by Paige Watts | Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.

On your next road trip, make sure to stop and visit Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Dahlonega, Georgia for bears, monkeys, and more!

Brown Bear at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

Surprise Bears!

It’s always a good day when I get to meet a bear! On our way back from Unicoi State Park, Kevin and I stopped at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Dahlonega, Georgia to see their grizzly and black bears.

When we passed the yellow “Zoo” sign featuring tigers and a giant arrow on our way to Unicoi for the weekend, I tried looking up the zoo. The sign didn’t have a name on it and my quick Google search took me to a petting zoo in the area, which definitely didn’t have any bears. But on the way back, Kevin, the amazing bear-finding boyfriend, insisted I look again because the sign advertising tigers could not have been that petting zoo I’d found.

And lo-and-behold, that giant yellow sign had been for the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo! And they have two bears! So that is how we came to be parked right in front of the bear den.

Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo

Zebra at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

This fully licensed rescue, exotic animal, and wildlife preserve has over 100 animals roaming the 20 acres of rolling hills and farmland. The preserve takes in animals that the state would otherwise have to put down. There’s no proper ticket window, just volunteers and workers who will roll up in a golf cart and give you a wrist band.

I barely pulled myself away from the grizzly bear long enough to give the worker our $15 admissions. Simon Augustus, the grizzly bear, spent his time investigating the outer portion of his habitat, which included some toys and a pool of water to splash in. Little Bear, the black bear, stayed back in the covered portion for the day.

Brown Bear at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

More Than Just Bears

Kevin finally pulled me away to go see the rest of the animals. The zoo is sprawling so you can take your time walking and looking.

All the cats were taking their cat naps in the heat of the day. Zebras and emus roamed together on the hills. The zoo even has some z-donk calves, little donkeys that look like they’re wearing zebra-stripe socks.

Near the monkey house, I went through a path in the bamboo forest that clearly hadn’t been used in a while because I came out through a giant spider web. Kevin, my hero, had to save me by whacking the spider off of me. I still have a bruise from it.

To distract me from my horrifying arachnid encounter, we went back to the bears, who had decided it was time for a dip in the pool.

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Ready to visit Dahlonega, Georgia? Plan your trip with these tips.



Visiting the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo

Have you visited the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

Paige Watts is a travel expert and author of What's With Atlanta?, a guide to the quirks and charm of the ATL. A life-long traveler, Paige is dedicated to helping you discover the best things to do in the Southern USA and around the world. Her work has been featured in The Culture Trip, Matador, Newsbreak, MSN, NPR, and countless other interviews and podcasts.

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