A Look at Atlanta’s Newest Park: Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry

Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry is Atlanta’s newest, gorgeous park! At 280 acres, it is now Atlanta’s largest green space, providing more pedestrian and bike trails for the ever-growing city. It’s even bigger than the popular and well-known Piedmont Park.

But what makes Westside Park unique? The park is at the site of the former Bellwood Quarry. What was once a massive gaping hole is now an emergency water reservoir for Atlanta, enough to provide water for 30 days. Given that it was previously three days, this is a considerable improvement. A trail takes you around the reservoir, providing a view of the former quarry.

The park opened in August 2021, and we were lucky to visit two weeks after the ribbon cotton ceremony. It was crowded, but you could feel everyone’s excitement in exploring the new park. The city of Atlanta gave utmost care to the park plans and design, and I’m keen to see how it develops over time.

Below are my takeaways from our visit to Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry, including glimpses of what you’ll see when you go!

I love the “waterfall” that gushes down the side into the reservoir.

Location, Hours, and Parking

Westside Park has two entrances at 1600 or 1660 Johnson Road in the Grove Park neighborhood. We parked at 1660 Johnson Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. Each entry has a large parking lot with ample free parking.

The park is open daily from 6am to 11pm and is free to visit!

The restroom and water fountains at Westside Park.
Find water stations and restrooms near the parking lot.

Fun Facts About Westside Park in Atlanta

Bellwood Quarry was a popular filming location, so you might have seen the park before without knowing it.

Have you seen The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, or The Vampire Diaries? What about the hit series Stranger Things? If so, you might recall the dramatic, heart-pounding scene where Mike plunges off a giant cliff, and Eleven saves him from falling into the dark blue water far below. This scene gives you a perspective of the former quarry’s massive depth of approximately 400 feet. It’s so deep that you can fit the Statue of Liberty or Mercedes Benz Stadium in it!

Today, the reservoir can hold up to 2.4 billion gallons of water. While the reservoir has overlooks, a gated fence prevents you from going too close, and swimming is prohibited.

While Westside Park is open to the public, construction is ongoing to add more sections and connect it to the Atlanta Beltline – a loop that links downtown Atlanta with over 40 neighborhoods and surrounding parks. This will take years to complete, but I am eager to see the progress!

The Westside Park Overlook.
Pictured here is the Westside Park grand overlook. Can you see downtown Atlanta in the background?
People walking on a path in Westside Park.
People are walking the path that goes around the former Bellwood Quarry.
Looking through the gated fence of the former Bellwood Quarry
There is a gate that surrounds the former Bellwood Quarry.

Many Amenities

There are many amenities at Westside Park:

  • Pedestrian and bike trails
  • ADA-accessible trails, including a path that leads to the Bellwood Quarry grand overlook
  • Playgrounds
  • A small outdoor gym
  • Picnic benches
  • Public restrooms
  • Water fountains
  • Water stations for dogs

The park is dog-friendly, but you must remember to keep your dog on a leash. Except for service dogs, there are some sections of the park where dogs are not permitted, such as the playground.

Also located throughout Westside Park are maps indicating your location and other points of interest. You’ll want to take a photo of the map with your phone, but there are multiple maps located throughout the park if you need to use them later for reference.

Children on a playground at Westside Park in Atlanta.
A playground at Westside Park.
You can find maps throughout the park indicating your current location.

Walking Around Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry

The park design and layout are well-thought-out, maximizing the space around the reservoir to build a much-needed park for the quickly growing city.

You don’t want to visit Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry without seeing the panoramic view at the grand overlook. Here, you can see the entire reservoir with the Atlanta skyline. It’s not the best cityscape of Atlanta (Piedmont Park has a better view!), but the overlook is still lovely with its manufactured “waterfall” where the water dumps into the reservoir. Atlanta’s air is always hazy in August, so my images don’t really give justice to the park’s beauty.

Autumn will bring crisp air and vibrant color around the reservoir, and I hope to get better pictures then!

The steps to the Westside Park Overlook.
The steps to the grand overlook.
Bellwood Quarry
Probably not the best skyline view, but you can still see some of the buildings in downtown Atlanta. Next time, I will need to bring a telephoto lens to get a better photo.

Another thing I love about Westside Park in Atlanta is the mind-blowing architecture, specifically the Entrance Gateway and the Birth of Atlanta, which embraces mythological themes.

Symbolizing the skeleton of a mythical creature, the unique Entrance Gateway reminds me of a person’s ribcage, evoking a sense of wonder and not something you typically see in a park. It’s hard to miss and makes a fun spot for photography.

The Entrance Gateway at Westside Park.
Doesn’t the Entrance Gateway look like a ribcage?
A view of the top of the Entrance Gateway at Westside Park.

The Birth of Atlanta symbolizes the phoenix, a Greek mythological bird emerging from ashes. Why was a phoenix chosen?

Atlanta was founded in 1837, but if you are familiar with the Battle of Atlanta in 1864, you will know that much of Atlanta was burnt to the ground in General William Sherman’s March to the Sea. Hence, the “phoenix rising from the ashes” symbolizes the reconstruction era and the rebuilding of the city.

After taking several photos of the Entrance Gateway and the Birth of Atlanta, I quickly returned to the car for air-conditioning. As much as I wanted to explore more, I was melting in the hot Georgia sun. We’ll be back!

Have you been to the new Westside Park in Atlanta? If so, what are your thoughts? Please comment below!

Architecture and art at Westside Park.
The Birth of Atlanta
The Birth of Atlanta art display.

A Note on My Film

Except for the film canister image below, all pictures in this post are shot on 35mm film, Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak ColorPlus 200, to be exact. It was my first time using Kodak ColorPlus, and I’m in love. The Kodak ColorPlus gave my images a contrasty pop in colors, and warmer tones. The day we went, it was a bit hazy and cloudy, but I think the photos came out decent, given the conditions.

I accidentally overexposed by two stops on my camera, so my images were initially too bright, but nothing the lab cannot fix. Color negative film is a bit more forgiving in overexposing versus underexposing an image.

Plus, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the Kodak ColorPlus 200 box for the first time. I adore the film canister’s new “vintage” look that Kodak is temporarily using. Can you please keep these, Kodak?

After the film was developed at my local lab, I made sure to get the canister back. I am thinking about making it into some art project or decor in the future. Hmmm…

Kodak ColorPlus 200

Leave a Comment