the dyrt
Big Hill Pond State Park

The boardwalks and observation deck were really fun for the kids, but most of the trails were too long for us so we didn’t see the whole park. The site was clean and basic, lots of trees for hammocking. Simple park but really beautiful for this area.

Bumpus Mills

Kids were so excited about seeing a turkey by the camper in the morning. It was hard to choose a site just because they were all so nice on a small hill overlooking the water (though they do vary in shade). The sites themselves are very flat though with concrete platforms. Nice campground but plan to spend most of your time on the water or at another park or whatever nearby.

Bumpus Mills

Kids were so excited about seeing a turkey by the camper in the morning. It was hard to choose a site just because they were all so nice on a small hill overlooking the water (though they do vary in shade). The sites themselves are very flat though with concrete platforms. Nice campground but plan to spend most of your time on the water or at another park or whatever nearby.

Martin Dies State Park

This is a huge campground with many sites being on the water and the rest being close to it. If you’re here for boating or fishing, like most people, you can get a campsite near a boat launch. The campgrounds are all very wooded and shady, though some spots don’t feel very private. They have a lot of sites with electricity and there are lots of bathrooms and shower houses. So while it’s crowded and large, it’s well laid out and still feels like you’re really close to nature. They also have a bunch of cabins and screened mini-cabins you can rent to ease the bug situation…which was pretty intense. The mini-cabins were very cute and look relatively new, but we didn’t stay there. You can walk along some trails straight from your campsite. Bring a kayak, canoe, or boat and you’ll have a great weekend here.

Davis Mountains State Park

Lovely wide open spaces in a valley. The park has hiking, a nature center, horse trails, and we were lucky enough to go on a ranger-led hike highlighting the history of the area including Native Americans and the fort. My husband was definitely feeling the elevation here, so make sure to drink and eat enough. The campground is wide open but sites are huge so you don’t feel penned in. They have fire bans sometimes so talk to the host before lighting anything. They supply water, hookups, even a shower house.

Sea Rim State Park

This is part of a huge refuge with marshes and seashores. We got a cabin (not sure if there is a tent or RV area) and it was really nice: AC, unfurnished kitchen, comfy bunkbeds, screened deck (bring your own kitchen supplies and bedding). I’m pretty sure the cabins are relatively new (as of 2014) because of a hurricane sometime in the past decade. Absolutely beautiful for a day or the weekend.

Bighorn National Forest

We saw lots of wildlife, even moose, since the campsites are right in the forest. There weren’t too many sites and there are no reservations so don’t expect to pull up late and get a campsite (we didn’t get a site in July at 4pm but were ok for September at 6pm). Sunsets were incredible and we did a lot of hiking nearby with this as a “basecamp.”

Six Mile Gap Campground...

…on six mile road near the CO/WY border. We did the float on the North Platte River. This is a minimal campground near the river with nothing more than a vault toilet. Great views of mountains and plains and even some pronghorns near the camp. I don’t remember if there was potable water or not. Lots of roads around here are dirt so call the rangers if you have concerns about your low clearance vehicle.

Backcountry cabin NOT FOR PUBLIC USE

LOL stay in an outhouse… This is a super rustic old ranger cabin. They’re neat to check out and share a cookie with the rangers and work croo that’s there. But don’t plan on staying here.

Backcountry cabin NOT FOR PUBLIC USE

This is a super rustic old ranger cabin. They’re neat to check out and share a cookie with the rangers and work croo that’s there. But don’t plan on staying here.

Backcountry cabin NOT FOR PUBLIC USE

This is a super rustic old ranger cabin. They’re neat to check out and share a cookie with the rangers and work croo that’s there. But don’t plan on staying here.

Grant Campground

Beautiful site along Yellowstone Lake’s West Thumb. Great facilities here and clean, they even have dishwashing areas and a few free showers. It was real crowded but that’s what we expected. Kids went nuts for all the wildlife but thank god we didn’t see bears here. The rangers were real serious about the bear safety stuff, which made us a little nervous but also to feel good that they take it seriously to keep everyone safe. Anyway the sites themselves were basic but good and clean with nice facilities centralized. There was no hot water but we’re used to roughing it.

Potomac Group in Finger Lakes

This is in the forest park between Watkins Glen and Ithaca, so a nice spot to explore parks (and restaurants) in both of those. We rented this groups-only site for a small family reunion camp. It’s not a very huge group site, but perfect for scouts, picnicking, and low-key camping. There’s a big covered pavilion for group cooking and eating too. It’s not far from a pond to explore and some easy/moderate hiking trails. Great wildlife out here, deer, turkeys, pheasants, and woodchucks, plus excellent stargazing.

Harrison Bay State Park

Not much hiking but there are many other ways to spend your time here, mostly on the water but also golfing and fishing. There were ranger programs for kids and all ages but we didn’t have time for them. The campsites were fine, nothing spectacular, area is real pretty though.

Cherokee Landing Campground

We got cabins for the family, they were very nice (bring your own sheets, towels, and food, they had basic cookware and dining ware but ours is in the camp bin so we used what we brought and were used to). Site was very wooded and we had a great time. Friends met us there with a boat and we spent the whole time out on the water or grilling, so I’m not sure how much there is to do at the campgrounds or in the woods.

Smoky Mountain National Park

Lose the crowds and find great day hikes and a simple lovely campground with an Appalachian feel. The campground was very lush and green in summer with lots of trees perfect for hammocking. It is kind of open and there’s not too much privacy though. They have a few ranger talks a week but otherwise there’s not a lot to do…until you hit the trails. There are trails leaving from this campground that connect to the Appalachian Trail and lots of other of varying difficulty. No showers but it’s not far from the entrance and a little town where you can pick up what you need to. Take the rangers seriously about bears, we saw prints in the morning not 1/4 mile from our RV.

Paris Landing State Park

Great wildlife and leaf peeping in the fall! The hiking trails we found were perfect length for the kids (ages 5-9 at the time) but not for more serious hikers. Sports fields, pool, restaurant, and other activities make this a less nature-oriented campground but there’s boating too. There’s a hotel and some kind of conference center that had a wedding. Some of the campground is very open but most is wooded. Sites are kinda close but the trees make it easy to ignore your neighbors. Nice built up resort kind of state park.

Pickwick Landing State Park

The Shiloh Military Park nearby kept us busy for a whole day and we spent the evening swimming (real pool, not just a lake) and grilling and campfire at this campground. We loved this tent site among the trees along the lake (I think it was site # teen-something). It wasn’t crowded in June which was a nice surprise.

Dewey Lake

The park’s along the lake and has hiking, birding, a restaurant, and a nice surprise: an open air theatre with shows outside all summer. The park is kind of famous for having elk, which are common out west, but we didn’t get to see any. If you have horses there are trails but AFAIK the park doesn’t let you hire them (not sure about outside companies). None of the campsites are alone or very close to the lake. All the ones we saw were very open but along the trees, so no lakeside views either. They also have cabins. Nice built-up modern KY state park with enough to do to fill a whole weekend for all of your family. Never been in the water so can’t comment on Carrie J’s assessment of the lake being gross.

Bee Rock in Daniel Boone Park

The history of the name of this rock is really strange…who knew bee keepers could be so violent?? The hike up the Bee is worth it and good for the little ones, lots of little rock formations to explore and only about a mile or two long. There were a few other trails too. The campsites are all along or close to the water among the trees, so very lovely and rather private. Toilets are only pit style but there’s water spigots. Overall it’s a simple site that feels quaint, natural, and part of Appalachia history that makes a good overnight as you explore the area.