6 Surprising Places to Sleep at Georgia State Parks
Georgia State Parks redefine what it means to spend the night in nature.
If you think staying at one of Georgia's 63 state parks and historic sites means roughing it, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Rather than just one expected option (camping), many parks offer places to stay that are as diverse as the state's topography, vegetation, and wildlife. These accommodations retain their environment’s rustic charm, but they enchant in unexpected ways. Whether you’re looking for a cabin complete with a hot tub, a backcountry lodge, or your own private island, Georgia State Parks have something that fits the bill.
Amicalola Falls State Park, Dawsonville
Whether you’re heading north on the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail or exploring the beauty of Amicalola Falls, you’ll appreciate a cozy night at the Len Foote Hike Inn, accessed by a five-mile hike from the top of the falls. Your stay comes with a piping-hot shower, home-cooked dinner, and robust breakfast. While you’ll find fresh linens, fluffy pillows, a library, board games galore, and a wrap-around porch for stargazing, you won’t find any outlets for charging electronics. After all, it’s time to unplug and enjoy the experience.
Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo
North America’s largest blackwater swamp — the Okefenokee — isn’t as ominous as it sounds, particularly when guests are tucked into one of eight cozy cottages in the sprawling Suwannee River Eco-Lodge nearby. Though the title of the lodge is a bit of a misnomer (it’s in the woods), it keeps overnight visitors to Stephen C. Foster State Park close to nature’s action. The cottages accommodate two to eight guests each and have many comforts of home, including kitchens, screened porches with views of the woods, vaulted ceilings and barbecue grills. Though there’s Wi-Fi, we bet you’ll be so enamored with the wild surroundings, you won’t be tempted to power up.
Smithgall Woods State Park, Helen
Picture this: After a day of canoeing, fishing in a premier trout stream, and hiking, you sink into your own private hot tub. Nope, you’re not visualizing yourself at a pricey mountain resort; you’re at one of Smithgall Woods State Park’s six cottages. Situated on land that was once the private retreat of conservationist and businessman Charles A. Smithgall Jr., the quaintly decorated cottages boast 17 rooms between them. Each is unique, some with stream-front views, spacious decks, the aforementioned hot tubs, televisions, and stone fireplaces.
Tugaloo State Park, Lavonia
Leave your cumbersome tent at home and stay in a circular permanent tent that sleeps up to six people. (Nothing in the woods says rustic luxury more than a structure that requires zero set-up!) All lucky guests who sleep in one of the six new yurts at Tugaloo State Park on the banks of Lake Hartwell need only bring linens and perhaps some delicious food to cook over the fire pit right outside. Each yurt comes complete with wooden floors, canvas walls, a skylight, a cozy heater, cabin-style furniture, electricity, and bathhouses a short walk away.
Reed Bingham State Park, Adel
Fancy your own private island? Well, you can rent one at Reed Bingham State Park. It’s surrounded by a massive lake and accessible only by canoe, which you can rent from the park. Prepare your guests (the island can hold up to 30 of them) for pioneer-style camping (read: minimal facilities with just a fire ring and grill) and get ready to truly unplug. Hint: Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles.
Watson Mill Bridge State Park, Comer
For horse enthusiasts, it doesn't get much better than riding 14 miles of scenic trails before bedding down in a log-cabin bunkhouse near your equine best friend. At Watson Mill Bridge State Park, you can do just that. Book a stall for your trusty steed and a bunkhouse -- complete with air conditioning and a small refrigerator -- for yourself. The accommodations are rustic, yet comfortable, and include access to a nearby bathhouse, fire rings (s'mores, anyone?) and picnic tables for dinner under the stars.