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Getting Back to Nature

We've been exploring some of the most interesting vacation spots in North America, including historic inns in State and National parks. This week we travel to the mountains of North Georgia. Kitty Felde reports on a lodge with a distinctly Southern flavor.

Getting Back to Nature
by Kitty Felde

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It's lunchtime in the cafeteria at the Amicalola Falls State Park lodge, and if you were expecting hamburgers or spaghetti or the usual cafeteria fare, forget it. This is Georgia, son, and supper around here means fried okra, butter beans, country ham, chicken fried steak and cornbread. But it's not the food that brings nearly two million visitors a year to Amicalola, a name that comes from the Cherokee word for 'tumbling water'. Bob Newsome, general manager at Amicalola Falls State Lodge, says people come for the things you can't get at a roadside motel, or even a fancy downtown resort.

Newsome: "If you could imagine looking out that lobby, could you put a value on the real estate? You can see for miles and miles right into the horizon."

But it's the encounters with wildlife that most differentiates the experience of staying in a State or National park. In Amicalola, it's not unusual to see owls and hawks and even much larger animals.

Newsome: "Well, we're standing next to unusual equipment: this is a bear trap."

A large number of black bears call Amicalola home. Some are more than a bit curious about the human tourists at the lodge. That's where the bear trap comes in. It's a large green contraption that looks like a giant piece of sewer pipe sitting on a trailer.

Felde: "What's that inside there? Where do you put the food?"

Newsome: "That's the trigger. The idea is that the bear is enticed into the trap. And the bait, anything for black bears, is put on the trigger, so he'll trigger the device to close behind him."

Once bears are caught, they are relocated to more rustic parts of the park. For those who prefer their encounters with nature from a comfortable distance, there are rocking chairs out on the veranda where you can watch the sun set behind what looks like a picture perfect, jigsaw puzzle of autumn leaves. The lodge was built in 1990, so even though it looks rustic, the rooms are thoroughly modern. There are luxury suites complete with Jacuzzis, and specialty rooms designed for the disabled. The park is open year round and its busy season is April through November.

From Amicalola Falls State Park, I'm Kitty Felde for The Savvy Traveler.


Savvy Resources for Amicalola Falls State Park:

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