A long-time Alabama climbing institution, Sand Rock has had a colorful and sometimes dubious history. For many years, it seemed that lowlifes were in direct competition with climbers. Sand Rock was a destination for ATV riders, drunken late-night partiers and other examples of southern stereotypes. Broken beer bottles and overturned portapotties were common sights, and the cliffs were despoiled with spray-painted graffiti.
In recent years, the aesthetics of Sand Rock have vastly improved. Ownership of the site was taken over by Cherokee County which turned it into a county park. Sand Rock now has on-site managers, improved parking, picnic areas, a playground for kids and a nice bathhouse. Much of the litter and graffiti has been cleaned up.
Admission to Sand Rock is currently $5 per car. Camping is abundant near the parking lot and along the entrance road; be sure to register at the park office if you plan to camp.
This campground was awesome! Great trees for hammocking, bathrooms were well-kept and clean, and it's right next to the crag. I really enjoyed coming here, and I would recommend it! My only complaint would be that the bathrooms are a little far from some sites, but in the grand scheme of things that is not a huge deal.
They have reasonable fees, clean showers and toilets, clean primitive campsites, and a convenient store with a friendly staff always willing to help out campers. The location in general makes it my favorite local place to camp, rock climb, and hike.
I stumbled upon this campground after changing route on my trip. There wasn't a lot of information online, so I wasn't sure what to expect. This place blew me away!! Campsites are only $10 for the night which is truly a bargain when you see what you get. The campground is used mainly for rock climbing and the rock formations are incredible. You are way up on a mountain and the views are spectacular. You can pick a spot right next to a mountain rock or pick a spot with views for miles and miles that are breathtaking. The bathrooms and showers were close by and clean.
Beautiful site, campsites to choose from already set up if you want. Large rock outcroppings and a beautiful view off the mountain. Very clean bathrooms with heated showers. Very friendly staff. I didn't get a chance to walk the trails, but I thoroughly enjoyed my night's stay, and will return.
Although this was not my first time at this campground I have not had a chance to stay over night here previously so I was excited about being able to wake up and climb right at our campground. It is privately run and targeted primarily towards climbers so this made for an amazing setup. The fee is around $10 per car/night (we got the car fee and not the RV fee) which is around what most places cost these days and when you arrive you drive around and can set up your site anywhere there is a firepit. We chose to sleep back in the bouldering area where you are in the shade and surrounded by rocks but you can also camp out near the ledge giving you a view from your tent. Even if all of those sites are taken up there is still some dispersed camping in the center of the road loop where you are free to set up a hammock or tent and sleep.
Since we had the chance to camp in the incredible Escape Campervan we opted for more privacy and easy climbing access. It was not too hard to find an open level spot and we got right to putting up the hammocks and building a fire. Camping in the van made the whole process a lot easier so we were able to get right to cooking dinner (tempeh tacos) and hanging out/relaxing. Although it was one of the busy times of year for camping in this area and most of the nicest campgrounds were taken the atmosphere at the campground was very relaxed and we didn’t have an issue with other groups being too loud or feeling cramped. The rocks really make it feel super secluded. After dinner my wife and I scrambled our way up the rock that bordered our campground and had an open view of the sky to look at the stars. I am not sure if we were just lucky or if there was a meteor shower but I swear I saw at least 5 shooting stars. (I don’t know if we paid extra for this or if it was included)
Our first day we spent the morning climbing around our site both top rope and bouldering while enjoying our fresh coffee and shakshuka for breakfast. Most of the walls around the park are either bolted for sport climbing or at least have bolts and biners for top rope. You still need to make sure and have someone experience do any set up since you are climbing at your own risk. After tiring out we hopped in the van and headed to a nearby river, the Little River Canyon Mouth Park, where we made lunch with leftovers from dinner since our kitchen came with us. We then put our kayaks in and paddled up river. This was a great area to hang out and cool off in the water and it was cool to see such a diverse group of Alabamians enjoying the space. The only downside is that it doesn’t have any camping but luckily the drive from the campground was pretty quick.
We finished off the day with Ethiopian food for dinner including injera, lentils, and a cabbage and potato dish. After sleeping in our final morning and enjoying our breezy shaded rooftop sleeper we explored more of the park and did some climbing at a different area. Since the camping fee includes day use and since there is no site reservation you can hang out as long as you want the day you leave.
Overall, if you have any interest in climbing or just want a laid back campground where you can get an amazing view and do some hiking I highly suggest checking out this little known gem. You can also turn it into a weekend adventure and head up to little river canyon while you are in the area.
- Less well known and less crowded than other camping or climbing areas
- Multiple campground options even if the best ones are full
- Amazing views
- Private and well maintained including clean bathrooms and a covered picnic area
- Free coffee on the weekends
- No site reservation options
- Some sites are very close together
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from unique brands from time to time. At this campground, I got to take an Escape Maverick Campervan our on a test drive. My wife and I do a lot of camping but generally sleep in a tent or hammock and cook our meals on a small camping stove so we were very excited to get an upgrade for the weekend. Make sure to read above about how the Maverick really enhanced our weekend and made so much of the adventure possible. Some of the things that I really loved about the Escape campervans are:
- Adventure possibilities: First off these guys are set up all over the country so you can pick one up and hit the road anywhere that you want to explore without worrying about traveling/flying with pounds of camping gear then also renting a car. They make the whole pickup process super easy and you are then mobile to go anywhere you want. Another major advantage is that you aren’t limited to locations that allow RVs and you also have the freedom to park and sleep in all kinds of places. We took advantage of this by camping right at our climbing site with the luxuries of a bed and kitchen.
- Kitchen for expanding you camp cooking potential: If you read above you heard a little about the ambitious menu we had on this trip but Ill summarize here for those who missed it. We had tempeh tacos with Mexican rice, Shakshuka with vegan sausage, an Ethiopian feast, and finished off the weekend with magnificent morning mush a delicious combination of our leftovers from the weekend. The kitchen made all this possible with its built in stove, pump sink (make sure to park on flat ground), and solar powered fridge (which actually gets really cold). Since one of the challenges of cooking in the back of a van can be that everything is higher up than usual we figured out a trick where you sit on the edge of the bed facing the back and can do all your cutting on the top kitchen counter.
- Best sleep I have ever had while camping: GET THE ROOFTOP SLEEPER!!! It is breezy and wonderful and we are now debating how to go about getting one for our car at home. You have the privacy of being high up but can open up all the windows so you get a nice view and a good airflow. The only thing to be aware of is the rooftop sleepers are somewhat short so my 5’9” length just made it without having to curl up. If you are on the taller side the bed inside the van might be a better bet which our friends said was also wonderfully comfortable.
- I mean look at how cool the paint job is: We made so many new friends on this trip just because everyone wanted to stop and tell us how cool they thought our van looked. Each one is hang painted and they are so unique that its worth asking when you make the reservation which designs are available.
Overall, there were a few minor things that could be improved such as the sink pump mechanism and the addition of plugs for charging but they are such small things in relation to how much fun it is to drive and camp in this van. I can guarantee that it would make any camping trip feel infinitely easier and open up new possibilities of where you can go.
Over the past year my wife and I have gotten much more into rock climbing and particularly into bouldering since we have such great gyms in birmingham. We were very excited to visit Cherokee rock village because of the amazing climbing and the great views. We were not disappointed at all. The climbing seemed to go on and on and you would never run out of top rope, lead, and bouldering routes and the area is well maintained. In terms of camping you pay an additional $5 per car and it is a free for all in terms of where you can set up a site. There is also a pump for drinking water. The camping here is clearly set up for people who want to climb and stay over the night which was perfect for our purpose. There is also a playground for kids and a covered picnic area that could be used for groups. We did some hiking in the rocks and they were impressive to see even without having climbing gear. If you are in the area and willing to take a little drive up the mountain this site is well worth your time.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tried out the new TredAgain Hawthorne Boots. It is really great to have a pair of shoes that can go straight from the office to the trail and the style of these boots are perfect for both situations. Some of the things I really loved about the Hawthorne boots are:
- Style: I initially picked these shoes because I liked how they looked on the website and I was even happier with them when they arrived in the mail. The design and color is very unique and worked with the clothes I wore to the office but also fit in out on the trail. The leather is a dark green and the folds at the top of the laces are very interesting. I also liked how the earthy colors keep them looking clean even when hiking outdoors.
- Comfort: These shoes are made with recycled tire rubber soles, which I discuss more below, and have a very thick and impact absorbent base. When walking around this was a wonderful feature and they were incredibly comfortable. It also makes them very durable across multiple terrains. I would say they are perfect for light trail hiking but probably not suited for any heavier duty trekking.
- Environmental Impact: One of the major pluses to buying shoes from Tredagain is that they make them from recycled tire rubber that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. Being an outdoor enthusiast I am always trying to decrease my waste footprint and these shoes were a great step in that direction.
The shoes do run a little big so maybe go a half size smaller than what you usually wear.
I have camped here at least once every season and gone around 7 times. It's my favorite place to camp! The showers are always clean and warm. There's so many climbing routes that I love. There's near by water falls and cliff jumping called High Falls. I love going to the drive-in movie theatre near by only $15 per vehicle to watch 2 movies! I LOVE THIS PLACE!
Great views ( over looks weiss lake great climbing/exploring nice campsites showers , friendly campers
We have camped at Cherokee Rock Village twice now in the past year. We fell in love with this mountain top park. It's only $5 for parking and a $5 fee for a tent campsite. The first time we camped REI was hosting a rock climbing event. The campgrounds were packed with friendly climbers. The second time we went we had the entire campground to ourselves. It was very quiet, but there were some late night kids partying at the nearby playground for a short time. Didn't ruin our trip though!
There are clean restrooms with showers and plenty of beautiful views a short hike away.
We love this place and will return often for a camping getaway!