Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Providence Canyon State Park, GA

We made a loooong detour to visit Providence Canyon State Park, which my wife swore was worth the effort.  She was right.  Its down in southwest Georgia.  They call it the Georgia's Little Grand Canyon.  Here's what's "cool."  It's made by nature, but it's caused by man.  Settlers first got here in about 1820, and started clearing the land to plant cotton.  Over time and with poor agricultural practices such as plowing downhill, the vegetation that held the soil together was lost, and soon after that, the sandy soil washed away.  Ditches grew into gullies which grew into canyons.  The sandy soils are deposits from when the land was covered by oceans about 60 million years ago.  (top layer: Clayton formation - red-orange clayey sand, mid layer: Providence formation - color graduated sands with clay lenses, bottom layer: Perote - sand/clay silt).

The displays we saw said that the land erodes outward at a rate of about 5 feet per year, but not downward. In a heavy rainstorm, canyon walls may erode 6-8 feet! The sandy layer that's eroding is about 120-150 feet thick. The canyons are getting wider,but not deeper.However, eroding sand will build up on the canyon floors until flushed out in the next heavy rainstorm.

The canyons were first mentioned in a deed in 1836, so the canyons are not very old, but it didn't take long for them to start.  Enjoy!

The trail down to the bottom is steep (but not as bad as this sign makes it out to be)

The canyon bottom has sandy trails that are in the sandy creek bottoms, with running water.  It was hot and the sun was intense down on the canyon bottom.

In the 1930s and1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps planted kudzu to try to prevent the erosion.  It didn't.  Kudzu is an invasive vine that strangled the pine trees also planted to slow erosion and ended up making the problem worse.

Students in water resources might recognize the debris line from the high water.

I'm sure our soil scientist, Dr. Cole, can tell you all about this.  I can't :-)

Here you can see where the rain dribbled the sand down the sides, like on a sand castle at the beach.

This guy is an idiot.

This was a plastic accordion fabric used to prevent erosion on the heavily used trail

Views from the rim.

And this is how it looks up on top.


  1. That gorgeous blue sky against the red soil makes my heart ache for the sunny South. Great side trip!

  2. It's such a weird place...seems about 2000 miles out of place :-)