The 7 Natural Wonders of Georgia

Tallulah Gorge in Georgia
Tallulah Gorge in Georgia.

Sean Pavone Photo / Getty Images

The Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia are notable attractions around the state celebrated for their uniqueness and natural beauty. Each site varies in scope and scale, but they are all known for their cultural and historical significance.

The official list was first compiled in the 1920s by Ella May Thornton. Thornton worked as state librarian and was tasked with selecting a number of places that would draw visitors to Georgia, as well as enliven tourism and outdoor recreation. Her original list included Jekyll Island Forest and Longswamp Valley, but over the years those locations were replaced by Radium Springs and Providence Canyon.

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Okefenokee Swamp

Sunlight and cypress trees in the Okefenokee Swamp

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Located in the southern part of the state, right on the Florida state line, the Okefenokee Swamp is likely the most popular and well-known of the Seven Wonders. Though a large part of Georgia is covered in similar swampy, marshy areas, the distinctiveness of these wetlands lies in their size and diversity. Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in all of North America, with over 400,000 acres dedicated to the protection of species such as alligators, black bears, sandhill cranes, and tortoises. Established as a wildlife refuge in 1937, the area is a long-time recreation destination for hiking, boating, and biking. Okefenokee is believed to mean "land of the trembling earth" or "waters shaking" in the language of the indigenous Creek and Hitchiti peoples.

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Stone Mountain Park

Rear View Of Woman Sitting On Cliff At Stone Mountain Park Against Sky
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Stone Mountain Park is located just 30 minutes northeast of Atlanta. The park includes a large lake and hundreds of miles of natural trails and landscape, but its biggest draw is a sculpture carved into the mountain's quartz monzonite rock face. The monument, known as a bas-relief, is the largest of its kind in the world and was created by American sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The summit can be reached via cable car, as well as the park's walk-up trail, which is open daily. Stone Mountain hosts year-round events and festivals and offers assorted camping and lodging options.

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Tallulah Gorge

Hiker on suspension bridge in Tallulah Gorge

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Located in northeastern Georgia, close to the border with South Carolina, Tallulah Gorge State Park is a vast tract of rugged wilderness. At nearly 1,000 feet deep, the enormous Tallulah Gorge brings in thousands of hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts year after year. Permits are required to hike down into the gorge floor, but can be acquired free of charge at the park office. Some of the more popular trails, like Hurricane Falls Loop and the Tallulah Gorge Rim Trail, offer stunning views of the canyon and Tallulah River. A series of overlooks and platforms, as well as an 80-foot high suspension bridge, allow visitors to enjoy nature from just about every perspective.

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Radium Springs

View of stone walkway and terrace around Radium Springs

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Radium Springs is the largest natural spring in Georgia, and is fed by an underground cave that pumps 70,000 gallons of water per minute that later flow into the Flint River. The crystal-blue spring gets its name from the trace amounts of radium discovered in the water in the 1920s. Though the element is radioactive, the small amounts found in the spring were considered safe, and swimming in the constant 68-degree water was permitted until the 1990s.

Years ago, when the area was first known as Blue Springs, it was a vacation spot complete with a casino, spa, and resort. After flooding and hurricanes destroyed the infrastructure, the grounds were transformed into a park and botanical garden, perfect for strolling or picnicking. Radium Springs is located near the small town of Albany, Georgia.

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Warm Springs

Exterior shot of the Little White House Museum in Warm Springs

Jim Clark / Creative Commons

The historic town of Warm Springs, located west of Macon, Georgia, is famous for its namesake thermal waters, reputed for their healing qualities. One of its most famous visitors, who helped transform Warm Springs into a health and wellness destination, was President Franklin Roosevelt. He sought treatment at the springs for ailments related to polio and went on to establish a health center called the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, which is still in operation. Roosevelt also built a private retreat, which became known as the Little White House. It now serves as a museum, historic site, and information center for the general public.

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Providence Canyon

Shot of red rock in Providence Canyon

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Known as the “Little Grand Canyon” of Georgia, Providence Canyon is part of a 1,000-acre outdoor recreation area in the southwest portion of the state. The park has amenities to suit every type of visitor, from picnic areas to hiking trails and camping sites. It's also home to the rare plumleaf azalea, which is a type of wild rhododendron that only grows in a specific region of the southeastern United States. The canyon, with depths of up to 150 feet, is comprised of layers of clay, sand, and loam, and was formed by years of gradual erosion caused by poor farming practices during the 1800s.

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Amicalola Falls

View of Amicalola Falls

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These “tumbling waters,” as they were first called by the Cherokee peoples who lived in the area, make up the highest waterfall in the state of Georgia. The 730-foot tall Amicalola Falls is surrounded by miles of trails and woodlands, and is part of its namesake state park and Chattahoochee National Forest. The lodge within the park is a popular starting point for the Appalachian Trail.