Date: 11/8/14 – 11/11/14
Location: Rising Fawn, Georgia
On our list of places to camp was somewhere north of us and during the fall where maybe we could catch some fall color. Many years ago we had visited areas around the north Georgia mountains, such as Unicoi and Vogel state parks. Both well known camping locations in the mountains of north Georgia. Just recently I’ve started reading about a campground and park in the very northwest corner of Georgia called Cloudland Canyon. This location is about a 7 – 8 hour drive from our home and about the max we would do for a long weekend. And unfortunately, the only direct way to get there is to drive right through the center of Atlanta which is not always a fun adventure while pulling an RV. But we decided that the long day of travel was worth visiting a park that we’ve never seen before and one that gets great reviews.
With Tuesday being Veterans Day, we decided to take a vacation day on Monday to make it a nice 4 day long weekend. This would allow us a couple days of long driving, but also a few days to relax and explore the park. It turns out we couldn’t have picked a better time weather wise to visit. The nighttime lows were about 40 degrees, with the daytime highs in the upper 60’s to low 70’s. With clear skies and perfect temps, we definitely hit it just right!
We were a little concerned since the online reservation system showed the park was completely full over the weekend and we were scheduled to arrive Saturday afternoon. We were expecting to get one of the leftover, non-prime spots. But we figured if the site was too bad, we would just move on Sunday afternoon when the majority of the campers were leaving.
We arrived at Cloudland Canyon at around 2:00pm on Saturday, checked in and them drove directly to the West Side campground. We heard this camping loop was a little nicer and more spread out than the one on the east side of the park. Within minutes we drove by an open site, only the second open site we saw and it was a beautiful location. No other campsite on the right and plenty of room between this site and the next on the left. We discussed continuing to drive around looking at spots, but decided to not take our chances, so we snagged it!
As you can see from the pictures below, this camping site is very nice and with the bonus of some trees with fall color. Also, on Sunday about half the campground checked out and almost all of the rest left on Monday. So, by that time we had this section of the west loop campground all to ourselves. Very nice!!
After we got checked in on Saturday, we rested for a short bit and then decided to check out the day use area and some of the many hiking trails. We heard that this park was unique and offered some amazing views, but we really didn’t realize how awesome it would turn out to be.
Here’s a few pictures looking out over one of the canyons the park is named after. A beautiful view showing some of the fall colors down in the valley.
One of the benefits of camping here, that we appreciated more as the weekend progressed, was the amount of hiking trails they had built all over this park. And also the fact that all were easily accessible from the campgrounds and cabins. They also put in a ton of effort making some of the scenic overlooks accessible and also safe. Like this overlook below with the fence to prevent anyone from falling. Theses type of overlooks were common on many of the trails.
Of course there were also many spots where you could get close to the edge with nothing preventing you from falling. Here’s Julie doing her best to increase the excitement level some.
Probably one of the best hikes in the park is the West Rim Loop Trail. This trail winds around the section of the park where we were camped and is an amazing hike. Both Julie and I would rate this as one of the best and most exciting hikes we have ever done. I’d give it the number two spot on my list, right below Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park. Julie thinks it rates ahead of that hike, so you can tell we really enjoyed it!
This overlook, looking north out of the park towards Chattanooga, was an example of how much effort they put into giving you places to view the surrounding mountains and canyons. But this one was very slanted and wanted to move you close to the edge where the drop was hundreds of feet. Here’s Julie holding on to the railing while staying away from the drop off.
Over the years I’ve always snickered at campers who carry their little dog around in a sling or push it in a stroller. Every year we go to the Tampa RV Super Show and I just have to laugh at all the people (mainly men!!!) carrying their little fluffy. Well, this is what I get for laughing at them…..it’s now us!! We have a little grand-doggy who usually stays home with a dog sitter when we go camping, but we decided to try and save a little money and started bringing her along. Julie ordered an over the shoulder sling/pouch so we can take her hiking with us. From the picture below, it doesn’t look like she is too stressed. I actually think she enjoyed it and she sure did get a lot of attention from the fellow hikers we passed along the way.
Almost all of the hiking trails in the park have a lot of elevation changes, with many of them descending all the way to the bottom of the ravines. We surely didn’t have to worry about getting our exercise during this weekend. On many of the hikes to the bottom there were interesting rock formations and some caves.
And along the way we passed several high waterfalls. However, Zelda (the dog) didn’t like the waterfalls. Guess all the water noise reminded her of bath time!
I probably took a hundred pictures of the view looking out over the canyon. It was just too good to pass up. It did make it a little challenging whittling down the pics to the ones I’d use in this blog entry.
At one point Julie took the camera away from me. I think it was after I’d taken the hundredth picture of her and the surrounding fall colors. This is one she snapped of me. I figured I’d add it as it’s one of the few you will see of me here.
Over the long weekend, we just about hiked ourselves to death. We are flatlanders from Florida. So, all these hikes and the elevation changes were a great workout. If we had stayed another day, it would have had to be a day of rest. We both had tired legs at the end. I figured we did between 20 – 25 miles of hiking over those few days. That’s a lot for two old farts!
Here’s a link to a short YouTube video from this camping trip
And some GPS tracks from some of the hikes we took