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Tallulah Gorge

Georgia
Warning Access Issue: Climbing Permit Needed-Seasonal Raptor Closure DetailsDrop down

Description

When you're ready for superb trad climbing in Georgia, you may be ready for Tallulah Gorge. Don't let the touristy Interpretive Center fool you -- when you leave the parking lot and hit the trail into the gorge, you're in wild country and serious climbing territory. This is not a place for beginners or toproping; apart from a handful of moderate lines, the routes at Tallulah are hard multi-pitch trad or mixed aid/trad. The rock is high-quality quartzite, the scenery is beautiful and the exposure will raise your pulse rate.

Because this is a state park, activities other than climbing sometimes take precedence. There are periodic weekend water releases from the dam to facilitate white-water kayaking competitions, at which time Tallulah Gorge is closed to climbing. Unfortunately, these closures are in late fall and early spring, which is prime time for climbing here (like other south-facing crags, Tallulah is not a great summer destination). So wait until kayaking season is over or take a day off during the week. The park will issue a maximum of 20 climbing permits per day, but it is almost unheard of for this limit to be met; Tallulah Gorge is never crowded.

Camping is available on the grounds of the park.

*In October 2022, two climbers had a mishap and were temporarily stranded on a route until roughly 9:00 P.M.. They were charged with criminal trespassing despite having a permit.*

Getting There

From Atlanta, head north on I-85, then exit to I-985 north. Follow 985 to where it ends, then continue north on US 441 to Tallulah Falls. Cross a bridge that is the dam to the Tallulah River, then watch for the Tallulah Gorge State Park Interpretive Center and turn right into the center. Pay the parking fee, then go to the main building and fill out a climber's permit.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Dinosaurs climbing in Tallulah Gorge
[Hide Photo] Dinosaurs climbing in Tallulah Gorge
Stephen at top of first pitch of Punk wave .10a with me following. Final of 3 shots to show size of Main wall. Photo by Lauren
[Hide Photo] Stephen at top of first pitch of Punk wave .10a with me following. Final of 3 shots to show size of Main wall. Photo by Lauren
Another of the many scenic falls.
[Hide Photo] Another of the many scenic falls.
Tallulah Gorge from the 3rd pitch of Digital Delight.
[Hide Photo] Tallulah Gorge from the 3rd pitch of Digital Delight.
Final steep moves on Butthole Surfers.
[Hide Photo] Final steep moves on Butthole Surfers.
Oceana falls, Tallulah gorge. This is why I don't post about climbing much anymore
[Hide Photo] Oceana falls, Tallulah gorge. This is why I don't post about climbing much anymore
Panoramic from the approach
[Hide Photo] Panoramic from the approach
Oceana Falls, Talluah Gorge.
[Hide Photo] Oceana Falls, Talluah Gorge.
Beautiful falls we passed on climbers trail less than 100 yards left of main wall.
[Hide Photo] Beautiful falls we passed on climbers trail less than 100 yards left of main wall.
Tallulah Gorge from the top of the main wall. Photo by Lauren
[Hide Photo] Tallulah Gorge from the top of the main wall. Photo by Lauren
Suspension Bridge lower down in the gorge.
[Hide Photo] Suspension Bridge lower down in the gorge.
Stephen at top of 1st pitch of Punk wave .10a with me following.2nd of 3 shots to show size of Main wall. Photo by Lauren
[Hide Photo] Stephen at top of 1st pitch of Punk wave .10a with me following.2nd of 3 shots to show size of Main wall. Photo by Lauren

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

BirminghamBen
Birmingham, AL
[Hide Comment] Once down in the gorge, Tallulah offers some of the best scenery in the SE. Just be aware that permits are iffy following weather, you might be under surveillance, and there are commonly many loose rocks on the easier routes. Tallulah is a special place and worth preservation. Bring a double rack of cams and two ropes. Mar 12, 2007
Will S
Joshua Tree
[Hide Comment] Just a comment on the approach. You don't actually need to make a rap, so you can leave your harness and rope buried in the pack until you reach your intended line. The short scramble/downclimb is easy 4th class for about 15'. Dogs and kids will be screwed here, but climbers capable of climbing the routes in the Gorge won't have issues here. Apr 1, 2007
[Hide Comment] "Climbing at Tallulah Gorge began in the 70s," Actually, climbing there began in the '60s with a US Army unit nailing what we called Army Angle [the exact same route Bert Reynolds did "free" in the movie Deliverance] in '67 we removed 10 or more nice Army Angle pitons from that and another line - I still have one of them somewhere.

A group of five Ga Tech students "discovered" the gorge in '67 and made climbing trips there practically every [dry] weekend for the next several years. These included Mike Byorick, Steve Poulsen, Mike Kimball, Alan Vandeford and myself Rob Culbertson. We were not great climbers at the time so nailed/aided many of the lines. Three of the group also made the first ground-up ascent of Stone Mountain [immediately left of the carving] over July 4 weekend '69. I have many great photos from this.

[I also have quite a few slides & b&w pix of the gorge and climbs before it was "destroyed" by the circus.] Dec 1, 2007
saxfiend
Decatur, GA
[Hide Comment] That's fascinating history, Rob. I'll pass it along to Chris for his next revision of the Dixie Cragger. I hope you'll post some of your photos.

Do you happen to know who did the FA of Mescaline Daydream? I've been dying to find out who that was.

JL Dec 2, 2007
yetibreath
Nederland, CO
[Hide Comment] It's been over a year since Rob Culbertson posted comments about the early years of climbing in Tallulah Gorge, so I thought that I would throw in a photo to prove that we actually existed. The photo is by Mike Kimball and it shows us climbing a route near what is now called Punk Wave. Most of our climbs were probably first ascents, but we didn't name or document anything that we did, we just enjoyed climbing. Tallulah Gorge is a special place. I hope that generations of climbers will be able to enjoy it as we did. Have fun, be safe.

Steve Poulsen Jan 16, 2009
Jethro Bodine-Clampett
Bakewell Mountain, Tn
[Hide Comment] I consider myself lucky to have had the priviledge of climbing at the Upper Falls before it was closed. Now whenever I watch Deliverance it brings back fond and long ago memories...the John Voigt climbing scene, of course :) Aug 12, 2009
Tom Caldwell
Clemson, S.C.
[Hide Comment] Make sure you call the office before you drive to see if they are even giving out gorge passes. Jan 7, 2010
[Hide Comment] Where can I find out about bolting regulations in Tallulah?

Thanks,
John Jun 6, 2014
Stephen Felker
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] To my knowledge, no new routes have been put up in decades. Bolting new routes in Tallulah Gorge is complicated by (1) vague regulations, (2) limited access, and (3) high non-climber visibility: Defacing the rock is illegal, but how permanent climbing anchors fit in appears untested by regulators. Climbing at any areas witin the park other than the main wall is officially off limits; this includes previously published areas. Tallulah Gorge's walls are very visible to a large volume of hikers and are watched by park rangers, making it nearly impossible to keep a low profile when down there. The gorge overlooks even have coin operated tower viewers.

One-for-one bolt replacement projects have been undertaken under the radar. Safety/necessity support these actions, and the projects were conducted during low volume times in the park. As to new routes, bolting could endanger already sensitive climbing access and would likely not be received well by locals. The main wall is all but climbed out. On the other hand, there are still dangerous bolts and open, established (but overgrown) routes that need revitalization. Jun 9, 2014
Pax B
Atlanta
[Hide Comment] Be sure to call the Park and ask if they are issuing climbing permits before you head up here: Tallulah Park 706-754-7981

I highly suggest calling the day before and again the morning on your way there. I was recently (April 2015) denied a permit due to rain 36 hours prior. The Park service can deny permits at their discretion, in our case it was general wetness. We were very disappointed at this. I know a lot of climbers spent an incredible amount of time negotiating with the Park service to even allow climbing here, and to them: thank you. However, in my limited experience (2 visits), I've had to wait 1 hour for their determination and provide an extensive verbal climbing resume before I was given a permit 1st visit, and denied 2nd visit. Apr 27, 2015
Danny Birchman
Chattanooga, TN
[Hide Comment] How's the permit situation nowadays? Has it improved or still reminiscent of applying for a personal vehicle in the Soviet Union? Feb 25, 2023
Brian V
Athens, GA
[Hide Comment] Access fund petition to improve climbing access in Tallulah Gorge: accessfund.org/action-alert… Sign it and spread the word! Mar 30, 2023