Annie C.
St Charles , MO
Joined July 2016
I'm a hiker, explorer, road tripper, and camper with wanderlust in my veins.
Private with great wildlife viewing close to the city

Except for the noise of the highway, you would never guess you were 10 minutes from a major metropolitan city. The campground is very private with lots of trees and palms separating sites, especially in the tent loops. The tent sites are walk in, with some closer than others. I took site #23 for the night, which was set back just enough to the private, but not so far as to really haul my gear. Each tent site has a numbered parking space as well. There seemed to be about 10-12 tent only sites and the remainder of the 50 sites had hook-ups for RVs. The bathhouse was clean and modern, and well taken care of. 

A two mile hike will take you the visitors center, from which you can climb the observation tower to look over the prairie and have access to several trails. It was really wet when I was there which meant that several trails were partially closed. But I still managed to hike several miles over several trails. I never did see the Cracker Wild Spanish Horses or the bison, but did see lots of signs in the form of poop. I also didn’t see any gators, but did get to see lots of birds of various size and variety.

Tight, but so close to the beaches

Got here late  in the afternoon after the campground reservation checkstation closed, so I found a host and made sure I could claim an empty site. All was good, so I found an empty site and paid up in the morning. I ended up in Loop D at site D26. All of the tent sites are in Loops B and D, and the RV sites are in Loops A, C, and E. It was really nice to have so much separation between the tents and RVs. My site was out in the open in the middle of the loop, not ideal. The better sites are on the outside edge of the loops as they back to shrubs and trees. The bathhouse was nice, modern, and clean (though the one in Loop C is even better as I think it is newer). 

There is a good trail to the beach across the road (about a 1/4 mile), and a really nice trail that leads all the way to the fort (about a mile away). The trail that goes to the fort is part of the Florida Trail, a 1,500 mile long trail from the panhandle to the tip of the peninsula. Definitely spend some time touring the fort! There is a pretty good self guided tour and there is a nice museum and gift shop. And it is fun to watch the fishermen and scuba divers on the seawall and on the piers.

Remote and quiet

Set back in palms and live oak, the campground is private with some sites very private and others not at all. The best sites seemed to be #7-9 and #18-21 as they have the best privacy, are close to the river, and are completely set back from the main loop. Sites closest to the bathroom have to contend with hearing the bathhouse fan (although light from the bathroom didn't seem to be an issue). Unfortunately I ended up with the last sight available, #26, right next to the end of the bathrooms with the fan. Good thing I travel with earplugs. On the plus side, my site was a pull through so coming and going was very simple. 

There are some really nice trails along both the Ochlockonee and Dead Rivers, as well as a pretty scenic drive that is "paved" with wood chips, which makes it perfect for hiking. While I didn't see any gators, there were signs warning about them. I did see several deer, a raccoon, and some lizards. 

Town is about twenty minutes away if you need anything. There are several bars and restaurants as well as an IGA grocery. You can even find services offering boat rentals.

Remote to everyone except the bugs

In the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, this is a fairly remote campground away from everything. There are about 28 or so sites, with varying degrees of amenities (three sites are tent only with no hook ups, some sites have electric only, and some both electric and water). Cost depends on amenities: the tent only sites are going to be $10 a night in 2020 (it was only $5 a night for me this December), and sites with electric and water are $15. There was a dump station for RVer's as well. Bathhouse was clean if dated, with a fairly new shower stall. 

The sites on the inside of the loop are all on a slope and have the playground, office, and bathhouse as the hub. The outside of the loop sites all back up to woods or marsh.  I was in tent site #9, which was right next to the marsh. It rained overnight and I noticed the site could flood if it had rained a lot. But my other option was next to some well established and loud RVer's next to the playground, and on a slope. I chose the flatter site next to the marsh, but I think that wasn't much better as it put me right in with the mosquitos and no see-ums. Bring your industrial strength bug spray!! 

The campground is next to an arm of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge and so it's close to a few nice trails and a nice boardwalk and fishing pier. If you need ice or firewood or some basic groceries, head back out the way you came in and stop at tiny little Ms Dot's Grocery. She is super nice, has lots of knowledge of the area, and her ice (BIG cubes) is super cheap.

First to Review
Snowed in

I tried to camp here but was snowed out: the campground had not opened yet. However I was able to check it out by car. All the usual items were present: vault toilet, picnic tables, fire pits. It looked like there was a dedicated host site. There was some great hiking nearby. You won't have phone service here, just saying. I can't wait to come back and actually pitch my tent here next summer.

First to Review
Nice camping near the Snowy Range

This campground is high up in the Snowy Range above Encampment. Not a lot of people seem to use this campground. I'm not sure why. It has all of the usual camp accoutrements including clean vault toilet, picnic tables, and fire pits. Sites were not especially private, and you had to look around to find a site with a level tent pad, but still not a bad place to spend the night.

Dispersed with vault toilet

If you show up to Redfish Lake on a busy weekend and all of the campgrounds are reserved/full, no worries. There is a bunch of free dispersed camping all along highway 75. A quick stop at the Forest Service Office down the road and I had a pretty good map of the forest roads in the area, but more importantly, a tip about free camping a stone’s throw away from Redfish Lake and Sunny Gulch campground. The road in is a bit rough with ruts and rocks, but there are several established sites with fire rings. There was a loop to the right with about 8 such sites and a loop to the right with about 5 sites as well as one that was hidden behind the site I chose that you had to walk in to(it was actually a nicer site than the one I chose, but I was tired and set up before I saw it on my explorations. There was one vault toilet that was not especially clean, but free is free, and if you really wanted to, you could walk less than a quarter mile across to the developed Sunny Gulch campground. There are no picnic tables or grills or tent pads, but definitely stone fire rings at each site so no worries as long as you brought your own camp chair. If you need a shower, head into Redfish Lake to use the public pay showers there.

Beauty in the Beartooths

This was the first Forest Service campground I came to that allowed tent camping heading northeast out of Yellowstone and Cook City(mostly due to bear activity in, appropriately enough, the Beartooth Mountains). It’s a beautiful campground that is close to the road, but most of the road noise gets drowned out by Crazy Creek as it flows past the campground on its way to the Clarks Fork River. I think the best sites are 12 and 14 as they are at the back of the loop overlooking the River valley below and looking straight back at the mountains. With the bear activity in nearby campgrounds and in Yellowstone, I went ahead and put everything in the bear box instead of my car (bears are getting good at opening cars like tin cans). I was equally excited and nervous to see the wild strawberries in full fruit all over the ground in a couple sites as well. The vault toilet was clean and the campground host let me know that since there is no water in the campground, I was welcome to fill a water bottle or two at his huge water tank (not sure if this was offered to all or just to me, so be sure to bring your own water just in case).

Hot but beautiful

High desert camping overlooking Bighorn Lake and the marina. I highly suggest you pay the extra couple bucks for a site with the covered picnic table to get some shade. Some sites have been updated with water and electric hookups, some have grills and tent pads and some don’t, but all have fire pits and picnic tables. The bathrooms have flush toilets and were very clean. If you need a shower, head into Lovell and drop a donation in the box at the City Camping Park and use the super clean showers there. I spent a long time talking with the host who’s home is just north in Montana. He had great ideas about taking the canyon boat ride (about $40 for a two hour tour), checking out Devils Canyon, or looking for bighorn sheep and Pryor Mountain wild horses (both of which I saw!).

Not a destination, but excellent services

What a gem this find was! Free camping with showers and bathrooms as clean as home, close to restaurants and a cute movie theater, and close to the Bighorn Canyon with great wildlife. I took advantage of its location to head towards Cody to visit the Heart Mountain Internment Camp interpretive center as well as to head up Bighorn Canyon to look for wild horses in the Pryor Range. There are about 8 RV pull through sites and about 5 or 6 tent sites, all with picnic tables available(although some tent sites share a table). The tent pads are not really dedicated pads, but they are covered in wood mulch, so they are nice and soft. You do get a little noise and dust from the nearby ballfields, and it was really windy the afternoon I showed up so I was glad I had extra tie downs for my tent. Once the sun set however, the wind died down. While the campground isn’t a destination site, it’s a great stop off while traveling.

Busy campground

I got lucky here and scored site #18 which was very private and at the end of a lollipop loop. While this site is further away from the creek and closer to the road, it was still quieter than sites on the creek(which were all taken anyway). There is a little trickle of a creek nearby that did a nice job of drowning out the road noise in the evening. There was a nice little trail that went up the hill and overlooked the bigger Prune Creek and all of the people floating and tubing down the creek. If you want a site on the creek, the best ones seemed to be#6-9. My site had the usual picnic table and fire pit, and nice hammock trees. I did find it interesting that while the dumpsters were bear proofed, there were no bear boxes at every campsite. There were two bear boxes and both were next to the water pumps. The vault toilets were not especially clean, most likely due to the heavy use by creek floaters and tubers. While walking down to the creek I noticed that there was some dedicated parking for fishermen, which I guess means that there may be some people in the campground that are not camping.

Nice views of the Bighorn mountains

On Highway 16 across from the lake. There are great views of the mountains with nice wooded sites. The vault toilets were really clean and there was some bit of privacy between sites. Each site had the usual picnic table and fire pit (no bear boxes). In the evening there was a lot of wildlife in the meadow to watch, so try and get a site on the outside of the loop so you can watch. Because it was early in the season (the campground had only been open for a week when I arrived), they were not collecting fees yet (I double checked with the campground host). North Cove was across the street from the entrance and was very popular with fishermen and boaters.

Climbers campground open to all

A climbers campground on the west side of the Big Horn Mountains, this was a very useful find when a reservation didn’t pan out up canyon. There are a lot of pluses and minuses to this campground. On the minus side is the fact that it is right on the road with no buffer, sites are very small, there is no privacy between sites, and you likely won’t have cell service. But on the plus side is that it is$5 a night with$2 showers, the bathhouse is pretty clean, there is an outdoor kitchen with sink, two fridges for camper use(mark your items!), Tensleep Creek drowns out most of the highway noise(especially if you get a site on the creek), there is a really nice large pavilion with lots of picnic tables and lots of beta for climbers, there is free wifi in the pavilion, and you aren’t too far from town to get supplies or go to the brewery or from heading up the mountain to the Big Horns.

Wind River Canyon views

Pros and Cons to the location of this campground: great views of the Wind River and the tunnels, but right next to the highway and not much privacy between sites due to lack of underbrush. The half of the campground closer to the tunnels is walk up only and the lower half of the campground is reservation only. The host was very nice and happy to chat as long as you wanted, which might account for the lack of mowing. While there wasn’t much privacy between sites, they were at least well shaded by the trees (which were also good trees to hang a hammock in). The vault toilets were clean and sites all had picnic tables, fire pits and grills. There are no hookups for RV’s, but there is water available at the spigots scattered around the campground. Warning: it is loud in the day and into the late evening with trucks coming down and going up the canyon. However, if you get a site next to the river it quiets things down a bit.

Family friendly camping

For $17 a night, try and get a site right on Tensleep Creek. Sites are pretty, and private-ish with lots of trees (some good for hammocking, some not). Everything was really well maintained to the point of everything looking new. All the usual amenities of picnic tables and fire pits and grills, PLUS there are pretty awesome prep tables for cooking and a lantern pole at each site, with super clean vault toilets where the camphosts have set pots of flowers to improve the setting. I suggest getting a site on the backside of the loop away from the road. The campground hosts were great, checking on campers a couple of times in the early evening and again in the morning. They rolled around in their golf cart stocked with firewood for sale so you didn’t have to hike back to the top of the hill to get your wood. There are some great family activities areas in the campground with horseshoes, cornhole, and other games set up in a central activities area.

Great camping next to the Salmon River

Just down the road from the entrance to Redfish Lake is where you will find this campground on the backs of the Salmon River. I never did really figure out if this is part of the Redfish Lake campground group or not, but I do know I enjoyed camping here and that this campground is owned by the Forest Service. There are two main loops, an upper and lower, and there is no distinction between tent and RV sites as there are no hookups available. The upper loop is closer to the river but doesn’t really have what I could see as great access. I was on the lower loop, which gets more sun as it is further away from the bluffs on the river (and had less trees). I was able to walk from my site to the river fairly easily even though there were no trails and as a result was able to watch rafting groups float on by. The campground was really well maintained and actually looked very new, though the host said it had been around for several years. The vault toilets were very clean and odor free, and it looked like most sites had nice gravel tent pads. Good steel picnic tables and prep tables(I am loving the prep tables the forest service is installing in campgrounds!!) as well firepits and large car/rv pads were really nice too. Showers and laundry are across the road at Redfish Lake along with great trails, horse rentals, and lake activities. Other nearby activities include hot spring sitting and white water rafting.

First to Review
Warm River (which isn't very warm)

Camping on the banks on the banks of the Warm River, which actually is quite cold, can’t get much better than this! There are several options here- tent camping in a tent only walk in area along the river banks and under some pretty good hammocking trees (best sites are #12, 13, 16, and 8 because they have some space from neighbors and are right on the river); RV sites with what looks like at least electric hook ups (best sites for river views and/or privacy are #2, 4, 6, 19); from what neighbors say is pretty good fishing; and an awesome alternative to camping at Mesa Falls if that campground is full. Walk down the road and cross the river to check out a protected area of the river where the fish are HUGE and you can stand with your toes in the river while you feed them bits of bread. The sites all have the usual picnic tables and firepits, with nice level tent pads, clean vault toilets, and firewood for sale from the campground host. The only two downsides are no showers and the campground is wedged between the road and the river, so there is quite a bit of road noise in the day which fortunately dies down once dark sets in. At that point the river covers the road noise (also helpful in the morning). The campground is close to a lot of hiking trails, but there are no trailheads in the campground (so I guess that makes three bummers). All in all, a cool place to camp.

Solitude and not much else

This campground also goes by the name of Holbert. Small campground but free with a handful of picnic tables and campfires. The vault toilets were cleanish, thou older. This campground is next to a pretty little creek that you can play and fish in. The campground is really just a series of campsites strung out along the creek and road. It was pretty quiet while I was there, not many campers at all. There are no hookups for RV’s/campers so it is primarily tent camping or dry camping. There is an interesting story about how this camping area has come to be: the land was donated by Ella Ellis in memory of her husband William Ellis. They apparently loved the land and wanted to make sure it was never developed and could be enjoyed by all. A lovely story.

Nice little city park

A nice little city park in the Loess Hills of Iowa, it's not a destination but makes for a good overnight stop. The campground is primarily RV camping with about 20 sites with full hook ups. The tent camping is a bit vague, as all of the numbered sites had hook ups. I ended up pitching my tent in the grass as I didn't want to take the last site with hook ups when I didn't need them. There really aren't any trees for hammocks. The bathroom is secure with a coded door, and it is very clean inside although also very hot. The info on the bath house said to drop your pay envelope in the slot next door to city hall in town, which necessitates a drive back into the cute town. There is a nice walking path around the pond and some pretty neat historical buildings to explore as well. 

An important note: Due to the massive and devastating flooding in the Spring (2019), most of the sites were occupied by flood victims, not just in this campground, but all along highway 29/the Loess Hills. Many campgrounds have modified their fees or closed to regular campers to provide space to families who lost their homes and farms to the Missouri River flooding.

Big reward for rough road in

Be sure to throttle it way down into low gear as the long in road is really rough! If you like remote with at least the basics of picnic tables, bear boxes, and fire pits, this is your place. The sites next to the creek are the nicest and most level, and all have bear boxes (and notices about mandatory food storage). While I didn't see any bears, there were quite a few mule deer in the meadow in the evening., and I had to kick elk scat out of my tent space before set up.The vault toilet was clean enough, but could have been better. The campground is very close to Granite Creek Hot Springs, a pool type hot spring with a fee to swim instead of a natural hot spring pool. Word is that there were some pools at the base of the falls, but I wan't up for the hike or the very cold fording of the "creek" as it was very full with spring runoff. The manager let me hop in to test the water (too cool for real enjoyment according to him), and didn't charge me when I got out after just 15 minutes. The whole time I was in the pool he was regaling a couple with his story of a grizzly killing an elk calf the week before a few miles away. He was quite the story teller, and had the video on his phone to prove it. It was a "grizzly" tale.