Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap, NC

Driving home after our first trip to Stone Mountain State Park near Roaring Gap,  NC I was trying to figure out why we had never been to this fabulous campground in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. It wasn't until a week later that I realized: there are so many great places to camp, all within a 3-hour drive from home, in Charlotte, it takes time to check that campsite box.

Straddling Wilkes and Alleghany counties, Stone Mountain is a massive granite dome that looms over the 13,747 acre park which is bordered by the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north and the Thurmond Chatham Game Lands to the west. The park was established in 1969 and designated a National Natural Landmark in 1975 by the National Park Service.

Just the facts:

  • Camping: There are 90 campsites for tents and RVs located on three different loops. Each site has a tent pad, picnic table, and fire pit. Drinking water and two bathhouses with hot showers are available. Electric and water hookups are located on some sites and a dump station for registered RV campers is adjacent to the campground. The campground and bathhouses are open year round.
  • Hiking Trails: There are more than 18 miles of trails that visit Stone Mountain summit, water falls, a historic homestead, dramatic overlooks and trout streams ranging in difficulty from moderate to strenuous.
  • Rock Climbing: Climbing is permitted in designated areas on the cliffs of Stone Mountain. Because of the dangers of rock climbing and rappelling, climbing is not recommended for beginners unless they are accompanied by an experienced climber. Climbers must register at the Visitors center.
  • Fishing: There are more than 20 miles of streams designated trout waters. Rainbow and brown trout dominate the lower parts of the streams while brook trout inhabit the higher, cooler stretches of water.

How to Get There:

Linda & Bill (and their feline kids)

Linda sits in her camping chair with her cat, Lucy, on her lap. A rescue from a litter of 6, Lucy suffers from a brain tumor, which leaves her totally dependent for survival on Linda and her husband Bill. The vet told Linda to put Lucy down, but Linda is not a person to give up on any being. 
A 23 year, end-of-life care giver for her grandmother, father, and mother, Linda does not give up on anybody. Her mother’s dying wish was to leave her daughter enough money to be able to buy an RV and go travel the country, since Linda and Bill’s care giving rendered them home bound for 2 ½ decades. A year after her mother’s death, Linda and Bill are finally executing her mother’s wish. 

We caught up with Linda and Bill at Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina. They were on their maiden voyage from DeLeon Springs, Florida, in their brand new 37 foot Georgetown by Forest River trailer. Their first error was to leave the bag of RV manuals on their kitchen table, noticing it too far down the road to turn around. Luckily, says Bill, you can get help with almost anything on YouTube. 

Linda and Bill spent a long time deciding upon what RV to purchase, and the one that they selected is a beauty. Linda has built cat carrier beds into the bunk beds, as well as re-upholstered the RV furniture with cat-claw, resistant fabric. Other upgrades and changes will happen as they figure out how to live comfortably in their new RV home. 

Adjusting to the slow pace of camping, non-city attractions, and some home amenities has both Linda and Bill calibrating their new lifestyle. It seems as though cat Lucy is not fazed by her new world! Bill says, “I enjoy the outdoors and like to fish and hunt. I also like getting up and not having a lot to do and not having to think about whether or not I need to cut the grass or water the plants. Everything that is important to me is with us: my wife, cats, and basic things. This is a nice break.”

For the moment, Linda is just grateful to sit still for a couple of weeks and find out how to care for herself. “Independence is the first thing that comes to mind and having the opportunity to do things on my own now that I’m not a care giver to my family. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d sell this RV in a heartbeat to get my mother back,” she says with eyes tearing up, “but we’re going to make this thing work.” 

It seems as though Linda and Bill are well on their way to making the RV world work for them, learning about camp grounds, RV maintenance, and living, and most importantly, how to fit right into the camping life. That includes meeting and talking with a great variety of people from many parts of the world.