Camper’s Guide to Lake Allatoona and Red Top Mountain State Park

Spend a weekend immersed in nature without ever having to leave town.

Secluded camping, quiet RV sites, and quaint cabins with waterfront views? Meet Georgia’s favorite backyard camp spot. Surrounded on three sides by Lake Allatoona, Red Top Mountain State Park is almost literally an island getaway. But unlike your last beach vacation, a trip to Allatoona promises abundant wildlife, mighty forests—and plentiful shade to escape the summer heat. The other good news: Located just 20 minutes from downtown Kennesaw, Red Top Mountain State Park is well within striking range for a spontaneous weekend trip. 


Until about 1550 A.D., the ancient Mississippian people called the Allatoona area home. To this day, you can see evidence of their passing at the nearby Etowah Mounds State Historic Site , and in the V-shaped fish traps that line the Etowah River. [Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]Later, the valley became the home of the Yuchi/Uchee (S’atsoyaha) and Cherokee (Tsalaguwetiyi) peoples. In the 1800s, European settlers moved in and established the town of Allatoona, an iron mining and industrial community. The original townsite now lies well beneath the water’s surface; the lake itself was created in 1950 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered its creation as a flood-control measure. Today, Lake Allatoona is the cornerstone of the area’s thriving recreation economy and offers more than 270 miles of shoreline to explore

Camping Options 

Whether you’re hoping to pitch a tent or park an RV, Red Top Mountain State Park is a camper’s paradise. Here are your options within the park boundaries (all can be reserved online).

Main Campground

Located near the park’s southern edge, the main campground hosts 93 tent, trailer, and RV sites. It also offers the best trail access of any lodging in the park: Both the Iron Hill and Campground trails are a short walk from camp. There’s also one yurt within the main campground, which sleeps six and offers front-porch views of the glittering lake below. 

Pioneer Campsite

This secluded group site is located in the center of the park, off Websters Ferry Landing Road. It has a bit more of a backcountry feel and comes with its own private access to the lake. The Pioneer site can host up to 100 people. Water, toilets, and a fire ring are available. [Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]Cabins: The state park also rents out 18 cottages on a shady peninsula that reaches out into the lake. In lieu of a wilderness experience, these offer all the comforts of home within view of the water. 

Getting There

From downtown Kennesaw, take Interstate 75 North. Bear right at Exit 285 to head east on Red Top Mountain Road. Take a left on Red Top Beach road to get to the beach, or on Park Marina Road to head toward the visitor center. 


Red Top Mountain is a year-round camping destination. Each season offers its own distinct charms.


The Atlanta heat drives hordes of visitors to Allatoona between June and August, but there’s plenty of lake (12,000 acres) to go around. Just be sure to pack sunscreen, protective clothing, and plenty of water to combat the 80-degree afternoons. 


Come autumn, both the crowds and the heat begin to subside. Visit in September to enjoy the tail-end of swimming season, or October to catch Allatoona’s hardwoods blushing red and copper. 


Hikers, bikers, and intrepid campers continue to visit Lake Allatoona during the colder months, making the most of the quiet trails and unobstructed waterfront views. Must have: a warm sleeping bag. (Nighttime temps often drop below freezing.)


While the water is generally too cool for swimming in the spring, it’s still a fine time to visit the park. Keep an eye out for wildflowers, which begin blooming in April and May. 

Other Activities 

Great campsites are fine, but Red Mountain State Park’s biggest draw for campers is its nearly endless roster of daytime activities. Keep the family entertained with any one of these options.  

  1. Go for a dip at the park’s designated swimming beach.
  2. Take a forested stroll along the 15-mile network of hiking trails

  3. Pedal along the park’s quiet paved trails, or head across Allatoona’s eastern arm for a day of mountain biking at Blankets Creek.  

  4. Cast a line for both native and stocked species of bass, crappie, and catfish in Lake Allatoona. 

  5. Cook up burgers and fixins at one of the park’s handful of scenic picnic shelters. 

  6. Bring a canoe, kayak, or SUP and spend a day exploring the lake’s secluded coves. Though the sprawling lake features eight privately operated marinas and 15 public ramps, paddlers should launch at Dallas Landing Park or the Red Top Mountain marina. 

More Info 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.