the dyrt
Lynn G.
Redhouse, MD
Joined May 2017
We used to backpack a lot, but now do car camping as we get older. Like to keep it simple. Always been kind of nomadic and lucky to explored the USA!
Brackenridge Recreation Complex

Diverse environments to explore by kayak or hiking trail, plus horse trails, fishing, nature center, historic buildings, and a full event center.

Yay: Camping includes typical tent/RV sites or cabins. Our campsite was right along the water, which was pretty (it’s a reservoir along a river).

Nay: it’s pretty busy, but not overly loud or dirty.

Surprise: lots of wildlife here! There are events throughout the year…we visited during a charity race but that didn’t really impact our trip (aside from the campground being full). They frequently have rodeo/horse events too…very Texas! The historic church was more interesting than we expected.

Truly enchanted

Rocky mountains and waterways to explore here, great TX scenery!

Yay: The campsites are well laid out and each has its own shade pavilion. Shower house is well used but clean. You can also do a short (under 5 mile) backpacking trip into the wilderness.

Nay: Busy campsites and trails, but worth it…and as usual the farther you get from the trailhead the more solitude you’ll find.

Surprise: really enjoyed summitting Enchanted Rock! We saw a ton of lizards and of course amazing Milky Way views. We did not see the caves but hope to return.

Guadalupe Mountains

This is a beautiful park with stellar camping. It is close to all the things you’ll want to do in the National Park. You are nestled among the famous cliffs and mountains of the area surrounded by interesting plants and wildlife. There are separate loops for tents and RVs with the full amenities of a state park…thankfully including water.

Yay: this is a hot and sticky area and although there are no showers the bathrooms have full water, allowing you take a washcloth bath. Sites are spread out well for good privacy.

Nay: not too much shade, but not awful for TX.

Surprise: lots of hikes leave right from the campground, simplifying the day a little! As always the rangers are great. Incredible sunsets.

Guadalupe Mountains

This is a beautiful park with stellar camping. It is close to all the things you’ll want to do in the National Park. You are nestled among the famous cliffs and mountains of the area surrounded by interesting plants and wildlife. There are separate loops for tents and RVs with the full amenities of a state park…thankfully including water.

Yay: this is a hot and sticky area and although there are no showers the bathrooms have full water, allowing you take a washcloth bath. Sites are spread out well for good privacy.

Nay: not too much shade, but not awful for TX.

Surprise: lots of hikes leave right from the campground, simplifying the day a little! As always the rangers are great. Incredible sunsets.

Davis Mountain

High elevation with rocky cliffs, big fields, a fort, and lots of Native history.

Yay: Wide open campground with huge spots, but no shade or privacy. Thankfully they have water here!

Nay: no complaints :)

Surprise: Loved the ranger programs. They had crafts for kids about Native Americans. Great stargazing. Make sure to hike the namesake peak. Amazing critters!

Colorado Bend State Park

Surprisingly lush and watery! We enjoyed the hiking, swimming, and especially the caves.

Yay: camp right next to the water! Or you can hike a few miles into the backcountry.

Nay: make sure you have reservations.

Surprise: lovely drive. Would like to go back for more caving and with my kayak. Great stargazing.

Rim of the sea!

Absolutely beautiful area with diverse environment to explore. You can stay in cabins, regular RV/tent sites with power, or out on the beach with no amenities. We stayed on the beach! Surreal beauty.

Yay: um, beach camping is always amazing.

Nay: no complaints, but if you don’t have a kayak you will be sad.

Surprise: Great kayaking trail map and recommendations from the rangers on where to go. There is hiking as well. Spend an afternoon or a week here.

Dispersed camping in Daniel Boone National Forest

The National Forest has hiking, multi-use trails, and boating (there is a ramp nearby). This is dispersed camping, meaning there are no amenities besides a pit toilet and a few fire rings. Make sure to bring your own water treatment.

Yay: Close to the river, on the less busy side of the forest. Drive along the road and decide which campsite to stay at. All free.

Nay: Sadly, there was a lot of trash at all the sites. Not all sites have fire rings. There are only 7 sites so and no reservations so you may end up out of luck (but there are many other campgrounds in the area). Can be very muddy!

Surprise: call or visit the ranger office before entering the forest to get the latest recommendations for good trails and where to see wildlife!

Simple site outside Daniel Boone National Forest

This area is the best place to see Elk in the east! This is a small campground near Buckhorn Lake. It is close to the water for boating and swimming, there is a playground, but for much else you will need to travel outside the area. There is a resort park called Buckhorn Lake nearby, which is a state facility with cabin camping (and a lodge), that is much more built up. Your GPS may be confused.

Yay: We liked the simplicity of the site, it is well taken care of.

Nay: No complaints but you need to bring your own boat.

Surprise: The ELK (not at the campground though).

Chickasaw National Recreation Area on the Lake

This is a nice park for boating, not far from RT 35. Most of the activity is on the water, but there are a few hiking trails too. There are few camping loops to choose from (plus a few other campgrounds in this park). In the summer they were almost all full so we didn’t have much of a choice, but loop B was very nice and close to the water.

Yay: great educational programs on nature and Native American history. Swimming is amazing, you can play in springs and waterfalls. Nice wooded and private campsites.

Nay: Swimming holes can be crowded. Make sure you have a boat.

Surprise: Sometimes they close things when the water is too high. Awesome springs for swimming!

Simple site outside Daniel Boone National Forest

This area is the best place to see Elk in the east! This is a small campground near Buckhorn Lake. It is close to the water for boating and swimming, there is a playground, but for much else you will need to travel outside the area. There is a resort park called Buckhorn Lake nearby, which is a state facility with cabin camping (and a lodge), that is much more built up. Your GPS may be confused.

Yay: We liked the simplicity of the site, it is well taken care of.

Nay: No complaints but you need to bring your own boat.

Surprise: The ELK (not at the campground though).

First to Review
Laurel River Lake

There are some short hiking trails along the water and in the woods worth exploring but if you don’t have a boat you will miss out. The nearby marina (not part of the campground) has a little grocery and cafe. The campground is wooded and has basic amenities. We stayed in the tent area.

Yay: lovely simple area.

Nay: lots of boat traffic and noise from some of the campsites.

Surprise: really enjoyed swimming at the dam.

Bankhead National Forest camping

There is hiking, swimming, mountain biking, boating, fishing, and swimming here. Incredible scenery including waterfalls, old growth forests, canyons, etc. Close to waterways. The campground is medium sized, dense forests surround the campsites. The amenities are pretty standard. Fairly easy access to Birmingham and Huntsville.

Yay: great wildlife, as this is in the middle of a huge wilderness area.

Nay: closed winters but there are some other places open year-round nearby.

Surprise: The host was wonderful and recommended to visit Mize Mill Falls and Caney Creek Falls, both incredible places.

No camping

There is no camping at the shelters, you can reserve shelters for picnics. See the entry for Houston recreational area for a campsite within the Bankhead National Forest.

Wonderful natural history

This is a small and simple park with a lot of opportunities to learn. There are a lot of little trails the criss cross each other and a lot of informational signs and a little museum. This is not a destination for serious hiking, but is perfect for families. Nice for a quick stop on a road trip just to see the exhibits or for a weekend of simple camping.

Yay: We love the live bison.

Nay: There are a lot of families here, which is ok because they are hopefully learning some things, but it can get a little loud and crazy. Most of the sites are not very private. Despite those things, we absolutely love this park.

Surprise: Loved the orienteering course.

No camping here

This is just a boat ramp. There is camping nearby at the RV Camper Village (but I’ve never stayed there) and more places a little further away. Big Bone Lick State Park is my favorite in this area!

Near the TN-NC border

Nice big park with a lot for everyone to enjoy, from the pool and fishing to mountain biking. Amazing plants and view everywhere. Tons of hiking trails (including the Appalachian Trail), our favorites were the grassy hills with 360 views of rolling mountains.

Camping options include RV, tent, and cabin. Sites are lightly wooded.

Yay: There are events every month. Wonderful Appalachian feeling to this whole area.

Nay: Parts of it feel a little too much like a resort, but it is quite well maintained and bustling rather than over crowded.

Surprise: The rhododendron gardens are incredible, surreal. The historic farm is also great, as is the adorable town of Roan Mountain.

Homey site in Cherokee National Forest

The campground is nice and wooded with a very homey feeling. In the nearby area, there is a lot to do in natural beauty. There are a lot of trails here and many ways to enjoy them, including hiking and mountain biking. Lots of lovely canyons, waterfalls, and and trails to explore, some a short walk from the roads and some nice long hikes. Watauga Lake is nearby for boating, swimming, fishing, and wine tours.

Yay: Choose from simple tent sites in the forest or full service RV sites. Clean hot showerhouse.

Nay: There is a lot of 4 wheeler traffic on the trails so be careful.

Surprise: Doe Mountain has a great fire tower that is well worth the hike and the trail to it is close to camp.

On the Turkey Creek reservoir

By “water park” they mean “park with recreation activities on the water” not a man made park with slides and rides. This was devastating news for our friend’s young daughter! Enjoy fishing and especially water skiing with your own boat or a boat rented on site. There is mountain biking and hiking (all easy trails), a sandy beach, and just a nice relaxing atmosphere. The campgrounds are simple but modernized, moderate size, . They have a large building to rent for reunions.

Yay: great peaceful area with classic MS views. Wooded and private campsites.

Nay: costs a little more to access the lake (not bad, just a surprise). Not too far from Jackson so it felt a little crowded.

Surprise: we stayed here when the sites in the nearby National Forest were full and enjoyed it so much we added a day to our trip. That you can rent boats on site makes it so much easier!

Wonderful state park

This is a larger state park that includes a restaurant, golf course, pool, etc. but also some nice trails to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The Cumberland State Scenic Trail is the local long trail, which can be access from the park. This park is close to town, the highway, and some other natural areas. The campground includes a number of similar loops, all wooded, nice and modern with the typical state park amenities. Cabins are available too They also have a moderate backpacking trail that we didn’t try, but would be perfect for first-time backpackers (since you can shower and eat at a buffet afterwards).

Yay: kayak and boat rentals. Something for everyone. Love the bridge over the water.

Nay: parts can be a little crowded, a little expensive.

Surprise: the on site restaurant is quite fancy---we went to an elegant wedding here and stayed for camping. They have a weekend buffet with rather fancy food and great quality. Also check out nearby Rock Island State Park for surreal waterfall swimming.