Georgia’s Top 5 State Parks 543

Georgia is home to some of the most beautiful areas in the whole country. Many of the state’s best attractions and natural landscapes can be found within the state parks.

The wild, rocky landscape of the Peach State is home to many gorgeous attractions. Some of these attractions are shrouded in mystery, like the ancient rock wall found in Fort Mountain State Park. Some state parks boast incredible canyons with powerful waterfalls, like those of Tallulah Falls or Cloudland Canyon. Another notable state park, Stone Mountain, is a veritable time capsule to the state’s complicated history, while others offer the unique feature of yurt-style glamping, a treat for campers of all ages (and levels of experience).

If you’re looking for fun activities to do while camping in Georgia, look no further. Here’s the information you need to know about these gorgeous state parks. 

1. Stone Mountain State Park

Covered bridge, Stone Mountain Georgia
Image by DavidTLC from Getty

Located just 15 miles from Atlanta, Stone Mountain is the state’s most-visited attraction. The park highlights many unusual and exciting attractions, including The Lasershow Spectacular in MountainVision, an iconic show featuring lasers, choreographed drone flights, flame cannons, fireworks, lights, and music. The Summit Skyride uses a high-speed Swiss cable car to provide fantastic views of the world’s largest relief carving, the Atlanta skyline, the Appalachian Mountains, and up to 60 miles of the surrounding area!

The Stone Mountain Museum at Memorial Hall displays artifacts and stories that span 12,000 years, from ancient civilizations that lived on the mountain, to Civil War history, to present-day events.

Many options for camping are available at this park, including traditional RV, camper, and primitive sites. Stone Mountain is unique in offering furnished yurts, RV/campers, and safari tents for rent. WIFI is available throughout the park, which is great for downtime. Your family is sure to make tons of memories at Stone Mountain State Park.

2. Tallulah Gorge State Park

Photo by Matt Lightfoot

Tallulah Gorge’s key feature is a series of six waterfalls cascading down through the surprisingly-deep and treacherous rocky canyon. This is an excellent park for hiking and other outdoor athletic activities, but as camping is limited to 50 tent, RV, and trailer sites, reservations are recommended

Breathtaking views can be found by simply walking to the edge of the 1000 foot canyon, or to the official Tallulah Point Overlook. For hikers, a reasonably-difficult (and beautiful) trek includes 750 stairs down to the 80-foot suspension bridge that spans the gorge and waterfalls and will take most about 30-45 minutes to complete. Expect to feel the burn and return feeling very-winded! Experienced hikers and athletes can complete the entire trek across the gorge and back to the park in about two hours. Experienced hikers will also enjoy exploring the gorge floor, but only 100 permits are issued each morning at the Interpretive Center, so get there early! 

Children will enjoy the kitschy taxidermy displays in the park’s Interpretive Center, and adults will find plenty of information concerning the park’s history on the Center’s walls. A large, serene lake is located near the park and is great for picnics and swimming. Ten miles of mountain bike trails are available to the public. All in all, this is a fantastic park for families and athletes.

3. Fort Mountain State Park

Photo by Maxim Izbash9

Fort Mountain State Park is a fascinating historical site, deriving its name from an ancient stone rock wall erected between 500-1500 CE. The 855-foot long wall was built near the crest of the mountain, and according to Cherokee lore, was constructed by the “Moon-eyed people,” who saw better during the night than the day. The Fort Mountain website also claims that “The wall’s purpose has also been debated by archaeologists and historians, with theories ranging from a military defense fortification to a spiritual structure. The true purpose of the Fort Mountain rock wall remains an enigma to this day.”

Horseback riders, runners, and bikers will fall in love with the 60 miles of trails offered within the park. Fort Mountain’s Geocaching will engage the tech-savvy with nature. The restored fire tower, erected during the New Deal of the FDR era, is a testament to early conservation efforts (and incredible masonry work), and be accessed on weekends from 1-4 pm. Miniature golf is available at the park, along with great fishing on the 17-acre lake. Boat, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, aqua cycle, and pedal boat rentals are available seasonally. The Funk Heritage Center, located nearby, features art exhibits and Native American history tours.

Fort Mountain State Park offers 70 tent, trailer, and RV campsites. Four walk-in campsites are available year-round, in addition to six platforms, three pioneers, and four backcountry campsites. 15 cottages are available for rentals year-round. Make your reservations early, as sites fill up fast!

4. Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland CanyonA scenic view of a mountain canyon.
Image by John_Brueske from Getty

Cloudland Canyon is a nature lover’s dream. The park’s 3,538 acres offers tons of outdoor activities, including multiple caves to be explored, alongside two gorgeous waterfalls. There are 64 miles of hiking trails, 16 miles of horseback riding trails, and 30 miles of biking trails. An 18-hole disc golf course is one of many other attractions available at this family-friendly park.

The park’s two waterfalls are situated in the canyon and can be accessed by hiking down 600 steps and back: no small feat for little ones, but a worthwhile trek regardless. Caving is offered (with permits and reservations) for experienced spelunkers in the months of April, June-July, and September-October. Geocaching is sure to attract the attention of the tech-addicts in your family, who will enjoy the treasure hunt-style excursions connecting them to nature.

The Canyon Climbers Club membership ($20) offers more access to trails and provides checklists and a t-shirt for its members while fundraising for Georgia’s state parks. 

Many genres of camping and rentals are available at Cloudland! Sixteen cottages, ten yurts, one group lodge (sleeps 40), and one group shelter (sleeps 175) are offered year-round here. 30 walk-in campsites are also available, alongside 72 full-access tent, camper, and RV sites. Thirteen backcountry and four pioneer campsites are available for campers who want to rough it. However you choose to camp here, you’re going to love the sites and attractions of Cloudland. 

5. Fort Yargo State Park

Photo by Brad Huchteman

Fort Yargo is an awesome lake excursion-style site. It’s 260-acre lake hosts boating, fishing, and swimming activities, and it has a nicely-maintained sand beach for picnics, sunning, and more. Adventure cabins, cottages, yurts, and over 50 full-access campsites are available for rental here. Located between Athens and Atlanta, this park could even be a fun stop between adventures or could act as a home-base while you explore the greater area.

Twenty and a half miles of hiking and biking trails wind around Fort Yargo. Private boating is allowed here with permits, making fishing and swimming a little more exciting. If you’re into Glamping, Fort Yargo’s six yurts, thirteen adventure cabins, and three cottages are highly desired! Book in advance to ensure your glamping experience awaits. 

Nearby attractions include the State Botanical Gardens (a must-see), the Watson Mill Bridge, Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, the Fort Yargo Historical Society, and some of the state parks included in this article. Overall, this is an excellent park for a day trip, glamping, and more lengthy explorations of the area.


Which of these parks is your favorite, and why? Add your comments below and fill us in. We’d love to gather more firsthand accounts of your experiences within Georgia’s State Parks.

Georgia's top 5 state parks

 

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