and the rare Peregrine falcon.
Many species of amphibians and reptiles also call the park home, including the venomous copperhead snake and the rare seepage salamander.
Rare plant species like the persistent trillium and the Carolina hemlock can also be seen in the park.
Tallulah Gorge lodging
Accommodations near Tallulah Gorge include mountain cabins, hotels, and motels. Most are located in Clayton, which is nine miles from Tallulah Gorge. These include Quality Inns and Suites, Days Inn, Dillard House, America’s Best Value Inn, Regal Inn, OldClaytonInn, and Country Hearth Inn.
Several bed and breakfasts are also nearby, located in Clayton, Clarksville, Rabun Gap, Helen, and Toccoa. Bed and breakfast inns in the area include Glen-Ella Springs Inn in Clarkesville, Beechwood Inn in Clayton, York House in Rabun Gap, Simmons-Bond Inn in Toccoa, and Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn in Helen.
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