In a Nutshell: We love to travel here at BadCredit, but we have seen firsthand how vacations can equal more debt for many households. That’s why we love to learn about places like Black Rock Mountain State Park in Georgia. The Peach State’s highest state park offers accommodations to fit a wide range of budgets, from primitive backcountry campsites to modern cottages complete with wifi access. The park is situated in Northeast Georgia, making it a great jumping-off point to visit other attractions and towns in the area, including Athens and Atlanta, or making a jaunt over the border to North Carolina.
When the household budget is tight, taking a vacation without taking on significant debt can feel like an impossible dream. But everyone deserves a reprieve from time to time, whether it’s a quick day trip, a long weekend, or an extended stay vacation.
Thankfully, there are great spots all over the U.S. to take a holiday without breaking the bank. And, with more people than ever capable of working remotely, you may not even have to clock out to enjoy affordable and free experiences if you know where to look.
We recently learned about one of these places — Black Rock Mountain State Park in Georgia — and spoke with Park Manager Jessica James-Weems to learn more about what the park has to offer budget-minded travelers.
While many people may think of flat plains and high humidity when they think of the Peach State, the northern part of Georgia gives way to the Blue Ridge Mountains at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain range. And Black Rock Mountain is tucked away in the far northeast corner of Georgia.
“Black Rock Mountain State Park is the highest park in Georgia,” James-Weems said. “We’re at an elevation of about 3,600 feet. We have overlooks throughout the park where you can get a 360-degree view, and see North Carolina, South Carolina, and then of course, south back to Georgia.”
James-Weems said that, due to its elevation, temperatures tend to run about 10 degrees cooler than at the foot of the mountain.
“It’s a very peaceful place,” she said. If you’re itching to get away without digging your way into debt, Black Rock Mountain State Park may just be the escape you’re looking for.
Hiking, Fishing, and Breathtaking Views at One of Georgia’s Highest Mountains
James-Weems discussed what visitors to Black Rock Mountain State Park can expect to see and do during their visit. The state park is said to be home to some of the most outstanding scenery in the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains.
The 1,743-acre park offers roadside overlooks with 80-mile vistas and four prominent hiking trails that take visitors past wildflowers, streams, waterfalls, and lush forests. The visitor center at the summit of Black Rock Mountain also boasts scenic views, a gift shop, and picnic tables.
Meanwhile, the 17-acre lake is popular among anglers who visit the park.
“You can also kayak on it and hike around it,” James-Weems said. “It’s a pretty peaceful place to hang out and just take a stroll, especially for people that may not be able to do something that’s more difficult. It’s perfect for somebody that’s just looking for a leisurely stroll.”
Black Rock Mountain State Park offers a wide range of accommodations, from backcountry camping to tent sites to cottages with modern amenities (more on each of those below).
“What I really love about Black Rock is that you feel so far removed from things, but you’re really not,” James-Weems said. “Everything’s just sort of on a different speed. It’s more relaxed.”
She said some of the same families have been camping or renting cottages in the park for 30 years.
“For a lot of people, it’s a very special place — it’s just a really beautiful park,” James-Weems said.
Of course, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some park programs have been temporarily suspended. But James-Weems said hiking remains popular, and with the help of the park’s policy to restrict access to the number of people in the park, visitors are able to keep their social distance while on the trails.
Accommodations for all Budgets
Some people may conjure images of primitive campsites with places for a tent and campfire. While Black Rock Mountain State Park does offer these kinds of campsites, it also has modern cottages with wifi for those who like to access modern conveniences while among nature — and options in between.
James-Weems discussed the park’s accommodations, many of which offer affordable solutions for those who want to plan a vacation without going into major debt.
The park has 44 tent, trailer, and RV campsites available, although James-Weems said they don’t recommend bringing a camper longer than 34 feet due to the steep and curvy nature of the roads accessing the campsites.
Black Rock Mountain State also has four backcountry campsites — with no access to running water or electricity — and 12 walk-in campsites that do have access to water and electricity. The walk-in sites cost $36 per night, James-Weems said.
For campers who want to go bigger, the park offers 10 cottages ($160 per night for a two-bedroom cottage or $185 per night for a three-bedroom cottage). The cottages come with wifi access.
James-Weems said a lot of campers also use their own wifi hotspots to remain connected while in the park.
“I saw one gentleman who had his own picnic table with a small canopy over it, and he had his entire office right there which was pretty cool to see,” she said. “And I think that’s a lot of the reason we’ve been so busy lately is that people are able to work remotely but don’t have to be at home, as long as you’re getting your work done.”
The state park also offers a playground for the little ones, a pioneer campground, and two picnic shelters.
Exploring the Scenery in North Georgia
Travelers who like to plan multiple activities in different places on their vacations need not worry that a trip to Black Rock Mountain State Park will leave them without options.
“Considering we’re about two hours north of Atlanta, there’s so much to do here in the northeast part of Georgia,” James-Weems said. “And, we’re also about 30 minutes from the North Carolina state line.”
The park itself is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Oconee National Forest, she said. And the popular and scenic Tallulah Gorge State Park is only a few minutes south. Visitors can also find great restaurants in the nearby town of Clayton, James-Weems explained.
“And below us, there’s the Foxfire Museum,” she said. “It’s an Appalachian historic museum that includes homes that are indicative of the Appalachian Mountains in the late 1800s. And they teach skills like weaving and spinning, and woodworking and blacksmithing — all those sorts of things.”
Of course, the southern end of the famous Appalachian Trail is not far from Black Rock Mountain State Park. It’s estimated that about 3 million visitors hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail each year.
The city of Athens, Georgia, is located about 80 miles south of the park as well. Athens is home to the University of Georgia and is rife with charming local shops and great dining options. With its small-town charm and big-city cultural offerings, Athens makes for a great excursion that can be done without digging a debt hole.
James-Weems said many visitors to Black Rock Mountain State Park simply visit for a day trip as just one of the many activities and destinations in the area.
Ultimately, Georgia’s highest state park offers budget-conscious travelers affordable options to commune with nature and take in some of the best views the state has to offer.