I walked a tightrope four floors in the air. I boarded a craft that carried me atop a mountain. Finally, I watched lasers light the sky. Tear your minds away from a smoky, cluttered Atlanta and enter Stone Mountain, a park where you can let loose your inner outdoorsman.
First of all, after paying the parking fee, all the hiking trails at Stone Mountain are at your footprints. BUT, if you want to do the many activities the park has to offer, each one comes at a $7-9 price… or you can just pay $26 to do everything. (For that price, what sane person would turn that down?) – and DARN, my family paid those tickets ahead of time online, ran into traffic, arrived at the park 4 hours before closing, and found out that the tickets were now worth $15 from the late time. Oh yea, and make sure you’re visiting on a day when most of the activities are offered—like the weekends.
From far, the park’s centerpiece—the Stone Mountain—loomed into the sky. God decided to poop a large one near Atlanta. Over time, an artist decided to carve three confederate generals into the stone’s side. Now, my family watched the three, giant faces as we flew past it on a cable car. From the mountain’s top, we became paparazzi and models among the alien landscape. Smooth, white rock sloped gently at our feet while the horizon stretched in the back. This was the stuff that made bands look good on CD covers. If only it didn’t also feel like we were closer to the summer sun…
Because the first attraction (Sky Hike) had a long wait time, the V’s floated on pedal-powered boats down a lake. Nearby, a large paddleboat left the dock to explore the river beyond the trees. Afterwards, we had run out of energy so we decided to replenish it by eating on pizza and burgers at “The Marketplace.” It was plain, theme park-ish food. Not great. Better-looking restaurants seemed to dot the landscape, but we never got the time.
Then, I did the coolest, scariest thing ever—”Sky Hike”. Every roller coaster bearing my butt impression couldn’t compare to the thrill of Sky Hike. On this four-floored ropes course, you begin by strapping on safety equipment with the all-important, life-cradling, rope-with-a-ball-at-the-end-thingy (I’ll call it a harness). Then, you climb the stairs to what level you want to conquer and enter your harness ball to the overhead gutter. After that, you are stepping lightly over 6-inch planks, balancing from boards that rotate in the wind, and holding your balance on a swinging tightrope with one hand gripping the harness at your back.
“Oh, Pyra has a safety harness, what’s so scary about that?” Even though you know you can’t fall to your death, you don’t want to test the durability of that harness by slipping from the ropes. Gravity kept threatening to make me slip, and perhaps I relied on the safety harness too much—my hands were numb in the end—but I went on two different levels before tiring out. Then, I looked jealously at 10-year old boys shooting past me on the ropes. You have to throw lucky charms at Daddy V for completing the highest fourth level.
Finally, the V’s shot in and out of “The Barn” before it closed for the night—it looked like a place where you could earn points for gathering all these balls, climbing to the higher levels, then doing all these activities with the balls that including shooting and throwing the balls in devices at the people below. Somehow, we also made it to the last train ride for the summer and rode it around the watching Stone Mountain as it grew dark.
By then, a blanket of people had covered the lawn in front of the three, carved generals for the evening lasershow. With varying music, dancing laser lights, fireworks, and images projected onto the stone mountain, the show was… decent. I think it went on for 30 minutes, but it seemed to drag on and on. The themes leapt from jock jams, to touring Georgia, to American pride. I guess it’s more popular as a background to families holding a picnic.
In conclusion, KEEP YOUR BUTT IN STONE MOUNTAIN FOR AT LEAST 7 HOURS. I wish we had more time to experience everything offered. I caught glimpses of demonstrators creating glass bottles, hiking trails up the mountain side, classic shops, and more activities. Reviews from TripAdvisor.com complained that Stone Mountain was an overcrowded theme park with rude employees that lost its former southern feel. I disagree. I didn’t treat Stone Mountain as a theme park, and in return, it delivered great outdoor memories. Click on my pictures to see my photo album.