Georgia State Parks Camping: 52+ Essential Things To Know

Georgia State Parks camping is my favorite way to camp. I love it so much, that I have literally never camped anywhere else in Georgia! I loved the parks just as much as a camping kid, as I do now as a camping adult.

There are campsites and sleeping accommodations for every type of adventurer, and even if you’ve never camped before — they have a program just for you!  There is truly something for everyone. Let me tell you why camping at the Georgia State Parks is the best!

Georgia State Parks Camping

Why Camp at a Georgia State Park

Georgia State Parks have more than 2,700 campsites of all different types. Whether you’re camping in a tent or RV, and whether you want to hike to your spot, or park right next to it – they’ve got a site for you!

I think one of the main reasons to choose Georgia State Parks camping vs other sites is the knowledge that you’re camping at a well-maintained and beautiful spot, near one of Georgia’s most incredible places! The Georgia State Parks are home to some of our state’s most amazing sights, and camping right in the middle of that beauty is a priceless experience.

One reason I personally love Georgia State Parks camping is because of what they offer the kids. There are usually playgrounds near the camping areas at these parks, the bathrooms are always clean and well-lit, and there are quite a few Georgia State Parks that offer campsites along lakes and creeks – which is my kids’ favorite place to play! And along that same line of thought, most Georgia State Parks also have laundry facilities. (Ha!)

Another bonus? Georgia State Park camping is super affordable. Most rates average around $30-$35 a night. You can’t beat that!

camping at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Ga.

Experience Georgia State Parks Camping: The Basics

There are so many different types of camping, and the Georgia State Parks are ready for all of them! Some of the campsites you can expect are tent-only areas, RV pull-thru sites, primitive camping, and group camping areas.

In most cases, the tent-only areas are available for you to park your car right next to your site. We call this, “car camping.” This is awesome because you don’t have to lug your gear very far, and it’s easy to store food in your vehicle, so you don’t have to worry about attracting unwanted animal guests. In these sites, you have access to community bathrooms and showers, and in some cases, laundry facilities. The car camping sites usually have a fire ring, electric and water on site, a picnic table, and sometimes a grill. I wrote a whole post filled with car camping tips for you here!

Primitive camping is a nice way of saying – instead of bathrooms, you have outhouses! And there is no running water or electricity hook-ups. You’re on your own! They do have fire rings, and usually a picnic table. On the plus side, you’re in a more remote area that’s not frequented by others – so you can truly get away from it all!

Walk-in campsites are exactly what they sound like – you walk to that site. Most walk-in sites aren’t far from the parking area, but your car isn’t parked right at the site. You still have access to the bathrooms and other facilities at these sites, too (you just have to walk a little further). These sites are awesome in that they are also a bit away from the hustle and bustle of other campers, but not too far away from the action.

There are also backcountry campsites, which require a longer hike with your gear than the walk-in sites, and there are no facilities of any kind – no bathrooms, outhouses, water, or electricity. You get a fire ring, and a spot for your tent! But you are truly out in the wilderness and enjoying nature.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a RV – they’ve got plenty of sites for you guys too! So many RV sites are available at Georgia State Parks – no matter the size of your rig. Depending on the park, there are usually both back-in and pull-through sites available.

There are also options for large groups – think Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops. A lot of the Georgia State Parks have special group campsites that can accommodate dozens of campers. This is an awesome way to keep all of your campers together. I still remember camping with a group of family friends at the pioneer group camp at FDR State Park when I was a teenager – it was truly one of my best camping experiences ever.

Experience Georgia State Parks Camping for First Time Campers

So, you’ve never camped before, but you’re intrigued and are willing to try it. Problem is, you’d have to spend money on gear, and you’re not even sure you’ll like it! Well, my friend, welcome to the Georgia State Parks First-Time Camper Program!

This program is offered at six Georgia State Parks:

A.H. Stephens (Crawfordville)

Don Carter (Gainesville)

Fort Mountain (Chatsworth)

Fort Yargo (Winder)

Gordonia-Alatamaha (Reidsville)

Indian Springs (Flovilla)

The First-Time Camper program is awesome and FREE. Regular two-night campsite rental rates apply, but the actual participation in the program is complimentary. Anyone who has never camped at a Georgia State Park may participate.

The program provides you with the essentials – a six-person tent, four sleeping pads, a camp stove with fuel, four roasting forks, a lantern, and two camping chairs. And the best part is – they provide you with an expert to help you get set up, and give you insider tips. They’ll also give you an emergency phone number to call, in case you have questions in the middle of the night! It’s an amazing way to experience camping, without having to make a giant commitment. Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose!

You Can Sleep WHERE? Unique Camping at Georgia State Parks 

One of the neatest things about Georgia State Parks, is the very unique sleeping accommodations they offer. Whether you’re an experienced camper who wants to try something new, or an adventurer looking for that next exciting experience, Georgia State Parks have something you’ll love.

Yurts

Yurts are hands-down the coolest things. With wood floors, and canvas walls and ceilings, yurts bring camping to a whole other level. They’re heated, and you’re well-protected from the elements, but you still get that camping feel. Each yurt comes with futons and bunk beds (they sleep 6), and they have decks, a fire ring, and a picnic table. The bathhouses are within walking distance. And the inside is so spacious! You can really spread out in there. All you need to bring are your sleeping bags/linens and your food, and you’re good to go! (Pets are not allowed in or around the yurts.)

Yurts are currently located at Cloudland Canyon State Park, High Falls State Park (these yurts sleep 5), Red Top Mountain State Park, Fort Yargo State Park, Tugaloo State Park, and Sweetwater Creek State Park.

We stayed in the yurts at Fort Yargo, and it was truly the coolest experience for the kids! They were able to go fishing right off our back deck, and the whole thing was just – neat! Such a great way to experience a state park in a new way. The kids still talk about it, and we can’t wait to do it again.

Squirrel’s Nest Platform

At Unicoi State Park, they have something called a “Squirrel’s Nest Platform” for an extremely unique camping experience! An Adventure Guide will lead you to the platform area within the park, and it’s basically a wooden platform, with a wooden roof – but other than that, it’s open! You bring your sleeping bag or hammock, and then you get to sleep under the stars. The platforms are all together in one area, kind of attached together – so it’s perfect for groups, too!

Paddle-In Campsites

At Reed Bingham State Park in south Georgia, Chattahoochee Bend State Park near Newnan, and High Falls State Park in middle Georgia, paddle-in campsites are available. Just a short paddle from the parking area at Reed Bingham, there is a primitive group camping site on an island! (It sleeps 30.) At Chattahoochee Bend, you can either hike 5.5 miles, or paddle down the river to one of eight backcountry sites. And at High Falls, you can paddle to a primitive campground that has an outhouse, and sleeps 25. Talk about getting away from it all!

Hike Inn

Absolutely my favorite Georgia State Park adventure so far – is the Hike Inn. It is an experience like no other. The Hike Inn is only accessible by a 5-mile hike from the trailhead at Amicalola Falls State Park, and once you get there, you feel like you’re home. It’s beautiful, and wonderful, and exceptional. It’s a sustainably-designed lodge, where you can sleep in a rustic bunk room, and eat home-cooked, family-style meals, and truly unplug. (No, truly. There are no outlets in your room for charging electronics!) It is amazing, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

ZZZ’s In The Trees 

Panola Mountain State Park in Stockbridge offers what has to be, one of the most unique experiences anywhere. You can actually sleep in a tree! Experts will help you find a spot in the 100-foot Southern Red Oak – “Naomi Ruth” – for a night under the stars. Climbers will need to bring their own dinner and breakfast, but they provide you with your “treeboat” for sleeping in the tree. How cool is that?!

Treehouse Camping

Seminole State Park in southwest Georgia has a group treehouse for camping! This is a primitive camping experience, but inside a 30 x 30 screened-in covered shelter on stilts. It provides the shelter, and you provide the rest! They don’t allow tents inside the treehouse, but you can bring your sleeping bags and air mattresses, and be sure the bugs and rain won’t get you! This neat experience sleeps up to 15 people.

Adirondack Camping

Adirondack Camping is available at Chattahoochee Bend State Park near Newnan. These four shelters are enclosed on three sides, and are screened in the front, and can fit eight sleeping bags in each. The grills and fire ring are in a common area, and this would be the perfect unique experience for a group!

Equestrian Campsites

And for the horse lover in your group, there are also equestrian campsites at several Georgia State Parks! You can camp with your horse nearby at Hard Labor Creek, A.H. Stephens, General Coffee, and Watson Mill Bridge state parks.

Caving with the Georgia Girl Guides at Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn, Ga.

The Very Best Things To Do When Camping

There is so much to do when you’re camping at a Georgia State Park! These parks are surrounding some of the most beautiful sites in our state, so you have to explore while you’re there!

Geocaching GeoTour

A wonderful way to discover a state park is to go geocaching. Geocaching is when you use your GPS (and geochaching.com) to find a hidden cache. When you find it, you can take a prize and leave one for the next person. It’s like a modern-day treasure hunt!

Georgia State Parks have taken it a step further and created a Parks GeoTour! The rangers have hidden 47 caches in 44 state parks. The GeoTour will take you from one state park to the next, and you can stamp your downloadable passport every time you find a new cache. Some of the caches are easy, and some are tricky, but they are fun for all ages. Once you’ve discovered a certain number of caches, you can get your custom geo-coin. CLICK HERE for more information.

Orienteering 

Orienteering is an activity that uses a compass and a map to navigate through the woods from one point to another! You can participate in orienteering at Cloudland Canyon, Panola Mountain, Red Top Mountain, Sweetwater Creek and Unicoi state parks. (There’s also a compass course at New Echota State Historic Site.)

Hiking

Hiking is one of my family’s favorite pastimes, and there is always a trail to discover at our state parks. There are trails for every type of hiker – challenging backcountry hikes, paved trails, waterfall hikes, and trails that take you to gorgeous mountain views.

Some of the more difficult backcountry hikes can be found at Amicalola Falls, Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, F.D. Roosevelt, Fort Mountain, Providence Canyon, Unicoi and Vogel State Parks.

You can find paved trails – perfect for wheelchairs and strollers — at Amicalola Falls, Cloudland Canyon, Mistletoe, Fort Yargo, Panola Mountain, Red Top Mountain, Skidaway Island, Stephen C. Foster, and Tallulah Gorge state parks.

We all know that kids have boundless energy – and there are hikes for them too! Kids especially get excited about hikes that lead to something cool! Some of the best hikes for kids can be found at Fort Mountain (lake loop), General Coffee (farm animals), Reed Bingham (gopher tortoises), Skidaway Island (fiddler crabs), Sweetwater Creek (follows the creek), Vogel (lake loop and waterfall), Fort Yargo (lake loop, and old fort area), and Watson Mill Bridge (the covered bridge, and shoals).

Waterfall Hikes 

If you love waterfalls, you’ll love these Georgia State Parks! Amicalola Falls, Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain, Black Rock Mountain, High Falls, James H. (Sloppy) Floyd, Tallulah Gorge, and Vogel state parks all have hikes that lead you to beautiful waterfalls. Amicalola Falls has the distinction of being the tallest cascading waterfall in the southeast! And Anna Ruby Falls is located just outside of Unicoi State Park – and it’s amazing. There is also cascading water – so maybe not an official waterfall – at Sweetwater Creek and Watson Mill Bridge state parks.

Park Clubs

Georgia State Parks have several clubs you can join, in which you work to complete the tasks at certain state parks, and then earn a T-shirt when you’ve completed it!

For the $10 fee, you can join the Canyon Climbers Club and work to complete the hikes that have the most steps! This is not for the faint of heart. You’ll have to climb the steps at Amicalola Falls (604 steps one-way), Cloudland Canyon (1200 steps both ways), Providence Canyon (1.5 miles both ways, about 2500 steps), and Tallulah Gorge (620 steps both ways). Once complete, you’ll get the bragging rights and shirt!

Want to try to Muddy Spokes Club? Break out your bicycle and for a $10 fee, you can join this one! You’ll have to ride designated bike trails at 11 different state parks to earn this T-shirt. Totaling 68 miles, you’ll experience easy trails, and tough ones. And you’ll be glad you did.

And if you want a break from the heat, consider joining the Park Paddlers Club! For a $10 fee, you’ll explore 22 miles of scenic waterways at six Georgia State Parks. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler, or a beginner, this is a perfectly unique way to explore the parks and work toward a goal.

Sweetwater Creek State Park - Lithia Springs - ideas from 365 Atlanta Family

Hidden Gems Regulars Want to Stay Secret

Hike to the beautiful ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park, or explore an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Moccasin Creek. Find the blue tanker truck that is a reminder of the Prohibition Era moonshine runners at Amicalola Falls State Park. It is “hidden” along the trail leading to the beautiful cascading waterfall. There are so many hidden things to discover at the parks – even when you think you’ve seen it all – you probably haven’t.

Creative Camp Games for Digital Kids

You’re camping with kids, and you need some entertainment at your campsite? Let’s try a camping game! Some games don’t even need any advanced preparation – Remember that Trip, Two Truths and a Lie, Camping Charades, and Nature Tic-Tac-Toe are all easy ones to do on the fly! And you brought glow sticks, right? Set up a ring toss! You definitely have flashlights – time for Flashlight Freeze Tag! Check out more of our ideas HERE.

More Awesome and Affordable Things To Do

One of the absolute best things about camping is that it’s affordable, right? And a great thing about Georgia State Parks is all the completely affordable experiences that you can participate in on site! There are adventure programs, with a treetop zipline, at Amicalola and Unicoi. Animal encounters at a lot of the visitor centers (like Amicalola, Crooked River, and Sweetwater Creek, to name a few), canoeing (especially worth it at George L. Smith – best ever!). You can explore a cave at Cloudland, go fishing at dozens of parks, or participate in a full moon hike or paddle. You can kayak, take an archery class, or play mini golf at many of the parks for a small fee. You can swim in a bell-shaped pool at F.D. Roosevelt! The possibilities seem endless! Some of the activities are free, and all of them are affordable.

http://www.trekaroo.com/activities/fort-mountain-state-park-chatsworth-georgia

Georgia State Parks Camping Reservation Guide

So now you’re ready to make a Georgia State Parks camping reservation, right? Several parks now have site-specific reservations, so you can reserve the perfect spot for you – right on the water, near the playground, near the bathrooms, away from everyone – whatever suits you! And if you want to visit a park that doesn’t have that option, no worries! You can still reserve a spot, and then you’ll just pick your favorite when you arrive.

Georgia State Parks Camping North of Atlanta 

Amicalola Falls (Dawsonville): 57 lodge rooms, 14 cabins, 24 tent, trailer, and RV sites (site specific) Read more from 365 on Amicalola Falls Hikes, The Lodge, and the River Trail.

Black Rock Mountain (Rabun County): 10 cottages, 38 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 11 walk-in campsites, 4 backcountry campsites, 1 pioneer campground

Cloudland Canyon (Rising Fawn): 16 cottages, 10 yurts, 72 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 30 walk-in campsites, 11 backcountry campsites, 4 pioneer campsites, 1 group lodge (sleeps 40) Read more from 365 on Cloudland Canyon, hang gliding near the park, and caving in the park.

Don Carter (Gainesville): 8 cottages, 44 tent, trailer, and RV sites, 12 primitive tent campsites. Read more from 365 on Don Carter.

Elijah Clark (Lincolnton): 20 cottages, 165 tent, trailer, and RV sites, 10 walk-in campsites, 1 pioneer campground. Read more from 365 on Elijah Clark.

Fort Mountain (Chatsworth): 15 cottages, 70 tent, trailer and RV campsites (site specific – some seasonal), 4 walk-in campsites, 6 platform campsites, 3 pioneer campsites, 4 backcountry campsites. Read more from 365 on Fort Mountain.

Fort Yargo (Winder): 3 cottages, 13 adventure (camper) cabins, 6 yurts, 40 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 12 walk-in campsites, 1 pioneer campground.

Hart State Outdoor Recreation Area (Hartwell): 62 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (site specific), 16 walk-in campsites (site specific)

James H. (Sloppy) Floyd (Chattooga County): 4 cottages, 25 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (site specific), 4 backcountry campsites, 1 pioneer campground. Read more from 365 on James H. (Sloppy) Floyd.

Moccasin Creek (Habersham County): 48 tent, trailer, and RV campsites

Red Top Mountain (Acworth): 18 cottages, 92 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 yurt, 1 pioneer campground.

Richard B. Russell (Elberton): 20 cottages, 28 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (site specific). Read more from 365 on Richard B. Russell.

Smithgall Woods (Helen): 6 cottages, 1 pioneer campground (youth and conservation groups only) Read more from 365 on Smithgall Woods.

Sweetwater Creek (Lithia Springs): 10 yurts, 5 tent campsites. Read more from 365 on Sweetwater Creek.

Tallulah Gorge State Park (Rabun County): 50 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 pioneer campground, 3 backcountry Adirondack shelters. Read more from 365 on Tallulah Gorge State Park.

Tugaloo (Lavonia): 20 cottages, 6 yurts, 105 tent, trailer and RV sites (some seasonal), 11 walk-in campsites.

Unicoi (Helen): 100 lodge rooms, 30 cabins, 82 private and group campsites, 51 RV sites. Read more from 365 on Unicoi State Park in Helen.

Victoria Bryant (Royston): 1 Bluebird Cottage (sleeps 8), 27 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 tent/RV combo site, 8 platform walk-in campsites, 2 pioneer campgrounds (sleeps 75).

Vogel (Blairsville): 35 cottages, 85 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (site specific), 18 walk-in campsites, 1 pioneer campground. Read more from 365 on Vogel in Blairsville.

Watson Mill Bridge (Madison County): 21 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (seasonal), 11 equestrian campsites, 1 buddy equestrian campsite, 3 log cabin bunk houses, 3 pioneer campsites (seasonal).

Georgia State Parks Camping South of Atlanta

A.H. Stephens (Crawfordville): 4 cottages, 21 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 18 horse campsites, 1 group camp (sleeps 150), 1 pioneer campground, 10 acre event field with 24 campsites

Chattahoochee Bend (Newnan): 25 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 8 tent-only drive-in campsites, 11 tent walk-in campsites, 7 platform campsites, 7 backcountry/paddle-in campsites, 1 Adirondack group campsite. Read more from 365 on Chattachoochee Bend.

F.D. Roosevelt (Pine Mountain): 21 cottages, 140 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 16 backcountry campsites, 1 group camp (sleeps 75), 1 pioneer campground. Read more from 365 on FDR State Park.

Hamburg (Washington County): 30 tent, trailer, and RV campsites

Hard Labor Creek (Rutledge): 20 cottages, 51 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (some seasonal, site specific), 11 tent/pop-up sites, 1 buddy campsite, 2 group camps (sleeps 75 and 120), 4 pioneer campgrounds, 11 equestrian campsites. Read more from 365 on Hard Labor Creek in Rutledge.

High Falls (Butts County): 6 yurts, 107 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (some seasonal, site specific), 1 pioneer campground, 1 paddle-in primitive campsite (sleeps 25). Read more from 365 on High Falls.

Indian Springs (Butts County): 10 cottages, 62 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 group camp (sleeps 130), 1 pioneer campground. Read more from 365 on Indian Springs.

Magnolia Springs (Millen): 9 cottages, 26 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 3 walk-in campsites, 1 pioneer campground. Read more from 365 on Magnolia Springs.

Mistletoe (Appling): 11 cottages, 1 Fisherman’s Cabin, 1 tent cabin, 93 tent, trailer, and RV sites (some seasonal), 4 walk-in campsites, 3 backcountry campsites, 1 pioneer campground

Panola Mountain (Stockbridge): 5 primitive campsites, ZZZ’s in the Trees (special event). Read more from 365 on Panola Mountain State Park which is located partly in Henry County.

Georgia State Parks Camping in South Georgia

Florence Marina (Omaha): 7 cottages, 8 efficiency units, 43 tent, trailer, and RV sites. Read more from 365 on Florence Marina.

General Coffee (Coffee County): Burnham Cottage (sleeps 8) and Hawksnest House (sleeps 6), 5 cottages, 50 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 4 equestrian campsites, 2 primitive equestrian campsites, 1 group lodge (sleeps 40), 1 pioneer campground. Learn more from 365 on General Coffee.

George L. Smith (Twin City): 8 cottages, 24 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (site specific), 4 primitive campsites, 1 primitive campground. Learn more from 365 on George L. Smith.

George T. Bagby (Fort Gaines): 60 lodge rooms, 1 group lodge, 5 cottages. Learn more from 365 on George T. Bagby. Read more from 365 on George T. Bagby State Park.

Gordonia-Altamaha (Reidsville): 8 cottages, 27 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 walk-in campsite

Kolomoki Mounds (Blakely): 24 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 group camp (sleeps 135), 2 pioneer campgrounds

Laura S. Walker (Waycross): 6 Sportsman’s Cabins, 44 tent, trailer, and RV campsites (site specific), 1 group camp (sleeps 142), 1 pioneer campground

Little Ocmulgee (Helena): 60 lodge rooms, 10 cabins

Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area (Lumpkin): 3 pioneer campsites, 6 backcountry campsites. Read more from 365 on Providence Canyon.

Reed Bingham (Adel): 46 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 pioneer campground, 1 primitive paddle-in island campsite (sleeps 30)

Seminole (Donalsonville): 14 cottages, 50 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 treehouse campsite (sleeps 15, 2 pioneer campgrounds

Stephen C. Foster (Fargo): 9 cottages, 64 tent, trailer, and RV sites (some seasonal), 11 walk-in campsites, 1 pioneer campground, 10 cottages at the Suwannee River Eco Lodge (18 miles away)

Veterans (Cordele): 14 lodge rooms, 64 villa guest rooms, 10 cabins

Georgia State Parks Camping on the Coast

Crooked River (St. Mary’s): 11 cottages, 62 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 1 pioneer campground. Read more from 365  on Crooked River. 

Fort McAllister (Richmond Hill): 7 cottages, 67 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 2 backcountry campsites, 2 pioneer campgrounds

Skidaway Island (Savannah): 3 camper cabins, 87 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, 3 pioneer campgrounds (groups of 10+ only)

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There are 2700 different ways to experience Georgia State Parks camping. This post gave me all the info I needed on the basics, help for first timers, unique secrets few people know, plus a breakdown of what to expect at each Georgia State Park. Amazing! Bookmark this article.

Kate Gelsthorpe is a former TV news writer, and a born and raised Georgia girl who grew up camping with her family at state parks around central and south Georgia. After 18 years in Atlanta, her family recently moved to Athens, and in their spare time you can find them exploring their new hometown. She and her husband, Kevin, are the proud parents of an 8-year-old dinosaur expert, and a 6-year-old outdoor-loving fashionista. You can follow her family’s quest to go on 100 hikes in 2018 on Instagram @loveandkate.

 

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