The 866,468-acre Chattahoochee National Forest sits on the northern border of Georgia that it shares with South Carolina. A road trip from Jacksonville to that forest takes you through the heart of the state. The terrain traveled from the beaches of Jacksonville to the high mountains of northern Georgia includes three major cities located among the rolling hills. Near these cities, the state provides exciting state parks where visitors can relax while exploring the downtown areas of Georgia’s finest communities. There are four national parks within driving distance that offer a vivid contrast between the cities and preserved natural areas, demonstrating the nation’s complexity. The opportunity to visit all these sites awaits those who follow this road trip itinerary from Jacksonville to the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Everglades National Park
To reach Everglades National Park, detour 346 miles south along the enchanting eastern coastline of Florida to Miami. This 1.5-million-acre park preserves the massive swamp that spans the width of southern Florida. Miami is the eastern entrance to the park and where visitors view exotic wildlife, including American crocodiles, American alligators, Florida panthers, and several other species. Taking a guided tour into the swamp gets you into areas where bald cypress dip their toes in the brackish waters and where muhly grass provides sustenance for deer, elk, and other herbivores.
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park lies immediately south of Miami. The 172,000-acre park comes from efforts to thwart plans to develop the area into a major business enterprise. Today, the park is one of the few remaining areas on the mainland United States that protects land habitats and marine life. A significant section of the park is underwater, where crystal clear seas skirt over multicolored reefs filled with scuttling crustaceans. Scuba divers and snorkelers consider the park a dreamland filled with exotic fish amid calm coastal waters.
Congaree National Park
When you reach Atlanta, 346 miles into your Jacksonville to Chattahoochee National Forest RV road trip, detour 238 miles east to visit Congaree National Park. This unusual park includes the slow-moving Congaree River that forms swampy lands while it meanders through the flatlands of South Carolina, creating two distinct terrains with different topographical qualities. The areas close to the river support bald cypress and mangrove forests, much like those you saw in the Everglades. The wildlife in this area includes alligators, osprey, and owls. Frogs sing a chorus at night that competes with the crickets occupying the higher grounds. ADA-accessible boardwalks make it easy to explore this part of the park. The higher and drier areas consist of hardwood forests with a deep canopy. Wildlife such as deer, possums, and raccoons fill the hardwood-covered hills with activity. Trails run through these hills, and open spaces provide an impressive view of the river from above as it wanders through the park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies 196 miles north of Atlanta. You reach it via the road that skirts alongside the Chattahoochee National Forest. While approaching, many note the fogs that hide the peaks, giving the park its name. The park includes 500,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains. High ridges and deep valleys seem to run forever in this park. Once visitors get off the major roads, they find hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails that run to the top of the ridges and back down again into the next valley. Views from the high ridges are incredible, and the slopes change from one brilliant color to another to match the seasons.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park is located 41 miles south of the starting point on your road trip from Jacksonville to Chattahoochee National Forest. Situated on the eastern coast of Florida, it is part of a direct route to Miami and the Everglades. It consists of more than 1,600 acres of sandy beach, dunes, and interesting marshes that are accessible through hiking trails. Beach fishing is allowed, and many visitors choose to swim the tranquil waters that lie off the coast.
General Coffee State Park
Located 123 miles along your Jacksonville to Chattahoochee National Forest road trip, 1,511-acre General Coffee State Park preserves a landscape that includes a section of the Seventeen Mile River and the hills alongside it. The stunning landscape protects many endangered flora and fauna species. Hiking trails run up and down the hills. Many anglers fish in the river from the bank, and others bring watercraft to launch from the park’s boat ramp.
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Cloudland Canyon State Park lies beside Lookout Mountain in the extreme northwest corner of Georgia. This 3,485-acre park is a great place to rest after your road trip from Jacksonville to Chattahoochee National Forest. The park includes a disc golf course and hiking and biking trails that run up and down Lookout Mountain. Spelunkers find interesting caves to explore. Anglers love this park for its sparkling streams, and photographers come from all over to capture the incredible waterfalls that make the park unforgettable.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Introduce the idea of observing wildlife to the family before taking off on your road trip from Jacksonville to Chattahoochee National Forest by visiting the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. At this zoo, visitors take a safari-like walk among the animals to observe their habits and habitats. Take this opportunity to learn how to move around wildlife before venturing on your journey that is rich with free animal life.
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park
When you reach Macon, GA, you are 270 miles into your road trip from Jacksonville to Chattahoochee National Forest. Stop here to visit the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Native Americans built these mounds about 1,200 years ago for their leaders to hold ceremonies and essential conferences. The park is the site of the most extensive archeological dig ever attempted in the United States.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park covers about nine blocks of downtown Atlanta. It includes the home in which King grew up, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and numerous other buildings that were an integral part of King’s story. This park commemorates a life spent in the service of others. King’s leadership helped usher the Civil Rights Movement. These buildings document that incredible era and celebrate a life well-lived.
Valdosta is a city in flux. Many of the features in the town preserve the past such as the Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area and the Crescent, a mansion built before the Civil War. At the same time, the city features theme parks, escape rooms, and strip malls. Whatever you need, this town has it. While you are here, take advantage of one of its dump stations and stay a night at one of the campgrounds in the area.
Macon is all about the past. If you want to see museums, you will spend a lot of time in this town. There are houses from the pre-Civil War days, separate cemeteries where prominent people were buried, and other cemeteries where the remainder of the city rests. All kinds of cultural museums, including a band museum, the Tubman Museum that displays African American art, the Museum of Arts and Sciences, the distinctive Cannonball House, and the opera house, are available for any visitors to tour. While you are here, take advantage of the dump stations and campgrounds that Macon offers.
Atlanta is a modern city built out of the ashes of its destruction during the Civil War. Today, it is a cultural and industrial center with a mix of activities. This town is one of the best to visit to sample American cooking. Visit Bones for some of the best steak meals that you will ever taste. While you are in the city, take the time to clean your tanks at one of the local dump stations. To stay a night or two, register at one of the many campgrounds in the area.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Jacksonville to Chattahoochee National Forest, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Jacksonville or Chattahoochee National Forest.