Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Cloudland Canyon State Park
How did we miss Cloudland Canyon State Park? In the six summers we have spent camping in the Appalachian mountains of Georgia and North Carolina, we’ve stayed at many state and Federal campgrounds, including Vogel, Unicoi, and Amicalola State Parks in the Georgia mountains. We’ve visited nearby Moccasin Creek And Tallulah Falls during day trips. We’ve spent many nights at Richard Russell, Stephen C. Foster and Hard Labor Creek State Parks in Georgia as well. We’ve stayed at one of our favorite state parks, Vogel, near Blairsville, several times, but for some reason or other, we never made it to Cloudland Canyon State Park in the far northwest corner of the state.
Located on the western rim of Lookout Mountain, only twenty six miles south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the fairly large park was recommended by Hill and Marianne, friends we met at Vogel last year. The park sits atop a mountain plateau created by the gorge of the headwaters of Daniel Creek, forming a unique “Y” layout that allows to park to have two separate campgrounds. The East Rim campground, which is a tighter, more family oriented type campground, and the larger West Rim Campground which has the more secluded, woodsy type camping sites we prefer.
We had a taste of what to expect as we drove through dense, misty clouds that floated across the heavily forested mountainside highway on our way up to the park. It rained off and on the entire day as we drove 185 miles from Athens, Georgia, but the rain held off as we registered at the visitor center a little before three in the afternoon. The young ranger seemed rather bored with counter duty as she handed me my vehicle pass and a campground map with little comment. I then asked her to apply the discount visitors over the age of 62 receive when registering in person. I have to apply in person every time I sign in at a Georgia visitor's center as the online system does not offer the discount. She asked if I was over 62. I said yes, way over. She glanced up, then keyed the information into the system without further comment
I asked if the park was busy. “Nope,” she said, “Only six reservations today for the whole park.
Great! We had our pick of the 72 campsites – Georgia is first come, first served – and we soon backed in to the spotlessly clean, level site on the west rim we liked best. No one else in the campground but the camp hosts.
No sooner did I have the power cable plugged in than it started raining. We retired to the camper, broke out the chocolate and the wine and put our feet up while the rain gently soaked the forest around us. The park looks great with many trails, we can’t wait to explore the area during our stay. I don’t see how we missed the place.
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