Steve V.
Huntsville , AL
Joined October 2018
Ranger Review: RovR RollR 60 Cooler at Cloudland Canyon State Park

Campground Review: 

This is the second year in a row for us visiting Cloudland Canyon in the fall. Cloudland Canyon is a large state park with 72 water and electrics campsites, 30 walk-in primitive campsites, and 13 backcountry campsites. There are also cabins and yurts to rent. The RV sites are split between the east rim where the sites are close together and are in more of an open field, and the west rim, where the sites are in a wooded setting, shaded, and slightly separated. All of sites include a picnic table and fire ring. 

Check-in was easy at the office at the entrance of the campground. We stayed on site 36 on the west rim. This site was mainly level and close to the bathhouse. 

The bathhouse is centrally located and older, but functional and cleaned daily. There are also laundry machines available between the men’s and women’s area.. 

Firewood, ice, limited supplies, and souvenirs were available at the office. At the office, you can also pick up the phone number to a local that sells firewood by the cord or half cord and will deliver right to your site. We got a half cord(equivalent to about 6 bundles) for$23. 

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The campground did not have wi-fi. 

There is tons of hiking in and around the state park. On this visit, we hiked about 14 miles on trails in different areas of the park. The west rim campground also has connector trails to some of the main trails and we had our own personal connector off of site 36 to the trail system. The view on both the west and east rims area amazing, and if you decide to take on the 600 stairs to the bottom of the canyon there are two impressive waterfalls. 

With this being our second year to stop here, we have fallen in love with the area. We recommend this campground and will keep returning to this area. I really like that it is less than 2 hours away from home, so we can visit this park often.

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Product Review: 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the RovR RollR 60 Cooler. This cooler from RovR is a new addition to our standard camp gear list. The RollR 60 is a sturdy cooler that has the ability to hold temperature for long periods. During our 5 days of use, we did have some ice melt, but the ice water stayed super cold, kept our items very cold, and some ice remained the entire time. The all-terrain tires and handle made it easy for moving throughout the terrain found at our campsite. The wagon bin that fits on top is great for storing miscellaneous gear and the dry bin inside the cooler is perfect for keeping those items you want cold, but not wet. I also like the fact that is has heavy-duty rubber latches to keep the lid closed tight and the critters out. I highly recommend this cooler and am excited to have this as part of our gear loadout.

Some much fun so close to home

Although we have been to Monte Sano many times to hike and attend events, this was our first time camping here. Monte State Park Campground is a large campground with 15 full hookup sites, 59 water& electric sites, and 21 primitive tent sites. All the sites are gravel, most sites are wooded with lots of shade, and most site are mainly level. All style sites include a picnic table and fire ring. 

Check-in is at the camp store if you arrive during store hours or with camp host if you arrive after hours. We stayed on site 24, which had complete shade throughout the day. This site backs up to a draw and each evening just before dust we could watch the deer walk up through. 

The bathhouse is centrally located, newer, and cleaned daily. There are also laundry machines available between the men’s and women’s area. 

Firewood, ice, limited grocery items, and souvenirs were available at the camp store. There is a full grocery store about 15 minutes away. 

We found ok to limited cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The state park did have wi-fi near the camp store. 

The park has many trails for hiking and mountain biking, as well as host the North Alabama Japanese Garden. The North Alabama Land Trust also connects to the state park and adds many more miles of trails. We hiked about 15 miles this weekend and there are many more miles to explore on another visit. 

The state park is located 5 minutes from Huntsville where you can find many restaurants, breweries, and the Space& Rocket Center. Check the Huntsville visitor’s center website for all that is offered in the area. In addition, the Burritt on the Mountain located just minutes from the park entrance and has an open air museum and an amazing overlook of Huntsville. 

We are very excited that this gem is located so close to use and are proud to call this our home camp!

Relaxing Fall Weekend

This was our first time staying at Desoto after being here previously to hike. Desoto State Park Campground is a large campground with 94 full hookup sites, 16 primitive tent sites, and 2 primitive backcountry sites. All sites with hook ups also included cable hook ups. All the sites are gravel and most sites are wooded with lots of shade. The sites are a little sloped, so have leveling equipment ready. The sites vary from small and close together in the pull through area, to medium size with plenty of separation for some privacy. All style sites include a picnic table and fire ring. 

Check-in is at the camp store if you arrive during store hours or at the lodge if you arrive after hours. We stayed on site 15, which had a little sun in the morning and complete shade in the afternoon. This site does have a little slope in it, which was no problem for leveling our trailer, but our friends that were with us and in a tent had to deal with setting up on a little slope. 

The bathhouse is centrally located, newer, and cleaned daily. There are also laundry machines available between the men’s and women’s area.. 

Firewood, ice, limited grocery items, and lots of souvenirs were available at the camp store. There is a full grocery store less than 15 minutes away. 

We found ok to limited cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The state park did have wi-fi near the camp store. 

The park has lots of hiking to enjoy the outdoors, a few smaller waterfalls along some of the trails, a zipline and sky bridge course(for a fee), and a large waterfall a short 5 minute drive from the campground. The river above the large waterfall is also available for kayaking and canoeing, and a small outfitter rents boats if you need one. 

The state park is located in a very outdoorsy area with various activities to take inn. We look forward to visiting here again.

Ranger Review: Gregory Intertia 20 H2O at Honey Bear Campground

Campground Review: 

This is the second year in a row of us ending our summer road trip at Honey Bear Campground in Boone, NC. Honey Bear is a medium sized campground with around 60 sites that are a mix of full hook up, RV water& electric, Tent water& electric, primitive camp sites, and a group tent camp area. There is also two small cabins to rent. All sites with hook ups also included cable hook ups. I have included a campground map in my pictures for your orientation. All the sites are gravel and most sites are wooded with lots of shade. The sites are a little sloped, so have leveling equipment ready. The sites vary from small and close together, to medium size with established plumeria shrubs separating sites for some privacy. All style sites include a picnic table and fire ring. If the campground is full, they do have an overflow area that they allow you to boondock at until a site opens up. 

Check-in was easy at the office at the entrance of the campground. We stayed on site B12 again this year as we find it private, well shaded, and close to a small creek that provided background water noise when it’s flowing good. This site does have a good slope to it and we had to use a stack of 3 Cacmo leveling blocks to get level, but if anything, this is my only minor complaint about this site. 

The bathhouse is centrally located and older, but functional and cleaned daily. There are also laundry machines available between the men’s and women’s area. 

Firewood and ice was available at the office. You can even walk down, pay for wood and/or ice and they will deliver it to your site! The office also has limited other supplies. There is a full grocery store less than 10 minutes away. Connected to the office is a coffee bar that also had some seating and a TV(Seemed to be a teen hang out in the evenings). 

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The campground did have wi-fi, however we only got a good connection if we were near the office/coffee bar. 

The campground also has a dog run, which our dogs loved. After being on the road for two weeks they enjoy every opportunity to get off leash and run. The dog area was surprisingly clean, so either the dog owners are doing the right thing and cleaning up after their dogs, or the staff monitors and cleans this area regularly. 

Being right on the outskirts of Boone is very beneficial. The area offers all types of outdoor activities, from hiking, rock climbing, fishing, mountain biking, and an assortment of snow sports in the winter. Additionally, you’ll find lots of shopping, restaurants, breweries & wineries, and appealing little towns around the area to explore. Also, Boone sits at 3,333 feet (surrounding mountains go up to 6K), so even in the middle of the summer you’ll find very comfortable day and night temperatures. 

Pro Tip: Check with the office for the Saturday night movie! Weather dependent, they show a movie outdoors on the front lawn. Bring your chair or blanket and a cooler/snacks, and come hang out for a movie with fellow campers. They had multiple fire pits going the Saturday we were there, so bring your favorite snacks to toast over the fire. 

With this being our second year to stop here, we have fallen in love with the area. We recommend this campground and will keep returning to this area. I wish it was a little closer to where we live and we’d come here a lot more often!

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Product Review: 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Gregory Intertia 20 H2O Hydration Pack. This backpack from Gregory turned out to be my new favorite day hiking pack. The 20L easily fits all my day hiking equipment with room to spare. The 3L reservoir is plenty of water for a day hike even on the warmest of days. What I also really like is the side pockets. They are very deep, so if you are on a shorter hike where you are not using the 3L reservoir, you don’t have to worry about water bottles popping out of the side pockets (I’ve had other packs with short side pockets where water bottles fall out easily). The front mesh pocket is also large enough to hold all that“need now” type gear and there is a small quick stow pocket that is lined and perfect for storing glasses or sunglasses. Even loaded down with more than I’d usually take for a day hike, I found that with the multiple adjustment straps, this pack proved to be very comfortable and rode perfect on my back. I highly recommend this pack for day hikes and look forward to trying some of their larger packs in the future.

Heatwave

Cedar Point RA is a small campground along the White Oak River in the Croatan National Forest. The campground has 40 sites with electric hook up. The sites are level and have a paved parking pad that they are pretty strict on you keeping all wheels on and a gravel area with a picnic table, fire pit, and two lantern poles (that also work good for putting up a clothes line or dog zipline). The sites do not have water hook ups so make sure your RV fresh water tanks are topped off, or there are plenty of potable water points throughout the campground to fill up you jugs. The sites are large and separated by space, not trees, for privacy. The sites on the southeast side seemed to have more shade than those on the northwest side. Campground map is in my pictures. 

There is no office or signage for check-in, so we just drove in, found our reserved spot that had our name on the tag and set up. The Camp Host came around a little later and apparently we were supposed to know to check-in with him somehow. We stayed on site 24 on this visit. Lots of sun throughout the day until late evening, so a little miserable on this stay as the area had heat advisories every day. 

The bathhouse could use a little TLC. The bathrooms were functional but not very clean. The showers are separate from the bathroom and half were out of order on this stay. Additionally, in typical National Forest fashion, there is no heat or air or even a fan in the bathroom or showers, so again, pretty miserable on this stay as the area had heat advisories every day. The heat in the bathrooms and showers had to be over 100 degrees. Also, typical National Forest setup, the showers are push button, with no temperature control (you get what you get) and the water only flows for about 15 seconds with each push of the button. 

Firewood was available at the camp host. There is a full grocery store 5 minutes from the campground. The resort has many amenities like a boat ramp about a ¼ of a mile down the road and a hiking trail that loops for about 2 miles along the marshy shore line. There is a dump station and trash dumpster behind the camp hosts location. 

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The campground did not have wi-fi. 

While in the area we enjoyed the public beach on Emerald Isle, which is only 15 minutes from campground. There are lots of water sport rentals nearby and restaurants. Camp Lejeune is less than 30 minutes away and on some nights we could hear the artillery in the distance as the Marines trained. However, as a retired Army guy, the faint sound of freedom did not bother me at all. 

The heatwave during our stay really hindered us. Not sure we’d revisit in the middle of the summer again, but during the cooler month I’m sure it would be much more comfortable.

Great RV Resort

We picked Americamps because we were traveling through the Richmond area and it was very convenient to I-95. We usually pass up on RV parks because most are wide open fields with large trailers and/or motor homes parked close together and prefer more private camp spots in out teardrop. But upon our arrival we were happily surprised. Amricamps has mostly full hook up sites (about 2/3 pull through sites and a 1/3 back in) and a small tent area with a handful of sites. While the sites were close together in typical RV park style, they were not scrapping together like we’ve seen at some places and there were many well established trees to provide lots of share instead of being in an open field. All the sites were level, most were gravel, but some were concrete pads. All style sites include a picnic table and fire ring. Hook ups also included cable with about 70 channels. 

Check-in was easy and the staff was very helpful. Check-in is at noon, but our road trip got us there about 11:20 and the staff had no problem letting us in early. Thanks! A host guides you to your site and assist you in positioning if needed. The campground is gated and you are provided a gate code. We stayed on site D-08 on this visit. The site was level, gravel, and had good shade. 

We used the bathhouse in the main building as it was closest to our site. It was very clean and air-conditioned, which was nice on this warm summer stay. There is a second bathhouse on the property but we did not visit it. 

Firewood and a good-sized camp store was available at the office. The resort has many amenities to include a heated pool, fitness center, playground, dog park, laundry, a rally room with a large deck and gas grill, dump station, and propane filling station. 

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The campground did have wi-fi and it worked good at our site. 

Pro Tip: There is a FREE breakfast every morning in the rally room. The morning we were there they were making waffles, and had bagels, pastries, fruit, and a variety of drinks to include coffee. They also had an ice cream social in the rally room the first night we were there, so watch the bulletin board for cool events like that. Additionally, right across the street (a short walk depending on where your site is in the park) there is a brewery that also serves food. 

While we were hesitant to stay at a RV park, we found this place to a pleasant surprise. Very quiet and clean for its size. We’ll definitely keep this one on the list when passing through Richmond.

Ranger Review: Red Ledge Thunderlight Jacket at Dixon’s Campground

Campground Review: 

Dixon’s Campground is located on US Route 1 in Cape Neddick, Maine, just minutes from the coast and about an hour south of Portland. Dixson’s Campground is a medium sized private campground that has tent only and water& electric tent/RV sites, as well as three yurts. The campground also has full hook up sites for seasonal guest that sit out on a separate area away from the transit campers. I have included a campground map in my pictures for your orientation. Most sites are wooded with lots of shade. There are a few grass sites with more sun near the office. The sites vary from small and close together to large with some privacy. All style sites include a picnic table and fire ring. 

Check-in was easy and the staff was very helpful in providing info and answering questions about the area. A host guides you to your site and assist you in positioning if needed. The campground is gated and you have to“rent” a swipe card to access the gate for$10 (cash) and you get your$10 back when you return the card at checkout. The roads in the campground are a little skinny so if you have a large trailer you may want to consider your site location appropriately or you may get stuck in a curve or have a challenging time backing into your site. We stayed on site 84 on this visit. The site was level and well shaded, but small yet worked with our teardrop trailer. 

The bathroom were new and very unique here (I have never experienced this style before; see my pictures). The bathroom closest to us had two toilet stalls and two shower stalls each with their own direct outside access. Sinks for hygiene were on one end of the bathroom and sinks designated for dish washing only were on the other side of the building. The Bathrooms and showers were very clean. The showers are metered and cost $0.50 per 5 minutes, so don’t forget your quarters! There is also a trash dumpster and recycle bins at each bathroom. 

Firewood and a small camp store was available at the office. There is a full grocery store about 10 minutes away. 

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The campground did have wi-fi and it worked ok at our site. 

The campground also has a heated pool, playground, and outfitter that provides rentals, lessons, and guides. There is no laundry at the campground, but we found one about 10 minutes away. 

Dixon’s sits between two tourist towns so there is plenty to see, lots of great restaurants, and close to beaches. Many restaurants are dog friendly (at least on the patio) and the beaches at this time of year are dog friendly after 6PM. We really enjoyed walking the beaches and checking out the lighthouses in the area. The only down side of being near two tourist towns is that traffic can get thick at some points in the day. 

We really enjoyed our stay at Dixon’s and the surrounding area to the point we have marked this as a definite stop when we make it back to Maine again.

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Product Review: 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Red Ledge Thunderlight Jacket. This rain jacket from Red Ledge is very handy to have in your gear list. It is available in multiple colors (I got black because I somehow get dirty while camping) and is very lightweight. There is no liner so works great in the summertime heat, but is still loose enough to wear a fleece or something underneath. I also like that there are multiple draw strings to tighten up the fit if desired (waist, cuffs, hood, and headband). The pockets are large, deep, and close with zippers. The jacket also comes with a stuff sack so you can roll it up and easily stow it in your day pack or pocket in your car. We did experience light to heavy rain during periods of our stay and the jacket is highly effective and I had no soak throughs even the heaviest rain. I highly recommend this jacket and it’ll be a part of my normal outdoor gear set.

Ranger Review: Morsel Spork at Hadley’s Point Campground

Campground Review: 

Hadley’s Point Campground is located on the north side of Mt Desert Island and just a short distance from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Hadley’s Point is a large private campground that has tent, water& electric RV, and full hook up sites, as well as Cabins. The campground is broke up in to multiple loops (campground map can be found in my pictures) with some loops in open areas with little shade and sites close together, and other loops have more wooded sites that have some shade and privacy. All style sites include a picnic table and fire ring. 

Reservations are site type, not site specific, so a little bit of a gamble. We were assigned site B27 on this visit. This site was partially shade depending on the time of day and very close to our neighbors. Other sites in the B loop did have more trees and more private, but they were full on this stay. Check-in was easy and the staff was very helpful in providing info and answering questions about the area. A host guides you to your site and assist you in positioning if needed. 

The bathroom on B-loop does not have showers so we had to hike to other loops to shower. The Bathrooms and showers were very clean. The showers are metered and cost $0.50 per 7 minutes, so don’t forget your quarters! 

Firewood and limited supplies were available at the office. There is a full grocery store about 10 minutes away. 

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The campground did not have wi-fi. 

The campground also has a heated pool, playground, and laundry. 

With Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park close by, there is so much to do and see in the area. One of the best benefits of the area is that there is a free shuttle with multiple routes around the island, so you can leave the car and parking hassles behind and just shuttle everywhere. The Shuttle has a stop right on the campground and is dog friendly (on leash and if your dog is friendly). 

Speaking of dog friendly, I’ve never been to an area that is so dog friendly. The campground staff was very forthcoming with dog friendly info and I have to mention Bark Harbor in downtown Bar Harbor. Bark Harbor is a pet store that bakes their own treats, has toys and gifts, and tons of info on dog friendly areas on the island. They have pre-printed lists of dog friendly hotels, restaurants, on and off leash hiking trails, and dog parks. Super friendly crew that keyed us into an off leash hiking area that our dogs loved! 

Pro Tip: A short ¼ mile walk from the campground is an off leash dog friendly beach that you can also launch your kayak or canoe from or have a sunset beach campfire. We really enjoys this beach after a long day of hiking all around the national park. 

With all the outdoor activities of the national park, kayak and boat cruises in the ocean, lobster, lobster, lobster, you’ll need a full week to explore this island. Hadley’s Point made it a perfect place for us to take it all in.

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Product Review: 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Morsel Spork. This spork from Morel is very handy to have in your gear list. We are teardrop campers, so our space is limited. Everything has to have a purpose and be compact. Items like the Morsel Spork, that serves multiple functions, fit right into our needs. We purchased both the mini and the XL. Both are the same (spork on one end, spoon/scraper on the other end), but the XL is a little longer. We found this very functional for regular eating from plates or bowls, or eating directly from food packets. I also found the scraper spoon side useful in cleaning out our french press carafe. Easy to clean, easy to use, comes in multiple colors, and happy to have it a part of our camping equipment.

Ranger Review: Banner and Oak Evergreen Hat at Frost Mountain Yurts

Campground Review: 

Yurts!! I’ve always have wanted to stay in a yurt, but we don’t see to many around down in the south where I live, so when this opportunity came up I jumped on it and it was amazing! 

Making reservations directly through The Dyrt for this stay was very simple and I received my confirmation from the location host in less than 2 hours. 

Frost Mountain Yurts has four yurts for rent in the Brownsfield, ME area and is open year round. Check-in is at the barn at the top of the hill where we were greeted by the host. The host was kind enough to answer any questions we had before we ventured off. After check-in, you have a little hike to complete before you reach your yurt. Three of the four yurts are a short 0.1 mile hike into the woods and the forth is about a half mile walk in. Carts area available (or sleds in the winter months) to help move your gear ito your yurt and the trails & yurts are well marked. Two of the yurts are close to one another and connected by a trail, so would be good for a larger group. 

We rented the Mountain View Yurt, which was the half mile hike in. After completing our hike in we were amazed by the beauty of the land this yurt was placed on. Outside, the yurt had a large connected deck with Adirondack style chairs, gas grill, fire pit area, hammock, two large jugs of non-potable water (you have to provide your own drinking water), two tiki torches, a dish washing station, porta-potty, and sun shower area. Inside there are two full size futons and 4 twin size bunks (you have to bring your own linen or sleeping bags). Also inside is a large table, wood stove, and kitchen area with a three-burner gas stove, a gas lantern, and all the kitchen cooking and eating necessities except the food. You can literally show up to this place with your clothes, food/water, and sleeping bag/linens and everything else needed is provided. There are also detailed instructions for using all the equipment if you are not familiar with it. 

Trash bags are provided. Trash and recycle cans are by the barn where you checked in. 

I know many may be concerned when you hear porta-potty, but this was the cleanest one I’ve ever seen! It stays as clean as you keep it. 

Each yurt has tons of firewood available for either the outdoor fire pit or the inside wood stove. 

The yurts do not have any electricity, so plan ahead with your phone changed up in your car (if you really need it) and batteries for any other powered devices. We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The yurts did not have wi-fi. 

Although I could just spend all my time relaxing at the yurt, we did explore the area a little and found it to be an outdoor paradise. There is some hiking at the yurts and much more in the area. The Saco River winds around the area and offers many spots to take a dip, float in a tube, go kayaking, or go fishing. In the winter months, many of the trails become snow machine and cross country skiing trails. We really enjoyed our stay here and are already trying to figure out another road trip from Alabama to visit again.

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Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this yurt, I tested the Banner and Oak Evergreen Hat. This hat from Banner and Oak is very stylish and comes in a cool gray color. The hat is trucker style hat with black mesh in the back and embroidered graphic on the front. The embroidered graphic is styled after a ranger patch and includes an evergreen (hence the name). This hat has an adjustable back so it fits most. I found this hat to be very comfortable and besides wearing it here at this yurt, I wore it the entire two and half week road trip I was on. It held up great on the trip with no issues at all. And best of all, it’s made in the USA!

Ranger Review: Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier at Devil’s Backbone Camp

Campground Review: 

Devil’s Backbone Camp is a unique outdoor retreat that includes a campground at a large brewery complex. This was the best of both worlds, because we are beer enthusiast and avid campers. The campground includes 75 sites split between primitive tent sites, non-electric RV sites, and full hookup RV sites. All site types included a picnic table and fire ring. Check in for all camping is at the brewpub. I’ve included a picture of the map in my pictures for you to get a better understanding of the layout. 

We stayed on site 4 on this visit, which was a full hook up site. All the full hook up sites are pull thru and in an open field so limited shade. The hookups in this area where different than I have ever experienced as the hookups were shared between two sites. If you were on an even number site, this was no problem. However, if you were on an odd number site, you either had to hope you had the length on your water and power lines to run to the opposite side of your rig or you had to pull into the site the opposite way to get the connections on the standards side of your rig. The non-electric sites were back in and had a little more shade. The tent sites were in the woods so full shade. 

The camp is also just miles from the Appalachian Trail, so they provide a free shuttle to the camp, as well as group tent area for registered AT thru-hikers. 

There is single bathhouse in the camp area that is near the tent area and a good walk from both the RV areas. The bathhouse was clean and functional. 

Firewood is available at the camp host.

A short walk through the tent area brought you to the large brewery area. This area includes a brewpub, large outdoor seating area with fire pits and an outdoor stage, a distillery, cigar and cocktail lounge, an additional outdoor bar and grille, a breakfast building with craft coffee, and a gift shop. They also have their own green house to grow vegetables and source local farms for ingredients that they use in their brewpub kitchen and grille. 

The property also included two large cabins to rent and two hiking trails (one 3km and another 5km). 

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property. The camp area did have Wi-Fi, but it was a little bogged down on this Fourth of July stay (full campground). 

While we camped, we also had the opportunity to check out a few of the local attractions. Being at the base of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, there are many outdoor activities to take advantage of. We hiked to Humpback Rocks which is a decent climb, so be prepared, but once you summit, the views are amazing. The area around the camp also had many other breweries, ciderys, wineries, and distilleries. One cidery is right across the street from the campground, was fun to visit, and has lots of outdoor seating. We did enjoy our visit here and do recommend this campground. 

The main reasoning for the 4-star rating instead of a 5-star is due to the single bathhouse that is a good walk from the RV areas and the very unique water and power hookups in the full hookup area.

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Product Review: 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier. The variety pack from Liquid I.V.  includes powder packs in the flavors of lemon lime, acai berry, and passion fruit. The packets are very easy to use (just mix one packet with 16 ounces of water) and are small enough to pack in your backpack, purse, or even your pocket so you have it with you when you want to use it. With the hydration multiplier, drinking one 16-ounce bottle of water is equivalent to drinking three bottles of water. I found that I enjoyed all three of the flavors in the variety pack. I am not a big regular water drinker, but having a little flavor made me drink the water quicker and more frequently. Having this while hiking in the area and after enjoying the large selection of adult beverages in the area made me feel rejuvenated and ready to get out and see more of the area.

Ranger Review: Grub Stick Deluxe Kit at Tomahawk Primitive Campground

Campground Review:

We really enjoyed  the weekend at Tomahawk Primitive Campground, a veteran owned, private campground, just outside Cullman, AL. As the name suggests, this is primitive camping, so no power or water at the sites, but nothing wrong with boondocking, right?!  There are 3 private sites that could handle tents, teardrops, small trailers, or vans, as well as an open field that could hold larger RVs or group camp with multiple tents and/or small trailers. There is also 3 tents sites just a short hike down to the creek at the back of the property where you can camp at your own waterfront site. Each style site is equipped with a fire ring.

The owner has one room in his house blocked off that includes facilities for guests to use and is called the Fest Room. The Fest Room includes a full bathroom with shower that was very clean, a couch and TV (which is a nice place to get out of the elements if the southern weather suddenly turns on you or to just catch an evening movie) , a coffee maker, and a large deck. The deck overlooks a portion of the property and turned out to be a great spot to meet up with other campers or the owner/host and share your camping stories. The deck also includes two gas grills that can be used with permission from the owner.

As mentioned above, the property includes a creek that runs along the property line that was nice to take in, whether sitting on a rock and dipping your feet in the cool water, or hanging a hammock and letting the afternoon slide by with the sounds of flowing water. Our dogs and the host dog, named Bear, loved playing together in the creek!

Wild blackberries were growing all around the property and are starting to get ripe. Picking a hand full of these was a nice addition to our camp breakfast.

We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property.

There is a Dollar General and gas station/convenient store 5 minutes from the property if you need to get any supplies.

While we camped this weekend we also had the opportunity to check out a few of the local attractions. Goat Island Brewery is not too far from the campground and offers up award winning craft beer. We also visited the Ava Maria Grotto at the St. Bernard Abbey, which featured 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous religious structures in the world.  A short 25-minute drive south the campground takes you to Mulberry Fork where you can go hiking, tubing, and the site also hosts kayak slalom races in the spring.  5 minutes from the campground is Duck River Dam that has a boat launch and additional hiking trails.

At $15 a night, you can’t beat this to get away from it all for a weekend!  The host was very friendly (and the host dog too!) and was an expert outdoorsman who loves to pass on his survival knowledge. We will definitely be back.

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Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Grub Stick Deluxe Kit.

The deluxe kit, from Grub Stick, is the ultimate 13-piece campfire cooking set that provides endless opportunities to make tasty treats wherever you have a campfire going. With the handles that can extend and retract in length, we found it to be useful as a skewer setup directly on the grill too.  Over the weekend, we used many of the attachments to include hotdogs on the Forks, hamburgers in both the Grubcage and Burgcage, bacon on the Grubpocket with the Bacon Clip, and cinnamon rolls using the Grubtube, Grubcage, and Burgcage.

Two items that we had problems with are the Bacon Clip and the Grabber. The Bacon Clip needs to be slightly larger as it is very tight to get on the Grubpocket with standard cut bacon. Maybe it is intended for very thin bacon? We also could only get two slices of bacon on the Grubpocket at a time. The Grabber is a two finger (thumb and index finger) mini mit that was not big enough to use on the Bacon Clip.

The hotdogs and hamburgers turned out great and the Release Tool is very useful for opening the hot cages. Making cinnamon rolls over the campfire is a skill that I will have to continue to practice as we had varying results on this trip.

I like that the kit includes a carrying bag to keep all the components together  and can be easily stored in the limited space of our teardrop camper. We also found the recipes on the website to be inspiring and we hope they continue to add more ideas.

While we had some minor difficulties, we look forward to trying to master this set. Next trip we will try s’mores, marshmallows, and toasted starburst!

Another Fun Weekend at Clear Creek

See my previous full review of the campground below. We had site 5 this time with some friends next door on 4D.

Update from my previous review, they now except cards at check in for walk up sites. This is a big change as last time we were here, just a month back, they were cash only.

As always, very helpful staff and we love the water front sites with easy access to launch kayaks and canoes right from your site.

Relaxing Waterfront

We had a 3 night stay on site 55 on the Hoot Owl loop at Clear Creek Recreational Area in the William B Bankhead National Forest. Campground has 4 loops. 2 loops are on the water and first come first serve (non-reservable), and 2 loops are off the water and can be reserved by calling or online. Lake front sites are $26 a night and non-lake sites are $24 a night. Please note, the non-reservable loops are cash or check only, so this caught us off guard, but the staff was nice enough to let us in and find an ATM in the morning to settle up. All sites have a paved vehicle and trailer area that is relatively level and a gravel area with a fire pit and table. Site numbers that end with a “D” on the map below are double sites, so double the parking area, double the hook ups, 2 picnic tables, and double the price. Those sites were large but not sure how two big rigs would fit on those site. In my opinion, they would work good for 2 teardrops or smaller trailers though. This campground is seasonal and closed from the end of October until the first week of March.

Cellphone coverage with Verizon was good throughout the park. No WiFi available.

Multiple bathhouse around the campground so you are never more than ~500 feet from one. Bathhouse’s are clean, but showers are push button style that only run about 10-15 seconds with each push. Plus, the water starts warm, but cools down with each push. Also, because this is a seasonal campground, there are no heaters, so be aware of some chilly showers in the early or late seasons when temps are low.

There is no camp store, but the park office has limited supplies (fire wood, ice, bug spray, batteries, and hand soap). Closest convenient store is about 15 minutes away and real grocery store is about 25-30 minutes from the park.

Lots of downed trees on this visit, so there is a lot of free wood for the taking if you want to put in a little work to cut it up.

Some hiking from the campground with a few amazing rock caves and small water falls. There is also a paved bike/walking trail.

Group camping, swimming beach, and boat ramp also available in the park. Water sites have easy access to put in kayaks or canoes right from your site.

2 nice breweries (one that also makes wine) not far away in Jasper, AL.

We highly recommend sites 5, 17, 47, 55, 79, 81, and 82. Sites that are also nice and would work are 8, 18, 38, 42, 45, 49, 57, 77, 87, 89, and 99.

Quiet and Relaxing

Two night stay on site 39. Love the large sites that are nicely separated from neighboring sites and overlook the water. Friendly staff and clean bathhouse. Only one bathhouse that is centrally located and is a decent walk from some sites. Only limited, easy hiking available in the park. No WiFi, but good cell signal with Verizon throughout the park. No camp store, but convenient and grocery stores about 15 minutes away.

Cold and Windy, but Quiet & Relaxing

3 night stay at the upper improved campground (lower improved was closed for winter maintenance). Sites are large but some are not very level, so have leveling gear ready. More pull thru sites here than I’ve seen at any other campground. Cellphone coverage with Verizon is spotty for the most part and nonexistent in some areas. No WiFi available. Bathhouse is very clean. When making your online reservation, the red boxes on the campground map are not the bathhouses. The single bathhouse is more centrally located in the Upper Improved Campground if you are one to choose a site based on its distance to the bathhouse. The park recently cut down many trees from storm damage, so there is a lot of free wood for the taking if you want to put in a little work to cut it up. Camp store has very basic, convenient store type, selection. Closest real grocery store is about 25 minutes from the park. Lots of hiking in the park and surrounding National Forest. And they have a dog park to let you furry friends run loose for a little bit. Primitive camping, cabins, and hotel also available in the park.

Quiet

RV sites are concrete pads with full hook up (power, water, sewer, WiFi, and cable). Most sites are a little closer together than we are used to. No fire rings at the RV sites. Tent sites do have fire rings, but no power or water. Bathhouse is large and very clean. Laundry facilities available. There is a community center building with TV, tables, and fire ring that hosted a dirty Santa and nightly BYOB happy hours while we were there, as well as a NYE Party planned. Staff and camp hosts are very friendly and helpful. Walking distance to the Pensacola Lighthouse and National Naval Aviation Museum. Dog friendly beach right at the campground. They do not allow swimming at this beach, but still fun for letting the dog run, fishing, and hanging out. Swimming beach and pool are located at other areas of the base. Reservations are site type, not site specific, but after talking with the staff they said they’d try to accommodate site requests the best they could when making reservation.

Fall Colors

Our weekend started and ended rainy with cold/sunny days in the middle, but still always love going to FCF. Lots of hiking and views to take in. B loop is our favorite for camping (large sites that provide some separation/privacy and lots of shade). Broke down camp in heavy rain so it was nice to find hot coffee and a biscuit at the snack bar on the way out. Snack bar also has local craft beer on tap and does growler fills. The park has a General Store with basic grocery and camping/hiking supplies as well as a decent sized gift shop. Bundles of wood for sale but if you talk with the park staff there is always free, cut up wood somewhere in the park for the taking from them clearing downed trees.

Upper Cumberland Visit

Just getting in from a fun weekend at Old Mill Camp in Cookeville, TN. Old Mill is a private campground directly across the street from the entrance to Cummins Falls State Park (the park is a day Park only and has no camping on site). Wide open sites with plenty of well established trees to provide shade. New, modern bathhouse. Hiking to the falls is adventurous requiring two creek crossings (that can be up to knee deep or more depending on where you cross) and some bouldering, but once you get to the falls it’s amazing. The area is right on the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail so lots of impressive wineries nearby. There is also 4 breweries (a fifth opens the end of Oct 2018) in the area. Oh, and you have to visit Ralph’s Donut Shop in downtown Cookeville! We’d really like to go back in warmer weather to take advantage of the many swimming holes on the hike to the falls and be able to play in the falls.

Weekend Getaway

2 night stay. Most sites are close together, but there are a few that are a little more private. Most sites have a slight to moderate slope to them. Lots of shade. Close to DeSoto State Park that has lots of hiking and site-seeing. Good alternative when DeSoto campground has no availability.

Passing through

1 night stay while traveling up the east coast. Lots of seasonals so you kind of feel out of place. Plenty of shade but sites are right on top of each other. Nice pool. Bathhouse is large and clean.