Sonyia W.
Watkinsville, GA
Joined April 2019
So much potential...

A little background: I used to live five minutes from this park, and it used to be the first campground we visited every year to work out all the gear details. Back then (2012-2015), it was great! Absolutely beautiful, well maintained, gorgeous.

Now… the park itself is still great. Obviously it was hit by a hurricane, but the cleanup and improvements are coming along in those areas. They playground has always been amazing and they’ve added a Splash Pad right next to it. (We were in town to visit family so we didn’t get to enjoy those this time).

But y’all are here for a campground review, so here it is.

Registration. You cannot register online, you must do it on the phone or in person. All of the sites with full hook-ups are taken by long-term folks (probably staying there while their homes are being rebuilt from the tornadoes and hurricane?), so they are $20 a night for water/electric. When you register over the phone, you are charged an additional $15 fee. (When I checked in, they said I would receive a refund of that $15 as a check in the mail…?). When I called the day of check-in to get the gate code, they had no idea who I was and initially wanted me to pay for a site, again. After some shuffling they finally found my paperwork.

The tent-only side still looks fine. Plush grass, large spaced out sites.

However, the RV side looks a bit rough. The sites are no longer gravel, just dirt (or, this weekend, mud) and some grass. The sites aren’t maintained between campers (as I got a half burned log, empty pack of smokes, and paper plates in mine). I was actually placed on site 7, which on the campground map is NOT a “buddy” (shared) site, and told to just plug into the same pole as the guy on Actual Site 7. Thankfully he was 50A and I was 30A so it worked out. (Although oddly enough, several full sites remained empty the whole time I was there). It rained most of the weekend, and everything was covered in wet dirt chunks when I left.

The bath house… could use a little love and a fresh coat of paint. If you can avoid the side bathrooms (maybe handicapped? The ones with just a toilet and shower), then do so. Aside from teeming with flying wildlife (which, it’s South Georgia, you have to kind of expect that), it could have used a good cleaning. The regular restrooms were passable (better than some gas stations but not as clean as state/national park I usually visit).

I understand that the area was impacted by a hurricane last year… but a little bit of cleanliness and care goes a long way.

Small... but it’s the beach!

*This campground is currently under renovation post-hurricane and is taking walk-in camping only, no reservations.

My cousin was in from Germany and had always heard about Panama City Beach… we are campers at heart so we went to the nearest campground! However it’s a very short drive to PCB if you have someone along that wants to see the city…

Now, there are two beach areas. One is on the gulf, and one is between the gulf and the bay. The gulf water is a lot choppier but clearer, and the swimming in the spot by the bay is much calmer HOWEVER the purple flag was up and we got eaten alive by jellyfish (as did many others). There is a boat ramp on the bay side.

The sites are all VERY different. Some are tiny, some are huge. Some have waterfront and many don’t. We booked late and got a very small (although not the smallest) site. If you want a good spot once they reopen, definitely book early and pay attention to the measurements on the website.

There is also a nature trail with a freshwater swamp (featuring gators, of course). We saw lots of other wildlife around, including deer and rabbits.

Lots to do and see

We went here prior to “site specific” booking and still somehow managed a lakefront site right next to a shelter house. Luckily, the shelter wasn’t used by any groups while we were there.

The driveways are gravel which is where we pitched the tents. We had access to the lake for fishing and our canoe from the back of our site. The sites are somewhat close together and not private.

Some of the sites were much smaller and had a view of the lake (but no access) and some closer to the back were larger and more private. Many were multi-level.

The camp store was well stocked including bait for fishing and other fishing/camping gear. The camp store is separate from the registration/check-in store.

There are plenty of trails and you are a short drive from a beautiful overlook.

Bring bug spray

And lots of it!

We went in April, which the staff said was the “less mosquito-y” time of year, so I can’t imagine how bad it gets moving forward! However, despite the bugs, we still had a great time!

It rained a good bit (and our site flooded slightly so make sure to take care when choosing where to pitch your tent). The camp store is also where you can rent canoes. There is a nature trail just a few steps from the store. While out on the canoe we found one of the paddle-in locations as well. Tons of beautiful wildlife and gators to see along the way as well.

The restroom area had a screened in porch (much needed!) and was clean and well stocked during our stay.

Beautiful hike

We did not camp here, just hiked part of the loop. There is a great picnic area at the top with a playground and a fantastic view.

As for the actual hike, make sure to bring bug spray, water, and tons of sunscreen. Also if it’s rained anytime recently, make sure you know how to get orange clay out of your clothing!

Hot but beautiful

We took this trip mid summer, and it was ridiculously hot. There was no coastal breeze, in fact there was no breeze at all. The playground was nice but the equipment was too hot to touch.

Luckily we cooled off in the Blue Hole… which, let me warn you, is ICE cold all year long. It felt amazing and the kids loved it!

There are a few hiking trails that are nice, including one with a cave tunnel. The cave itself is wonderfully cool, and although it isn’t very big, it is still quite beautiful. It was easy to navigate for those that are looking to see what a cave looks like without the full crawling and spelunking experience.

The little shop at the cave tours was well stocked (including ice cream!). There is also a museum that gives lots of information about the cave and the area in general; on Sunday they had a reptile/wildlife presentation.

The restrooms were large and clean. Staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. Overall would definitely go back… just during a different time of year!

Hot but beautiful

We took this trip mid summer, and it was ridiculously hot. There was no coastal breeze, in fact there was no breeze at all. The playground was nice but the equipment was too hot to touch.

Luckily we cooled off in the Blue Hole… which, let me warn you, is ICE cold all year long. It felt amazing and the kids loved it!

There are a few hiking trails that are nice, including one with a cave tunnel. The cave itself is wonderfully cool, and although it isn’t very big, it is still quite beautiful. It was easy to navigate for those that are looking to see what a cave looks like without the full crawling and spelunking experience.

The little shop at the cave tours was well stocked (including ice cream!). There is also a museum that gives lots of information about the cave and the area in general; on Sunday they had a reptile/wildlife presentation.

The restrooms were large and clean. Staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. Overall would definitely go back… just during a different time of year!

Currently closed but...

From what I understand, the park is currently closed to camping and cabins due to hurricane damage but some areas are still open. I am reviewing anyway to help encourage public support to rebuild the access to the park and reopen.

This park had smaller sites that were close together; however, the thick vegetation between sites gave each one a very private feel. The ground is dirt/sand (with a paved road leading to sites). The beach is absolutely wonderful. The restrooms were very large, clean, and well kept. There are bike trails leading down boardwalks and paved roads, and a large playground. All of the staff we encountered were very polite and helpful.

As we left, a very heavy storm came and the site flooded as we were packing up. Of course, as most daily gulf storms go, everything dried up rather quickly.

Excellent as always

This was my third trip to Pickens and it was amazing as always.

*The camping store is closed until they can find someone to run it. Wood and ice can be bought at the Tom Thumb just outside the park or at Walmart/Publix in Gulf Breeze.

*Battery Cooper Rd was closed so those two batteries are inaccessible.

*Loops B/D no longer have electric or dedicated water (there is a water spigot every few sites). Tent sites D24, D25, B6 have the best shade and space.

*We stayed at A15 (right next to walking trail entrance) and my best friend on A14. Other good shaded sites on this loop are A4 (grass not level enough for tents), A6, A12, A19, A21, A24, A26, A35 (next to dumpsters though), A36 (okay but not great).

*You can no longer hang anything from trees or power poles (hammocks, clotheslines etc). You also cannot having a shower looking tent (we have one for a changing tent only—no toilet or shower—and they made us take it down). Max two tents or camper and one tent per site (awnings/pop up shelter over picnic table don’t count towards the two).

*I didn’t peek into the restrooms in loops B-E. A-loop restrooms were a little dated but clean and functional. The laundry/dish washing station was stellar.

*There are dump stations (one in loop A and one for B-E) but no sewer hook ups per site.

*The price for getting into Gulf Island National Seashore is now $20 and it’s a 7 day pass.

*The campground now gives out two slips at check-in. One is for your car and one is to keep with you after 8pm so you don’t get kicked out of the area after dark.

Everyone was very nice and helpful.

Excellent as always

This was my third trip to Pickens and it was amazing as always.

*The camping store is closed until they can find someone to run it. Wood and ice can be bought at the Tom Thumb just outside the park or at Walmart/Publix in Gulf Breeze.

*Battery Cooper Rd was closed so those two batteries are inaccessible.

*Loops B/D no longer have electric or dedicated water (there is a water spigot every few sites). Tent sites D24, D25, B6 have the best shade and space.

*We stayed at A15 (right next to walking trail entrance) and my best friend on A14. Other good shaded sites on this loop are A4 (grass not level enough for tents), A6, A12, A19, A21, A24, A26, A35 (next to dumpsters though), A36 (okay but not great).

*You can no longer hang anything from trees or power poles (hammocks, clotheslines etc). You also cannot having a shower looking tent (we have one for a changing tent only—no toilet or shower—and they made us take it down). Max two tents or camper and one tent per site (awnings/pop up shelter over picnic table don’t count towards the two).

*I didn’t peek into the restrooms in loops B-E. A-loop restrooms were a little dated but clean and functional. The laundry/dish washing station was stellar.

*The price for getting into Gulf Island National Seashore is now $20 and it’s a 7 day pass.

*The campground now gives out two slips at check-in. One is for your car and one is to keep with you after 8pm so you don’t get kicked out of the area after dark.

Everyone was very nice and helpful.

Great sites!

We stayed on one of the platform sites for the trip, but walking around we found that nearly all of the sites look great!

The playground is big, but the kids MOST enjoyed the “rock slide” in the creek. We spent most of the day there, and the weather (late August) was perfect!

Staff and camp hosts were very helpful (and we were able to buy wood and ice from the host when we arrived late). Restrooms were a bit of a walk and I saw them being maintained regularly.

A little cold but fun!

We went in late October. It was a bit cold but fun all the same! The hiking trail was easy enough for everyone (including younger kids). The playground was pretty big and newer (and also had swings!). Bath house was kept very clean and camp hosts and staff were friendly and helpful all around. There are several sites that overlook the lake (but we booked too late for those), but all the sites seem to be pretty big. They also have a mini golf course, and nearby Indian Springs State Park for even more variety.

Quiet and clean

The kids and I stayed here for a weekend (mid March) to try out our new camper. We got a waterfront site and it was gorgeous! Not as big as some places we have been, but large enough. Some of the non-waterfront sites appeared to be MUCH smaller.

The restrooms in our area were spotless and cleaned multiple times per day. My son said the ones near the beach area had a few spider webs, but considering it wasn’t even remotely warm yet, they probably weren’t being maintained as often as the campground ones just yet.

Staff was friendly and helpful, fishing was so-so (from the back of our campsite, anyway, and probably moreso due to our lack of skill than actual fish quantity). They have recently repaved the roads and it was very easy to get around. There are two playgrounds: a larger one by the beach and a smaller one in the campground area (which also has a huge field).

Our spot was level left to right but had a slight slope front to back.