amenities include a gondola that lifts visitors to the top of
the mountain (for a fee) to enjoy the spectacular view, including
Atlanta's skyline. There is a open-air passenger train that
travels around the base of the mountain, stopping for a short
show and a drop-off site for hikers (the show is seasonal and train
may or may not be running and/or stopping at the hiker drop-off. Call the park for information).
There is a
Robert Trent Jones designed golf course, a lake for fishing,
canoeing, and kayaking, a riverboat ride, and amphibious
vehicle rides called "Ducks".
There is also an antique car museum and an Antebellum plantation
with a petting zoo. All these attractions are subject to
seasonal (and somewhat random) closures, so make sure to call
ahead (don't rely on the website).
In summary, our
feelings toward Stone Mountain park are certainly mixed. We love
Stone Mountain! We will return! But we are always frustrated
about random attraction closures and poorly maintained
campground facilities. If you are a tourist wanting to visit
Georgia, this is a must-see destination. If you are from
Georgia, I think visiting Stone Mountain is a law.
Entry Date: March 2012
If you're old enough, you may remember this line from the movie Animal House. Kevin Bacon's character was forced to say "Thank you sir, may I have another" after each whack of the paddle. In a way, I can relate. We continue to camp at Stone Mountain year after year, and continue to be frustrated at the condition of the campground and the seemingly casual way the "Theme Park" area is run. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with day one of our visit.
Springtime at Stone Mountain can be exceptionally beautiful. The park is covered with flowering trees and shrubs, and the landscape is absolutely beautiful. We had friends coming into town, so we decided Stone Mountain would be a great place to meet them. We planned to camp at Stone Mountain for two nights beginning on Friday. Rather than fighting Atlanta Traffic on Friday Afternoon, we decided to wait till later in the evening to arrive at the park. We arrived at the gate and paid our $10 fee to enter the park. This, by the way, is a per vehicle fee. If you tow a vehicle, don't drop it outside the park, or you'll have to pay two fees. Yes, $20 just to get to the campground. I knew what to expect when we got to the campground. The office was closed so I proceeded to my site. Unfortunately, the condition was even worse than I remembered, so I pulled into an empty site for the evening with plans to move in the morning. I put out the slides and hooked up power. No electricity! Oh well, no big deal. Homer (our RV) is self contained and everything works without outside electricity (except the microwave and coffee pot).
The next morning I took a walk to find a better site. I observed exactly what I'd seen over the past six years of camping here. A campground with so much potential, the largest in the state, slowly falling apart. To be fair, they have made improvements to a portion of the campground, but for the most part, the sites are poorly maintained, the roads are crumbling, and trash is accumulating. I chose a somewhat level site (probably 5" slope to left and back) adjacent my original selection before heading to the campground office to purchase tickets for the park.
When I visited the campground office, I had no problem changing sites (the campground was almost completely empty). The lady at the office was very nice and apologetic. I felt sorry for her because I'm sure plenty of first-time visitors come in angry about their site. As I said before, I knew what to expect. While at the office, I purchased six tickets for the park, around $150. It's a little easier to swallow the expense here, because when you purchase tickets at the campground, you receive a second day (to be used any time in the calendar year) for no additional charge. We piled into Homer and headed for the RV parking near the attractions. The plan was to ride the shuttle, but were informed the shuttle only runs when enough people are camping. Of course, the water taxi wasn't running either. This information should be very obvious on their website, and it is not.
The amusement park (I really hesitate to call it that) officially opens at 10:30am (seasonal) and closes at 5pm (yes, even on the weekend). We arrived at 11am, and were surprised to see that very few of the shops were open (most did open later, seemingly random). The train and Summit Skyride were running, and the miniature golf and Skywalk features were open, but that was about it. We decided to play some miniature golf then ride the Skyride to the top of the mountain to meet-up with our friends. We were excited to see so few people in the Skyride line, thinking it would be a very brief wait. Unfortunately, they seem to have reduced the frequency of runs because of the smaller crowd.
The view from the summit of Stone Mountain is pretty amazing. The Atlanta skyline is pretty amazing from here. You can also see the North Georgia Mountains as well as two nearby rock mounds similar to Stone Mountain. One is Arabia Mountain, and the other is Panola Mountain, a state park. We decided to walk down the mountain instead of riding. The kids ran most of the way. The plan was to catch the park's train back around to the attractions. We stood and waited for the train, which slowly passed us without stopping. We waited for it to come back, but it soon became apparent that the train didn't stop here anymore. Fortunately, there is a shuttle bus that stops at that location periodically.
Back at the attractions, the kids first wanted to go see the animals at the "Plantation." We all love farm animals and especially remembered the goats from previous visits. We weren't disappointed. We spent a lot of time petting the sheep, goats, and pigs, and talking with the ladies that take care of the livestock. After touring several of the old homes and other structures at the plantation, we proceeded to park's 4D theater for a Yogi Bear movie. We all loved it! The kids were also eager to try out the new Sky Hike, a sort of obstacle course on stilts. All four of the children and I decided to give it a try. There is a very similar feature at Dollywood with one exception. Dollywood's "Adventure Mountain" always offers a relatively easy route. I witnessed a pretty small child that got really scared on the third obstacle. He had no choice but to proceed through the entire level. Our kids did just fine, but I was ready to get off before I completed the first level. There are three levels. It's a great feature, but I think some alternative exits should be added.
After a full day at the park, we headed back to the campground. We were so looking forward to a nice relaxed evening by the campfire with a view of the mountain across the lake. This is what keeps bringing us back, the view. Other than having a hard time keeping the firewood I purchased at the office lit, the evening delivered. It was beautiful. In all, our memories of the day were all positive. We had fun, saw some sights, and got a little exercise. We plan to come back in the near future to use the second day of tickets, and perhaps ride bikes at nearby Panola Mountain State Park. Yes, with all my gripes about the campground and the park in general, we keep coming back for more. So I'll say it again: "Thank you sir, may I have another?"
Note: As critical as I am about the Stone Mountain Campground, I still recommend a visit. Just be aware of the condition of many of the RV sites. I cannot give an opinion on the tent sites, and many of the sites near the office have been redone. If you don't expect too much, you might not be disappointed.
On Saturday, while I was working, the rest of the family and some very good friends hiked up the back side of the mountain. From what I hear, it was exhausting (I haven't done that hike since I was about 15). Unfortunately, they took no pictures, so...
On Sunday, we hit Snow Mountain about 11am. It was around 60 degrees, but the man-made snow was perfect for tubing. We made a few runs before joining the others in the snow play area. It was a lot of fun, but as we have discovered in the past, barely worth the cost. If the rest of the park's attractions were open, it might have been better. But, the gondola that takes visitors to the top of the mountain was closed for maintenance (not mentioned on the website), and, well, maybe it's easiest to say what we found open, the train (no show or stops), and the 4D theater. Our tickets were for Snow Mountain and three attractions. We couldn't find a third attraction open.
The rest of the day was very relaxing as we hung around the campground fishing, canoeing, and exploring. As usual for Stone Mountain, our campsite was far below average, but the location of the campground is awesome. With regards to the campground, make sure you read the overview.
Entry Date: December 2008 - January 2009
We got-up early and headed for Stone Mountain for three days and two nights of camping and fun. We had 6 one-day passes left over from earlier in the year, and this was our last chance to use them. Daddy was real disappointed in our campsite, and requested an upgrade at the front desk. As usual, the campground host was very friendly and understanding, and upgraded us to one of their best (parking-lot-like) sites. I'll address this sore spot later.
After checking-in, we went to the
Crossroads section of the park. As usual, only some of the attractions
were open although visitors pay full price. We went to the 4D Polar
Express movie and it was pretty cool. We were lucky in that we only had
to wait for about 30 minutes to get in. When we left the theater, the
line was twice as along as when we went in. Then we rode the train. Once
again, we got lucky and pretty much got right on the train. The kids
made their own sugar cookies, and that's about it. We really enjoyed the
lights when the sun went down, and that was the best part. Once again,
we were lucky because our tickets were virtually free, so we didn't feel
ripped-off. However, I feel sorry for anyone that paid full price
because there were very few attractions open (but most of the gift shops
New Years Eve - We had originally planned to go to Snow Mountain's Grand Opening today, but the wind was gusting 20-30 mph, and made the cold a little hard to bear. It was, after all, a bone chilling 53 degrees! We decided to hang around the campground although we did visit the large playground also located in Stone Mountain park. We drove through the covered bridge also. We wrapped-up the day by baking home-made in the oven, and calzone for Mommy and Daddy in their old-fashioned iron sandwich press (or whatever they call it). We watched a movie in Homer the camper then crashed (well before midnight. We wanted to be ready for tomorrow's adventure at Snow Mountain.
New Years Day
Note: regarding Stone Mountain's campground. It's rough! I mean, it's really rough. The inner roads are deteriorating. he sites are horribly un-level. their best sites (in my opinion) do not have full hook-up. There is no cable (no big deal unless you advertise full hookups as they do). It's the only campground we've ever stayed in that has a police car patrolling constantly (sometimes too fast). Our "premium site" was in the equivalent of a parking lot, and the street lights were so bright you could barely see the stars. Let's face it, some people like to live in subdivisions, and some people don't. This campground is perfect for those that like subdivisions. The view from our site was the tops of about 200 other RVs. Mommy and Daddy agreed that we probably won't come back to camp.
Our plan was to leave
around 2pm to beat the Memorial Day weekend traffic, but we ended-up
leaving at 3:15. A drive that should have been a little over an hour
turned into 3 hours. It's ok though, because it rained right up
until we got there. Parker Jon and Super Dave were almost set-up by
the time we got there. It wasn't long before the kids were riding
their bikes and playing along (and in) the water. As the sun set, we
visited around the fire and made plans for Saturday.
With regards to Stone
Mountain Campground: If you asked me at different times this weekend
how I felt about Stone Mountain, the answer might have been
incredibly varied. On one hand, we loved our site. On the other
hand, we we somewhat knew the campground and carefully selected the
site (and made reservations 2-months in advance). The campground is
huge, but the inner roads are in disrepair and level sites are
almost non existent. The park is cool, but not everything was
running, including the water taxi (one of the primary reasons I
selected the camp site). From our site, the view was wonderful,
from others, it might not be so great.
March 31 - Saturday morning we caught a water taxi then a shuttle to the main part of the park. The twins' high point was meeting Dora and Diego. We went to the 4D theater, got squirted by a talking fountain, helped paint a mural, rode a train around the mountain, ate lunch, did the tree house challenge, visited the plantation (made rag dolls), petted sheep, goats, and pigs, washed our hands, rode the gondola to the top of the mountain, drank about $25 worth of water, then rode the water taxi back to camp. Needless to say, after another campfire and dinner, everyone slept like babies Saturday night!