I Love This Park!

I live ~1 hour away from Brazos Bend State Park and while I've been to the park dozens of times, I have never actually camped there. The facilities are similar to most parks, water, fire ring, reasonable spacing, and some have electrical hook-ups. I do love to sneak off early on a Saturday or Sunday to run on the trails. The park doesn't open until 8 but the gate is normally open by 7 AM. Brazos Bend State Park offers two distinct experiences. The West side is shallow oxbow lakes that have been left behind when the Brazos River changed course. These lakes are swampy and are home to a diverse population of waterfowl as well as gators. The East side of the park is entirely different offering trails through a hardwood forest. There are several massive live oaks along the trail that are absolutely majestic. While running in the forest, I have spooked deer and wild hogs. The highlight was the time a bobcat (?) hopped out of the woods in front of me and ran in front of me for some time before he realized I was behind him. I don't have any pictures but here are some good ones from a race that I ran in Dec 2015 (http://running.competitor.com/2015/12/photos/photos-2015-brazos-bend-100_142060).

You will mostly have the trails to yourself early in the morning but you will see some people fishing or birdwatching. Later in the day you will encounter families walking or biking and large extended families enjoying the picnic facilities. It does get a little buggy during the summer but I find as long as I keep moving, the bugs aren't much of a problem.

The last highlight of the park is the park is the George Observatory. The lines can get a little long but it is a wonderful way to get a view of the sky. When we went, you could see Saturn, its rings, and a couple moons. Again, if you are going in the warmer months, be sure to bring bug spray.

Blowdowns

I've previously reviewed the park and enjoy staying there. The Chinquapin trail is a favorite offering a 6+ mile loop around Lake Raven. The caution is that there were some strong storms during the spring of 2016 and there are some blowdowns that have not yet been cleared. I know that water only campsites 101-104 are affected but there may be others.

Check on current conditions

This is a great park just outside the Houston Metro area but it suffered extensive damages from flooding in April 2016. The park website has stated that the park will be closed at least through 1 Jan 2017. Be sure to check on conditions before planning to visit.

Camping on the Beach

We've camped on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore twice. The campground has always been fully booked but there is access to the beach and you can camp on the sand. It gets a little crowded on holiday weekends but there are MILES of sand so you can just drive until you find a spot that suits your fancy. I have a 2WD vehicle and was a little concerned about getting stuck. Fortunately, there were plenty of people on their beach with 4WD who were more than willing to use their toy to pull me out.

I contemplated giving my review fewer stars because this is Texas and the beaches are not nearly as nice as those in other parts of the US. We had issues with seaweed washing up both times but the water was clean. There are no facilities on the beach but the visitors center has showers and flush toilets.

Appalachian Trail Shelter

I stopped at this shelter while hiking the AT in High Point SP. It was raining the entire day and the shelter provided a dry place to take a break. The shelter has the usual facilities, privy, water source (must be filtered), bear box, etc. I passed through mid-day and moved on to cover more distance but I would have been happy to spend the night.

Just Passed Through

I was section hiking the NJ section of the AT which passes through Wawayanda State Park. I stopped at the shelter for a break. It is small compared to other shelters, listed capacity is 6, but offers the normal facilities of a shelter in that region.

Book ahead

I tried to stay there during August but didn't have reservations and the campground was full. Plan ahead and make reservations.

Bunkhouse

I stayed at the Mohican Outdoor Center (MOC) in Nov while section hiking from the Del. Water Gap to the NY State Line. The MOC is about 10 miles from the Gap and it was my destination for the 1st day. The staff is friendly and the facilities were what I expected. I stayed in one of the bunkhouses and I had a private room with bunk beds. The privacy wasn't an issue because it was mid week and I was the only person staying at the camp. The bunkhouse was very clean, had full kitchen facilities, hot showers, and a common area with lots of reading material. The camp does have an institutional feel but I knew I was not staying at the Plaza Hotel. I would definitely stay there again if I return to the area.

First to Review
Gren Anderson Shelter

I stayed at the Gren Anderson Shelter in Stokes State Forest while Section Hiking the Appalachian Trail from the Delaware Water Gap to the NY State Line in November. This shelter offers more amenities than many shelters on the AT including an actual privy. The shelter is your typical structure with three walls and a roof. The site has a bear box, a picnic table, a composting toilet ~100 yards uphill, and a water source ~150 yards downhill (this is a stream and needs to be treated). The shelter did not seem to have a rodent problem but I stayed there in the winter which may have limited their activity. Although the shelter is a couple of miles North of Culvers Gap, there is a road a little to the west and I heard cars drive by every 5 to 10 minutes. The one caution I can offer is that I hiked into camp late and the sun had already gone down. I walked past the shelter and turned around when the trail seemed to disappear. The shelter is to the right while hiking down the spur off of the AT.

First to Review
Just passing through

I stopped at Mt. St. Helens while travelling from Seattle down to Oregon and had a great run on the trails. I spent more time on the trails than expected and hadn't made plans for a campground. I found Seaquest State Park in the NPS Gazette and drove in just as the sun was setting. I spent the night and although I didn't visit the entire park, it did seem like a nice, family oriented campground. The bathrooms were clean and while the campsites are relatively close together, there are sufficient trees and shrubs to maintain privacy. The bathroom facilities were satisfactory.

It is what is expected from NPS

This park offers what you can typically expect from the NPS. The sites are in good condition but a little too close. That being said, the other campers were social but respectful of one's privacy and the campground quieted down at a reasonable hour. The highlight was when a bull elk wandered into the campground and started chowing down on the tall grass.

My visit involved trail running in Olympic NP and there is a stream behind the campground with wonderful cool water that was exactly what my sore legs needed.

I will say, the location is great and I was able to wake up early and tour the Hoh rain forest before anyone else. With the exception of an owl that was still active int he early morning, I had the trails to myself.

Whistler's Bend

I was touring the pacific NW and spent the night here after visiting Crater Lake. It was a low key campground that is good for a relaxing night. The bend in the Umpqua River allows tubers to float around the park with only a short walk to put back in upstream. The facilities are nice and the shower was warm. I'm glad I stopped for the night!

Amazing Elevation for Texas

I stayed at the Pine Spring campground before hiking to Guadalupe Peak over Thanksgiving weekend. I got one of the last campsites so be sure to arrive early as they are first come, first serve. The campground is great and there is sufficient spacing between tent sites to allow you to have some privacy. There are minimal facilities but there are water spigots near the road and composting toilets. There is a bathroom with flush toilets near the RV parking including an area where you can wash your dishes. I highly recommend visiting the park and the hike to Guadalupe Peak is a must!

Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap

I spent three days hiking from Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap. I spent two nights in shelters on the AT (Mollies Ridge and Silers Bald). Well worth the effort. My only complaint was that some of the younger guys packed beer in on the 1st night and the shelter felt a bit like a frat party. The second night was not so bad as it was further from the road. I would still recommend this to anyone who enjoys hiking. It may be on the east coast but the peaks are high and the trail is challenging.

First to Review
Wilderness close to Houston

Huntsville SP is a great patch of wilderness that is close to Houston. There is lots of camping, boating, and trails. My daughter likes the park so much she invited her friends to camp with her for her 11th birthday party. She is a girlie girl and if she wants to go camping, it must mean it is great!

First to Review
Well worth the trip

I went to Caprock Canyons state park during December and almost had the park to myself. It is a wonderful park offering great hiking and camping as well as lots of wildlife to view. The Bison herd was the highlight but I also encountered mule deer, prairie dogs, and roadrunners. I camped at Little Red and if you arrive early enough to claim the campsite at the point, it is FANTASTIC!

In addition to Little Red, there are backcountry campsites available as well as a campsite with water and electrical hook-ups. I spent three nights in the park and used the hot showers on my way out to wash off grime and the smell of wood smoke. It made the drive home a little more enjoyable.

First to Review
A little crowded

I stayed at the Pedernales Falls SP campground en route to Big Bend. It was late July and the park was full. Severe thunderstorms blew through during the night and I was worried that the falls would be flooded. I was pleasantly surprised, the water drained quickly and the falls were accessible in the morning.

A little far but worth the trip

I went to Big Bend for a long weekend at the end of July. This included hiking up to Emory Peak, and driving down to Santa Elena Canyon and Rio Grande Village. Despite the 100+ deg temps at lower elevations, the Chisos Basin campground was cool and comfortable. It was an oasis in the middle of the Chihuahua desert.

First to Review
Small park with plenty to offer

I've camped at Stephen F. Austin a number of times and have always enjoyed it. I've been with my family and by myself. The primitive walk-in sites are great for tent camping. My kids had a great time building a campfire and roasting marshmallows. There are 4+ miles of trails and we had a wonderful hike on the ironwood trail. I definitely recommend this park. The only caution is to call ahead to confirm trail conditions. 2015 and 2016 have been very wet and flooding and rain have resulted in trails being closed.