You know that super cute “Adventure is calling and I must go” t-shirt you bought on Etsy? You should probably do something to make it a little less ironic.
122 CLOUDLAND CANYON PARK ROAD | RISING FAWN
Located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic parks in the state.
Sitton Gulch Creek has spent the last million years or so cutting a deep gorge into Lookout, creating an elevation range of 800 to 1,980 feet and views like you wouldn’t believe. For the less-avid hikers, a fantastic view can be found near the picnic area parking lot; however, additional views can be found along the rim trail. Robust hikers who venture to the bottom of the gorge will discover two waterfalls cascading over layers of sandstone and shale. The park also includes an 18-hole disc golf course, caves available for exploring during select months of the year, geocaching, fishing and horseback trails. Fully-equipped, comfortable cottages are located near the canyon edge; other accommodations include walk-in campsites, trailer and RV sites, and backcountry and pioneer campsites.
STEPHEN C. FOSTER STATE PARK
17515 HIGHWAY 177 | FARGO
Want to spend the night with a descendent of the dinosaurs? Sure you do! An estimated 12,000 American alligators call the 402,000-acre refuge home. But they’re definitely not the reason we love camping at Foster (they’re definitely the reason we don’t sleep well, however). Located at the western edge of the 400,000-acre Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Foster State Park is a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park (IDSP)—meaning it offers minimal light pollution, so campers can experience some of the darkest skies in the southeast. The park was the first place in the state of Georgia to receive accreditation; as of August 2019, there are only 120 certified IDSPs in the world. Environmental factors, such as position and phase of the moon, can affect what you see and how well you see, so be sure to do your research before planning a trip.
VOGEL STATE PARK
405 VOGEL STATE PARK ROAD | BLAIRSVILLE
Fun fact: one of our DiGgers’ husband ran a trail race at Vogel State Park, which is located at the base of Blood Mountain, called The Georgia Death Run. Appealing, no? Much needed PR campaign aside, Vogel is one of Georgia’s oldest and most beloved state parks. Established in 1931, it’s the second oldest state park in Georgia. Vogel is rich in Georgia history; the mountains surrounding the park have been linked to Native Americans for generations before European settlement, and many facilities were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp—a.k.a., the “CCC Boys”—during the Great Depression. (Check out the on-site CCC museum, open seasonally, for the full story!) The 22-acre lake is open for fishing, swimming and non-motorized boats; kayak, paddleboard, pedalboats and aquacycles are also available for rental. Cottages, campsites and primitive backpacking sites provide a range of overnight accommodations.
TALLULAH GORGE STATE PARK
338 JANE HURT YARN DRIVE |TALLULAH FALLS
One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern United States, Tallulah Gorge is a two-mile-long, nearly 1,000-foot-deep ravine that features beautiful waterfalls and scenery. Rim trails lead to awe-inspiring overlooks; those looking down can obtain one of 100 daily permits to hike to the gorge floor (not available during water releases). If any 80-foot suspension bridge swaying in the breeze over a rocky bottom of certain death doesn’t thrill you, then we can’t be friends. (The Wallenda Brothers have tightrope walked across the gorge, so surely you can handle a bridge!)
NORTH GEORGIA CANOPY TOURS
5290 HARRIS ROAD | LULA
You hardcore campers can stop reading now. If you’re still with me and I haven’t convinced you that sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors is for you, try easing into it with North Georgia Canopy Tours’ teepee camping. The heated and—more importantly in Georgia—air-conditioned teepees have outlets for charging your smartphone, so that you won’t miss a moment of documenting your camping trip for Insta Stories. Camping areas are named after the seven clans of Cherokees, and teepees are painted with Cherokee symbols, themes and patterns. Interesting, since the Cherokee were not a nomadic tribe, and did not live in teepees, as any 2nd grader who has spent time at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center can tell you.