The Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia

April 25th, 2014 | By Marjie No Comments

Spring break and summer vacations are great opportunities for adventure, family time, and fun! But that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. When you think about your upcoming summer break, it’s a great time to think about activities to get the kids out of the house and into the great outdoors. Luckily, Georgia has Seven Natural Wonders that are both convenient and breathtaking. So instead of spending time and money getting away, try a ‘staycation’ right in your own backyard!

1. Amicalola Falls
(77 miles from Athens)

With more than 12 miles of trails, Amicalola Falls State Park is famous for amazing views and its 730-feet waterfall. Interestingly, Amicalola Falls is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The park has trails for all types of hikers, from novices to those who want more of a challenge. There is even an eight-mile trail that follows the Appalachian Trail all the way to the southern end. If you decide to hike all the way to the top of Amicalola Falls, pop into the lodge for a brief break and a yummy snack!

2. Okefenokee Swamp
(240 miles from Athens)

ga-seven-wondersDid you know that Georgia is home of the largest swamp in North America? The Okefenokee Swamp is approximately 700 square miles and covers part of Southern Georgia and Northern Florida.  The swamp is home to various animals such as black bears, otters, alligators, ospreys, and all kinds of fish. It also has unique plants, including carnivorous and pitcher plants. When visiting the park, try to take a guided boat tour on either a paddle or motorboat. Also consider hiking amongst nature on a marked trail or a boardwalk. Fishing is also a fun activity to enjoy in while visiting the swamp. There are countless opportunities to enjoy the Okefenokee Swamp Park, so get out there and explore!

3. Providence Canyon
(212 miles from Athens)

Known as “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon,” Providence Canyon offers tremendous sights of a colorful canyon. The canyon began to form in the 1800s as a result of poor farming practices, and continues to transform due to erosion. Providence Canyon is approximately 1,109 acres and offers three miles of trails through and around the 150-feet deep canyon. Try going to the park after sunset to get a spectacular view of the stars or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, try camping overnight on one of the park’s six campgrounds.

4. Radium Springs
(200 miles fom Athens)

Beautiful, teal water flows from Radium Springs at a rate of 70,000 gallons per minute. The water is filled with the mineral radium. Although swimming is not allowed anymore, the springs used to draw tourists to the 68-degree water pools because people believed the water had healing powers. Due to its popularity, a casino, spa, and resort were constructed on the property, along with beautiful gardens and walkways. After a powerful storm caused the casino to close, the springs were turned into a state park. Visit the park for beautiful scenery, gardens, and ruins of the casino and resort.

5. Stone Mountain
(54 miles from Athens)

Stone Mountain is the world’s largest piece of exposed granite in the world, as well as the most visited attraction in Georgia. On the side of the rock is a three-acre Confederate Memorial Carving depicting President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.  That’s bigger than two football fields put together! There are many things to do when visiting Stone Mountain. Try hiking the 1.1 miles to the top of the rock and enjoy views of downtown Atlanta and other surrounding areas.  Or take the Summit Skyride to the top to get a closer peek at the carving and other breathtaking views. Other kid-friendly activities include various jungle gyms, Duck Boat rides, and even a 45-minute 3D laser show. With so many things to do, make sure to get there early so you don’t run out of daylight!

6. Tallulah Gorge
(66 miles from Athens)

Running two miles long and close to 1,000 feet deep, Tallulah Gorge offers gorgeous views of an extraordinary canyon. There are six public trails along the rim and into the canyon. Hurricane Falls Suspension Bridge Loop is a three-mile hike that provides access to a bridge suspended above the falls. Another trail takes you down to the floor of the gorge, offering swimming access to those interested in sliding down a giant rock. Make sure to check out the park’s museum to learn about the history behind Tallulah Gorge and the two men who successfully walked a tightrope across it!

7. Warm Springs
(136 miles from Athens)

Back in the 1920s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt built a house near this natural wonder so he could regularly visit the Warm Springs as treatment for his polio. Although the pools that the springs fill are no longer accessible to the public, they are still used for therapy to this day. Roosevelt also started the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation in 1927, to provide services for people with disabilities. That rehab center is still open today. When visiting the springs, be sure to visit “The Little White House” where Roosevelt developed the New Deal and where he died on April 12, 1945. Also visit the touch pool to feel the whopping 88-degree water!

With so many wonderful things to do in Georgia, it is hard to pick just one! Next time you’re considering taking a cross-country road trip, save yourself some time and money by keeping it in state and visiting all of these wonderful sites. If you have yet to make plans for your next break from school days, try visiting them all in one week … or one per day! A round-trip from Athens to all of the parks will take you around 16 hours, somewhere around 880 miles. Look at the map to find the quickest route. You won’t regret it!

For more information on the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia as well as information on Georgia’s other State Parks, visit www.gastateparks.org.

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