Campground Review: Alta Mons Campground, Shawsville, VA
A Shenandoah Valley goldmine! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5wV2aoJo
•close to Salem/Roanoke
•clean and cared for
•limitations of use during youth camps
•some “amenities” unavailable to campground users
I wish I would have found this campground four years earlier! We find ourselves in the Salem/Roanoke, VA area each spring for my daughter’s collegiate athletic post-season play. Finding a campground with a showerhouse within a half hour drive to the stadium is limited…and noisy, as they often are perched along one (or more) highways and wedged in a small valley between mountains.
Enter Alta Mons Campground! Tucked away in Shawsville, VA just outside Christiansburg. www.altamons.org
Alta Mons Campground enjoys a rich history, which I enjoy uncovering by talking with staff and locals. Two such Springs brought folks from near and far to gain benefit from their apparent “healing” spring waters. These were huge resorts complete with lavish hotels to pamper such guests during a bygone era. Nearby was Allegheny Springs and this, Crockett Springs (owned by…you guessed it…the Crockett family).
Lore has it an ailing Shawnee Indian Brave, injured during battle, healed himself via the water from these Springs. These very spring waters then shipped the world over for their medicinal properties. A campground staff member shared that the waters actually flow from or through an arsenic mine and was believed the arsenic cured cancer. The hotel resort no longer exists, but there are a few old buildings and log cabins that dot the property.
In the late 50’s, the Roanoke United Methodist Association began purchasing tracts of land and ultimately transformed Crockett Springs into Alta Mons Campground. The name Alta Mons meaning “high mountains.”
It should noted that there is s differentiation between the actual campground and the youth camp. Of greater note, during youth camp weeks most of the land, trails, falls and streams are off-limits to RV and tent campers. Wisdom says to call ahead and inquire, lest you be disappointed. This particular year youth camps run weekdays from a June 24-Mid August, so there is plenty of availability.
Camping here midweek during shoulder seasons…we enjoy the camp to ourselves…literally. We are the sole campers of this paradise midweek. The weekend saw two RV camp closer to the bathhouse. Though the RV/Camper sites across the Allegheny Springs Road along the river filled up. As with most mountain/valley campgrounds, you do hear some sporadic local traffic noise during quiet hours. I have an uncanny knack of camping the same times and locales of area Scout Troops and this was no exception. They enjoyed a separate camping area on the opposite side of the creek…having fun while learning of the great outdoors.
There are 37 RV sites with water and electric, and 7 tent sites (along a creek). With the exception of tent site 7, no foliage separates or secludes one site from the next. RV sites are $25 nightly, tent sites $15. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table. There is one bathhouse…clean and well-stocked but small…possessing only two shower stalls. I can only imagine most campers are cooled off in the streams and falls.
In addition to the bathhouse, there are a couple portable outhouses in the camping area. Several pavilions are throughout the grounds.
Various activity areas exist…basketball court, volleyball court, horseshoe pit, playground, catch and release bait pond (loaded with fish lined up to be caught), interpretive trail. The pool and high-ropes course are by contract only, so I don’t expect admittance for campers.
A church building was built in the early 70’s at the front of the entrance and is not part of the camp…and you’ll either enjoy or be tolerant of the early afternoon chimes.
Being adjoined to a youth camp…read, know and follow the campground rules and restrictions
.The property trails are open to the public. Visitors have available parking and must sign-in to use the trails. Most come to see Stiles Falls. Stiles Falls derives it’s name from the untimely demise of a young Confederate Navy soldier who fell to his death while horsing around at its top. I would put the hike to the falls moderate to strenuous with three creek crossings and some boulder scampers…give yourself an hour each direction from the parking lot.
The first bear of the season was spotted the morning we arrived and promptly skidaddled back into the wooded mountains. Song birds are prolific and wake you early with their welcomed chorus. The chortle of raccoon was heard but none spotted, as the cackle and call of elusive turkey. Surprisingly, I was unable to find any reptiles.
Bring your bug spray, mosquitos here swarm you in apocalyptic proportion at nightfall. Also be prepared for rain, lush green meadows and sod farms give indication of ample rainfall.
The Alts Mons staff are exceedingly helpful, pleasant and eager to answer any question. Plan ahead…I’m told weekends are usually sold out…I can see why!
A wonderfully tranquil campground that I would highly recommend.
Product Review: Brunton Echo Pocketscope 7x18
Brunton Echo Pocket Scope 7x18
•High Density Bak-4 Prism Glass
•Multi-coated High Contrast Glass
Field of View-181 ft at 1,000 yards
Exit Pupil 2.4
Eye Relief 12mm
Weight: 1.8 oz.
•Echo pocket scope
“Let nothing stand in the way of adventure” is Brunton’s catch phrase.
The diminutive size and feather-light weight of the Brunton Echo Pocket Scope surely won’t stand in the way of any adventure! You won’t be aware of its presence until you are ready to use it.
As a Review Ranger, the Brunton Echo Pocketscope https://www.brunton.com/collections/optics-1/products/echo-pocket-scope-greenwas provided by the manufacturer for review.
There are those that resist bringing certain items into the field based on size, weight and durability. Oftentimes magnified optics are one such item. Unless you are a bonafide birdwatcher or hunter…which high quality optics are the first thing in your kit. But in the case of the Brunton Echo Pocketscope, you have no viable excuses. Brunton’s warranty claim is strong…”buy it, try it, bust it, return it-no questions asked.” Can’t argue with that.
Someone might argue that 7x18 isn’t a powerful enough offering. Depending on its application, that argument might be accurate. But for the weekend explorer or the ultra-light thru-hiker stowing this minuscule lightweight into a pack or pocket would be unnoticeable until you desired to see an object 7x closer than your naked eye.
In layman’s terms, that first number is magnification and the second number is the front objective size (diameter in millimeters). So with this particular 7x18 monocular, 7 being the magnification…as stated, it will bring objects 7 times closer than the naked eye. The 18 mm objective is fairly small which limits both light transmission for low light conditions (dawn and dusk), and your field of view.
The Brunton Echo Pocketscope also provides a rubber diopter ring to adjust clarity for optimal viewing of the subject matter. Brunton does make other monoculars with both greater magnification (in fact, one model has a zoom feature) and larger objectives.
Brunton utilizes BAK-4 prisms, which simply put, incorporate higher quality glass resulting in sharper images from edge to edge. A nice touch for a tiny, inexpensive package.
A monocular can offer a challenge to those raised solely on binoculars. Though I may prefer the ease, comfort and stability of binoculars…I have used monoculars an entire career for discreet observation and appreciate the advantages.
The lanyard and case are nothing to write home about and I wouldn’t place my full trust in them, such as lashing the case to my pack or anticipating the lanyard to maintain its retention integrity for too long.
I like Brunton’s Echo Pocketscope and look forward to using it a great deal on the trail. It fits nicely into my backpack’s hipbelt pocket for immediate access.
Nearly unnoticeable, I hiked a beautiful 6 mile river gorge trail with lanyard about my wrist and the Pocketscope between my first and second finger.
As inexpensive as you can find the Brunton Echo Pocketscope online, it’s kinda silly not to have one.
@RoarksVentures has been to this park multiple times since January of 2018. It is actually one of our favorites. The staff has been kind and welcoming. The conversations started around the warmth of the hot tub have led to continued friendships long after our wheels have left the city.
With the skyline spotted by the leaves of vibrant Palm trees you get a sense that you are camping in a sort of desert oasis. That is, until you hear the roar of the cars on the busy freeway right across the street. Depending on the side of the park you end up camping in determines the volume that you hear that rumble.
Cell coverage is fantastic here allowing for mobile workers, RV movie streamers, and daytime internet explorers to meet all their needs and wants.
The rows are lined with palm trees and full of walkers, joggers and slow time strollers. The people all wave warmly whether they have met you before or not. Along with that the park offers a variety of social events including line dancing, swap meets, ice cream socials and more.
With such close proximity to Joshua Tree National park within a 45 minute drive, an hour to LA, and 20 minutes to down town Palm Springs there is no shortage of quality exploring for any type.
The one knock, other than the freeway is that there has been some increased homeless activity in the tree line that flanks the park. Their used to be a little fence you could walk through to let your dogs run and play. That gate is now locked with a no trespassing sign. I enjoyed running out in the sand dunes in that area and came across a hideout that had several books, which I imagine were stolen from the resort's well stocked library and a gas generator that you wonder if it was stolen from somebody who didn't lock up their belongings at their campsite.
All the same, the park does the best they can and often has a security patrol come through the park every once in awhile to make sure all is well. All that said, I never feel unsafe or worried here. The laughter from the rowdy pool volleyball games puts you at ease.
I already have plans to come back and look forward to doing so. It is still one of my favorite parks. Maybe it could be yours too.
We've now stayed here 3 times, and each time was amazing! The best sunsets and sunrises. It's a huge campground! Even when it's full you still have plenty of space! The rocks are huge - fun and easy to climb on! We've seen coyotes near by, an owl in the rocks near one of the campsites, and we've heard bobcats in the middle of the night (they don't sound anything like you think they would, look it up!). This is such a great place. We love the entire park!
Sipsey is one of the real jewels of Alabama for backpacking and you really feel like you are in another world while wandering though these woods. There are so many different trail loops and through each you can see lots of different streams and waterfalls. The major advantage to backpacking in Sipsey is that there are tons and tons of campgrounds. You hike along the river and almost every quarter mile you come across a set up campground and each is more beautiful than the last. We did a backpacking trip with friends here in the middle of the summer and it sure was hot. Luckily though the rivers made for a great way to cool off. Just make sure to check the weather in advance cause the rivers can be dried up the wrong time of year or you can get heavy rain. The weather in Alabama can change at any moment.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Tentsile Connect Tree Tent. I got it as a graduation gift and it is one of the coolest tents I have ever used.
After using it both car camping and backpacking my favorite things about the tent are: