Shari G.

Pro

Boone, NC

Joined June 2016

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

$5 per night...What? What?

We hit this campground right at the perfect time of year, BEFORE the opening day of off-road vehicle season in April.  When National Forests post on their signs “Land of Many Uses,” I get it; there’s a lot of stuff people like to do in the woods. I have a lot on my list, but OHVing really ain't our thing.

If it is your thing, then by all means come on down, cuz this place is made for it. There are trails for days within these stunning mountains that serve as the foothills for the Appalachians. Horse trail riding is second on the list of activities within the park judging by the number of trails. Sharing these trails with horses isn’t difficult if you’re just hiking, but remember to be kind to those riders since horses can be skittish. Mountain biking is also not to be left off the list, and there are some great trails through here as well, that you don’t have to share with the motorized enthusiast. 

The campground is a quaint, and only $5 per night!  With only 6 sites and what appears to be an over-sized parking lot right next to it, the lot accommodates the OHV trailers. The campsites are rustic, grassy and comfortable, though no privacy in between.  Most sites are a short walk from the parking lot, so you might have to do a little bit of schlepping, but not much. The campground had a couple spigots and the pit toilets were clean.  We also found the campground itself very clean, but it was still early in the year and we were the only campers in the area in early March. The hunt camp is closer to the OHV trails than some other campgrounds in the forest so I suspect during the season this is a popular place to bring the side-by-side. 

There is a small convenience store in Uwharrie, offering sandwiches and made-to-order food, but not much in the way of groceries. Another 10 miles and you’ll be in Troy which has a bigger grocery store, and restaurants.

A Short Drive, Yet a World Away

This area is such a short drive from the triangle area of North Carolina, yet this park feels quite remote. Like many state parks, this one excels in the services department. 

Bathrooms and showers were clean and comfortable, as were the campsites. 

Each camping loop felt tucked away into its own little neighborhood, and the large campsites offered space so that you aren’t stacked right next to your neighbor.  We camped in the nonelectric loop (we always bring our solar panel) for 3 nights in mid-February and there were very few campers around, but the neighboring loop with electrical hook-up sites were 3/4 full with large rigs. 

Hiking, biking, paddling, are all great things to do during your stay. There is also a boat launch within the park in case power boating or fishing is your thing, but kayaks and canoes can easily launch from the lakeside campsites.  It was a bit too chilly to get on the water in February, so we opted for hiking and biking.

The closest services for gas or a few extra snacks are within 5 minutes of the park.

Serene in the Spring

These lakeshore sites within the forest were simply stunning. We spent three nights enjoying our campground on Badin Lake. The sites were large and could accommodate most sizes of trailers in addition to tents.  No hook-ups, so BYOS (bring your own solar).  Water spigots are scattered throughout the campground.

The bathrooms are perfect for our pandemic times because they are single use, both toilets and showers. We found them clean and comfortable, and even heated during the early spring -- not something we expect for less than $20 a night.  They take reservations, but could easily accommodate walk-ins as well.

While the area offers so many different kinds of recreation, the Uwharries are known for OHVing and can get very busy during the summer.  There are trails for days within these stunning mountains that serve as the foothills for the Appalachians. Horse trail riding is second on the list of activities within the park judging by the number of trails. Sharing these trails with horses isn’t difficult if you’re just hiking, but remember to be kind to those riders since horses can be skittish. Moutain biking is also not to be left off the list, and there are some great trails through here as well, that you don’t have to share with the motorized enthusiast. Boating is another great way to enjoy the lake, we kayaked right from our campsite and didn’t experience a lot of motorized traffic.

We Stumbled Upon Paradise in Idaho

We literally stumbled upon this gem of a camping area while driving through Idaho. About an hour south of the Snake River, and Interstate 84, it rewards the modern traveler with a truly unique landscape of unsurpassed beauty, just as it greeted the wagon trains following the easily recognized formations over 150 years ago. 

Rocks, rocks, rocks, everywhere are amazingly interesting granite towers and domes, though the mountains feel far away. The camping options are as unique as the formations, here. Rather than cluster the camping in a formal campground the park loop road links the small sites to the greater park and each other. Even on a busy day, this means that you can get enough solitude and quiet.  Pit toilets, and water spigots are as fancy as the services get, but we found them clean and conveniently placed. 

A hiker and rock climber’s dream the area offers bouldering, sport, and traditional climbing routes. If you’re not crazy about going vertical, you can easily link miles and miles of climber access trails for an hour or an all day adventure. The park also offers a few mountain biking trails, from easy to intermediate. 

The small town of Almo, ID is the closest place to get gas, and pick up a few groceries, as well as grab a bite to eat. But come prepared to feed yourself, unless desperate, because Tracy’s General Store doesn’t offer much more than convenience or non-perishable food. 

One hilarious and endearing quirk about this park is the pay envelopes at the iron ranger. They wanted cash, rather then check, which I can understand I mean, who doesn’t; but they had a very specific price, $12.72 and they wanted exact change!

Beautiful & Free, but Lots of Trash Around

We simply love camping in the National Forest Service campgrounds, most often because they are isolated, beautiful, inexpensive and usually, very quiet. We rolled up on a Tuesday night in mid-July and found the campground about ¾ full but still plenty of space for our little trailer. With about a dozen or so sites, some along the lakeshore, others closeby, lots of options exist to be alone or with a group. 

There is no potable water or electrical hookups, but with our solar panel we are always ready for primitive sites.  There were portable pit-toilets (bring your own TP, if you want to have some). There are no trash cans or dumpsters in the area, so plan accordingly. The main activity of folks in the campground seemed to be fishing, so I assume the fishing is good, or at least the trying is. But launching a kayak for an easy paddle about the lake couldn’t be easier from your site. 

We arrived right after a busy holiday weekend, and found our site (and those next to it) full of extra fire rings and heaps of trash. It’s discouraging to love these camping areas and find them in such a rough state after others use them. It’s a good reminder to come prepared to pick up after yourself and others who aren’t as thoughtful. We spent a good hour cleaning up the area, and filled one section of our truck bed with it when we left. Carry it in, folks, and then carry it out.

Good Campground Near Stunning Everything Else!

This park has some nice campsites, which can make your camping experience an awesome time, but that’s not why you should go there. Like a lot of state parks, it’s got the usual wooded picnic table, fire ring, the electrical hook-up thing if you need it (or BYOS - bring your own solar), even nice bathrooms with showers and everything. What it offers in terms of a get away from it all makes it the go to destination for everyone who’s just about had enough of everything average.  

First of all, where the heck is it?  About 200 miles from anywhere you’ve ever heard of, unless you’re lucky enough to have been born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or you’ve just nursed along a love of two-lane winding roads, it rewards the traveler who says“let’s take a road trip.” The closest town is Haysi, Virginia, which offers a selection of small regional grocery stores, gas stations and a few restaurants…but not much more. 

The park sits atop an ancient canyon cut through time by the Russell Fork River some 1000 feet below. The trails wonder through sandstone formations laid down some 250 million years ago when the area was covered by a shallow inland sea. The views as well as the geological significance instills awe in the best sense. 

The park offers a short scenic drive loop with a dozen or so stops all offering some look into the amazing scope of natural science. But in case that doesn’t inspire your 10-year-old, the mountain bike trails near to the campground will sure take some energy out of them. And in case they want to just go to the outdoor pool, or sit in the well-appointed cabin or guestroom, these are also available at this park offering a widely diverse accommodations for nearly anyone willing to make the drive to get there.  The Russell Fork is also a world class river offering everything from class 2-3 fun to serious Appalachian creekin’ paddling. But don’t tell anyone about this place, because I don’t want anyone else to find out about it.

Gorgeous Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Can't believe we never camped here until now as this was in our backyard for 13 years!

Nice clean campground, with a creek running down the middle. All interior sites have direct creek access. Bathhouse is well kept, but the showers were disappointing as you have to push the button every 15 seconds and the water was only lukewarm.

Best part about this state park is not the campground itself. The hike up to Stone Mountain at either sunrise or sunset is gorgeous (we did both). Continue along the loop and the are extra treats…the Hutchinson Homestead is fun to explore and there are gorgeous waterfalls too. Lots of opportunities for rock climbing and cycling as well

Closest town for supplies and gas is Wilkesboro, about 40 minutes away.

Gorgeous Coastal Backpacking along the Gulf of Maine

The coast of Maine offers very few places for overnight backpacking or even just seaside hiking. The Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land is one great option. The length of the hiking trails makes this the ideal, weekend getaway location for a two-night campout– just get there early. The sites are few in number, small and difficult to get to, but oh-so-worth-it! 

As backcountry sites, there are no picnic tables or fire rings, but each has a clean and convenient composting toilet with a stunning view of the Gulf of Maine.  Each campsite is located close to a freshwater source and a few are within site of a small pebble beach– perfect for swimming if you don’t mind the chilly water.  But, come prepared for bugs -- mosquitoes and black flies are impressive in the late spring and summer!   And, the trails can be quite muddy and soggy.  There is a price for this much beauty in one place!

Located 16 miles east of East Machias, the closest town with gas and a convenience store. Five miles further west along route 1 the town of Machias offers a wider selection of restaurants, farmers markets and grocery stores.

Could be the quietest place on Earth

When we pulled up to this quiet campground during a warm and sunny day in October, the light shone through the trees on an idyllic pond wreathed in fall color. With no one else around we thought, “welcome to the perfect campsite.” 

Each site offers a picnic table, fire ring, and access to the pond. The pit toilet bathrooms were clean and centrally located in the campground. There is a hand driven well pump for fresh water close to the boat ramp (canoes, kayaks, rowboats only). The water was a little rusty tasting, but perfectly fine to drink. 

A trail lead directly out of the campsite to another pond about a mile away offering a short round trip afternoon hike.  Further up the road, about a mile from the campground, the Mt. Albany trailhead offers a longer and more challenging hike up to the summit as well as connection to other trails in the area. Along the way we found amazing views of the surrounding mountains in all their fall glory!

The campground is only 8 miles from the town of Bethel, ME. This small hamlet offers a few restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

On the shores of GORGEOUS Moosehead Lake!

This gorgeous state park along the shores of Moosehead Lake near Greenville feels like the campgrounds of my youth. Sites are all tucked into the woods with easy access to trails and the lakeshore. Each site offers the usual picnic table and fire ring. 

Well-kept latrines are scattered throughout the campground, as well as drinking water faucets.  A centrally located, and clean bath house with flush toilets, warm individual-use shower rooms, and a great dishwashing sink is a recent addition to this large facility. The only downside is that it can be a 10 to 15-minute walk from the farthest campsite, making most people get in their vehicles just to take a shower or wash dishes.

The great network of trails offer opportunity for hiking and biking in summer and skiing and snowshoeing in winter. The lake, over 35 miles long offers sailing, paddling, swimming and even power boating.  The closest town is conveniently located about 6 miles away for gas and groceries.

Worth the hike-in, very close to the AT

Beautiful hike-in sites located along the Pleasant River, and a great access point for hiking on the Appalachian Trail or in Gulf Hagas area!  We didn’t stay at these sites, but came across them while hiking just off the AT. 

Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, with access to a clean latrine (with TP!).  No potable water is available, but the river is easily accessible for dishwashing and boiling/filtering. Firewood is available for purchase at the access gate at Katahdin Iron Works, but keep in mind you’ll have to carry it about ¾ of a mile, and across a river. 

For safety, no bikes or ATV’s are allowed beyond the Katahdin Iron Works gate, as these roads belong to the logging companies in the area and there can be many fast-moving logging trucks. The town of Milo is where you’ll find the closest grocery stores and gas stations, but it’s a bit of a drive so come prepared. 

Note about costs: Located in the Maine North Woods, getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate at Katahdin Iron Works, pay a daily access fee, and daily camping fee.  Note: If you are planning to backpack on the AT from this location, the pricing is very different, so be sure to ask!

Camp Perfect!

Camp Perfect is what we nicknamed this spot along the Western Penobscot River. It’s missing a sign, but clearly marked on the map as a camp spot. Although this is backcountry camping, these spots each have a picnic table, an established fire ring, and a very clean pit toilet (bring your own TP though).  There are bears and moose in the area, so come prepared with a bear proof container to keep your food safe.

We loved it so much, we stayed 2 nights and explored the stream nearby, swam in the bend of the river that offered a perfect swimming hole, and watched the gorgeous sunsets.   A truly gorgeous spot!

Note about costs: Located in the Maine North Woods, getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate along the Golden Road, pay a daily access fee, and daily camping fee. And, then there’s the shuttle. It’s expensive, but if you go with a group and share costs, it’s a treat! Maybe a once in a lifetime adventure for some people.

Fresh water lobsters? Don't let the name fool you!

This was the first campsite along our Maine North Woods canoe adventure – about 4 miles from the Lobster Launch. It is a gorgeous campsite along the sandy shores of Lobster Lake, with plenty of room for a group of 8-10 people.  It's called Lobster Lake because it's shaped like a lobster claw.  

Has a huge picnic table, separate food prep area, fire ring and toilet (bring your own TP). Bring plenty of fresh water (though you can filter from a stream feeding the lake/river, but we were advised not to use the lake water, even filtered). Very easy access to the water for swimming, hauling gear up, etc. 

Note about costs: Getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate along the Golden Road, pay a daily road access fee, and daily camping fee. And, then there’s the shuttle for your vehicle. It’s expensive, but if you go with a group and share costs, it’s a treat!  Maybe a once in a lifetime adventure for some people.

First time we've seen moose FROM our campsite!

This was an unexpectedly beautiful site and great access point for hiking on the Appalachian Trail or Gulf Hagas area! We were seeking a place to stay 1 night just before embarking on a backpacking trip. The woman at the Katahdin Ironworks gatehouse selected the site for us and couldn’t have picked a better one. 

Lots of privacy, beautiful view of the river, and we even were visited by a moose and her calf one evening! Each site has a covered picnic table and fire ring, with access to a private, clean latrine (with TP!) across the road. No potable water is available, but the stream is easily accessible for dishwashing and boiling/filtering. Firewood is available for purchase at the access gate at Katahdin Iron Works. 

For safety, no bikes or ATV’s are allowed beyond the Katahdin Iron Works gate, as these roads belong to the logging companies in the area and there can be many fast-moving logging trucks. The town of Milo is where you’ll find the closest grocery stores and gas stations, but it’s a bit of a drive so come prepared. 

Note about costs: Located in the Maine North Woods, getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate at Katahdin Iron Works, pay a daily access fee, and daily camping fee. Note: If you are planning to backpack on the AT from this location, the pricing is very different, so be sure to ask!

First to Review
Spot for Just 1 Tent...Barely!

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island is small with barely a tent space, but a good stop for us on our 9 day journey and a perfect launching spot for crossing Jericho Bay (4.5 miles) to Marshall Island the next day.   Gorgeous shell covered beach and a beautiful view of Isle au Haut, just next door.

This can be a tricky island to land on at high tide, so plan accordingly. Be prepared for mosquitoes. We thought we were passed mosquito season in early September, but alas, they were pretty bad all day long. 

Come prepared with fresh water (there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). Site is first come, first served and completely free for MITA members.

First to Review
Perfect island for those new to sea kayak camping

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island has 2 sites – one larger area up in the woods, the other quite small near the granite shore, but both accessible from the east side of the island. We stayed at the site by the shore and had a gorgeous view of the sun setting. 

This is a perfect island for those new to sea kayak camping as the sandy shore, which is exposed for a good portion of the day, is easy to land on and a short walk to a trail into the woods. 

Come prepared with fresh water(there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). Sites are first come, first served and completely free for MITA members.

First to Review
Gorgeous Views of the Gulf

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island has 2 sites– one very small one on the northeast side, the other perfect for larger groups on the southwest side. We stayed at the larger site and had a gorgeous view of the sun setting and full moon rising. 

Perfect island for exploring the close-by Isle au Haut, a remote section of Acadia National Park, but very hard to get reservations at Duck Harbor Campground. This can be a tricky island to land on at high tide, so plan accordingly. 

Be prepared for mosquitoes. We thought we were passed mosquito season in early September, but alas, they were pretty bad at sunset. Come prepared with fresh water (there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). 

Sites are first come, first served and completely free for MITA members.

First to Review
The Most Magical Island in the Gulf of Maine

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island has 2 sites– one on the southeast side near Sand Cove and the other on the northeast side of the island. We stayed at one of the 2 sites near Sand Cove which is a truly gorgeous wooded area with a tent platform and a picnic table at each site. Sand Cove is perfect for a beach fire and stargazing on a clear night– some of the best stargazing spots we’ve ever seen! 

Despite the fact that the other islands had pesky mosquitoes, this site had none. Come prepared with fresh water (there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). If you happen to need a food or water resupply, Swan’s Island is a short paddle away and has a very small grocery store and town office with fresh water. Sites are first come, first served and completely free for MITA members. And, if you do a beach clean-up during your stay and send in a picture, you will receive a Maine Coast Heritage Trust hat!

Quiet, Spacious, Lots of Amenities

While we don’t usually stay in private campgrounds due to their high cost, the price was reasonable for the quality of this campground and amenities provided. We were in need of a shower and a place for the night and this campground was perfectly situated off the highway to Greenville. 

Most of the sites are designed for larger RVs with full hook-ups, but they have just a handful of simple tent/small camper sites without services, which is exactly what we needed.   Just a picnic table and fire ring and some privacy and we were happy campers.

The shower house was newly remodeled and very clean, as was the laundry facility with dishwashing/utility sink. The campground has access to over 1000 miles of trails, which are designed for ATV’s. They even have an ATV washing station. While it was not open in late September, the campground offers a nice pool, game room for the kids of all ages, a small camp store, and even has a snack bar and ice cream counter.  And, if you are seeking some amazing hiking, it's relatively close to Borestone Mountain and sections of the Appalachian Trail.

The young husband and wife team who own/run the place are very sweet folks who seem to really pay attention to the needs of their customers.  For instance, they recently spent a good deal of money on high speed wifi because that is what their customers said they wanted.  We didn't need it, so can't comment on its quality, but it's there if you do.

No wild horses, but a great campground!

This Nevada State Recreation Area is in a beautiful very remote location, along the Wild Horse reservoir. There are two camping areas with about a dozen sites in each. Each site has a nice picnic table, rain / sunshade, and fire ring…and lots of sun for the solar panel. The bathroom facilities are the fanciest we've ever seen for $15 per night. Can you say, "Custom tiled shower?" Someone did a really nice job. And, the campground is kept emaculate.

Just below the campground is a boat ramp and parking lot and swimming beach area. The lake is great for boating, fishing and paddling. The winds we experienced would make it a great lake for sailing, and sailboarding. There are numerous hikes along forest roads in the area that will get you up into the mountains (and even up to an old gold mine), but not alot of "trail hikes." Mountain biking is a great option along these backroads.

The nearest town with services is Owyhee, gas and small grocery store, about 35 miles to the north. There was no cell service in the campground, but we found it on our hike up the mountain!