February E-News from Georgia State Parks

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February 2014

Watson Mill Bridge

Valentine’s Romance in Georgia’s State Parks

Sweethearts planning a memorable Valentine’s Day will find plenty of romance in Georgia’s State Parks. From winter wonderland hikes to picnics under the stars, and from secluded cabins to cracking fires, our state parks have a variety of ways to surprise your honey.

At Panola Mountain State Park near Atlanta, couples can picnic as they enjoy a full moon over the skyline.  Red Top Mountain State Park near Cartersville invites star-crossed lovers to stroll the Iron Hill Trail, watching sunset over Lake Allatoona.  For a historic twist on romance, Fort Mountain State Park will host a hike to “heart rock,” where couples will hear a love story from the Great Depression.  For a complete list of Valentine’s Day events, visit GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday, this year’s holiday will be a popular weekend for overnight getaways.  Most fully equipped cabins have fireplaces and beautiful views of lakes, forests and mountains.  “Glamping” yurts have toasty heaters inside and cozy campfires outside.  Modern campsites feature perfect spots for toasting marshmallows.  Off-season discounts can be found on GeorgiaStateParks.org or by calling 1-800-864-7275.

Fort Yargo fishing

Spectacular Spring Break Solutions 

Georgia’s State Parks make Spring Break planning easy!  Parents will find a variety of accommodations at all prices, with unlimited recreation right outside their door.  Challenge your family to a mini-golf competition, paddle across a sunlit lake, and make s’mores over a campfire.  Kids will love the freedom of exploring nature, and parents will love never hearing “I’m bored!”

Online reservations are available for campsites, yurts, cabins or lodge rooms.  All state park campgrounds have hot showers, and most have laundry facilities.  Yurts are a perfect solution for families who want the comfort of a cabin with the fun of camping.  Our cozy cottages have fully equipped kitchens and beautiful views, while our lodges feature onsite restaurants.  Once settled in, your family can enjoy hiking, fishing, biking, kayak rental, golf, geocaching, ranger programs and numerous other activities.

Plan your Spring Break getaway now by visiting GeorgiaStateParks.org.

2014 Park Guide Available

Hot off the presses!  The new “Guide to Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites” is now available.  You’ll find photos and descriptions of more than 60 destinations across Georgia.  Call 1-800-864-7275 to order your free copy or view on GeorgiaStateParks.org.


Tugaloo Yurt

Winter Discounts on Yurts, Cabins & Campsites

If snuggling by the fire and a peaceful walk in the woods sounds like the perfect escape, we have the perfect destination.  Many Georgia State Parks offer winter discounts on accommodations, ranging from funky yurts to lakefront cabins.  A few parks occasionally waive the two-night minimum for last-minute getaways.  For the latest specials, visit GeorgiaStateParks.org.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll get insider tips on discounts as well.


Annual ParkPasses Save You Money

If you visit any of Georgia’s State Parks more than 10 times in a year, you can save money by purchasing an Annual ParkPass.  Pass holders are exempt from paying the daily $5 parking fee, and their purchase helps maintain park facilities.  Annual ParkPasses are available for $50 from any park office.  Seniors 62 or older save 50 percent, and military discounts are available as well. 


February 2014 Calendar of Events

Don’t hibernate during winter; layer up and come play in the great outdoors!  Below are just a few events scheduled for this month.  A complete list can be found on GeorgiaStateParks.org/events -- including several Valentine's Day programs.  


Indoor Archery Classes

Saturdays and Sundays in February

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge, GA

Don't let the cold weather keep you from shooting. Come to the nature center for indoor archery and join a certified instructor to learn the basics. All equipment provided. If you have your own equipment, cost includes an all-day archery range pass. Ages 9 and older. Register in advance.  $10 plus $5 parking. 770-389-7801.


Winter Wagon Rides

Saturdays in February

Hard Labor Creek State Park - Rutledge, GA

Explore Hard Labor Creek's rich Civilian Conservation Corps history by wagon ride. This trip will take participants through the park and stop at areas of historic importance. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. 706-557-3001.


Okefenokee Swamp Tours

Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. – February 1 until May 31

Stephen C. Foster State Park - Fargo, GA

Join us for a tour of historic Billy's Island. This island was home to Native Americans, pioneers, and lumbermen for thousands of years. We will take a boat out to the island and hike the short trail, about 3/4 of a mile, and view some of the relics left from times past. $15-$20 $5 parking. 912-637-5274.


Historic New Manchester History Hikes

Saturdays, 1 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park - Lithia Springs, GA 

This mile-long hike (easy to moderate) will lead to the five story ruins of the Civil War-era New Manchester textile mill and focus on the history of the Sweetwater Creek Valley. This historian or ranger-led hike will include going inside the ruins and seeing the lovely whitewater rapids which provide great photo opportunities. $5 plus $5 parking. 770-732-5871.


Colonial Faire and Muster

Saturday & Sunday, February 8 - 9  

Wormsloe Historic Site - Savannah, GA 

Experience life in Colonial Georgia during the 18th century with a military encampment, Sutler's Row, craft demonstrations, military demonstrations, and period music and dance. Food concessions will be available. Free admission. 912-353-3023.


Hemlock Update and Winter Botany

Saturday, February 8 and Sunday, February 9,  12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Smithgall Woods State Park - Helen, GA

A report on the progress of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid treatment of our Eastern Hemlock trees will be followed by Botanist Jim Sullivan demonstrating how to identify plants using clues available in the winter. Winter Botany will include a short hike to identify nearby flora. Register in advance. $15 after. $5 parking. 706-878-3087.


Valentine's Under Venus Stargazing Party

Friday, February 14, 7 p.m.

Fort McAllister Historic Park - Richmond Hill, GA

Invite your Valentine for a night beneath the moon and stars as we learn and solve the secrets of space with Ms. Mullenax, Professor of Astronomy and Physics at AASU. Bring a blanket and a picnic dinner to eat under the stars. Alcohol is prohibited. $7 per person $5 parking. 912-727-2339.


Couples Twilight Night Hike

Friday, February 14, 5:30 p.m.

High Falls State Park - Jackson, GA

Enjoy a romantic night under the full moon light with a stroll to the falls. Learn the history of the falls  and some cool facts of the nocturnal creatures that call High Falls home. Meet at the Park Office. $5 plus $5 parking. 478-993-3053.


Thrills in the Hills Half-Marathon and Marathon

Saturday, February 22, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fort Yargo State Park - Winder, GA

This half marathon and marathon will be an off-road course following the park's scenic mountain bike trails. To register, go to www.dirtyspokes.com. $5 parking. 770-867-3489.

Conductor's Favorite Train Ride

Saturday, February 22,  9:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

SAM Shortline Excursion Train - Cordele, GA

Enjoy this ride from Georgia Veterans State Park to Plains. Plains is 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. Fees vary.  www.SamShortline.com. 229-276-0755.


View all events at GeorgiaStateParks.org/events


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