Listen to our full interview with Cloudland Canyon State Park here:
Renee’s Favorite Campsite “I would choose the yurts, because they are unique.”
Camping Cloudland Canyon State Park
Camp Georgia: I’m talking with Renee today. She is the secretary down in Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia. I’ve been looking forward to talking to you guys all day, Renee, because I’m looking on your website here, and Cloudland Canyon State Park looks just absolutely gorgeous, and it’s massive. Looks like there’s a lot to do there. About how long has the park been there?
Renee: Since 1938.
Camp Georgia: How did it get its start?
Renee: I am not really sure about that.
Camp Georgia: That’s okay. What are the most popular activities in that park? There are a lot of them.
Renee: Hiking is the main thing, and disc golf.
Camp Georgia: And it looks like you guys have quite a few different options for campers there. Maybe you could tell us a little more about that.
Renee: We have our tent and trailer sites. Those are very popular. We have two campgrounds for that, and they have water and electric, they have water and electric at each site, and a fire ring, picnic table, and grill at each site, plus you have your bathhouses, which are hot showers, bathrooms, and your washer and dryer. And then the next one on the list is walk-in. Those are a little bit cheaper. You park in a parking lot and you walk to your site.
Camp Georgia: About how far is the walk in?
Renee: Anywhere from a few car lengths to half a mile, at the very farthest. It’s a three-quarter mile loop. They have a bathhouse, and at the bathhouse you’ve got hot showers and a bathroom, and you also have your water spigot. At each site, you have a picnic table and a fire ring. And then the third option is backcountry. That is a two mile loop with some backcountry sites on it, and they have outhouses, and they also have a fire ring and a picnic table on them.
Camp Georgia: If somebody didn’t want to rough it quite as much, it looks like you guys have both yurts and cottages there.
Renee: We do. We have yurts. Those opened December 1st of last year. They’ve been extremely popular. You can sleep six people. They have three double beds. Two of the beds are actually couches, they’re futon couches that fold down, and the other one is a full-size mattress.
Camp Georgia: What do you think makes the yurts so popular?
Renee: They’re unique. They have wood floors, wood furniture, electricity, lighting; outside there’s a porch with Adirondack chairs. They have a fire ring and a picnic table. You do cook outside over open fire. They do have a water spigot at each site. So they’re considered “glamping.” It’s a little bit nicer than camping, but yet you don’t have your stove and refrigerator and all that. You do have to cook over an open fire. You do have a bathhouse with hot showers and a bathroom; they do have electricity and lighting, so you can put a crock pot or a coffee pot inside if you wanted to do that. They’re just a notch above camping and a notch below the cottages.
Camp Georgia: Glamorous camping.
Renee: Yes. They have a ceiling fan and a dome you can open and windows you can open, so when it’s really nice, you’ve got that warm air. And when it’s cool, they also have heaters in them.
Camp Georgia: It looks like there’s – I see “Wild Cave Tour” on the site here. Is that in the park as well?
Renee: We do have two wild caves. One is a crawl-in cave and the other is a rappel-in cave. You’re more than welcome to do those if you have all the equipment you need and you have done it before, you know what you’re doing. We don’t recommend anybody go in without the equipment and knowing what to do. If you’d like to try it for the first time, we recommend that you call the Georgia Girl Guides, and they will schedule with you and take you on through so that you will have a good experience and we will not be rescuing you.
Camp Georgia: So on the wild cave tour, on the crawl-in version, tell me a little more about that. How long does that take, how far do you go in?
Renee: It’s about a mile back all the way to the back. You kind of crawl in down over a bunch of rocks and stuff, and then you stand up in several parts of it and get on your hands and knees several parts. It’s very unique.
Camp Georgia: Have you done it?
Renee: I have. I’ve been to the back and out.
Camp Georgia: That sounds like a lot of fun. Is it cold in there?
Renee: No, it stays 58 degrees year round.
Camp Georgia: Wow. And then the one where you rappel down, that sounds like maybe a little bit more advanced. People might want to have some rock climbing experience.
Renee: Yeah, you’ve really got to know what you’re doing. Very few people do go in that cave every year. It is locked; you have to get the key at the office. Our caves are only open certain times of the year, so you do have to call and make a reservation with the office, and we only let people in those caves 12 people per day on the days that they are open. We do not exceed that.
Camp Georgia: Two more questions for you, Renee. If you could only spend one hour in Cloudland Canyon State Park, what would you do with your time?
Renee: I would go to the main overlook, hike the main overlook, which is about a quarter to a half mile trail; I’d also hike to the first waterfall, which is Cherokee Falls, and back out. It’s about 200 steps down and 200 steps back out. If you couldn’t do any more steps, all you can do, that’s worth coming here for.
Camp Georgia: And if you could spend just one night in Cloudland Canyon State Park, which specific campsite would you choose and why?
Renee: I would choose the yurts, because they are unique. It’s really different. Most every place has a cabin and most every place has a campground, but the yurts are just unique. Not a whole lot of places have that. When people come here, they’re really surprised and they’re really excited about it.
Camp Georgia: Sounds good. We’ll get that up on our site as sort of some insider tips there, preferred hikes and that the yurts are a great bet.
Renee: Yes. There is a two-night minimum on the yurts and the cottages at all times. And we do have a group lodge facility, too, if anybody wanted to come for – like a lot of church groups, retreats do it, a lot of family reunions. Just a lot. It’s got four bedrooms and it sleeps 40 people. It does have 20 bunk beds in it, and it’s got a full kitchen. It’s a commercial type kitchen. Definitely fun, too, for a large group that doesn’t want to spend a lot of money but do get away for a couple of days.
Camp Georgia: Yeah, that sounds fantastic.
Renee: We do have a wedding package here. We have a group shelter that seats 175 people that’s been really popular this past year. With that, if you decide to get that for a wedding, we also will give you 30% on your first cottage or yurt and 10% on each additional cottage or yurt, and that’s been super popular this past year.
Camp Georgia: One other thing I forgot to ask you: if somebody was staying there for the weekend and they wanted to venture outside of the park, what are some other attractions in the area worth checking out?
Renee: Within 30 miles here, if you’re a history buff, you’ve got Point Park and Chickamauga Battlefield. Also, if you go into Chattanooga, you have, for young kids, there’s the Discovery Museum along with the Chattanooga Aquarium and also the IMAX Theater. If you go to – I’m trying to think. There’s many places around here. Some of them have – oh, you’ve got Rock City, Ruby Falls, Incline Railway. That’s all up on the end of the mountain, about 18 miles from here. And there’s also hang gliding about 13 miles from here. If you don’t do it, it’s absolutely fascinating just to stop and watch them jump off.
Camp Georgia: Oh, I’m sure. That’s something I wish I knew how to do. It would take me a little bit more time to learn, I think.
Renee: Yeah, very interesting.
Camp Georgia: Well, thanks for providing all the extra info here for the park, Renee. Much appreciated.
Renee: No problem.