Lee D.

Pro

West Des Moines, IA

Joined September 2018

Retired in 2017 and my husband and I have been traveling in our camper van about 75% of the time ever since.

The cave is the star attraction

This is a very small campground- 13 improved sites (nine of these have 50 amp electric and can accommodate all sizes of rigs; four are designed for smaller units and have 30 amp electric) plus five primitive sites, which have communal water only (no electric). There is zero privacy/separation between the improved sites, which would make the unimproved sites possibly more appealing (but further from the restroom and it was pouring when we were there). Improved sites are gravel and include a BBQ, fire ring, and a very large picnic table. Rates are $16 for a primitive site/$29 for an improved site plus a $4.75 processing fee for the first night of your stay. Senior discounts are given. 

The restrooms are functional and clean but basic. There was a leak in the roof from the pouring rain that could pose a slipping hazard. 

There are a large picnic pavilion and two short hiking trails of about a mile each. We hiked the Fossil Mountain trail, which is very rocky. The main draw to this park is the cave. Tours are offered four times daily, January through November. If you camp, you receive a discount on the tour. The tour is worth doing.

Many available activities

After nixing two flooded campgrounds, we arrived here at 5:30 pm on a Saturday in late February hoping there would be an available spot; we were lucky that just a handful were left (out of 109) as there was a bluegrass festival going on! 

The campground is divided into an “old” section and a “new” one. Arriving after hours directs you to the office and the old section, however, the office was closed when we arrived. We flagged down a ranger, who directed us to the first available spot and told us to pay the next morning. The rate of $16 (senior rate) was very reasonable for an electric hook-up, although there was nothing special about the spot. Premium lakefront sites go for $28 (no senior discounts given) and these were nicer. Not all the sites are level but they are generous in size. Laundry is available in both campgrounds.

We drove to the new section the next morning (which is several miles away around the other side of Shadow Lake). Aside from the lakefront sites having closer access to the lake, we could see no appreciable difference between the old and new sections. There is a reasonable separation between the sites, with some trees. The picnic tables in both sections appeared to be very weathered. The restrooms/showers were ok – the soap dispenser was empty, and some very disrespectful campers made one of the two toilets unusable (not the fault of the campground).

There are also cabins and a motel, plus a group campsite, but we did not check these out. Activities (again, we did not avail ourselves of any of them) include a sports field, water slide and pool, disc golf, boating (there is a boat launch), and a performing arts center.

Take a Gamble?

We had just left Buccaneer State Park and were headed west when we saw this “campground”. It is not much more than a parking lot but oh, the views of the gulf – you can’t get much closer!

There are 37 sites with level concrete pads, each with electric (30& 50 amp), water & sewer and trash receptacles. Each site has a BBQ and picnic table but there are NO restrooms. Rates are $25-$35 (for water view spots) Sunday– Thursday and $30-$49 for Friday and Saturday. Higher prices (up to $99) on holidays and note that Mardi Gras is considered a holiday! However, if you “join” at the nearby Casino for eligible play, you will get a free night in return. If you bank enough eligible play nights, you can stay for free on future stays. 

Not our preferred kind of camping but might be worth a gamble for a night. Call (228) 469-2777, ext. 0 for more information.

Not our style but appears to be a very nice RV park

If RV parks are your thing, you will likely enjoy staying here. I would rate it a 4 based on friendliness of staff and amenities but lower on location and layout (parking lot style). This is simply because of the fact that we travel in our campervan and only wish to spend a limited amount of time IN our van as opposed to larger RVs that are more conducive to staying inside.

Rates vary from $35/night full gravel back-in during the winter to $55/night for a premium pull-through in the summer. Weekly rates are also available. Military and Good Sam discounts are also given. 

Amenities include a heated pool, community room, dog park, gym (new equipment was being delivered the day I visited) and new laundry appliances due to be delivered. This RV park is located on the road to Dauphin Island, about eight miles away. I don’t think you would be on your way to/from anywhere so it is not likely you would stay here as a stopover but if you were coming with a group or escaping the winter, this might be a nice place for you.

Great for families in the summer

When we took our kids camping when they were young, they were lucky if there was a small playground at the state parks where we camped; they would have loved this place which is exactly why we wouldn’t come near here during the summer months! (Funny how our perspective has changed now that our kids are grown!) For families, this could be a reasonably priced getaway: camping, playground, disc golf, pool, and waterpark - all in one place. Note, however, that there is an additional charge for both the pool and the waterpark. 

This is a very large campground with 276 sites. I’m not sure if we lucked out (or if I was advised by another reviewer) but we reserved in the Treasure Cove loop, farthest from the entrance. This loop appeared to be the only one with relative privacy/separation between the sites. All the others looked like they had RVs stacked up on top of each other. Sites include a bbq, fire pit, and picnic table. There is also a “premium” section by the waterpark overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. These are right on the road, but the road did not seem to be heavily trafficked (this might be different in the summer months). The cost for these sites is higher and they are not reservable. Beware that some of these sites are on pavement with no separation (and no view of the Gulf), while others are on the grassy area with a view of the Gulf. Since they are not reservable, you would be able to select one to your liking. There is, however, zero shade in these sites and there are no tables or grills and they may be unavailable during certain times of the year. There is also a primitive loop and it is exactly that. No restrooms or other facilities (although you could walk to one of the other loops) and no visible delineation of sites. 

The bathrooms are reasonable. We drove past miles and miles of white sandy beach before reaching this campground, so I was eagerly looking forward to a long walk on the beach but near the campground, I was disappointed that there was no beach; the water came right up to the road (although there was a concrete sidewalk of sorts). I am not sure if this is because of hurricane erosion or by design. 

Because we were not here with kids in the summer to enjoy the waterpark, there was not much for us to do so we were happy we had only reserved one night here.

Great for history buffs

This park/campground is about 8 miles west of the town of Port Gibson, near a nuclear reactor (yes, you heard that right). This park is not on the way to anywhere (except the nuclear reactor) and we were apprehensive as we followed the GPS directions but upon arrival, we were pleasantly surprised by a park filled with history. Unfortunately for us, the campground was full as the nearby reactor was being refueled and all the employees were either camped out along the road or in the park. Also, the Mississippi River had risen to the road, coming very close to flooding the park. For future reference, the camping fees are very reasonable ($25 or $23 for 62 and older) for a FHU site. There is also an area for tents, although I did not ask the fee for this. There are two camping areas – an upper and lower campground and one small bathhouse that is located in the Upper Campground (one toilet and sink and two shower stalls). I would think one night here would be enough, but if you are a history buff, this destination should be on your list. 

The town of Grand Gulf boasted nearly 1,000 residents by the mid-1800s but then yellow fever, a tornado, and massive floods reduced the population to 158 by the time the Civil War arrived in the area. Features include a church, mill, old cemetery, observation tower, gun emplacements, rifle pits.

Direct beach access

It is all in your perspective, but we prefer a bit of privacy and separation with foliage between sites, and if you do as well, I would recommend you choose a tent site. Most back up to the wooded bird sanctuary (watch out for bird poop!) However, if these sites were full they would not have much privacy, but we were the only ones for the first night and there was only one other camper in this loop the second night. The RV sites have zero privacy, however! Some of these sites back directly on to the road. It seemed to me that there are many returnee snowbirds who stay here so they don’t seem to mind. When we were there, there was a snowbird arts and crafts display. If you do choose an RV site, I would recommend Site 15-21. BUT, you do not have the option of reserving a specific site; it is assigned to you upon arrival. After reading other reviews, I dreaded the laborious check-in process, but it did not take very long. Also, driving up to the window to let them know you were leaving is all there was to the check-out process. 

The bathhouse was immaculate, regardless of the time of day. There is a sign prohibiting pets from being in the bathhouse, but some disregarded this rule. In fact, there almost seemed to be as many dogs as people here! The laundry room looked nice and had a television but has limited hours(closed at 8 pm). 

There is an approximately mile-long walkable beach with access directly from the campground; if you head east, you will get to Fort Gaines and if you head west, you will eventually reach private property and cannot go any further on the beach. There were nice sunsets for the two nights we were there. The Mobile Bay ferry terminal is also directly across the street from the campground; yes, you will hear the whistle!

A small town with shops and restaurants is about two miles away and there is a wide bike/pedestrian path. Although we enjoyed our time here, I likely would not return as there are nicer beaches and other places to explore!

Camping?

We were camping in another nearby (fee) US Army Corp of Engineers campground and decided to check this unreviewed free campground out. The website indicates there is camping here but I saw no evidence of any place where you could pitch a tent or even park a vehicle. Absolutely no services. Lots of felled trees and swampy land and a decrepit covered bridge that was not photo worthy at all. Perhaps navigation brought us to the wrong place but there were signs for the park. Glad we didn’t decide to plan on staying here!

Nice small campground

If you can’t get into Fort Clinch State Park, this small (40 site) campground is a good option as long as you don’t have a large RV. Our 17-foot campervan did just fine, but the sites are not very large and there are some low hanging branches. Some sites are more private than others. IMO, the best site is#38, a pull-through with no neighbors on either side or behind. Sadly, it was empty when we were there! 

Check-in is across the street from the campground. The ranger who checked us in was very helpful and explained everything we needed to know. The roads and pads are dirt so they can get muddy when it rains (didn’t rain when we were there but the puddles suggested it had done so recently). Also, the roads are narrow and there are no signs indicating they are one-way so if two vehicles meet, one of them will need to pull over! Again, this would be challenging or impossible for large RVs. 

The restrooms were clean (with HOT water!) and there were two of them for the campground which was more than sufficient. Appeared there were multiple hosts.  

There is a very walkable beach with access across the road from the campground – about a half-mile walk to get to the access point; I enjoyed a morning walk and didn’t see a soul. If you have a kayak, you can launch it from the campground.

Very reasonable price($27) for a water and electric site.

Umm, not for us but ok, I guess

I wasn’t able to find out much information about this 25-site campground as the owner was not in the office when we visited. It is located not far from Interstate 10, but I would not recommend trying to find it after dark. 

The campground is on a dirt road and there were puddles from recent rain, although it was not difficult to navigate in our van. It did appear that some of the“campers” were long term residents. 

The website indicates there is a pool, but I did not see one. The website also indicates the following information (although I could not confirm it): cash only, pets are ok, 30/50 amp electric plus one FHU site, restrooms/showers/laundry. 

There is a small lake and fishing is available, but no boat launch (lake would be too small for boats). Other than that, there really is nothing to do here.

A nice little hideaway

This campground on Route 98 just east of Navarre Beach was renamed to The Hideaway Camping Retreat with new owners about 8 months ago. It was obvious that Jeanie the owner takes pride in the campground as she showed me around. Numerous improvements have already been made and there are more plans for the future. One planned improvement is to build decks on the four premium waterfront sites (#37, 45, 46, and 47). 

The bathhouse is very clean and nicely decorated, unique to campgrounds I have seen. There are a community fire pit, hammocks and a small beach that allows pets. Also a very nice laundry room– I wouldn’t mind doing my laundry there! 

What sets this campground apart is the numerous trees on the property. I visited on a cool, cloudy day in February, but I imagine the shade from the trees would be very welcome in the summer. Also, unlike many other RV parks, the sites are not lined up in a row like dominoes. Some sites have more separation than others.

Rates, while a bit pricey, are not out of line for Florida RV parks. Rates are based on the type of site and season and range from $45 for a tent site in fall/winter to $125 for a premium waterfront site on a holiday for spring/summer (March 1-September 15). 

Note that it could be challenging to find as the traffic can be fierce on 98 and the sign is small but I guess that’s what makes it a hideaway!

Seasonal five-star rating!

My seasonal five-star rating is based on being here in the offseason. There is just something about having a campsite right on the water that is so peaceful. However, in the summer, I would imagine the water would be clogged with boats zooming around, and we would not find it so peaceful or enjoyable (but many others would). 

There are four sections to this 130-site campground: Mallard Point, Oakwood, Creek View, and River Chase. The only sites that are reservable are in the Oakwood and Creek View Sections. Only Mallard Point and Oakwood were open when we were there; I’m not sure if it was because of flooding or just low occupancy. Based on Elaine H’s review, we had reserved Site 50 in the Oakwood section for two nights and we were not disappointed. We were right on the water, which gave us a little concern after the host said the water was expected to rise (some of the sites had some water) but we didn’t have a problem. Not much separation/privacy between sites but most people were in RVs (didn’t see any tents). Each site has a large picnic table, fire ring, lantern hook, and food prep table. 

Bathrooms were very clean AND heated, which was nice as the temperatures dipped below freezing at the end of February. Each section has laundry facilities ($1.50 each for wash/dry) The map showed two dump stations, one at the very end of the campground and one located in the Oakwood section but again, only the one in Oakwood was open when we were there. Sadly, no recycling. 

There are two very short nature trails but no other hiking trails. There is a fenced-in dog park. If you are not a boater, there is not much to do but again, it was very peaceful at the end of February.

Nestled in among the big boys!

This campground is geared toward large RVs. Although I am sure you could pitch a tent, we did not see any while there. Each site is a FHU and therefore, the campground is pricier than other state parks ($40 plus a $5 park pass). The driveways are very long, and our small camper van looked lost among all the larger rigs! There are also 11 fully equipped cottages; four of them allow pets. Reasonably priced laundry facilities ($1.25 each for washer and dryer). We were in the section with the new bathhouse – four individual units, each with toilet, sink, and shower. 

Our first night, the noseeums were pretty pesky but the temperature dropped about 20 degrees the second night and voila - they were gone! I imagine they would be relentless in the summer months!

We chose this campground since it was just a 20-minute drive to the ferry to Cumberland Island. Although we did not avail ourselves of these options, fishing and private boats are other activities that can be enjoyed at this park. The day-use area has an outdoor “gym” and mini-golf. You could walk there from the campground, but it is about a mile away.

Don't waste your time like we did!

We were camped at another Army Corps of Engineers (fee) campground and decided to check out this unreviewed one further south. The website indicated that there was camping at this free site but although there was a loop at the end of the road, we could find no evidence of a place to pitch a tent or even park a vehicle (or even that you would want to). Absolutely no services, not even a porta-potty. In the middle of nowhere - no gas stations, grocery stores, or any other type of amenity. Lots of felled trees and swampy land. Only saw a decrepit covered bridge that was not even photo-worthy. Perhaps we were in the wrong place but signs indicated we were at the park so I dunno?

Good for families

This review starts with the wonky reservation system. If you look at several campsites, it thinks you want to reserve all of them. Even if you de-select campsites, it still thinks you want to reserve all of them! And then, it didn’t like the apostrophe in our last name. I took that out but then it made me wait for two minutes before I could continue with the reservation. Ugh. We were also not happy that there was a two-night minimum on the weekends. 

Now for the campground. This is a fairly small campground with only 40 sites. It was full on the first Friday in November but there was no host (and we did not see a Ranger throughout our stay). There would be free firewood (donations encouraged) if a host or ranger were present, so no firewood for us.    

Many of the sites are NOT level but the website does indicate this during the reservation process. Fifteen have tent pads, but others do not and would be more suitable for RVs. The driveways are paved but some are crumbling, and pieces of pavement are tripping hazards. All the sites have electric and water. There are two comfort stations that were very clean and the showers (no additional cost) looked reasonable. There is a pack-in, pack-out policy and therefore there is only one dumpster across from the park office, which is quite a distance from the campground, and you are asked to bring your trash there nightly (the distance from the campground makes this challenging if you do not have another vehicle). 

There are some nice hiking trails, but they are not on the map that you are given upon check-in. There is a map posted by the camp office, again quite a distance from the campground. This park is also good for mountain bikers, although they are not allowed to use the trails on Saturdays. Dogs are allowed if kept on a leash. Alcohol can only be consumed if out of public sight. 

You will hear trains. Many trains. Loud trains. All throughout the night😊

There is a beach and boat rental in season, which looks very nice, but we stayed there out of season, so this was not available.

Hike to a beautiful waterfall!

At milepost 339 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is another typical National Park Service campground. At this one, there was someone to greet and check us in at 4 pm, which was welcome especially as it was mere days before the campground closed for the season. We did not make reservations for a weekday so late in the season, but I would recommend you do so at peak times. There are three loops in this campground: one for RVs (but no hookups), and two for tents/vans. We drove around the tent/van loop, which was much more sparsely occupied, but not all of the pads were level. Many of the pads were meant to be shared with multiple campsites, making them more optimal for tent campers, but not out of the question for our van. We settled into Site 22 in the A (RV) loop, which was a pull-in side pad(making it easy in and out). 

Restrooms are typical of what I’ve come to expect in NPS campgrounds– functional but not luxurious. Three stalls plus what looked to have once been a fourth. Two sinks but the water was sparse in one and dripped from the other. No showers but there was a soap dispenser, garbage receptacle, and lights, things not always found in NPS campground bathrooms! 

The biggest draw to this campground is the 2.5-mile loop hike to Crabtree Falls. I recommend you hike in a clockwise direction, starting from the B loop and ending in the A loop. This leaves the bulk of the strenuous climbing for the end, rather than descending sharply at the beginning. The waterfall was beautiful, likely made more so due to recent rains.

Standard NPS campground directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway

We were told by a ranger we talked with earlier in the day that this campground might be closed for the season but the gates were open, so we checked it out and saw a sign saying that it would close for the season on November 4 so we were good!

There are two different campgrounds– one for tents and one for RVs. Normally, we can stay in tent sites with our 17-foot campervan but not at Doughton, as the tent pads are a distance away from where you park and there are not suitable pads where you could park and camp. Also, there was not a soul in the tent section. The RV section is across the street (on the Blue Ridge Parkway) and it was about 2/3rds full. No hookups and the bathrooms were reasonable Two toilet stalls, two sinks, no showers but don’t forget to bring your flashlight; there were no lights and it was dark even during the day when it was cloudy/foggy. 

Each site has two pads– I’m assuming one is if you have a trailer or 5th wheel and one to park your car. However, even though there are two, they are not long, so bringing a large 5th wheel might be problematic, and a large Class A would definitely be challenged. 

Even though many of the sites were occupied, it was very quiet. I’m assuming a Monday night in late October meant there were no children. Can’t beat the value for$10 (with a senior pass).

Just beautiful!

It is rare that a campground is close to all the amenities it has to offer without moving your vehicle but Sherando Lakes is one of them. You can access two lakes and multiple hiking trails from any of the three loops. One lake (Upper Sherando) is for fishing only and the main lake is for swimming (in season) and fishing. We were there in October and the fall foliage was stunning. 

This campground gets five stars because of the awesome volunteer hosts. Ron started a fire for us while we were waiting for our firewood to be delivered (yes, you read that right!) and the next night, came over to our site bringing additional wood to keep our fire going long after we expected it to last. Gene and Deb were awesome in describing the trails to us. 

I was surprised to find showers and flush toilets in a National Forest Service Campground but Sherando had both. Also, if you stay in the B or C loops, there are electric hookups, something else I was surprised to see in a NFS campground. We stayed in the A loop (no hookups) and this loop is more suitable for tents, but we were fine in our 17-foot campervan. The tent pads are large and flat. These spaces might be tight for larger RVs. If you have young kiddos, the C loop is closest to the playground. Sites are generously sized and have good separation. Firepit, large picnic table, lantern hook and what I’m guessing was a food prep “counter” This was awesome to be able to put our camp stove on and something I have never seen before. 

LOVED this campground, the hikes, and awesome volunteer hosts.

One of the nicest National Park Campgrounds we’ve been in

Huge campground with over 200 sites plus additional tent-only walk-in sites but it appeared to be close to, if not completely, full on a Thursday night in late October, so it was a good thing we had reservations. Upon check-in, the campground rules were reviewed with us, and we even had to initial that we understood that we would be fined if our food was not properly stored, as the campground was in bear country. I’m guessing this is necessary because of stupid people who went before us. We reserved Site A67, which turned out to be a good one as it had no site on one side and tent sites behind us, but a good distance away on the other. Some sites have more privacy/separation than others. There were 12 sites in the A loop that did not allow generators, part of the reason we chose the site we did, but IMO, Sites E175-E185 are even better, as they back up to an expansive view. 

This campground has it all, including a shower house (coin-operated) that looked very nice. I made sure I showered the morning of the day we arrived as most national park campgrounds do not have showers. There was also a very nice-looking laundry facility. This may be because of AT through-hikers but again, not something I was expecting in a national park campground. You can also access the trailhead for the popular Dark Hollow Falls trail directly from the campground. We only stayed one night but I would have stayed longer and would definitely consider returning to this large, but well-run campground.

Nice large sites close to the beach

Don’t confuse this campground with Hunting Island (many people do). Although expensive, the sites here are very generous in size. Sites on the outside of the loop have more privacy (sites 1-33 have trees behind them for even more privacy). 

The restrooms and showers are clean. 

There are multiple access points to a very walkable or runnable beach. No bike rentals on-site but there is a local bike shop that will deliver to your site. Tours of Atalaya available plus other programs (although we didn’t take advantage of these). There is a large store with many souvenirs along with general necessities. If you order three or more bundles of firewood, they will deliver to your site. 

It would have been nice to have a utility sink to wash dishes in as there are in other state parks. Also, like all other South Carolina state parks, alcohol is prohibited.

Although I usually take many photos at our campgrounds, for some reason, I didn't here!