Glory Hole Waterfall

Glory Hole Falls - Glory Hole

Useful Information

Location: Newton County, Big Piney District, Ozark National Forest. 22 km south of Boxley, AR or 9 km east of Fallsville, AR. Park at highway, footwalk of about 1.6 km, signposted. (N 35 49.326, W 93 23.611)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologyerosional cave
Light: n/a
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
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Glory Hole Waterfall, Arkansas. Public Domain.
Glory Hole Waterfall, Arkansas. Public Domain.

The Glory Hole Waterfall is a rare geologic sight. A huge cliff cave or overhang cave, probably 40 m wide and 10 m high, reaching some 15 m into the cliff face, has a hole in the ceiling where a waterfall emerges. Also daylight is shining into the cave down the hole. A really weird and rare sight.

But while this gives a good opportunity for pictures, more interesting is the question how it formed. At first there was obviously a waterfall, where Dismal Creek was flowing over a ledge and falling down some 15 m. The waterfall worked the rocks behind and eroded them, a typical thing which you can see quite often, all over the world. The upper layer is harder and so the lower layer is eroded faster. In this case it was so soft, the resulting overhang cave is pretty deep. Then something happened which is rather rare: the water flowing over the ledge crossed a crack in the cap rock, and when the cave finally reached this crack a small part of the water started to flow down the crack and out of the cave to meet the main stream again. This water also eroded, and the crack widened until it was big enough to swallow the whole river. So the waterfall became dry and all the water went through the hole. Since then little happened, but the waterfall in the cave continued to increase the cave, which caused its current size.

Dismal Creek has rather low water most of the year. At this time the site is rather dull, just a cave with a hole in the ceiling and water trickling down. But when the production increases, after heavy rains or during snow melt, the place has a real waterfall and is definitely impressive. During winter it is also quite a sight when the waterfall becomes frozen.