The quickest route from Atlanta to Charlotte is to take I-85 North out of Atlanta and stay on it until you reach Charlotte, NC. I-85 passes through the Appalachian and Piedmont areas where a family on an Atlanta to Charlotte road trip can stop to enjoy the sites. The road travels through several communities and primarily serves as a connector between major cities. Between Atlanta and Charlotte, I-85 moves through parts of three states, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
Two national parks are accessible along your route, and both are worthy of a spot on your road trip itinerary from Atlanta to Charlotte.
Congaree National Park
To observe what the flood plains of South Carolina looked like before development, visit Congaree National Park. To reach the park, continue on your road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte along I-85 until you reach Greenville, SC. In Greenville, take the I-26 East exit toward Columbus. The detour is 127 miles and will take a little over two hours. The Congaree National Park covers 26,276 acres and includes parts of the Congaree River, a forest with some of the tallest trees on the east coast, and a swampy flood plain. Guide services help you explore the park by taking well-established trails or boats to meander through the trees. Wildlife abounds in this park with birds, fish, and water prowlers existing side by side.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
After your Atlanta to Charlotte road trip, you have the chance to visit The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side is through Cherokee, NC, which is 167 miles west of Charlotte. The park covers an area of 522,412 acres, the largest in the United States. The park is internationally known for its abundant forests, hilly terrain, and astounding wildlife. A visit to the park is the final touch of a road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
To visit Tallulah Gorge State Park, travel US-19 and the GA 400 North highways 87 miles north from Atlanta. The highways take you into the high mountains of Northeast Georgia where the Tallulah river carved a gorge through the native rock. You can hike the rim trail to several lookouts with spectacular views of the 1,000-feet deep gorge. There is a suspension bridge that hangs 80 feet above the river. Hiking, swimming, and biking are among the favorite activities visitors pursue in the park. There are substantial RV campsites available. After taking in the park, it is a simple journey into South Carolina, where you can meet up with I-85 to continue your road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte.
Paris Mountain State Park
Within the city limits of Greenville, SC, is Paris Mountain State Park. Since Greenville lies on I-85, just 144 miles into your Atlanta to Charlotte road trip, there is no need for a lengthy detour. The park covers 1,540 acres and includes a 13-acre lake, hill ground, and structures created by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1920s. The park is open year-round. Fishing and swimming are allowed in the lake that is stocked with bass, bream, and catfish. Visitors can hike the extensive trails, kayak or boat the lake, or rest in their campgrounds under a canopy of trees. RV campsites are available as well as rustic sites for tent campers.
Lake Norman State Park
After completing your road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte, consider stopping at Lake Norman State Park. You reach this park by taking I-77 north from Charlotte for 32 miles to Troutman, NC, and then following the signs to the park. Lake Norman State Park covers 1,941 acres of land at the northern end of Lake Norman. The lake is the largest body of fresh water in North Carolina. The park offers plenty of RV camping sites. Activities include hiking and biking along 37 miles of scenic trails, swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking. Guided tours are available for those interested in nature programs and lessons on the park’s unique plant and animal life.
Each of the three states on the road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte offers numerous points of interest. Some of these spots are discussed here.
Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park is just a short drive outside Atlanta. Covering 3,200 acres, the park includes the most massive exposed granite outcrop in the world from which it gets its name. The park is both a theme park and a nature preserve. Ample RV camping locations are available throughout the park area. There are activities for people of every age. A dinosaur exploration area shows the immensity of these prehistoric animals. A themed miniature golf course provides fun for the whole family. A scenic railroad traverses the entire park with incredible views of the Mountain and the surrounding terrain. A “Skyhike,” including rope traverses and suspension bridges, is fun for kids and adults alike.
King’s Mountain National Military Park
King’s Mountain is the site of the first Revolutionary War victory over the British in the southern colonies. The park provides a 25-minute film on the importance of the action as well as the military defeats that led to the battle. A 1.5-mile trail runs through the battlefield with signs that detail the action that took place. If you want to hike further, another 16 miles of trails are available.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
The U.S National Whitewater Center is located in Charlotte. The center features both beginning and advanced whitewater experiences. The center covers 1,300 acres along the Catawba River. The entire facility is a manufactured recirculating river with various levels of difficulty. You can raft with guides down rapids, kayak, canoe, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding. The center provides over 35 miles of trails shared by hikers, runners, and bicyclists. For cold-weather sports, the center features ski runs and an ice-skating rink. For those seeking adventure, various levels of zip lines are available.
There are several large cities you will encounter on your road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte. Some of them are not on I-85 but are important enough to visit with a slight detour.
Located just 72 miles outside Atlanta is the city of Athens, GA, the home of the University of Georgia. You can reach the town via I-85. Take the exit toward University Parkway (GA 316 E) and travel another 31 miles. The population of the Athens metropolitan area is 209,000, and it is the center of a large part of Georgia’s music scene. One of the two remaining double-barreled cannons rests in the City Center. The town also houses the Georgia Museum of Art and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. There are several dump stations in Athens. Several campgrounds are available for RV travelers as well.
Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina, sits just five miles east of I-85, 146 miles along your road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte. The city is just beyond the midpoint on your road trip from Atlanta and Charlotte. You can take the opportunity to clean your waste tanks at one of the dump stations in Greenville. The city is almost always hosting a festival. Campgrounds near Greenville are abundant and of high quality. Other than the festive events, Greenville offers attractions such as the Roper Mountain Science Center that houses a 23-inch refractor telescope, the eighth largest in the country. Visit the Greenville County Museum of Art for a display that specializes in American art.
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Spartanburg, SC, straddles I-85 just 167 miles along your road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte. The city has a population of over 37,000. One of the principal attractions of the town is the nearby Cowpens National Battlefield, where the British were bested by American Continental Army troops and militia volunteers leading to Cornwallis’ final defeat at Yorktown. Numerous dump stations are available in Spartanburg. Also, camping sites close to Spartanburg are almost always available.
A road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte is full of fun and educational opportunities for a family vacation. Visit RVshare.com to rent an RV in Atlanta, Georgia. If you find yourself making the Atlanta to Charlotte RV road trip in the other direction, visit the Charlotte, NC, RVshare rental page. In either case, take the time to enjoy a vacation that will create memories that will last for a lifetime.