Known as “Little Georgia”, Providence Canyon is a modern-day example of what happens when mankind attempts to change the land they live on. Thanks to years of poor agricultural practices, as well as erosion from the Coastal Plains, massive gullies as deep as 150 feet can be found all throughout the park. While this lack of foresight has irrevocably changed the land, it has also created some of the most beautiful photo opportunities in the State.
As a result of the geographic changes, the canyon’s soil proudly showcase its scars, colored in vibrant hues of pink, orange, red, yellow, and purple. This makes the area a prime destination spot for Photographers and scenic enthusiasts. Moreover, the area is home to the Plumleaf Azalea, a rare type of wildflower that blooms in late July/early August, when most other Azaleas have already started to wain in vibrance.
When it comes to recreation, there’s a wide range of outdoor activities to partake in. Thanks to the local geography, Providence Canyon is perfect for hiking, fishing, mountain biking, climbing, and so much more. One of the more interesting activities to consider is the Canyon Climber Club. This club challenges participants to brave three local features that showcase extreme outdoor adventure. Brave the depths of the Canyon, overcome the staircase of Cloudland Canyon, and trek across the swinging bridge of Tallulah Gorge. Those who complete all three challenges win extreme bragging rights, plus a sweet certificate to show off.
Camping here is difficult, simply because there aren't many sites available. There are 3 pioneer-style campsites with regular amenities, and 6 backcountry campsites which require you to be okay with a little less comfort. While there is a visitors center, a concession stand, and restrooms available, not every campsite is close by. Therefore, it’s important to be sure you plan your trip in advance to meet your needs and circumstances. Pioneer campsites (close to bathrooms and the visitor center) range from $40-$80 a night, while the backcountry options start at just $10/night.
Absolutely beautiful day in Georgia!
Providence Canyon State Park, Lumpkin, GA
Providence Canyon State Park is tucked away in the southwest corner of Georgia…but offers a surprising beauty as a result of erosion. As you enter the State Park, it is fairly linear running alongside the roadway. Day use appears to be the high volume.
Two children’s playgrounds, two picnic pavilions and two restrooms are positioned along the upper rim as you head to the visitor center. The visitor center offers location specific clothing, souvenirs and some snack items…along with additional restrooms.
Opposite the first playground, on the right side of the roadway when you enter the park is a Methodist church from 1832 and a small pioneer cemetery that offers a realistic view of the hardships faced by these adventurous folks.
The actual“Georgia Grand Canyon” is barely visible as you make your way to the visitors center. But once you’ve paid the daily use fee($5) and signed in…you can choose the trails you desire to explore. An upper rim trail, fenced by split rail, travels the canyon rim… is easiest and offers a splendid Birdseye view and wonderful photo opportunities..
Hiking down into the shallow canyon affords a worthwhile close-up view and nicer photographs (in my opinion) especially with the backdrop of azure skies. Because the canyon and formations are merely sand and clay, they are fragile. As I briefly climb upon my soapbox, the plethora of posted warning signs are not heeded, so violators climb and scramble for their coveted selfies…defacing the natural beauty and causing more damage. While warning signs make threat of prosecution, without consistent or constant enforcement it will continue.
Once on the canyon floor, you have a few options…but for the best views hang a left and follow the small wooden Canyon 1-5 signs. All the reviews state canyons 4 and 5 are the nicest…and they are…but if you explore the canyons in numerical sequence, each gets better as you go. With fully leafed trees and foliage, viewing is tough in canyons 1-3. Signage is absent as to where the trails end, as past hikers tread further and higher in each canyon. Canyons 4 and 5 offer more prohibitive signage.
The canyon floor is a mixture of wet and dry sand. In areas a steady stream of water flows. It was dry weather on my visit so I can only assume the water would be deeper during or immediately following rains. During my late October visit, water wasn’t deep enough to enter your hiking shoes. Heed the heat and drinking water warnings during hot days, Little to no breeze in the canyon.
I did not travel the longer backcountry trail on this visit, so defer to other reviewers comments on its enjoyment.
Camping: You have two choices…a handful of Backcountry Primitive Camping that require a backpack into the canyon and 3 Pioneer Group Campsites. It’s easy to miss Pioneer Campsites 1& 2, as they are located beyond the gated park and down a two track gravel drive. Unfortunately, from the campsite, the roadway can be seen through the trees and traffic noise is loud when traveling by. During normal sleep hours (midweek) night traffic was sparse, but still disruptive. Because of road construction during my visit, it wasn’t excessive during daylight hours.
Pioneer 1-3 are essentially group sites designed to accommodate larger camping parties. But for one tent and two people $43.00 was an exorbitant price, especially with merely a pit toilet, two picnic tables and a fire ring…NO electric, NO water. But I’ve found Georgia parks a tad steep in cost in comparison to other State’s parks.
Interestingly, time zones shift from Eastern at the visitors center to Central Time at Pioneer Campsites 1& 2…so be cognizant of the switch. Pioneer 1 group site boasts a newer pit latrine with a solar spot light for nighttime…and was amply stocked. Previous campers removed the two large picnic tables from beneath the shed style shelter to the campfire ring area. The picnic tables are large and heavy, so without a group present, you won’t be moving them back to their rightful location.
For a tent camping location…there is negligible flat ground to pitch a tent, but if you are a hammock camper there are plenty of trees. The grounds at Pioneer 1 where strewn with plastic and pop tops, cigarette butts, partially melted plastic ware and snack food wrappers littered the wooded area. Not cool. A lidded plastic garbage can is tethered to the shelter so there is no excuse.
Pioneer site 2 had a grassy field, flatter area for tents and further down into the canyon past Pioneer site 1.
Pioneer site 3 is appears to be the coveted group site with ample flat, grassy field for tents, area for parking and a huge shelter. The long winding gravel two-track is also located immediately to the left upon entering the main entrance so you have the“security” of the park’s front gate being locked at 6:00 p.m.(A pavement sensor permits egress if you need to exit, but you won’t be driving back in til morning when they reopen.)
Overall, if you shared the site as a group, defraying the cost…midweek camping would not be bad. After visiting the canyon for a couple hours, there is not much else to visit in the immediate area, so bring a book.
Wildlife: you’ll likely hear some owls calling out throughout the night and woodpeckers in early morning. Small yellow finch’s were abundant. Mention of wild hogs in the park as well.
Final thoughts: A one time camping visit is sufficient for my tastes. Even at half the price, I’m not sure I’d camp here solo. However, I will likely visit the canyon in the future to see possible changes due to further erosion.
We visited Providence Canyon and was amazed by the size of this park. We were skeptical as the area is sometimes referred to as Georgia's little grand canyon. I still have a problem with that comparison but what a great place to visit. We did not camp here as the park only has a few hike in campsites and we had our A-Frame camper with us. We were able to park the camper at another Georgia state park (Florence Marina) very near by which made this a good area for a day trip. We hiked the canyon trails which was very interesting but be prepared, the canyon floor can be wet and the dirt is red, you will get dirty. There's also trails that allow you to hike the canyon's perimeter which offers views from a higher vantage point, this allows you to really see the size of these canyons. There are numerous picnic tables scattered throughout the upper area of the park with a restroom. This area can get really crowded in the summer which makes parking a challenge so plan accordingly.
A great way to spend a day outdoors!
Super pretty canyon to go explore in! We camped at the primitive back county loop. It requires a hike into the canyon, so fair warning. Watch out for tons of spiders, the path is covered in webs. Overall it was a great experience and the canyon is beautiful!
Staff at the check in center was very friendly and gave clear directions. We had campsite #1 which is the furthest hike out. Not a bad hike at all. Very beautiful woods and canyon spots to walk in. We would definitely go again.
We did not camp here, just hiked part of the loop. There is a great picnic area at the top with a playground and a fantastic view.
As for the actual hike, make sure to bring bug spray, water, and tons of sunscreen. Also if it’s rained anytime recently, make sure you know how to get orange clay out of your clothing!
The canyon is beautiful. However the campsites are in a completely different section of the park. The trail out to the sites is longer than we planned for but we made it work. Unfortunately, you don't go thru or see the canyon on the way to the sites. We checked it out after we hiked out. We did stay at the one site that had a shelter that some boyscouts built. It was very nice!
Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area is called Georgia’s “little Grand Canyon”.
There is no regular campground but there are 6 backcountry campsites and three pioneer group sites. We visited the pioneer site #3 with enclosed pavilion , grill, picnic tables and restroom facilities. Excellent for large group outings. Reservations online can be for specific pioneer sites. If you reserve a backcountry site it is not specific.
The Canyon offers a lot to explore. Realize you will have sand in everything by the time your done ;).
The Canyon was created by bad farming practices in the 1800 but it now offers some picturesque views. While your hiking the rim you will see some of the “refuse” left on old homesteads, (ie rusted vehicles).
Some of the canyons open up into barren “valleys” others have a LOT of vegetation.
There’s not much nearby so make sure you pack what you need the first time. Bug spray is a must and mosquito screen or netting.
I completed the Canyon Climbers Club this year and this was one of the four canyons to hike. https://gastateparks.org/CanyonClimbersClub
The trail started off through a small river, which also looked like a watering hole for the wildlife that lives there. The trail was eey clean with limited people on the trial, we only saw three the entire time there. This is a state park so they have 6 primitive sights with pre-constructed fire pits. This is a great trail for people starting out. The only downside was how many hogs we saw on the trail. We saw a prints and them off in the distance quite a few times, but the morning we were packing out we had to hogs on the trail that seemed pretty aggressive and made us turn around to pack out the other way. I knew there would be a lot of wildlife down there it was in multiple reviews, but the one thing I did not ever read was the viewpoints are only seen from a small section of the trail, I was under the notion there would be a spectacular view for more than half of the hike.
Lots of picnic areas mild hiking. This place is absolutely stunning. You can hike all throughout the canyons. The trails are not really marked but are easy to follow with the trail maps provided in the modest camp store. You can camp in the camp sites or even in the canyons if you pack in. It is a mild to moderate hike and usually a good many people around. The canyons are breathtaking and well worth the hike down to the bottom.