Monday, August 9, 2010

Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park, Florida

We continually confuse our Florida friends when we tell them we camped at the Stephen C. Foster State Park in Georgia. They always ask, “Do you mean the one at White Springs?” No, we answer, the one at Fargo. Georgia. The two state parks are less than 60 miles apart, are both on the Suwanee River, and are really quite different from one another.
The Carillon at Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park

The one at White Springs is in Florida, and is actually called the Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park, located right on U.S. 41 just a few miles east of I-75 and north of I-10. We made our first reservation at the Florida park as a convenient overnight stop on our way north on our first extended camping trip in early August. We have previously camped twice at the Georgia park, which is 17 miles east of U.S. 441 near Fargo, and plan to stop there again on or way back.

The friendly Florida State Park ranger at the gate brought the prepared paperwork out of the guardhouse right to the car. I didn't even have to get out! As we drove in the immaculately manicured grounds, dominated by the beautiful Spanish moss-draped Live Oaks, we were impressed with spacious layout of the park. The center of the park is dominated by a Carillon, which tastefully played its bells for us as we drove by. Actually, it was playing the time, but it was a nice symbolic, welcoming touch.

The Florida state park system lets you select your RV site ahead of time, which is easy to do on the Internet, whereas the Georgia park system is first come, first served, based on the size of your unit. The Georgia state parks usually require a drive-through at least once to see which sites are available, which at sites like Unicoi and Amicalola can be interesting to say the least.
Camp site 7 at Stephen Foster Folk Center State Park

Our preselected site was clean and roomy, easy to back into, and separated from the adjacent sites by bushes and shrubs. We soon unloaded the bikes, and even though the temperature was still 94 degrees in the late afternoon, we took a leisurely bike tour of the park and its gently rolling hills. We rode down the access trail to the canoe launch on the Suwanee River and decided we would return here as a destination sometime in the future. We rode to the typical visitor center where you can get information and brochures, as well as T-shirts and caps, and all of the assorted souvenirs usually found at campgrounds.

The campground at the Stephen C. Foster State Park in Georgia, is also clean and with private campsites, and although the access road is somewhat tighter, there is also room to maneuver your vehicle. The Georgia park has rental boats and canoes, a paved boat ramp and a visitor's center as well. Both campgrounds have rental cabins, playgrounds, and amphitheaters for Ranger lectures. The difference is in the location. If you stay at the Georgia park, make sure you are stocked up ahead of time. A milk run for forgotten groceries is a 40 mile round trip.

Next: Our first major outing to the Georgia Moutains. On to Carter's Lake at

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