To get to this park, you drive right through Huntsville neighborhoods. We made our reservations earlier in the week but had a different site each night because the park was going to be full.
In my opinion, all the sites are nice because the campground is in the woods. And you can pitch a tent far from the road in the separate primitive area.
On Saturday night, I couldn't believe the number of TVs outside the RVs. I guess this is an inexpensive way to experience an Alabama football game outside. :) Sites were crowded with lots of people; one site had about 8 cars along the road during the game. Fortunately people were in a good mood because Alabama was never in danger of losing.
Alabama's Campground Taxes Are HIGH
Our sites with water and electricity were $26/night although a senior discount was applied for Thursday night. (No discounts on weekends.) We paid a one-time fee of $5 and the total cost was $93.55. Taxes are almost 20%.
There are only 2 restrooms/showerhouses which seems a bit on the low side for this campground. They're clean enough but the staff should check them more often on a full weekend in the fall. By Saturday evening, there were no paper towels and the toilet paper was gone from all except one stall. And it was still like that on Sunday morning at 9.
Standard amenities include a fire ring and picnic table at each site, dump station, and trash dumpsters out front.
Sites (except primitive sites in the tent area) have power and water. There are also some sites with sewer hookup.
The number of hiking trails is what made this park appeal to us. You can pick up an excellent map at the park office.
There's a disc golf course and a Japanese garden.
Primitive sites were full so we didn't ask if a teardrop trailer could be taken back there. The road to those sites is a bit bumpy but we could have easily fit on those sites. A call to the park would be worth it if you're interested.
This state campground in the Birmingham AL metro area is a quick getaway for city and suburban dwellers. We were looking for continued warm fall weather on a slow trip north; this met the warmth and fall criteria in late October. The proximity to the city made it a good choice for exploring Birmingham.
Campground as Hotel
We left in the morning and came back in the evening. Using the campground strictly for accommodations worked out well; it wasn't a place where we would have wanted to hang around the campground all day. The large RVs crammed on sites that weren't very large gave us a closed in feeling. We pulled down the shade in our teardrop to avoid the light pollution from the campers who leave ground lights and other decorative lights on all night. (Do they leave their outdoor holiday lights on all night at home?)
Tent Only Sites
The tent only sites are the best feature of this park. You can pitch your tent among the trees away from the RVs packed together in the rest of the park.
There's no power or water at these sites.
These sites are listed as tent only, but the park office attendant told us there were a few where we could fit our vehicle and teardrop. We declined because we thought we'd be too close to the road although we later saw several that would have been fine
Site 42B is the BEST SITE IN THE PARK! You walk down to the site from the parking area, and then there's a great view of the water. I took a photo looking back at the site from the beach area.
All sites not designated tent only have electricity and water. There are some sites with sewer hookup as well as 50 amp power. See site map photo.
Loop A's sites are more spread out than sites in Loop B.
Loop B: B33 was ok. I recommend sticking to the outside of this loop because there are two roads down the center where you'll have sites on both sides, across the road and behind you. Inside the loop seemed crowded because there were large RVs.
Several restrooms are spread throughout the park. They each have a couple toilets and a shower along with hot and cold water in the sinks. Restrooms are clean and a checklist indicates they're inspected 2 or 3 times per day. Everything works fine, but they could use an update inside. If the usage at the end of October is any indication of overall usage, this park is heavily used. It's close to Birmingham which has over a million people, one-fourth of Alabama's population. The state of Alabama should step up and do some renovation.
Site Taxes are HIGH
Be prepared for a significant jump to the cost when taxes are applied. Our campsite fee was a reasonable $22.65/night which included a 15% senior discount. Regular price is $26.65. Taxes and a $4.50 one-time fee were added for a grand total of $85.62 for 3 nights. If you're counting, that's 20+% in taxes.
Things To Do In The Park: boating, fishing, swimming, hiking. You can purchase a detailed hiking map for $1. If you aren't from the area and want to take in some Birmingham history, there are options.
Red Mountain Park has hiking trails along with old iron ore mines. There's an adventure park with zip lining, climbing, etc.
The base of Vulcan, Alabama's entry in the 1904 World's Fair, is the best place to see Birmingham. The museum next to the statue was well done; it provides a history of this steel city.
The park across from the 16th Street Baptist Church (site of the bombing on 9/15/1963 that killed 4 young girls) is a window into the sad part of Birmingham's history. There's also a civil rights museum nearby.
The craft breweries (Good People and Avondale) were good. And great barbecue at Saw. Pizza was good at Post Office Pies but they need to put more basil on a pizza advertised as a white basil pizza, not 5 little scraps.
Check out the photo of the site map to see how narrow this campground is. Fortunately, it really doesn't feel that way when you're at your site. I thought it was a cozy feeling, and it didn't feel like lots of sites were crowded in a small area. Despite the small footprint of the campground, it was very quiet.
If you look at the site map, it looks like all the sites are back in sites that aren't very wide. That's not really what they look like…at all. We had site 68 and many campers on that side of the loop had parked a vehicle parallel to the road because some sites are actually longer along the road than deep. This is not a complaint…it works. We did pull our vehicle in beside our teardrop but could have parked parallel to the road. I've included photos of several sites to show how people set up.
Good Separation Between Sites: I liked the amount of separation with heavy brush between most sites. I preferred the sites on the outside of the loop.
Lots of Restrooms: This campground only has about 75 sites, and there are 3 restrooms (not counting the one in the group camp area). Two are handicapped accessible with concrete pads for sites 7, 8, 10, 56 and 57. There are showers in each restroom.
Boats? Many people were able to fit a boat on their site, but there were also boats parked near the end of the loop in the area before the group camping area. I don't know if this area is open to everyone or just for hosts/volunteers.
Great Area for Easy Hiking: Sand Pine and Estuary Trails are 3.5 and 2 miles, respectively, but you can easily do a combination and cover it all. There's a tower out by Big Lagoon that's worth the view on a sunny day. We saw turtles, snakes and a heron while hiking, but no alligators.
This is a good stopping point, but there isn't much to do unless you bring a boat. Or you could use it as a base for exploring other areas in the Thousand Islands. It's only about 10 miles from Clayton.
We stayed here on a bicycle trip from Rochester to the Thousand Islands at the end of a 63 mile day. Don't let anyone tell you it's not a hilly trip coming up along Lake Ontario to the Thousand Islands! There will be hills! The good news is there are NY state parks along the way.
Burnham Point is a small (less than 50 sites) campground on the St. Lawrence River. It was a good stopping point after seeing the lighthouse in Cape Vincent on our way. There are sites by the river that are tent only but we pitched our tent up above. The tent sites were rather difficult to get to with our bikes. There wasn't much shade where we settled, but the sun was not intense as we arrived in the early evening and left the next morning. Unfortunately, I have no site photos and only have a photo of the sunset…but it's a beautiful view.
Restrooms/showers were clean, and there was electricity at the site. Unfortunately, the bugs were bad but that's just a summertime hazard in the Northeast.
This campground is at the north end of Otsego Lake less than 10 miles from Cooperstown. It's a great base for exploring Cooperstown. The Baseball Hall of Fame, Abner Doubleday Field and the nearby Ommegang Brewery are my favorite spots in Cooperstown, but there's such a diverse set of activities:
Water-based activities such as canoeing, kayaking, sailbaoarding
a couple more breweries and a distillery
and on and on
The park is a good place to stay during the fall colors season and also on Hall of Fame Weekend in late July, but book early!
We've camped here in a tent near Beaver Meadows
This small, meticulously maintained campground has 30 full hook up sites split evenly between Magnolia Circle and Titi Circle. My only minor complaints are that the usable site space is all on gravel (very small pieces so it should still be comfortable for tents) and some sites are too close to each other. I prefer a grassy area (and some privacy) with my campsite, but the gravel is better for drainage when it rains.
Beautiful Setting With Nearby Trails
There are a couple short trails and a swimming beach at Juniper Lake, but I can't get excited about swimming in an area that has alligator warning signs on the trail along a marshy area near the lake. The Florida Trail for long distance hikers is nearby. The Blackwater Heritage State Trail is a paved trail you can access near Milton for biking, skateboarding, etc. It's 8 miles and then there's a 1.5 mile Military Heritage Trail that continues to a Naval Air Station, but then you'll have to turn around and return the same way.
Canoeing, Kayaking and Tubing
Blackwater River is a popular location for these activities. We passed a rental place that had lots of rental equipment.
See photos for site map as well as several site photos.
All sites are back in with gravel pads except for concrete on 5, 6 and 19.
All sites have a picnic table and fire ring on the gravel. There's green space/trees between most sites.
No separate tent pad but the gravel is small and should be ok for a tent if you have a sleeping pad.
Magnolia Circle: Sites 3 through 5 on Magnolia Circle back up to sites 16 and 17 on Titi Circle. That's a bit close for me, but no one was behind us. Sites 1/2 and 12/13 have no green space between them. I would avoid them unless you want to socialize with your neighbors.
Titi Circle: Just stay at 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27 or 29 on the outside of the circle of you want some privacy. The other sites are too close to neighbors for my comfort.
You're not allowed to tie anything to trees. That seems to rule out hammocks but there's a clothesline between 2 posts; I guess you could fit one hammock.
Full hookup, i.e. electricity, water and sewer hookup, at all sites. Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp outlets.
Super clean restrooms/showers are located between the two loops. Showers had good water pressure and hot water. Even the sinks had hot water.
Instead of trash dumpsters, you're supposed to put your trash by your site post between 8 and 11 am. And there's a recycling barrel for aluminum on the way to the restroom.
Given the size of the RVs, this looks like a great family vacation destination. For us, the attraction was Cumberland Island which is a 45 minute ferry ride from St. Mary's GA (20 minutes from the campground).
Some Info About the Sites
There are many pull through sites which have huge gravel pads.
Back in sites have long parking pads.
The grassy areas accompanying each site are spacious.
We ended up in the middle (see map) on #3 because it's what was available. I recommend you stick to the outside of the loops. There are more opportunities for shade.
You'll be closest to the water at sites 39, 41 or 42. There are woods behind you if you stick with the area that includes sites 11-27.
Water and electricity at all sites
There is a restroom behind our site (#3) that is set up as men's/women's restrooms with 2 showers in each. One of the showers is handicapped accessible, but there is a nicer (newer) restroom across from site 48 and next to ADA site 46. There are 4 private restrooms (2 handicapped accessible) with toilet, sink and shower along with a laundry room with 2 washers and 2 dryers. The other restroom has a washer, dryer and utility sink between the men's and women's rooms.
Dump station and trash dumpsters along with recycling bins
Golf cart paths
Fun Things To Do
Visit Cumberland Island (see info below)
Bird watching - there's a bird blind for bird experts, novice watchers and photographers
Boating and fishing on the Crooked River
A few trails and an observation tower
Cumberland Island National Seashore: The only way to reach the island is via boat. A day trip via ferry from St. Marys is definitely worth the trip. You need to bring food for the day because there's no place to buy ANYTHING….really! You can get water in a few places, but we brought water to start the day. Our 8 mile hike took us south on the island to the Dungeness Ruins and further south before we turned around and headed across the island to the beach on the ocean side. There were probably only a couple hundred people on the island, and we only saw a few people on the beach. We saw lots of wildlife (feral horses, snakes, deer, armadillo) on the trails and in open areas. We hiked through the Sea Camp campground which had beautiful sites. If you want to stay overnight on Cumberland Island, you'll have to bring your tent and all your food.
This is our "go to" campground near Savannah. We sleep here while we explore Savannah and surrounding areas, but it's also a beautiful campground if you want to spend some time here. If you camp in an area other than the large field out front, it's like camping on someone's horse farm. Just recently, we camped in the dry camping area for tents and small units because that's all that was available. It's out in front of the office and just across from the paddock. We've also camped to the left and right of the office where you can hook up to electricity and water.
Why camp here?
Loft Mountain was the third stop on our tour of Shenandoah National Park. First stop traveling south on Skyline Drive was Mathews Arm and second was Big Meadows at about the halfway point. Loft Mountain is at about the 3/4 mark. These parks are well spaced for viewing and hiking in between each campground.
I'm a big fan of campgrounds in national parks. Why do I like this one? Pretty much the same reasons as I liked the other Shenandoah campgrounds:
All the basic needs are available in a scenic setting.
Generator-free sections (because I hate noisy generators)
About 75% of the sites are first-come, first-served sites so you should always be able to find a site if you arrive early.
The $15 price is a bargain and our Lifetime Senior Pass cuts the fee in half.
Hiking: There's a lot to keep you busy in the entire national park, but rainy, foggy weather kept us from exploring as much as we'd like. We'll be back!
Things to Know About the Sites
Some sites have food storage boxes. Use them as an alternative to keeping food locked in your vehicle.
Walk-to tent sites: It's not a long walk to your site from a designated parking spot.
I was surprised to see that most sites (other than walk-to tent sites) have long, pull through parking pads, and most have a grass buffer (and possibly a few trees) separating the site from the road. These asphalt pads can accommodate RVs of all sizes and have a spacious area behind the pull through with a picnic table, fire ring and room for a tent. Great sites!
Generator-free sites in loop F and part of G are reservable sites. If you want one of these sites, I recommend a reservation. See the site map photo.
Restrooms with a utility sink outside some of them
Potable water and trash/recycling stations are spread throughout the park. These are all shown on the site map photo.
Camp store with ice, wood and limited food choices is a short walk from the campground entrance.
Showers: $1.75 for 5.25 minutes. These are located in a restroom near the campstore and look new. There is a handicapped accessible shower/bathroom combination.
Laundry facility near the camp store
Big Meadows was the second stop at the halfway point on our tour of Shenandoah National Park. First stop was Mathews Arm which is about 1/4 of the way on Skyline Drive (north to south). After Big Meadows, we stopped at Loft Mountain. These parks are well spaced for viewing and hiking in between each campground.
I'm a big fan of campgrounds in national parks. Why do I like this one?
Simplicity, i.e. no frills but all the basic needs are available
This one (and the others in Shenandoah) have generator-free areas.
First-come, first-served sites: About 20% of the 230+ sites can't be reserved.
The $20 price is a bargain and our Lifetime Senior Pass cuts the fee in half.
Hiking: Don't miss the Rose River hike and all the cascading waterfalls. You can start near the campground with a trip to Dark Hollow Falls and continue with the Rose River Loop. Pick up the info sheet on the Big Meadows Area hikes at one of the Visitor Centers. The hiking maps are excellent.
Steven Mather, the first director of the NPS, wanted to create a park in the eastern US that is like the western parks. This park and its campgrounds have that vibe.
Sites are all back in, i.e. no pull throughs.
Non-reservable sites: Some tent sites, all of C and all of I. Check the photo of the site map.
Walk-to tent sites: It's not a long walk to your site from a designated parking spot. There are food storage boxes at most sites so you don't have to move food back to your car. These sites are more secluded than the regular sites.
Generator-free zone: See the site map photo that shows all walk-to tent sites, all of B and part of A in the generator-free zone.
Choosing a site: Arrive early if you don't have a reservation. Some of the non-reservation sites will be claimed by people staying multiple nights. If you want to be in the generator-free zone, you should probably reserve a site. We were able to get one without a reservation but it was on a weekday in October. If you don't mind having a generator near you, I thought the sites on the outside of E were nice because there is no one behind you.
Some sites have food storage lockers. Google reviews indicate park rangers insist you keep all food in a locker, camper or vehicle, and you can be fined if you don't. Apparently, bears recognize coolers so you should cover them up in vehicles. (I also heard this at Rocky Mountain NP.)
Restrooms with a utility sink outside some of them. Potable water and trash/recycling stations are spread throughout the park. These are all shown on the site map photo.
Showers in a central area: $1.75 for 5.25 minutes. Yes, that's what it is! You can do it! These are the classiest showers I've seen in a national park.
Campstore with ice, wood and some food
What do I love about Mathews Arm Campground in Shenandoah National Park? So many things!
I guess that's enough.
Two thumbs up on this small campground with spacious, wooded sites!
We stayed here on a Thursday when the campground was almost empty, but there was a reservations list that showed the campground would be full for the Columbus Day weekend. We have good luck walking up to campgrounds during the week, but we look ahead to weekends and make reservations.
Spacious, Wooded Sites
- Lots of shade and trees on large sites and space between sites make this a pleasant campground.
Parking pads on the electric loop are asphalt.
There's very finely crushed rock on the non-electric loop. This includes the parking pad and tent pad.
There are 8 camper cabins, 4 on each loop. There are beds for 4 or 6 people, and the cabins have air conditioning, a ceiling fan and electricity. These are a nice alternative to camping in a tent.
Bathrooms are located in the middle of each loop, and there are spigots on the loops with potable water.
Small Park But Many Activities
Canoe/kayak launch between sites 46 and 48. The walk to Tuckahoe Creek from the parking area is very short, and the creek leads to Tuckahoe Lake (no gasoline motors) with more of the creek on the other side of the lake.
20 miles of hiking trails are also open for biking and horseback riding.
Hunting - as a hiker, I am extremely wary of hiking in parks at a time when hunting is allowed.
This is a nicely laid out campground with 4 loops and many site choices - non-electric, electric and full hookup sites (water, sewer and electricity); a couple yurts; and 3 camping cottages. (There are cabins elsewhere in the park.) We just showed up on a Wednesday in early October but I'm sure you'd need a reservation on a weekend.
See the photo that shows 35 miles of hiking trails. It's an excellent brochure! Some trails are hiking only; others allow mountain biking in addition to hiking, and there are equestrian trails.
Boating and fishing
Swimming pool by Hopewell Lake
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is on your way to the campground.
See photo of the campground map along with typical site photos.
4 loops: no electricity in A and D, mix of electric and non-electric sites in B, and a mix of full hookups, electric and non-electric sites in C. Loop C is the only loop open all year with no guarantee of access in the winter.
Asphalt pads are all supposed to be 45 feet.
The sites looked level but many of the pads in Loop A were just a bit downhill as you back in. That means our heads are downhill for sleeping unless we turn our teardrop trailer, so we just looked until we found a level site. If you're into leveling a camper, it's not a big deal. We can adjust our back end, but we don't mess around with anything else. It is what it is!
There are water spigots around the loops and recycling/trash disposal and a dump station on your way in/out.
Site map shows some ADA accessible sites.
New Restrooms Are Worth Noting
Push button showers. You can't adjust the temperature and you have to keep pushing the button every 30 seconds or so. I guess this saves water.
Two utility sinks outside the restrooms are a good addition.
Pet Owners: Pets are only allowed in loop C.
A Couple Warnings
PA state parks do not allow alcoholic beverages at all. That's what they say.
Hunting is permitted in most of the state park. That would put a real damper on my hiking at certain times of the year because the hiking trails run right through these areas.
We were just passing through on a rainy night, but this park would be a good choice for a multi-night stay.
Activities for a Multi-Day Stay
Swimming in the lake, golfing, boating, fishing, multi-use trails for hiking or mountain biking
You're only about 20 minutes from the Binghamton/Johnson City area. For us, that means food and craft beer.
Sites in the Chipmunk Camping Area
Parking pads in the non-electric section are dirt/grass. Some of the pads are short; this section is geared toward tent campers. We found a site long enough to easily accommodate our vehicle and teardrop trailer (30 ft total) since we didn't want to detach for a one night stay. Even if the pad wasn't that long, there are other pads wide enough to handle a vehicle and trailer like ours side by side.
Parking pads in the electric loops (30 amps and 50 amps) have a good amount of gravel.
We usually prefer sites on the outer part of a loop, and this was no exception. The sites have more trees.
Electricity at about 1/3 of the sites
Pretty good restrooms/showers
Water spigots on the loops and more water at the dump station
Playground at the beach area, not the campground
Beware of raccoons. They are brazen thieves here…and every campground they inhabit. Just don't leave your food out.
The park brochure warns of the occasional bear but that's true even in towns all over NY. I doubt you'll see one.
Deer are all over. Watch out for them on the roads. We had four that were feeding behind our site in the morning.
The campground at Letchworth State Park is a great place to stay while you explore the beauty of the gorge which is sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East. Yeah, you probably could call it that because it's a gorge with cliffs as high as 600 feet and there's not a lot of that in the East. However, I think it stands on its own as one of the most scenic areas in the eastern US and doesn't need that designation. You just need to accept that the western US has the lots of beautiful canyons and enjoy that Letchworth is different than those canyons. It has some breathtaking views, especially near the waterfalls.
The campground has 8 loops with about 35 to 50 sites per loop so it's a large campground. I like that it feels much smaller with all those loops, and the loops mean there is minimal traffic through each loop. You'll drive by the other loops but you don't really feel like you're in a large campground (although you may be able to see some sites from another loop behind your site).
Restrooms in 100, 200 and 700 loops are awesome! Check out the photo. They're very new. There are 4 private restrooms/showers and 4 private restrooms. There are well-maintained, older communal restrooms in the other loops.
Dumpster and recycling at loop entrances
Store/laundry, playground, recreation building, fitness zone behind rec bldg, and basketball courts are between the 200 and 300 loops.
Swimming pools…but I didn't see them.
No pull throughs but the gravel pads are long.
In general, the sites are partially shaded. The trees are quite tall so a significant amount of sun comes through. The sites on the outside of the loop are more shaded than the sites on the inside of the loops.
The 600 loop has a fence behind some sites because of the dropoff, but the dropoff doesn't start gradually.
You may have someone behind you (on another loop) if you are on the outside of a loop, but there are trees between the areas.
There are 5 loops with a total of more than 80 cabins.
Are You Bringing a Dog? Dogs are allowed on the 100, 200 and 700 loops, i.e. not on 300, 400, 500, 600 and 800.
Hike! There are about 20 trails. The gorge trail has great views of lower, middle and upper falls.
Check out the Glen Iris Inn for a meal
Rafting on the Genesee River
Hot air ballooning
The park is VERY crowded for the annual balloon rally (Memorial Day weekend) and the arts and crafts show (Columbus Day weekend).
Did you know this is NY's largest state campground? We stopped here on a rainy night, but what we saw convinced me we need to return. I know this campground is a vacation destination for families in western NY.
Cain Hollow is in the Quaker Run area which includes Quaker Lake. There is another campground in the Red House Area, and there are also lots of cabins. This is definitely a 4 seasons park - hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing….
I was able to take photos of a few sites the next morning. You can see that sites are private and you're definitely in the woods. There are food storage boxes at all campsites because you're in bear country.
Old Man's Cave Cave Campground in Hocking Hills State Park is a large campground. At many of the sites, you'll feel like you're in a large campground. If you stay away from the main roads, you might feel like you're in a smaller campground.
Choosing a Site
Study the photo of the site map included here to get a sense of where you might want a site. You'll be able to see electric/non-electric and reservable/non-reservable sites. There's quite a mix of sites and the map has a legend that will guide you.
A reservation is a good idea. You'll definitely need one on weekends during the summer/fall, or you should arrive by Thursday for a chance for a non-reservable site for the weekend. I've been here in July and mid-September, and the park was crowded. I just keep an eye on reservations on reserveamerica.com.
Electric sites: I recommend sites 152-163, 164-172, and 141-151 because you are away from the main roads (long straightaways). In my opinion, sites 161-163, 150-151 and 171-172 are the best because you're at the end of spurs off a main road.
Full hookup sites: Sites 66-70 at the end of the full hookup stretch (24-70) are good.
Warning about full hookup sites: There's some kind of pumping station behind the sites on the left as you enter so it's noisy all the time. If I wanted a full hookup, I'd avoid sites from #24 up to at least #35 because you're going to have constant noise. It probably doesn't matter when you're inside because units with full hookups typically have closed windows and AC/heat.
Reservable non-electric sites 81-93: I like #92 and #93 and the first couple at the beginning.
Non-reservable sites: #1-23 are electric and #76-78 are non-electric.
Picnic table and fire ring at sites
Pay attention to the map if the location of showers and toilets is important to you. There are 3 showerhouses with showers, flush toilets and sinks. For some reason, the floor in the showerhouse near the pool was always wet and dirty even in September when the pool was closed. Other toilets throughout the campground are pit toilets.
Gray water disposal stations and potable water stations
Laundry facility near the shower house by the pool
Scenery and hiking are what make this park special…and crowded.
See photos that show a map and descriptions of 8 hiking areas. Some of these areas are outside the park, and you'll need to drive to the trailheads or take a shuttle ($5 fee). Ohio does a good job of consistently marking trails and posting information boards that show where you are and where you can go from your current location.
Cell Phone Service: It's spotty. As you walk around, sometimes you have it and sometimes you don't!
Cool Feature of Ohio Parks
When you use reserveamerica.com, you can participate in a rewards program for Ohio state parks. We were able to apply points to stay free one night out of three.
Why was it a very good place for us?
For us, this was a hidden gem on a Friday in September, but be aware it may not be the same experience for you. Most of the sites were open on reserveamerica.com so we knew we could just show up and choose a site. We went out to the end of area 3 (out of 5 areas) with sites 77-122 (non-electric) because it ends with a loop. There was a tent across the loop on #100. We chose #94 which had plenty of room, a sunny area for our solar panels and lots of shade. It was a great site for us.
Will your experience be different?
You need to be aware this is an old park. I would hesitate to reserve a site just by looking at sites on the online map. I've included a photo of the map the attendant had to show a view of the areas…electric and non-electric with a total of 151 sites. Many of the parking pads are extremely short although some are wide enough for a vehicle and trailer…or 2 vehicles.
Some of the areas where you can pitch a tent are pretty rough, especially at the beginning of area 3. See photos. #119 was a site in use and it looks like a great site for two tents (as long as it doesn't rain because you can see in the photo that you're in a valley).
Be aware there could be some things you might not like…short parking pads, difficult tent areas, pit toilets. There are showerhouses that include sinks but the toilets are pit toilets in separate buildings.
I did not find potable water. There were water fountains that were not running, but there were several gray water dump wells and and a dump station.
Yes, it's a bit rough around the edges. We liked that it wasn't crowded. The attendant said the park was full over Memorial Day weekend. Other campers told me there's a chili cookoff around Halloween, and it's a great place to camp around then.
If you love the amenities of a modern campground, you could be disappointed. If you like roughing it, you'll enjoy the setting. And you can show up without a reservation and choose a site.
The attendant told me the disc golf course attracts people because it's very good.
A few short hiking trails
Forked Run Lake has a boat ramp and 400-foot sand beach.
What about cell phone service?
Verizon's network was available but not in all areas. There is decent wifi by the entrance station.
There is just one thing that keeps me from rating this a 5 star campground. It's the sites! So….4 stars…but read on for my thoughts on the sites.
What's up with these sites?
If you want to be be able to see what your neighbors are eating and hear their conversations, you'll love the electric sites (1 through 189).
If you like to feel like you're alone in the woods, you won't like most of the electric sites.
There is a partial solution. Sites 190-202 have no electricity, but most are fairly private/secluded. Sites 203-222 are additional primitive sites on a loop but they are not at all private; you can see lots of neighboring sites. There's a lot of shade, but you could probably set up solar panels if you require electricity.
If you want privacy in the electric section (1-189), I don't have a great recommendation other than you should stay on the outside of the loops. Then you'll only have people beside you rather than beside and across from you.
Good luck! Stay one night when there aren't many people and scope out sites for your next stay. If you're from the area, this could be a park worth returning to over and over if you are able to stay on a site you enjoy.
I've included a map of sites 1-189 and photos that show some sites I like and sites I don't like. In my opinion, a site is not one for me if I can see 3 other picnic tables while sitting at the table at my site. If you camp with other families, this would be good because you can make your own 'group' site.
Something you need to know: Indiana state parks have a $7 entry fee but you'll only pay it once (unlike some states that make you pay every day). It's supposed to be $9 for non-residents, but we were only charged $7. The hang tag for your vehicle will get you in the main entrance for the rest of your stay.
If you come without a reservation: The registration attendant assigned a site to us but maybe you can choose one. Since it was the day after Labor Day and the park was sparsely populated, there was no one near us. Privacy was not an issue for our stay, but we wouldn't have enjoyed our site on a busy weekend…although there were many sites we would have liked even less.
The basics: picnic tables, fire rings, dump station, potable water, flush toilets and sinks in the bathrooms, separate shower facility. There are vault toilets closer to sites 190-222. Sites 1-189 have electricity.
Activities: Nearby swimming pool and playground. There are almost 11 miles of hiking trails. The longest one is 2 miles, but you can combine some trails and wander in the woods for quite a while. You can also wade in McCormick's Creek; the water was low in early September. You can stay busy in this park for quite a while. And if you want to go to Bloomington, it's only about 25 minutes away
First thing you need to know: It's completely in the woods, and sites are FULLY shaded. Sites 28-38 are on a loop with a picnic pavilion in the middle with some openings for sun on the road and in the picnic area. Other than that, the rest of the campground is rather dark all the time; there aren't as many sunlight openings on the road to the other sites. This is not a good place for solar panels, but almost all sites are electric.
Nice price: Cost is $20/$16 for electric/non-electric. This is an Army Corps of Engineers park which means you pay $10/$8 if you have an NPS Lifetime Senior Pass.
Services: There are full services at this campground - flush toilets, sinks, showers, trash receptacles, and drinking water/dump station near the entrance. There is an interpretive center for Saturday evening ranger programs and a playground next to it.
Roomy sites: This campground is small, but almost all sites are large. There are 38 sites plus walk in tent sites A through G and a group site. It looks like sites 28-38 can be rented for a group; the entrance was blocked off when we were there.
Equestrian section may be open to campers without a horse: There is an equestrian campground about a half mile before the main campground entrance. You may camp in the equestrian area (E1-E10) without a horse if the main area is full. We were able to reserve a site in there a couple days ahead of time because the main campground was full. It was just us and one other family on a Saturday night, and neither of us had a horse. We moved to the main area on Sunday morning because lots of sites were open on Sunday.