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An easy drive from Big Canoe,
Amicalola Deer Park is like a huge petting zoo

The kids enjoyed feeding corn to the animals at the park.

Canoe Kids
Photos & article by Melissa Lowrie

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Melissa Lowrie
Melissa Lowrie

After hauling the Canoe Kids great distances over the last few months, I decided it was time to keep this month’s outing closer to home. Having driven by the Amicalola Deer Park in Dawsonville on many occasions, it was time to check it out.

Just about 10 miles from Big Canoe, it was an easy drive. Our group went on a Friday during a school holiday and arrived about 2:00 p.m. to find an empty parking lot. Just us and the animals, up close and personal.

The Amicalola Deer Park is like a huge petting zoo, only the petting was optional. The kids each had a bag of corn (bought for $2 at the gate) to feed the animals. There were plenty of deer, some varieties not normally seen around Georgia. There was a fence between us and the large herd, but they knew to come to the fence for corn.

This area held a few friendly pigs that also loved to come to the fence to eat. The enclosure was vast - way better than a traditional zoo. There were also llamas, donkeys, emus, goats and some beautiful Great Pyrenees that kept an eye on everything.

      Entrance to the park in Dawsonville.
      Canoe Kids
      It's probably not smart to make ninja moves on a llama.
      Canoe Kids
      Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

The day of our visit we saw a week-old llama and her mama (sorry, couldn’t resist). The baby was shy and hadn’t figured out the loud humans with corn yet, but it was fun for the kids to see.

Where we parked was a shared space with some of the animals. The lady at the front gate has to open it to let your car pass while keeping the four-legged-friends in. In this large field, the donkeys and llamas are hip to the humans with treats and will come to you. Of our group of five kids, only a couple were brave enough to let the animals eat from their hands, the others were happy to drop the feed at the animals’ hooves.

It was a neat experience to be able to get so close to these creatures, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the piles. Just wear close-toed shoes and watch where you step.

The park was not a spot I’d choose to picnic, as the website advertises, nor is it a destination where you’ll spend the day. We were there for about an hour and that was plenty. The cost was $5 for kids and seniors and $8 for adults. We were told they work with special-needs groups and our entry fee was considered a donation, so with that in mind, it wasn’t too expensive.

The kids were all over the board when asked their thoughts about the outing. “I liked the pigs,” said the 8-year-old.  “It was just okay,” from the 10-year-old. Overall, we got to see some animals and breathe some fresh air, well, mostly fresh, depending on the way the wind was blowing. . .

As always, call or check the website for hours: And if you can’t make it to the deer park, take your Canoe Kids on a different adventure. Wherever you end up, have a great time.



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