Amicalola Falls State Park

by Sydney Ryanczak

Camp Name: Amicalola Falls State Park

  • Website: Amicalola Falls State Park
  • Site Number: #24
  • Location: Dawsonville, GA
  • Latitude: 34.571258
  • Longitude: -84.24513
  • Rating: 4 Stars
  • Date Visited: April 27, 2018
  • Nights Stayed: 2
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Fee: $ 45 a night
  • Fellow Campers: Scott + Sydney, Frankie & Griffin
  • Weather: Mostly Sunny Low of 48 High of 66

Our inaugural trip in Matilda will be one we’ll never forget. Her maiden voyage was full of adventure starting from the moment we attached her to the hitch and drove off. Amicalola Falls State Park was our first camping destination. It was late April and cool.

We nervously got on the road around 4:30 pm and made our way north on GA 400 in the slow lane, constantly checking our rearview mirror to make sure she was still back there. Not even 15 minutes into our drive we hit our first snag. A truck had dumped garbage cans on the road and we had one directly in our path. Scott gracefully maneuvered around the trashcan like he had done it 100 times before. Nice work Scott! A woman on our right in a black SUV pulled up next to us and gave us the sheepish “courtesy wave”. I thought it was weird because nothing happened so cast it off as a non-issue. We drove another few exits and the woman showed up again on our left side. She was waving and rolled down her window. OH, MY GOD, SOMETHING MUST BE WRONG! Scott started cussing and we panicked. I kept looking in the rearview mirror but Mattie was still back there and looked fine. We got off at the next exit and immediately pulled over. The SUV lady followed us.

Scott jumped out of the car while I stayed back with the dogs trying to keep them calm. He immediately began inspecting the camper for damage. There was none. This is where the story gets really weird. The woman walks over to Scott and is just gushing over camper. She wanted to know more about it and asked if she could tour it. I kid you not! She about gave us a heart attack because she loved our camper! She had been looking and hadn’t been able to find a used Sport 16’ anywhere nearby. Scott was very pleasant and told her where we got Matilda and all the things. About 5 minutes later he got back in the car and we continued on our journey in absolute shock that on our very first trip we get stopped on the road by a fangirl. This was going to be interesting owning an Airstream.

The Campsite

We made it up to the park and had to check into the Lodge because it was after 5 pm and the Visitor’s Center was closed. You can check in at either during regular hours. The Lodge has a pull through which might be easier to navigate with an RV. One note about getting to the park. The 25% grade up to the top is no joke and I was freaked out looking over the side. But honestly our Tacoma did fine and there was nothing to worry about. Just stay in a low gear. After checking in we drove to our spot: # 24. It was on the very end closest to the front of the campground. The spot was slightly raised, fenced on 3 sides and overlooked the woods. Since it was on the end, we only had neighbors on one side.

Each site has a picnic table, grill, fire ring and pole thingy with hooks on it (what is that called? I googled it and have no idea). It also has water and 30/50 amp electrical hookup. No cable or sewer. There is excellent wifi and cell service, however.  We were able to watch Netflix streaming! There is a very clean dump station right down the road from # 24. The campground itself has a basketball court, picnic pavilion, men’s and women’s bathrooms with showers, and a laundry facility. The common areas are old but very well maintained and clean.

Camping

We got our camp set up fairly quickly. Scott’s extensive research on all things Airstream paid off. The fencing around the site definitely posed a bit of a problem backing in because it was narrow but given that it was Scott’s first time, he did great. We unhitched, leveled the camper and lowered the stabilizers. Scott plugged in our power and water. We were officially camping!

The first night creating a fire took some effort because our wood was wet. Oh, by the way, you can buy firewood at the Lodge and Visitor’s Center OR you are allowed to bring your own native wood (within 50 miles). So we brought our own and it was wet. We finally got a fire going after about an hour and cooked our burgers. Pro tip: use a dustpan to fan the fire!

The first night sleeping in the camper was just not good. I took the spot next to the window and Scott had the edge. He spent the entire night trying not to fall off the bed. My pillow was terrible and the bed is too soft. The fridge was loud. It was hot. It was cold. It was weird. For the second night, we switched spots and the fridge noise became more “normal” and we turned on the Fantastic Fan for white noise. It was better.

Saturday

It was cold! We actually used the camper’s heat both mornings because it was in the 40’s each day. The trees still didn’t even have their leaves on them yet because we have had such a cold spring. The days, however, were perfect, cool and in the upper 60s.

In the morning, Scott made coffee using the Aeropress. Our second camping snaffu after the trashcan’s in the road was that Scott dumped the entire Aeropress filled with coffee and boiling water all over the counter. I think we are still cleaning out coffee grounds! The third snaffu was that I forgot syrup. Oops, no pancakes for us. We had eggs and sausage instead. That was fun. Cooking somewhere new!

After breakfast, we walked down and hiked the falls. More on that later. We spent the rest of the day fiddling with the camper and relaxing. I think I just stared at the trees and listened to the birds for hours. It was the least stressful I’d felt in months. I’m going to really like this camping thing.

The rest of our food situation was uneventful. Lunch was sandwiches and dinner was foil packets: one with chicken, one with tiny new potatoes, and one with yellow squash and zucchini. We cooked the foil packets on top of the fire pit. Starting a fire on day 2 was much easier because we dried our wood out over day 1’s fire. Top tip!

Sunday

We decided to pack up to leave early and head to the dump station. We were terrified. Before we even hitched up we took the poop hose out and tried to figure out how we were going to attack this without getting pee on us. Turns out it’s really no big deal. Just hook the poop hose up to the poop opening, pulled a lever, and dump it into a hole in the ground. Rinse. Close it all up and you’re done!

Things We Learned

This being our first camping trip in the Mattie Wagon we learned a few things:

  • Bring your regular pillow
  • Bring a ‘sink’. Because there was no sewage here we were afraid of running to much water. We ended up using a small bowl in the sink to catch some of the grey water that we dumped outside. As soon as I got home I went to Amazon and bought a collapsible dish pan
  • Bring a fan. The Fantastic Fan that Airstreams come with are great for pulling fresh air in and pushing hot air out but it doesn’t circulate the air very well.

Activities

Hammocking

Having site # 24 at the campground was awesome because it’s directly next to woods making it perfect for hammocking. We set up our Kammock and laid in the sun. Let the napping commence.

The Falls

About a 1/4 mile down from the campsite is the top of Amicalola Falls and the most beautiful mountain views you’ve ever seen! Amicalola Falls is the tallest waterfall in Georgia and you definitely feel on top of the world up there. You can walk the entire length of the falls through a maze of decks and stairs. 604 stair steps to be exact. At the bottom of the waterfall is a small pond where people sat fishing for trout.

The hike up and down the falls is dog and energetic kid friendly. We did bring Frank and Griff and they did ok. The stairs are steel grates and I think it bothered Griff’s toes. He got completely freaked out a couple of times at the height. The old man did it though! Mama was proud. The dogs were out of commission after this hike and spent the rest of the day sleeping. If you have any kind of knee issues I do not recommend this hike. Same for little tiny kiddos. It’s tough. Drive up to the top instead.

The Visitor Center

The Visitor’s Center is about 1/2 mile down the road from the bottom of the falls. It contains a small gift shop where you can purchase Appalachian Trail t-shirts and sweatshirts, snacks, toys, and it had a few ‘exhibits’. This is also where you check in the campsites during regular business hours. Picnic facilities and cabins are all around the Visitor’s Center. Getting back to the campground involves going 604 steps back up—yes we did both down and up—and will take you to the top of the waterfall. Our legs the next day were so sore! The dogs were completely out of commission for the rest of the day.

The Lodge

The Lodge is a hotel and convention center with incredible views. It’s also where you check in after hours and to purchase firewood. Rates are about $200/night for a Deluxe Queen room in the spring. It includes the $5 State Park Pass. The hotel lobby contains a huge multi-story stone fireplace that would be perfect to sit by on the fall day. If you aren’t staying there, definitely stop by and check out the view from their back balcony. It’s incredible on a clear day. I can’t report on the rooms themselves or the restaurant because we just stopped by when we checked in for our campsite.

http://www.amicalolafallslodge.com

Hike Inn

We didn’t have enough time to hike to the Hike Inn so it gives us a reason to go back. The Inn is hotel nestled in the woods on the approach of the Appalachian Trail. There is no access by cars–hikers only! You park your car at the top of Amicalola Falls and hike about 5 miles. Just perusing their website makes me want to go back and stay! It looks so peaceful and tranquil. Maybe next time!

http://hike-inn.com

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