Georgia’s State Parks Celebrate the “Moon and Stars” with Themed Evening Programs

    Georgia’s State Parks are celebrating the enchantment of the “Moon and Stars” with themed nighttime events the entire month of August. With the Perseid meteor shower peaking on August 11 and full moons on August 2 and August 31, it’s the perfect time for families to cool off and enjoy starry summer nights or go for a moonlit stroll. The rare moon occurrence (two full moons in one month) is referred to as a “blue moon” and happens only every two and a half years.

    Outdoor enthusiasts interested in astronomy or who simply want to enjoy the parks by moonlight can take advantage of a variety of evening programs. Hikers can explore trails by moonlight at Tallulah Gorge, Sweetwater Creek, Panola Mountain and Hard Labor Creek state parks. Full moon paddle excursions are offered at George L. Smith, James H. Sloppy Floyd and Sweetwater Creek state parks. Serious stargazers will want to head to Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee Swamp, home to some of the darkest skies in the state, or to Hard Labor Creek State Park’s observatory.

    Below are just a few examples of evening programs planned this month. A full calendar is available at

    Full Moon Hikes in the Gorge
    August 1, 2 and 31
    Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls

    Enjoy the gorge in the magical, shimmering light of the full moon. The hike will begin at the Interpretive Center, following the North Rim Trail, with a descent of the Hurricane Falls Trail staircase to the suspension bridge over Hurricane Falls. This is considered a strenuous hike, consisting of approximately 1.5 miles and 1,099 steps. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.

    “Ruins to Rapids” Full Moon Hike
    August 1 and 31, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

    This 1.5-mile hike is moderately difficult and goes inside the Civil War-era textile mill ruins of New Manchester and follows the rapids of Sweetwater Creek. A flashlight and sturdy shoes are required. No children younger than 6 or dogs. Meet inside the Visitor Center. Register in advance. $6 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

    Moonlight Hike
    August 2, 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
    Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge

    Join a park ranger on this guided hike under the full moon. Wear comfortable shoes and insect repellant, and bring a camera to record the journey as we listen for insects, frogs and other nocturnal creatures. Meet at the Trading Post. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 557-3001.

    Twilight Hike
    Fridays, August 3, 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville

    Start the night off in the Discovery Room by meeting one of Georgia’s native snakes and then follow a Park Ranger on a moderate, 1-mile hike. We’ll be on the lookout for some of the lesser-seen animals that call Red Top home. $1 plus $5 parking. (770) 975-0055.

    Twilight Paddles
    August 3, 10, 17 and 24, 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

    Join us for a ranger-led, peaceful outing on the lake at sunset. This trip is for those 16 years or older who can swim or children 6 years or older who can swim and are accompanied by an adult. Meet at the Bait Shop. Register in advance. $15 includes equipment. $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

    Evening Kayak and Wildlife Watching Adventures
    August 10, 17, 18 and 31, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
    Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge

    The stealthy kayak is a great vessel to sneak up on all sorts of wildlife. This ranger-led paddle will take participants around Lake Rutledge for viewing birds, mammals, dragonflies and other wildlife. Ages 4 and older. Register in advance. $15 includes equipment. $5 parking. (706) 557-3001.

    Perseid Meteor Shower
    August 10, 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo/Okefenokee

    Come out to the darkest skies in the state for a spectacular view of the Perseid meteor shower. Ask about our new astronomy permit that allows you to stay between 2 and 4 a.m. to see up to 100 meteors per hour. $5 refuge parking fee. (912) 637-5274.

    Basically Bats
    August 11, 8:30 p.m.
    Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge

    Few creatures have scared so many, or have been misunderstood so much. Bats are strange animals indeed, they are the only mammals that can sustain flight, most are nocturnal, and they help us in ways that many people don’t realize. Join a biologist and get a peek at the world of a very secretive and beneficial animal. 5 plus $5 parking. 706-557-3001.

    Legend of the Stars & Moon Marshmallow Roast
    Saturday, August 11, 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
    Mistletoe State Park – Appling

    Join us in roasting marshmallows around the campfire while listening to an Indian legend of how the moon and stars were created. $5 parking. (706) 541-0321.

    Astronomy Night
    August 11, 9 p.m. – 11 p.m.
    Georgia Veterans State Park – Cordele

    Spend a night exploring the heavens, featuring the Perseid meteor shower, stars and planets. $1 plus $5 parking. (229) 276-2371.

    Perseid Meteor Shower
    Sunday, August 12, 2 a.m.
    Cloudland Canyon State Park – Rising Fawn

    If you have never seen a meteor shower before, this is one of the most consistent and active of the whole year. The local Astronomical Society will be available to answer any questions. Please bring a red-cellophane covered flashlight along with a chair or blanket. Meet at the Tennis Courts. $5 parking. (706) 657-4050.

    Georgia State University Astronomy – Observatory Open House
    August 18, 8:20 p.m. – 10:40 p.m.
    Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge

    Georgia State University’s Observatory will have an open house monthly. In case of inclement weather, facilities will be open for a tour and slideshow. (706) 557-3001.

    “Wagging Trails” Nighttime Dog Hike
    August 18, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

    Bring your leashed four-legged friend as we cover 2 1/2 miles including walking alongside the whitewater rapids and visiting the five story ruins of the Civil War era New Manchester textile mill. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

    Full Moon Night Hike
    Saturday, August 18 and 25, 7:30 p.m.
    Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

    Join us for an enchanted evening as we hike to the mountaintop under the full moon. We’ll head out just before sunset and enjoy the stroll as the moon begins to rise. Bring flashlights, hiking boots and water. Meet at the nature center 15 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

    Full Moon Bike Ride Down Suwannee River Sill
    August 31, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo

    Bring your bike for this ranger-led ride under the full moon. Look for alligators eyes shining bright red. Listen to owls and a chorus of frogs and toads. Watch bats overhead. Cross your fingers for a shooting star! $5 Refuge Parking. (912) 637-5274.

    Blue Moon Paddle
    August 31, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park – Summerville

    Join us for this peaceful, ranger-led outing at sunset for the first blue moon in almost three years. This trip is for those 16 years and older who can swim. Register in advance. $8 includes equipment. $2 with own gear. $5 parking. (706) 857-0826.

    Georgia State Parks offer affordable overnight options from modern campsites and cozy cabins, to yurts and even hotel-style lodge rooms. Staying overnight in the parks makes it easy to enjoy evening programs, the moon and stars. For more information, visit or to make reservations call 1-800-864-7275.

    Image courtesy of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

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