Looking for a unique and exciting way to explore Helen, Ga? Georgia State Parks launched a new program at Unicoi State Park (and Amicalola, for those in Dawsonville) – Adventure Programs!
We stayed at Unicoi Lodge, Helen, Ga. recently (see our post of AMAZING things to do in Helen,) and explored this new program. It’s the “no-hassle” way of discovering everything wonderful about Unicoi State Park, Ga.
Staying at Unicoi State Park
Let’s talk about accommodations at the Unicoi Lodge. The Adventure Lodge packages come with lodge accommodations. We enjoyed plenty of space in our room, with two queen beds, a loft with another queen bed, and gorgeous views of the mountains. Yes, you read that correctly – our boys were in HEAVEN with the loft room. Don’t worry, there is a tall ledge and a gate so you don’t run the risk of an escaping kiddo. Unicoi State Park & Lodge also offers barrel cabins, traditional cabins and camping opportunities.
I should also mention that you can enjoy these park Adventures without having to stay at the Unicoi Lodge. If you are relaxing in one of Helen’s amazing hotels or cabins, then just pick the adventures you want to try and pay a’la carte. Most are exceptionally affordable.
There are dozens of places within Helen to grab a bite, but we ate breakfast each morning at Unicoi State Park and Lodge Restaurant. I loved the blintzes with berry compote, the omelet station, delicious bacon and tons more! It’s the perfect place to fuel up for your day of excitement.
Our Adventure Lodge Excitement
Because we were also exploring much of Helen (with a few hours tubing the Chattahoochee) we didn’t try all of the adventures – we stuck with things that would work for the whole family, including the 4 year old.
First, we did a GPS scavenger hunt! We usually use our phones for Geocaching, but this time we tried the park’s GPS and the boys really enjoyed that. When we checked out the GPS, the ranger gave us instructions as well as a scavenger hunt sheet with coordinates and a map to make our way around the park. Since it was in the upper 90s, we didn’t make the entire loop, but did have a blast finding the caches near Unicoi Lake.
We’ve also taken the canoe out on Unicoi lake for some excitement. There is a HUGE bullfrog that lives on the lake and we adore chasing after his bellow, trying to find him. Additionally, the lake’s beach is very fun. We played there for a few hours. Access is along the side road, on the way to Anna Ruby Falls (another can’t-miss destination.)
At night, we also relaxed at the Fire Pit Stories. A large campfire was made by one of the rangers and waiting on us when we arrived. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores…the “story” part of our adventure was cut short by dancing lightning from Mother Nature, but we still had a GREAT time. Bonus Tip…I sent hubby into Smith Creek Tavern for a few glasses of red wine, which was a great treat by the fire for mom and dad!
Unicoi State Park Zipline Adventure
My boys are too small to go zip lining, so Sue took two of her teens to try the zipline and aerial adventure course Unicoi State Park. Here’s what she found.
The 19 zip lines and 7+ suspension bridges that range from 75 to 2,000 feet long and as high as 100 feet off the ground beckoned my teens. I woke my 13-year-old and 19-year-old at an ungodly hour to drive to Unicoi State Park for a day of fun. Although groggy at first, all three of us gave it a thumbs up afterwards. Here’s why.
Unicoi State Park has partnered with Banning Mills Aerial Adventures to create an awesome new experience at this already popular state park near Helen, Ga. Banning Mills is one of my favorite places to zip line in Georgia, so I had high expectations, and was not disappointed. Unicoi State Park has a fabulous zip lining adventure that challenges both the novice and experienced zipper.
Two Challenging Courses: But one is better
There are two zip line courses at Unicoi State Park, and to do the second, you must do the first. Go ahead an splurge for the Level 1 and 2. It takes roughly three hours to do both courses and the time and expense is well worth it.
Although neither course is deep in the woods, the Level 2 course has a bit more canopy. The zips are higher, the tallest being 100 feet high, about the size of a 10-story building, and the best part is you go over the river, not once, but five times!
On the Sea Bass zip, you get so close to the water, you can see the fish. At least that’s what our guides Austin and Warren claimed. I didn’t glimpse bass or any other fish, but there was a huge tree that had fallen into the river creating a dark eerily cool shadow on the otherwise calm water.
What makes Unicoi State Park Adventure Zip Line so awesome though is the same thing I like about Banning Mills. Interspersed between the zips are ropes course elements that break things up. None of these elements were overly difficult, but it still added some nice variety to the course.
What’s Awesome about Unicoi State Park Zip Level 1
If you aren’t ready for Level 2, Level 1 is still full a great zips. In fact, with 11 zips, it actually has three more zip lines than course two.
Unlike pretty much all the other zip lines I’ve been on, Unicoi State Park Level 1 course doesn’t start you near the ground. On the first zip you climb to a small platform 25 feet in the air. And since this is a state park, those platforms are a bit smaller than normal so they don’t interfere with the natural beauty of the park.
Don’t let the first platform scare you away though. The three other people in our group (a 15-year-old and his mom and a 10-year-old whose dad watched from below) had never been zip lining before, except maybe at summer camp and although they were nervous, they all did the entire course with no issues and said they had a great time. Our guides Austin and Warren were good about keeping the mood light and encouraging when needed.
What you need to know at Unicoi State Park Zip Line Adventure
- Kids 8 and older are welcome on the Level 1 Course, but must weigh at least 50 lbs. And there is no fudging that number. All participants are weighed at check in.
- You must be at least 10 years old to move on to Level 2, since the zips are much longer.
- The weight limit for adults is 285 for men and 250 for women for both courses.
- Wear close-toed shoes. It’s best to wear tennis shoes too, not crocs or similar footwear. In addition to climbing, you’ll also be hiking short distances.
Unicoi State Park Archery and Air Rifle Range
Recently Unicoi State Park and Lodge debuted an archery and air rifle range as part of the property’s Adventure Lodge program, which is focused on offering safe and innovative family-friendly adventure attractions. The new 15,000 square foot shooting facility includes three different styles of practice ranges for visitors, including Air Rifle, 3-D Archery and Static Archery.
Here’s what you can expect at the Archery and Air Rifle Range
Air Rifle Range. A covered ten-lane range with target cables at a distance of 10 meters that is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible.
3-D Archery Range. Experience shooting multiple three-dimensional animals, from prehistoric beasts to popular game and mythical creatures of different sizes and shapes at ground or tower level.
Static Archery Range. Five covered practice lanes of varying distances that are ADA accessible.
Bring Your Own. Air rifles of .22 caliber or lower are allowed on the range; broadhead arrows or crossbows are prohibited.
Instruction is Available. On-site instructional classes are offered by certified archery and air rifle instructors. Classes include all necessary gear, a safety and informational overview and an open shooting session.
Want More Adventure?
Both Amicalola in Dawsonville and Unicoi State Park Helen, Ga. offer treetop zip lines, GPS scavenger hunts, 3-D archery and climbing walls; and both facilities are designated GoPro Parks, with classes and a rental program enabling guests to record their day using the action camera mounted on a bike, kayak or helmet.
Unicoi State Park and Lodge offers lessons in fly fishing, paddle boarding, kayak fishing; an introduction to mountain biking; and primitive camping under the stars.
Amicalola Falls also presents guided hikes of the falls and guided fitness trail runs; survivalist camping; and the birds of prey experience, a close look at falcons, owls and hawks taught by an expert handler.
And that’s just the beginning…
OK, How Much?
Remember, you can purchase just what you want for a small fee, or take the full Adventure Lodge caboodle with these great deals.
All You Can Slam Adventures, from $99 weekdays and from $150 weekends*
- Overnight stay in a lodge room
- Unlimited adventure activities can be selected per day, with guided leadership and equipment for adventure activities provided
*Per person, per night, based on double occupancy; rates start at $99 per night for Sunday through Thursday stays and start from $150 per night for Friday and Saturday stays. Price includes park or other admission fees or permits, is exclusive of taxes and subject to availability.
Adventure Like the Boss, from $250**
- Two-night stay in a lodge room
- Two adventure activities per person, per day for two days, with guided leadership and equipment for adventure activities
- Additional adventure activities may be added at an extra cost
**Per room, for two nights, based on double occupancy. Price includes park or other admission fees or permits, is exclusive of taxes and subject to availability.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.