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EYB: Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Georgia

Editor’s note: This post was updated in October 2020.

One of the most challenging aspects of military spouse life is preparing for an upcoming PCS or, if you get the chance, potentially picking a new duty station. There is a lot of information out there, and it can be almost overwhelming.

We here at Army Wife Network want to take some of the guesswork out of the need-to-knows about duty stations around the globe. Hence, our Post with the Most series. In this particular blog, we will be showcasing information related to Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Georgia.

The 5th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Merrill is a unique duty station. It is located in the mountains of North Georgia near the small mountain town of Dahlonega. This duty station is where the Mountain Phase (second phase) of Ranger School takes place and is home to a single battalion.

Thus, it is referred to as a “remote” duty station since it isn’t necessarily a “full” military post. Many families who live here would describe it as living a (sort-of) civilian lifestyle on an intense Army schedule, especially for the Ranger instructors.


Camp Merrill is home to the following unit:

Surrounding Cities:

  • Dahlonega (12 miles)
  • Dawsonville (23 miles)
  • Cleveland (26 miles)
  • Gainesville (32 miles)
  • Helen (33 miles)
  • Cumming (38 miles)
  • Buford (52 miles)

 Closest MAJOR City: Atlanta (79 miles)

 Names of Area Colleges:

 Weather: The weather at Camp Merrill is about what you expect of a post in the south. Typically, it is hot (upper 80s, lower 90s) and humid in the summer, but it’s a few degrees cooler than other duty stations south of the Mason Dixon line due to its more northerly location.

Brief afternoon showers and thunderstorms are common in the summer months, and it can freeze during the winter but doesn’t occur often at “normal” elevations. In the higher altitudes where Ranger candidates actually train, temperatures can easily get below freezing with snow.

Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone


To access the camp website, click here.

 Map of the Area

Historical Facts/Landmarks:

  • The Camp Frank D. Merrill Museum is a historic monument and an exact replica of the original hutments that were used as student barracks. The museum was dedicated in 1994 to the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Mountain Ranger Training Camp from 1952 to present. Besides the trails and scenery surrounding Camp Merrill, the Camp Museum provides an exhibition of Ranger memorabilia that visitors may tour.
  • Outside of Camp Merrill, one of the major attractions is Dahlonega, home of America’s first Gold Rush. Dahlonega is located on top of the largest gold deposits found east of the Mississippi River. Gold was first discovered by accident in the Dahlonega area in 1828, 20 years before the Gold Rush to California. Deer hunter Benjamin Parks tripped over a rock 2.5 miles south of what is now Dahlonega and, upon inspecting the rock, he discovered that it was full of gold. Within one year more than 15,000 miners rushed to Dahlonega to find gold for themselves. At that time there was so much gold in and around Dahlonega that it laid on top of the ground. Gold had been washing off the mountainsides for centuries.
  • Side note: The major gold deposits in Dahlonega have long since been mined, but you can still tour the gold mines and see people panning for gold in the local creeks.


Since Camp Merrill and the 5th RTB is a “remote” duty station, there isn’t any official on-post housing. However, there is a housing community called Porter Village that is available for Ranger families. It has 77 houses, both newer and older Legacy homes.

Housing is managed by Villages of Benning. You will likely have to contact Villages of Benning before arriving at Porter Village in Dahlonega.


 School Liaison Officer: Since this is a remote duty station, there is no SLO.

 School District:

 Off-Post Schools


As Camp Merrill is considered a remote location, there are very few services offered on the installation.

  • Child and Youth Services: This is not offered, at Camp Merrill, but minimal services such as some sports are provided remotely via Fort Benning.
  • PX/Commissary: Camp Merrill does have a small PX/Commissary, but it’s more of a shoppette. Plan to do most grocery shopping at Walmart or drive to Dawsonville for Kroger/Publix.
  • On-post Library: There is no library on the camp, but see below for the link to the very helpful Lumpkin County Library.
  • On-post hospital: There is no hospital on the installation. All Ranger Battalion families are on Tricare Prime Remote, which can be helpful as the doctors in the community “get” that and make it super easy to work with.


Health Care:

Library: Lumpkin County Library (Impressive library system for a small town. They have a lot of community events and interlibrary loan is fantastic)

Best place for beauty services:

Shopping/malls: The closest locations include The Mall of Georgia in Buford or the outdoor shopping complex the Collection at Forsyth in Cumming.

The Square in Dahlonega is one of the main attractions and is very popular with tourists (you should probably check it out on a weekday if you can, because in summer/fall the square is busy on the weekends). The Square in Dahlonega has numerous antique malls, a glass-blowing shop, a couple of fudge/candy shops, clothing boutiques, pottery shop, leather store, wine-tasting venues, jerky shop, specialty olive oil, art gallery, an Old-Tyme General Store (with lots of silly/random gifts/souvenirs), a toy store, and a number of other attractions.


Camp Merrill:


Note: Many of the restaurants in Dahlonega have nightly entertainment or performances, so be sure to check in advance to see some local/regional artists and musicians. Also, many locations have patios and dining areas that are dog-friendly.







Army Wife Network does not promote or endorse these groups; however, we know they can be helpful in learning about various duty stations, so they are provided for your convenience.

Installation Facebook Page: 5th Ranger Training Battalion

Military Spouse Groups:

Buy/Sell/Trade Pages:

Religious services: 5th RTB has a battalion chaplain to serve the Ranger families, but no on-post religious services. Dahlonega and Dawsonville have many churches that might suit your family’s needs. We recommend inquiring in the Dahlonega Army Spouses group or exploring upon your arrival to 5th RTB.


“Dahlonega is truly a hidden gem! The Army’s best kept secret tucked away in the mountains of North Georgia. The locals welcome you with open arms, the schools are great, the scenery is breathtaking. Small town living with the big city conveniences just down the road. As for 5th RTB, due to being remote, the closeness of this Battalion is like nothing we’ve encountered before. It’s one big family. The most unique and memorable duty stationed we’ve ever experienced. I could seriously go on and on.” — Kim D.

 “My experience with 5th RTB has been wonderful! This is the first unit where it was easy to connect with other wives and families. Everyone was so helpful with the moving-in process and made Dahlonega feel like home.” — Madelynne W.

 “5th Ranger Training Battalion/Dahlonega is one of the Army’s best kept secrets! Being away from a traditional Army post was occasionally a challenge, but the pros definitely outweighed the cons. The military housing, Porter Village, was like a small family. The community supports Camp Merrill in so many ways and embraces the military families like I’ve never experienced elsewhere. The schools, churches, doctors, and dentists are all so accommodating. The beauty of this small mountain town just can’t be adequately described. There’s hiking, kayaking, festivals, plenty to do if you like the outdoors.” — Army Wife, 15 years


  • Embrace Your Base

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  1. Peggy Sanders

    One restaurant missing…The Overhang, a small bar and grill located on Camp Frank D. Merrill. It is a veterans non-profit 501(c)(19) run by the Camp Merrill Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA).

    • Shannon

      Yes, definitely add the Overhang!

      • Sharita Knobloch

        Great suggestion, ladies– definitely needed addition. We will make that change!

  2. Pamela Scott

    I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this post.

    Thank you
    Chicago Illinois

    • Sharita Knobloch

      Gosh, thank you so much, Pamela! This made our day!


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