Brittany S.
Houston, TX
Joined August 2018
"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."
Ranger Review: Stream2Sea at Watchman Campground, UT

Campground Review:

Watchman Campground is one of two campgrounds inside of Zion National Park. It is located near the South Entrance of the park closest to Springdale, UT. You MUST make reservations online 6 months in advance to get a spot and they go SO FAST!

There is so much to love about this park!! I’ll start with the location. The South Entrance to the park is next to a town called Springdale which has so much to offer. There are restaurants, shops for camping gear, grocery stores, gas stations, laundry mat, showers, etc.…anything you could need is right there. (Super Convenient) It is also within driving distance of a bunch of other spectacular places, such as…Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand-Staircase National Monument, Antelope Canyon, Kanarraville Falls, and many many others! So take some time to plan out a trip. There is so much to see!

The park has plenty of amenities, it is definity one of the nicest parks I have stayed at. Clean, well-stocked bathrooms on every corner, huge visitor/information center and a shuttle system inside the park as well as in Springdale.

Now because the park is such a big tourist destination, it does come with a few downfalls. There are many wonderful trails, but the majority are going to be paved so that they are accessible to everyone, which don’t get me wrong, that is an awesome thing. Anyone and everyone can go experience this amazing place, but we did miss some of the adventure that comes with a dirt trail. The Watchman trail and the top of Angel's Landing trail will give you some sense of adventure.

There are also a TON of camping sites and they will ALL be full, so be prepared to get to know your neighbors and everyone else around. There will be a lot of noise and it feels more like you’re at a theme park than camping, but if you embrace it….you will find such a fun community and leave with new friends and experiences!

We did have a permit for The Narrows but unfortunately due to snow melt it was closed along with a few others. This made for even bigger crowds at the other trails, but it was still an experience I will never forget.

Quick Tip: Get a National Park Pass!!!! We always have our National Parks Pass in our pocket because we like parks, but I found that while in and around Zion we used our pass more than ever before. There are so many National Monuments and Parks around Zion that the pass can be used for and it was nice to just be able stop on the fly and have free entrance. We saved at least a couple hundred bucks on our trip just by have our pass! Without the pass, Zion alone is $36.00 per car to enter.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At Watchman Campground I tested the Stream2Sea Tinted Suncreen.

I was very excited to try out a new sunscreen. Full disclosure, I am what you call very fair skinned. I burn faster than the marshmallows roasting at you campfire….literally. So sunscreen is an absolute MUST for me. My first beach day of the Summer I had reapplied a 40SPF sunscreen 5 times throughout the day and still ended up a ripe tomato.

Now as I had said previously, I had a permit for the Narrows and thought that would be a great place to try it out with all the Sun and water, but the trail was closed. So my husband and I decided to take a day to drive from Zion to Lake Powell, where we rented a 2 person kayak and decided to kayak into Lower Antelope Canyon.

When first applying the tinted sunscreen, I immediately noticed the difference from other “white” sunscreens. You still have to rub it in very well, but you don’t have those white streaks running down you as you normally would. I was worried it wouldn’t blend well with my skin tone, but surprisingly it did. It also blended well with my husband’s skin who is much darker than me. I have quite a few tattoos and I noticed it did look kind of strange on ink.  It was almost like you could tell there was a film of goo over the tattoo.

So we heading out in the kayak down into the canyon till we hit land, then began hiking in. We spent about 6 hours in direct sunlight without reapplying and I will say I did not even get pink. I normally would have burned to a crisp, but nothing, no redness on my shoulders or top of my thighs.

This stuff works!

There was however one thing I did not like about it…

It felt heavy. You could tell that you have sunscreen on. You could feel it.

It wasn’t sticky at all, but it did have just a certain feel to it, that you do not get with the spray, lightweight sunscreens we have nowadays.

Overall, my skin was protected. A whole day in the Sun mixed with splashing water and it felt good to not be paying for it in the morning with a huge sunburn!

Ranger Review: Stream2Sea at Watchman Campground, UT

Campground Review:

Watchman Campground is one of two campgrounds inside of Zion National Park. It is located near the South Entrance of the park closest to Springdale, UT. You MUST make reservations online 6 months in advance to get a spot and they go SO FAST!

There is so much to love about this park!! I’ll start with the location. The South Entrance to the park is next to a town called Springdale which has so much to offer. There are restaurants, shops for camping gear, grocery stores, gas stations, laundry mat, showers, etc.…anything you could need is right there. (Super Convenient) It is also within driving distance of a bunch of other spectacular places, such as…Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand-Staircase National Monument, Antelope Canyon, Kanarraville Falls, and many many others! So take some time to plan out a trip. There is so much to see!

The park has plenty of amenities, it is definity one of the nicest parks I have stayed at. Clean, well-stocked bathrooms on every corner, huge visitor/information center and a shuttle system inside the park as well as in Springdale.

Now because the park is such a big tourist destination, it does come with a few downfalls. There are many wonderful trails, but the majority are going to be paved so that they are accessible to everyone, which don’t get me wrong, that is an awesome thing. Anyone and everyone can go experience this amazing place, but we did miss some of the adventure that comes with a dirt trail. The Watchman trail and the top of Angel's Landing trail will give you some sense of adventure.

There are also a TON of camping sites and they will ALL be full, so be prepared to get to know your neighbors and everyone else around. There will be a lot of noise and it feels more like you’re at a theme park than camping, but if you embrace it….you will find such a fun community and leave with new friends and experiences!

We did have a permit for The Narrows but unfortunately due to snow melt it was closed along with a few others. This made for even bigger crowds at the other trails, but it was still an experience I will never forget.

Quick Tip: Get a National Park Pass!!!! We always have our National Parks Pass in our pocket because we like parks, but I found that while in and around Zion we used our pass more than ever before. There are so many National Monuments and Parks around Zion that the pass can be used for and it was nice to just be able stop on the fly and have free entrance. We saved at least a couple hundred bucks on our trip just by have our pass! Without the pass, Zion alone is $36.00 per car to enter.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At Watchman Campground I tested the Stream2Sea Tinted Suncreen.

I was very excited to try out a new sunscreen. Full disclosure, I am what you call very fair skinned. I burn faster than the marshmallows roasting at you campfire….literally. So sunscreen is an absolute MUST for me. My first beach day of the Summer I had reapplied a 40SPF sunscreen 5 times throughout the day and still ended up a ripe tomato.

Now as I had said previously, I had a permit for the Narrows and thought that would be a great place to try it out with all the Sun and water, but the trail was closed. So my husband and I decided to take a day to drive from Zion to Lake Powell, where we rented a 2 person kayak and decided to kayak into Lower Antelope Canyon.

When first applying the tinted sunscreen, I immediately noticed the difference from other “white” sunscreens. You still have to rub it in very well, but you don’t have those white streaks running down you as you normally would. I was worried it wouldn’t blend well with my skin tone, but surprisingly it did. It also blended well with my husband’s skin who is much darker than me. I have quite a few tattoos and I noticed it did look kind of strange on ink.  It was almost like you could tell there was a film of goo over the tattoo.

So we heading out in the kayak down into the canyon till we hit land, then began hiking in. We spent about 6 hours in direct sunlight without reapplying and I will say I did not even get pink. I normally would have burned to a crisp, but nothing, no redness on my shoulders or top of my thighs.

This stuff works!

There was however one thing I did not like about it…

It felt heavy. You could tell that you have sunscreen on. You could feel it.

It wasn’t sticky at all, but it did have just a certain feel to it, that you do not get with the spray, lightweight sunscreens we have nowadays.

Overall, my skin was protected. A whole day in the Sun mixed with splashing water and it felt good to not be paying for it in the morning with a huge sunburn!

Ranger Review: Primus Primetech 2.3 Liter Stove Set at North Rim Campground

Campsite Review:

The North Rim Campground is the only campground located on the North Rim, and although massive, you HAVE to reserve your campsite 6 months in advance or it is likely you will not get one. We had planned our road trip way in advance for this reason. There are some “prime view” sites but they go very quickly. We ended up with a tent-only site which was on its own loop off to the side, but you only had to walk a few yards to look out over the rim. The whole park is beautiful, so don’t stress on getting a particular view.

The tent-only sites had their own designated parking spot not far from the site itself. The sites were close together but staggered so that you were not right up next to your neighbor. They each came with a fire pit, picnic table, and a leveled tent space. There are many bathroom locations around the sites, I did however look at the map online beforehand to get a site close to one. We were next to not only the “original” vault toilets but also “real” toilets that had sinks and a small mirror, plus a dish washing station.

There were a few potable water stations throughout, but keep in mind, if the weather is below freezing it is likely going to freeze and not work. It was snowing while we were there (which is unusual for spring) and the water did not work, thankfully we had brought our own. There is also a camp store with all sorts of groceries and resupplying needs (food, plastic utensils, fuel, candy, beer…..you know the necessities.) They have coin showers and laundry located near the ranger hut as well.

From the campsite, there is a short 2 mile hike over to The Lodge, which has a couple restaurants, coffee hut and bar, and gift shop. This is also where you will find the paths out to a few viewing areas of the Grand Canyon. Be aware it is very crowded, but worth the hike or drive over.

Since we only had one full day to hike, we decided we would take that day to hike the North Kaibab which goes down into the canyon. On the drive in we noticed the trailhead parking lot was completely full and overflowing so we woke up around 5 AM, made breakfast and got to the trailhead around 5:45 AM so we could get a parking spot. We went a total of 12 miles, 6 down (easy peasy) and 6 up (not so easy peasy), but the views were unlike anything I have ever seen! Keep in mind when going down that Yes, you do have to go back up and that last 2 miles from the top is nothing but switchbacks and they WILL murder you.

We did not see much wildlife while we were there, but it was snowing most of the time. They warned against leaving food out because of the ravens, so we made sure to keep our food up in the car. Take some time to visit the North Rim, we only had 3 days and I wished we had much much more!

Product Review:

As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At North Rim Campground, I tested the Primus Primetech 2.3 Liter Stove Set.

Now for the past few years I have been using my MSR Pocket Rocket for all my backpacking needs, but this trip was with my husband and was more like car camping than anything, so we opted to choose a little bigger stove. Primus has many variety of stoves, but we very much liked the sound of the new Primetech stove that has a nonstick pan and wind guard. It comes in a 1.3 Liter as well, but we eat a lot…

Never having used anything by Primus, I did not quite know what to expect. I ordered directly from the Primus website and received the product within the week. The stove and parts came all packed together in a nice carrying pouch that makes it very easy handle. It is bigger than the stove I am used to and probably not the best for backpacking with, but it is great if you have some extra room to spare and a few bodies to cook for!

At first, I will tell you, I got very frustrated. I could not for the life of me figure it out. I read the instructions over and over again, doing EXACTLY what they said to do. Well…that was the problem.

The set up was nice and easy, but lighting it was the issue. The instructions say to turn the valve 2 whole turns, then use the Piezo Lighter to light. Well I can tell you, after much trial and error, it needed much more than 2 turns. I originally thought it was the lighter itself, so we tried a different lighter and failed again. Long story short, I found that that you need to turn the valve until you hear a light stream of gas then use the Piezo Lighter (could be upwards of 5 whole turns.)

Once I figured out how to light the thing, I fell in LOVE!  The Primetech stove is Awesome!

Things I LOVE!! :

  1. The whole thing packs up into itself and comes in a nice carrying case!

  2. The gas valve makes it feel like you are cooking over your gas stove at home. You can decrease and increase the flame to you cooking needs without any effort at all!

  3. The lid for the pot has an integrated strainer and the wind guard on the bottom works wonders!

  4. The set comes with 2 pot, one of which has a non-stick coating that actually works! I have spent too many nights scrubbing the burned noodles out of a pot in freezing cold water as my fingers go numb….not anymore!! You can literally get a paper towel and wipe the excess food out of the pot.

This is one AMAZING stove set. We brought our old stove set on the trip just in case this one didn’t hold up to our liking, we didn’t even unpack the thing. I will be using the Primetech Primus stove for many years to come!

-Quick tip: Make sure to use a Primus fuel canister if you have one available. We originally attached a leftover MSR fuel canister we had and for some reason when connecting it the fuel leaked out a got all over my hand (it didn’t feel so good), when I attached the Primus canister later I didn’t have an issue!

Ranger Review: Mountain House Meals at James Canyon Campground, NM

Campground Review:

James Canyon Campground is the perfect stop for anyone passing through and needing a place to stay.

Located just a couple miles outside of Mayhill, NM inside the Lincoln National Forest, this primitive camping spot is directly off of US 82 and has a 5 spots total. Two of which have parking at the site and three that are across a small footbridge from a small parking lot. Now I say “primitive” but this small campsite has a whole lot to offer! There are vault toilette (no sinks-so bring your hand sanitizer), there is a fire pit with metal rack at every site along with picnic tables. Best of all, there is NO FEE to stay here!

Now I had read that there were only two sites that had parking directly next to the site and since we have had some bad luck with break-ins to our car with walk-in sites, I wanted to make sure we got one. When we arrived however the two sites with parking were already taken. Much to my surprise, the three walk-in sites were directly across from the parking area, so we were able to actually see our car from our site which was a big relief.

Although this site is right next to the highway, it feels very secluded. There are lots of pine trees which is great for hammock campers like us and there are mountains to either side of you which help a lot with keeping the wind out. There is some noise from the road as cars pass, but at night the traffic was very light and didn’t bother us at all. There were no trails accessible from the campsite that I could see and I did walk around a bit to look, so this is more of a stop and go sort of place, which was exactly what we needed after a long day of driving.

This is a first-come first-serve campground. Since it is small, spots fill up fast. We camped on a Saturday night and there was only one site left open by eight o’clock pm.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At James Canyon Campground I tested two meals from Mountain House Meals: the Chicken Fried Rice and the Noodles & Chicken.

First let me say, I have always been pretty opposed to freeze-dried meals. I always felt they had no flavor and were not worth eating unless you are backpacking and need to cut down on weight…

Now let me say…I love Mountain House!!! They are completely different from the meals I have tried in the past. They are FULL of flavor, not crunchy (if you follow directions), and so easy after a long day.

On the back of the bag of each meal there are simple instructions. Most bags say to fill with either 2 or 1.5 cups of boiling water, stir, then close pouch and let sit for about 10 minutes. SUPER SIMPLE! Now I made both the Chicken Fried Rice and Noodle & Chicken at the same time for both my husband and I to try. I used a Nalgene to measure the water since I don’t have measuring cups on the fly.

The Noodle & Chicken was by far our favorite. It reminded me a lot of Campbell’s Chicken and Noodle Soup. It was SO good! The chicken was very tender and there was a very good helping of it. I will definitely be purchasing it again. It was a big winner with my husband as well!

The Chicken Fried Rice was also good, but not our favorite. The rice was tender along with the chicken. I really liked how they incorporated the egg that you find in fried rice but I will say that it was missing that soy flavor that usually comes with in your usual Asian cuisine. I also am not a huge fan of mushrooms and it had quite a bit in there. I should have read the ingredients first. Altogether though, still a very satisfying meal.

Best thing about Mountain House…absolutely NO clean up!!! No scrubbing pots in freezing cold water, no plastic wrappers flying away in the wind, No mess!

Now freeze-dried meals can get a bit expensive, at least with Mountain House you are getting the bang for your buck. Once prepared, the pouches are filled with a wonderful, tasty meal filled with lots of protein and calories to keep you going on your adventure.

I can’t wait to try more!

Great campground with amazing water and mountain views!!

This is a great spacious campground in the Carson National forest near the Questa ranger station. It is one of the bigger sites with quite a few amenities and many options for sites. There are two small lakes and the river running through the campground that make for good fishing. Plus there are a few hiking trails connected to this park which is super convient!

They have vault style restrooms and a few wash stations with potable water. This camp is located between Questa and Red River where you can find groceries or resturants. A great place to camp with a lot to offer and amazing views!!!

Great campground with wonderful water and mountain views!!

This is a great spacious campground in the Carson National forest near the Questa ranger station. It is one of the bigger sites with quite a few amenities and many options for sites. There are two small lakes and the river running through the campground that make for good fishing. Plus there are a few hiking trails connected to this park which is super convient!

They have vault style restrooms and a few wash stations with potable water. This camp is located between Questa and Red River where you can find groceries or resturants. A great place to camp with a lot to offer and amazing views!!!

AMAZING!!!

This campground is by far my favorite of the ones on the Questa side of the Carson National Forest, but be advised it is only a day use campground.

There is an amazing lake you can fish at and some great hiking trails around the back of the lake. There are campsites, but they are not by reservation and are only for day use. There a vault toilets and trash cans.

Be advised there is not a lot of parking, and even in the off season it is a popular place. It is located pretty close the Questa ranger station if you need any information on fishing or surrounding campgrounds!

Make sure you put this spot on your list from some fishing and lazy hammocking!

Smaller campground along road in Carson National Forest.

This is small campground near the Questa Ranger station in the Carson National forest. There are not many amenities and the campground is located right off the side of the road so there is a lot of road noise.It in not my favorite campground because you are not as close to the trailheads as many of the others, but if it is your only option during peak season it would do.

This park is located between Red River and Questa, so if you are in need of groceries or hot food, it is not far down the road. The Questa ranger station down the road has firewood, but not much else.

This campground has valt toilets, fire rings and picnic tables, plus a communal bear bin for food. Steep mountains line one side and the road the opposite, so you will have to either drive or walk the road to get to hiking trails.

Beautiful spot inside Carson National Forest!

I love this campsite. It is definitely one of my favorites on the Questa side of the Carson National forest. The views here are breathtaking and the sound of the river drowns out the noise from the road which is fairly close. The sites are are very nice and spacious with a grill pit and a huge circular fire pit.

The bathrooms are simple vault toilets and there is a small wash station. There are plenty of potable water spots and the rangers here are always helpful.

On one side you have the amazing views of the mountains and the other is just beautiful forest with the river running along side. There are a few trailheads towards the back of the campground with awesome trails. Plus this campground is in between the amazing Red River ski resort and Questa. Red River has some great restaurants including a local brewery that is my personal favorite. They also have a small market, or you could head into Questa or Taos for full size grocery stores.

One of the smaller campgrounds in Carson National Forest

This is a very small campground in the Carson National Forest near the Questa Ranger station. There are very little amenities. There is no potable water or bathrooms, but there are bear bins, picnic tables and small fire rings with a grill grate.

This campground is located right off the side of the road and so are the actual campsites. This makes for quite a bit of noise from the road. If you are planning to stay at the Carson National forest I would advise you look at some of the other sites just down the road. This would be more of like an overflow option.

LSHT

Great place to camp along the LSHT! They have bathrooms but not much else. If you are hiking during hunting season, Kelly's Pond Road Hunter Camp is a designated primitive site!!! It is located at mile 14.3 on the Lone Star Hiking Trail, plus an extra 1.2 miles to the East for Kelly's Pond with bathrooms, if you are hiking from Western Terminus to Eastern Terminus.

Beautiful trails!!

Buesher State park is a great spot to take the family and relax! There is lots to do and it is a pretty good sized Texas park. They have tent, group, and RV sites, along with cabins and screened shelters alongside the lake. You cannot swim in in the lake, but they do have boat and tackle rentals at the park. It makes for a great place to fish with the family.

The park is very shaded with lots of pine trees, but a fire did wipe out a lot of the trees on the Northern side of the park towards Bastrop. So many of the longer trails are not as shaded or are still in the process of repair. I went on a trail that was about 5 miles long and it was very nice. It was moderately challenging, a little muddy, but so much to see. Beautiful wildflowers of ever color were growing and I saw about eight white tail deer. Also a great place to birdwatch and take photography.

The facilities are old, but well maintained and there is a store on site that sales snacks, wood, and souvenirs. The have a nice playground on site for the kids and the campsites are very spacious.

Also if you have the time there is a 12 mile scenic road that connects Buesher State Park with Bastrop State Park that will take you about thirty minutes. It is a twisty, hilly road that has some really great views of fields of wildflowers and tall pines. You can also see where the fire took out part of the forest and is beginning to regrow. Also Bastrop state park is a great place to visit for some challenging hikes!

Great for all!

Bastrop would be a great place for youth groups or family reunions. It has a little for everyone and is conveniently located about thirty minutes from Lockhart where you can get, in my opinion, some of the best BBQ in Texas. This state park has tent, group, RV, group cabin w/ barracks, cabins (some are wheelchair accessible), and a dining hall (also wheelchair accessible).

There is a swimming pool that is run by the local YMCA that is open during the summer, plus a huge playground that has disability swing set, which makes this park a 5 STAR for me. Some of the building were burned down in a fire six years ago and have since been replaced, so the bathroom and other facilities are brand spankin new!

There are some great fishing spots along with some of my favorite hiking trails. My favorite trail is the scenic overlook trail which starts at the top of the lookout and travels 2 miles down through wildflowers and over streams. It is a shorter trail, but it is a more challenging one. Some of the longer trails have been closed since the fire and flood, but you can connect a few of the others to make for one good one. Everything is so colorful here.

The walk-in tent sites are some of my favorites. The have a wonderful look and feel to them. Very scenic and off on their own away from noise from other campers. Also don’t forget to take the 12 mile scenic drive over to Buesher State park, it is well worth it!

BBQ and golf!

So everyone knows that Lockhart has some of the best BBQ in Texas, but it is a lot more than that. Lockhart State park is a fairly small park, but it still has quite a bit to offer. If you are a hiker or a biker, this may not be the best for you, seeing as the most of the trails are less than half a mile long. But if you are just looking to get away, this is a great place.

They have a nice little swimming pool on site that is great for kiddos to enjoy, and they have quite a few places you can fish throughout the park. Then about half the park is for golfing, which is great news for the dad of the family. The short trails are nice a scenic with a lot of running creeks and streams throughout the park. 

There are tent and RV sites, along with a group recreation hall and dining hall. Seeing as I love to hike, this is not my go to place, but I find it great for a day trip.

My family and I love to grab some BBQ at Smitty’s, Black’s, or Kruez Market about 6 miles down the road and then find a nice picnic table by the water to chow down. Plus you can take a leisurely walk to burn off all those calories when you’re done! Lockhart is located about thirty minutes from the Austin/San Marcos area, so if you’re in the neighborhood check it out! It is also about thirty miles from Bastrop and Buesher State Park which also have a lot to offer with amazing trails, wildlife, and views!

Convenient location!

Colonia Del Ray is a nice little park, nothing to fancy. We usually stay here when visiting family that lives in Flower Bluff. It is a very convenient location, about five minutes from an HEB and within thirty minutes of most of the Corpus Christi attractions. They have a lot of rental spots for such a small park, so there is not much room between you and your neighbors. If you going for a fun trip at the beach you wouldn’t be spending much time at your RV anyway.

The rate is forty bucks a night for an RV with free wi-fi and cable. The facilities are clean, but don’t expect much scenery. There are not many trees, but at least you can see the ocean. There are coin laundry machines, pool, playground, and a mini gated dog area. I believe they have rental cabins on one side of the park. It seems like locals use this park to post up their boats and RVs as well. You can make reservations online, and the owners of the place are very kind.

Flower Bluff is a great town with wonderful people. Make sure you check out some of the locally eateries. About two blocks from the park is a seafood restaurant located on the water with a huge deck. They have excellent food and it is in walking distance which is a plus! Also if you have kids take them to the U.S.S Lexington! It is so awesome and hands-on with airplanes on the top deck!

For LSHT thru-hikers

This is a designated primitive camp located on the Lone Star Trail. This camp is located about a mile from LSHT Trailhead #13. It is at mile 83.5 if you are traveling from the Western to Eastern Terminus in the Sam Houston National Forest and is about 100 years East off of the actual trail itself. It is a primitive campsite with no amenities other than a place to sleep. During hunting season (September 26 – January 8) camping in Sam Houston National Forest is restricted to only developed campgrounds, designated hunter camps, or designated primitive camps. This is an optional campground for the LSHT all year long! THERE IS NO POTABLE WATER HERE.

Best for LSHT thru-hikers

This is a designated primitive camp located on the Lone Star Trail. It is at mile 75.7 if you are traveling from the Western Terminus to the Eastern Terminus and about 2 miles from LSHT Trailhead # 11. It is a primitive campsite with no amenities other than a place to sleep.

During hunting season (September 26 – January 8) camping in Sam Houston National Forest is restricted to only developed campgrounds, designated hunter camps, or designated primitive camps. This is an optional campground for the LSHT all year long! THERE IS NO POTABLE WATER HERE.

Stars for Stars!

I love the Badlands for the amazing views and awesome hiking trails they have to offer. The Cedar Pass campground is a very nice and clean site to stay at. They have tent, group, RV and cabin sites plus there is a shelter covering a picnic table at every site, which is great because there is usually a ton of wind. Obviously, it is the Badlands so there aren’t any trees, so do not expect shade or much privacy from your neighbors.

Be aware that some of the sites will flood during rainy days so I would call ahead and see before you reserve if the weather is not going to be great. It can also get quite cool so just make sure you bring the sunscreen even in the cooler weather because the Sun will still get you. The facilities were pretty clean while I was here. There are showers and also a dish washing station that is very convenient. There is also a restaurant and store on site which is awesome if you need supplies or just some hot food and coffee.

Now the campsite is great but what makes this place golden is that it is in the Badlands National Park. They have some of the most amazing trails and you cannot beat the view of the night sky. You are miles away from city lights. I love bringing my telescope and walking a little ways from the campsite at night to set up. This is the perfect place for star gazing! The views at this place will want you wishing to come back for years to come!

Alligators OH MY!!!

Brazos Bend is alligator headquarters! This is my son's favorite park, right up next to Dinosaur Valley State Park. So first i'll tell you that the facilities are nice and pretty new it looked like. There are tent, group, equestrian, and RV sites, plus cabins and screened shelters. They have a few hike and bike trails, but nothing very challenging or long, but everything else they have is what makes it the bomb!

There are six lakes, a creek, and the Brazos river in the park, so if you go during summer take bug spray, or bugs will eat you alive. Also tons of spiders…so yeah. You can fish at some of the lakes, and most of the lakes have a viewing pier where you can bird watch and look for big alligators.

OK, the Nature center is the coolest thing ever!!! They have snakes, spiders, and lots of fun stuff for kids. My son got to touch a king snake and a baby alligator, which was so cool. They also have lots of planned activities going on, so make sure you check the calendar or ask a park ranger if they have an event going on. We got so lucky that they had a group of alligator hatchlings that they brought out for all the kids to see and did a whole informative, interactive discussion. They brought out like 60 baby alligators in tubs and showed the kids how they feed them and how they would release them back into the wild. It was the most amazing thing! They made sure every kid got to touch one, and there were a lot of kids.

So yeah alligators are awesome, but on top of all of that, there is an observatory in the park. If you go on the weekends they have tours and shows at the observatory. There is an extra fee, but it is well worth it.

Bring a hat, sunscreen, good shoes, and bug spray is a must!

Best campsite in Sam Houston National Forest!!!

Sam Houston National Forest is my absolute favorite. There is so much to do there, plus the longest foot trail in Texas (Lone Star trail) resides here. This campsite is located on the Eastern side of the forest and it very close to the Eastern Terminus of the Lone Star trail ( trailhead #15).

Double Lake is the campsite that has it all. Plus there is a lake, or two, where you can fish, boat, and swim. There are lots of bike and hiking trails, along with off roading vehicle trails. The scenery is amazing. I love to go hiking early in the morning as all of the wildlife begins to rise. The sounds and views are some of the best in the state.

The facilities are kept very clean and the staff is always to kind and helpful. Some of the trails were closed the last time I visited but the park rangers were very helpful in helping me navigate. There are tent sites, group tent sites and RV sites available to reserve, which you can easily reserve online. My favorite tent site, that I try to get every time is site # 28. It is easily accessible, off by itself, and still close enough to the bathrooms. I like it because it has quite a bit of room, lots of tree cover ( which is nice when it rains, or in the summer) and it has some character to it.

There is a ranger station at the entrance of this site, but be aware they are closed on the weekend. They have a little drop box and fill out sheet is you come on the weekends, but make sure to download a map of the trails and park beforehand, because the maps are never stocked and there likely won't be one. If you don't have one, there is usually a ranger driving around on a golf cart you can ask.

Make sure you hike the double lake trail. It is about 9 miles long with a very easy footpath, but the views and stillness of the forest make it worth it. The trailhead is between the lake and bathrooms after entering, but be aware it is also a bike trail and can get muddy after a good rail.

There is a fee to enter. If you have a National Park pass it is free and it is twenty dollars a night. Please visit this park!!