Established in 1870, Ausable Chasm has undergone many changes on its way to becoming a landmark attraction in the Adirondacks.
Each year, thousands of visitors pass through the gates of the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks” to explore the trails and see the natural rock formations that offer a unique experience. From Elephant’s Head and Column Rock to Jacob’s Ladder and the Grand Flume, Ausable Chasm boasts a rich geologic history.
Visitors have several options when they arrive: the self-guided tour over the trails, the Adventure Course or tubing down the Ausable River through the chasm. The self-guided tour has the option of finishing on a raft ride through the remaining section of the chasm while learning about the geology of the area. The raft ride also showcases the Grand Flume; a section of the river that narrows between the walls of the chasm where an illusion is created by the angle of the sandstone. It looks as if the water itself is angled downward.
The main attraction of the Ausable Chasm is Rainbow Falls. This 70-foot waterfall forms as the Ausable River flows over a sandstone cliff as it enters the chasm. Just beyond the base of Rainbow Falls is Horseshoe Falls, so-named for its “U” shape and proximity to a horseshoe nail factory.
While visiting, guests can enjoy picnic areas, disc golf, a playground, camping opportunities, biking and lantern tours in addition to the packages mentioned above.
Ausable Chasm got its start in the 1800s when the area was industrialized due to the hydro-power generated by the falls. Early settlers to the area originally named the falls Adgate Falls and Birmingham Falls. A number of factories lined the river, and the remains of the horseshoe nail factory can still be seen on the riverside below the visitor center.
Presently, there is a hydro-electric plant on the south side of the river where water is diverted from the river to generate electricity. Guests will see what appears to be a natural waterfall next to Rainbow Falls. However, this is an outlet of water from the plant.