Really incredible place. Spent the day bouldering. They had rental shoes for the kids and crash pads also. Nice and quiet. We brought the RV and everything was good except the water lines were winterized. Not a big deal they have showers and bathrooms available.
Campground Review: This is considered the site for the best bouldering in Alabama and is known nationally for its climbing and annual festivals. It is organized as a large spread out, somewhat wooded area with designated campsites around fire pits. When you arrive and check in/pay your camping fee you then drive to pick a site. There is really no privacy for each individual spot but you can find ones that are a little more removed or larger depending on your needs. The campground area is then situated right next to the expansive boulders which you can explore throughout your entire stay. Since this is why people come to Horse Pens 40 it is the focus of the park and therefor the campsites function mostly for the sake of being close to the boulders. I wouldn’t suggest coming here if you aren’t a serious climber and very interested in the bouldering aspect. Since my wife and I are only amateur climbers we found the rocks to be more of a challenge than we were expecting and got pretty worn our very quickly. We also struggled to finish most of the routes. Overall, we did enjoy the trip but found that for our needs which were a relaxing weekend of camping and some easy enjoyable climbing it didn’t fit us so well. I had hoped for a more secluded camping experience and more manageable climbing options. I personally prefer making the little bit further drive from birmingham up to Cherokee Rock Village which provides a superior experience for less cost in my opinion.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out new and interesting products at campgrounds I visit. On this trip, I took along the Icemule Pro Cooler to keep all our food fresh for the weekend. My takeaways from using the soft shelled cooler are:
- Transportability: With built in backpack straps and the ability to roll closed and strap everything tight this cooler is the easiest I have ever used to transport cold items while camping. Even just going from car to the site which was no more than a 1-2 min walk would have been miserable with my traditional hard sided cooler packed full with ice and food. The Icemule got tossed on my back freeing up my hands to carry the bag with all our cookware. On another trip we even hiked in to a backcountry campground with the cooler and just loaded it with all of our food and cookware to make transporting everything easier.
- Temperature Stability: I had my doubts that a soft shelled cooler could maintain its temperature anywhere near my hard sided coolers since I have seen how quickly my ice pack melts in my lunch each day. The Icemule Pro managed to surprise me in this regard as well since when we arrived home after 2 full days out in the sun and Alabama hot fall weather all the ice packs were still completely frozen solid. We were able to bring things that needed refrigeration without worrying about storage and without having to lug around the giant cooler.
- Flexibility: Since the cooler is made out of a flexible fabric material this provides two wonderful features. First, it can be rolled up and stored in a small space when not in use. I really appreciated this since we live in a small home and space is always a factor with our gear. Second, when loading the cooler you aren’t limited by the form factor of a rectangular box. We had a lot more ability to squeeze items in where we wanted them and didn’t have any dead corner space.
Overall, this is an incredibly engineered addition to my gear collection and has already proved useful on multiple camping trips. It had tons of space for a weekend trip, is easy to transport and move around the campsite, and performs incredibly well in its role as a cooler.