An alpine town in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with Bavarian culture and outdoor adventure.
The charming town of Helen packs a lot in a small area. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northeast Georgia, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, despite being just 2.1 square miles. Float the Chattahoochee River and chase waterfalls, then browse more than 200 specialty shops, or grab a pint at a biergarten or a glass at a winery. Two state parks and a massive national forest surround Helen and offer miles of wilderness, trails, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, and forests, and a wealth of camping options from backcountry to glamping.
Just outside Helen Right outside of Helen, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest offers more than 800,000 acres of wilderness, hundreds of miles of trails, and dozens of developed campgrounds, plus plenty of space for dispersed camping. Within the forest, and just northeast of Helen, Unicoi State Park offers a lake, waterfalls, and a campground with everything from full hookup RV sites to covered primitive camping platforms perfect for hammocks. Just west of Helen, Smithgall Woods State Park offers premier trout fishing and several furnished cottages. North Georgia Further west, Vogel State Park offers a lake, along with cottages, campsites, and backpacking sites. At the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA), you can hunt and pitch your tent at a primitive campsite. At the southern edge of the national forest, Amicalola Falls State Park is home to the 729-foot Amicalola Falls, an adventure lodge, and a wooded campground with space for tents and RVs. Further east, Tallulah Gorge State Park is home to one of the most spectacular canyons in Georgia, along with miles of trails, a lake, and a convenient campground. For lakeside fun, head south to Don Carter State Park and Lake Lanier or Fort Yargo State Park with camping options that include lakeside glamping yurts. North Carolina At the Georgia-North Carolina border, Lake Chatuge offers more than 130 miles of shoreline and plenty of water recreation. Camping options include lakeside campsites, and can be found around the lake, including at Clay County Park, Gibson Cove Recreation Area, and Jackrabbit Mountain Recreation Area. The Nantahala National Forest offers more than half a million acres of wilderness, and more than a dozen developed campgrounds. For solitude, head deep into the forest and pitch your tent at a designated backcountry site. Head further north to explore and camp in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Summers can be hot and humid in Helen, though it’s the perfect time for floating the Chattahoochee River. Visit in spring and fall for the best hiking weather. Fall colors can be spectacular in the region. Visit in September and October to take part in the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Christmas is also a popular time to visit Helen, with numerous festive events.
- Reservations may be required for camping and even entrance at certain campgrounds and parks. Some popular parks may limit capacity at peak times. - Be bear aware—black bears can be found in the mountains and woods around Georgia. Camping in certain areas requires the use of bear resistant canisters. - A license is required to fish in Georgia and North Carolina. Georgia also requires a separate trout license to fish in designated trout waters. - Dispersed camping and recreation, including hunting, on Georgia Wildlife Managed Areas usually requires a license, permit, or pass.