After two years, one of the most beautiful sites in Monroe County is now open to the public for camping again. Georgia Power has transferred operation of the Dames Ferry Campground to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and High Falls State Park is now operating Dames Ferry as a satellite park. Officials of Georgia Power, Georgia DNR and State Parks, local Friends of High Falls State Park and volunteers at Dames Ferry gathered on Feb. 8 for an official ribbon cutting.
Dames Ferry, located on Lake Juliette with the entrance at 9546 Highway 87, joins the 63 state parks and historic sites operated by Georgia. Dames Ferry has 28 campsites for rent plus two campsites for park hosts. It is the only campground on 3,600-acre Lake Juliette, which provides cooling for Georgia Power’s Plant Scherer. Campers may reserve sites for one day up to two weeks and may request specific campsites. A two-night stay is required on weekends and a three-night stay on holidays. Campers can book sites up to 13 months in advance. For more information, visit gastateparks.org/DamesFerry.
Other amenities include boating with a 25 horsepower limit, swimming and aqua cycle rental. Swimmers are permitted to swim the whole lake at their own risk, and several use it regularly to train for long distance swimming. There are two picnic shelters, a playground and a bath house.
Fishing includes bream, crappie, largemouth bass, striped bass, redear and perch. A fishing tournament on the last Sunday of the month continued even while Dames Ferry was closed to campers, as it has for decades. Georgia Power kept the boat ramp open. Now there is a brand new dock and improvements to the boat ramp.
Under Georgia Power, the campground opened only in the summer; now it will be available year round. The campground actually re-opened in September, but state park personnel delayed the official announcement as they devoted time and resources to helping other parks recover from the effects of Hurricane Michael.
“Thank you Georgia Department of Natural Resources for partnering with Georgia Power in re-opening Dames Ferry,” said Ron Shipman, Vice President of Georgia Power’s Southwestern Region. “We are committed to people enjoying this 3,600-acre lake year round. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the newly-renovated campground.”
“I wanted to have the ribbon cutting on this point because of the amazing view,” said Jeff Cown, Director of Georgia State Parks. “Thank you Georgia Power for giving us another opportunity to help people recreate. We had 150 boat launches from the boat ramp Saturday and have booked over 800 reservations since we opened back up.”
Cown said there is a need for camp sites in the Dames Ferry area. He said that changes have been made to make the boat ramp, bath house, upper pavilion and playground compliant with the American Disabilities Act. Stephen Partin, ranger at High Falls State Park, and Mikaela Callaghan-McCann, assistant park ranger, will be responsible for managing the Dames Ferry campground. Lindy Howard, who has volunteered at Georgia State Parks for five years, is one of the campground hosts. He encourages others to volunteer at Georgia State Parks.
The Friends of High Falls State Park will reach out to also care for Dames Ferry. The Friends provided refreshments for the ribbon cutting and were well-represented at the event, including President Lee Williams. Eventually Dames Ferry may form its own Friends group from those who live nearby in the Juliette community and enjoy the park. Williams said he enjoys kayaking and paddleboarding on Lake Juliette, where it is usually windier than High Falls Lake.