Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2018 - 46

Georgia Marble Quarry
Tours, Jasper
Once a year, at the Georgia
Marble Festival, in October, rock
hounds, architecture buffs, and art
lovers can get up close and personal with whole mountainsides of
marble. Tours of the largest openpit marble quarries in the world are
a point of pride in this specialized
mining community. The marble
from this locale finds its way into
beautiful buildings everywhere.
georgiamarblefestival.com/QuarryTours.315.0.html
706-692-5600
Cloudland Canyon State
Park, Rising Fawn
The name says it all: cloudland.
And yet there's much more than
lovely scenery in this 1,000-foot-deep
gorge. Guided wild cave tours reveal
some of the underground complexities, while hiking trails of various
skill levels let anyone get an intimate
look at this rich canyon ecosystem.
One waterfall trail features 600 steps.
All manner of rock ledges, outcroppings, and water features grace this
quiet corner of the state.
gastateparks.org/CloudlandCanyon
706-657-4050
Howard's Waterfall Cave
Preserve, Rising Fawn, (Office of
Southeastern Cave Conservancy
Inc. in Chattanooga).
Access to Howard's Waterfall
Cave and other preserves gets strict
oversight from the conservancy, but
it's easy to get a free permit; just
go online. The aim is to allow cave
lovers to explore the underground
world without the vandalism and
damage to cave structure that sometimes comes with unlimited access.
Novices are invited.
scci.org/preserves/howards-waterfall
423-771-9671

46 BlueRidgeCountry.com

RobeRt StephenS

tom of the nearly 1,000-foot-deep
gorge (only 100 permits issued per
day).
gastateparks.org/Tallulahgorge
706-754-7981

Breaks Interstate Park, Kentucky.

KENTUCKY
Mammoth Cave National
Park, Mammoth Cave
There's a world to discover inside the Mammoth Cave complex, a
UNESCO World Heritage site in central Kentucky. By far the largest cave
system in the world, Mammoth Cave
occupies more than 50,000 acres and
has over 400 miles of trails. Guided
tours range from an easy quarter mile
introduction to the rigorous 5-mile,
6-hour wild cave tour. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
nps.gov/maca/index.htm
270-758-2180
Red River Gorge Geological
Area, Stanton
Immense gravity-defying sandstone arches, delicate plumes of
water scrolling over the weathered
cliffs like lace: this protected geological area shows off the endless variety
of natural forms from many vantage
points. Since this is a four-season
wilderness park with good highway
access, try a wintertime visit. Snow
and ice can add yet another level of
beauty.
fs.usda.gov/recarea/dbnf/recreation/
recarea/?recid=39458
606-663-8100
Breaks Interstate Park, Elkhorn City (additional facilities at
Breaks, Virginia)
Although much of Breaks Interstate Park lies within Virginia,
there's access from Kentucky too.

This bi-state wilderness preserve,
nicknamed Grand Canyon of the
South for its immense drop to the
waters of Russell Fork, is administered by a bi-state commission. Rich
in game, rich in history (Daniel
Boone saw it in 1767), Breaks today
is for relaxation. The park has a waterslide park and whitewater rafting.
parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/
breaks-interstate/
276-865-4413 (Virginia office)
Portal 31 Exhibition Coal
Mine, Lynch
The centerpiece of Kentucky's
coal industry, Lynch was founded a
century ago as a multi-ethnic company town built and maintained
by U.S. Steel. Called the "Cadillac"
town of its day for its community
institutions, there were once 10,000
residents; today, it has a few hundred. The historic coal mine offers
underground rail tours-resuming
in April 2018 after rehabilitation-
as a way to experience an American
riches to rags story.
portal31.org
606-848-3131

SOUTH CAROLINA
Jocassee Gorges Wilderness
Area & Lake Jocassee, Sunset
The Jocassee gorges and Lake
Jocassee present so many watery
resources for visitors to enjoy. The
mix of hot and cold, mountain and
piedmont climates, ensures a constant pageant of weather events.


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