Nice campground. Short walk to the beach. Awesome staff. Awesome kids and learning program for the weekend. Really loved the lights in the water at night and nighttime walk.
Holliday Lake State Park is located in the middle of the Buckingham State Forest, so it is completely surrounded by protected forest. It definitely feels like being in the middle of nowhere. There are several ways to get there, including some back roads. We took the back roads in and took the main road out. There is very limited reception in the park for radio and cell. We were able to check with the ranger to get updates on weather. A severe storm came through on the second night and the camp hosts drove through the campground to let everyone know it was on the way.
The rangers here are awesome! Very helpful and knowledgeable. They even came around passing out flyers Friday night for the activities that weekend. Some of the activities included spear throwing, how to start different types of fires, nocturnal animals sounds, and watching fish at night. On Saturday nights they turn on a few lights underneath the water so you can see the fish swimming around,
The ranger contact station houses a very small camp store with just the essentials. Don't count on them having exactly what you need because it is a very small selection. They do have ice and firewood for sale on-site. If you really need something there is a Wal-Mart about 15 minutes away in Appomattox.
The park is known for its lake and great fishing. I fished for crappie, but it was too hot on the shore and dogs aren't allowed in rental boats. While I was shore fishing several people rented the park's fishing boats with outboard motors. There's even a panfish boat trail on one end of the lake.
There weren't any lifeguards on duty during our stay, but the beach was still open. Plenty of families were in the water. The sign says swim at your own risk. There are "creatures" in the water for kids to climb on and jump off. The local fire-rescue crew was making use of the lake and floating dock for their water rescue training.
My favorite thing to do at a new park is go hiking. There are only about 10 miles of trails within the park, but there are miles and miles of trails within the surrounding forest. You can pick up the Carter Taylor Connector Trail near the campgrounds, which leads to the Carter Taylor Multi-use trail in Buckingham State Forest. The park map shows a good mixture of easy, moderate, and difficult trails. However, I never found one that I would consider easy. It is VERY hilly, so even the easiest trails have some climbs. There is even a 6.2 mile trail that circles the lake. It's great hiking, but get ready for a workout. Even my 2 yo beagle was worn out by the end.
Our campsite was fully shaded and included water/electricity hookups. Site R4 had a newer water connection with two spouts, one for the camper hookup, and one standard spout. We used the regular spout to fill up water bowls for our dogs all weekend. Nearly every site had a dog in it. They were really well-behaved. Lots of families camped and used multiple sites across the road from each other. The park was completely packed, but we still had a decent amount of privacy. There are trees in-between each of the camp sites so you aren't staring at your neighbors. We were able to hang up two hammocks right beside the tent pad.
The tent pads are some of the most generously sized I've seen in a state park. They were mostly level and topped with crushed gravel. Each site had a large picnic table, fire ring, bear pole, and room for a car. The paved area for parking and campers weren't as level, and most people got creative with leveling out the campers.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. During this trip I was testing out a new meal from Mountain House. We got to try the Turkey Dinner which is a freeze-dried meal in a pouch. This is the number one brand I use when backpacking, so I was really excited to try out a new selection. The pouch included two servings of 240 calories each. I used my Pocket Rocket to boil water, then poured the boiling water into the pouch, gave it a stir, and sealed it up. I always make sure the pouch is completely sealed, then lay it on its side. In my experience, this helps all of the freeze-dried goodness to soak up the water better. After five minutes, I opened up the bag, gave it another stir, and sealed it back up. My wife was just coming back from her shower and was so excited that dinner was already ready. It was super fast! She ate her half of dinner off of a camp plate, and I had my half out of the pouch. When backpacking I eat the entire pouch (calories are good!!), but for car camping it was the perfect amount to split.
The turkey dinner was absolutely delicious! There were full chunks of turkey in there. The stuffing was filling. I couldn't really see the veggies since they were chopped up, but the flavor was perfect! My favorite part of the meal was discovering the quote on the bottom of the pouch when I laid it on its side.
Bring leveling supplies! some sites are reservable, some are not.
As it is a state park you are only allowed to swim when lifeguard on duty in designated area.
Fishing from shore or non motorized boat.
kayaks and canoes available for rent.
Hiking and ranger nature programs are nice.
camp hosts have been helpful.