Three Nationally-Ranked Georgia State Parks Offer Easy Gas-Saving Get-Aways


With fuel prices at record highs, perhaps you're rethinking your spring break or summer vacation.

Thankfully, you don't have to look far as Georgia's state parks offer great gas-saving getaways for families. Whether you're looking for a spring break adventure, long weekend retreat or an outdoorsy family vacation, Georgia's state parks promise family-friendly fun with enough variety to satisfy the entire gang.
Tall waterfalls, forest trails, wild caves and plentiful wildlife are among the wonders at Georgia's Cloudland State Park.Photo:

Georgia's state park system includes 49 state park locations located throughout the state. Add to that 13 state historic sites, two historic battlefield sites and a dozen partner sites, and there has to be an interesting and nearby option for virtually any Georgia family.

In North Georgia, three Georgia state parks are ranked consensus favorites by well-known travel sources including Travel and Leisure Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler and Trip Advisor.

Cloudland Canyon State Park on the Western edge of Lookout Mountain features 3,485 acres of heavily-wooded mountain sides and valleys, filled with waterfalls, a 1,000 foot canyon, wild caves and plentiful wildlife. Both National Geographic and Conde Nast put Cloudland Canyon on their lists of the best state parks in the United States. Luxurious cabins are available, as is unique camping in funky yurts. Of course, there's also a traditional campground for RVers and tent campers. Activities include 64 miles of hiking trails, 30 miles of bike trails, 16 miles of horse trails, disc golf, geocaching, fishing and more. Waterfall lovers delight in visiting Cherokee and Hemlock Falls along Sutton Creek, along with numerous others in the canyon. Visitors don't have to walk far for spectacular views, as an overlook of the canyon is less than 100 yards from the main parking lot. The Georgia State Parks website offers complete information, along with bear-wise tips that are useful in black bear country. The marble mine at James Floyd State Park and the weekend-access-only Lula Falls are both easy day trips for more adventure.
Conde Nast and National Geographic include colorful Cloudland Canyon in their lists of best state parks in the United States.Photo:

Amicalola State Park is another consensus favorite, receiving the No. 1 Georgia state park rating by Trip Advisor and Blue Ridge Travel Guide and also rate Amicalola in their lists of top Georgia state parks. The highlight here is Georgia's tallest waterfall, cascading more than 700 feet. Multiple trails lead to a mid-falls bridge, perfect for dreamy vacation photos. Again, visitors can see the waterfall without a long walk, as it's visible from the base -- though leafy trees may obscure some of the cascade in summer. An ADA-rated trail makes it easy for most visitors to reach the mid-falls bridge. And an overlook at the top of the falls delivers on a spectacular valley view. Cabins and camping are available, but don't forget the incredible mountain-top lodge offering resort-style amenities with a fabulous view. Activities include on-site zip lining, geocaching, guided hikes, GPS scavenger hunts, trout fishing and a fitness trail. Amicalola State Park also is the Georgia gateway to the Appalachian Trail.
Cascading more than 700 feet, Amicalola Falls is the namesake of this top-rated Georgia state park.Photo:

Tallulah Gorge State Park in Northeast Georgia is rated the No. 2 Georgia state park by Trip Advisor and also makes's Top 10 list. The name of this park says it all: Tallulah Gorge. Over 2 miles long and 1,000 feet deep, hikers and nature lovers flock to the gorge for adventure. Hiking trails line the rim and drop into the deep canyon. A limited number of canyon floor passes available each day admit lucky visitors to a unique adventure. For the less adventurous or mobility limited, a paved path offers great views and an award-winning film at the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center delivers a dramatic tour of the canyon. Nearby, the small town of Clayton offers lots of dining and lodging. And Black Rock State Park delivers additional spectacular vistas along the high mountains of the Eastern Divide.
Hiking down into Tallulah Gorge includes a walk over a suspension bridge high over the canyon floor.Photo:

More North Georgia Park Adventures

Vogel State Park and Area Waterfalls. Vogel is a great base for waterfall chasing adventures. Plus, it offers easy access to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain top in Georgia. The area from nearby Blairsville and including the Russell-Brasstown scenic byway are popular fall drives as Georgia's mountain forests explode with color.
Vogel State Parks sits near some of Georgia's tallest mountains and several nearby waterfalls.Photo:

Red Top Mountain State Park. Featuring 20 newly-constructed cabins, this close-in treasure literally is next door to Cobb County. Hiking and mountain bike trails wind along the forested shores of Lake Allatoona. A huge marina features watercraft rentals of all types, too.
20 new cabins and funky new yurts expand the camping options at Red Top Mountain near Cartersville.Photo:

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I'm a trained journalist and retired global marketing executive. Living in Northwest Georgia, I write about about avocations including outdoors, travel, exploration, history and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries. My South Louisiana-born French Cajun upbringing in food-rich Louisiana plus my extended restaurant-related career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. At my blog,, I offer a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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