You don’t need a degree in wilderness survival to enjoy the great Georgia outdoors—at least not at these amazing campsites that are perfect for families looking to leave the skyline in their rear-view mirrors. From teepees and yurts to traditional tents, read on for our guide to where to let your critters run wild.
Photo: Arup Malakar via flickr
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Located just south of Chattanooga and straddling a deep gorge, this camping spot puts the gorge in gorgeous. Don’t be discouraged by the park’s rugged terrain. The best view into the canyon is an easy stroll from the picnic area, and the lodging options include the traditional campground, walk-in tent sites, cottages, and yes, yurts. Make this camping adventure part of a weekend trip to Chattanooga and your kids will forget about Disneyworld. They’ll be begging for another trip to the gorge.
122 Cloudland Canyon Park
Rising Fawn, Ga 30738
Photo: The Rock Ranch via Facebook
The Rock Ranch: Conestoga Campouts
Following a day of family entertainment at The Rock Ranch (train rides, zip lines, paddle boats, horse rides, and total kid nirvana) you and your crew can load up in a covered wagon outfitted with eight bunk beds and enjoy the wide open spaces under Barnesville’s starry sky. Complete with a campfire cookout (marshmallows, hot dogs, and baked beans, naturally), a professional storyteller, and an astronomer (each of these is available for an additional fee), your cowpokes will be talking about this adventure until the cows come home.
5020 Barnesville Hwy.
The Rock, Ga 30285
Photo: Robin S. via Yelp
Don Carter State Park – First-Time Camper Program
Located where the Chattahoochee River flows into Lake Lanier, Don Carter is the perfect spot for anyone who wants to try camping near water without the hike to coastal Georgia. With multiple playgrounds, trails, a swimming beach, and boat ramps, this newer State Park also makes overnight camping a dream. The Georgia State Park’s First-Time Camper program is available and provides campers with a ranger to help set up camp with the program’s own equipment from REI (That’s right. You don’t even have to pack a tent to make this adventure happen.).
5000 North Browning Bridge Rd.
Gainesville, Ga 30506
Photo: North Georgia Canopy Tours
North Georgia Canopy Tours: Teepee Camping
For those who want to “roughing it,” North Georgia Canopy Tours offers 15 rustic camping sites (all with accessibility to a nearby Comfort Station with separate men and women facilities). But if you’re planning a trip to Lula, the teepees might be too irresistible to pass up. Air conditioning, lighting, and electrical outlets are the most notable amenities, but your your kids might be more impressed by the custom paint job on each tent, making them feel like miniature Cherokee Chiefs for the duration of your stay. And if you’re wondering “what will we DO after we get our lodging sorted out,” have no fear. NGCT has zip lining, cornhole, disc golf, and tetherball outside, and board games, cards, and foosball in the Canopy Command Center (a sort of campy clubhouse).
5290 Harris Rd.
Lula, Ga 30554
Photo: Tom N. via Yelp
Fort Mountain State Park
The two things you need to know about Fort Mountain is that 1) there are stables with guided horseback rides and 2) there’s Georgia’s equivalent of Stonehenge perched right on top of the highest point of the mountain. The horses are self-explanatory. The 855-foot long stone wall is not, though those in the know suggest that it’s the remnant of early Indian fortification or the sight of ancient Indian ceremonies. Just think about the campfire story olympics you and your kids could have, trying to come up with the best explanation for the mysterious wall. This is the stuff camping legends are made of.
181 Fort Mountain Park Rd.
Chatsworth, Ga 30705
Photo: Mark W. via Tripadvisor
Black Rock Mountain State Park
Beat the heat this summer and head to Georgia’s highest state park. While Black Rock doesn’t participate in the First-Time Camper program, the mountaintop cottages (and playground) offer a nice alternative to setting up camp yourself. However, if it’s a tent they want, then there might be no better (and cooler) spot this summer than on top of Black Rock Mountain. Beyond the sleeping arrangements, this park offers visitors multiple trails filled with waterfalls, wildflowers, and wonder. Looking to add a little adventure to your camping? Take a short ride to Wildcat Creek’s Sliding Rock, where a thrilling (and maybe a little scary) natural water slide awaits. Or, head over to Lake Burton and Moccasin Creek State Park for it’s sandy beach and killer fishing.
3085 Black Rock Mountain Pkwy.
Mountain City, Ga 30562
Where does your family camp out? Tell us below!
–Shelley Massey and Phebe Wahl