The best camping near
Johnston, SOUTH CAROLINA

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Most Recent Johnston Camping Reviews
Great!

So many great campsites and so many of them waterfront! Well maintained. Excellent gatehouse staff. Good hiking and boat launch.
Highly recommend. Lots to do in the area. River walk, canal boat tour, great art museum.
Good food and shopping nearby.

Awesome lakeside state park

Nice spacing between sites, renovated comfort stations with private showers, good little camp office, great staff, miles of lake shore, and lots of beautiful hiking. The site shown is #49.

Stunning views

All campsites have nice views of the lake. Large boat ramp, kayak and paddleboard rentals, cabins, hiking trails, nature viewing spots, walk in sites…this one has it all. Many events throughout the year for all. Store in the park in case you forgot something. Ranger lives inside the campground as well.

Large sites

These sites are all good sized lots and not on top of each other. Amenities are clean, but could use another bath house or two. Beautiful views of the easily accessible lake, a boat ramp and a park all round out this nice little getaway spot. Highly recommended.

Surrounded by trees, water and nature.

My husband found Dreher Island on The Dyrt and said this is where he wanted to go for our November vacation. We looked at site photos online and found site 83. The drive in is a great way to see the whole park and campground. There were lots of picnic shelters, restrooms and trails.

Our site was great - we had an awesome view of the lake and our neighbors weren't too close. Our pad was level and we noticed that others were not or very bumpy as tree roots were growing underneath which would have made getting level a little tricky. We were surrounded by trees which brought in a lot of birds and squirrels, even a deer on our first morning. The fire ring is right off the pad, so don't back in to the very end of the pad which was fine because the pad was long for us.

The shower house was just a little walk past a few campsites. There were flush toilets, sinks and two showers. The showers did not have anywhere inside to leave your items, but there was a bench directly outside of your curtain. The camp host kept it nice and clean.

We stayed from Sunday-Saturday - some days we just sat around the fire and others we hiked around the island. There are a couple of designated areas for hiking and doable for any age. Every morning and evening we walked the campground which helped us check out some other sites. I'll acknowledge the good sites in our photos. The tent sites on the outside/shore side had tent pads then there were a few tent sites on the inside, but no tentpads - they all had electric.

We visited the marina store to pick up ice and wood and found that they also had some food items, condiments, fishing items, souvenirs and ice cream. We found that the Dollar General store in Chapin had cheaper wood, ice and anything else you may need…go there first.

We left Veterans weekend and it was just about full on Friday night. This might be our go to vacation spot - we lucked out with weather and one of the nicest stays at a state park.

Nice

Nice campground. More private than state parks.

Water and land

The main feature is the lake. Fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming. Stayed at site #12. Waterfront excellent view of lake but sunny site. Sites had water, electric, concrete table, fire ring, and lantern hook. Not much barrier between sites but sites were good size just open. Everyone was very friendly. During week it was relatively empty but on Friday the campground started to fill up. Sites in the 60-90 loop looked the best with water views and shade and most were pull through. The bathrooms were ok and there is a laundry room. The bathrooms were quite far from some sites requiring a long walk or drive. Park had a great store selling souvenirs, ice, firewood, worms for fishing. Campground staff and host were very friendly. Not much around outside park. There was a dollar general about 12 miles away for supplies. You could pull your boat up to your waterfront campsite. They also have kayak rentals.

We LOVED Our Stay!!

We went camping at Hamilton Branch State Park in October 2019 for a week. There are so many wonderful things to say about this campground. 

1) Almost ALL sites are lakefront- There are very few sites that are not right on the water. There are some sites that have a steep drop off to the water(mostly the tent sites around the sites 123-128 range). We found several sites that we thought were the best. Sites 77, 168, 98, 97, 103, 105, and a couple of others I can’t remember. Nice views and access to the water. 

2) Sites are very spaced out- We were there during a quieter time, so we had several sites around us that were empty, but even if they had been full, we thought there was a lot of space between them, and most faced the water, so they all kind of faced away from each other. So, it seems to be very private. 

3) Park is LARGE- This is a huge park, and even though there are 200 sites, those are all distributed over 9 different areas, each area consisting of at least 1 loop each. So, again, very spaced out and private. 

4) Clean Bath Houses- Obviously we stuck to the bath house closest to our site, but it was extremely clean and appointed. Toilets cleaned every morning. Shower clean with good shower curtains! If you have camped before, you have likely encountered shower curtains that were hanging on by their last 2 or 3 loops. We even brought our own, in case that was the case here. Nope, it was very nice to have the bathroom so well taken care of. 

5) Friendly Staff- We had originally booked a specific site, and when we got there, we wanted to change it(due to the steep drop to the water, that would be hard to do every day with kayaks). We looked around the park to see what else would be available and Amanda at the front office was very helpful in checking for availability and helping us change our site. In addition to the very helpful Amanda, we encountered several camp hosts. Since the park is so big, there are multiple camp hosts. Everyone we encountered was friendly, helpful and seemed to enjoy being there. 

6) Beautiful Lake/Nature- Obviously the big attraction here is the lake. Thurmond Lake is ENORMOUS. And the park is on one small part of it. We kayaked a few days and saw a lot of fish, bald eagles, geese, blue herons, white egrets, etc. At our campsite we saw a couple of deer and a few raccoons. For a 6-night stay, we only saw the raccoons one night. We must not have had very good tidbits ad they gave up on us. 

We stated several times that we will be coming back to this campground, and that it might be one of the best we have ever been to. I hope this gave you some info and insight into this park.

Outstanding

Great park, few pictures from the island.

Tiny Treasure

Had the opportunity to stop by for one night as we returned from Hunting Island State Park.  This is a hidden little gem that is on my list to spend a couple of nights at.  They coyotes howling at night were insane but to me that adds to the camping experience.

New Construction

New phase 2 Area. Location on map is incorrect. CG is located east of Jenkinville on SC-215. Definitely for both long term and overnight RV. We have been here for a month. Aside from the commute to anywhere this is a good campground. The staff is what makes it a 5 star along with the awesome sunsets.

Deep forest, buggy backcountry!

This review is of the three backcountry hike-in sites at Mistletoe State Park along the Rock Dam Trail.  I didn't stay in any of these, but checked them out as I hiked the Rock Dam Trail.  This trail was supposed to involve several water crossings, but when I was here in September, the water level was extremely low and nothing was flowing beyond a trickle.  Water in the streams was mostly still and quite murky.   If you are filtering water (and you surely will be if you are camping back here), you'll need to pre-filter well to not clog your filter (at least when it is low and murky).

If you hike the trail from the Mistletoe parking lot counter-clockwise, site #1 is about 2.8 miles in, site #2 about 4.1 miles in, and site #3 about 4.8 miles in.  (So sites #2 & #3 would be closer going clockwise.)  Water sources: sites #1 & #2 are near the stream, and #3 is near a small lake.  If the water is low like it was when I was here, the lake water was not accessible -- you'd have to trudge through 50 fifty feet of mud to get to it and you'd probably get swallowed or it would really suck anyway.  So save #3 for the springtime only I think.  The other two water was there but murky as I said.  (Apparently when the water is high the streams are really flowing and possibly near waist level to hike through at some points.)

Site #1 was the best in the most interesting location, spacious, level, pretty nice site for tents or hammocks.  Site #2 was more boring, smaller and without really good ground for a tent, although workable.  No shortage of trees for hammocks though.  Site #3 was decent (and the closest to start if you hike the trail clockwise), but again only when the lake water is high or there won't be any water (see pic).

All of these sites are in the forest and I'm sure it is quite buggy almost always, so be prepared with thermacells, bug nets, etc.  All sites had a table and fire pit.  All trash must be packed out.  The trail itself was pretty good, moderately strenuous with a fair amount of ups & downs and parts where you are in a very narrow ravine.  If the water crossings really involved water (as they do in the spring apparently) it would be even more strenuous.

Nice!

This is a review of the four walk-in tent sites at Mistletoe State Park.  I personally stayed in #4 and had a look at the others. 

The best site is definitely #2 -- feet from the water, spacious, suitable for more than one tent or hammock (better for tents as it is mostly open, but there are places for hammocks along the edges). 

Site #4 is probably second best, better for a hammocks probably (which is what I had) as no great level ground. It is not right on the water but has it's own private path to the water(couple hundred feet to the water).

Sites #1 & #3 do not really have access to the water without climbing down something steeply dangerous or through thick trees.  (The water access from the other sites is right in the middle of those other sites so you couldn't really share that unless they are empty or occupied by friends.)  Still #1 is a pretty good site.  #3 is the least interesting and smallest, but still secluded -- I wouldn't call any of these bad.

None of these sites have groomed tent pads -- just gravelly ground.   They do each have a table, fire pit, and lantern pole.  #1 & #2 are best for tents.  There is good separation between all sites.  Sites #2 & #3 are within shouting distance of each other and you'd be able to see tents, etc at one from the other.  There is an outhouse between sites #1 & #2, and another another between sites #3 & #4.  It is a 5 minute (or so) walk to the real bathroom (which also has showers) back in the main campground.

Other than the lake itself at sites #2 & #4, I didn't see any dedicated water source for these sites.  (The lake is silty -- pre-filtering recommended if you are using a filter.)  So you'd have to bring in water or get it from the bathroom area or maybe from an empty RV site which all have spigots.  You'll have to pack out your trash, and there are definitely critters around that will get in your trash so it should be secured somehow.  (Hanging it from the lantern pole isn't good enough -- you'll wake up to find a hole in the bag and it strewn around, ask me how I know.)

Everything in the park was very clean and well-maintained, although when I was here in September (during the week), the whole place was basically deserted anyway.

The water access at sites #2 & #4 is nice but it is not a real beach -- it is all large rocks for the most part and they were very slippery even when dry so be careful.  The water level was also extremely low when I was there so some of those rocks are probably covered by water earlier in the year.

Surprisingly Accomodating, Even When Crowded

I had never visited Lake Greenwood, save for driving by on the way from Augusta to Greenville. So when no other State Park had reservations available for Labor Day weekend, I was hesitant to book here. I will admit, I was mistaken. My in-laws and my parents both pulled their camper trailers, while I pulled my Jayco pop-up. I was very satisfied with the size of the spaces, which were accurate compared to the website. The camp website also accurately informs campers about the grade of campsite driveways, which did become an issue for my parent’s trailer. The sites are generally not much more than an asphalt driveway, and a gravel picnic table/fire ring area. I didn’t see many tent campers in this part of the campground, and I would imagine tent camping would be especially uncomfortable (hot) during the summer months. Electrical hookups are new, and standard, and water hookups are plenty for even the biggest of rigs.

The campground maintains decent tree/shade coverage, especially on the outer sites. The sites near/on the water are also shaded and have the added bonus of the lake breeze, although they are a bit crowded; very close to the sites next door. Speaking of which, perhaps due to the sold-out Labor Day weekend, but most probably because of the design of the campground and lakeside access, foot traffic was heavy between and around my campsite. This was annoying as always, and made me feel like I needed to bring in all of my chairs, etc when I left the site.

There are several bathhouses spread throughout the campground. Each one has two showers, two sinks, and two toilets, though at my closest bathhouse, one of the showers was out of order. The bathhouses were always very clean, and did not have the usual peeling paint and army of bugs and spiders that some bathhouses seem to maintain as a matter of principle.

Nearby Ninety Six NHS was a great half-day attraction, less than 15 mins away. Greenwood City is also a draw. Of course, the gem is Lake Greenwood. I was wishing the entire weekend that I had a boat to enjoy the cool clear water.

Bottom line, I have plans to come back on a less crowded weekend, and definitely with a boat.

Easily accessible on Lake Murray, Columbia SC

Small camp site on Lake Murray near downtown Columbia SC. Tent sites, RV sites. Boat rentals nearby.

Beautiful location and beautiful lake

If it weren’t for Hurricane Dorian we would have never found this gem! What a beautiful location. Most sites directly on the lake. We were 10 ft from our own swimming area. The water is clean to fish, swim, boat, kayak, jet ski. You can easily rent a pontoon and jet skis at the nearby Skippers and cruise to a great bar and grill, “break on the lake” for dinner and drinks.  The lake is big enough to explore but small enough not to get lost. The reception is helpful and bathhouses very clean.  You are 20 minutes from the cute town of Greenwood too.  Full hookups available at this state park. Picnic tables and fire rings provided too. Don’t carry your own firewood in due to possible invasive insects.

Very quiet

Raysville is a hidden gem at Clarks Hill Lake.  this campground is much quieter and more secluded than the others in the area.  they still offer decent bath houses with showers.  the only negative in my mind is the lack of a swimming area for kids.

Clean & Quiet

Winfield has a lot of really good sites, most with reasonable privacy.  The campground isn't too large as to overwhelm you.  they have several sites that work well as buddy sites too.

Very clean and very well maintained

Mistletoe takes very good care of their sites.  There are plenty of RV/tent sites to choose from as well as a few walk-in sites, a group site, and even a few back country sites.  The facilities are always extremely clean.  They also have laundry facilities available.

Beautiful View

Nice campground & beautiful lake. We launched our kayak from campsite.

My favorite SC camp

Quiet, peaceful camp on beautiful Lake Murray. RV and tent sites. Clean bathhouses.

Beautiful views!

My family loves this campground! It’s clean and has a Great Lake to swim in.

Favorite State Park

Sooooo many beautiful campsites to choose from! Lots of trees and spaced apart. We camp here almost every other weekend during the warm months and once a weekend during the cooler months.

A unique camping experience

Goat island can only be accessed by boat but with 5 separate spots it’s a pretty neat island to camp at. There are picnic tables and fire pits at each site, but no other accommodations. There are rarely any other campers there, but when there are they tend to leave trash at their sites. The light pollution is at a minimum for the lake so it’s beautiful and very secluded at night. There are small, but clear beaches by some of the sites suitable for beaching a pontoon or other boat, but no docks. There are squirrels and birds on the island but I haven’t seen any other wildlife there.

Amazing lakeside RV site

This SP is only open March to October but it’s hosts took great pride in clearing the sites for the season. I parked my travel trailer in site 95 and it was a great site. We were able to drag water floats and things down to the waters edge outside our site. The bath house is not new by any means but everything you need is there, keeping in mind that this park is more for water sports and recreation than a resort. The roads are a little rutted on some sides due to washout but the park is a great spot to camp. No fire rings or grills in EVERY site but there were some man-made fire pits. The trails on the park were not marked at all except for the Nature Trail in the campground. Fallen trees had destroyed the other ones but they were bike trails. This is a great and relaxing place for a camp. Spent 3 nights here and visited other state parks close by that were more expensive and less maintained than this one. Check-in is 2pm and check-out is 12 noon. I would definitely come back here again!

Not a pleasant stay

Campground had some lovely views, some sites with lake access. Water and electrical hookups at most sites. RVs and tents share same area. Bright lights were burned all night, no need in complaining to camp hosts they burned strings of bright LED lights all night too. Large groups allowed, across from our tent there was a party that included 13 children. Generally noisy, lots of traffic moving at all hours. Bathhouses well maintained. Maybe okay for RV but no sleep if using a tent.

First to Review
Weekend

Stayed here this past weekend and what a wonderful tent site! Slept in the hammock and woke up to a beautiful view!

Quiet!

Clean camp sites. Abundance of wildlife. The out houses & vault toilets are in good shape.  This park is always quiet and offers plenty of privacy

Clean

Very clean & several beaches to swim at

Unorganized

We arrived on a Saturday morning to reserve a walkin site that was available online. Paid for the site at the office only to arrive at the site and see that it was already taken, along with all the others.  Went back to the office to inform them and then were told the ranger would go check on it. Drove back to the office an hour later to be told that the site was actually the people who were already there, even though it was available in the computer. Offered a $7 refund and a different site not next to the water, like we wanted. It was poor communication all the way around and the campground was overly crowded more than the allotted cars per campsite at multiple sites. Archery activity was canceled for that day, but the people in the office had no idea why. Not on my list of places to go back to.

Positives for the park, sunsets over the lake were gorgeous and the bathrooms were nice.