Allatoona Prepares for Spring, Summer
Allatoona Lake is one of the busiest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes in the nation with an estimated 6.5 million visitors every year. The Corps manages numerous boat ramps and day use areas situated around the lake, and the convenient campgrounds offer great opportunities for a full outdoor experience close to your backyard! With springtime quickly approaching, it’s a perfect time to start familiarizing yourself with the recreation areas around the lake, when they open, and any changes in policy with the Corps recreation program.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages seven class “A” campgrounds on Allatoona Lake. McKinney Campground, located in the Acworth area, is open year-round and is considered one of the busiest Corps campgrounds in the nation. Sweetwater Campground in Canton will officially open for the season March 15 with three other campgrounds, McKaskey, Payne and Victoria opening March 22. The final two campgrounds, Old Highway 41 No. 3 and Upper Stamp Creek, are projected to open May 17.
A big change this year in all campgrounds will be the implementation of cashless operations. This will provide a more secure way to conduct financial transactions and reduce the potential for theft or loss of cash funds. Cashless transactions in the gatehouse will enhance campground operations, provide quicker processing of refunds, and improve security and safety of gate attendants. Only credit and debit cards will be accepted as payment in campgrounds and day-use areas. Other forms of payment, including checks, will no longer be accepted.
All campsites will continue to be 100 percent reservable at every campground managed by the Corps on Allatoona. Campsite pricing stays the same and is based on the location and the amenities on the campsite. Reservations can be made by calling (toll-free) 1-877-444-6777 or by going through www.recreation.gov, which links to various recreational sites around the nation.
The Corps offers a wide variety of day-use areas that we manage on the lake. There are 10 separate ramps, five beaches, eight shelters, four picnic areas, five trails and one disc golf course. Many of the areas are a combo ramp/beach/shelter area. The day-use areas have mixed opening dates starting in February with all areas open by May 1. The Etowah Disc Golf Course at Riverside Park is fast becoming one of the more popular courses in Georgia. If you have never played the course, please come out and enjoy this unique and beautiful course.
The new thing this year will be the absence of the old cash “honor vaults” in the day-use areas. All honor vaults in Corps managed day-use areas have been replaced by automated fee machines. The fee machines offer greater efficiency, improved tracking of fee collections, decreased costs of managing collections, safer collection process and reduced theft and break-ins/vandalism. The automated fee machines accept payments for Corps day-use passes but the passes must be acquired from the Operations Project Management Office or recreation areas that sell the pass.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sells and issues most of the federal America the Beautiful Passes from the Allatoona Lake Operations Project Management Office. Visitors who hold one of these passes receive free admittance in our Corps managed day-use areas and ramps. America the Beautiful Senior and Access Pass holders will also receive 50 percent off on camping. All other passes will continue to be charged full price for camping.
The Every Kid in a Park pass program is a federal initiative that started three years ago to educate children on the importance of the great outdoors and to introduce them to our great federal areas. All current fourth-graders can receive a free annual pass that covers entrance fees for the entire family at all federal lands and waters for a full year. In the last year, Allatoona staff has issued more than 5,000 of these cards. If you are a parent or a teacher with current fourth-graders, please contact our offices on how to receive this pass.
Work on the Lake?
The Corps still has a number of park host volunteer and park attendant contractor positions available for qualified couples this summer. Applicants must be a two-person team at least 21 years of age and furnish their own factory built recreation vehicle. If you have questions concerning the openings, please contact the ranger in charge of the campground or day-use area programs.
By Christopher Purvis, lead ranger at Lake Allatoona over Partnerships, Volunteers and Project Security.