Don Carter State Park Review

Don Carter State Park is the newest Georgia State Park. At 1,316 acres, it packs a lot of great features into a relatively small space. 

Don Carter State Park

Opened on July 15, 2013, Don Carter State Park is the newest Georgia State Park and the only one located on Lake Lanier. It is near Gainesville GA and about an hour from Atlanta.

Don Carter State Park Hiking Trail Lake Lanier
Hiking Trail Along Lake Lanier

At 1,316 acres, Don Carter State Park is a relatively small state park. Yet, it packs a lot of great features into that space. There are 12.5 miles of hiking trails, a boat ramp, picnic shelters, and a playground. In the summer, you might take advantage of the swimming beach. Ranger talks on owls, deer, and bears are available.

Don Carter State Park Campground

Don Carter State Park Campground had 44 campsites. Ranging from 36-100 feet, there are both back-in and pull-through sites. The sites are water & electric and include 30/50 amp service. Bath houses were new and clean.

Sites are paved and level. Each includes a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post.

Don Carter State Park Campsite Amenities Picnic Table Fire Ring Lantern Post
Picnic Table, Fire Ring, and Lantern Post

One unique feature is a low-volume gray water can. It looks like a metal garbage can buried into the ground. You can dump gray water into the can. While you’ll need to empty your gray water slowly, this is a very helpful feature that significantly extends the length of time needed before needing to visit the dump station.

Don Carter State Park Camp Site Hookups
Gray Water Can

I parked on a 100 foot premium campsite. With my Ram pickup and 34′ Grand Design camper, there was plenty of room. Finding a site that was long, level, and nice was fantastic. Camping sites are a reasonable $35 per night.

Don Carter State Park Long Level RV Camping Site
Long Level Site

Next to the playground was something I had not seen before, an outdoor fitness area for adults. There were a variety of exercise machines, mostly using your own weight as resistance.

Don Carter State Park Outdoor Fitness Playground
Outdoor Fitness Equipment
Don Carter State Park Outdoor Fitness Playground
Rowing Machine

Don Carter State Park also has eight two bedroom cottages. While I didn’t get a look inside, these looked very nice.

Don Carter State Park Cottage
Cottage At Don Carter State Park

Georgia State Parks Friends

If you are planning to camp in a Georgia State Park, you might consider joining the Friends of Georgia State Parks program.

At the Supporter level, membership of $105 gives you three free nights of camping. At $35 per night for camping, you break even on your first trip. You’ll also get a 20% discount on camping and 10% on a variety of other attractions.

Attractions Near Don Carter State Park

Dahlonega Georgia

Dahlonega GA is located about 20 miles from Don Carter State Park. Before the California Gold Rush, there was the Dahlonega Gold Rush. Dahlonega is home to the Dahlonega Gold Museum a Georgia State Historic Site that tells the story of the exciting time in Georgia’s history.

I found the Chestatee River 1875 Diving Bell exhibit to be the most interesting part of my visit to Dahlonega, and it is a free attraction. The diving bell was mounted on a barge. It could be lowered to the bottom of the Chestatee River where people could then mine the river bottom for gold.

Dahlonega GA Chestatee River Diving Bell
Chestatee River Diving Bell

A few glass windows allowed some light in. Water was forced out by using air pressure. Imagine climbing down a narrow tube into the dark and cramped diving bell. Then shoveling pound after pound of river rock into a tube that pumped rocks up to the ship for processing.

Dahlonega GA Chestatee River Diving Bell
Chestatee Diving Bell Tube

The diving bell was constructed in 1875. In 1876, it sank. After laying on the river bottom for a century, the bell was recovered and restored. This may be the only existing diving bell from that era. The 1875 Diving Bell is located in downtown Dahlonega GA.

Before You Go

I was inspired to visit this part of Georgia after reading about it in 1,000 Places To See In The US and Canada.

1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die is a great source of inspiration for finding new places to visit. When you are thinking of traveling to an area, be sure to review 1,000 Places to get ideas for attractions you’ll want to include in your itinerary.

Purchase 1,000 Places To See In The United States And Canada on Amazon

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