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 one you can climb.
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!
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this amazing place.
OCMULGEE NATIONAL MONUMENT VISITOR CENTER
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.
HIKING TO THE MOUNDS
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!
GREAT TEMPLE MOUND AND MORE HIKING
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 PRESERVE
The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park Preserve is a park of the National Parks Service. The National Park Service is an agency of the United States federal government headquartered at the Main Interior Building in Washington, D.C. that manages all national parks, most national monuments, and other natural, historical, and recreational properties with various title designations.
This preserve initiative is home to the largest archaeology dig in American history, with more than 3 million artifacts found by 800 Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers in the 1930s. Four different prehistoric cultures inhabited this area before European settlement in the late 1500s.
This historical site was once home to the Creek Nation and preserves their earthen mounds and more.
Ocmulgee Mounds Historical National Park and Preserve is known for having more than 12,000 years of continuous human habitation.
Ocmulgee National Park is a prehistoric Native American Indian site, where many different American Indian cultures occupied this land for thousands of years. American Indians first came here during the Paleo-Indian Period hunting Ice Age mammals. Around 900 CE, the Mississippian Period began, and people constructed mounds for their elite, which remain here today.
The Ocmulgee River is a special place, unique in the southeast. It was once home to the ancient Mississippian civilization and their descendants, the historic Muscogee (Creek) people. This area is recognized as one of America’s most important archaeological landscapes.
The Ocmulgee River was also an important waypoint in the expansion of the eastern frontier, marked by all of the tragedy and triumphs of that early period in America’s history. Today, Middle Georgia’s Ocmulgee River corridor is a critical migratory flyway and wildlife habitat, home to one of Georgia’s three populations of black bears and contains the largest block of forested habitat remaining in the upper coastal plain.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- MACON, GEORGIA: Your Complete Guide To The Best Things To Do In Macon, Ga
- GEORGIA NATIONAL PARKS: Day Tripping to the Breathtaking National Parks in Georgia
- NEW ECHOTA: New Echota And The Trail Of Tears In Georgia
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