Put away your wallet and pull out your fishing pole. Visitors to Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites will not pay for parking or admission on Saturday, September 29 as part of “Your State Parks Day.” Sponsored by the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, the celebration brings attention to ways that parks enrich communities, plus the importance of local volunteerism. Parking is normally $5 at state parks, and admission ranges from $2.50 to $10 at state historic sites.
“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. “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 at http://bit.ly/P0zlvA.
Friends is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Georgia’s state parks and historic sites in many ways. Some members serve as campground hosts, others lead programs such as guided hikes, and some help with basic maintenance. Most members support the organization simply by purchasing annual memberships.
“It’s no secret that state park systems across the country are struggling with limited funds and resources,” said Fleming. “We’re helping fill that gap. And regular park visitors can help too, by visiting more often, by staying overnight more often and by volunteering when they can.”
Georgia is known for its exceptional state park system that provides a variety of outdoor recreation while also protecting natural and cultural resources. Visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, boating, geocaching, picnicking, golf and numerous other activities. Historically significant places such as Etowah Indian Mounds and Roosevelt’s Little White House tell the story of Georgia’s rich past.
Cabins, lodges, campgrounds and yurts let visitors spend short getaways and longer vacations within the parks, putting hiking trails and fishing lakes right outside their door. Reservations can be made online at GeorgiaStateParks.org/reservations and by calling 1-800-864-7275.
Free parking and admission during “Your State Parks Day” is available to all Georgia residents and visitors. Participating locations can be found on GeorgiaStateParks.org, including Cloudland Canyon, Skidaway Island, Victoria Bryant, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Kolomoki Mounds and dozens of other destinations. Because Stone Mountain, Jekyll Island and Lake Lanier are not operated by the Department of Natural Resources’ State Parks Division, they are not included in the free day.
“We are thankful for the support that our Friends members give us,” said State Parks Director Becky Kelley. “We wouldn’t be able to offer this free day to Georgians without their help. Hopefully, more people will take this opportunity to explore parks that are right in their own communities.”
The day-long celebration is also in honor of National Public Lands Day and is a Georgia SHAPE Initiative.