Date of Stay: March, 2016
The park itself is simply beautiful. The views of the river, the miles of multi-use trails, staff, camp hosts, ability to find solitude... all wonderful. But the campsites and campground design left us wondering if the designer of the sites was a bit off their rocker. Some sites are perfect back-in design. But the depths varied greatly. Given the one way loop road, if you follow the rules, you might have to make a 110 degree turn to back in, and then jog again. Our site was okay, but I felt sorry for some drivers. All sites have sewer service (because of the karst geology and potential for spring contamination). But most sewer stub-outs were at the front of the campsite, and many require water to flow from an RV sewer outlet uphill (because of the height above ground level of the stub-out). Water and electric worked great. All sites, save two (ADA), are packed gravel and sand. We had to use levelers on one side of the RV. Most of the campers were oriented to kayaking and canoeing, others were passing through on I-10. Sprint phone worked well, data was slow in campground, but LTE by the river. About 4 to 6 CSX trains pass near the park during, including one or two at night. Didn't bother us (we live near crossings at home, used to it). OTA DTV included solid reception of CBS, NBC, ABC, and a number of minor channels. Satellite users struggled because of the trees. In the campground, buffering vegetation on the inside island of the loop had been cleared, causing all sites to be in view of one another. I've never seen a Florida state park clear out native vegetation like this before. As for recreation, there are more gorgeous trails than advertised (mostly fire management roads). Also, the old US 90 bridge can be hiked/biked to connect to the Florida Trail. Follow the blue blazes. It was a great one time, mini-vacation for us, but we would choose another park when in the area again.
Date of Stay: November, 2015
We visit Open Pond in Conecuh National Forest every few years. There have been no changes with regard to the quality or quality of amenities, both of which are good to excellent. Unlike our last visit, which was on a big college football weekend (TVs and radios blaring from noon to 11 PM), we camped on Thanksgiving week. It was peaceful and relaxing. About half to two thirds of capacity. Still first come/serve. Pond level was much higher and drought is gone. USFS personnel drove through a few times. Camp hosts friendly. Never saw Covington County SO patrolling for unoccupied sites as someone mentioned several years ago. Nearest small country store is now six miles away, nearer store has closed. OTA antenna picked up 8 stations. Sprint phone was two or one bars, slow data. Still one of our favorite places to get away to.
Date of Stay: June, 2015
This beautiful state park in a typical eastern oak and hickory deciduous forest ecosystem sits atop a Paleozoic gneiss ridge that is the Eastern Continental Divide at over 3000 feet. While downtown Clayton was in the 90s, it was 79F at our site midday. The breeze never stopped. For our small trailer in tow, there was no problem coming up to the park from US 441/23. And although there was one fiver in the park, there were no motor homes. If you are driving a large RV, my suggestion is to make a dry run up the road in a car or truck first, or talk with someone familiar with the winding road. No turnarounds, no shoulders. As for the campsites, they are level, all back in, some sites extremely long, others quite short. No sites truly have a broad mountain view, at least not while the trees are in leaf. For a state park, the sites are too often quite close together; privacy can be an issue. All sites are covered in fine crushed rock. Hookups worked well, although our neighbor had a wicked underground leak at the faucet, and cable TV did not work as promised (cut line, never repaired, and no one at the office mentioned it before we set up, ugh). Over the air DTV reception was excellent with 27 channels and all networks received. Sprint service (voice and data) was terrible. WiFi available at trading post and visitor center. Hosts and staff were great. Steep drop offs at many campsites, and an abundance of poison ivy. Hosts told us to beware of copperheads. No ticks. Black bear warnings are posted, but we saw none. No playground for kids. Park primarily seems to be a cool weekend getaway for people coming in from Atlanta and upstate South Carolina. Hiking seems to be the major focus, and the trails were great and extensive. Weekdays were definitely less busy, although noise was not an issue in the least. Was one of the most relaxing campgrounds we have ever stayed at because of temperatures and shade.
Date of Stay: April, 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed our three night stay. Quiet at night. Can be noisy by day, with a siren here or there, and air traffic noise from the nearby naval air station, but that can include Blue Angel practice sessions. Some campsites are adequately sized, while others are suitable only for small RVs or tents. Carefully review pictures on the Florida Parks website before choosing. Some sites shady, others more open in this scrub oak/pine ecosystem. Most sites are sandy or packed shell, while a few are concrete padded. Restrooms spotless, well maintained. Electric and water worked fine. Excellent DTV reception of all networks. Sprint phone service was 5 bar with full 4G LTE. Park staff friendly, helpful. Good wildlife viewing opportunities on boardwalks and trails. Coyotes and owls at night, deer and birds by day. Snakes are present, including water moccasins in swampy areas, beware. No-see-um's (midges) could be pesky in morning and evening hours. Good park for casual bicycling in campground and main park road. Park's beaches are located on a sandy back bay, not the Gulf of Mexico, so dangerous currents are not a factor. Good kayaking waters. Camping fees include free entry to Tarkiln Bayou and Perdido Key State Parks. Lots of well-maintained picnic shelters and pavilions would allow for great family reunions. Two major grocery stores, fast food, seafood restaurants, and a library are within a mile or two. We will return again.
Date of Stay: November, 2014
This rural campground is typical Corps of Engineers as far as design is concerned. Check-in was prepaid through Recreation.gov, so it was fast and efficient. Hosts were friendly and offered good pointers to nearby restaurants. There are three camping sections: Old Mill Road (Sites 1-50), Marina View (Sites 51-71), and Pine Island (Sites 72-104). Almost all sites are back-in, and waterfront (although there is often some distance of separation from the water). Old Mill Road has no playground, no laundry, and is the most forested environment along a backwater of the lake. Marina View is the sunniest environment, and is also on the backwater. It has a laundry room for $1.25 per load), and a children's playground. Pine Island is open treed and semi-sun, and faces the lake, looking west into Alabama, and in my opinion had the best views. It has a laundry and children's playground, in addition to a concave sandy beach. Sites 95-104 in Pine Island are walk-in tent sites, but still have water and electric. There was a large and tall seawall along sites 101 to 104, could be dangerous for children. We stayed in Pine Island in November, and it was windy and cold. Would opt for Old Mill Road if we came again in colder months to avoid the wind. Bathrooms and showers were spotless. Sprint service was weak, but doable in Pine Island. No data service. But as we moved to Marina View and Old Mill Road, service dramatically improved to 3 bar and 3G. DTV service was outstanding, with PBS, CBS, ABC, and NBC, along with other minor networks, easily available on the batwing antenna with little turning necessary. Many sites are somewhat close together for a COE park, so privacy was not at its best. Most of the sites will have you back down hill. This causes stormwater to drain to the concrete pad, and created a muddy veneer across our pad. Roadways in the park were in very good condition, sites could use an asphalt resurfacing. Each site has water, sewer, and electric. We had no issues with any of the services. Nearby shotgun hunting was noisy in the morning and evening, breaking the quiet at times. Hiking trail around the pond was nice. No dumpsters in any camping loop, only one dumpster area located near the entrance station, about 1/2 mile away from our site, a bit inconvenient, but nothing troublesome. A bit of advice: Given the location of the swimming beach and playground in Pine Island, in the warm months I could imagine sites 83-94 becoming a circus, with people walking through those campsites to access the beach. We would camp here again if in the area, but would opt for Old Mill Road loop in winter, and sites 72-81 in Pine Island in the summer to avoid or take advantage of lake breezes, respectively.
Date of Stay: June, 2014
This campground is in a mountain desert setting at 5000 feet and is a gem. It is a great place to enjoy being in an arid environment without the intense heat you may encounter at lower elevations. Campsites were asphalt paved, picnic table aluminum, and usually spacious around each site. Hookups worked fine. High pressure water, so be sure to use a pressure regulator! Some sites were quite sunny, while others had a nice compliment of trees. Bathrooms and showers were simply not clean. Heavily used by tenters, and too few facilities. Cspire phone service was zero bars and zero data. No TV service on the batwing. The roadways for average bicycling were not extensive, so this is not the best casual bicycling experience. Hiking is much better with the extensive trail system. We were initially given a site near the campground entrance turn and we were not happy campers. All campground and scenic drive traffic passed that point. We felt like we were camped at a highway rest area. Additionally, on our first night, a loud group of some 20 people came in at 11 PM and set up tents for the next two hours, talking at volume as if it were the afternoon. I went down to the lodge to complain about the noise, but park police would not answer to repeated calls by the lodge night clerk. Frustrating. We asked to be moved the next morning, and we ended up at the end of our loop in a desert mountain scene paradise. Needed extensions on my hoses and electric cord. Two bird blinds make for excellent birdwatching. Wildlife in the campground was outrageous and fun to watch. Mule deer and javelina came right through campsites while we were eating dinner with friends at the picnic table. In Fort Davis just four miles away, the grocery store is well stocked, but pricey. Humane Society Thrift Store was worth the time. Went to Alpine to the Museum of the Big Bend on Sul Ross University campus. Excellent museum! McDonald Observatory Star Party was disappointing. Better telescopes exist with our hometown astronomy club. Museum there was not well maintained, with numerous broken exhibits. We would camp here again in a heartbeat.
Date of Stay: June, 2014
Arrived well after dark, and the road from Luling to the park is a dark, narrow road. But, we had scoped the park earlier in the teip, and knew where we were going. Sites are asphalt paved and easy to back in to. Level, although we saw one site on a significant slope. Perfect utilities. Camp host registered us with no hassle. Beautiful tropical forest setting. Had to leave early because of an emergency. Will return again one day to see the CCC structures and hike the wide, beautiful woodland trails.
Date of Stay: June, 2014
We stayed in the "pecan orchard" part of the campground, not the upper portions near the airport runway. I am not sure there is a level site in this campground because it is constructed on a slope. Although the hookups were fine, the sewer connect was placed at an odd location, making connect nearly impossible. We used the dump station instead. A previous reviewer commented on the odd end-to-end pull through/back in sites, and it is peculiar. The design of the campground was developed by someone who knew little about RVs, and there is evidence the city has been attempting to retrofit. We were highly disappointed the pool was not yet opened (half way through June?). Part of the reason we chose this campground was because of the chance to cool off. Office staff friendly, efficient. Bath house was clean, but someone needed to take some time to clean the cobwebs from the ceiling. Looked like the stuff you hang out on Halloween. A mix of sun and shade, nice. Grassy lawn, with a few grass sticker spurs. Only two Digital TV stations on the antenna from San Antonio, you'll need the cable. C spire phone service was 4 bar 3G. Adjacent ball park practices and games were fun to watch. Nature center with extensive hiking trail system is about 1000 ft away. Speed limit at entrance to park is 70 MPH, so you have to be careful when exiting onto the highway. The LBJ home and Old Tunnel State Park bat watch were great stops for us. Fredericksburg shops were cute, friendly, and pricey. Farmers Market in the town square had some great fresh foods. Nearby laundromat across from the hospital was clean and good place to catch up on clothes.
Date of Stay: June, 2014
This state park is mostly campground. There are some trails around the entrance station where you might avoid the crowd, but for the most part you will always be within sight of people. Since Texas state parks take reservations but not sites, you are in the unknown with regard to what site you will get, so it was annoying being told by the entrance station attendant to pick a site from those available, sight unseen. We picked one, drove in, did not like the site, went back, and picked another. I aked if they had pictures of each site, and the answer was "no". Summary: Check in is cumbersome. Campsites are a narrow strip of asphalt, with a relatively spacious area to spread out in. Sites on the lake side of the road are very open with trees, sometimes open with no trees, and little shrubbery to separate sites. On the non lake side, it appeared campsites had some vegetation separating sites. our site, #81, was superb for birdwatching. Hookups were perfect. Site was sloped, but easily leveled. C Spire phone service was 4 bar 3G. OVer-the-air was terrible with only 3 channels received. Bicycling was okay, running along with traffic on the main park road and through loops. We rented a canoe for $15 per hour, and it was nice out on the lake. Camp store was pricey. Star gazing event was $4 per person, but we did not attend since we already have a a telescope. The best part of being here was the bird life and wildflowers. Roadrunners rule! Cuckoos, vireos, painted buntings, numerous doves, and screech owls were constantly in the campsite. We would camp here again, and try to get site #81 because of the shade, brush, birds, and lizards.
Date of Stay: June, 2014
Nice Corps park, RV sites totally new, level laterally but not necessarily level on the backin. Each site has a metal picnic table and metal roof. Lots of space between sites. Only some sites have shade. Look closely at Recreation.gov when selecting. Cranes Mill Park is primarily a meadow with a few forested pockets. There are several fishing points, and a boatramp, but it was closed due to the drought and low water levels. I am not so sure you could call the campsites "waterfront" because of the height of grass and cacti and distance from the weedy shoreline. Roadways in the park were great for short bicycle rides. Outside the park, the road was hilly, narrow. Neighborhood outside the gate appeared to be downscale, but guard gate apparently limits entry by those who might otherwise cruise through. Windy, and that made even summer evenings pleasant. The park has some not so stellar design problems. If the campground loop circulated counterclockwise, back in sites would have allowed the awning side of campers to face the water. The design on the ground causes service sides to face water. The dump station is on an elevated curb platform, so if the RV dump valves are low, you will need to make water run uphill and into a non standard hole. Frustrating. Finally, the exit out of the RV area has a turn with a culvert very close to the turning radius. Markers warn drivers, apparently a few drivers have cut their campers into the ditch. Nevertheless, we would definitely camp here again. Just bring your sunscreen!
Date of Stay: June, 2014
After driving in the traffic nightmare of the Katy Freeway, we were glad to get to our campsite at this lovely state park. There are numerous camp sites, but only sites 1-40 have full hookups, but only 30 amps. Sites 1-40 are also all pull through. Other sites have water only, and others are tent only. The campgrounds are vast, and forested with open meadows under the trees, making for a lot of shade. Each of the pull-through sites had a picnic table with a mowed area like some type of yard and patio, really unique. Lots of hiking and biking opportunities. Tons of deer. Rich in bird life. Hawks literally picking squirrels out of trees at our campsite. Purchasing a Texas State Parks Pass costs $70, but all future daily entrance fees are waived, and you get four second night 50% discounts, a good value. Staff was friendly. Trucks on I-10 some three miles distant could barely be heard, but were not annoying. Trains can also be heard from nearby Sealy. We bicycled out of the park, past a nice golf course, to visit the San Felipe State Historic Site. Museum was really nice and informative. For supplies, I would suggest a locally owned grocery store in Sealy called Bills. Great produce, meats, and Latino foods. Relaxing place, and we would camp here again.
Date of Stay: June, 2014
This state park is located in a suburban environment. Traffic coming to the park was heavy and at times at a standstill on a Tuesday around 6 PM. Once in the park, we found an open lawn and tall pines environment with lots of available campsites. Relatively quiet. Gated with combo lock for night entry. Host was friendly, and all business. Water and electric worked fine. Trees close to the campsite made it challenging for backing up our RV. Pad was new asphalt paving. Out in the lawn, it was black soil covered by well-mowed grass, and very wet. We could not set up chairs because of the dampness of soil. Bathrooms were spotless, modern, and private. Cspire phone service was four bar 3G. About 40 DTV over the air stations. The "waterfront" campground is nearer to the Tchefuncte River, but they are not truly waterfront. They are located next to a boat ramp. River was in flood and influenced by tides, so the road to the back camping area was covered in about three inches of water. Several nice boardwalk trails available. Lots of insects, but it is June. Numerous upscale suburban restaurants nearby in Madisonville and Mandeville. Beware of online reservations, there is an added fee making it $8 more expensive to camp versus driving in, but you take a risk of not getting the site you want. We will return again to explore the area.
Date of Stay: April, 2014
This Blackwater River State Forest campground specializes in being a campground for the equestrian community. It is a combination campground and horse stable facility. It is accessed via paved and unpaved roads. The campground is level and mostly sunny and grassy with unpaved sites. Reservations are required for campsites and horse stalls (850-957-6161). Very woodsy, and miles of equestrian trails. Also nearby is the put-in site for canoeing on the upper/middle reaches of Big Coldwater Creek, so this is a great base camp for paddling the river, if you can find a way to bring your kayak or canoe back upstream. Nearest store and fuel is about 8 miles away, some come prepared.
Date of Stay: April, 2014
Operated by Blackwater River State Forest, this campground focuses upon the freshwater swimming and wading opportunities available at Krul (often called "Munson") Lake. Campsites are generally level in a beautiful pine forest setting, well separated in most cases, and are paved or clay mixed with gravel in a grassy environment. Bathhouses were quite clean. Campsites are mostly further apart, compared to nearby Bear Lake CG, where everything is crowded and not private. Roads paved throughout. There are two loops within the campground. Access is one mile east of Munson at the junction of SR 4 and CR 191. A staffed pay booth greets you to collect day use or overnight fees. The swimming area is clean and life-guarded. Algal mats are around, but not in the swim area due to the amount of swimming. A large dock allows access completely across an arm of the lake. Interestingly, there is a long boardwalk trail with a replica grist mill (not in operation) and a beautiful suspension bridge over Sweetwater Creek (beautiful sandy bottomed river). There is also a replica sawmill, again not in operation at the time of our visit. No fishing at this lake. CSpire/Sprint phone service was 0 bars/0 data. DTV coverage included CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and some indies. A small store is a mile away (very limited supplies), but there is no gasoline for about 10 miles in any direction. This is our campground of choice for Blackwater River State Forest, and we will come here again.
Date of Stay: April, 2014
Of the two Hurricane Lake campgrounds at Blackwater River State Forest, this is the more developed campground. But although the roads are asphalt paved in the campground itself, the roadways to the campground are graded clay/sand/gravel treks, and they can be a bit potholed after rainy weather. You might want to call ahead for road conditions. The campground is across the lake, but about 5 miles by road, from the primitive Hurricane Lake South CG. Some sites are paved, others sandy gravel, others somewhat grassy. Many sites are adjacent to the lake. No swimming due to alligators. Bathhouse very clean. No C-Spire/Sprint voice or data phone service. DTV caught in the middle of Dothan, Panama City, and Pensacola markets. Quiet, far from civilization. Be sure to bring food and fuel, there is nothing around for miles. We would camp here again, but check on road conditions first.