Located in central Georgia, just about an hour south of Atlanta, Indian Springs State Park has a rich cultural history and an abundance of natural beauty waiting to be explored. Verdant forests, a placid lake, and bubbling springs await visitors here. As one of the nation's oldest state parks, it has attracted travelers from all over for centuries.
The springs were originally used for their homeopathic qualities by the Creek Indians, who once inhabited the area. The water in the park is pushed up from inside the earth, collecting minerals on its way to the surface. The Creek Indians, and many people, even today, believe the springs to have healing powers. After the government acquired the land around the springs towards the end of the 19th century, the area quickly became a resort town. The resort declined just before the Great Depression, and the area was converted into a state park.
Most of the stone infrastructure that remains in the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) just a few years after the area was officially declared a park in 1927. The scenic springs have always been a big draw to the park, but they're far from the only attraction. Hiking and biking trails, a museum, a mini-golf course, and the 100-acre Chief McIntosh Lake, which offers excellent boating and fishing opportunities, are all reasons to give the park a visit.
The park features several camping and lodging options, including a 62-site campground with hookups for RVs and trailers, ten cottages, and a group camping area. This park gets busy during the summer season, so reservations are highly recommended.
Indian Springs State Park is located in central Georgia, just off of I-75. Roads to the park are all paved and relatively flat, so visitors shouldn't expect any tough driving. A few roads within the park are narrow, and there are a couple sharp turns which you may want to take slowly if you're in a large rig.
Snow is very rare this far south, but it does occur occasionally. More common is ice, which can form on cold winters nights after showers. Just keep an eye on the forecast, especially if you're traveling during the cooler off-season.
There's plenty of parking here, both at the campgrounds and near the park's main entrance. Most of the park's facilities, including the park office, stone pavilion, shelters, various trails, and the park museum, are located near each other by the park entrance. The main campground is about a mile from the entrance. While plenty choose to drive, the trip also makes for a perfectly pleasant walk or bike ride. Parking at the campground itself shouldn't pose much of a challenge, even to those in larger rigs. Most spots are back in, but a few are pull-through.
Indian Spring's main campground is set on the north side of Chief McIntosh Lake, with many sites having great views of the water. The campground is well-forested, offering good shade and some privacy. There are 62 RV-friendly spots in total. Each site features a fire ring, a picnic table, and grill. Shower and laundry stations are centrally located within the campground, as well as restrooms. Pets are allowed at the campsites, but they aren't allowed in all parts of the park.
Sites here range in size, but most can accommodate large rigs. Forty- and 50-foot sites are the most common, while a few spots can fit RVs and trailers up to 60 feet (these include the campground's few pull-through sites). All of the park's RV sites have 30-amp electric and water hookups. There are also three host sites that feature full hookups (meaning electric, water, and sewer connections).
You can reserve sites up to 13 months in advance, which is recommended if you plan on camping on the weekends or during the park's peak months. There is no minimum length of stay, but there is a max; you cannot reserve a campsite for more than 14 consecutive days.
None of the sites at this campground are first-come, first-served. Same-day reservations are available, but you have to call the park to make them. Without a reservation, there is no guarantee that a site will be available for you.
If you're putting together a big group camping event, you may want to check out the park's Pioneer Campground. This sizable, primitive camping area is set in a charming, open patch of forest that's set well away from the main campground. There are several picnic tables, space enough for up to 60 campers, and a huge fire ring. The area does not have any electrical hookups, though there is a fresh water spigot. A simple privy (non-flush toilet) is also available.
Planning a big get-together or event? Indian Springs has you covered. The park's group camping area boasts large four cabins, several staff buildings, modern restrooms, and a dining hall with an attached kitchen. It's set on the southern side of the lake, away from the main campgrounds and cottages, so you won't have to worry about competing for parking spaces. From the group camping area, you'll have easy access to both the bike path and the southern lakeshore. Up to 130 guests can be accommodated.
The park sports ten cottages, all set in a well-wooded area just north of Chief McIntosh Lake. The simple, quaint exteriors of Indian Springs' cottages belie their modern, well-furnished interiors. A stay here is far from rustic. All cottages are equipped with three beds with linens, fridges, televisions, a full kitchen, a dinner table, a comfy couch and chairs, a full bathroom with shower, and more. Cottages all have two bedrooms and can sleep up to six.
Outside, visitors can make use of fire rings, picnic tables, and grills. The cottages lovely, screened-in porches are a great place to spend a summer evening while avoiding hungry mosquitoes. Pets are allowed at only two of the ten cottages, so you'll want to try and book well in advance if you're traveling with furry companions. Reservations can be made online or on the phone.
Indian Springs State Park has three short hiking trails, but it offers great access to several longer trails nearby. Those looking for a brief but beautiful stroll can check out either the Overland Nature Trail or the Indian Springs Nature Trail, both of which offer great views of the park's eponymous springs while clocking in at under a mile. The multi-use trail, which is also used for biking, takes hikers on a trek underneath tall pines, oaks, and hickories as its meanders along the southern shore of Chief McIntosh Lake.
The multi-use trail connects into a much larger network of trails at the Dauset Nature Center, which sits just to the southwest of the park. There are also some great, scenic trails at nearby High Falls State Park and Panola Mountain State Park.
Geocaching can be enjoyed year-round at Indian Springs. If you're not familiar with the practice, geocaching is like modern-day treasure hunting. Caches can either be unique points of interest that may not be on the park map, or physical items that have been hidden. All you need to get started is a GPS-enabled device and the coordinates of caches that you can get on the official geocaching website. This is a fun, free way to spend a day at the park. If you visit multiple state parks in Georgia and find a certain number of caches, you can even redeem them for a voucher or a geo-coin.
Indian Springs boasts a small but well-furnished museum. Exhibits here focus on the area's ecology and ecology. There's also lots of great info on the park's human history, with displays focusing on the Creek Native Americans (especially Chief William McIntosh, for whom the park's lake is named), and the CCC, which built many of the park's structures during the 1930s.
Want to play a round of mini-golf? Head on over to the 18-hole miniature golf course located near the park office. This well-kept course is fun for the whole family, and the sylvan scenery of the park provides the ideal backdrop for a round of golf. The course is usually busiest during the summer and spring when the weather is pleasant, and park visitation is at its peak, but fall - with its phenomenal color show - is also a great time to hit the green.
If you're itching to get out on the water during your next RV getaway, Indian Springs State Park is a great destination to consider. Chief McIntosh Lake is a scenic body of water with lots of small coves to explore. You can bring your own boat, as long as the motor is 10 horsepower less, and launch it off the park's conveniently located boat ramp. If you're traveling sans-vessel, Indian Springs also offers boat, kayak, and aqua cycle rentals.
Lots of boaters also opt to bring a rod and reel with them. Anglers here can expect to find bluegill, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. Before casting your line, just make sure you have a valid Georgia state fishing license.
The Indian Springs Trail weaves its way along the sinuous southern shore of Chief McIntosh Lake, offering great views of the water, before breaking south and connecting to a longer series of trails at the Dauset Nature Center (the nature center boast an extensive, 16-mile trail network). Almost the entire trail is well-forested, so there's plenty of shade. There's a fair amount of slope, especially considering the landscape is relatively flat, and the trail is recommended for bikers of intermediate or advanced skill level. Central Georgia is not known for its fantastic mountain biking trails, but this one proves to be one of the few exceptions.