For those of you who have wanted to try camping, but weren’t sure how to begin, Georgia State Parks can help.
Gear from REI
Test out great gear provided by REI (Recreation Equipment Incorporated)—an outdoor equipment and clothing company.
You won’t get to keep it, but you will get coupons for future purchases.
The package of borrowed gear includes:
- 1 REI Kingdom tent (6-person)
- 4 sleeping pads (self-inflating)
- 1 camp stove with fuel
- 4 roasting forks
- 1 lantern
Please bring your own sleeping bag or blanket, and a pillow.
Choose from six Georgia State Parks. Campsites have water and electric hookups, picnic tables, grills, and campfire pits. Bathrooms and hot showers are within walking distance. All of the parks have geocaches.
Call the Park directly to make your reservations and be sure to identify yourself as a First-Time Camper.
The parks offering the First-Time Camper program include:
- Fort Mountain State Park: Located between Chatsworth and Ellijay, Fort Mountain has a lake with a beach for swimming. You can boat or fish, hike, bike, or play mini-golf. There’s a tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the mysterious, ancient rock wall that gives the park its name. Phone: (706) 422-1932
- Fort Yargo State Park: Located Atlanta and Athens, Fort Yargo features a 1792 log fort built by settlers for protection against Creek and Cherokee Indians. Today, visitors come to Fort Yargo for its wide variety of outdoor recreation and scenery. Mountain bikers and hikers can test their endurance on 18 miles of trails. A 260-acre lake offers a large swimming beach, fishing, and boat ramps. The park’s wooded disc golf course is exceptionally challenging. Phone: (770) 867-3489
- James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park: Located near Rome in northwestern Georgia, James H. (Sloppy) Floyd offers hiking, biking, fishing, and boating. Phone: (706) 857-0826
- Victoria Bryant State Park: Nestled in the rolling hills of Georgia’s upper Piedmont near Lavonia, Victoria Bryant is one of northern Georgia’s best kept secrets. A beautiful stream flows through the park, providing the perfect setting for an after-picnic stroll. The park offers a swimming pool, gentle hiking, two small ponds, and a golf course. Phone: (706) 245-6270
- Reed Bingham State Park: Located six miles west of I-75 in South Georgia, Reed Bingham has a 375-acre lake that’s popular with boaters and skiers; fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, and bream is excellent. Paddlers can rent canoes and kayaks to explore this beautiful lake lined with fragrant water lilies and tupelo trees. Phone: (229) 896-3551
- Skidaway Island State Park: Located near historic Savannah, Skidway Island borders Skidaway narrows, a part of Georgia’s intracoastal waterway. Trails wind through maritime forest and past salt marsh, leading to a boardwalk and observation tower. Children will especially enjoy seeing the towering, 20-foot Giant Ground Sloth replica and reptile room. Phone: (912) 598-2300
- $45 for two nights in a campground, gear rental, expert advice and a welcome kit
- $5 ParkPass for the duration of your stay
- Many park activities are free, such as hiking, geocaching and fishing; some activities have a fee, such as mini-golf, boat rental, or swimming pools
- Anyone who has never camped in a Georgia State Park may participate
- Once you’ve stayed the night, you’ll get a coupon for your next camping adventure
- Because gear is borrowed, pets are not allowed in the First-Time Camper Program
- But if you love the experience and come back again, your dog can enjoy camping too
- Contact First-Time Camper Program coordinator, Cindy Reittinger, at (404) 657-0029
REI Expert Advice
- Click here, to check out REI’s helpful pre-trip information about camping and a number of outdoor pursuits.
Georgia State Parks First-Time Camper Program
How much: $45, plus $5 ParkPass
Includes: Two-night stay at modern campground, camping gear rental including a 6-person tent, assistance setting up your campsite, and a Camping 101 lesson
Georgia On My Mind
Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.
Georgia, Georgia, a song of you
Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines
—words by Stuart Gorrell and music by Hoagy Carmichael