My wife's favorite state park for 20 years finally met its match. Daingerfield SP now sits at#2, and Garner has taken its 1st place platform.
We almost don't want to write such an awesome review for Garner, because it doesn't need any more traffic. It's the busiest park in Texas. I have no idea how we've missed it for so long. But it's obviously no secret.
So let's start at the beginning. Check-in. Be ready for a wait. Take a number. Really. You take a number. And yes, we had a reservation.(You definitely should make well in advance reservations for this park.)
Wait till your name is called over the speaker and then enter the check-in room and approach one of the staffed windows(they have multiple staff working to process their large number of visitors). We arrived the Sunday of a holiday weekend and waited an hour for our number. I can't imagine what the start of a holiday weekend looks like.(0_0)
But after check in… it's all gold for this family. Spring fed, cool, crystal clear waters flowing thru a limestone bed is the star of Garner. Lounge, float, swim, rope swings, tube the river, just get in. You won't want to get out.
This SP has scenic hikes for all levels, plenty to bike, Miniature Golf, a candy store, an ice cream shop, an Airstream food trailer, and nightly boot scootin' summer dances(my wife LOVES two-steppin').
So pack your swim trunks, inner tubes, and boots, and Garner will take care of the rest…
This trip to Cedar Hill State Park was for a homeschooling adventure, so we did not get a chance to do any camping. We took our co-op class here so we could show the kids some old houses and farming equipment they have at the park.
We went in December of 2019 so there were no leaves on the trees which made the park look kind of empty of nature. They had also recently done a controlled burn which also caused the park to look blackened and crispy. From this particular visit, I can't say that this park is somewhere I would recommend for trees or the view. It's possible that spring is a better time to visit this park, but I don't know personally.
Also, it is very close to the city so it isn't the quietest of parks either and light pollution probably doesn't allow for very dark nights or star viewing.
Overall I think the park is great for day trips with homeschools, but I probably wouldn't plan a trip to camp overnight.
If you are looking for a campground to stay where you can enjoy some time in the water, then Inks Lake is perfect. Watch the video I posted and it will give you an idea of the activities this park has to offer. This is a great park to visit during the summer months because of all the water activities available at the lake.
They have kayaks and canoes for rent(except during COVID), and there is also cliff jumping at Devils Waterhole. Of course, if you don’t want to jump you can always float in a tube and just watch other people do belly flops.
There are SOOO many campsites available. From tent sites to RV sites and even some lakefront cabins you can rent. This campground has a lot of sites that back up to the lake. But even if you don’t get one of those sites, all the sites have easy access to the lake.
We stayed at site number 42. The campsites on this loop are pretty well spaced, but there aren’t many trees separating the sites so you can see everything your neighbor is doing. So, not the most private of sites. I’m not sure about the privacy of other loops, but the lack of barriers didn’t bother us too much. This loop worked well for us because it is within walking distance of the bathrooms, a playground as well as the park store where you go for rentals. They also have a fishing pier on the backside of the rental shop.***BTW, the bathrooms were recently renovated so they are super nice and clean.
And as an added bonus…you get 2 state parks in one. What I mean is that Longhorn Cavern State Park is also nearby. There’s no camping there, but they have guided tours that teach you all about how the caves were formed by the river and constructed by the CCC. Since we are a homeschooling family, we appreciate any chance to get hands-on learning during our camping trips. There is no park entrance fee, but the guided tour is$18 for 12& up and$10 for kids.
We had a great time at this park, and we would probably put in our top 10 in Texas simply because we like all the lake activities.
This state park might have got its name from the waterfalls, but it has A LOT of hiking trails as well. It has trails for all levels, but most of them are somewhat long (depending on your definition of a long hike).
We like the park because of the mix of both water and trails. It really gives you a way to connect with nature and escape the city. There is even a trail that requires you to cross the river to walk the whole thing. It's called the Trammel Trail Crossing. But its a long one, so be ready for some walking.
Park is well kept. Bathrooms didn't always have handsoap, so make you bring something if you can. And maybe a few bugs in the corners of the restrooms and showers, but you are camping so bugs naturally come with the territory.
All in all, we love this park.
We wanted somewhere close where we could take our daughter to play on a beach. This state park did the trick. I only gave it 4 stars because we only stayed for the day so I can't really say what the camping experience is like. We hope to get back soon for a longer visit.
This park is easily in our Top 3 in the Texas State Parks system. It's a small park, but a little slice of heaven. Towering pine trees grow right up to the waters' edge. So peaceful. Donna, my wife, will often sit and gaze over the water.
The park is neat and tidy, and the bathrooms have always been clean. There are several picnic tables by the lake, a swim out platform, kayaks, paddleboats, a fishing pier, and a few swings on the playground. We typically visit during the week, so it's always been pretty quiet. And if you need supplies, there's a Brookshire's grocery nearby(only a few miles away). One trip, we decided to fish and grabbed bait from the Ace Hardware in town.
We love laying in our hammocks, watching the pines sway, and listening to the birds sing. In the warmer months, we swim and splash around the floating platform. And with a fire pit at every site, s'mores are a given each night(so long as there's no burn ban).
There's a short trail that circles the lake(about 2.5 miles). We do it EVERY trip. It's a beautiful and easy hike. Take a picnic and make your way to the CCC picnic area on the lake's other side. There will be a spot where you can enjoy your lunch, looking back across the water.(But don't let your dog grab your PB&J when you're not looking or you'll be hungry on the way back.)
We decided to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park for multiple reasons.
First, was the fact that it has real dinosaur footprints in the river. We take our daughter to splash in the water and show her where dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time. She loved it. They have HUGE dinosaur replicas right outside the gift shop. It really gives you a feel for how big these giants really were.
Second, we decided to camp here because it was super close to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. If you haven't heard of this place, it is a drive-thru zoo. It is amazing as well. You can feed the animals from your car. It's a must-see if you stay at Dinosaur Valley.
Finally, and most importantly, we just wanted to go camping. And for camping, this park is great. They have hiking trails that give you a panoramic view of the park. Playgrounds for the kids. And of course, the river to play in when it's hot outside. If you are there at the right time, they have a gorgeous bloom of bluebonnets throughout the park.
The bathrooms and park store are easy to access, and both kept very clean.
We love this park, and can't wait to go back.
Myrtle Beach State Park was our 3rd stop on our East Coast beach road trip. I have heard a lot about Myrtle Beach (not necessarily the state park), and I just had to experience it for myself.
My initial thoughts were -- I definitely like this state park. It has a whole LOT of campsites available. In that regard, it is probably one of the biggest state parks I have stayed at so far. For being so big, it is still very well maintained. The campsites and bathrooms were both very clean -- which is a plus in our book. If you are staying on We stayed at campsite 62, so the camp store was on the same route as the path to the beach if we needed anything.
The park also great amenities like a nature center where they have classes for the kids, playgrounds, hiking trails, and of course its only a short distance to the beach. You can even take the kids and go crab fishing at the pier with a park ranger on certain days. I can't say that the beach is my favorite, but it is still a very beautiful beach.
There are only a couple of downfalls to this state park, and I don't think they are even that big of a deal, but worth mentioning. First, there seems to be an excessive amount of golf carts at this campground. Maybe it was just during the time we were there, but there were a lot of them cruising around. Second, was the amount of airplanes flying over. It is close to the airport so its to be expected, but just be aware of that fact when planning your trip. I didn't find it to cause much noise, but some people people might not care for it.
This summer road trip was to celebrate a couple of birthdays. My daughter and I are both summer babies, so we usually like to include some sort of water activity in our birthday plans. With that being said, we decided on James Island County Park because it had a waterpark. And I am happy we did. This is a great campground. The whole park is very are clean and well maintained. I wouldn't say there is a lot of space between campsites, but it is about average if you are used to staying at state parks and better than a local RV park. We liked that the restroom/shower facilities were kept clean as well. It is important for us because we currently travel in a tiny camper with no bathroom or shower.
The best thing about this campground for us was the fact that the Splash Zone waterpark was within walking distance from our campsite. Now don't be confused and think that the waterpark is included in the price of your campsite, it is not. So be prepared to pay extra if you want to spend the day at Splash Zone, but it is reasonably priced and well worth it. Especially if you are traveling with kids. However, they also have a playground, fishing, rock climbing, hiking, and festivals throughout the year if you don't want to go swimming. We didn't do anything but swim and drive to downtown Charleston, but they do have options for everyone.
**I do have one warning for you if you go to the waterpark. Don't take a lot of personal, expensive stuff. This waterpark is open to the public, which means people who aren't your friendly RVer will also go there. I had to guard our stuff like a hound dog at one point because there was this shady guy walking around the chairs where everybody dropped their stuff. He was fully dressed with basketball shoes on, no swimming gear or towel, and was just looking around at everybody's stuff. And when I sat down by our belongings to protect them, he got up and walked straight out of the park. He could have easily taken our bag which had our truck and camper keys in it, and then we would be stuck. So just be very careful of your things.