The School Bus Graveyard is a Perfect Road Trip Destination
Georgia’s School Bus Graveyard could very well be the perfect stop on a trip near Atlanta.
But what makes seeing a bunch of school buses worth the effort?
Let’s find out!
What is the School Bus Graveyard?
The School Bus Graveyard is a circle of decommissioned school buses made to fence an auto parts shop to prevent stealing. The 5-acre shop and junkyard was originally owned by Alonzo Wade and is now co-owned by his son and daughter-in-law, Walter and Debbie.
What’s more, artists from the local area and worldwide paint the buses with amazing, colorful murals to create an outdoor art gallery. This unusual outdoor art gallery is what people come from all over to see.
Where is the School Bus Graveyard?
The graveyard is located off of Highway 23/365 in Alto, Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta on the way to Charlotte, North Carolina. The location makes it an excellent road trip destination. We’ll explain why later. But, first, let’s find out more about its history.
Pro Tip: While road tripping through Georgia, make sure to stop and check out these 7 Amazing Waterfalls In Georgia.
How the School Bus Graveyard Became an Art Exhibit
Back in 2008, local thieves began breaking into Walter’s junkyard, stealing auto parts for money. Because of this, Walter decided to use some of the old school buses and other vehicles on the property to create a fence, which worked well to keep out the thieves.
One day, Walter found one of the buses painted with a ghost. Instead of being angry, he liked it and wanted to find the artist. Walter was a school bus driver, and in fact, one of his students ended up being the artist. Pleased, he asked the kid to create more art on the buses.
Then, in 2010, a local muralist saw the first few paintings and asked Walter’s permission to go all out with some larger work. He agreed under the condition that all of the art would be family-friendly – and no climbing on the buses.
A local artist’s group, Crispy Printz, began painting the buses in 2012. Every year, they invite other artists from around the world to repaint them, keeping the exhibit fresh.
Over the years, singers and bands have held photo and video shoots there. In addition, the producers for the movie Wanderlust even commissioned a special mural for the film.
In addition to graciously supporting this exhibit, the Wade family also donates cars for elementary and middle school kids to paint. They’ve also recently started hiding School Bus Graveyard rocks. If you find one, post it on their Facebook page and rehide it. They love to see where the rocks travel!
Speaking of their Facebook page, this is where they announce new artwork and special closures or other events. So be sure to follow it if you live in the area or are planning a visit.
How to Get to the School Bus Graveyard
Heading north from Atlanta on Highway 23/365, turn left onto Crane Mill Road (right if coming from the north.)
According to Atlas Obscura, “The owner asks visitors to park on the shoulder of Crane Mill Road right off 365. Please do not enter the yard (it is their home and business). To get to the buses, walk to the southern corner of the property; there is a concrete spillway that serves as a good path up the hill to the buses. You can go inside the wall to view the buses too. “
The Wades don’t charge to see the outer school bus fence, and you’re welcome to walk around its exterior any day from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. However, they do suggest a donation to the Crispy Printz group. All the murals on these outside buses keep with the family-friendly theme.
In addition, reviewers state there’s an inside exhibit that they charge a small fee to view. This newer section contains more “explicit” artwork and is only available by appointment during their business hours, which are currently 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Please Be Considerate
The Wades have had problems with vandalism and request that visitors follow a few simple rules. We think these rules are common courtesy and know that all our readers will feel the same.
Please don’t climb on or under the buses or fence. And don’t break the glass/windows or try to get inside the buses. These rules are more about your safety than anything else.
Stay outside of the yard unless you’ve set an appointment and are willing to pay the tour fee. This property is their home and their business.
And, please, don’t paint the buses. They reserve that right for the artists brought in by Crispy Printz to show their work.
What Else Is Around the School Bus Graveyard?
And here we are, finally talking about why this is such a great road trip destination. The answer? Because there are so many incredible things to see and do in the area too!
Talullah Falls at Talullah Gorge State Park is a must-see about 30 minutes northeast of the School Bus Graveyard. Considered the “Niagara Falls of the South,” it sits on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest and has many miles of hiking trails.
Nearby Lake Lanier offers canopy tours of the forest, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and the Elachee Nature Science Center. Or you can climb the spiral staircase to the top of Chenocetah Fire Tower in Cornelia. These are just a few of the many adventures you’ll find in the area. And, of course, there’s the city of Atlanta with its unique culture and excellent food.
Pro Tip: Going on a road trip is a great way to get out and explore, but don’t get caught without these 7 Summer Road Trip Essentials.
The School Bus Graveyard is a fun place to visit all on its own. And, it’s also near other amazing places. So plan a trip to the Atlanta area and definitely put the graveyard on your list.
Can’t make it there soon enough? Follow them on Instagram @schoolbus_graveyard to see photos of all the amazing artwork.
Have you been to the School Bus Graveyard? What was your favorite mural?
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