Camping near Atlanta

When you can’t fly across an ocean, you seek recreation in more pedestrian pursuits, so this Spring and Summer, we’ve gone camping more than we did in the prior 10 years combined. A friend from undergrad named Charles invited my family to join his at Stone Mountain’s campgrounds, so we did; it was the first time we’ve spent more than a single night in a tent at a campground. He had lots of camping stuff–a camp stove, camp chairs, and camp coffee maker burner things. We had a tent and some fishing poles.

We also brought our dogs–Scout with us; Bear with him. They made sure no one walked near us without our knowing about it immediately.

Stone Mountain is somewhat controversial these days for its enormous carvings of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson, but its campgrounds were a tranquil escape from the unrest in Atlanta, just 20 minutes to our west.

The children caught more than 10 bream with worms or sausage chunks; they made new friends with the boys camping with their dads in the spot next to us. We hiked to an old mill and around a lake beside the mountain. We decided we’d have to camp again, soon, and that’s exactly what we did.

Father’s Day weekend, we were supposed to be concluding family Space Camp in Huntsville before visiting my parents on Lake Guntersville, but the former was cancelled, of course. We opted to try out the newly renovated and expanded campground at Buck’s Pocket state park in Alabama (about 2.5 hours from Atlanta)–our first family camping trip without an Eagle Scout or other, more-experienced-than-we-are, additional family. We stopped at the Cabela’s off I-75 on the way, thinking we should get one of those “jet burning” coffee maker things Charles had, and I wanted a Moki step for reaching my roof rack carrier, but we left with over $600 worth of cots, air mattresses, a camp stove, an extra dome tent (for the kids), a canopy, and other stuff I hope we get to use enough to be worth the money.

We got the last camping spot with water and power and were the only ones with tents instead of an RV, but we loved it. The showers/bathhouse was a short walk away. Once again, the children made friends with other kids nearby, watching a movie on an outdoor screen and enjoying the camp playground not far from us. We hiked the next day before seeing my folks for Father’s Day.

My bride asked if I’m becoming more “outdoorsy” in my old age, and perhaps I am. Or, maybe I’m pivoting from hotels and lodges in foreign countries and national parks out of necessity. Regardless, leaving normalcy for a weekend in the woods is restorative to my soul, and now that we have all this fancy new equipment, I hope we continue to explore state parks’ campgrounds (particularly if there’s no college football season this Fall).

In fact, I know we will, since our zip lining adventure at Guntersville State Park had a thunderstorm-caused cancellation, so we hope to go camp there in August and use our voucher to explore its tree canopies from steel cables high above!


  1. That sunset was impossible. How weird that we are for real too old to sleep on someone’s floor, but we’ll volunteer to sleep on the ground outside + pay for the privilege?? Can hardly wait to go back and do it some more.

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