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Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park

On the road to Atlanta

As we left the Tampa area, continuing our December Road Trip, it was about 75 degrees, and we were hoping to get to Georgia by the early afternoon. A severe cold front was sitting in northern Florida and as we drove it dropped over 30 degrees (!). It was a bit of shock as we pulled off near Macon, Ga and headed to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park. Getting out of the car in the near vacant parking lot, we had to dig our bigger coats out of the back of the car due to the cold.

Park entrance sign Ocmulgee National Historic Park outside

Ocmulgee National Historic Park Visitor Center

External View of front of Ocmulgee National park Visitor Center

The first thing I asked when we entered the art deco style visitors center, was how do you say “Ocmulgee?” I was butchering it the entire drive up and was getting made fun of by almost everyone. As I understand it, it goes: Oak-mull-gee; Oak as in the tree, where mull sounds like dull and gee sounds like see. If I forget everything else about our visit, at least I got that!

Lobby and front desk of Ocmulgee visitor Center

The visitor center was fairly large with a large circular building as the foyer, with the information desk in the center. There were some brief exhibits about the site along the curved walls as you move along the perimeter, including a nice map under the big window that gives you an overview of the site. There was also a little gift shop adjacent to the entrance along with the restrooms.

Stamping station and two wooden exhibits and handouts at Ocmulgee National Historic Park
Stamping Station

The stamping station was behind the round front desk and was flanked on both sides by some nice exhibits of prehistoric tools and art. There was also a rack of handouts that would put even the best elementary teacher to shame. Tons of cool information.

Map of Ocmulgee site from inside visitor center with glare for window
Map of Ocmulgee
Ocmulgee Mounds National historical park earth Lodge 1000 years old Bonus stamp

Here is an awesome looking bonus stamp that they have at the stamping location. I love finding these ‘extras’ stamps!

Moving around the room you can find additional rooms in the attached building that help you walk through the 12,000+ years of history. The exhibits go through the Mississippian construction process that produced the mounds. One of the pearls of the site is the Earth lodge and the exhibit does a great job of going through the history, construction and engineering precision needed to build these lodges.

Heading out to the Ocmulgee Earth Mounds

As you take the walkway from the visitor center to the site, you are presented with a kiosk and some signs to provide additional information about the site.

Interesting Fact: The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) created during the New Deal provided the resources for the huge archaeological work that made this site possible.

Earth Lodge

The clear highlight was a visit inside one of the oldest and largest ceremonial earth lodges in North America. It was late in the afternoon and the cold weather afforded us a private viewing of the lodge. It still has the original clay floor from 1,100 (!) years ago and you can almost feel their presence. (Even with my screaming kids in the room).

Inside Earth Mound at Ocmulgee NHP
Inside one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ceremonial Earth Lodges in North America.

Around the Site

As we walked around the site we saw more of the mounds. I could see this being a wonderful place for a long walk or a nice run (when it isn’t 20 degrees outside!) A sad part of the history is when in the mid 1800’s the railroad was put in to connect Macon and Savannah. The original line and the subsequent line that is used today, cut through portions of the temple mound and right through the Funeral mound.

I was really impressed by the site and all that it provided. While is was uncharacteristically cold during our visit, we walked around longer than we originally intended just because of the all the history. I would absolutely recommend a visit if you were every driving by Macon and have a few minutes to spare!

Earthen Mound on sunny day ocmulgee NHP

Check out more National Park Sites in the Southeast USA HERE

Ocmulgee Mounds NHP Stamp

Unit: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park

Path to 428+: 59

Region: Southeast

Month/Year: Dec 2022

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