Georgia is a diverse state. Its national park sites range from mountain trails to national seashores. The historical sites encompass Native American history through Civil Rights history. It would seem that the state of Georgia has it all for history and nature lovers. Learn more about what Georgia National Park sites have to offer.
Andersonville National Historic Site
Originally named Camp Sumter, Andersonville National Historic Site was one of the deadliest Confederate prisoner-of-war camps. Almost 13,000 men died in the camp, prompting the creation of a National Cemetery on the property. The site in southwest Georgia, near Columbus, also hosts the National Prisoner of War Museum.
The Junior Ranger program for this site is a clever choose-your-own-adventure book. Kids make choices about what they would do in certain situations. After taking the completed book to a ranger, they discover that they've earned parole!
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Maine to Georgia
Georgia can only claim part of the 2,190+ miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. However, it has pride of place as a starting or ending point for anyone hiking the trail in one go. The most amazing thing? Private citizens built the trail system.
Many people trek the AT over time, hiking particular stretches at a time. It's free to roam the trail, and no permits are required. However, you'll pass through state and national parks with different rules. Find these on the NPS website.
Chattahoochee National Recreation Area
Please visit if all you know about the Chattahoochee River is the Alan Jackson song. Established as an NPS site in 1978, the river offered sustenance and protection to Native Americans and early settlers. Today, locals love it for recreation.
In 2012 this site was designated the nation's first National Water Trail. While the entire Chattahoochee is 430 miles, the NPS site covers 48 miles. Hike the trails, fish, or “shoot the Hooch.” That's local speak for paddling or floating.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Fort Oglethorpe, GA & TN
This site is unusual, covering two spots across states. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park commemorates Civil War battles. The Confederate army took the win at Chickamauga in September 1863, but the Union was victorious at Chattanooga in November. Many historians say this was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.
You'll need to drive to see all the significant spots at the Chickamauga location. An audio tour through the NPS app assists younger visitors in imagining events that occurred at each site.
Cumberland Island National Seashore
St. Mary's, GA
You'll start by visiting Cumberland Island National Seashore in St. Mary's. You can travel to the island by boat; most visitors take the ferry that runs a few times a day, depending on the season. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Check out all our planning tips for visiting Cumberland Island!
Georgia's largest barrier island holds over 9,800 acres of Congressionally designated Wilderness. Hike through pristine forests and along a beach that's uncluttered by buildings. Other sites include an early settlement for emancipated African-Americans, an 1898 mansion, and the ruins of the 1894 Thomas Carnegie mansion, Dungeness.
Fort Frederica National Monument
St. Simons Island, GA
The history of Fort Frederica National Monument predates our country. Established in 1736 to protect Georgia's southern border from Spanish Florida, the countries had several clashes, with the British coming out on top. The regiment disbanded after a peace treaty was signed, and the town around it died out.
Today, there are only a few buildings left standing. However, their award-winning Junior Ranger program book assists kids in imagining Colonial life. The views of the marsh from the park are not to be missed!
Fort Pulaski National Monument
A stop at Fort Pulaski National Monument must be on your Georgia coast road trip. Completed in 1847, Confederates seized Pulaski at the outbreak of the Civil War. Union troops on nearby Tybee Island used new and advanced weaponry to break the Confederate hold on the fort. The shell holes are visible today.
The fort is intact, with rooms and ramparts to explore. The view from the top of the structure is breathtaking. Interpretive tours detail the fort's use as a prisoner-of-war camp after the Union victory. There are trails outside the fort and a picnic area for public use.
Jimmy Carter National Historical Park
America's 39th president hails from the small town of Plains. The Jimmy Carter National Historical Park features significant sites in the life of President Carter. The high school that graduated President and Mrs. Carter is now the site's visitor center and museum.
In 2000, the NPS obtained Jimmy Carter's boyhood home. Restored to its pre-1938 state, the house and grounds are available for exploring. You'll find farm animals and audio stations where Jimmy Carter shares his childhood memories.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park represents the “one last mountain” between Civil War General Sherman and his conquest of Atlanta. Over 5,000 soldiers lost their lives in this important battle of the Atlanta campaign.
In the 1930s, Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps established trails and signage. Today, hike those trails to the top of Kennesaw Mountain and follow a map to seven tour stops. Each stop includes interpretive signs, and a few stops offer additional hiking trails. The museum in the visitor center is essential to learning not only Civil War history but Native American history.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
You'll find the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in downtown Atlanta. Your first stop is the visitor center to get confirmation on what is currently open and see exhibits related to the Civil Rights movement. You'll also find the “I Have A Dream” World Peace Rose Garden, one of only six World Peace Rose Gardens worldwide.
Take advantage of Dr. King's boyhood home. Ranger-led tours of the house are popular and limited to 15 visitors, so sign up at the visitor center. Another essential stop is Ebenezer Baptist Church. Here a 19-year-old Martin was ordained a minister and eventually became co-pastor beside his father.
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park
The history of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park is mind-blowing. Native Americans first arrived during the Ice Age to hunt. It's believed Native Americans built the mounds circa 900 CE. Six mounds, a Civil War-era earthwork, and a museum remain on site.
The Civilian Conservation Corps restored the Indian Earth Lodge as a council chamber from the Mississippian period. However, the clay floor is original and roughly 1,000 years old! In the visitor center, you can see some of the 2.5 million artifacts recovered in America's largest archaeological dig.
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
AL, AR, GA, IL, KY, MO, NC, OK, TN
Like the Appalachian Trail, Georgia shares the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail with eight other states. U.S. officials forcibly removed groups of Cherokee Indians from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama between 1838 and 1839. They traveled to Oklahoma on foot and by horse, wagon, or steamboat.
Extending 5,043 miles, the trail is not a continuous driving or hiking route. However, the NPS website has an interactive trail map with points of interest. Road signs note original routes, crossings, and significant sites along the path.
Plan Your Visit to National Park Sites in Georgia
Nature and history enthusiasts will be taken with Georgia's National Parks. You can hike from the mountains to the seashores! In between, you'll learn a thing or two about ancient cultures, domestic battles, and more modern cultural movements. Be sure to show me your Junior Ranger badge collection!
Amy Albers is a librarian in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta. When she's not getting lost in genealogy and local history, she is finding fun solo and family travel destinations to share with others. With over a dozen years of experience writing about family and travel on her own blog, Amy now enjoys freelance writing. She has three teen and young adult boys who turned her on to all things Marvel and Star Wars and a husband who has nurtured her into a committed SEC football fan. The beach and the great outdoors are her happy places but she's never mad at a luxury hotel. Her book reviews and latest adventures are found on Instagram at Exploring The Amysphere.