“800 ft natural gorge!”
The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart. A trip into the Flume begins and ends at the Flume Visitor's Center. Guests can choose to walk through just the Gorge or do a two mile loop. The walk includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. The boardwalk allows you to look closely at the growth of flowers, ferns and mosses found here.
Nearly 200 million years ago in Jurassic times, the Conway granite that forms the walls of the Flume was deeply buried molten rock. As it cooled, the granite was broken by closely spaced vertical fractures which lay nearly parallel in a northeasterly direction.Sometime after the fractures were formed, small dikes of basalt were forced up along the fractures. The basalt came from deep within the earth as a fluid material, and because of pressure, was able to force the Conway granite aside. The basalt crystallized quickly against the relatively cold granite. Because of this quick cooling, the basalt is a fine- grained rock. Had this material ever reached the surface, it would have become lava flows.
Erosion gradually lowered the earth’s surface and exposed the dikes. As the overlying rock was worn away, pressure was relieved and horizontal cracks developed, allowing water to get into the rock layers. The basalt dikes eroded faster than the surrounding Conway granite, creating a deepening valley where the gorge is now.
The gorge was covered by glaciers during the Ice Age, but the ice sheet did not greatly change the surface. It partially filled the valley with glacial debris and removed soil and weathered rock from the vicinity. After the Ice Age, Flume Brook began to flow through the valley again.
Framed by a spectacular vista of Mount Liberty and Mount Flume, the Visitor Center houses the Flume ticket office, information center, cafeteria, gift shop, and the state park system's historic Concord Coach. A 20-minute movie showcasing beautiful Franconia Notch State Park is available for viewing.
The Flume was discovered in 1808 by 93-year-old “Aunt” Jess Guernsey when she accidently came upon it while fishing. She had trouble convincing her family of the marvelous discovery, but eventually persuaded others to come and see for themselves. At that time, a huge egg-shaped boulder hung suspended between the walls. The rock was 10 feet (3m) high and 12 feet (3.6m) long. A heavy rainstorm in June of 1883 started a landslide that swept the boulder from its place. It has never been found. The same storm deepened the gorge and formed Avalanche Falls.
The Flume Gorge opens for the season on May 3rd, 2013. Operating hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. *Dates and times are weather permitting. For up to date hours, please call the park directly.
Admission is $15 for adults (ages 13+); $12 for children (ages 6-12); children ages 5 and under are admitted free with paid adult. Discovery Pass (Includes Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway & Flume Gorge): Adults: $28.00, children (ages 6-12): $22.00. *All rates and dates are subject to change.
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