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Henderson, TEXAS

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First to Review
Great Site

Has a variety of unique lodging , as well as tent sites. Owners are attentive and accommodating. I recommended the teepee.

If getting thrown out of a camp is on your bucket-list then this is it!

My wife planned a trip to Nacogdoches more than a month ago for our kids and ourselves. We purchased tickets to the local Zip-Nac zip-line place and planned a tour of a few sites in town as well as visiting the cold spring at Camp Tonkawa and a wonderful meal at Auntie Pasta’s. 

She called Camp Tonkawa park and spoke to a woman named Francis whom my wife believed seemed to be being fed the responses she was giving her because she could hear someone else talking and what she could make out from the other person was then repeated over the phone by Francis. Francis took our name, wrote it down for the dates in question and that was that. 

When my wife and I discussed the call, I told her I wasn't very comfortable with the idea that someone who may have been getting trained or new or didn't seem to know that much given she was being told what to say actually had set a solid reservation for us. I asked if she paid and my wife said she had not so she called back a day or two later to try to pay and firm up our reservation. 

Francis answered again and when my wife offered to pay Francis told her that she did not know how to charge her(perhaps because it was over the phone?). She offered to write down the card number and have someone else do it later. My wife was not comfortable with that what with credit card fraud being so rampant and already going through cancelling a card once this year. Francis said we could pay when we came. My wife decided to follow up on our details again. This time they discussed our arrival time as being around 8pm. Francis said that we could not come in after 7pm. My wife indicated that there was no way we could get there by as we are nearly 3 hours away with no stops. She informed Francis that she would talk it over with me and see if we could perhaps get the kids out of school and leave a little earlier. 

After we spoke about it, I suggested making alternate plans; however, my wife had already sold the kids on the place and was genuinely interested in seeing the springs. She decided to call back a 3rd time and offer to pay(using a one use card number from our credit card company this time) and see if we could come just a little late. 

When she called again, Francis was in her car this time and said she definitely could not handle the payment right then. Francis again talked about closing time at 7 and my wife told her that we could not make it. Possibly the best we could do was 7:30 but that was a stretch. Francis talked about how hard it was to get someone to stay even until 7 so she didn't see how it would work out. She further explained that when people come late they often set up outside and wait until morning to come in however when she realized we were coming with a pop-up camper she concluded that we probably couldn't do that. My wife agreed indicating that this probably was not going to work out. Francis then said ok well look, I’m going to let you do this one time but don't tell anyone I let you do this(Sorry Francis). She told us to just come in because they do not lock the gate, take one of the first two spots A2 or A3, and come and check in the next morning. In fact, my wife could again hear someone in the background in the car giving Francis those site numbers that she repeated to us. My wife was thrilled and thought we were good to go. She thanked Francis and hung up. She told me the news but I was still not convinced this was going to work out. 

Fast forward a few weeks and days before we are set to go our kids ask if we will be able to have a fire. I don't see info on fire rings etc.. on their website so I call the day before we are leaving and get their"assistant" as she was described to us later. I tell her our name, and the sites we were told to pick from. The assistant tells me she sees our name on the calendar but not on the sites. She says some sites have fire rings but not all but from where she is in the office she cannot see if either of those two have a fire ring because there is a big camper in the way right now. For some reason I bring up our arrival time and she immediately informs me that after 7 isn't allowed. I tell her that we were given permission to come in and pay in the morning. She tells me that was what they"used to allow" but no longer as they were under new management and continues to explain that they have"sugar sand"?!? on some sites and they prefer to guide people in to the spots. She further tells me that she is not a decision maker and that I should call back at 4:30 pm to talk to Francis.(at that time I did not know the name of the person my wife had been talking to) 

I get off the phone and tell my wife what was said via text and she replies,"Oh, Francis is who I have been talking to and she is who said we could come in". She doesn't feel the need to call back and talk to someone that has already told us what to do but I still really don't have a great feeling this is going to end well:/ I ask her to look and see if there are any state parks nearby we could use which she does but they are all full for the weekend. 

I have given you all this detail so far to put you in our shoes so you know how thorough we tried to be making these arrangements and understand our shock at what follows…… 

Now it is arrival day. I take the day off work to prepare so we can leave as quickly as possible after the kids get home from school. I even dropped my wife off at work and picked her up since she is a high school teacher and often has a hard time getting out quickly due to traffic from students. We did everything we could to try to arrive as early possible. We had a 15-minute delay because we had a last minute power problem with the trailer. We stopped once for a restroom break and arrived at the campground just after 8pm. We drove in and I walked up to the office because the sign said"Open" but it was indeed locked. We drove up to the first sites~60 yards from the office and looked for A2 or A3. We did not realize we had already passed it so we kept going all the way around the loop and came back to the front and I saw"A2" on a pole/box. We stopped and my wife and I got out with flashlights to inspect the site before pulling in so we could be sure we would not hit anything of have a problem. While looking we hear a golf cart with lights on the front start moving our way from about 20 to 30 yards away. My wife has a headlamp on and looks in the direction of the golf cart and I hear this surly voice yell"Get that light outa my eyes" as he rolls up. Perhaps that set the tone for our encounter with Francis's husband but what follows is truly unpleasant and uncomfortable. He starts in with"Now listen…" and proceeds to man-splain to my wife and I that we can't just come in here and pick any site we like and just set up. He said he believes we were the people who talked with his wife, Francis, on the phone because we have a popup so it must be us and we said we told them we would be there by 7pm. I reply,"No sir, every time we spoke with someone on the phone about arrival times we made it clear 7pm was not really possible". My wife tries to explain that we were told we could use A2 or A3, register, and pay in the morning. His response"No one told you that…"(That is 1). She tries to explain again but he again cuts her off and says you said you would get here by 7, its dark now. You see, he says, people come in here after dark and run over these power boxes or the water and break them and then I have to get out here at night and fix them!(To which I wanted to reply that we were trying to be careful and inspect the site when he rolled up rather than just carelessly pull in but I let my wife handle it as she was talking). She apologized and said we thought we were OK and that we were just doing what we were told to do to which he replied again that we weren't told we could just come in after 7.(that is 2) He further informs us we can go find another place to stay and continues to speak and say we would never have given us A2 as a site because we were in a popup and he would have put us closer to the restroom. 

I watched as he continued to tell us what was what and saw my wife's face as she, for the sake of our children, bit her lip and let this man unload on us about our egregious act of daring to enter the campground after 7 pm. He further says in his gruff, terse, unpleasant way“Tell me if you have heard this before, you we close at 7 and you can’t come in after 7.” He explains we would have only spoken to him, his wife or their assistant and no one told us that we could come in after 7”(that is 3). Looking at the frustration on my wife’s face, I speak up and say that I spoke to their assistant yesterday and she did indeed say we could not come in after 7. I said though that I told her what we were told about coming and paying in the morning and she informed me to call back at 4:30 and talk to( I forgot the name and misspoke at that moment) but it was Francis. I further say that when my wife and I spoke about that call she said Francis was who said to do this so we didn’t think we needed to call back. His response again“no you weren’t told that”(that is 4) 

He finally says after another minute of berating,"I'm going to let you stay though but no one told you that you can come in here after 7(that is 5) and don't ever come in here again after 7”. My wife replied that he wouldn't have a problem us again as we wouldn't come back. He said,"I didn't say you can't come back". She stated that because we live too far away we would never get here by 7 so we simply wouldn't be able to come back. He then said to"follow him" to the site he had for us but couldn't just let it alone though and had to have his final say by berating us one last time saying"Now just tell the truth, nobody told you to come in this late" and then again“just tell the truth”.(that is 6). 

At this point I had had enough of this surly, unpleasant, unhappy man. Truthfully, I was ready to leave about 20 seconds after he began to speak to us the way he did but like I said I took cues from my wife to try to keep the peace for her and the kids sake. I stopped walking to our van and turned and said in a calm, reasonable manner unlike this jerk had been towards us,“I think that is uncalled for, I don’t really appreciate you repeatedly calling my wife a liar.” Had I been allowed to continue to speak I would have added“at best this was a miscommunication or misunderstanding and that we would have never just come in to a park if we weren’t wanted to/allowed because after all we would have had to face the music eventually and risk being thrown out then so who would do that?!” 

Instead we were told to“Get out” and“Leave” followed by“No one called you a liar”. If this super sleuth of the truth ever reads reviews, he will see he did so no less than 6 times but I doubt he cares either way. From my read of other reviews they only want older retired folks there and don’t want/hate kids as they seem to classify kids as unruly and misbehaved. He seems to treat everyone as if they are GOING to be his worst customer destroying the place rather than expect good things and address bad ones If they happen. The worst kind of manager/owner who rules with an iron fist. 

I felt the worst though in all this for my youngest daughter who announced on the drive up that“This is going to be the best camping trip ever!” and well… you see how it started out. Fortunately, we did find an RV park closer to town that let us come in after 9 with no issues, complaints or a single unpleasant word. In fact, the gentlemen who helped us stayed until we were nearly completely set up offering assistance so apparently not all campgrounds in the area are run by disagreeable, unpleasant, unhappy people who would rather be left alone than actually have paying customers. 

So if you ever want to get thrown out of a campground, book here and show up after 7 or just commit any infraction that offends this“new management” and I’m sure your wish will come true. I believe I counted two other RV’s on premises during our drive through(both times since we left that night) besides theirs and it’s no wonder they were nearly empty with their brand of wonderful customer service and attitude. Perhaps it won’t take long for these folks to run it in the ground and someone else gets put in charge with real customer service skills who doesn’t assume everyone is out to get them/break rules or destroy the place.

Pretty okay place would go back again.

There’s 10 tent camping spots on the island. Our camp had trash on the beach when we got there. You can hear the power plant all the time. The hike was pretty and we got to see a deer with two fawn. Tons of buzzerds on the trail who defend their young. We camped the beginning of October and there was only one other tent around. Nice view from P1.

Kids loved this park !

The camp sites were small, with full hookup’s! We had a great time here with our family camping next to us and some friends rented a cabin, which was very nice! The kids liked the trampoline and the hay ride around the camp!

Texas State Railroad

Nice little park with full hookup’s, shaded. Play ground small fishing lake. We stayed here so we could take the grandchildren to the Polar Express train ride.

One of Texas best state parks

Sites are semi level, full hookup, some shade! Great little lake to fish, kayak, swim and hike! Hard to get reservations because it is so popular! If you get reservations it’s kinda like winning the lottery 😃. But it’s all worth it!

Trees galore

Nestled in the piney woods, Great Lake, MTB, hiking and good facilities.

Great campsite

Water is clear and great for swimming, which is a rarity in Texas. Camp has kayaks to rent and a great playground. Lots of camp activities and great hiking. Clean bathrooms!

Very enjoyable

We visited here for a weekend get away with friends and their families. We all have young kids and had a blast, playing at the sandy beach on the lake and just enjoying some play time around the campsites

Nice but Noisy

There's a power plant over there. Didn't know that when I booked my site. 

Nice short distance hiking trail, I enjoyed quite a bit.  The sites were clean, well kept. The bathrooms were also clean (Always a good thing to have!) Lots of fishing boats, and plenty of room for parking for the day.

I'd camp there again.

Very pretty

We had a good time here, nice campsite, pretty treeline right behind our campsite. The raccoons are a riot though. They all came out at once and kind of pushed us into the tent. They weren't aggressive or anything, but you know. We went out on a boat on the lake, that was fun. The lake isn't very big though, but it was still a fun time. Make sure to bring a watch, they didnt have any at the little shop ( I was scared to bring my phone)! I will say though that it was kind of pricey? This was a while ago and we stayed 2 nights, I remember it being like 60$. We had the water and electric campsite. Nothing special and only me and the boyfriend (with texas liscence plates). Should not have been that much imo, and I've told people and they think it's crazy too. Just make sure to check the website before you drive all the way out there and spend way too much money. It is pretty though and peacful.

You’ll Enjoy Every Second Of It

Absolutely stunning Texas state park located along the Texas Forest Trail that showcases the rolling hills of pine trees that dubbed this region the name “Pineywoods” of East Texas. Clean lake with available kayaking and canoeing, and even paddle boats. RV hookups or tent campgrounds.

A hidden jewel in deep East Texas

Ensconced in the deep Piney Woods of Davy Crockett National Forest lies the site of the original Franciscan Mission to the Caddo Indians. The local tribe’s word for friend was tejas (tay-hoss) meaning friend. The camping sites are all situated in the woods scattered among the hills above the Neches River Valley. They do not have sites for extremely large diesel pushers, but 32 foot trailers or RVs fit nicely.

The location has Texas state park normal accoutrements like fire rings, tables, lantern posts, showers, bathrooms and new front office with interesting rain harvesting equipment to view. Serene and beautiful area with hiking trails of easy to moderate level of difficulty with a historic walk to the site of the original Camino Real also known as the Old San Antonio Road.

Nearby you have historic markers every 3 miles or so on the current King’s Highway with Caddoan Indian Mounds to visit, sites of early settlers, including the original Rice Family Dog Run Cabin on site. There is a lovely lake for perch and bass fishing and playgrounds for young children.

It is favorite park of mine to visit and I return every few years.

Basic but everything you need

Very basic with full 50 amp service and Direct TV.  Bathrooms very clean and air conditioned.   Level gravel lots and quiet.  Plenty of space between sites.

Rain or shine

I visited this park on a trip with my field botany class through my university. If you’re interested in ecology or botany, this is a great site to visit! It was quite wet for much of our stay, but the region was still absolutely stunning. The campsites were nice and the facilities were well maintained. I will definitely be returning here again!

Options Galore!

This is my favorite state park in Texas! Lots of options for all kinds of campers. For camping, lots of different sites available for RVs/Campers, Tents, etc. some along the lake, some in the woods, and also cabins and shelters available! Hiking options vary from a nature stroll, to some more serious up-downs through the hills on the outskirts of the campground. Bring your friends, family, and pets, there is truly something for everyone here, even kayak and canoe rentals at the lake!

Peaceful, shady, beautiful lake

We have been to Tyler State Park many years. The spring time with the wildflowers and blooming dogwoods is wonderful. The lake is wonderful there are kayak, canoe and paddleboat rentals. Campsites are shaded by towering pines.

First to Review
Excellent park

Stayed here three times and each time was excellent . They had activities for the kids. The campgrounds were clean and the sites were pull thru so easy to park and enjoy. I will be coming back to stay

Not a campsite

This is the parking lot for a shut down Ryan’s Steakhouse. This is NOT a campsite by any means. Look elsewhere.

quiet and very primitive

There's not much to this campground, although it is very beautiful with enormous loblolly pines. This is a primitive campsite. There's no water, no electricity, not bathrooms, etc. Just an area you can use to set up tents or hammocks. We met a nice older fella who said he comes there every day and builds a fire at dusk, stays for a little bit, then leaves.

We bikes from the Ratcliff Recreational Area and we had to cache water.

Piney

A few miles from arriving..you can start to smell the pine trees!

Nice lake for kayaking but the lake is small.

Great trees and scenery. A few nice hiking/ bike trails.

Nice place to stay, especially if you like trains!

We stayed here during a spring break. Road bikes and took the steam train. Cooked over a fire. Had fun.

Great trails!

Sites are good but trails for biking and hiking are great!!

Family Fun Camping

This park is very clean and maintained. All the people that work there are so nice and helpful. Full hookups, pull though the pond (66 ac)is no wake great for learning to kayak, water board, canoeing and paddle boats. A lot of walking and hiking trails.

Excellent

This is a beautifully maintained and family oriented themed RV park. Loads of activities for kiddos and very relaxing for adults. Sites are back ins and have beautiful scenery in every window of your RV. The park has tiny houses along the pond to rent and are spacious. Water park is above and beyond! Fireworks for the 4th were beautiful over the pond! Highly recommend this park !!

The water is beautiful, never crowded, camping is eh

Tere is a natural fed spring that is clear and beautiful. There's BBQ pit area and picnic tables. Cell Signal is almost non-existent. Sandy but still a lot of fun for the family.

There's RV camping and I believe tent camping also. We normally make a day trip as Its only a couple hours from home

Piney Forest
  • Hills in Texas …Nawh
  • Some good hiking..you can work up a sweat, loop D is the most challenging
  • Dense shady forest
  • Fire wood can be purchased at the park or at the gas station right outside the park
  • Small lake with a couple of lit fishing piers
  • Awesome park store that rents paddle boats and canoes

Ever have the feeling you are being watched especially at night. At Tyler State Park you may well be. Take a walk at night on the park road and shine your flashlight into the trees. A glowing pairs of eyes will be staring back at you. It is the Raccoons living in the trees. There are smart and persistent, so don't leave any food coolers outside unless it has a lock. They helped themselves to 2 lbs of fajita beef and another 1 lb of chicken. Also be prepared to jump when opening the park trash dumpster.

We went with some friends who also pulled their pop-up camper. We picked Sites #14 and #15 because they were connected and the kids had a lot room between sites to play. We love the lit fishing piers, after the kids are in bed, can indulge in some "me" time with a nice cigar, a couple of beers and a folding chair.

One of our favorite parks

I should mention that my husband is from Canada. He was very unenthusiastic about camping in Texas. Well Tyler State Park made him change his mind! He LOVED the large trees, said it was the closest he'd felt to home in quite some time. We love the variety of types of sites they offer. Lake front, group, hike in, cabin, they have something for everyone! Only downfall is they book so quickly.