Georgia: From spelunking to zip lining, adventure awaits

  • Blake Guthrie
  • For the AJC
12:00 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017 Travel
Guided spelunking adventures are available in the wild caves at Cloudland Canyon State Park. CONTRIBUTED BY GEORGIA GIRL GUIDES / G3 ADVENTURES

In the southeast corner of the state, the legendary Okefenokee Swamp can be accessed by canoe through Stephen C. Foster State Park (17515 Ga. 177, Fargo. 912-637-5274). Take a ranger-led night paddling tour in one of the darkest places in Georgia. The park has been designated by the International Dark Sky Association as an “International Dark Sky Park.” See the stars (and alligator eyes) like you’ve never seen them before. In the northwest corner of the state, go spelunking at Cloudland Canyon State Park (122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn. 706-657-4050). G3 Adventures(formerly known as Georgia Girl Guides) gives guided tours of the wild cave system in the park. Expect to get wet and muddy as you crawl through limestone caverns for one to four hours. gastateparks.org.

Historic Banning Mills (205 Horseshoe Dam Road, Whitesburg. 770-834-9149, www.historicbanningmills.com) is an adventure retreat located along the forested Snake Creek Gorge west of Atlanta. It claims the longest canopy zip line in the world, “Flight of the Falcon,” which soars through the treetops and over the gorge. You can also climb the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall, then take a heart-racing controlled free-fall plunge back to earth. An aerial obstacle course crosses the gorge as well. No need to leave the trees when you’re done because accommodations include treehouse rooms accessible by a rope bridge and complete with conveniences like fireplaces and hot tubs.

Like Atlanta, Columbus sits on the Chattahoochee, but it’s a much different Hooch here. The fall line location creates class III, IV and V rapids. The city boasts the longest urban whitewater course in the world. Whitewater Express (1000 Bay Ave., Columbus. 706-321-4720, www.whitewaterexpress.com) provides guided rafting excursions through the raging water and rents kayaks to experienced paddlers. They also have a zip line course that zings you across the river into Alabama then back into Georgia. Be prepared for jokes about passports as you zip between two states high above the Chattahoochee.

For garden-lovers: Gibbs Garden Enjoy 220 acres that include 24 ponds, 32 bridge crossings and 19 waterfalls. For hiking and history: Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi Walasi-Yi calls to outdoor connoisseurs, with magnificent waterfalls and hikes du jour. For appreciators of the arts: Howard Finster's Paradise Garden Paradise Garden Foundation displays Howard Finster's folk art with pride, in hopes of continuing to inspire others now that he has passed. For adventure-seekers: Historic Banning Mills Hi
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