August 2013 E-News from Georgia State Parks

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August 2013

Don Carter State Park

Don Carter State Park opens on Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier fans have a new place to play this summer with the opening of Don Carter State Park.  Situated on the north end of the 38,000-acre reservoir, the park offers outstanding recreation and accommodations.  Guests can stay cool at a large, sand swimming beach. Boat ramps provide quick access to the lake, while a paved trail welcomes hikers and bikers to explore the hilly hardwood forest.

Georgia’s newest state park offers choices for overnight getaways as well. Two-bedroom cabins will open soon and are perched on wooded hillsides above the lake. One campground is designed specifically for RVs, while another primitive camping area is just for tents and hammocks. 

Don Carter State Park offers a bargain vacation on Lake Lanier.  Visitors pay $5 for parking, and most activities – including swimming – are free.  Campsites range from $15 to $29, and cabins are $110 to $160.  Covered picnic shelters rent for $45 and are perfect for family reunions, birthday parties and casual receptions.   A few photos are posted on our Facebook page, or check out the park's photo gallery.


Skidaway Island camper cabin

Camper Cabins open at Skidaway Island

Visitors to Savannah’s Skidaway Island State Park can now sleep in air-conditioned comfort thanks to new camper cabins.   The three mini-cabins offer a screened porch, bathroom with shower, kitchen, master bedroom and kids’ sleeping loft.  Guests bring their own linens and cooking supplies.  Outside are picnic tables, grills and fire rings, welcoming visitors to enjoy the park’s beautiful live oaks and Spanish moss.  Foodies and history buffs will appreciate the short drive to Savannah’s Historic District, while beach lovers can easily day trip to Tybee Island.  Camper cabins rent for $125, and reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance.  (Hint: call now for the busy spring season.)  


Join Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

You can help support and protect Georgia’s most precious places by joining the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites.  Membership includes a free Annual ParkPass, discounts, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping a good cause.  The organization offers many volunteer opportunities as well.


Insider Tips for Saving Money

Did you know your library card can get you a free ParkPass?  Or that many parks offer last-minute deals on cabins and campsites?  Or that some state parks will loan you fishing gear for free?  Check our Money-Saving Specials webpage often for the latest ways to save. 


Little Ocmulgee splash pad

Stay Cool at the Pool (or Beach)

Grab your swimsuits and enjoy the last days of summer at Georgia State Parks.  We have nearly 20 sandy swimming beaches on lakes, all with pretty scenery and roped-off swimming areas.  Lifeguards are not provided, so keep a close eye on your little ones. Beach swimming is free with $5 parking.  If swimming pools are more your style, take a cool dip at F.D. Roosevelt, High Falls, Little Ocmulgee, Magnolia Springs or Victoria Bryant state parks.  Lifeguards are provided and a fee is charged.  For something a little different, Little Ocmulgee State Park also offers a “splash pad” that’s perfect for youngsters. 


Looking & Planning Ahead

Astronomers predict the peak viewing times for the 2013 Perseid meteor shower will be August 11 and 12 after midnight when the moon has set.  Rent a cabin or campsite at a state park and enjoy this spectacular “shooting star” show.  Check our event calendar for astronomy programs.

Labor Day is a busy weekend in Georgia’s State Parks, so make reservations now for your last hurrah to summer.  Rent cabins, picnic shelters, campsites and more at

September 28, 2013 will be “Your State Parks Day” sponsored by Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites.  This will be a great day to show your support for preserving Georgia’s most precious places.  Plus, parking fees will be waived that day!  (Did we mention it’s free?)


August 2013 Calendar of Events

Below are just a few of the many programs happening in August.  Check and the individual park web pages for a full calendar. 



Potluck Supper at Black Rock Mountain

Thursdays, August 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 7 p.m.

Black Rock Mountain State Park – Mountain City

Join campers, cottage guests and local residents for Black Rock’s traditional weekly supper. Bring a covered dish or two and join us at the Mellinger Center for food and fellowship. $5 parking. (706) 746-2141. 


Saturday Evening Concert Series

Saturdays, August 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, 8 p.m. 

Unicoi State Park and Lodge – Helen

Some of the best musicians in the area perform a variety of music from Appalachian Mountain, Bluegrass and Southern Gospel. These programs will be “pass-the-hat” donations for the musicians. $5 parking. 800-573-9659 ext. 305. 


Youth Fishing at Buck Shoals

Saturday, August 17, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen

Children and their special "big person" can fish in a lake stocked with catfish, bass and bream. Fish caught can be kept. Bring your own bait (no corn) and rods. This event is not at Smithgall Woods, but at Buck Shoals, a nearby-unopened state park. Call for directions. Occurs every third Saturday through September. $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.


Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hike

Monday, August 19 and Tuesday, August 20

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls

Take a mile and a half hike under the full moon.  This is a moderately strenuous hike in and out of the canyon. Call for times and reservations. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.


Gold Fever

Saturday, August 24, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen

Hear the history of local gold mining with a local historian and Smithgall's ranger. The morning begins with a presentation depicting cultural influences that lead up to the 1828 Georgia “gold rush.” A hike on the Martin Mine trail provides an opportunity to interpret the scars that gold mining efforts left on the landscape. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.


Tallulah Gorge Floor Hike

Saturday, August 31, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls

This is a strenuous trek; include hiking down 531 stairs, a river crossing jumping from rock to rock, and climbing boulders along the side of the river to Bridal Veil Falls where you can swim. Total miles are 3.5. No pets; wear appropriate footwear; children must be 10 or older; bring food and water. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.





Kayaking Tours on Lake Allatoona

Saturday, August 3 and 31, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville

Join us as we explore some of Red Top's beautiful coves on tandem kayaks. Fee includes kayak, paddle, life jacket, basic instruction, and guided tour. Registration is required. $20 plus $5 parking. (770) 975-0055.


Twilight Lake Paddle

Fridays and Saturdays in August, around 7 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park -- Lithia Springs

Join us for a peaceful, ranger-led outing as we watch for wading birds and enjoy the setting sun. This program is open to adults and children 6 years or older who are accompanied by an adult. You may choose a canoe or kayak for this trip. Reservations required.  $15 includes gear. $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.


Yoga on the Bridge

Friday, August 9 and 23, 7:30 a.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park -- Lithia Springs

This lesson is for beginners to intermediates and does not require experience. Students should expect a fun and gentle practice with an emphasis on grounding, balance, and strength building.The lesson will be held on the Yellow Trail Bridge above beautiful Sweetwater Creek. Yoga mat recommended. Reservations required.  $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.


Camping and Kayaking on Lake Allatoona

Friday, August 23 through Sunday, August 25

Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville

Get outdoors and do something different this summer by spending a weekend camping and kayaking with park rangers. Explore Red Top and Lake Allatoona by boat and relax at the campsite afterwards. Fee includes a campsite for two nights, a tandem sit-on-top kayak, paddle, life jacket, paddling instruction, and two days of guided paddling tours. Space is limited; pre-registration is required. $175 per person $5 parking. (770) 975-0055.


Frog Slog

Friday, August 16, 7 p.m.

Panola Mountain State Park - Stockbridge

Learn how to identify frogs by their calls. Investigate wetlands and streams in search of frogs and salamanders. Be prepared to get wet, muddy, and bring a flashlight and headlamp, nets, seines and buckets. Meet at the Nature Center. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.


Arabia/Panola Bike Ride

Saturday, August 17, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Panola Mountain State Park - Stockbridge

Grab your bike and sense of adventure as we bike 14 miles round-trip from Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve to Panola Mountain and back. Guided by Park Rangers and Naturalists, we’ll make stops at several cultural sites and trails to learn more about the history and landscape of the Arabia National Heritage Area. $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.





SAM Shortline Train Ride

Saturdays, August 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, 9:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.

SAM Shortline Excursion Train – Cordele

Enjoy this ride from Georgia Veterans State Park to Plains, the small Georgia town made famous by President Jimmy Carter. You will return to the park in time for visiting the indoor and outdoor museums. 1-877-427-2457.


Astronomy Night

Saturday, August 10, 9 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Georgia Veterans State Park - Cordele

Spend a night exploring the heavens, featuring the Perseid meteor shower, stars and planets. $1 plus $5 parking. (229) 276-2371. 


Twilight Paddles

Saturday, August 10, 17 and 31 and Friday, August 30

Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge

Explore Lake Rutledge as we scan the sky for Ospreys and maybe an Eagle, and watch the changing colors on the water as the sunsets.  We will interpret the role the CCC made in creating this great park in the 1930s. Meet at the Park Office/Trading Post. Register in advance. $15 plus $5 parking. (706) 557-3001.


Paddle Under the Perseids – Meteor Kayak Tour

Saturday, August 10, 10 p.m.

Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge

Join a park ranger on this kayak tour of Lake Rutledge as we watch the night sky for the Perseids Meteor Shower. This is considered by many to be the year's best meteor shower because the meteors are often bright and leave long trails. Will meet at the Lake Rutledge boat ramp. Register in advance. $20 plus $5 parking. (706) 557-3001.


Americus Adventure Train Ride

Friday, August 16, 9:30 a.m. – 4:50 p.m.

SAM Shortline Excursion Train - Cordele

Riding in air-conditioned, 1949 vintage train cars, you can travel across Lake Blackshear, tour Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village and sample peanut butter treats in Plains. Groups and parties welcome.  Buy tickets in advance.  1-877-427-2457.


Full Moon Night Hike

Saturday, August 17, 8:30 p.m.

Magnolia Springs State Park – Millen

Whippoorwills, owls and bats, oh my! Explore the night by using all your senses while going on a hike through the woods led by a ranger. Bring a flashlight and hiking shoes. Easy half-mile hike. $1 plus $5 parking. (478) 982-1660.


Labor Day Luau

Friday, August 30 through Sunday, September 1

Reed Bingham State Park – Adel

There will be many fun games for the children along with face painting, wildlife presentations, and a kid’s treasure hunt on the beach. Bring your family and friends to enjoy the festivities. $5 parking. (229) 896-3551.





Okefenokee Swamp Sunset Boat Tour

Saturdays through September 7, 7:30 p.m.

Stephen C. Foster State Park - Fargo

Dare to venture out in the swamp at night. See which creatures lurk after dark. After the sun sets, see the stars come out and the alligators’ eyes glow bright red with the aid of a spotlight. Sign up at the office; space is limited. $15 - $20. $5 parking. 912-637-5274.


Big Ferry Hike, Toads and Turtles, and Whoooo is out there?

Saturday, August 17, 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Skidaway Island State Park --  Savannah

At 10:00 a.m. come for a 2 to 3 mile hike through a Maritime Forest, learning early history of Skidaway. At 2:00 p.m. discover the differences between reptiles and amphibians. At 8:30 p.m. join us to learn about owls and their behavior and then head out into the night to hear a hoot. $5 parking. (912) 598-2300.


Wilderness Survival and Spider Seek

Thursday, August 22

Skidaway Island State Park -- Savannah

At 1:00 p.m. we will talk about lost prevention and show you simple items to take with you on a hike. At 8:30 p.m. hike the trails at night to find where the spiders go hide. $5 parking. (912) 598-2300.


Ft. McAllister Labor Day Festival

Saturday, August 31, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fort McAllister Historic Park – Richmond Hill

You deserve a little R & R for all of your hard work, so gather up the family and bring some friends to the park. We invite you to kick back and enjoy music and entertainment, games for children and adults, a challenging grease pole climb, and great food. Adults $6.50, Seniors $6.00, Youth (6-17) $3.75 (912) 727-2339.


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