Shelly S.
Bowling Green, KY
Joined June 2016
Been camping since I was a kid, got the “bug” from my mom;) Military taught me a different kind of camping.Now I’m back on my own with my three amigos
Vintage Galore

David Crockett State Park is located near Lawrenceburg, Tn off I64 or I43 depending on your direction of travel.

We visited in March for the Vintage Camper weekend and had an excellent time. The campground is sort of a double loop design , down hill, so makes for a good walk. Full hook up, cement pad, level sites and everyone would have shade if the leaves had come in, though that early in the season it wasn’t really needed. The sites are adequate but not overly roomy. You can fit yourself in, and an extra car. A small tent or hammock would fit too. The showerhouse was newer and well maintained, as well as the campground. The host was very helpful and knowledgeable.

The trail we took was a little rough , definitely technical but plenty of cool things to keep my granddaughter interested in the next turn. The lake will accommodate water sports of all sorts, we did not stop by though because the granddaughter would have ended up in the water ;)

Basic

Bells Bend Park is close to the city but nature all around. Farmland with spots of woodland. 

Primitive camping , in the trees on a hill. Group only. There are some tables and some fire rings. But the sky is immense.

The park offers a lot of programs to base your camping around. The trails are through farmland and bike friendly.

Walk through history

Fort Boonesborough SP is near I64 and I75 Between Lexington and Richmond , Ky. The Kentucky River is adjacent. I remember watching Daniel Boone in black and white when I was a kid. The Fort is very cool.

I imagine the staff here stays very busy considering the amount of people that pass through. Then there are those visitors that try to get the most for their money and stuff as many people as possible into one site. And my favorite, the ones that think it’s someone else’s responsibility to clean up their trash. So here’s a shout out to the people that do their best to keep it working and try to keep a professional smile on their face while putting up with the less then polite visitors.

Alrighty then…..nice enough busy campground with some sites definitely more preferable then others. Knowing the campground and reserving ahead always makes your stay better. We visited in the off season so did not have to worry about the crowds. Showerhouse was adequate and the sites reasonably level. Sort of a “every available spot” used kinda campground and I would not want to stay here when it is at full capacity. I’m here for the hiking mostly and enjoyed the trails and bridges. The Fort was VERY cool. If my kids were still at home this would definitely be a field trip location! In the area is the Beer Cheese Trail check it out!

In the hills

I visited Moonshine Creek Campground with a group of friends. There had been mudslides over the winter so there were renovations going on. The sites are close together BUT so skillfully incorporated into the architecture that you really don’t notice. Cute cabins to rent and secluded tent sites, all with a stream running through the middle of the campground. My site was right next to the stream and little covered bridge. It sounded like it was always raining. We used the pavilion for get togethers, it has a nice kitchen area with a grill. Right outside the pavilion is a pit campfire for groups. There are cabins and sites up along the hillside which have a view and a little more privacy. Town is close by and window shopping is a must. There are several hiking opportunities in the area.

ALONE

If you like primitive camping out in the middle of nowhere with a view, this is a place for you! 

Chuck Swan State Forest is just that , a Forest, nothing more. There are two camping areas that are FREE. Realize this is a sport hunting/fishing kind of place and forestry run area. Which means tree harvest and other conservation stuff is going on and of course there’s hunting seasons throughout the year. 

BUT if you like the night sky and quiet, alone time , this place is perfect. Bring your bug spray, flashlight and TP.

Token Creepy Van

This was an overnight stay but wish I’d had more time to explore! 

Norris Dam has two campgrounds in different sections. We stayed in the west campground which is a loop with playground and showerhouse in the middle. Nice showerhouse. Okay sized sites with full hookup. We were one of maybe 6 people in the whole campground so it was quiet. Then there was the creepy van down at the end that I avoided. 

Hiking and mountain bike trails, plus a huge pool. 

Town is close by with a few interesting places to eat.

Local Hangout

Big Ridge State Park has nothing within 30 minutes and we are talking some winding roads. Enjoyable drive in but bring your food. 

The campground has two levels and three sections. There are two new, clean showerhouses and one old showerhouse. 

At the front of the campground are ADA sites, the second section is closest to the lake, good for fishing. Then you drive/walk up the hill past the beach area to the top level which have several sites. There are stairs that connect back to the lower level. 

There are water sports and hiking trails to enjoy and nice group areas for get togethers.

Horses galore

East Fork Stables is a HUGE equestrian campground that , guess what….you don’t have to have a horse to stay at! They have a whole loop complete with a pavilion cookhouse and annoying triangle bell that’s perfect for campers, tents and hammocks.

The showerhouse is nice and clean. The sites plenty big and mostly shaded. 

Of course you can use any of the loops but the rest will have some really big animals hanging out. 

There are miles and miles of trails. Waterfalls , overlooks and scenery. A nice gift shop/camp office and cabins.

I stayed here for the Cumberland Plateau Stage Race. The race director actually reserved the whole campground for his event.

Functional

One step up from a parking lot style campground. BUT it has some character. There are cabins, a showerhouse and pavilion in addition to the row of campsites.

Jamestown, Tn is right outside Pickett SP, Big South Fork and Daniel Boone NF so this would be a good base camp in town near amenities.

Old meets new

Nice small , historical campground/state park. One of the CCC built areas. Small circle campground with several pull through sites and electric or primitive to choose from. Quiet, at least when we visited. Water to kayak or swim in. A swing bridge across the water to the upper trail. The ladder trailhead is in the upper campground. Very technical, and challenging trail. This would be a good State Park to visit with younger children.

Mountain Festival

A group of friends met here for the Mountain Festival. In addition to an awesome time checking out food and craft venders there are some awesome trails and overlooks. There are several campgrounds to pick from. We were in D which is best for small campers and tents. Some of these sites are really close together, others have a lot of space to set up. There is a nice group camp site in the trees and some secluded sites on the back loop. The showerhouse is a little old but functional. Fall Creek Falls is going through renovations and they have some new areas already opened for your enjoyment. Zip lines, a nice swimming pool, an amphitheater, swing bridges, awesome waterfall overlooks and some strenuous climbs that are worth the journey.

Ranger Review of Outdoor Element at Hungry Mother SP

Campground review: Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, VA. This park has something for everyone. Hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, swimming. There are interesting campfire get togethers too. Two campgrounds, one up the hill, the other on the main road. Secluded cabins and yurts. We stayed in the smaller campground at the top of the hill. There is electric at each site and plenty of room for more then one tent, hammocks and small campers. A nice showerhouse with dish sink on the end. You will get your exercise walking the rolling loop still campground and hill. There is a yurt in this campground with a nice deck. Some visitors saw a bear near the backside of the lake, but I didn’t see any large wildlife. The cabins are located on the backside of the lake with some nice porches to sit and enjoy the evening breeze. The beach is popular, there are kayaking programs and paddle boats. You could easily stay a week here. Two things to do while your here is ONE: check out DIP DOGS a very popular and busy restaurant and TWO: the “Back of the Dragon” an AWESOME DRIVING TOUR across the mountains from Marion to Tazewell, VA.

Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I have the opportunity to check out some awesome outdoor products. Outdoor Element stuff is like survivalist gear that can be carried with you all the time. Bracelets that can be used to make fire, use as fishing line and as rope. This bracelet has a fish hook “embedded” in it and a flint and striker for sparks. Cool thing they do is give you a piece of the 550 cord used for the bracelet to take apart and experiment with. Watch my video for more information. I wear the bracelet all the time now so it’s a little stinky , ;p not sure about washing it, but I am going to the site to find out.

Excellent hiking

Raccoon Branch Campground is with in the Jefferson National Forest. We stopped here between Hungry Mother SP and Grayson Highlands. The scenery through this entire area is AWESOME! Raccoon is the trailhead for a 2 1/2 mile one way trail TO THE TOP. There is some awesome overlooks and scary drop offs. It’s well worth the climb! Once your done hiking you can relax in the campground which has a choice of primitive or electric sites. Secluded, quiet and dark at night. I had no telephone signal, but that was the story the entire time I was in Virginia. A nice overnight camping spot.

No horsin around

I visited Bristol Fields for a planned primitive camping event with a group. I’m glad I arrived in daylight because my first drive in on the approximately 4 mile stretch of dirt and gravel road was a little nerve racking. Mostly because I wasn’t 100% sure I was going the correct way and second because there are some nice drop offs from the road. It is a wide road (about 1 1/2 lane)but passing in some areas would be interesting. Stay right and you will find the sign. The campground is primarily for horse oriented camping. It is split into three areas. The first section to the right as you pull in is the area we set up in. Then there is a long field that is obviously for horse trailer parking and camping with tie out poles included. There is a small tree break prior to the last area which has the pit style latrine and a large field for camping use. This whole area is bordered by a nice cold stream that is excellent for soaking your sore muscles in after a horse ride or hike. There is direct access to horse and hiking trails that are not extremely scenic (as in no long views until you get to the top) but will give you a good vertical workout. You can run or bike ride on the road too. There are several large fire pit areas throughout and a fire circle with wood chairs in the main area. There were five of us, three tent campers and two in vans and we had plenty of room to set up. The gravel center with picnic table worked well as our “kitchen” and dining area. Once parked my vehicle didn’t move again until it was time to leave. Total black at night meant excellent star gazing and the creek was the loudest thing out there. It did seem to be a young adult destination in the evenings, but they left when they saw that the site was occupied. A nice feature someone created was a “dam” of rocks with a round pool to sit in. Excellent get away with no electronics to speak of.

You have to stop and look

We stopped here at zero dark thirty enroute to Hungry Mother State Park. It was dark, very quiet and sorta creepy. NO ONE was in the primitive camp area which is located off the main campground road , down a gravel road into the trees. This would be an excellent group site because all six tent pads surround this huge fire ring and there’s a nice pavilion with water, power and plenty of picnic tables. I was not interested in getting too comfortable just for a few hours sleep so I aired up my small mattress and crashed in the truck. We were up at the crack of sunlight and exploring. Two, small, nice full service campgrounds with a small store and playground. CCC style hiking trail up around the Natural Tunnel that offers some pretty views. There is a chairlift , gift shop and other attractions , BUT…don’t plan to do anything before 10 am, that’s when everything opens. So we hiked and then got on our way up the road.

Ranger Review of Outdoor Element Firebiner Survival EDC Carabiner at Grayson Highlands State Park, VA

Campground Review: There are two campgrounds in Grayson Highland SP which is located by The Mouth Of Wilson, VA, near the North Carolina border. Just an FYI certain cell phone providers do not have great coverage in this area, so plan ahead and print out any Geo or local info before you arrive. As a non-Virginia resident you will pay more to hike and stay at the State Parks. That being said the facilities I’ve visited have been immaculate and well staffed. Grayson Highlands has a front gate where you can pick up your packet if pre-registered. I’m not sure what I picked at online registration other than electric and water but I had the choice of over 10 sites. I originally pulled into site 29 which has an awesome view, but had visions of plummeting down the mountain side so I moved. There are several pull through options, I opted for a back in. The lay out of the park is very linear and the “corners” are completely used with up to three sites. We visited on a week day after Labor Day and the campground was sparsely occupied. The shower house closest to my site, 46, had a shower and latrine option or just shower option. The camp host was located across from the shower house and the dump station was adjacent to that site. For the most part there was plenty of shade. Near the entrance there were a few sites off the field that had few or no trees. There is a six pad group site available behind the camp store that had plenty of picnic tables and a large fire ring. LOVED the hiking trails!!! The VIEWS!!! The “one” the park is known for is the Rhododendron, which is where the wild ponies live. We saw ponies, but more then that it’s like you are on top of the mountain range , “Lord Of The Rings” or something like that! The Creekside Cabin hike is very technical as in tree roots and rocks, but so worth the exertion! Very cool waterfall and aside from some modern day trash there is still the old wood stove and pantry in the cabin. If you like to cool off in the streams that you hike to this trail has many options to sit and enjoy. We saw several deer, some turkey but no bears. Still be aware of your surroundings when moving around and in the campground.

Product Review: Outdoor Element makes some useful gadgets to wear, carry and stash on your person for all contingencies. I reviewed the “Firebiner” while at camp this time. Realize I am a laymen and “thingy” is an acceptable word when describing products. Please visit www.OutdoorElement.Com for all the big words and complete descriptions. First and foremost I want to say I am not an outdoor , backwoods phenomena, so bear with me on my fire making skills. I have watched “Survivor” and they are right about how hard it is to get a fire going with just flint. Outdoor Element gives you everything you need to be successful though with PRACTICE! SO … The Firebiner first has some cool added features before you ever get to the fire part. A cool assortment of colors and National Parks in a titanium coated finish, a flathead screwdriver tip, a bottle opener, a built in utility blade, hang slots ( like for key rings and small hanging things ). This biner can hold up to 100 lbs ( non-human ) and has a stainless steel wire gate that springs closed. Now one of the coolest features to me is the Everspark fire wheel. It can throw some sparkage around! I was unsuccessful with regular tinder but got the jute burning. The ferry rod has two replacements included in the package and you can get a kit for the replacement or use an eyeglass flathead, but remember it has a spring in there.

Time to eat!

Ranger Review: Grubstick at Holiday KOA Greenfield, Indiana. Campground Review: So, I’ve said it before, KOA’s are not my kind of camping. However I find myself once again with a KOA yearly membership. Why? Because several of the people whom I camp with enjoy the WiFi and other perks of staying at a KOA. I met my brother and his wife at the Holiday KOA https://koa.com/campgrounds/indianapolis/ right outside Indianapolis, Indiana for a very wet tent camp out. I towed my redneck “tent platform” and brought along plenty of tarpage. No kayak, the weather actually dipped into the high thirty’s and I am not a cold weather kayaker. Perks of this KOA are a very nice playground and wading pool area. So if you have younger children, ideal for you. There is a nice size dog park and you can get a nice walk in around the campground. They have delivery style pizza right on site and some planned activities on weekends. There is the aforementioned WiFi and the latrine is newer but lacking in hooks ( I’m a big hook person, where else am I supposed to hang my bathroom bag and clothes while showering or grooming at the sink?) The other issue with the latrine is there is only ONE for the entire campground. This is a nice size campground and it can be a good hike from the backside to the latrine, I know this because I had to make that hike more then once. The other issue with that is not everyone is willing to walk that far when they need to go, so where do you suppose they take care of their business? …. exactly! And then there’s my same old complaint of they fit a camper or tent into every square meter of this park, it can get very full and crowded. Excuse me while I look in your window or can over hear every word you say. Holiday was very well maintained to the point of mowing while I’m trying to set up my area and blowing grass all over everything, please don’t run over my dog…Otherwise we had fun looking for area happenings and shopping. I visited Fort Harrison State Park which was nearby. Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I get the opportunity on occasion to review outdoor oriented products. I had the chance to try out Grubstick https://grubstick.com/ and I can say I was excited! I am a campfire cooking kind of person and have tried out many contraptions, the Grubstick is a long time in coming. I say that because this ain’t your grandma’s wiener roasting stick or your moms wicked pointed metal fork that can put your eye out or trip you when it slides down the side of the chair leg. The most phenomenal part of the Grubstick is that the handle is…..RETRACTABLE!!! No more wedging the fork in the most inconvenient place or trying to fit it in your cooking box. The handle when not expanded can fit easily into your pocket, day pack, backpack, fannypack !!! To me that is AWESOME!! Revolutionary! Seems to be sturdier then ones I’ve seen in camp stores. Along with the handle comes two attachments and a easy open handle in a nice, durable carry bag, LOVE IT. Christmas gifts all around! And this was before I checked it out. I have two “sets” and unfortunately one of the sticks broke after only a few retractions and extensions. Perhaps I was too vigorous in my extension technique? So carefully extend your grubstick when using. Otherwise it worked like a dream! And the other stick had no issues, so maybe just a flaw in that one stick? I haven’t contacted the company yet, but I will see how they are about returns or replacements. I roasted some sausages and we toasted some marshmallows for s’mores. The pack up was easy too, nice carry bag to put it all in, I usually carry or reuse a freezer type bag for “dirty” silverware etc. I removed the fork head off the Grubstick and it went right in. No MESS! No Long Pointy Stick with goo at the end to wrap and store. Love it! I didn’t use the Grubstick basket while camping so I pulled it out at the house to add some footage and testing. If Grubstickadds a pie pan attachment, I’m one of the first in line to get it!! Happy Camp Cooking ;)

First to Review
Negative 5

This is not a campground. It’s a mobile home park and I would be afraid to park my camper here!

Parking lot

This is your typical military PCS campground for people in transit. No shade! Cement pads to park on. A laundry room, pavilion and showerhouse. There is a dog park and you are off the beaten path. Which makes it a little difficult to find the first time. But when you do your like “Duh! It was right here.” So useful for an overnight if you have a military/retired ID.

Always something new

Ranger Review: Aftershokz at Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

Campground Review: First before I get into my review, I am TOTALLY BIAS at Monte Sano SP ! I LOVE this park, the only thing that could make it better is if there was a lake or attached watercourse. The hiking is moderate to extreme up and down some interesting rock formations. The mountain bikers and bikers seem to enjoy themselves too, flying down the closed roadway or the steep roadways and challenging themselves on the rocky terrain. I’ve been several years now and still haven’t gotten around to all the trails. The campground is laid out in two loops and a dirt loop for tent campers. I was in site 19 which was in the way back, unfortunately near a “pond” so a few mosquitoes were about. Otherwise pretty spacious sites. I hung my hammock and could have put up a tent. Pretty quiet though the campground was close to full. The showerhouse has a pay washer and dryer in the front. Older building but well maintained. Coded gate entry and plenty of trail access right from the campground. Some excellent overlooks a cool waterfall hike and an adjacent land grant. I’ve run several trail runs here and you always see something new. I also found ANOTHER excellent hole in the wall restaurant in addition to several others in the area. https://www.poboyfactory.com/ Worth checking out ! Monte Sano SP has so much to do you could easily spend an extended time there and not be bored, unless you want to be. I mentioned water at the start of this review, though there are no water sports within the park there is more then one option available not very far away. Definitely worth visiting again!

Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I get to review interesting products. I had the most excellent mission of trying out Aftershokz https://aftershokz.com/pages/technology. I am not a fan of headphones, they don’t fit well in my ears, they are in my ears, I can’t hear anything else, SO I don’t use them. Enter the Aftershokz! Different take on headphonz, on their site you can read about how they work, in laymen terms (my take) the Aftershokz sits on your bone and the vibrations create the sounds that you hear….It makes sense to me but you should read the information on the site, lol. So anyway, nothing in my ear, I can hear what’s going on around me and no worries of them falling out of your ears. I wore my Aftershokz for a trail-race in Monte Sano SP. Once I put them on I pretty much forgot they were there. I could hear my music and hear what what was going on around me. The sound level is adjustable on the headphone. I also checked the reception distance while working in my backyard. I had good sound at about 50 yards without anything in between. Rechargeable, flexible and sweat proof are additional plus’s.