By Mary Ashton Mills


If the majestic landscape of the Grand Canyon allures you, then you are in luck. Georgia’s own natural wonder, Providence Canyon, offers similar topography with majestic views and hikes and it’s only about four hours away so you can skip the costly airfare to Arizona!

Also known as Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon, Providence Canyon is a result of rainwater run-off from farmers in the 1800s. The farming communities poor soil management led to the formations of gullies, which continued to grow deeper, creating unique sandstone formations.  Reminders of this are still present today with gullies of continuously moving water present near the trails. 

It is especially important to stay on the trails because the sandstone is prone to crumbling and ledges could be dangerous. By staying on the three miles of hiking trails or the seven miles of backcountry trails, there is plenty to see. The array of colors and formations offer a unique topography with over 15 canyons, some with depths reaching 150 feet from the bottom of the canyon to the top rim.  

Close by, Florence Marina State Park is found on Lake Walter F. George and is the perfect stop for accommodations and recreational lake activities like boating, fishing, swimming and birding. The interpretive center at Florence Marina has examples of area wildlife and Native American history as well as an interpretive ranger who offers guided tours of Providence Canyon. Here your pace of life will be simple. Begin with a day hike at the canyon followed by late afternoon on the lake before retiring to your campsite. 

Distance: Just over four hours, 240 miles

Budget: Providence Canyon Park Pass – $5 per car, $3.75 for military, Florence Marina campsites start at $32 per night, Florence Marina cabins start at $75 per night. 

What to See: Canyons, layers of sandstone with various color palettes, rare wild pink azalea also known as the Plum leaf Azalea, reptiles and Native American artifacts. 

If You Go: Beware of alligators in Lake Walter F. George. Though the locals might swim in the lake, alligators do call it home. Labor Day celebration includes all day activities like boat tours, crafts for children, reptile displays and more, September 3 and 4 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 

This article appears in the September 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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