May 18, 2020
Throughout this pandemic we have all faced some trying times and decisions, most notably being asked to stay at home and put our lives on hold for nearly two months. The stay-at-home orders forced the cancellation of many beach weeks, visits to the lake, and other family vacations to anywhere other than your own vacation home. After all, who wants to rent a condo when there is no way to know who stayed there before and how cautious they may, or may not, have been while there.
A notable exception to this has been the state park systems around the country. While the national parks and forests around the country have been closed, most state parks have stayed open. And people all over have been taking advantage.
There are 45 state parks in the Georgia system which currently offer camping services around the state. These can range from relatively sparse backcountry campsites, typically a few miles from the nearest road, to cabins containing all the luxuries one could need for a three-day weekend in the woods. Excluding the cabins and hotel rooms in our state parks, there are over 2,400 tent and RV campsites available on any given weekend. That is, there normally are. Right now, these sites are being used at near 100% utilization, and they have been for weeks. As of today, there are only four campsites in the entire park system that are available for this upcoming Memorial Day weekend! To book a site at your preferred state park you may need to look out several weeks, or even a month or two.
It seems that in these trying times of self-isolation and the, now expiring, stay-at-home orders people are taking this opportunity to revisit nature and take advantage of the land that we have set aside for doing so. Even those who do not like the idea of sleeping in a tent are joining in on the great outdoors adventure. A recent trip to Kennesaw Mountain showed that both parking lots were full to capacity. While this may sound scary at the moment, the 2,888 acre park provides plenty of room for visitors to spread out and enjoy the views towards the city of Atlanta and the surrounding forests while maintaining proper social distancing. This park also serves as a memorial to the Battle of Atlanta, and there are hundreds of culturally significant landmarks to visit while at the park.
There are many more parks in the area which are great for day trips and weekend camping alike. You can lay on the sandy beaches of Don Carter State Park at the headwaters of Lake Lanier, or take in the breathtaking waterfall views at Cloudland Canyon or Amicalola Falls, the unofficial start of the legendary Appalachian Trail which stretches from Georgia to Maine. No matter your preference, there is probably a state park for you. For those of us who are looking to get out of the house for a day, or three, the Georgia system provides a great asset and one which should not be forgotten.