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|Tallulah Gorge State Park - Georgia
Tallulah Gorge is a dramatic natural area with grand views. It is the oldest natural gorge in the United States and second in depth only to the Grand Canyon. It is the only quartzite-walled gorge in the southern Appalachian mountains.
The gorge is often called the "Niagara of the South". It's depth ranges from 200 to 1200 feet. It is two miles long and the width varies from 200 feet to a half mile across. The Tallulah River drops 650 feet in a half mile in a series of waterfalls.
At the park you can see 3 of the 4 main waterfalls: L'Eau d'Or, Tempesta and Hurricane.The fourth waterfall, Oceana, is only visible during heavy winter rainy seasons.
The falls were once much stronger until a hydroelectric dam was put in place by Georgia Power. The parks department and Georgia Power periodically open the floodgates to allow kayakers to experience it's full power. The Cherokee Indians told many stories about the gorge when they lived in the area. They believed that a cave on the highest side of the gorge was the door to the Happy Hunting Grounds since those who entered never returned. They thought little people called "Yunwi" lived in the gorge.
Several tightrope walkers have crossed Tallulah Gorge. In 1886, Professor Leon walked across in front of 5,000 spectators. He began from Inspiration Point, the highest point in the gorge. Halfway across one of his guy lines broke and Leon fell but caught himself. He rested and then finished his walk. In 1970, Karl Wallenda made the walk across in less than 40 minutes across a greater distance.
The major trail along the gorge is the Tallulah Gorge
Nature Trail. It has seven major observation points. A brochure is available describing
what can be seen from each point. Across the highway is the Terrora Park. Georgia Power
operates a visitor's center there. An educational video can be seen about the gorge. There
is also a multimedia exhibit on electricity's role in the area's development. Displays of
mountain crafts including quilts, pottery and wood working can also be seen.
Take I-85 north from Atlanta to I-985 at exit 45. I-985 turns into Highway 365 north. Stay on Highway 365 until it turns right toward Toccoa at the Tom Arrendale Interchange. From this interchange continue straight on U.S. 441 north for 11 miles to the park.