Category Archives: Campsites

The Falls on the Brazos State Park

Marlin is a tiny town just south of Waco. There’s really not much to it. But there is a state park that is just south of town on the Brazos river. It has 15 campsites that are not big rig friendly. Anything over 30’ will probably not be able to pull it off, and that’s for the single premium site. Also, while there is electricity, there’s only 30 amp available. This park had been run down and new managers are updating it. Last we were there, the city had lent out some generators because not every site had electric. This was for a grand reopening.

The campground is set up in a loop with one half campsites and the other bordered by the river. The premium site is the only one on the water. Inside the loop is a playground and a few covered pavilions with some BBQ pits. When entering the park, there is also a small store/café. The new managers offer simple lunch items such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. They also have chips, pies, and drinks.

The rate is at $25 for all sites, except the premium site which is $30.

The Falls themselves are pretty. Lots of locals come to fish. You can walk out into the river which is really shallow for quite some distance. Obviously, very slippery as algae has grown over the rock bed. So don’t wear your glasses. Ask me how I know.

The park is free to hang out in. Nice spot during the hot summer to cook out and go for a quick dip in the water.

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Lake Chicot State Park, LA

Chicot State Park, LA

There are RV and tent camping sites at this park, but we’ve only stayed in the cabins.  We stayed there 3 nights in June.  The cabins are in groups of two.  You park your car and walk down a short pier.  Just before the end of the pier, there’s a set of stairs on either side, both leading up to a cabin.  The cabins are on raised foundations ON the lake itself.  Gorgeous!  The cabins are two bedroom, two bath.  One bedroom has a queen, the other has two sets of bunk beds.  Large living room with two full couches that both pull out into beds, plus some other chairs.  A dining table that seats 6, and a full kitchen.  There is also a screened in porch.  The construction is timber-frame, and the living room, dinin- room, and kitchen wall is the one that faces the lake and it is all glass.  The effect is very nice.

This park is located between Lafayette and Alexandria.  It is a good 30-45 minutes away from gas and groceries, so you really need to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

They rent canoes for $20 per 24-hour period.  And with having your own dock, it was very nice to be able to take it out a couple times.  Almost directly across from our cabin was a grove of Cypress trees.  The mostly shaded area was a wonderland.  It wasn’t swampy at all, and there was actually very little understory at all.  So it was basically just us and the trees.  We spent a few hours taking our time and enjoying it, eating a bit of pita and hummus in our canoe-picnic, and of course, seeing a few spiders that would make a tiger jump (right around as big as a dinner plate!  Not even joking!)

There are also many hiking trails and even a long boardwalk that takes you out into the lake and through a few Cypress stands.  The pool was under construction when we went.  There was a splash play park though, along with a regular park.  Because we were alone, we really didn’t explore much of those types of amenities.  But all in all, our impression was a good campground with enough things to do to keep the kids and the adult happy.  Because of it’s location, we will most certainly be going back.

As it is with other Louisiana State Park cabins, the cost is $120/night.  Very reasonable!

Gulf Shores State Park, Alabama

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This park has tons of amenities, especially for a state park.  They have a swimming pool and a splash pad (where the water shoots out of the ground).  There’s a nature center that has an additional building set up for demonstrations and talks about the wildlife of the area.  We sat in on one and got to learn about and touch snakes, owls, lizards, and turtles.  There is a very large laundry room with about 30 washers and 20 dryers, give or take.  And across the large covered pavilion from the laundry room is the camp store, which sells the normal stuff you’d find at any camp store.  Lots of nic nacs about Gulf Shores, and a few non-perishable food items.  There’s also basketball courts, tennis courts, and horseshoes.

The bathrooms were very, very clean! And there was about one large bathhouse per 10 sites.  So there was very little traffic, even on the busy weekend days we were there.

We camped there in tents for 5 nights, while visiting Penascola and Fort Walton Beach.  The sites are large and would be easy to get in and out of with a large rig because there’s hardly any trees.  Which means the hot sun was directly on us from sunrise to sunset.  There were also some pull through sites that we saw.  This is a HUGE campground with over 400 camp sites.  We didn’t even see it all.

If you stay here, it’s not on the beach, although it is on a water inlet from the gulf.  You will have to drive to get to the beach.  But, if you’re a camper, you can park for free to go to the Gulf Shores State Beach.

The pests were numberable.  Fire ants ended up finding a way into our tent one night.  Racoons would come up to steal food when you were sitting right next to it.  Mosquitos and gnats were also a problem.  Of course, it was August when we went and I’m sure other times of the year it wouldn’t be quite as bad.

The cost turned out to be a lot, especially for tents in a state park.  I think we ended up right around $35/night.  There was the base fee, but you had to pay more if you had two tents, which is only allowed if the second tent is ONLY used by the minors of the people in the first tent. (rolls eyes).  So they were relatively strict with rules, not very accommodating, and there was no shade.  Gabe said he would NOT come back because the amenities didn’t justify the higher cost and lack of shade and horrible bugs.  (The rangers won’t even come with some ant killer.  We had to go buy our own if we didn’t want fire ants…..which we ALL OVER!)

Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna, FL

Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna, FL

$24/night.

This was set up like any number of small rv parks.  There were 30 sites total, so it was a very small campground.  We spent 6 nights there while touring Tallahassee.  We were about an hour away from Tallahassee, which doesn’t really have any RV parks, or even places to pitch a tent.

The Caverns.  They are known for their Caverns.  It’s the only accessible cavern system in Florida.  We went through the tour, at night, in what they call their “flashlight tour”.  We saw some bats and crickets, and some interesting cave formations.  It took about an hour, and wasn’t very strenuous, with the exception of needing to duck through a few corridors, which is uncomfortable after about the fifth step.

The swimming hole.  They have a swimming area.  It was closed when we were there, and the camp host said that there’d been an alligator sighted, relocated, and then sighted again.  So he wouldn’t go there even if it were open.  Due to weather, the water was very murky and the swimming hole area is surprisingly deep at 30’.  So, you never know what might be underneath you.

The bathrooms were decent.  The mosquitos were awful while we were there.  We went through several bottles of off and used up quite a few citronella candles, and we still all ended up with a huge amount of bites.  It was really bad.  There was a washer and dryer by the restrooms.  We didn’t use it, opting instead to go into town and get it all done in an hour, instead of it taking 3 or 4 hours to run one load at a time.

I don’t know that I’d want to try getting my rig in.  A couple with a 35’ fifth wheel came in on one of our last days there and they had an awful time getting in to the spot.  Luckily, the spot across from them was empty to they were able to little by little get into their site.

I also don’t know if I’d want to go back in a tent because so much is outdoors when you’re tent camping and the mosquitos were so bad.  Perhaps in winter or early spring it wouldn’t have been quite as bad.

BLazing Star Rv Park

Blazing Star RV Park

1120 W Loop 1604 North, San Antonio, TX

$345/week for a premium site

 

We stayed here during out week trip to San Antonio.  It was a decent park, with maintained grounds, and some nice facilities.  The laundry room was very big, with about 20 washers and 20 dryers, plus four folding tables and a few rolling laundry baskets.  It was $1.50 per load for either washer or dryer, with both having the option to have more time added for another quarter.

There was a nice pool with a kiddie pool.  No spa, and we came during a time when the pool wasn’t available because we’re getting into winter.  There is one playground, with two shown on the map, but the other one was recently taken out.  The playground was OK, but the kids still had fun meeting other kids there.

The main clubhouse building houses the reception area with offices, a small store, a pool hall/arcade room and a large rec room that could be used for putting together puzzles or having breakfast or meetings.  In the rec room, there is a projector set up, but we didn’t look too closely as we were busy site seeing and not too interested in watching a movie in the rec room.

They also have a large BBQ with a few smaller BBQs that are available for use, but I don’t believe you can take the smaller ones to your site.

Trash pickup “if trash is out by 9”, but we found they didn’t typically come to collect until closer to noon.  So there’s some leeway there.

WiFi is NOT included!  It’s $5/day or $25/week, per computer!  This would’ve been fine, albeit annoying, if it would’ve actually worked.  But it didn’t.  So I really should’ve just recharged our MiFi for $40 and been able to access it better.  As it stood, we were out so much it wasn’t a huge deal, but I’ve barely been able to upload anything onto my blog as far as pictures go.  So I’ll be doing that as we head home and stop for breakfast and lunch in places that have free WiFi.

Cable is included, but we didn’t use it, so I have no clue if it was decent or not.  All hookups were in working order and we had no trouble with blackouts or anything.

We were approximately 20-30 minutes to everything we saw in San Antonio, with the exception of wine tasting and the caverns, which both took closer to 45 minutes.

Sites are mostly level and concrete.  Ours was low in the front enough over the length of 40 feet of our rig that we ended up needed to get some blocks.

I think we’d both stay here again.  It wasn’t the best park ever, but it was pretty good.  I think they are under new management, and so that might account for certain things being in an apparent “interim” stage.  If they could put in a better park, a spa, a change machine, and better WiFi, it would make this park about perfect for us.

About Thousand Trails at Lake Conroe

Thousand Trails Lake Conroe is located about an hour north of Houston, TX.  Thousand Trails was originally an exclusive members only park.  There are several throughout the US, but you had to buy in in order to be able to use the facilities, more often than not for thousands of dollars.  TT was then bought out by another company and is now open to the public.  You can buy a pass for different zones, NW, SW, NE, and SE, the the US roughly divided into four regions.  And then you pay for yearly dues.  It’s much cheaper now to be able to use TT.  

This particular TT park, and the only one I’ve been to, is a bit older, with the roads being difficult to drive on.  They really need to be redone, but in my opinion, the potholes really help keep people from driving too fast.  The sites are gravel and in need of levelling.  But because it’s on a lake, with natural hills, I don’t know how level they can all be.  It is what it is.  If you want flat and paved, go to a Walmart parking lot.  

On top of your pass, you can also opt in for an annual spot.  This doesn’t give you 365 days a year to stay there.  it only gives you about 210 to stay over night.  But it DOES mean that no one else can stay in your spot for the year.  So if you’re full timing it, you can have a “home base” and not have to worry about getting a bad spot when you come back from a trip.  Your spot will still be there ready for you.  You can also make improvements to your site if you wish.  Some have brought in better gravel, or pavers, flowers and even some trees.  And there are a lot of people who’ve put up small sheds to store some extra gardening or outdoor items.  

With the high percentage of people who stay for at least six months a year, it’s still nicely kept and doesn’t look like a trailer park, which we’ve seen in other places that offer long term stays.  The sites themselves are very spacious, with lots of large grassy areas in between different groupings of sites.  Amenities are vast.  There is a baseball field, a volley ball court by the lake, two tennis courts, a 18 hole mini golf, ping pong table, tetherball, two full basket ball courts, one of which also is used for pickleball (something in between ping pong and tennis).  There are two stocked ponds for fishing, as well as Lake Conroe which is good for fishing and all sorts of other sports as well.  There are boat and kayak rentals.  The pool is Olympic sized and the spa is large enough to seat thirty people!  There is a large activity center with a store inside and a cafe that opens mostly on the weekends for everything from hamburgers to banana spilts.  The activity center itself is home to many tables to play bingo or put together a puzzle, toys for smaller children, and a large flat screen TV with three recliners and a sofa.  Concerts and demonstrations like the one of the hula dancers are done in this large room.  There is a large pavilion outside the activity center that is half covered and is where a lot of concerts take place so there’s enough room for lots of dancing!  There is also a large grill that the manager kindly uses to BBQ up some good grub on the weekends!  Across the pavilion is a family center.  This is a smaller version of the activity center.  It has a smaller TV in it with a few sofas, and some card tables.  It is the place where many members find themselves in the evenings playing Fast Track or Texas Hold em.  Attached to the family center is another room that is called the Adult center.  It has a few pool tables, some card tables, and some books and puzzles.  No one under 18 may enter, so it’s a nice place to get away from the swarms of kids during the summer.  And to the side of the family center, is another room that is a small gym.  This gym is unlocked with a code, and you must be over 14 to enter.  

When TT was members only, there was a lot of activities that were put on for the members.  BUt now that the members aren’t having to pay quite so much for membership, headquarters wants the members to put on their own activities. This has been met with mixed reactions, but the older members are mostly upset about it since they’ve been around for a long time and still remember “the good old days”.  But some have come up to bat.  There is line dancing lessons twice a week in the family center, pickup games of pickle ball and volley ball, and some bon fires now that summer is here!  More members are still needed to start up activities on their own, but our schedule is still pretty full just from the activities that are offered weekly.

If I hadn’t been living close by and was just visiting this park, I would want to come again.  I know the roads suck.  We all know that.  Everyone mentions it when they come and visit.  But the amenities are unparalleled from what we’ve seen at other parks.  It’s a great place to come as a family and we’ve known a few different families who were just passing through and ended up finding a way to pass through again and again because it’s such a great place for kids to explore.  Did I mention it’s gated?

California Campsites

BANNING KOA

We stayed here two nights.  It was about 30 minutes to Yucca Valley, where we had family, and about 2 hours the back way to Big bear Lake.  It was ok, but there were definitely a lot of long term guests there.  The best thing was the park area since it was directly across from us and we didn’t have to worry about the kids going by themselves.  The reason we stayed here was because we were afraid to try to get up to Big Bear Lake in our big rig (still being newbies), and most of the other campsites in the area cater to 55+ only.  So not a whole lot of options in the Palm Springs area.  I don’t really recommend this place.  Not because it’s horrible, but it’s not worth the cost.  Fees in the $40’s.

 

KOA SANTA PAULA

 

We  were here a month.  It’s located about 15 minutes from Ventura, 30 to Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Camarillo, and Santa Clarita.  45 to Thousand Oaks and Sylmar.  This park was just bought by KOA in March.  There was a lot of construction going on.  We were in the first spot when you come in, which is a large pull through.  There are four sections of the park for RVs.  Each holds about 15-20 RVs.  The last one, which is right before theRV storage yard, is usually used for long term stays.  We were told when we first got there that they don’t usually put long term guests, let alone ones with children in the first area.  I don’t know why they let us in the end, we weren’t pushing it at all.  But apparently, the first section is typically not even used for children at all.  I don’t know.  The two middle sections seemed to be used for weekend guests.  There are also teepees set up with cots inside to rent, a few cabins, and a park like area that will be used for tents only (it was closed when we were there).

There is a small laundry room which is right across from the first spot….which made laundry SOOOO much easier.  They are showers, but they were being redone at the time.  There is a horseshoe area across from the two middle sections, and a park at the bottom of the hill.  THe park had a few play type things, a sandbox (which I found glass in and apparently the previous owners had just gotten sand wherever and didn’t care if it was used as a litterbox or not……hopefully this will be changed), a jumping pillow and rock climbing wall.  THe last two were only open on Saturdays, and cost $5 to use per day per person.  The jumping pillow was sorta like a bounce house without the house part, it was just this HUGE thick plastic sheet that was buried around the edges, and there was a compressor that led to it to inflate underneath the plastic.  Pretty cool.  Unfortunately, the whole month there, we only used it twice.  Cool idea, but not much use as there must be a worker there at all times for it and the rock wall.

Other than the construction, this park was wonderful for us.  The owner and staff were amazing to us and my kids, and the people who we met were fantastic as well.  The views was gorgeous, looking out over farm land in the valley.  The site was gravel and very wide.  The only issue being that it is on a hill and so our steps were very high, which caused problems with my husband’s grandmother, and I’d assume would cause problems with other older people.  So if you’re retired and stopping there, make sure you look at the site because some are flatter than others.  The landscaping was beautiful, and lush.  Personally, I fully enjoyed looking out the window at the hummingbirds, and going on walks and looking at all the different plants they’ve put in.  I’m sort of a sucker for plants, so it was great for me.  I’m sure the kids got tired of my constant “look at that succulent” comments.  HA HA.

We would definitely stay here again and I’m looking forward to seeing the progress the next time we’re in town.