You may have experienced the unspoiled beauty of Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore. You might also have hiked or paddled your way down the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. But did you know that Georgia plays host to several other fascinating sites managed by the National Park Service?
Here’s a quick rundown of lesser-known National Park Service locations in Georgia. As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016, use this guide to start planning your own Georgia national parks vacation on ExploreGeorgia.org.
National Historic Sites
Andersonville National Historic Site near Americus – Tour the historic Civil War prison site and Andersonville National Cemetery, where veterans are still being buried. The on-site National Prisoner of War Museum pays tribute to prisoners of all American wars.
Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains – Tour the Carter boyhood farm, the Plains High School Museum and Visitors Center, the Plains train depot and other points of interest in the 39th president’s hometown.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta – Tour King’s birth home, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, where Dr. King and Coretta Scott King were laid to rest.
National Heritage Areas
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area east of Atlanta – Explore granite “mountains” (actually monadnocks), wetlands and forests, a nearby monastery and numerous other historic structures and exhibits. Plan to spend at least a day learning about the cultures that have populated the area, hiking or biking trails, and discovering the natural and cultural secrets that make this region truly amazing.
Augusta Canal National Heritage Area in Augusta – What once played a role in both the Civil War and Augusta’s once-booming textile trade is now a recreational corridor with easy access for paddlers and a tow path that can be used for hiking, biking and fishing. Take a guided boat tour to learn more about the importance of the Augusta Canal in the area’s history.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail has its southern terminus at Springer Mountain within the Chattahoochee National Forest. Even if you never leave the state of Georgia, the “AT” will lead past waterfalls, through deep, green forests and to the peaks of some of the state’s tallest mountains.
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, starting at the New Echota State Historic Site in Calhoun, the Trail of Tears commemorates the forced removal of members of the Five Civilized Tribes to Oklahoma beginning in 1838. Historic sites along the way include the homes of wealthy Cherokee leaders and the assembly points and gravesites that bear witness to the tragic mass relocation.
National Historic Monuments
Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island – Learn about the battle between Spain and Great Britain for contested lands between Florida and Georgia. Explore the museum, visitor’s center and archaeological site to learn more about this 18th century outpost.
Fort Pulaski National Historic Monument on Cockspur Island between Savannah and Tybee Island – See the earthen forts that became obsolete during the Civil War, the moat that once protected the fort, the damage from Union bombardment, the Cockspur Island Lighthouse and interesting exhibits detailing the island’s history.
Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon – See huge burial mounds constructed by the Mississippian culture around 1000 A.D. Explore the exhibits, hike the trails and learn about a place that’s been occupied continuously for 17,000 years.
National Military Parks
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Fort Oglethorpe – See markers and monuments that tell the story of the Battle of Chickamauga, and learn why the Confederate’s eventual loss here foretold the end of the Civil War.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Marietta – Explore three battlefields with interpretive trails, a visitor center, preserved earthworks and a memorable view from the top of Kennesaw Mountain.
National Cultural Heritage Corridor
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. The Gullah/Geechee culture, originating with West African slaves brought to coastal North and South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida, can be seen in unique communities that this cultural heritage corridor is meant to preserve. Keep your eyes open as you travel the Georgia Coast for remnants of this distinct and colorful culture.
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. He has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years, camping across the United States, from coast-to-coast, and makes a point to stop at national landmarks along the way.