Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park | DRIVING TO THE MOUNDS

Earthlodge at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Earthlodge at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

There are a total of twelve points of interest at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park: seven Indian mounds, one earthlodge, one prehistoric site, one Civil War site, and two European history sites. All of the major sites are accessible by car, though some do require a short walk to see them. Sites not accessible by car, such as the Civil War earthwork and some of the smaller Indian Mounds, offer a minor experience, so you are not missing much by not getting to them. Hiking is the only way to see all points of interest in the park.

Although visiting the historical sites is a self-guided experience, there are information panels at each stop that give a brief history of the site. At some stops, you can utilize a cell phone audio tour to get additional information. Dial a phone number and press your stop number to listen to a narrative about the site. Signs are posted wherever the tour is available.

Sign for the cell phone audio tour of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Sign for the audio tour of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

It should take no more than 1.5 hours to thoroughly visit the sites by car.

Sites Accessible from the Visitor Center

A five minute walk from the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Visitor Center will take you to the Earthlodge, Cornfield Mound, and a set of prehistoric trenches dug by the early inhabitants of the area.

Short path from the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Visitor Center leads to the Earthlodge

Short path from the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Visitor Center leads to the Earthlodge

Visitors are allowed to enter the Earthlodge on their own, though the park typically offers guided tours on the weekends. However, if you miss the tour, you can still learn about the Earthlodge via an audio program that plays inside the lodge. Push a button to start the recording. For more information on the Earthlodge, please read the History of Ocmulgee Mounds web page here on National Park Planner.

Cornfield Mound and two prehistoric trenches are located on the backside of the Earthlodge. Cornfield Mound got its name because it was built on top of an existing cornfield. The trenches predate the Indian Mounds. Archaeologists have no explanation for their use. Other than reading the information sign and giving the structures a quick look, there’s not much to them.

Cornfield Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Cornfield Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Prehistoric trenches predate the Ocmulgee Mounds, Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical P

Prehistoric trenches predate the Ocmulgee Mounds, Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

If on your own, plan to spend around a half hour in this area. This will give you time to walk from the Visitor Center, tour the Earthlodge, read the information panels, and even take a short walk to where the trenches start.

Great and Lesser Temple Mounds

When you leave the Visitor Center by car, take a right on the main park road and drive to the first parking lot you come to, that for the Great and Lesser Temple Mounds. Both mounds are high above the parking area on what was a natural hill to begin with; a staircase leads to the top.

Great Temple Mound is the largest mound in the park. You can actually walk on top of it and get spectacular views of the area, though to do so requires climbing up a number of additional staircases. (Information about Great Temple Mound is also available on the History of Ocmulgee Mounds web page.)

Great Temple Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park rises 55 feet above the ground

Great Temple Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park rises 55 feet above the ground

View of Ocmulgee's Lesser Temple Mound (right) and Funeral Mound (left in the far distance)

View of Ocmulgee’s Lesser Temple Mound (right) and Funeral Mound (left in the far distance)

View from the top of Great Temple Mound towards the Ocmulgee Mounds visitor center

View from the top of Great Temple Mound towards the Ocmulgee Mounds visitor center

Staircase to the top of the Great Temple Mound, Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Staircase to the top of the Great Temple Mound, Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Lesser Temple Mound is located right next to Great Temple Mound, and it is also accessible by a staircase, though this one is much shorter. Three fourths of Lesser Temple Mound was destroyed when the railroad was built.

Lesser Temple Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Lesser Temple Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

The site of a European trading post can also be accessed from the Great Temple Mound parking area. To get to it, walk across the street and take a short, uphill sidewalk. Nothing exists of the original post, so you are basically looking at the field where it once was. The original site is outlined with markers, and an information panel tells the history of the post, which dates back to 1690.

Trading post site at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Trading post site at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Plan to spend 15 to 20 minutes at the Great Temple Mound area, and longer if you sit for a while and take in the views. Add ten minutes if you wish to visit the Trading Post site.

Funeral Mound Parking Lot

Just a short drive farther down the road from the Great Temple Mound parking lot is Funeral Mound. Unlike all of the other mounds in Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park that were built as pedestals for homes and buildings, Funeral Mound actually contained burial tombs. This was discovered when the Central of Georgia Railroad sliced off part of the hill to lay its tracks. Over 100 bodies were found in the mound, and many more remain buried in the portion that still exists. Plan to spend ten minutes at this site.

Funeral Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Funeral Mound at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Access to Funeral Mound is now blocked off by fences, but during my first visit to the park in 2014, the fences were not there. I was able to walk around to the back of the mound where it was sliced off when the railroad came through. The railroad tracks are just a stone’s throw away and are still used today.

The back side of Ocmulgee Funeral Mound was shaved off when the railroad was cut through the area

The back side of Ocmulgee Funeral Mound was shaved off when the railroad was cut through the area

Railroad that damaged the Ocmulgee Funeral Mound is still in use today

Railroad that damaged the Ocmulgee Funeral Mound is still in use today

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Last updated on May 2, 2022
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