Ways to explore Georgia’s state parks after dark

Hard Labor Creek offers ranger-led paddles after-dark to look for nocturnal creatures (Photo credit for all photographs: Georgia State Parks)

When the sun retreats and the stars align, overnight visitors of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites can experience the unseen side of the parks. Whether staying the night or signing up for a special evening program, visitors can take advantage of the unique opportunity to visit Georgia’s state parks after dark. Guests can spot nocturnal wildlife that only come out once the sun goes down, explore the symphony of natural night sounds, and stargaze without the light pollution of the city. Nighttime entertainment such as campfires, full moon paddles, evening yoga, movie nights, evening concerts, stargazing, campfire cooking, and hayrides are all available this summer and fall. Evening events focus on guests customizing an experience to fit their need for the perfect after-hours adventure. GaStateParks.org  

Here are the Top Six Ways to stretch out those summer days and explore Georgia’s State Parks after dark: 

  • Once a month, enjoy the sights of the full moon. Hike to the suspension bridge and watch the moon rise above the gorge at Tallulah Gorge State Park on ranger-led Full Moon Hikes.  
  • Gather around the campfire and settle in for a night filled with fun, games, and stories. Enjoy the crackle and glow of the fire while toasting s’mores.  
  • Historic Sites offer lantern tours of historic homes and candlelit tours of forts. Take a stroll down the old carriage road and enjoy a lantern tour of an antebellum plantation house at Jarrell Plantation Historic Site, or experience Fort McAllister by candlelight with stops at the blacksmith’s shop, hospital, powder magazine, and barracks jail. 
  • Explore Georgia’s waterways by kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or aqua cycle. Many parks like Hard Labor Creek offer ranger-led paddles to look for nocturnal wildlife like owls, bats, and frogs.  
  • State parks offer a guide to the galaxy so guests can watch for meteors, seek out planets and observe the moon. Take in all the stars as you stargaze in one of the best spots in the world—Stephen C. Foster. Located in the Okefenokee Swamp, Stephen C. Foster State Park is not only one of Georgia’s seven natural wonders but is also ranked among Big Bend and Death Valley national parks as a gold-tier “International Dark Sky Park.” The park’s skies have very little light pollution, giving avid astronomy fans exceptional views of the moon, stars, planets, and comets.  
    Parks close before dark, so in order to capitalize on these evening experiences, guests must either stay overnight or call to book a nighttime experience. Make a night out of it and plan to stay at one of Georgia State Parks’ many accommodations. Guests can choose from cabins, cottages, yurts, lodges, and more.

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