Date of Travel: May 14-16, 2017
Total Cost Per Night: $38
Site: 390 (Full Hookup)
Do you ever get that urge to just go camp somewhere for the weekend at a moment’s notice? I’m sure we’ve all felt that need at some point or another…like about every weekend right? We’d only been back for a week from our trip to Florida, but it was Mother’s Day and Momma wanted to head back outside. I needed to be able to get to work a couple times so we had to find something close to home and convenient to work. I called up Stone Mountain in the morning and after a Mother’s Day get-together with my family we were off for a short couple of nights.
The Atlanta metro area is like a black hole for campgrounds. There are incredibly few options to camp within 45 miles of the city center. If you’re looking for a campground close to the city, Stone Mountain is pretty much it. From the campground you can be in Atlanta in about 15-20 minutes.
Located in the town of Stone Mountain (named after the mountain of course), Stone Mountain Park is an Atlanta staple and a landmark recognizable to anyone who’s heard much at all about Atlanta. If you’ve ever flown into the city or stood atop a tall building you have inevitably seen this granite rock sticking 825′ of the ground which is the largest exposed piece of granite in the world. Stone Mountain is well-known not only for its geology, but also for the enormous rock relief on its north face, the largest bas-relief in the world. The carving depicts three Confederate figures during the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.
Let me say right up front that, while I’d give Stone Mountain Park a 5-star rating for it’s beauty and amenities, the campground barely eeks out a 3-star rating.
The campground sits along the shore of one of the many lakes in the park and overlooks the mountain. Whatever kind of camping you can imagine, there is something here for you. There are 30/50 amp full hookup sites, 30 amp electric/water sites, electric/water tent sites, rustic tent sites, yurts and rentable RVs permanently set up on site. Rates for campsites range from $26-59 depending on loop/amenities. Yurts will run you $119 for non-holidays and RV rentals start at $175.
The setting for the campground is quite pretty. Nearly the entire campground is nestled in the trees with the exception of the area around the pool. Many sites have lake views, and a couple of these have views of the mountain. With such a beautiful setting, it’s a shame that the campground is in such poor condition.
It’s as though this campground was built 40 years ago (which it probably was) and never had anything else done to it, left to rot away. The asphalt roads throughout the campground are heavily rutted, rooted and crumbling. Of the 400+ campsites, only a small fraction of them were in good shape. The campsite pads are a mixture of crumbling asphalt, gravel and dirt sites. The only sites that look like they have had any on-going maintenance at all were the ones in the main loop near the pool. It seems like the park has chosen this one loop to focus its attention on and left the rest to fall apart. I have never seen so many insanely horrible sites, sites that looked hard to walk on because they were so steep and sites that had 10 foot dropoffs off the 8′ wide pad. At least a third of the sites should have been shut down completely because there’s no way in the world you could park a camper or even put a tent on them.
A couple of the loops have full hookup sites and most of the others have electric/water. There are a couple dump stations throughout the park.
For being a privately run campground, it was nice to be in the trees. There were loops that the campsites were more tightly packed in, but our loop (“O Loop”) had nicely spaced sites. That being said, this campground doesn’t generally offer a lot of space around their sites to spread out. In many cases, there’s not even enough room on your pad to put out a couple of chairs and you have to hang out in front or behind your camper. We were lucky enough to have a lot of space and (much to our kids excitement) our own little slice of the mountain to play and mountain bike on.
Water pressure was good and electricity was fine. Our site had a fire ring built with stones. While this park has wifi, it was nearly non-existent at our site. We hovered around .08-.3 mps which pretty much meant that there was no service. Kinda reminded me of the old AOL dial-up days! Closer to the main loop wifi was much more reliable and faster, albeit still WAY slower than what you’re used to or might need for work. Sprint coverage was not good, about 2 bars of 3G.
Well, for whatever the campsites lack, the rest of the campground and the park as a whole makes up for it in a pretty big way. The campground store is pretty big and has everything from trinkets and souvenirs to light groceries and RV supplies. The pool and playground are fantastic here. When Stone Mountain recently upgraded their park playground (if you have kids, go check out the new playground!), the campground got the old one. Doesn’t sound very impressive, but the old left-overs actually make for an amazing playground for the kids. The pool is wonderful! It’s huge and has a nice area to sit around it with a few tables and plenty of chairs. Wifi is decent here too so it’s a great place to catch up on those emails while the kids play and swim.
Stone Mountain could easily be a week-long destination with all that the things to do. Here’s just a summary:
- Laser/Fireworks Show most nights in the summer and on weekends
- Adventure pass (ropes course, 4D movie, etc.)
- Gondola to top of mountain
- Trail to top of mountain (1 mile each way…a must do!)
- PATH bike trail leaving the park and connecting to Atlanta
- 5 mile fitness trail along road going around mountain (It’s hilly!)
- Snow-Mountain during winter (they dump a bunch of snow on hill and you can slide down it)
- 7-10 miles of trails around mountain
- Covered Bridge
Stone Mountain is a big draw for those living around the Atlanta area. There are lakes everywhere, festivals throughout the year (Highland Games, pumpkin festivals, daisy festivals, craft fairs, etc.), fitness options galore, fun and games for the kids, hotels/conference centers and golf. The laser show is an Atlanta staple offering a hefty dose of country and patriotic music, lots of lights and fireworks and an ode to the Confederacy. There’s nothing offensive here, don’t worry. You’ll see people from all faiths, backgrounds, races and walks of life enjoying a night here.
While the campsites aren’t the best, this park has enough going for it that it’s worth a stay, whether you’re passing through or just need a quick Atlanta getaway. I was a little put off by how dirty the campsite was when we arrived (trash everywhere) and with the office charging me $5/hr to stay a little bit longer to let the kids swim even though the campground was empty and no one was using our site that night. Those beefs aside, it’s a beautiful park that we will probably stay at again if I need to stay close to home. If you’ve never been to Stone Mountain before, put it on your list and plan on staying at least a couple of night (try to be there when they’re doing the laser show).