Stone Mountain offers 'Ready-Set-Camp'

ATLANTA -- If you call yourself a camper but know in your heart that you couldn't tell a tent peg from a table leg, Stone Mountain Park's got your back.

The park recently launched its no-stress camping experience, "Ready-Set-Camp," through which would-be campers can literally get out of their vehicles and start camping.

Ready-Set-Campers simply reserve one of Stone Mountain Park's 422 campsites, and for a price of $99 arrive to find a four-person tent with sleeping pads already in place. And the best part: When the camping adventure is over, campers take their tent and sleeping pads home with them.

"We did a 'soft test' of Ready-Set-Camp last summer to see if there was interest in the program, and our campground director was pleasantly surprised at the response we got without any kind of push," Stone Mountain Public Relations Director Jeanine Jones said. "We're expecting a much bigger splash this summer.

"It's a perfect way to enjoy a 'get-away' vacation without traveling far or spending a lot of money. We're excited about the response we've gotten to the experience so far."

The concept of Ready-Set-Camp, while novel, is simple. Campers reserve a desired spot at the Woodall's "North American Campground Directory" 5W-rated (the prestigious publication's highest rating) campsite, show up and get their camp on. Site rentals range from $25 to $65.

"We want to provide guests with a relaxing camping experience, and it doesn't get much easier than the Ready-Set-Camp option," Stone Mountain Park Director Michael Dombrowski said. "We take care of some of the most stressful elements of camping, notably the tent assembly process."

In addition to a great camping experience at a site complete with all the necessary amenities -- grills, picnic tables, fire rings, heated restrooms, laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi (at select sites), a swimming pool, a children's playground, a sand volleyball court and an on-site general store -- Stone Mountain campers may also opt for Stay & Play packages priced from $129 to $159 over the weekend or starting at $99 during the week.

"The Stay & Play packages are great," Jones said. "In addition to two-night campsite rental, the package includes a bundle of firewood, adventure passes to see the laser show and more than a dozen other attractions at the park and up to four drinks at the Campground Grocery Store.

"Shuttles take the campers from the campground to the park attractions, so it's as simple as can be. And you don't have to worry about your campsite because we have our own police department that patrols 24 hours a day."

Fire and EMS personnel are also available around the clock, and the on-site general store offers groceries, firewood, RV supplies, live bait, LP gas and other camping essentials.

"I watched our staff last weekend, and they're getting pretty good at getting the tents up and getting everything ready for the campers," Jones said. "I also talked to some campers from the area who said they love the fact they're able to camp in Atlanta's backyard but still feel like they were able to get away for vacation.

"It's a really fun experience for campers of all levels. In fact, if you didn't grow up camping and want to give it a try, Ready-Set-Camp will help you with the baby steps."

Stone Mountain Park, which is listed in "Frommer's 500 Places to Visit With Your Kids Before They Grow Up," is located 16 miles east of downtown Atlanta. It is available by taking Interstate 285 to Exit 39B, Highway 78 East. The park is off Exit 8 on Highway 78.

Ready-Set-Camp packages are available exclusively online through the park's website www.stonemountainpark.com.