A Guide to National Parks in Georgia

The National Park Service sponsors some amazing historical sites in Georgia that commemorate times of war, triumph, and peace.
Written by Drew Waterstreet
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Sep 27, 2022
Even though
isn’t home to any of America’s 63 traditional national parks, it does have several historic sites operated by the National Park Service that are definitely worth the visit!
The National Park Service (NPS) encompasses over 420 sites in Georgia that don’t get the “National Park” title—this expansive list includes battlefields, monuments, and more.  Considering Georgia’s tumultuous and complex history, there is plenty of material to work with.
To help you take a glimpse into the past, the
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comparison super app
has compiled a list of the top NPS historical sites across the Peach State. So buckle up, and let’s get this history lesson started!
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Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park

Location: Fort Oglethorpe, GA
Hours of operation: Open during daylight hours (visitor centers open from 8:30 am to 5 pm)
Admission price: $10 per person (annual and lifetime passes available)

What makes Chickamauga & Chattanooga special

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
is a landmark for a pivotal turn of events in American history. Confederate and Union forces clashed on these grounds in 1863 for control over Chattanooga, which was then known as the "Gateway to the Deep South." 
After an initial Confederate victory, the Union troops rallied a couple of months later to regain control of the vital geographic location. Historians look back on this duel as the final “death-knell of the Confederacy.” Or, in other words, the waiving of the white flag.

What to do in Chickamauga & Chattanooga

With so much historical context to unpack, it’s best to go on a
ranger-guided tour
. Both walking and car caravan tour options are available on the weekends only. 
But you can certainly set out on your own self-guided exploration if you’re visiting during the week! By calling 585-672-2619, you can access a pre-recorded narration to help guide your experience.
Plan your trip at the online Chickamauga & Chattanooga
visitor center

When to visit Chickamauga & Chattanooga

Most visitors opt to visit during the mild fall and spring seasons—Georgia can be incredibly hot and humid during the summer!
Another fun idea: The battles of Chickamauga & Chattanooga took place from September to November, so you could visit during this time to get a closer recreation of the scene.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Location: Kennesaw, GA
Hours of operation: Open during daylight hours (visitor centers open from 9 am to 5 pm)
Admission price: $5 per vehicle (annual passes available)

What makes Kennesaw Mountain special

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
serves as a historical site to preserve the legacy of the local area. Here are some stories that are represented:
  • Civil War—The Atlanta Campaign: The mountainous landscape provided a geographic advantage during The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which led to the final outcome of the Civil War.
  • Civil War Memorial: Serves asan honorary landmark for the American soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the conflict.
  • Civil War to Civil Rights Project: Highlights the stories of four individuals that persevered through the civil rights era in the south.
  • Kennesaw Mountain’s Early People: Kennesaw Mountain was inhabited by the Cherokee as early as 1000 B.C.E.
  • Preservation: Learn more about how the landscape has changed over time.

What to do in Kennesaw Mountain

Here are various ways to explore the extensive history of Kennesaw Mountain:
  • Visit the museum: The exhibits tell the military and civilian stories of the aforementioned historical moments.
  • Watch the park movie: "Kennesaw: One Last Mountain" is a movie about the Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Kennesaw, which plays 15 minutes after the hour every hour.
  • Hike: The park has over 22 miles of maintained interpretative trails for hiking and learning about the history of Kennesaw Mountain.
  • And more: Check out the park’s
    full list of things to do
    to get the most immersive experience out of your visit.

When to visit Kennesaw Mountain

It’s best to avoid the summer when visiting—you’ll break quite the sweat hiking around the park under the blistering Georgia sun. But, no matter the time of the year, there are always special events that can be found on the
Kennesaw Mountain NBP Calendar
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Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Location: Macon, GA
Hours of operation: 8 pm to 5 pm daily (the Visitor Center and Earth Lodge are open 9 am to 5 pm daily)
Admission price: Free (except for special events)

What makes Ocmulgee Mounds special

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park
now preserves the natural remains of the ancient past. This prehistoric geographic area was called home by various American Indian tribes throughout history. 
Odd-looking mounds were constructed around 900 C.E. to serve as a council chamber for the elite members of the tribe. But, human life has inhabited the area for much longer—over 12,000 years, in fact!
The Earth Lodge is one of the more popular mounds that you can explore, dating back to roughly 1015 C.E. This underground burrow could host up to 50 people!

What to do in Ocmulgee Mounds

The park is self-guided, and visitors can explore the grounds on foot or by car. The highly-popular Great Temple Mound is easily accessible within a half-mile of the Visitor Center.
The seven historical mounds are connected by over eight miles of peaceful hiking trails. Check out the complete
list of trails
and how to access the mounds.

When to visit Ocmulgee Mounds

September is usually when the park holds its Annual Ocmulgee Indian Celebration—this is a can’t-miss event!
But if the Celebration doesn’t fit your schedule, visiting in the fall or spring can help you avoid the heat and humidity of summer.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Location: Atlanta, GA
Hours of operation: 8 pm to 5 pm daily
Admission price: Free

What makes MLK Park special

Atlanta, Georgia is where the inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised. The city honors his legacy with the
MLK National Historic Park
—his valiant efforts during the civil rights movement will not be soon forgotten.

What to do in MLK Park

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is so much more than just a park. There are a variety of locations, exhibits, and monuments that honor MLK’s bravery and leadership. Here are some highlights to check out:
  • DREAM Gallery
    : Featured gallery of MLK’s lifetime.
  • BEHOLD Monument
    : Sculpture that commemorates the life principles that made MLK the man he was.
  • "I Have A Dream" World Peace Rose Garden
    : Garden of 185 roses that represents the ideals of peace. The graves of Dr. and Mrs. King are located directly across from Peace Plaza.
  • And more
    : Check out the visitor center and other historic locations, including Dr. King’s childhood home.

When to visit MLK Park

MLK Park is Atlanta’s most popular tourist attraction, so it’s important to plan your visit appropriately to avoid the masses. Visiting during the weekdays can help!

Jimmy Carter National Historical Park

Location: Plains, GA
Hours of operation: 8:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily
Admission price: Free

What makes Jimmy Carter Park special

Not many towns or cities across the United States can claim to be the birthplace of a president, but Plains sure can! Jimmy Carter grew up in this small Georgia town before eventually becoming the 39th leader to sit in the Oval Office.

What to do in Jimmy Carter Park

Jimmy Carter National Historical Park
is more or less just the rural community of Plains itself. You can visit various locations across town to learn more about Jimmy Carter’s early life, including the following:

When to visit Jimmy Carter Park

Visit anytime! The rural community of Plains will welcome you with open arms to teach you about their place in the history books.

How to prepare to visit Georgia’s national historic sites

Before you set out on your journey to explore these historic locations, we have one more piece of knowledge for you. Did you know you could be saving an average of $887 per year on your annual
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