Sonyia W.

Pro

Watkinsville, GA

Joined April 2019

Beautiful park
  1. Driving there: it’s not as steep as Black Rock or Vogel, for reference. While a lot of folks are worried about the grade, it isn’t bad at all. I’d classify it as more of a “big hill”.

  2. West rim is older but sites are more spaced out, private, and shaded. Bathrooms are older but clean and well kept. East Rim is closer to the overlooks and main trailheads, and newer, but sites are closer together and less shaded. We were on site 21 and it was right by the bathroom, gray water dump, camp host, and next to the west rim connector trailhead.

  3. Do Hemlock falls in the morning (before 10am) to avoid large crowds (due to Covid, the park often reaches capacity around that time on weekends). The stairs are not bad, although smaller dogs may have issues. People were wading in the pool by the falls. See the sunset at the Main Overlook. Shout into the canyon to hear your echo at the second overlook.

Excellent week

We stayed here as a home base for visiting family in June.

There is little to no cell service in the park. You’re about 10-15 minutes from the grocery store.

The site (7) was spacious (we had a teardrop, shower/changing tent, ground tent, and rooftop tent). Did not have any issues with electric the whole time we were there.

Bathrooms were cleaned and stocked regularly. Staff was super friendly. We rented kayaks to take out on the lake. The rental price was reasonable and the lake was spectacular. There is even a kayak launch under the dock. The playground was great. The creek under the dam was awesome for wading, just look out for snakes.

We didn’t get to hike as we were doing other things but the neighbors told us the trails were well maintained with gorgeous views. The park is huge and would take awhile to fully explore.

The south entrance is a single lane bridge with a sharp turn so longer rigs need to come in on the north end.

Nice to visit

We did a day trip here and did not stay overnight (as it’s practically next door to us). The facilities were great, mini golf and beach were nice, and campground looked to be laid out well when we went through. The waterfront sites had awesome views.

Due to the recent construction, it was kind of confusing where to go (they changed the entrance).

Beautiful and relaxing

We stayed on site 73. It had direct access to the water, was right next to the bath house, huge pull through site, gray water drain on the site next to water and electric hook up. Bath house was clean and well kept. Wood needed to be purchased during daytime hours with card payment over the phone. No souvenir magnet because the store was only open Mon-Thurs, unfortunately.

Some of the folks staying on the other loop mentioned issues with ants, but we only had ants in the spot where we spilled some dog food.

Overall we accomplished what we set out, which was a trip to just relax the entire weekend.

Stunning and gorgeous

We stayed at this park in July 2019. While it was super hot at the bottom of the mountain (in Clayton GA—visit Wander North Georgia while you’re in the area!), it was nice and cool at the campground. We even had to wear sweatshirts in the mornings!

We stayed at site 29, which was at the “top” of the back section (essentially looking down on the other sites). Bath house was about 50 steps downhill to get to, 5,000 steps uphill to get back from, but always very clean and well stocked with great water pressure.

The road going up to the campground is narrow and winding and certainly not for the faint of heart. The road going back down seems even narrower and more winding (if that’s possible) so make sure your vehicle can handle it. We were in 1st or 2nd gear the whole way down.

The sites are somewhat narrow, set up as a staircase, and most are 90 degrees from the single lane road. Most are going to be a challenge to get into if you have anything of any substantial length. We camped with a teardrop and a tent and had no issues. One site across from the bathrooms is reaaaaaally long (and narrow), and often the first one booked since it puts you in the woods off by yourself. All sites have measurements on ReserveAmerica, which we found to be pretty accurate.

Now… the views are where it’s at. At the welcome center, on the trails, day or night, they are absolutely breathtaking. We watched sunset at the campground overlook and were blown away. The lake was just as beautiful, just be aware that there are no restrooms nearby so you’ll have to drive a good ways for one.

Labor Day Weekend...

We visited Labor Day weekend 2019, escaping from a hurricane. Apparently, a LOT of other people had the same thought and the staff said they had people checking in until after midnight. Despite this, they were nothing but accommodating every step of the way. We were led to our site, the staff offered to help me back in, and gave us a brief rundown of planned events for the weekend. They had multiple playgrounds, pool, water slide, and movies each night with free popcorn and drinks/sno-cones. They had a small general store that even sold alcohol (though at prices you’d expect lol), and the cave tour was fantastic. There was no shortage of activities for the kids, we stayed busy the entire time. There are also several friendly cats around the property (ya either love them or ya hate them… we loved them!)

Cons would be that there’s only one bath house. Luckily it was right by the tent/pop up section (as a matter of fact, we were the site right next to it… which led to people cutting through our site to get to the bathroom since there was no clearly marked path to it). The sites are also REALLY close together (our fire ring was about 2 feet from the neighbor’s sewer hose…). Reservations aren’t site specific, but they are site “type” specific.

Small but beautiful

We stayed at Magnolia Springs over Halloween weekend 2019. The park had several great activities for kids, including trick or treating and a hayride to take the kids from site to site. We were on site 1 (right on the corner) and had a view of the lake across the street.

The playground was nice, bath house well kept and not far from the site, and plenty of area for bike riding (not too many hills for the kids). I preferred a wide open site for this trip (due to trick or treating/ site decorating contest) but several had good shade, privacy, and a closer view of the lake.

The museum is fascinating (it’s locked, you pay entry at the front office and they give you a key).

Great location, so-so park

We were a group of 10 staying on a buddy site (#37). We had a teardrop, RTT, and two ground tents… and it was tight. The site had some trash on it upon arrival (plastic silverware, candy wrappers, small stuff), but since there is usually only an hour between check out and check in at this park, we cleaned up and moved on.

We had dinner in Helen Friday evening (during the storm) and visited Helen Saturday afternoon. The park itself was average, not really a “wow” factor, and other members of my group had more than one rude encounter with staff. We chalked it up to the COVID lockdown restrictions making their jobs more complicated, but I didn’t have the same issue during my other two lock-down trips at GA state parks. Wood was delivered to us once, and the other time we had to pick it up at the lodge (ten minute drive or so).

One thing about this site… the map shows a short path to the bath house. It’s short as the crow flies… but it’s all stairs. You’re gonna get a workout every time you have to “go”. The bathrooms were kept clean and well stocked during our stay.

The sites are super close together, which woke all of us up on Friday night (or, Saturday morning around 1am) when our neighbor in his massive diesel bus arrived.

All in all, any camping trip is great, but I probably wouldn’t return as there are likely better options near Helen.

Get away from it all...

We went to Hamburg to try out our new rooftop tent and work out any bugs. It was early April and a bit colder than we anticipated, but still fun. We got site 27, which is absolutely beautiful with easy water access (probably good for kayaks and canoes, but the lake isn’t big enough for boats and there is no swimming allowed due to gators).

The walk from site 27 to the bathroom was a bit of a bear, especially in the dark. The way the park is laid out, I think all sites are about the same distance from the bath house (which was very clean the whole stay). Also, sites 4 and up are all water sites, though the layout of some of them is very confusing.

Be aware that there is zero cell service (of any kind) here, so if you’re looking to do any work or keep in touch, you’ll have to drive to a different part of the park for Wi-Fi at the main office.

The grist mill wasn’t open due to COVID but several folks were fishing in the area.

Rainy but beautiful

We had a fantastic time at Vogel. We were a group of 9 in 2 separate sites (82 and 75… 82 was the larger site with a tent pad lower than the site, 75 was the smaller site with tent pad up the stairs). The site we used to “hang out” was 75, which looked much larger in pictures than it was in real life. The measurements are a bit off (says there’s room for a 15ft camper… but my camper is 15ft overall and I had to turn it sideways in order to fit the minivan onto the site). That being said, it was still a fantastic trip.

Half the bath houses were closed due to COVID-19 (unfortunately that included the one next to site 73…) but the walk to the other bath house wasn’t horrible and it was always pristine.

The park office had a catalogue hanging by the front door where you could call and order and pay over the phone and they would hand it out the door to you. The only downside is that the line stayed busy, so it took a good bit to get through.

Everyone was super polite. The grounds were all very clean and the trails were well marked. Didn’t catch any fish, but I’m starting to think that’s user error and not due to any issues at the park.

There are a handful of sites that back up to the creek (to the point where you can play in it, if you choose) but they book fast. The loop we stayed on had one such site. Pay attention to the park map, as the red loop is for small campers or tents only.

Overall, everyone had a blast and it was a beautiful park.

Cell service (T-mobile and Verizon) was spotty at best. We went to the main clubhouse and got on the WiFi to pull up the radar during the storm.

Kids loved it!

We stayed at the Natural Bridge KOA for one night on our way further north and loved it!

They opened the pool a week early, and although the water was still ICE COLD (75 degrees?), the kids loved it. There is a game room in the basement of the campground store with some arcade games, pool and ping pong table, and air hockey. Each thing takes quarters so be sure to bring some.

Your site number is assigned at check-in and you are escorted to your site from the front office.

There is a fenced dog park. The playground is a bit dated. However they make up for that with the bathroom and laundry facilities, which were absolutely AMAZING.

The park is a short drive from Natural Bridge State Park (pictures included), the Pink Cadillac Diner (Elvis themed, great food, pictures included), and the Caverns at Natural Bridge (we missed the last tour by 20 minutes, unfortunately!). It’s right off of I-81 and very easy to access.

Our site was a pull through with water and electric. The site was level and had a picnic table and fire ring. Sites are pretty close to each other but not so close that you feel like you’re in someone else’s space.

The whole park was very clean. The bridge going between our area and the bathhouse was damaged but it was still a reasonably short walk around the “long” way. The camp store seemed very well stocked with basics.

This was our first KOA experience. It was a bit more expensive than most state and national parks we’ve camped at but reasonable considering the amenities.

Easy one night stay

This was the ONLY place that would allow a one night stay on Memorial Day weekend, which we needed (as we were just passing through).

We reserved a pull-through site (42) with 30/50amp and water. Check in is at the fuel desk at the travel plaza (which has a chicken place and an IHOP inside as well).

The campground is small and overlooks the travel plaza. You can hear the trucks idling but it’s a white background noise. You can’t hear the highway, which is on the other side of the mountain in the back of the campground.

Restrooms were older but clean during our stay and a short walk from the camp site. There are no picnic tables or fire rings at the sites. Our site was gravel and level.

While this isn’t a destination place with tons to see and do at the campground itself, it’s a great place for a one night stop on the way to somewhere else (or even just a base camp to enjoy the local sites in Natural Bridge).

Easy one night stay

This was the ONLY place that would allow a one night stay on Memorial Day weekend, which we needed (as we were just passing through).

We reserved a pull-through site (42) with 30/50amp and water. Check in is at the fuel desk at the travel plaza (which has a chicken place and an IHOP inside as well).

The campground is small and overlooks the travel plaza. You can hear the trucks idling but it’s a white background noise. You can’t hear the highway, which is on the other side of the mountain in the back of the campground.

Restrooms were older but clean during our stay and a short walk from the camp site.

While this isn’t a destination place with tons to see and do at the campground itself, it’s a great place for a one night stop on the way to somewhere else (or even just a base camp to enjoy the local sites in Natural Bridge).

So much potential...

A little background: I used to live five minutes from this park, and it used to be the first campground we visited every year to work out all the gear details. Back then (2012-2015), it was great! Absolutely beautiful, well maintained, gorgeous.

Now… the park itself is still great. Obviously it was hit by a hurricane, but the cleanup and improvements are coming along in those areas. They playground has always been amazing and they’ve added a Splash Pad right next to it. (We were in town to visit family so we didn’t get to enjoy those this time).

But y’all are here for a campground review, so here it is.

Registration. You cannot register online, you must do it on the phone or in person. All of the sites with full hook-ups are taken by long-term folks (probably staying there while their homes are being rebuilt from the tornadoes and hurricane?), so they are $20 a night for water/electric. When you register over the phone, you are charged an additional $15 fee. (When I checked in, they said I would receive a refund of that $15 as a check in the mail…?). When I called the day of check-in to get the gate code, they had no idea who I was and initially wanted me to pay for a site, again. After some shuffling they finally found my paperwork.

The tent-only side still looks fine. Plush grass, large spaced out sites.

However, the RV side looks a bit rough. The sites are no longer gravel, just dirt (or, this weekend, mud) and some grass. The sites aren’t maintained between campers (as I got a half burned log, empty pack of smokes, and paper plates in mine). I was actually placed on site 7, which on the campground map is NOT a “buddy” (shared) site, and told to just plug into the same pole as the guy on Actual Site 7. Thankfully he was 50A and I was 30A so it worked out. (Although oddly enough, several full sites remained empty the whole time I was there). It rained most of the weekend, and everything was covered in wet dirt chunks when I left.

The bath house… could use a little love and a fresh coat of paint. If you can avoid the side bathrooms (maybe handicapped? The ones with just a toilet and shower), then do so. Aside from teeming with flying wildlife (which, it’s South Georgia, you have to kind of expect that), it could have used a good cleaning. The regular restrooms were passable (better than some gas stations but not as clean as state/national park I usually visit).

I understand that the area was impacted by a hurricane last year… but a little bit of cleanliness and care goes a long way.

Small... but it’s the beach!

*This campground is currently under renovation post-hurricane and is taking walk-in camping only, no reservations.

My cousin was in from Germany and had always heard about Panama City Beach… we are campers at heart so we went to the nearest campground! However it’s a very short drive to PCB if you have someone along that wants to see the city…

Now, there are two beach areas. One is on the gulf, and one is between the gulf and the bay. The gulf water is a lot choppier but clearer, and the swimming in the spot by the bay is much calmer HOWEVER the purple flag was up and we got eaten alive by jellyfish (as did many others). There is a boat ramp on the bay side.

The sites are all VERY different. Some are tiny, some are huge. Some have waterfront and many don’t. We booked late and got a very small (although not the smallest) site. If you want a good spot once they reopen, definitely book early and pay attention to the measurements on the website.

There is also a nature trail with a freshwater swamp (featuring gators, of course). We saw lots of other wildlife around, including deer and rabbits.

Lots to do and see

We went here prior to “site specific” booking and still somehow managed a lakefront site right next to a shelter house. Luckily, the shelter wasn’t used by any groups while we were there.

The driveways are gravel which is where we pitched the tents. We had access to the lake for fishing and our canoe from the back of our site. The sites are somewhat close together and not private.

Some of the sites were much smaller and had a view of the lake (but no access) and some closer to the back were larger and more private. Many were multi-level.

The camp store was well stocked including bait for fishing and other fishing/camping gear. The camp store is separate from the registration/check-in store.

There are plenty of trails and you are a short drive from a beautiful overlook.

Bring bug spray

And lots of it!

We went in April, which the staff said was the “less mosquito-y” time of year, so I can’t imagine how bad it gets moving forward! However, despite the bugs, we still had a great time!

It rained a good bit (and our site flooded slightly so make sure to take care when choosing where to pitch your tent). The camp store is also where you can rent canoes. There is a nature trail just a few steps from the store. While out on the canoe we found one of the paddle-in locations as well. Tons of beautiful wildlife and gators to see along the way as well.

The restroom area had a screened in porch (much needed!) and was clean and well stocked during our stay.

Beautiful hike

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!

Hot but beautiful

We took this trip mid summer, and it was ridiculously hot. There was no coastal breeze, in fact there was no breeze at all. The playground was nice but the equipment was too hot to touch.

Luckily we cooled off in the Blue Hole… which, let me warn you, is ICE cold all year long. It felt amazing and the kids loved it!

There are a few hiking trails that are nice, including one with a cave tunnel. The cave itself is wonderfully cool, and although it isn’t very big, it is still quite beautiful. It was easy to navigate for those that are looking to see what a cave looks like without the full crawling and spelunking experience.

The little shop at the cave tours was well stocked (including ice cream!). There is also a museum that gives lots of information about the cave and the area in general; on Sunday they had a reptile/wildlife presentation.

The restrooms were large and clean. Staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. Overall would definitely go back… just during a different time of year!

Hot but beautiful

We took this trip mid summer, and it was ridiculously hot. There was no coastal breeze, in fact there was no breeze at all. The playground was nice but the equipment was too hot to touch.

Luckily we cooled off in the Blue Hole… which, let me warn you, is ICE cold all year long. It felt amazing and the kids loved it!

There are a few hiking trails that are nice, including one with a cave tunnel. The cave itself is wonderfully cool, and although it isn’t very big, it is still quite beautiful. It was easy to navigate for those that are looking to see what a cave looks like without the full crawling and spelunking experience.

The little shop at the cave tours was well stocked (including ice cream!). There is also a museum that gives lots of information about the cave and the area in general; on Sunday they had a reptile/wildlife presentation.

The restrooms were large and clean. Staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. Overall would definitely go back… just during a different time of year!