Free Parking and Admission to State Parks Saturday

Corn mazes, fall festivals, Leaf Watch and State Park adventures will keep you and your family busy this fall.

There are so many things to do this season in Georgia, from corn mazes with rides and booths to just getting out and enjoying nature. What are some of your favorite things to do?

Free admission to State Parks this Saturday

Parking and admission fees are waived this Saturday at all Georgia State Parks as part of National Public Lands Day.

“We’re calling this celebration ‘Your State Parks Day’ to remind Georgians that state parks and historic sites belong to them,” said Andy Fleming, executive director of the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites on the Georgia State Parks website.  “Parks add so much to our lives.  We’re hoping more people will visit the state park closest to their homes, and that they’ll join one of the service projects happening that day.”
The statewide event includes numerous volunteer projects and family-friendly programs.  At Fort Yargo, mountain bikers will work on trails, at Hard Labor Creek, rangers will lead a wildlife kayaking expedition, and at Unicoi, visitors can help clean up Smith Creek.  A full calendar is posted available on their website.

Now if only the campsites were free!

Check out these other outdoor activities going on around Georgia this season.

The Rock Ranch
The Rock Ranch is a 1,330-acre ranch near Macon, Ga. The ranch kicked off Fall Family Fun Days on Saturday, Sept. 22, with a wide variety of outdoor family activities. Kids and parents alike can enjoy a day in the country with acres of room to run and play, zip lines, hay rides, a corn maze, a miniature village called Tiny Town, a locomotive train, a petting zoo, paddle boats, cane pole fishing and more. 

 “The Rock Ranch offers an opportunity for families to spend quality time together and provides educational and entertaining programs that create lifetime memories,” said Jeff Manley, general manager of The Rock Ranch.  “Throughout the years, we’ve learned to blend our love of agriculture with entertainment to keep people interested and involved in a way of life that our grandparents knew well but now is in danger of being forgotten.”

Guests may also reserve a campfire picnic site for their group during a Fall Family Fun Day.  Campfire sites are $75 for the day.  Overnight camping in oversized Conestoga wagons, each equipped with eight bunk beds, is available by reservation.

For tickets, directions and more details about Fall Family Fun Days, visit their website or Facebook page.

Other Corn Mazes and Fall Festivals:

Leaf Watch

Every October, Georgia’s forests become a brilliant blanket of red, orange and gold, inspiring leaf peepers to pull out their cameras and lace up their hiking boots. To help track the changing leaves and plan autumn getaways, Georgia’s State Parks will launch Leaf Watch 2012 beginning October 1 on their website.

Whether hiking, biking or simply driving country roads, travelers can check Leaf Watch 2012 for advice on where and when to find the best color in Georgia’s state parks. They can read updates from park rangers, get safety tips for hiking, and browse event calendars. Last-minute availability for cabins, yurts, campsites and lodge rooms in the state parks will also be posted.

Typically, northern Georgia peaks in late October; however, color can be seen as early as September and as late as mid-November. Some parks in southern Georgia put on a pretty display during late autumn, particularly those with cypress trees and tea-colored swamps such as George L. Smith or Stephen Foster state parks.

“Fall is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy Mother Nature’s handiwork,” said State Park Director Becky Kelley. “We have short nature trails that are good for kids, and longer trails that are perfect for experienced hikers. We even have roadside overlooks that make it easy to enjoy the view during a road trip. With our wide range of accommodations, it’s easy to plan a fall vacation to one of Georgia’s State Parks.”

State officials recently announced Georgia’s top ten state parks for leaf watching, which included Amicalola Falls, Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain, Moccasin Creek, James H. Sloppy Floyd, Smithgall Woods, Tallulah Gorge, Unicoi and Vogel. For quieter getaways, visitors may want to explore parks further south, which can offer vibrant color as well. Georgia’s newest state park, Chattahoochee Bend, features thick hardwoods reflecting off the winding river. Beautiful maples and oaks can be found on the Pine Mountain Trail at F.D. Roosevelt State Park.

(Editor's note: some of the information in this story was provided by Georgia State Parks.)


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