- By Mary Caldwell For the AJC
Stone Mountain Park, which encompasses the largest exposed mass of granite in the world, is one of Atlanta's most enduring landmarks and tourist attractions.
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The park, based in Stone Mountain, Georgia, features 3,200 acres of geology, land and history, including the iconic Stone Mountain, which displays the controversial memorial carving depicting three Confederate heroes of the Civil War −Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and Lt. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.
From its beginnings as a meeting and ceremonial place for Native Americans to its emergence as a major tourist resort in the 1850s, Stone Mountain Park has continued to grow.
The natural attraction also offers 15 miles of wooded nature trails, the Grist Mill and Covered Bridge and a 363-acre lake for anglers. In addition to its natural wonders, Stone Mountain Park’s year-round highlights include the Summit Skyride, a high-speed Swiss cable car with views atop Stone Mountain, and the Confederate Hall Historical and Environmental Education Center.
For more on Stone Mountain Park hours, location and tickets, click here.
The following are six can’t-miss events that are held at Stone Mountain each year:
Easter sunrise services
For the 74th year, Stone Mountain will host Easter sunrise services, an event that attracts thousands. Two non-denominational services will be held simultaneously, at the top and bottom of the mountain, at 7 a.m. April 1. Park gates and the Summit Skyride open at 4 a.m., and visitors are encouraged to allow plenty of time for the extra crowds.
If you come in a church van or bus, admission is free.
Memorial Day Weekend
Stone Mountain will celebrate Memorial Day from May 25-28 with a salute to the troops, laser show and fireworks nightly. Attractions are open from 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m., and the laser show with an extended fireworks finale has music and is specially choreographed to honor the troops.
Active and retired military personnel can receive one free Adventure Pass with a valid ID (Common Access Card, DD Form 1173, DD form 2A, DD214 or Georgia Veteran's Driver's License). They'll also receive up to 30 percent off each pass for immediate family members and 20 percent off food or merchandise. Parking admission isn't included.
Yellow Daisy Festival
The Yellow Daisy Festival has grown from a modest arts and crafts show to become a four-day event that's received multiple tourism awards. It attracts more than 400 artists and crafters from throughout the country to display their works. You'll be able to purchase arts and crafts, enjoy live entertainment, view demonstrations and sample festival foods.
The festival will be held 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 6 and 7; 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 9. Admission is free with paid parking.
A Tour of Southern Ghosts
Hear tales of Southern ghosts as you walk along the lantern-lit paths of Stone Mountain's Historic Square grounds. Each night has a different cast of six storytellers, so you can return on multiple nights to hear new stories.
The tour will be held on select dates from Oct. 12-28, just in time for the Halloween season. The first tour begins at 7 p.m., new tours start every 10 minutes. Separate tickets must be purchased from ART Station starting in the fall, and a $15 Stone Mountain parking permit is needed.
Stone Mountain Highland Games
For more than 40 years, Stone Mountain has hosted its Highland Games for Scots and those who want to be a "Scot for the Day." Athletic events, piping and drumming, harping, dancing and other activities will be featured.
The games will be held 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 20 and 21. An additional event ticket is required, and it can be purchased in the fall.
Native American Festival and Pow Wow
The annual Native American Festival and Pow Wow is the largest Native American gathering in Georgia and was named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. It showcases Native American culture through dance, music, storytelling, authentic craft demonstrations and more.
The festival will be held Nov. 1-4. Hours are from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Nov. 1-2, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Nov. 3 and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Nov. 4.
The festival is included in all-attractions Adventure Pass tickets, or you can buy tickets for the festival only for $15 plus tax at the park.
Tickets and hours
Daily parking passes are $15 per vehicle per day, or you can buy an annual parking pass for one vehicle for $40. Adventure Passes through March 4, 2018 include Snow Mountain. Adventure Pass prices will change after March 4. Special events may have separate ticketing.
Stone Mountain Park gates are open daily from 5:00 a.m. to midnight. Attraction hours vary. Visit the park’s calendar page for attraction hours before making a visit.
How to get there
Stone Mountain is located at 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. For directions, visit http://www.stonemountainpark.com/Directions.
From Downtown/Midtown Atlanta (via I-85)
Take I-85 North to I-285 East. Once on I-285 East, take Exit 39B, the U.S. Hwy 78 East (Snellville/Athens) exit. Travel 7.7 miles and take exit 8, the Stone Mountain Park Main Entrance. Follow the exit ramp to the East Gate entrance of Stone Mountain Park.
From Downtown Atlanta (via I-20)
Take I-20 East to I-285 North. Once on I-285 North, take Exit 39B, the U.S. Hwy 78 East (Snellville/Athens) exit. Travel 7.7 miles and take exit 8, the Stone Mountain Park Main Entrance. Follow the exit ramp to the East Gate entrance of Stone Mountain Park.
From Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
When exiting the Airport, follow signs to I-285. When you get to I-285, take I-285 East (towards Augusta). Follow I-285 to exit 39-B, the U.S. Hwy 78 East (Snellville/Athens) exit. Travel 7.7 miles and take exit 8, the Stone Mountain Park Main Entrance. Follow the exit ramp to the East Gate entrance of Stone Mountain Park.
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