Warm weather in the South means outdoor lovers want to seek out ways to stay cool in the water, but Georgia’s drought has impacted water use, lake levels and environmental health.
Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites are doing their part to conserve water in the state parks as part of the annual “Soak It In” programming, celebrating the ways Georgians play in — and depend on — water. Look for “Soak It In” themed events at GaStateParks.org/SoakItIn/Events. Additional ways that visitors can spend time outside at Georgia State Park’s lakes, rivers and marshes include paddling, swimming, fishing and boating.
The Park Paddlers Club offers an abundance of scenic waterways to explore, for both seasoned paddlers and beginners. Whether paddling in a kayak, in a canoe, or on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP), paddle the 24 miles of water trails at the six participating state parks and earn a Park Paddlers t-shirt and bragging rights. In addition to the six state parks in the Park Paddlers Club, visitors can rent kayaks, canoes and SUPs from visitor centers to explore a variety of state park’s mountain lakes, coastal waters and winding rivers. A complete list of parks with paddling is available at GaStateParks.org/Paddling.
Nothing says summer like a trip to the lake, and Georgia State Parks’ sandy swimming beaches serve up all the amenities of a trip to the coast without the expense. Check out the sandy beaches at parks like Red Top Mountain, Hard Labor Creek or Tugaloo. If swimming pools are more your style, take a dip at F.D. Roosevelt, High Falls, Little Ocmulgee or Victoria Bryant state parks. Kids wills find fun ways to play in the water with splash pads at Magnolia Springs, Little Ocmulgee and Gordonia-Alatamaha. Find a lake, pool or splash pad at GaStateParks.org/Swimming.
Georgia State Parks are an angler’s paradise with reservoirs, streams and rivers, lakes of all sizes, and saltwater fishing. Many bass fishermen equate “The Bass Capital of the World” to George T. Bagby’s Lake Walter F. George. In fact, the size and variety of fish are rivaled only by the varieties of unspoiled environments, from bass at Tugaloo and Hart Outdoor Recreation Area, to crappie at Seminole, Red Top Mountain and Richard B. Russell. Several of the parks have created programs that allow you to borrow equipment for little or no charge. Find a fishing spot at GaStateParks.org/Fishing.
In addition to lakeside beaches, dozens of Georgia State Parks provide public boat ramps and docks, with a few having their own docks adjacent to campgrounds and cabins. Boat rentals are available at more than 20 state parks. Larger lakes even allow boaters to partake in water skiing, sailing and other personal watercraft activities, however, some parks on smaller lakes have horsepower restrictions to preserve the tranquil setting and wildlife. See a full list of boat ramps at GaStateParks.org/Boating.
SPLASH Water Safety and Conservation
With summer upon us, many agencies are reminding Georgians of the importance of water safety through a SPLASH campaign. The program includes bilingual brochures, boat checks by law enforcement officers, public service announcements and videos, and social media messaging. The DNR is in the process of adding “loaner boards” with personal flotation devices (life jackets) at public boat ramps.
Visitors to state parks can do their part to help with water conservation as well. Turn off all water spigots when not in use, teach children about the importance of water conservation, and report any water leaks to park management. To minimize the risk of wildfires, use extreme caution with grills, camp stoves and smoking materials.