Shari G.

The Dyrt Pro

Boone, NC

Joined June 2016

Environmental Educator, Photographer, Traveler, & RV Adventurer. We found Freedom in Can in 2012 and haven't looked back!

Great Campsite near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Within just 20 miles of the Organ Pipe National Monument, Gunsight Wash allows dispersed camping up to 14 days. There are enough flat parking areas scattered throughout the BLM area to accommodate hundreds of rigs. You should be able to find a quiet spot, though it's unlikely that you'll have the place all to yourself. 

As with most dispersed camping areas managed by the BLM, there are no services for bathroom, water, or trash. There is a day-use rest area across the highway, but please do not dump your trash there (AZDOT will charge the BLM to dispose of this trash, and that will mean that the BLM will have to start charging us -- so be a good neighbor and dispose of your stuff in the nearby town of Why). 

The main road between Why and Sonoyta (Mexico) is very busy during the days. 

However, the border crossing is closed at night so being parked near the pavement isn't going to keep you awake all night. However, we found that getting further away made the hanging out around camp more pleasant.

There are many hiking and biking opportunities available just a short drive away into the National Monument. The Visitor's Center is also worth a visit, and the NPS campground is super cute and offers all the usual amenities of developed campground in the NPS. The town of Why is within 2 miles of the Gunsight Wash turn off, which offers a gas station and convenience store. Further up the road lies Ajo, AZ, which has more in the way of restaurants and grocery stores.

Great for Equestrian Campers, Hikers, and OHVers

This area is out there, man, way out there -- but if you want to get further out there, you can. The National Forest to the northeast of Roosevelt Lake is vast and sparsely populated. It is a perfect area to get away, well away, from others. 

Cherry Creek Rd. quickly leaves pavement behind and simply becomes more potholed and steep the further you get in.  With 4WD, and a high clearance vehicle, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. With lots of parking areas and zero services, campsite selection it's dealer's choice. 

We got as far as we wanted, about 5 miles in from the paved road and made camp at a wide area right across from a small horse corral. This area is perfect for exploring by horse. Hiking, biking, and OHV is also are popular. 

The closest water is Cherry Creek, another 3-5 miles further in, so come prepared. A small camping area sits right on the creek which can rise quickly and the ford can become impassible. When we were there, the campground was full, so our dispersed area was just fine with us. 

The closest services are on the southwest bank of Roosevelt Lake, one gas station and marina store. Within 4o minutes to the north and south lie the towns of Payson and Globe respectively which have all the services you could need.

Quiet, Gorgeous, Tons of Hiking!

Drive through the town of Gold Canyon AZ, and you quickly leave behind the sprawl of suburban Phoenix, but embrace the sprawling landscape of the Sonoran Desert which is brimming with life in the spring. The unpaved road leads to multiple pull-offs and side roads where you can find the perfect spot to tuck away and camp for as long as you like.  Embrace the sun and bring your solar panels and plenty of cold drinks -- you'll be rewarded with amazing sunrises and sunsets and all the peace and quiet you can stand.  You may get lucky and find some partial shade under a Palo Verde, too.

Though adjacent to Tonto National Forest and the Superstition Mountains Wilderness Area, the camping along Peralta Rd. is on Arizona State Lands. Use of this land, for any reason or purpose, requires a special individual permit. These annual permits are available online, and cost $20 (plus $1 online processing fee). The permit is good for 1 year (deal of the century!) and allows access to any other Arizona State Lands where a permit is required. 

While there are no services available at any of the camping spots, water, gas, or groceries are a short drive back into town. The hiking, and biking opportunities are amazing right around camp via the numerous and unlabeled OHV trails, or a short drive to the Peralta Canyon trailhead. This Forest Service parking area requires either a Tonto Pass, or Interagency Pass, or$10 day pass (available through a self-pay kiosk) serves as the start of many trails that will lead you into the gorgeous Superstition Mountains. Both the road, parking areas and trails are super busy on the weekends, so plan accordingly. During the popular hiking months, Forest Service Volunteers will regulate the parking area, so don't think that you'll get away without buying a pass. The ticket is more expensive.

Simply Gorgeous & Oh So Friendly!

“The town too tough to die,” reads the slogan of the tiny village just about a half mile from this wonderful campground. On any night of the week, the campground boasts more residents than the village, at only 6, but during the day it’s a different story. People come from all over just to hang out, have lunch, or shop at this little speck on the map that could be adequately described as a “tourist trap.” 

For all the commotion nearby, the campground hears none of it. Tucked neatly under the road, the tiers of camping loops simply face out to a view that is magical and the rest of the world can just roll on by. This campground is unique in that each space has water and sewer, but no electrical…so bring those solar panels and leave the generators at home. The bathrooms are clean and offer a flush, but only accommodate one person at a time, which is great during a pandemic year.

For some reason, the people at this campground are extra friendly…each and every time we come here, we’ve made some new friends. If you go up the road, there is some incredible hiking and hardcore cycling. Down the road, and you’ll find gorgeous Canyon Lake and the Salt River. We’ve paddled all over the US and other parts of the world, and the Salt River Canyon still remains one of the most beautiful and most accessible. If you want to avoid boat traffic, go in the early morning or just before sunset. It’s divine!

The closest services for prepared food and ice are in the quaint town of Tortilla Flat, but you won’t find a grocery store. Further down the valley 15 miles or so is the Phoenix suburb of Apache Junction which has all the usual stuff for groceries, gas, and more RV parks than you can shake a stick at.

Surrounded by Towering Ponderosa Pines

Sometimes you come across a campground that makes you feel like you are 12 again, just hanging out with the family in the beautiful surroundings of the Arizona Rim Country, roasting marshmallows. The sites have these awesome, monolithic, USFS, stone, picnic tables next to a solid cooking campfire pit, which makes me think of my earliest road trip memories. 

With only 9 spaces, and just a few that could accommodate an RV of any size beyond our compact 15 feet, this is the ideal place to easily car-camp near highway access.  No electrical hook-ups but the bathrooms are clean and there is good water.  Bring your solar panel as there is plenty of sun among the pines!

The uber-popular Horton Springs Trail starts right across from campsite #1, and it can lead you up and onto the rim for adventures lasting an afternoon or a week. Many backpackers began or ended their adventures at the trail sign. 

While it was super busy on the weekend, the mid-week peace of this place was priceless. There are a few lesser-known trails just around the corner which offer privacy and similar experiences. The creek is stocked with trout for fly fishing enthusiast and the trails are also multi-use for mountain bikers as well. The fresh water is palatable and the pit-toilets are efficiently kept clean by the annual resident camp host Ken, an amiable guy who loves the area as much as his job. He’ll chat you up or get you some firewood, but don’t bother on Wednesdays or Thursdays which are his day’s off. 

The town of Payson is less than 20 minutes away and has all the services and restaurants you could want. We highly recommend going to the Alfonso’s Mexican take out– absolutely worth it.

Not our type of place, too many generators!

I’m sure that for some, this is their favorite camping area, someplace to return to each and every spring with the family. It has everything one needs to get away from the valley, and out onto the lake for some motorized boating. 

The smallish spaced campsites are perfect for getting together with friends, yet large enough to accommodate big RV’s. As a plus, the noise of generators from every other campsite, means that if your group gets a little loud nobody will likely notice. Despite the area’s abundance of sunshine, making it perfect to run your camping rig on solar, this place takes the prize for the most generator impacted site that we’ve ever stayed in our lifetimes, which is saying something.  If you like that sort of thing, or can’t hear, this is your place and these are your people. I went for a 45-minute walk around the campground, and counted 13 different generators all going at different frequencies. It was not unlike a walk in a pleasant park while the maintenance staff gather all the leaves with the power of multiple leaf blowers. Despite this trend to all things big and gas-powered, the area is indeed lovely. 

We enjoyed a splendid paddle out on the water near sundown, after many power boats were already back up on their trailers. Across the road, lies the Tonto National Monument which shows off some terrific examples of early Puebloan cliff dwellings. The mountains surrounding the area are stunning, and there are some fantastic hiking trails in the area. 

The closest stores can be found at the either ends of the lake, a gas station and Marina store/ restaurant. Their selection is low and inversely proportional to the prices. Within 30 minutes to the north and south, respectively, lie the towns of Payson, and Globe where you can find any kind of supplies you need without the price gouging.

We Just Keep Comin' Back!

The Superstition Mountains are stunning, everywhere you look!  Both sunrise and sunset from this area are absolutely incredible.  So, any camping experience is going to be memorable.   Hutch started and ended his "50 Mile Something" for his 5oth birthday from this spot, so it's especially memorable for us.  Check this out:

If you are self-contained, or follow LNT principles, continue up the Apache Trail to the summit between the west side and the east. Just 2 miles before the Fish Creek Overlook, lie several dispersed areas off the dirt road to camp for up to 14 days. The road to the overlook is busy on weekend days, despite the generally poor condition of the dirt road. Hey, let’s not make it any worse, SLOW DOWN to prevent further rutting! 

During 2021, the road to Apache Lake was closed at the overlook as the result of a landslide. Options for reaching that lake include driving back to Apache Junction and following the pavement all the way around through Globe, AZ– a three-hour drive. Camping here was quiet and serene at night when nearly all the day-time traffic had disappeared. Hiking and biking opportunities were within close proximity, as well as paddling on Canyon lake, 10 miles down the valley. 

The closest services for food and ice are in the quaint town of Tortilla Flat, 7 miles down the valley. This is an incredibly popular day-time spot for lunch, even on weekdays. It can be a little crazy, even during the COVID year, so just a heads up. Further down the valley 15 miles or so is the Phoenix suburb of Apache Junction which has all the usual stuff for groceries, gas, and more RV parks than you can shake a stick at. Since it’s one way in and one way out at the time of this review, it makes sense to fill up before you get here.

Gorgeous Views from Every Single Direction!

There are some campgrounds that just stick out in your mind for their beauty, location, and proximity to other cool stuff.  Sunny Flat is one of them. As the name implies, here’s a place where you can put out your solar panel and charge up. But the experience re-charges more than just your camper batteries.   We could probably spend an entire season in this place.

Located on the eastern side of the Chiricahuan Mountains, in the Coronado National Forest, Sunny Flat lies tucked in a wide basin surrounded by stunning rock out croppings. Each site offers a picnic table, sun shelter, and fire ring. The pit toilets were clean and well-maintained, and the potable water on-site was delicious. But it just feels like you’re tucked away into a little nook of forested landscape in an otherwise spare desert location. Here is an oasis that welcomes migrating birds, a habitat for bears and mountain lions and a break from the heat of the valley. 

Hiking and mountain biking opportunities are plenty, as well as birding locations. During the hummingbird migration, several sites within the town of Portal, AZ, offer opportunities to observe some of your favorites.

The closest town with anything other than a convenience store is a long way away, so come prepared with groceries…and fill up on gas.

A Climber's Paradise, Close to El Paso

This park has achieved legendary status within the climbing community. Located 45 minutes outside of El Paso, many climbing-bum, dirt-bag, vans have parked here to send a few of its more notable bouldering “problems” and climbing routes. We saw more than a few of these great adventure rigs while there. 

We had no idea about the daily permit situation when we pulled off the highway and drove the 8 miles to “check it out.”  The ranger at the front gate handled the traffic coming into the park like a pro, even though there were a fair share of impatient people "who didn't understand the hold up, dude."  And, he offered to call the office for us to see if there was a camping spot for the night.  There was, and they saved it for us…and we stayed for 3 days!  It pays to be kind and patient.

The granite like domes within this state park are covered with pre-historic, and more modern, pictographs, indicating that this area was legendary long before anyone decided to hook a chalk bag to their back pocket and squeeze their feet into tiny rubber shoes. The park protects these sites and limits the number of people accessing the “mountain” on a daily basis, even without a pandemic. 

Much of the park is completely off-limits without a permitted guide service. All of these protections are designed to maximize use while minimizing damage to this incredible record of human history. The campsite is quiet, and tucked away in a corner of the park far from the more popular areas, under the backdrop of gorgeous rock. The bathrooms were clean and offered one of the more satisfying shower experiences of any campground in America.  There are electrical hookups at some sites, but if you bring your solar panel you can camp at this beautiful campground for just $12 a night in one of their non-electric spots.

Daily hiking options are as numerous as the bouldering sites scattered throughout the North Mountain. Weaving your way through to the summit of the mountain is an adventure in and of itself. One unique feature of the park is that the gate closes at 6pm, to protect the archeological treasures, but it can be an inconvenience for campers.  Plan accordingly.

El Paso is about 40 miles away and is the closest place to purchase gas, food, etc.

Nice Campground, but Loud Traffic

This small campground sits high above the banks of the Amistad Reservoir, but unfortunately, a little too close to HWY 90. The campsites enjoy a stunning view of the Chihuahuan Desert landscape and the water. The sites are spacious with lots of room for bigger rigs, and enjoy a shade structure over the picnic table area. 

With potable water and clean pit toilets this campsite is worth the inexpensive fee.  Bring your solar panel because there are no electrical hookups.  With water recreation opportunities just a stone’s throw away, the boat launch is just below the campground, you can escape the heat of the day. There are just a few hiking trails nearby for more land-based recreation. 

We spent just one night at the campground and it was an easy drive in and park situation. But we found the numerous trucks along the highway a little disruptive of our sleep starting around 4 am, when they begin to hit the road. There are other campgrounds along the Amistad Reservoir that are not as impacted by the road, and they are definitely worth a look. 

The city of Del Rio, TX is a short drive away where you can get anything, including a Starbuck’s coffee – which has become, for us, the indicator of modern suburbia. Be sure to check out some of the amazing Mexican Food of this well-integrated, bi-lingual, boarder town.

Nice Park with a Gem of a Historic Lodge

“The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!” 

Tucked within the heart of the West Texas mountains and one of the darkest skies in the contiguous 48, lies this stunning State Park, built by the CCC in the 1930’s. The beautiful campsites offer privacy, space, and full hook-up amenities or rustic primitive tent sites. The bathrooms were clean, and the showers hot! 

During the COVID restrictions, it seemed that they were stepping up to keep their facilities safe, and open to the public. The efforts were appreciated and noticed. Though the park is somewhat small by Texas standards, the hiking and mountain biking options are challenging and varied. The views from the summits are worth the effort. 

As another State Park that offers birding locations, this area is a birder’s paradise with a gorgeous bird blind. Many migrating species include stops to this mountain range during their fly-overs, and we added a few new species to our life list.   

One gem inside this park is the historic, adobe inn, built by the CCC. While the name of the place, “Indian Lodge” comes from a time when that was considered honoring the first inhabitants of the area, the architecture remains a classic. It is simply beautiful and made us think about honeymoons, and anniversary getaways.  While we didn't stay, we got a tip that breakfast was great, so walked up there and got breakfast burritos to go.  They did not disappoint!

While many state parks won't allow vans and small campers in the primitive section of the campground, this one did…so bring your solar panel and save some money on your campsite.

One thing about Texas State Parks, we’ve met a huge number of Rangers who simply love their job. It’s clear that they are doing something right by the way the folks show pride in their work. I don’t know about you, but I draw inspiration from folks who really seem to love their job and their park.

Fort Davis is the closest town with groceries and gas, but don't miss out on funky Marfa, just a bit farther down the road.  And, the McDonald Observatory to the north is definitely worth a visit!

Out There...and Then Some!

Along with the very literal size requirements of the Chisos Basin Campground, there are other recommendations of the park that one should take very literally. Among these are bring (and consume) enough water, and the 4-wheel drive, high clearance recommendations of certain back-country camping sites. They are not kidding around, when they say you need it…you need it. We were advised against bringing our small trailer the 10 miles back into this backcountry site along the western River Rd. and we were relieved that we listened. 

Instead, we parked our rig in the turn around area just off the paved road, and bikepacked with mountain bikes into our campsite for the night of my husband's 50th birthday! It was an epic ride, over a very challenging, rough and rutted out road, with steep inclines and declines. This is not for the pavement driver. Lots of folks do take their 4-wheel, high-clearance vehicles back into this area for days at a time, but for the first-timer, it’s a wake-up call. But the scenery along the way is simply stunning. Besides the very occasional vehicle, you share the road with a few stray cows who might have wandered across the border for Mexico, and a lone road runner. 

This area is a backcountry camper’s dream, beautiful, quiet, comfortable and lovely. Hiking in the area can be in just about every direction and mountain biking along the River Rd. is stunning and challenging. The backcountry campsites only offer a bear box, so don’t expect a picnic table or sun shade – come prepared, these are backcountry sites. This campground has poor access to the river, but with the condition of the road, managing a boat shuttle could take a long, long time.

On the Way to Nowhere...and Perfect!

Big Bend National Park had no open campsites, like none, but Big Bend Ranch State Park (right next door) had multiple options, all with good road access. We were surprised and delighted!

The information on the State Park website is confusing at best. Much of the park lies along poor dirt roads leading into the interior of the park. Backcountry campsites there are numerous and offer those willing to bounce along the 27 miles of dirt road exactly what they want, seclusion and beauty. This park is stunning. 

What the website doesn’t make clear, at least we couldn’t find it, is that several camping areas lie right off the perfectly paved road that follows the Rio Grande from Lajitas to Presidio, TX.  Just a note about HWY 170, there is one major incline and decline, just west of Madera Canyon at a 15% grade that is not for the faint of heart or an underpowered towing vehicle. 

We camped in site 6 of Lower Madera Canyon, and simply loved it. Each site has a picnic table, with sun shade, and a campfire ring. The composting pit toilets were well maintained, and didn’t smell at all. 

Hiking and biking options are close by, and Big Bend Ranch is a famous location for Mt. Biking and float trips down the Rio Grand. The campground has access to the river so be sure to plan a float trip. Permits are available at the park’s visitor’s center, or you could also go with an outfitter located in Terlingua. 

Potable water was only available at the Park’s Visitor Center, so plan accordingly.  No electrical hook-ups, so bring your solar panel!

The towns of Terlingua and Study Butte offer options for groceries, gas and restaurants. Just outside the park there are a few options in Lajitas, or TX as well. To the west lies the larger town of Presidio which has the normal selection of services of any good-sized town, USA.

Good for a Night's Stay Just Outside of Big Bend NP

Just outside the park, in Big Bend terms, lies the town of Study Butte. There you can find most of the things you might have forgotten, including some available camping in a traditional RV park.  Not usually our style, but it was late and we had just had a huge day of bikepacking and kayaking in the park, so were ready to stop for the night and sleep.

If your rig just won’t handle the backcountry roads, or size limitations of the National Park, this is a good option for full hook-ups. We parked in the “dry camping” area, which was really just an open area on their lot near the dumpsters, but it suited our needs for the night at $26 – supply and demand! 

The bathrooms were clean and the showers hot, but did require $2 in quarters for 6 minutes. I get it, water is gold out in the western deserts, and the season for making money in this part of the world is probably short. Everything here is going to cost a little bit extra because of the challenging location. 

We enjoyed a takeout pizza from Long Draw Pizza, which was huge and super delicious. After three nights in a backcountry setting we really enjoyed splashing out. The café which is connected to the RV park is a great choice for breakfast, we recommend the burritos– very delicious but definitely add the potatoes!

Great Campsite for a Paddle Trip

Along with the very literal size requirements of the Chisos Basin Campground, there are other recommendations of the park that one should take very literally. Among these are bring (and consume) enough water, and the 4-wheel drive, high clearance recommendations of certain back-country camping sites. They are not kidding around, when they say you need it, you need it. 

We’ve taken our little Hamlet through washes, up forest roads, along miles and miles of washboard dirt tracks, but Big Bend has provided some of the most gripping and challenging roads. The truck can handle it just fine, but Hamlet is a 64-year-old trailer. Even with his new-fangled axle, and his history of tackling tough spots, we don’t like to abuse him. An appropriate tow truck is at least 2 hours and possibly hundreds of dollars away. But once you arrive over the 5-miles of good dirt-road, and 2 miles of not as good, the site is a stunner. 

We were in site 3, which sits up on a little hill with picturesque views of the Rio Grande valley, and the many mountain ranges within the park. This area is a back-country camper’s dream, beautiful, quiet, comfortable and lovely. The backcountry campsites only offer a bear box, so don’t expect a picnic table or sun shade – come prepared. This campground has access to the river, so plan to do a float trip down to the Rio Grande Village, about 6 miles, through lovely canyons.  Be sure to get your FREE river permit from the Visitor's Center at Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, or Castelon. The hot springs, which were closed due to COVID restrictions, are about half-way and would make a lovely stop. 

Hiking is available in just about any direction and mountain biking would be lovely along the River Road. We dropped off our bikes at the Rio Grande Village to be able to bike our shuttle back to camp – it was a great day adventure. The closest facilities are in the Rio Grande Village, which has water, gas, and a small grocery store for any essentials. Like all experiences in Big Bend, it’s best to come prepared for anything.

Gorgeous Setting!

Getting to Big Bend National Park is part of the adventure, it is nowhere near anything other than itself, but for those who go, it’s so worth the effort. If you are going to camp in Big Bend National Park, make sure you spend a couple of nights in Chisos Basin. It is the quintessential National Park Campground – full stop. Neither the approach, climbing 2,000ft of winding switch back nor the campsites themselves are optimal(nor recommended) for any trailer longer than 20 feet. Our site (#22) just barely accommodated our tiny 15-foot trailer. So, take the size limitations on the website at their word. 

Fortunately, the camp host was completely on the ball, and moved us to a larger site that became available for 2 nights of our stay. When we first arrived in Big Bend back in 2013, we were able to get a campsite without a reservation, but those days are gone. Most of these campsites are reserved 6 months out, so plan ahead.  We snagged what had to have been a cancellation, just a few days ahead of time.  The campsites all have burly shade structures over the picnic tables, which are perfect for hammocking, as well as bear food containers. There’s not a lot of privacy between the sites, so you just have to go with the flow and get in to the communal vibe of the place. If you do, you’ll enjoy yourself all the more. 

Curmudgeons can go and rent one of the beautiful stone cottages available at the Chisos Mountain Lodge. The campground lies in the basin of the Chisos Mountains. Everywhere you look is worthy of a picture, and it’s difficult to know where to stop taking them, but they won’t do it justice. 

The hiking, right from the campground, is among the finest in the park. We highly recommend the strenuous, all-day, South Rim loop – an epic day well spent and views worth all the trouble it takes to get there. 

There is a visitor’s center a short walk away from the campground where you can get all the park information and necessary permits. In addition, there’s a small grocery store with ice, beer and wine as well as a few other necessary essentials. Gas can be found near Panther Junction, the main Visitor’s Center in the park. Otherwise, the town of Study Butte, some 25 miles away offers more opportunities for groceries, gas and supplies.

If you haven’t made any reservations yet because everything is full up, check out the nearby Texas State Park, of Big Bend Ranch. There are many campsites which lies along the Rio Grande river, just off of a well-maintained paved road that goes between Terlingua and Presidio, TX. The visitor’s center, where you get your camping permits, is located on the Terlingua side of the park, you can’t get permits in Presidio, so plan ahead!

$6 a night...a real steal for this place!

Just 5 miles outside of Del Rio, Texas lies the limestone lined Amistad Reservoir which gathers the waters of the Rio Grande river on its journey to the gulf. Amistad means friendship, and as a dam project, was co-sponsored by the US and Mexico.  This park is a confluence of three distinct ecosystems, which makes the flora extra special.

There are many developed campgrounds throughout the Recreation Area, the San Pedro campground has a few sites that offer more privacy away from the main campground, and dozens in the larger, more open area.  Each is set up with a grill, picnic table and shade shelter. A large group campsite is available for reservation, but not during COVID. There are no electrical hook-ups (bring your solar!), and no water available at this campground.  Pit toilets were clean and hopefully they'll fix the lock on the doors soon (in the meantime, just use a stick).  Whaddya want for 6 bucks a night?  The stay limit is 2 weeks, and the rangers do check.

San Pedro is further away from the water than some of the other camping areas, but it was quiet, comfortable and lovely. Since the Verizon signal was super strong we were able to get a ton of things accomplished while also squeezing in some hikes, bikes, paddles, and runs. There are a few trails around, but lots of quiet dirt roads to stay active.  The boat launch was a short 2 mile drive away. And of course the crystal blue lake offers everything from swimming, fishing, paddling, and powerboating.

Del Rio is one of the larger cities along the border between Loredo and El Paso, so there really isn't much you can't get in town just a short drive away. We even got some work done on our truck and were able to just bike back to the campground whiel it was in the shop.  Drinking water can be filled at the Diablo East Campground dump station, about 4 miles away for no charge, and of course the town is full of water filling kiosks like all southern desert towns.

Gorgeous CCC Cabins & Nice Campground

The remarkable area of this park lies not in it's campground loop. The loop is pretty, lovely even, and it looks like a lot of other campgrounds on a beautiful lake. But take a walk along the lakeshore trail and see the cabins, dance hall, and steps constructed by the CCC and you'll be transported back in time. In 8.5 years on the road, I've never been more tempted to go inside than by these simple, lovely, stone structures.  Just a bed, small kitchen, table, and a bathroom complete with vintage rustic decor, and that's all you'll think you ever need.  So adorable!

But this is a campground review so let's get back to it. The campground seems like the perfect bustling summertime holiday vacation spot. It's set up more like a city park with lots of open space and grass, than individual sites carved out of the woods. Walking around during winter, you can imagine the families gathering at the water, renting stand-up paddle boards, playing volleyball, or chasing a frisbee into the water. It has a reputation for being a place where families gather year after year, and I can see why. There are electrical/water sites as well as tent only sites right by the water, which really have the best location in the park. The bathroom is a little dated, but functional and clean with hot showers. 

Brownwood is within a 20 minute drive and has all the services of a modern suburban city. There are several trails throughout the park, but getting out on the water seems to be the focus of this park.

Cool Historic Site with Boondocking Next Door

Just outside of Johnson City, Texas is a great little state park/ NPS Historic Site dedicated to the 36th president of the United States. On the south side of the river the state park, focusses more on the settlers to the Pedernales River area than on Johnson himself, with a working farm recreating the way of life in the mid-19th century. There is a small heard of Bison, a working heard of Hereford cattle and a ton of non-native Axis deer. 

Across the river lies the Johnson homestead, which became known as the “Texas White House” during Johnson’s tenure. The still active ranch offers a multitude of interpretation which focus on the President and First Lady’s connection to the environment and land. Lady Bird Johnson dedicated her influence to protecting the environment and beautifying the country through nature. 

Overnight parking is available at two nearby rest areas, one is right next to the park off of HWY 290, the other off of Rural Route 1. The rest stop on 290 has flush bathrooms and water, but no showers. The sign says that the park is not intended for use longer than 24 hours, nor can you set up any tents or portable shelters without a permit.

Completely Empty in January

This pretty recreational area on the banks of the Colorado River, was practically deserted when we visited in early January. Within an hour’s drive of Austin, this area offers a quick getaway spot to get out into nature. With several camping areas scattered throughout the park, you can either be in full sun or under the oak trees. 

Campsites are spread out giving each a spacious area, with expansive views of the river bank and the rather opulent houses on the far side. Port-o-potties are scattered throughout the park to provide facilities, but just next to the entrance station there is a flush facility with an outside shower. The facility also has an ice and drinking water vending kiosk.  No electrical hook-ups, so bring your solar panels.  The park has great opportunities for hiking, mtn biking, and horseback riding. The river offers a great spot to paddle, since there is not much current an out and back trip is easily done. Fishing also seems to be a popular activity, so bring all the toys!

There are a few nearby grocery stores, as well gas stations within 10 miles, but you should plan to bring all of your own necessities.