Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Many people who haven’t spent extensive time in the American South are under the impression that all of the great natural places are out west. However, Georgia is packed with natural beauty that’s just waiting to be uncovered. This state is full of surprises – from mountains to beaches, marshes, canyons, forests, and even islands.
Spring and fall are wonderful times to visit Georgia because the temperatures are pleasant and the humidity isn’t too high. The many colorful wildflowers are in bloom in the spring, and autumn brings fall leaves that are vibrant and beautiful. One interesting way to take a road trip around the state is to check out all of the natural wonders that make these landscapes so unique.
Here are the top natural wonders in Georgia to add to your road trip itinerary!
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
You’ll walk away from Georgia with an entirely new perception about the state once you visit Tallulah Gorge. This natural wonder has been referred to as the “Niagara of the South,” and it is approximately two miles long and 1,000 feet deep. It’s a spectacular canyon with hiking and camping opportunities. You can walk around the rim for excellent views, or stop by the visitor’s center to get a free permit and check out the gorge floor. On this route, you’ll climb 531 stairs down to cross over the river, climb over boulders, or take a dip in the water on a hot day. The five waterfalls that make up this beautiful place are the Ladore, Tempesta, Hurricane, Oceana, and Bridal Veil Falls. Another highlight is the suspension bridge that hangs 80 feet above the gorge.
If you’re planning to visit Atlanta, one of the easiest natural wonders to visit is Stone Mountain. It’s only about 10 miles northeast of the city and has a huge mass of granite among the region’s rolling hills. The hike up Stone Mountain isn’t long, but it is steep, so be prepared for a workout. Stone Mountain Park hosts lots of attractions year-round, as well as seasonal festivals and events.
This is a magnolia–live oak forest canopy on one of Georgia’s barrier islands that has a forest floor mostly of palmetto and scrub oak. A top destination in Georgia, Jekyll Island spans just 5,700 acres, which makes it the state’s smallest barrier island. Parts of the island have been developed, but other parts are still wonderfully wild. On the western side of the island, you’ll find Jekyll Creek and a salt marsh, while the eastern part of the island has a beach that touches the Atlantic Ocean. Jekyll Island is also home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which offers tours for visitors and conducts research about the endangered turtle population.
One of Georgia’s most gorgeous waterfalls, Amicalola Falls in the Dawsonville area is nothing short of impressive. In fact, it’s the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, with water that drops down about 726 feet to the base of the falls. The name “Amicalola” means “tumbling waters” in Cherokee, and that’s exactly what this natural wonder does. There’s a state park here that’s great for hiking and nice accommodations for campers and lodge guests. Take the five-mile scenic trail to the Len Foote Hike Inn, a backcountry lodge. Here you’ll be rewarded with comfortable beds, tasty meals, and a hot shower. You can also access the legendary Appalachian Trail from this state park, and it’s just eight miles from the southernmost point of the trail, Springer Mountain. However, even people with mobility issues can see these beautiful falls. There is a wheelchair-accessible area that leads to a magnificent viewing area.
Providence Canyon is a breathtaking natural area that has been affectionately referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Georgia.” This area offers a diverse landscape with waterfalls, canyons, swamps, springs, and mountains. It’s a fascinating place for anyone interested in geology or that simply enjoys seeing colorful rocks and fascinating formations. The state park that the canyon is located in is just west of the town of Lumpkin. There are a few miles of trails here for hiking, as well as picnic areas and some backcountry campsites if you want to make an adventurous weekend out of your visit. There’s a great seven-mile trail that leads to the primitive sites for backpackers who really want to explore the canyon.
The Albany area is where the largest natural springs in the state of Georgia are located. These springs go their name because trace amounts of radium were found in the waters here, and they also remain a pretty steady 68 degrees. The water comes from an underground cave, and it has a naturally turquoise glow. Back in the 1920s, this area saw its heyday when a casino was built to overlook the springs. People came here from all over the country to take a dip in the mineral waters that were believed to have healing powers. The casino has since been torn down, but this lovely area is still worth a visit. Bring your kayak to paddle the Flint River while you’re in the area.
Brasstown Bald deserves a place on this list of natural wonders because it is the highest mountain in the state of Georgia. It’s so high that you can see four states from the top on a clear day. It stands at about 4,78 feet above sea level in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Take the Brasstown Bald Summit Trail from the visitors’ center parking lot and viewing platform up 0.6 miles. As an alternative to taking this steep route, a shuttle service is provided. You can bring your dog along to this natural area as long as he’s on a leash. The closest towns to the mountain are Blairsville, Hiawassee, and Young Harris. Also in the forest, Rabun Bald is another mountain of high elevation with spectacular views.
If you didn’t think that swamps could be stunningly beautiful, then you clearly haven’t been to the Okefenokee Swamp in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. This is the largest blackwater swamp on the continent, and the reflective waters pair perfectly with the mysterious cypress forests. Spanish moss hangs from the cypress trees and sets the mood for adventure and exploration. Come to this region for an epic paddling adventure with kayaks. You can even set up camp on the islands that have shelters for an unforgettable time in the Okefenokee Swamp.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the town and natural wonder of Warm Springs famous during his presidency. Roosevelt fell in love with this area and bathed in the springs to relieve his polio symptoms. He even built a house here so he could be close to the beloved spring waters. This region is located in Meriweather County near Pine Mountain. Not only is this a natural area to visit, but also a very historic one. You can tour the Little White House, FDR’s residence, and the F.D. Roosevelt State Park to go for a hike or have a picnic. There are over 40 miles of trails that wind through the forests and pass by waterfalls, creeks, and the rolling mountains of Southwest Georgia.
For some of the most scenic views in the American South, don’t miss Cloudland Canyon. This Dade County destination is part of one of Georgia’s state parks and offers rugged and beautiful views of the natural landscape. Popular hikes here are the West Rim Loop Trail, which is moderate in difficulty, and the short Overlook Trail. Or you can go mountain biking at the Five Points Recreation Area and on the Cloudland Connector Trail. An 18-hole disc golf course and wild cave tours are also available. There are 62 campsites, 10 yurts, 16 cottages, and one group lodge here if you want to make a weekend out of exploring the canyon. You’ll also find 28 walk-in campsites and 13 backcountry campsites in Cloudland Canyon State Park.