Put away your wallet and pull out your work gloves. Visitors to Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites will not pay for parking or admission on Saturday, September 28 as part of the statewide “Your State Parks Day.” Sponsored by the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, with support from REI, the celebration highlights the importance of volunteerism and the many ways that recreation enriches communities. Parking is normally $5 at state parks, and admission ranges from $2.50 to $10 at state historic sites.
“We are sponsoring the annual ‘Your State Parks Day’ to remind Georgians that these parks and historic sites belong to them,” said Andy Fleming, executive director of the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. “Parks enrich communities and give us safe places for outdoor recreation. Our historic sites help educate school children in a way that can’t be done in a classroom. So during this event, we hope Georgians will visit sites closest to their homes or even join in on service projects.”
The statewide event includes numerous volunteer projects and family-friendly programs. Seminole State Park in southwest Georgia will be clearing debris in preparation for a campground expansion, General Coffee State Park near Douglas will host wiffle ball games, and Panola Mountain State Park near Atlanta will hold a river cleanup. State park golf courses will host tournaments that day. Additionally, volunteers will go home with a discount coupon for future accommodations. A complete list of events and volunteer projects can be found at GeorgiaStateParks.org/parks-day.
Friends is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Georgia’s state parks and historic sites in many ways. Some members raise funds for specific projects, others lead programs such as bird walks, and some help with maintenance. Many support the organization simply by purchasing annual memberships or making donations.
“Most state park systems across the country are seeking ways to operate with limited funds and rising costs,” said Fleming. “Our organization addresses that need and helps park supporters find ways they can help as well.”
Georgia is known for its exceptional state park system. Visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, boating, geocaching, picnicking, golf and numerous other activities. Historically significant places such as Jarrell Plantation tell the story of Georgia’s rich past. Cabins, campgrounds, yurts and lodges 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. There’s is also a Facebook event provided by the Georgia State Parks Facebook page that you can add to your calendar.
“Over a decade of challenging state budgets has greatly limited our ability to address maintenance and repair needs, as well as our ability to improve current amenities,” said State Parks Director Becky Kelley. “Our Friends and volunteer supporters are critical to helping keep Georgia’s State Parks attractive and safe for our patrons. We appreciate their sponsoring this event so that we can welcome every citizen to visit for free on September 28.”
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, and includes Black Rock Mountain, Crooked River, Sweetwater Creek, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Reed Bingham, Etowah Indian Mounds, Indian Springs 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. The day-long celebration is also in honor of National Public Lands Day and is a Georgia SHAPE Initiative.