Ga. parks at night: new options include stargazing, moonlight paddles

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, for the most part, traditionally go quiet by sunset. But this year, state parks will be teeming with night-time activities full moon paddles, stargazing, evening hours hikes, even yoga under the stars. 

Historic Sites will offer candlelight tours of historic homes and lantern tours of forts. 

It’s all part of a new program for 2018 called, “Parks After Dark.”  

Each year, the Parks staff chooses a new theme to drum up enthusiasm and provide new opportunities to educate visitors about natural resources located close to home. 

MORE: 15 ways to celebrate Valentine's Day in Atlanta

While Georgia State Parks have offered a limited number of evening activities at parks, dozens of new, after-hours adventures which include interpretive rangers leading night hikes to learn about nocturnal wildlife, the symphony of natural sounds, and glorious sights in the great outdoors under stars. 

For a complete list of events, go to

One can’t miss stop includes experiencing the darkest skies in Georgia at Stephen C. Foster State Park. Located in the Okefenokee Swamp, this park is listed as one of Georgia’s seven natural wonders. Because of the very low light pollution seen here, this park is a gold-tier “International Dark Sky Park,” and is ranked among Big Bend and Death Valley national parks as one of the best spots in the world to star-gaze.

Consider making a night out of it and plan to stay at one of Georgia State Parks’ many overnight accommodations. Guests can choose from fully equipped cabins, “glamping” yurts and modern campsites. Reservations can be made at

Here’s a look at some of the upcoming activities:

Swamper's Guide to the Galaxy at Stephen C. Foster State Park - Fargo, Ga.

Watch for meteors, planets, observe the moon or take in all the stars above as we gaze upon a truly dark sky from deep within the Okefenokee. We will use both our unaided eyes and telescopes while stargazing. 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. Friday, Feb 9. $5 parking. 17515 GA-177, Fargo. 912-637-5274.

Creatures of the Night Hike Hard Labor Creek State Park - Rutledge.

Head into the night to learn about the things that we don't normally see. Look for scorpions by using UV lights, listen for owls, and watch the stars. You'll be meeting at the Trading Post (Visitor Center) to walk along an easy/moderate 1 mile trail. Bring a flashlight and wear sturdy shoes. Call the park office to register. 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb 10. $5 plus $5 parking. Hard Labor Creek State Park, 5 Hard Labor Creek Road, Rutledge. 706-557-3001.

Valentine's Day Couples Hike Panola Mountain State Park

Looking for something new to do with your valentine? Bring them to Panola Mountain a guided hike through our conservation area, watch the sunset over downtown Atlanta, have your photos taken on top of the mountain, and roast chocolate covered strawberry inspired s'mores over the campfire. Space is limited. Call to reserve spots. 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb 10. $15 plus $5 parking. Panola Mountain State Park. 2620 Georgia 155 SW, Stockbridge. 770-389-7801.

Family Star Gazing Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park 

Join Tattnall County Library and Gordonia State Park on the Golf course back nine to enjoy a night under the stars. Dr. Joseph Jones and Mr. Jim Wyrosdick from the University of North Georgia Planetarium will share information on stars, star charts, satellites, and constellations. Call the park to register. $2 per person at the door plus $5 parking (Pay in advance for a discounted $1 per person tickets). 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb 24. Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park. 162 Park Ln, Reidsville, 912-557-7744. Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park

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