Stephanie T.

Las Vegas, NV

Joined June 2016

Amazingly clear water

Clear streams and lake. Stunning overall. Lake Ocquittunk campground had showers, flush toilets and was popular with families.

Did a small part of the Appalachian trail while there (about 15 miles). Would love to go back when I'm in better shape and try the whole trail.

Beautiful pines trees, no sign of the Jersey Devil

Spent time at the Lake Atsion campground (which has showers) and kayaked to primitive backcountry sites. Really something for everyone.

Wonderful bird watching, especially during migration. Fantastic kayaking.

Old town of Batso is in the forest, and has fun blacksmithing and other old time activities.

Ranger Review: LuminAIDPacklite 16 at Houston Mesa Campground

Beautiful retreat in the Arizona forest. Saw many different birds while there, especially hawks. Could smell skunks but none seen at the campground. Was warned by rangers that bears had been spotted in the area, so keep that in mind with food and trash.

Each site I saw had a good amount of space and wasn't right next to other campsites. We were lucky and got shade in our campsite. Plenty of hiking opportunities nearby, and a caves not too far away.

The restroom facilities were clean and included flush toilets. Showers were available for $3 (coin operated).

Gear Review: This contains a review of the LuminAID Packlight 16 and the LuminAID Packlight Spectra, which were provided to me free of charge***

LuminAID's lanterns are a gamechanger. Seriously. They are incredibly lightweight, bright, float when inflated, and most amazingly are solar powered.

The Packlight 16 resembles a pillow and has several settings depending on how bright you want it. I was able to read a book with the Packlight 16 hanging from the ceiling of my tent. Everyday I set it outside to charge for a couple hours and have yet to see it run out of energy, even when left on the dimmest setting for several hours.

The Packlight Spectra is a fun little box shaped lantern that has seven colors (including white) and a color-changing mode (see the video I included in this review). The first color is red, which is nice when you don't want to scrub your nightvision.

I'll definitely be ordering these for my friends. They are great for hiking and the perfect addition to an emergency kit (when folded the Packlight 16 is about the size and weight of an emergency poncho).

Peaceful, horse and fisherman friendly

Felt like we were the only people without a horse or a fishing pole! Great water for kayaking and beautiful sunsets.

Lots of raccoons in the area, so make sure your food is secure. Some of the sites are equestrian only, but they may give leeway. We reserved our primitive site ahead of time.

Good weekend trip from Louisville.

Best name every for a lake + cliff diving

Was pretty busy when we went for spring break. Lots of people live nearby so the lake is constantly filled with watercraft, swimmers and people cliff diving near the shore. Decided we didn't feel like kayaking with such a big crowd.

Lots of amenities and places to buy stuff. Very much a glamping crowd.

Although I don't fish according to our neighbors it is a good fishing spot. Saw lots of people cleaning fish at the designated fish cleaning spots.

Hiking trail near the primitive campsites afforded some birdwatching opportunities, although mostly we saw wild turkeys.

Good jumping off point for canoeing/kayaks

The campground itself is spacious and right on the creek. Flush toilets were appreciated. There is a boat launch as well, which weathered the rainstorm and was utilized by many other campers while we were there. Great spot for kayaking.

One issue: it is very hard to get in when it rains if you don't have a 4WD vehicle. Road leading in was absolute mush.

Take a walk on the wild side

Great waterways for canoeing and of course the amazing Mammoth Cave(s) nearby. If you aren't afraid of cramped dark spaces, squeezing through tight spots and darkness, try the wild cave tour. Otherwise go with the easier historic tour.

Campground itself is close to at least a dozen trails and less than a mile from the visitor center. Vault toilets and nice shady campsites.

Be careful and don't bring white-nose bat fungus to any new caves! There is a protocol to follow to prevent it. Read the literature provided at caves.

Great when it isn’t a holiday!

The first time I camped here was Memorial Day weekend. We had reservations, but it was packed and we regretted our timing. Lots of loud people during the day and into the evening. Luckily the rangers/state park cops reinforce the no noise and no alcohol rules very seriously, so it was quiet after 10pm and no people doing stupid drunk hijinks.

There used to be a decent place to eat nearby, but it was closed the second time we went in 2015. No idea if the closure is permanent.

Some decent kayaking and beautiful pink cliffs. Friend from Austin brought his bike and said the biking trails were excellent. Lots of folk fishing both times we were there. Cabins were available (with a reservation) but we set up tents and enjoyed the view.

Mosquitos weren’t terrible when we were there but the chiggers were a pain in the…leg. Learned my lesson the first day and wore pants for the rest of our trip(s).

Devil’s Waterhole was a blast to swim in, despite the creepy name!

Be prepared for da bears

Right next to the Flathead River and has a boat launch. Great kayaking, birdwatching and general wildlife watching. Didn’t run into any bears myself, but a friend walked right up to one in the underbrush, thinking it was a moose and wanting to take a photo! Luckily the bear was just as startled as my friend and ran away. Friend later ended up getting a moose photo that he generously shared with me.

Remember to keep your food in bear containers.

Visitors center nearby had some wonderful guided hikes, including a bird-watching one that I went on. Lots of trails nearby that were heavily trafficked in the summer when we were there.

No flush toilets but they did have potable water available to drink. Everything was well maintained and the camp host was very friendly and helpful with kayak tips.

Good spot for exploring the river

Our primitive site had a view of the river and a single tree for shade. Many of the other campsites had ample shade, so definitely check before you reserve, if possible. Lots of amenities (like newly installed WiFi and a store) that we didn’t use the two days we were there, but had we stayed longer I’m sure we would have appreciated them. There were a lot of RVs and families there, so don’t expect it to be quiet in the campground. That’s what kayaking is for!

We stopped in nearby Greensburg on the way to rent a kayak, as we’d heard the closest marina(s) to the campground only had pontoons and larger craft. The river itself was wonderful to explore via kayak, and we ended up barely hiking.

First to Review
Ranger Review: MuckBoots Fieldblazer Boots at Mahogany Grove, Mt. Charleston Campground

Enormous group campground. Went for a family gathering. Lots of shade from the gnarly pine trees growing all over the campground. Plenty of spots to hang a hammock or put a tent. Lots of already built seating in the form of stone benches.

Vault toilets were decently clean. Water is usually available but was not when I was there. Fires were also forbidden when I was there as there because of wildfire fears.

Very close to the Mt Charleston North Loop Trail. Since I was with family I did not attempt it (it’s 10+ miles long), but we did go hike at nearby Robber’s Roost which is easy. I have done the North Loop in the past, and the Rain Tree is definitely worth seeing if you can make the hike.

Gear Review: This contains a review of MuckBoots Fieldblazer boots, which were provided to me free of charge***

I was extremely excited to win a MuckBoots giftcard from The Dyrt in the June contest for Nevada. After intense deliberation, I decided to go with the Muck Fieldblazer. Although I don’t hunt, I do stomp around in the woods near my grandmother’s in Placerville California. I have also experienced miserable wet and muddy days camping at Mt. Charleston while my socks are wet from the rain. I’ve had a few chances to test the water resistance when it rained here in Las Vegas last July. They handled the above the ankle deep running water wonderfully and kept my socks dry.

After establishing their waterproof credentials, I decided to give their wearability a try on the Robber’s Roost trail, which is about short hike up to a cave, about a mile round trip. I didn’t get any blisters, and though they were somewhat tight on my calves it didn’t cause any issues.

Overall they were excellent waterproof general use boots. Because of their size I wouldn’t take them on extended backpacking trips, but for hikes and tromping around in muddy or wet environments they are perfect.

Check out The Original Muck Boot Company here:

Very busy

Some campsites have no shade or scrawny trees. A few of those campsites are right near Lake Lewisville so I guess it’s a tradeoff. Plenty of people swimming in the lake. Good for families, lots of activities for kids. That being said, in the summer and weekends this is a campground with a lot of noisy activity, even at night. Showers and toilets were decently clean. Some good hikes around the lake. Some were paved and ADA accessible. Nature preserve nearby is great for birdwatching.

Quite a barn-stormer

Sorry, that was a bad pun that didn't make sense. However, there is a barn at the campground! For an extra fee ($15 I think, we don't have horses) you could board your horse in the barn.

Campsites are a reasonable price with no hookups, $15. Some of the sites have shade but others get a lot of sun. There is a lake nearby, and most of the other campers were boating or horseback riding.

Showers and bathrooms.

Such a disappointment after Furnace Creek

We had only reserved two days at Furnace Creek and wanted to stay in the area another day. Since Furnace Creek was full (and it was too late for no-show campsites) we decided to stay at Sunset, which is right across the road.

There is no shade, just sand and pavement. The winds kicked up a sandstorm and with no cover it was intense.

We were there in March, so it could have been a lot worse. Strongly do not recommend this campsite, especially if you go when it is warmer.

Lots of kudzu and fun

We were unable to rent a kayak as the only facility with them only rented to people staying at the cabins. We ended up hiking the many trails that begin near the campground. Cub Lake was my favorite trail, and if I ever make it back down I might try Red Leaves, as other campers recommended it.

Plenty of potable water, bathroom facilities were clean but crowded. Sites were roomy and had plenty of shade. Lots of vacationing families at the cabins/inn so not very quiet, but still beautiful.

Off the beaten path and beautiful

When I say off the beaten path I should really be saying unpaved path. Make sure you have good shock absorbers on your vehicle, as it is miles and miles of dirt roads to get here.

Once you arrive the lake itself is spectacular. The campground is right next to it, and some of the campsites have an amazing view. We had plenty of shade (there are a lot of trees).

Warning: I experienced more mosquito bites here than at any other spot in Montana. Bring your repellant!

Not my favorite but had availablity

As others have said, St. Mary might be your best bet if other campgrounds are full (which they will be in the summer). Only stayed one night. Not a lot of shade, and the campsites were a bit close. Beautiful night sky. Running water was appreciated after backcountry camping. If you are willing to walk a couple miles there are a few restaurants and a store with camping necessities (we needed to replace a broken lantern).

Perfect spot for kayaking/birdwatching

One of my Texas relatives mentioned this area to me in regards to my birdwatching. Decided I had to make the trip as I do love birds and the water. Saw at least 40 bird species (probably more but I didn't always have my binoculars handy).

Kayaks are available for about $15-20. Several paddling trails will give you a scenic trip.

Facilities at campsite itself are primitive (vault toilets). The site we had was right on the beach, and I believe the other campsites were as well.

As with most of Texas, bring mosquito repellent or prepare to be covered in bites!

Missed BatFest but not the bats themselves

The caves are a short walk (about a mile or a mile and a half) from the campground. We got to see many bats and found out there was a BatFest the next month! Next time will definitely plan for the festival. There is lots of interpretive material about the bats and how to protect them from diseases/fungus.

The campground itself is very developed. There are showers, bathrooms, a store, a playground and even a little stage. Felt like we were some of the few not camping in a RV.

Very popular with fishermen/women

Let me preface this review by saying I do not fish. This campground had more fishing going on than just about anywhere I've been before. I felt like my friend and I were the only people who didn't have fishing gear.

The campground itself was quite pleasant. There are a lot of trees, green grass and benches to sit on. We hiked the Onion Creek Trail which was nearby and afforded us views of the lake and many wildflowers.