Ocmulgee National Monument: An Unforgettable Living-History Journey

I love the Ocmulgee National Monument!  It is one of those places that just has everything you need for a fun day with the family.  It has 6 miles of hiking trails, an awesome visitor center, and Mississippian Indian mounds — one you can go inside, and ones you can climb.  I mean, this place is an actual prehistoric American Indian site!  It’s a can’t-miss.


The Ocmulgee National Monument is located in Macon about 5 minutes off of I-16.  If you were spending a day in central Georgia, or traveling down to Savannah, this is a great stop.  Did I mention it’s FREE?  It is!

Ocmulgee has picnic tables, so we often bring our lunch and eat before getting started.  The visitor center is awesome — it has so many artifacts to look at, and a lot of interactive exhibits for the kids.  There are so many things to learn about! The kids love sitting in the replica Earth Lodge, looking at all of the miniature recreations, and they love the “touch table” where they can feel and identify different types of animal fur.  It’s a really neat place, and it’s one of our kids’ favorite things about Ocmulgee.


After the visitor center, we head out — it’s a half mile to walk from the Visitor Center to the Great Temple Mound — and it’s a great paved hike. One of my favorite things about this hike, is that there is so much space for kids to run and explore along the way.  This walk will take you past the popular points of interest — the Earth Lodge, Trading Post site, and Great and Lesser Temple Mounds, and it’s just gorgeous. (You can also directly drive to the Great and Lesser Temple Mounds if you’d prefer.)

The first stop is the Earth Lodge.  The Earth Lodge is hands down, my kids’ favorite place to visit.  I still remember visiting with my grandparents when I was a kid.  It is a really memorable adventure. This one is super unique, because you can actually walk inside this one and see the original floor, which is approximately 1000 years old!  It’s super neat — it definitely feels like you’ve just walked back in time.  You can press a button to hear all about it while you’re in the glass viewing room.  The Earth Lodge is the reason we love the Ocmulgee National Monument so much!


The Great Temple Mound is the big draw, because it’s just so tall and you can look out over Macon from the top.  It’s really gorgeous and peaceful up there.  I think my son just thought that mound was there for his imagination — he spent so much time up there!  The Lesser Temple Mound is also in the same area, along with several other mounds.  There is so much to explore!

If you’re interested in hiking, you can join the Opelofa Trail (a 1 mile loop) next to the Great Temple Mound.  This easy trail takes you through a wetland area, and is just a really pretty trail.  The River Trail (1 mile) is also here, and it takes you over a pretty boardwalk before winding through a wooded area.  We always walk on the boardwalk – it’s just such a neat area, and the kids think it’s their own personal raceway.


I could gush about how great this place is forever — it’s a unique and interesting stop, and a great way to spend a couple of hours.  We highly recommend it!

Ocmulgee National Monument: An Unforgettable Living-History Journey

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.

Ocmulgee National Monument: An Unforgettable Living-History Journey