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Georgia may not be home to the big-name national parks of other regions, but there are tons of state parks here that each has their own unique look and personality. Georgia’s state parks have mountains, waterfalls, trails, forests, wildlife, wildflowers, and impressive rock formations. And it typically only costs a $5 parking fee to enter them! Here are our favorite Georgia state parks that everyone should visit.
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There are few places more stunning in the Southeast than Tallulah Gorge. If you arrive to the park’s visitor center early in the morning, try to get one of the gorge floor permits. Although they’re free, only 100 of them are given out per day. Dogs can’t accompany you to the gorge floor, but you can take pets on the rim trails to see the scenery. The gorge is two miles long and about 1,000 feet deep, with lots of overlooks to snap pictures. In the park, you’ll also find tent and RV sites, three backcountry Adirondack shelters, and an impressive suspension bridge to cross.
Fort Yargo State Park is a wonderful place to visit if you spending your time on the water. It’s located about halfway between Atlanta and Athens, and there’s a 260-acre lake with two boat ramps. The lake also has a large swimming beach to cool off on a hot day. In the park, you’ll find about 38 tent, trailer, and RV sties, as well as 13 cabins and three cottages. For the best glamping experience, make a reservation well in advance for one of the six lakeside yurts. Each of the yurts comes equipped with electricity, furniture, a picnic table, outside grill, and fire ring. To get some exercise on land here, there are over 20 miles of trails for hiking and a challenging disc golf course in the woods.
A wonderful side trip from Savannah is Skidaway Island State Park, which is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. This park looks and feels much differently than the others on this list because it is in a salt marsh and maritime forest. This is a favorite spot among birdwatchers, so bring your binoculars to get views of some native and thriving wildlife. You can camp at a very scenic campground here that’s nestled within the live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. It’s RV-friendly, and some sites have full hookups for sewer. You can bring your dog along to explore the trails, walk over the boardwalks to see the marshes, and camp in the campsite. Cabins are also available here if you want to beat the Georgia heat and enjoy some air conditioning and a screened-in porch during your stay.
One thing that makes Panola Mountain such a great state park is its close proximity to Atlanta. It’s easy to take a day trip here, even if you’re only visiting the city for a short amount of time. In about 15 minutes from the city, you can access all the park has to offer, including boat rentals, tree climbing programs, geocaching, and archery. There’s a really nice paved trail here that’s perfect for road biking and rollerblading. Dogs are allowed here too, and the forested trails are perfect for hiking and trail running. But what sets this park apart geologically-speaking is its 100-acre granite outcropping. The mountain is in pristine condition, and you can take a ranger-led hike to learn about the history and habitat of the area. It has been designated a National Natural Landmark and been home to Native Americans, early European settlers, immigrant rock cutter, freed slaves, and Trappist monks. This isn’t a big camping area, but there are five primitive sites to set up a tent.
Another incredibly scenic state park in Georgia is Cloudland Canyon State Park, which is on the edge of Lookout Mountain. This is a place to see deep canyons, caves, waterfalls, and sandstone cliffs. A favorite among hikers and mountain bikers the popular trails here are the Waterfalls Trail, Overlook Trail, and the Five Points Recreation Area. You can also play a game of disc golf, go on a wild cave tour, ride the trails on horseback, and join a ranger-led interpretative program when you visit. Camping is available at Cloudland Canyon, as well as cottages and yurts for a glamping experience. Stop by the camper store and gift shop on your way in to pick up any necessary supplies.
With an altitude of 3,650 feet, this is the highest state park in Georgia. There’s a small 17-acre lake for fishing, four hiking trails that pass by wildflowers and small waterfalls, and scenic mountain views. Black Rock Mountain is also a great place to camp with tent and RV sites, a pioneer campground, four backcountry campsites, walk-up campsites, and 10 cottages. This park is located in the far northeast corner of Georgia and not too far from Tallulah Falls.
Another state park we’ll mention here is named after the former president and a favorite among long-distance backpackers. The 23-mile Pine Mountain trail is very popular, and there are about 42 miles of trails throughout the park. It’s about 80 miles southwest of Atlanta and a place where FDR occasionally picnicked. There’s a wooded campground, small lake for fishing, and guided horseback rides offered here. And just a short distance away, you can visit the Little White House State Historic Site to learn more about FDR’s Georgia home.
This is one of the most popular state parks in Georgia because of the amazing waterfall and hiking trails here. The falls stand 729 feet tall, and you can get up-close views of them by climbing a challenging staircase or driving to an accessible path. There’s a hiking trail here that leads to the southern tip of the iconic Appalachian Trail too. Other adventure activities offered at the park include zip lines, archery, GPS scavenger hunts, guided trail hikes, and telling stories around the campfire. Even travelers who aren’t very outdoorsy love visiting this park because there’s a nice mountain lodge and restaurant that serves brunch and has beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Pets are allowed in the park as long as you keep him or her on a leash and pick up waste.