While nothing can truly match the majestic colors and striking ravines of the West’s canyons, arches, and bends, we’ve got a few grand canyons of our own here in the South. These 10 spectacular destinations attract hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts from all over. On your next road trip, seek out these breathtaking gorges and stone outcroppings by car, foot, and water.
Providence Canyon in Georgia
Poor farming practices in the 19th century led to severe erosion that resulted in gullies and ravines. But it also created Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” near the small town of Lumpkin. Contrasting layers of sediment and clay create a remarkable array of hues and shapes. The Providence Canyon State Park features several hiking trails that wind through the canyons and along the rims, providing ample spots for vibrant colors and unique formations.
Red Bluff in Mississippi
Mississippi’s “Little Grand Canyon” comprises layers of iron-rich sands and clays sculpted by wind and water erosion over millions of years. The resulting landscape features deep gullies, dramatic cliffs, and vibrant hues that change with the seasons. Red Bluff is easily accessible via a short, well-maintained trail leading to a breathtaking overlook.
Tallulah Gorge in Georgia
Northeastern Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge is known as a “Grand Canyon of the South,” and it’s one of the region’s most photographed gorges. The Tallulah River carves the breathtaking natural wonder and spans about two miles. It reaches depths of nearly 1,000 feet, creating sheer cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Access the Tallulah Gorge State Park area for hiking trails, overlooks, and permits to explore the canyon floor seasonally. Thrill seekers can tackle — or watch other paddlers tackle — the popular Tallulah Gorge Whitewater Releases, which can get up to Class IV and V rapids.
White Oak Lake State Park in Arkansas
This off-the-beaten-path destination in a Southwest Arkansas park boasts a striking canyon whose layered ridge lines spill into crystal water below. To find this peculiar formation, find the quick half-mile loop trail near the small town of Bluff City. White Oak Lake State Park visitors can fish and boat on the pristine lake, picnic or camp in the shoreline forest, and watch for wildlife throughout.
Linville Gorge in North Carolina
Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of North Carolina,” Linville Gorge offers fantastic hiking, stunning vistas, and rugged landscapes. The Linville River carved this impressive 12-mile canyon and cuts through the famous Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina. The Linville Falls Trail boasts fabulous views of the gorge and its waterfalls, including the famous Linville Falls.
Caprock Canyons State Park in Texas
We’re moving a little west into the Texas Panhandle, but the Lone Star State has many stunning canyons just a few hours from Dallas and other metro areas. Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway shows off beautiful red rock canyons, grasslands, and unique geological features. This popular spot for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing is also home to a bison herd. While in the area, check out Palo Duro Canyon — another of Texas’s “Grand Canyons.”
Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia/Kentucky
The Breaks Interstate Park is often called a “Grand Canyon of the South” and is among the longest and deepest canyons east of the Mississippi River. The Russell Fork River has carved the solid sandstone, dividing lush mountain forests for millions of years. The park is one of only two interstate parks in the country and got its name by straddling the Kentucky-Virginia state line. The east and west pieces of the park are separated by a 1,600-foot deep, five-mile-long canyon that forms the park’s breathtaking centerpiece and famous horseshoe bend area (aka The Towers).
Red River Gorge in Kentucky
Located in The Kentucky Wildlands, Red River Gorge is dripping in rugged beauty and outdoor opportunities. Of its famous sandstone cliffs, natural arches, and rock formations, the Natural Bridge takes the cake. The massive sandstone arch spans over 65 feet long and rises about 20 stories above the forest floor. To best experience this area, book a cliffside Airbnb and tackle a popular trail like the Auxier Ridge Trail, Sky Bridge Trail, and Indian Staircase Trail.
Cloudland Canyon in Georgia
Another beautiful canyon is tucked into the northwest corner of Georgia, near Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountain. Once hidden on private land, Cloudland Canyon State Park opened to the public in 1939 with FDR’s New Deal. Picturesque waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and wooded trails have drawn visitors ever since. The Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail takes you to two beautiful waterfalls with views of the canyon’s sandstone cliffs.
Little River Canyon in Alabama
This National Preserve in Alabama is known for its scenic beauty and waterfalls, including the popular Little River Falls: one of the South’s most picturesque waterfalls that cascades 45 feet into an expansive oasis. Little River Canyon’s towering sandstone and shale cliffs were carved over millions of years by the Little River flowing through the surrounding Appalachian Plateau.
Happy canyon trails!
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