SOUTH FULTON, Ga. - It’s a warm, sunny afternoon and Cobb County resident Justin Jones is spending some quality time with his 3-year-old daughter. Their activity of choice? Rock climbing.
"I've been rock climbing for going on 14 years now," Jones says. "I started when I was 21, and I said, 'I should have been doing this my whole life! Why did I wait until I was 21?’"
Jones and his daughter spend a lot of time at Boat Rock Preserve in South Fulton; it’s what climbers call a "boulder field" — a place to scale short but challenging rocks with no ropes or harnesses.
"These are really interesting geological features," the climber says. "You don't see really hard granite like this almost anywhere else in the Southeast."
And it’s thanks to climbers that Boat Rock Preserve even exists anymore. Back in the 1990s, developers began buying up the nearby land, demolishing the boulders, and building neighborhoods. So, a group of climbers formed the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, with a mission to buy and maintain the land.
"We purchased the Boat Rock Preserve in early 2000, and we own and maintain this climbing area, as well as six other climbing areas throughout Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama," says coalition executive director Andrea Hassler. "So, we were actually able to preserve these boulders that people can still climb here today."
For the City of South Fulton’s relatively new tourism department, Boat Rock is a true gem, and a place they hope attracts outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.
"You can also come out here and just enjoy yourself on a beautiful day like today. You've got trails you can walk, you can hike, you can just have a nice picnic out with your family," says tourism manager Chantel Francois.
And speaking of family, it’s clear that Justin Jones gets more than just exercise out of the Boat Rock boulders too; for the climber, the granite serves as a foundation upon which to build precious father-daughter memories.
For more information on Boat Rock Preserve (including a map to its location), click here.
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