We made it back to Petit Jean State Park for a pre-fathers day weekend. The park was opening back up slowly with COVID-19 closing many of the facilities, but it was almost back to “normal”. We stayed in B loop and grabbed an extra night in A loop on this trip.
B loop pros: -plenty of shade in hot months with the pine grove -easy access to the paved CCC trail -30/50 amp service, water, picnic table, fire ring and trash hook -clean and accommodating bath house -enough space between sites for plenty of privacy
B loop cons: -some sites are angled differently and there is no clear indication how you have to enter the loop to be able to access your site. It can create some frustration when trying to get set up -many sites are unlevel and require significant leveling chocks to get it truly level -some sites have water and the picnic table on the opposite sides of the camper. it’s purely inconvenient and I’m not sure why this is this way. pay attention when you book your site to campsite photos -NO SEWER. (EXCEPT FOR SITES 47 & 48)
A Loop pros: -it’s new, it’s laid out ideally, full hook up sites with sewer, and plenty of gravel and concrete to keep from dealing with too much dirt, mud, sand (we’ve got 2 small kids and a little dirt is great, but a lot of dirt makes for a lot of cleaning). -pull through sites and site facing the lake -much quieter and plenty of space between sites for privacy
A loop cons: -very little shade. would be rough in summer months without shade tents, awnings, etc -“Stays booked 93% of the year” -Park Office. It’s really hard to get a reservation if you don’t book at least a year out in A loop.
Petit Jean is a must for family camping. Mather Lodge has an accommodating restaurant if needed. Plenty of trails for hiking. Pool, basketball and tennis courts. Marina with boats and kayaks. It is a wonderful park and a must for all campers! Book your trip!
T.O. Fuller SP Is a decent campground situated 5 miles from Graceland and about 15 minutes (by car) from downtown Memphis. If you are concerned about staying in South Memphis, this state park is not for you. However, it is surprisingly decent compared to what you would assume based on its location.
TO fuller state park is expansive and has a state park feel to it. The campground is secluded and has 35-38 campsites. All campsites have 30/50 amp electric, water, picnic table, fire ring and trash hooks. There are no sewer hook ups, but there are two dump stations. This is helpful on busier weekends. The bathhouse is situated in the center of the campground and it has been updated. We did not use it and it was closed due to the pandemic. There is also an updated playground in the campground area that looks very nice. Many of the sites are level and there are a few pull through sites. Several large RVs and travel trailers were able to comfortably fit in these campsites.
There are several hiking trails, a swimming pool (in season), and a native American history Museum (Chulissa) that is very popular. Most of the facilities were closed, but we were able to hike and enjoyed it. The visitor center staff and Park Rangers were all helpful and very friendly. The visitor center has a number of state park items for purchase. If you are a person that collects patches, stickers, or clothing of the state park you visit visit, TO Fuller’s visitors center has everything you could need.
In summary, TO Fuller State Park is surprisingly beautiful for its location, but if you cannot get past its location then it is not a good place for you to try and stay. However, if its location doesn’t bother you, you’ll enjoy your weekend and a pretty state park.
Mississippi River State Park is in Marianna, AR and was built in 2008 in the St. Francis National Forest. The park office and convention center are beautiful and have several learning stations and activities for kids and families. There is also a simple paved walking trail with identification points for local trees, birds, wildlife, etc.
The campground has only a few sites. I don’t remember exactly but I believe it’s only 18 but all have lake views. All sites are level with electricity, water, and tent pad. Some sites have tiered tent pads that might not be great for kids or “old knees”. If you bring your own kayak, canoe, or boat, you can launch directly from your camp site without any issue. Our kids just wanted to through rocks 😂. There aren’t many hikes but there is a 1.5 mile trail (video included) which was fun. We saw a few snakes but they were just king snakes.
MS River SP is a short drive from Memphis and is a great quick weekend getaway. There isn’t much for small kids to do when the swim beach and swim area are closed but most families will love the serenity and peace that MS River SP offers.
We have camped at several MS state parks near Memphis (Tishomingo, Wall Doxey) and have left feeling like MS didn’t have a lot to offer, but Tombigbee State Park is great. There is a video included in the post which includes the entire campground area. I hope you find it helpful. Additionally, here is a basic overview of pros and cons:
- All sites close to the bathhouse
- Most sites with full hook up including sewer and 30/50 amp plugs. (see pics)
- Multiple updated playgrounds
- Very affordable. $24 a night for a full hook up site.
- Very walkable. Small campground with access to amenities by foot.
- Disc golf course is very fun. It is has an interesting layout in the woods so it is much like a hike.
- The park is near Tupelo, MS and there is a Dollar General right at the entrance to the park.
- If you are primitive camping, the tent camping area is outstanding. (see pic) There are picnic tables, elevated tent platforms, places for hammocks, a porch swing and bench around a raised fire pit. If you are primitive camping, it is a great place.
- There are several docks for fishing and there were signs for the option of boating with a trolling motor, but no one was boating while we were there.
- The park office was not open while we were here, but it did look updated
- Great for young kids because the campground is small with a flat loop that is easy for bike riding, skating, or scooters. It is easy to see the kids from your campsite and not worry about them getting lost
- frequent monitoring by the park rangers. Appears that this park is very well taken care of.
- Absolutely no shade on the playground.
- Inside loop spots are mostly close together. very little privacy.
- We were not able to view the inside of the bathhouse.
- only 20 sites and only 4 tent camping areas and were without water or electric.
- No SP swag so no stickers, patches, shirts, etc.
This is an A+ for the price, amenities and location to our home base of Memphis. We will definitely be back.
Mount Magazine is a mountaintop oasis in NW AR. It is definitely NOT a family SP. It is structured for adults to enjoy a peaceful, tranquil, serene campground. The campground is small and has a typical setup with 30/50A, water, fire ring and picnic table. There are only 18 sites and are booked WELL in advance. We had to book our site almost a year in advance.
There is not much to do in the campground. There is access to hiking trails and to Signal Hill (the highest point in AR). The lodge is gorgeous and the restaurant has a buffet on Friday nights that is very good. There was an annual yoga retreat the weekend we were there which crowded the lodge, but the cabins and lodge have beautiful views of the valley.
Mt. Magazine is an amazing park (for adults), and make an effort to get there!
We’ve camped at Village Creek State Park a number of times and we love it! It’s a family friendly park with ball fields, tennis courts, and a first-class golf course. We have tent camped, pop-up camped and RV camped here. We normally stay in the lower campground area which is a great spot for families due to all the green space. The upper campground area is much better for RVs given the access to sewer. There is a renovated playground in the upper campground area as well.
All sites are mostly level. There are a few at the back of the lower campground with steep inclines near the trailhead entries. There is also a creek that runs behind some of the campsites on the lower campground which could be a mosquito haven in warmer months.
This is a great family park! You will enjoy your time for sure!
My wife grew up going to Chickasaw State Park as a child and when she wanted to go back with our family we couldn’t get inside because the state of Tennessee was totally redoing the campground. They closed it for one year. When it was reopened, we booked a trip with some friends to see what all had been done. This park was already an outstanding campground, but the addition of sewer in many of the sites and updated hiking trails, ADA access, and the newly updated bridge across the lake were breathtaking￼.
We ￼￼stayed in the primary campground area and had access to sewer 30/50 amp and water. There is a horse camp with newly added 30A electric and newly paved pads. There are tent camp sites on the other side of the lake that are beautiful if that’s your thing. There are several hiking trails and a nature center with owls and a falcon. In warmer months, there is a marina with boat, canoe, kayak rentals and a swimming area that were all being updated. There is also a restaurant in the park, but i was closed for a complete renovation as well. The playground is new for parents interested. The dump station is easily accessible.
If you are looking for a beautiful spot in West TN with full hookups and plenty of activities for the family, Chickasaw State Park is outstanding. We will definitely be back!
I had heard that Bull Shoals- White River State Park was beautiful, but I didn’t fully understand until I saw it. All of the campsites face white river and there’s plenty of space between sites to allow for some level of privacy. All the campsites are flat with nice concrete pads. Each campsite has a fire ring, picnic table, and trash pole.
There is a newer section of the campground that is north of the marina. These campsites have newer asphalt and fire rings and have better access to the updated ADA bath houses. These bath houses are the single-quad bath houses where the toilet and shower are individualized into four quadrants. They are excellent for those campers that might not have travel trailers or self-contained units.
We were able to hike and fish most days. there is a playground and a basketball court that are functional and easy to access for families. The campground is mostly flat which makes it very easy to ride a bike. There were a lot of kids and adults riding bikes or scooters in the campground. There are also three trailers that have been converted into mobile homes near the marina for those campers that don’t have access to a pop-up or a camper for rent. They look very nice. The marina is also very nice and has a lot of simple supplies and merchandise.
When the dam is not releasing generators, you can wade out into the river from your campsite and fish; however, when they release the generators this is going to be very difficult. The only drawback is that you are inundated all day long with boat motors going up and down White River. It is very tranquil and peaceful in the mornings and evenings.
There are many different outfitters that do fishing trips. We chartered the afternoon with a local outfitter and had a great time. We caught a number of trout and were able to eat them for dinner on our last night. If you like to fish, enjoy camping, and enjoy doing both of those things, Bull-Shoals-White River state park is the place to go. I will definitely be going back!
Tishomingo SP is a short drive for us from Memphis. We wanted to give it a shot and booked a site (#32). We were self-contained in our RV and thank goodness because the nearest bathhouse was a hike! The campground was ok. Our site was level. Fire ring, picnic table, etc were fine. We booked there because of the swimming pool. It was one of the first weekends it was open and the pool area was in serious need of some TLC. Pool was fine and the kids loved it, but the chemicals in the water destroyed mine and my wife’s smart watches 😳.
We barely hiked and had to ride out a thunderstorm but we didn’t regret our trip. I don’t believe any sites had sewer. The circle at the end would be great to reserve with a group of friends (assuming you’re self-contained). All sites have access to the lake and if you had a canoe or kayak, it’d be easy to access.
Overall, it’s not the best park I’ve been to but it’s not the worst. Not bad for $22/night.
We camped here right after we got our Jayco 2012 travel trailer. It was our inaugural trip. Campground is small but well maintained. The inner loop of the primary campground has been updated with new concrete and gravel and 2 sites (I think 6,8) are ADA accessible.
We enjoyed the hikes around the Civil War historic area and the nature center was very interesting as well. There is a nice raised walking area there as well. Nice playground area for the kids!
If it doesn’t creep you out that there is a penitentiary <2 miles from the campground (and you have to drive past it to get there), Fort Pillow is a great park for a quick weekend getaway.
My brother and I were scheduled to stay in AR for a biannual camping trip and we’re forced to move to Beavers Bend State Park due to AR park closures.
We grabbed a site in the Armadillo loop near Lakeside Lodge. Campground is laid out well. Grass needed to be cut but otherwise a pretty camping area. None of the facilities were open given the pandemic but the lodge (which is being renovated) and the visitor center looked very nice. Campground was mostly 30/50 Amp, water, electric sites. There were some with sewer but they looked to be ADA sites. Nice concrete pads and fire rings.
The other camping areas are all easily accessible and the Acorn loop in the River Area was the prettiest as far as scenery. Plenty to do in Hochatown and there is a decent Wal-Mart in Broken Bow. There is plenty to do at Beavers Bend! We were both very happy with our time there.
My family and I live about 25 min from the campground at Meeman-Shelby State Park. We have been several times and have camped with tents, pop-ups, and now with our Geo-Pro. We love this campground.
Pros: -49 available sites -all sites with water, 30A, fire ring, grill and picnic table -a variety of hiking/biking trails -update playground -lake with rental kayaks, canoes, boats (in season) -fully functioning bathhouse that is dated but clean
Cons: -no sewer at any sites -some sites on the back sides of the camp ground are subject to erosion and can be unlevel and not ideal for kids -large park so many of the activities outside the campground require driving -1 bathhouse which can be an issue on certain weekends -MOSQUITOS. If you go after the weather warms up, be forewarned that the mosquitos will eat you alive. We mostly camp at Meeman-Shelby in the fall/winter. We do not camp Spring/Summer.
There is a disc golf course that is very popular. There is a nature center that is under renovation that has snakes, spiders and owls to see. There are cabins to rent but we have never stayed in one. They look nice from the outside.
I’ve included several pictures of camp sites and the grounds. All in all, Meeman-Shelby is a great park and is perfect for families. Make sure to schedule a friday night dinner at the General Store. Steak and live music that sets the tone for a great camping weekend!
Petit Jean is the oldest state park in Arkansas and it has it all. Our family makes a trip to Petit Jean at least twice a year. So many trails, recreational areas and breathtaking views to enjoy. It is one of the best FAMILY state parks we’ve been too.
The sites in A and B loop are often booked a year in advance so plan your trips strategically. C and D loop are accommodating but will be a tighter fit for most rigs >30’.
The visitor’s center is being completely redone to enhance the experience. If you haven’t been, make the trip.
Quick info on alcohol. Petit Jean is in a dry county (yes that exists). If you aren’t bringing your own alcohol, make sure and stop at Petit Jean Liquor right off I-40.
Lake Ft. Smith State Park is a beautiful park in the Boston Mountains. We drove over from Memphis to meet my brother’s family (who lives in Tulsa). We stayed in campsite 9 which was a pull through site and had stunning views of the lake. My brother stayed in site 8. Sites 1-20 have full hook-ups with sewer. The bathhouse was clean and fully functioning.
Pros: Many activities at the Visitor Center for children. Ozark Highland Trail is directly behind the campsites on the lake side. Recreational area with a playground that is updated. Sites have gravel which limits how much dirt/mud you have to deal with.
Cons: Many of the campsites are on a grade. They all have multiple levels with stairs and have no railings. We had 5 children <6 years of age and the sites were somewhat perilous. If you are a parent with small kids, sites 17-20 and sites 2-3 are better. The other sites are excellent, but not necessarily best for small kids. Last, the playground requires that you drive to it which is inconvenient.
Overall: Great family park with updated amenities. We’d like to give it a try in the spring/summer when the pool and splash pad are open! If you’ve got small kids, Petit Jean State Park would be my suggestion in this area of Arkansas.