Sometimes adventure takes planning, and in northeast Georgia, thrill seekers will find their paradise if they’re willing to do their homework. 

One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge State Park has been called the “Niagara of the South,” due to its wooden suspension bridge precariously overlooking the cascading waterfall. Anyone can hike the rim for gorgeous vistas, but to reach the gorge floor only 100 lucky guests are given the opportunity to brave the two-mile hike each day. 

The gorge floor and the amount of water flowing through the area essentially determine what’s allowed on any given day and even the preceeding months. Meaning, the whitewater rafting you so desperately crave can only happen on designated water release dates. And that hike to the gorge floor? Only those with a free park permit are allowed and only if the water isn’t too high.

How you can be one of the fortunate few:

Have a game plan
Rain can make for a slick hike and excess water could close the gorge for the day. Be sure to check the weather a few days in advance, monitor the park’s website for any changes to the schedule, and wake up early the day of your hike to beat the crowds. Weekends are usually the busiest for the park so try to plan a weekday excursion if you’re looking to get one on one with nature. 

Practice your footing
Be forewarned, this isn’t an entry level hike. Maneuvering around rocks and boulders while managing 600 downward steps while getting sprayed with water isn’t for the faint of heart. Practice on the stairs at the gym or even on a rainy day outside in your own neighborhood. 

Prepare for a few surprises
Visitors are encouraged to play in the waterfall and can take turns sliding down the natural slide of Bridal Falls after the hike. You’ll want to wear a swimsuit underneath your clothes, pack plenty of water and snacks, and be ready for some serious fun.