Lake Allatoona is located about a half hour
north of Atlanta near Cartersville, Georgia. The lake is formed by the
Etowah River which flows from the gold bearing mountains near Dahlonega.
The lake is a popular destination for North Georgia and metro Atlanta,
so the waters can be a bit crowded on the weekends. Don't let that stop
ypu from visiting, because it's a large lake, and you can always find a
quiet corner somewhere. The water is clean, and wildlife abounds.
Camping on lake Allatoona is great! There
are many campgrounds to choose from, but we have our favorites.
Campground, an Army Corps of Engineers campground, is one of our
all-time favorite places to camp. Many of the sites are on the water,
and anchoring your boat overnight near your site is very convenient.
Another great place to camp on Allatoona is
Mountain State Park. The RV sites aren't as close to the water as
but they're still Georgia State Park campsites, so they're awesome!
Not to mention, the family activities at
Mountain State Park are second to none. Payne Campground, is another
Army Corps of Engineers campground on Lake Allatoona. We haven't camped
there, but we have visited. It warrants mention because it's located on
Kellogg Creek, a gold-bearing tributary to the Etowah River.
But, that's another
This is a 50+ year-old lake, so fishing
is awesome. Skiing and tubing is fun, just be careful of the traffic.
Canoeing and kayaking is great up the Etowah River, including a mountain
mining tunnel. Downstream of Allatoona dam, you can visit the Etowah
Indian Mounds, the pre-historic home of the Muscogee (Creek) nation.
Another must-see near Lake Allatoona is the
Tellus Museum, an awesome
place with minerals and fossils galore.
When the weather is hot in Dixie, Lake Allatoona is always a
cool relief. On this hot trip, we stayed at
McKinney Campground, one of our all-time favorite places
to camp. Unfortunately, we decided to stay here at the last
minute, so we got one of our last choices for a campsite.
However, there really is no bad campsite at McKinney, so it
was ok. No, we weren't directly on the water, but we had a
very private pull-through site with wonderful view just
walking distance from the beach and brand new playground.
While at Lake Allatoona on this visit, we
had some great company. Some very good friends came and spent the day
with us at the beach swimming, and on the boat tubing. All day long we
alternated between the campsite (eating), the beach, and the boat. What
McKinney Campground has built a brand new
playground near the beach. It's not as grand as the kids had hoped, but
very entertaining just the same. (we'd been promised a new playground on
our last visit)
We always like to visit the marina at
Allatoona Landing while at Lake Allatoona. They are our source for fuel
and Slush Puppies (frozen drinks). However, thee are numerous marinas
located all over the lake. On this visit, we made our obligatory stop at
the marina for snacks and gas.
As usual, we saw deer and other wildlife
on this trip to Lake Allatoona. McKinney is very unique in that aspect.
Especially deer. Lots of deer.
Another unique aspect of Lake Allatoona
is the abundance of rockhounding opportunities. Minerals abound --
quartz of varying colors, fossils, chert, and much more, maybe even
gold! On this trip, we traveled up river to Kellogg Creek to check out
Payne Campground. Kellogg creek is a known gold bearing tributary, and I
figured Payne campground would be a great home-base for doing a little
panning. Ideally, panning would be best in the Autumn and Winter
months when the water levels are low. Unfortunately, Payne
campground is closed in the Winter. Further investigation is required.
On this trip to Lake Allatoona, we at
Campground , site #88 on the water. All sites are
nice, but this and the surrounding sites are especially
convenient to the water.
It was Harvest at the Homestead weekend, an event occurring at
Red Top Mountain State Park that brought us to Lake
Allatoona this time. We chose McKinney as the place to stay
because of the incredible lakefront sites, and because Red
top Mountain is accessible by boat. It's always more fun to
go in a boat! We spent a good part of the day at Red Top
Mountain, but when we got back, we enjoyed a beautiful
evening at the campsite, and doing a little fishing and
Rockhounding at Lake
Allatoona - Lake Allatoona is fed by the Etowah River which winds its way down
from Dahlonega, the site of the first Gold Rush in the US. Placer gold
(gold that has washed down creek beds from deposits in the mountains)
can still be found in the creeks that feed the Etowah. Gold is typically
found in quartz, and quartz abounds at McKinney. Now I'm not saying
there's gold in the quartz at McKinney, but there are lots other colors.
Rocks that don't look like much on the ground often polish-up
beautifully. We found some rose quartz that I believe will look great
polished. We also found some rock with pale blue crystals I
couldn't identify (yet). I will polish them and post the pictures.
There is much layered rock
here as well. Layers often mean fossils, although I found none. There
are fossils in the quartz, but they are difficult to identify.
With regards to the gold,
that will be a future trip. Across the peninsula from McKinney is
another Corps of Engineers campground called "Payne". It sits across a
cove from Kellogg Creek, a place known for gold. we'll camp at Payne
sometime soon so we can ride to the mouth of Kellogg Creek in the boat
and pan the day away. Just a note about panning at Allatoona -
before you pull out the tools, read the rules.
The Richardson Tribe
The Army Corps of Engineers has
a very nice website, but as usual, pictures are in short
supply. Making reservations is a great experience because
the website provides campsite specific details and an
interactive campground map.
Places to camp at Lake Allatoona
Two of our favorite campgrounds
are on Lake Allatoona.
Red Top Mountain State Park and
Geocaching is available, but we haven't had a chance.
grown to love Allatoona, but it can get crowded at times.
The water seems very clean and marinas abound.
has been here for over 50 years, so the fish population has
had plenty of time to establish. Fishing is good.
Allatoona is fed by the Etowah River which flows down from
gold-bearing mountains. You can pan up river in some of the
streams feeding the river. We also found lots of quartz of
varying shades and some unidentified rocks (will post
two beaches we have visited on Lake Allatoona. They are
Red Top Mountain State Park and
Red Top Mountain State Park,
Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum,
Western Art Museum. What is notable is that each of
these local attractions is in our top picks. This is a great
place to stay!
*Note: We rate
only the amenities we have personally reviewed.
No financial consideration or favor has been received for
listing in PB&J Adventures' website. We are in no way
affiliated with this facility or any other facility we
review. Any paid advertising seen on this site was arranged
after the destination was reviewed. You can trust the
reviews to be unbiased.
Rockhounding at Lake Allatoona
Bartow County (where
Lake Allatoona is located) is one of the most diverse and rich
mineral sites in the state of Georgia. To pay homage to
that fact, there was once a modest little facility in
Cartersville, Georgia called the Weinman Mineral Museum.
It was kind of small and old, but it was very well run
with some very nice displays. The Richardson Tribe
visited several times. Then someone did something to
that little museum. They made it grand! First, they
built a massive structure around the little museum, then
they filled it with total awesomeness. Now it has a
fossil gallery, a transportation gallery, an
observatory, a theater, a planetarium, a hands-on
physical science gallery, and a a a fossil dig and gem
grubbing for kids, and yes, they still have the mineral
gallery, but now larger and better than ever. The museum
is now called the Tellus Science museum. If you are
visiting the area, or just passing through, you owe it
to yourself to visit.