the dyrt
Asher K.
Birmingham, AL
Joined June 2016
I am an MD/PhD student living in the south who loves camping and my goal is to explore as much of the Alabama wilderness as I can while training here.
Ranger Review: ROM Pack at Blue Mountain Shelter

Campground Review:

Since I have reviewed many of the backpacking routes in the Cheaha area I would first recommend taking a look at some of the other campground reviews in this area. This shelter is actually along a new trail for me where the Pinhoti heads North from the Cheaha Trailhead on 281. The parking lot has a beautiful entrance archway then heads away from the road before splitting. Take your first right then when the trail splits again take another right. I have a video attached showing the turns. You then continue for about .5 miles before crossing back over the road and following the ridge for a while. After going a little more than 2 miles you will reach a sign that directs you to the shelter. You can’t miss the wooden structure a few yards down the path.

Most of the camping along the Pinhoti is classic semi-flat backcountry sites with a small fire pit and not much else. So when we came across this amazing shelter we were thoroughly impressed. It has a large area on the first floor where you could set up several sleeping bags and then there is an additional closed off area in the loft that is dark and dingy but very clean and perfect if the weather is ugly. The site also has a HUGE firepit which seemed a little overkill but could be nice if you have a large group. Finishing off the amenities is a picnic table and several cleared out tent areas. Make sure to check out my video to get a full idea of how this site is set up and if it would be a good place for you to stay.


Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out new and interesting products at campgrounds I visit. On this trip, I tried out the RoM Pack. My takeaways from using the combo backpack, poncho, picnic blanket are:

  1. The backpack works incredibly well for what it is designed to do. If you are going to be carrying your things somewhere where you will then unpack and hang out for a while this piece of gear does exactly what you need. It held all the items we needed for the day of hiking including a hammock, water bottles, food, and small items (phone, wallet, keys, etc.) and still had plenty of internal space to spare. When we arrived at the campground we set up and unpacked then took apart the backpack so that we could use the blanket to sit on. I can imagine in the future this pack also being very useful for keeping in the car when any one of its uses might come up.
  2. It is very comfortable to hike with. I found the strap design and layout to fit comfortably on my chest. They are highly adjustable for different sized individuals. The one criticism I had of the straps is that the cross chest straps are a little too long and I had trouble getting it tight enough since I am a relatively small person. Overall though I didn’t have much shifting around while hiking.
  3. Included with a backpack was a small drawstring bag that is designed to fit inside the larger pack and hold your gear when using the pack as a poncho or blanket. I found this to work ok but felt it was a little unnecessary since anytime I would plan to take about the pack I would want to be at my final destination where I would be ok just taking out my gear.

Overall, I would say this pack has a few very specific applications and it performs really well for all those situations. Worth checking out if you want to have a multipurpose backup bag in the car or are often in a situation where you are hiking in to picnic locations.

Beautiful views and lots of options

This is a great campsite for anyone who wants to check out this amazing peak but doesn’t have an interest in backpacking. They have many options including cabins and villas as well as RV sites and tent only. There are also several trails that leave right from the campground and some easy walks to beautiful views. This is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Alabama and one of my favorite to visit.

RV Site

Open space RV site with places to park and hookup and an office where you can check in and pay for your site. They have a range of sites and a nice atmosphere. Much better option than those down the road. It is also very close to the Talladega National Forest and lots of great hiking so worth checking out if you are driving through the area with an RV.

First to Review
Classic Talladega RV site

This is another RV site for people coming to watch races at the speedway. As a typical tent camper I wouldn't stay here but it seems to have nice amenities if you are traveling in an RV. They are also very close to the highway and near the raceway so it would be a good option if those are concerns. Overall check out my video of the sites for more details.

Parking area campground

This is a campground option if you need somewhere to stay last minute and you can't hike to anything better. The campsite is free and located right near the parking area for the trailhead to Wayah Bald. It is pretty simple with a few flat areas for a tent and a small fire pit that you could use if necessary. The nice thing about this site is that there are several picnic benches to eat at and it would work well if for staying the night before climbing up to the bald. Your better option though is getting here earlier in the day and staying up near the bald where there are several flat areas with fire pits along with a shelter not far down the trail.

Close to the city

This is one of my favorite places to go camping with friends. It is so close to the city and has easy access to all the wonderful things in the area. It is also incredibly beautiful in the fall and can be combined with delicious apple picking. Try and go ahead and reserve in advance a private site, otherwise the group sites are great for meeting new people.

Several Amazing Hikes

I did a loop hike in this park and stayed at several of the backcountry sites with friends a few years ago. There are so many amazing peaks an the views are incredible it is well worth the challenge of the hike. The important thing is to make sure to plan in advance since the terrain is challenging and some of the trails can be confusing. It is worth your time to purchase a good map and plan out water fill ups as well as campsites long in advance. Also check out if you need permits and such since that is important. This area can get very cold in the winter, when we did it, so be prepared for surprise snow if you do in certain times of year.


This is one of my favorite places to go camping with friends. It is so close to the city and has easy access to all the wonderful things in the area. It is also incredibly beautiful in the fall and can be combined with delicious apple picking. Try and go ahead and reserve in advance a private site, otherwise the group sites are great for meeting new people.

Amazing hiking and swimming

Drive through this area and check out the many swimming holes and campgrounds

Nice spot near waterfall

This is another small campground down the road from the nearby summer camp. I prefer this site to the one up the road since it is a little smaller and closer to a beautiful swimming hole/waterfall. If you stay here make sure to go further up the trail since you get even better swimming holes the more you hike.

Group Site

I camped here many times while attending the camp down the road. I have also brought many groups of campers here over my summers as a counselor. To get to the site you drive or walk through the river and end up in a large group site right by a small waterfall. If you have the place to yourself it is incredibly secluded and a wonderful spot. You can also hike up or down the stream to get to other beautiful small falls that are perfect for swimming in during the hot summers.

Rock Climbing

This is a great spot in the area to try out some top rope climbing, get in some amazing views, and enjoy nice camping while you are at it. You have to hike in a little ways to get to the campground/climbing and it can be a little challenging to find so consult a map and some of the many online guidebooks. The views however are well worth it and the campground is hidden in a rock so it is well protected and has a nice campfire.

Another amazing peak

This is a classic bald where you get to the top and there are no trees around so you can see for miles. This also makes for great open space to set up a tent. There are several spots along the way up to the bald that you could camp but be aware that there is really no water so fill up before you leave. You can also continue along the trail a little further to get to a shelter but I would suggest camping on top since there is also a nice firepit. Remember it can get cold here at night though!

Amazing Views!!!

We always do this hike for sunrise since it is a quick trek up and gives the best views of the area. Camping here is also nice but not the most comfortable. The best option would be to bring a hammock and perch up in some of the nearby trees. There is a small spot on the ground you could set up a tent or just sleep on top of the firepower. Either way make the trek!

Amazing Hiking

This is one of the most beautiful hiking and camping areas and well worth checking out. I did the ridge hike while in college and stayed here with friends. It was wet and foggy so good thing we had a map but still some of the most incredible views.

Amazing but Not open all the time

We stayed here last weekend while on the Orchard for our friends' wedding. The campsite they have here is not open all the time and only available for special events so definitely make sure to check in advance. However, it is a beautiful space and well worth checking out for weddings or other get togethers. They also have cabins you can stay in as an alternative but those are limited. Make sure to check out some of the amazing hiking in the area if you stay here and dont forget to eat some apples.

Small but helpful

This is a classic AMC shelter in the backcountry of the white mountains. Stayed here while doing a one night trip with friends in the area. We actually stayed on one of the wood platforms since the hut was already full. It is a great site and worth staying at to see all the peaks in the area. Though be aware that the hut itself fills up quick and it only 3 sided so its still probably a good idea to bring a tent. There is a small stream to pump water from but it is seasonal. I highly suggest a sunrise peak if you have the energy to get up early!

Nice but expensive

This is a really nice shelter with an amazing view that you get to after coming down the hill from some of the nearby peaks. I didn't get a chance to sleep here since we came when it was closed for the season but we really enjoyed using the porch and open outdoor areas to relax and cook our breakfast. I would suggest planning a summer or spring trip since when we came in late fall there was already some snow on the ground and it was pretty cold. However, at the right time of year this shelter can be a hopping place so book in advance.

Cute Campground on the River

This is another cute campground with several other private ones in the area. It is right on the river and provides easy access along with rental options if you want to just bring you camping gear. The sites are nice and easily accessible with all the amenities we come to expect. It is also such a nice quick drive up from Portland it is highly worth checking out. If you are in the area I also suggest taking a trek up to Pleasant Mountain via the southwest ridge trail. It is a trek but well worth the views at the top.

First to Review
Nice but slightly expensive

This is definitely one of the nicer campgrounds along the river in the area but costs a little bit more for the extra accommodations. The sites are spaced out nicely and several have privacy from the woods they are situated in. You can also get a site right on the river which is a nice option. When you come in there is a small store to but firewood and check in. I would suggest planning in advance since these places have a tendency to fill up and they have a nice reservation system on their website. The river here is very nice and perfect for family canoe or kayak trips. You can even rent gear from the campground for getting out on the water. If you want to get some hiking in drive a little ways down the road and check out Pleasant Mountain. I suggest the southwest ridge trail though it is a little strenuous. Either way this area is worth checking out especially since it is such an easy and quick drive from Portland.