Our 2009 Campground Reviews

Here you will find reviews of the campgrounds we visited in 2009.

For more information on how we choose a campground and on our review criteria, go to our Main Campground Reviews page.

These reviews are shown in the order we visited the campgrounds during the year. To see campground reviews by state with the most recent visits at the top of the page, go to our Main Campground Reviews page and click on the state by state links.

Also, note that these reviews indicate a "Journal Site" number. This number corresponds to the number of the stop since we began our adventure and also to the number on the Map Of Our Travels on our Journal page. You may be able to find more information about the campground or the area by clicking on Our Journal and locating entries for the dates indicated for each campground.






Direct Links To 2009 Reviews Below

Patagonia Lake State Park, Patagonia, Arizona - January 2009

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson Mountain Park, Tucson, Arizona - January 2009

Picacho Peak State Park, Picacho, Arizona - January 2009

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 14-Day Camping Area, Plomosa Road, Quartzsite, Arizona - January 2009

Alamo Lake State Park, Wenden, Arizona - February 2009

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, Arizona - February 2009

Cottonwood Campground, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle, Arizona - February 2009

Goosenecks State Park, Mexican Hat, Utah - February 2009

Devil's Garden Campground, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah - March/April 2009

Palisade State Park, Sterling, Utah - May 2009

Beverly Hills RV Ranch, Wells, Nevada - May 2009

Rye Patch State Recreation Area, Rye Patch, Nevada - May 2009

North Shore Campground, Lake Almanor, Chester, California - May - September 2009

Tamarack Beach, Walker Lake Recreation Area, Hawthorne, Nevada - September 2009

Terrible's Lakeside Casino & RV Park, Pahrump, Nevada - September 2009

Prospectors RV Resort, Lake Havasu City, Arizona - September 2009

Holiday Palms RV Park, Quartzsite, Arizona - September 2009

SKP Saguaro Co-Op Park, Benson, Arizona - September 2009

Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico - October 2009

Saddleback Mountain RV Park, Balmorhea, Texas - October 2009

Super 8 Motel & RV Park (formerly Circle Bar RV Park), Ozona, Texas - October 2009

Buckhorn Lake Resort, Kerrville, Texas - October 2009

South Shore Park, Lake Bastrop, Bastrop, Texas - October 2009

Cagle Recreation Area, Sam Houston National Forest, New Waverly, Texas - October 2009

Sandy Creek Park COE Campground, Steinhagen Lake, Jasper, Texas - November 2009

Sam Houston Jones State Park, Lake Charles, Louisiana - November 2009

Betty's RV Park, Abbeville, Louisiana - November 2009

Fontainebleau State Park, Mandeville, Louisiana - November 2009

Davis Bayou Campground, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Ocean Springs, Mississippi - November 2009

Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park, Summerdale, Alabama - November 2009

Grayton Beach State Park, Grayton Beach, Florida - December 2009

St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach, Florida - December 2009

St. George Island State Park, St. George Island, Florida - December 2009

Ichetucknee Springs Campground, Fort White, Florida - December 2009

Welaka Lodge & Resort, Welaka, Florida - December 2009 - March 2010






Journal Site 113: Patagonia Lake State Park - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: January 8, 2009 - January 13, 2009
Location: About 20 miles northeast of Nogales off AZ Hwy 82 in southern Arizona.
Our Site: ???? - non-electric sites aren't numbered
GPS Coordinates: 31.49586N, 110.85410W
Reason Selected: The state park is adjacent to the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area and we wanted to check out both for possible future volunteer jobs. Also, we always like to see as many state parks as we can for future reference.
Setting: The non-electric sites are treed, but sites are rather close togethr. The electric sites are more open and spread out better with trees and vegetation separating them from Patagonia Lake. Lake views are limited and probably more so when all the trees and shrubs have all their leaves.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: The road to get to the park is wide but has some sharp curves and steep grades. Not really a big problem if you take your time. The biggest problem is if you want to park in the non-electric sites. There are sites that are big enough, but low hanging branches prevent getting to them or backing into some of them. We backed out of our loop to avoid low branches we would have hit on the way out. It's not as big an issue for the electric sites, but those are more popular and the best sites are usually taken. Still, many of them would require skillful maneuvering.
Hook-ups: Electric sites have 50-amp and water hook-ups. Non-electric sites have no hook-ups but there are centrally located water spigots to take on water. No sewer hook-ups but a convenient dump station.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: Electric sites are $22; Non-electric sites are $15. If you happen to have a boat and want to camp in a tent, there are several "boat-in" camp sites along the lakeshore.
Other Factors: Satellite access is fine but could be an issue in many of the non-electric sites. Arizona State Parks websites are pretty good about describing their facilities. New bathhouses were very nice by state park standards. Volunteers give two or three lake tours and there are scheduled bird walks and other programs. The Sonoita Creek State Natural Area provides good hiking and birdwatching. Also, half of the lake is no-wake which makes it great for paddling. There is a well-stocked store at the marina within the park.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
We loved Patagonia Lake. The lake and the sunsets were beautiful and the birding was very good, even in the winter. I wish I could give it a higher rating, but the campgrounds are just not as nice as I would like. There is a water treatment facility and boat ramp in one loop, and a water system facility in another loop that took away from the setting. Add that to the closeness of the sites and the low-hanging branches, and we just couldn't rate the campground any higher - and we had one whole loop to ourselves while we were there. I can't imagine getting through the non-electric loops if the campground was full. If we had managed to snag one of the better electric sites in the loop that didn't have service facilities, we might have rated it higher, but I doubt it. With that said, we are looking forward to a return trip someday and hope to get a volunteer position in the future. :)

Patagonia Lake State Park


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Journal Site 114: Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson Mountain Park - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: January 13, 2009 - January 18, 2009
Location: On the west side of the Tucson Mountains, 13 miles west of Tucson, Arizona.
Our Site: 25, H-Loop
GPS Coordinates: 32.21901N, 111.1441W
Reason Selected: Wanted to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park on our way through Tucson. This campground is part of a county park and is just a few miles from both those attractions.
Setting: This campground is carved out of the Sonoran Desert. There are native plants, including saguaro cacti, througout. It looks like it has been landscaped until you notice that the surrounding desert looks the same. There are great views of the Tucson Mountains to the east and distant mountain views with beautiful sunsets to the west.
Guidebooks: None Used.
Big Rig Friendly: The road getting to the campground is fairly narrow, somewhat curvy, and has lots of significant dips. Take your time. The main campground road is nice and wide, but things can get a little tight in the loops. The biggest loop, Loop A, is often closed until the other loops fill up. There are plenty of sites big enough for larger rigs, but some of them can be a challenge to get into, especially in H-Loop.
Hook-ups: 130 sites with 30-amp electrical hook-ups only; No water or sewer hook-ups, but there are numerous water spigots scattered throughout to fill fresh tanks; In fact, there are so many spigots, you can usually fill your tank after you park if you have enough hose; There are two nice dump stations, but they are strangely located in the back of the campground on their own loop
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: $20; The website says $10 for non-electric hook-ups, but there is a sign at the campground that says ALL RVs must pay the $20 per night regardless of whether you use electric or not.
Other Factors: It's a self-pay campground and we didn't deal much with the staff. The one lady we met that was marking departure times on tickets was very nice. Website is sparse, but it does show a good overhead view of the campground. Though not mentioned on the website, there is sign that says there is a 7-day maximum stay - don't know how strictly that might be enforced. There are bathrooms with flush toilets that were decent, but there are no showers. Satellite is not a problem.
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
We loved the natural surroundings and we felt our site (25 in the H-Loop) was one of the better ones for privacy. There are lots of nice sites in the A-Loop, but you can't count on it being open. Another great site for privacy is #26 in the C-Loop, a large pull-through with nothing but desert out your door. The convenience to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park is a plus. This campground is a wonderful option near Tucson yet with the feeling of being out in the middle of the desert - which it pretty much is. :)

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson Mountain Park


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Journal Site 115: Picacho Peak State Park - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: January 18, 2009 - January 20, 2009
Location: Right off of I-10 between Tucson to the southeast and the intersection of I-10 and I-8 to the northeast. Hard to miss the prominent Picacho Peak. :)
Our Site: ???? - No site numbers in Loop A, the no hook-ups loop
GPS Coordinates: 32.65369N, 111.4176W
Reason Selected: Wanted to check out this state park and do some hiking on our way to Quartzsite, Arizona.
Setting: The three campground loops sit between the Picacho Peak mountain range and I-10 in the desert. The natural desert setting is wonderful and the interstate is far enough way to be a nuisance, but not a deal breaker for the campground. Loop A has the most distance between it and the interstate, followed by Loop B, and then Loop C which gradually gets closer.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Plenty of room for the biggest of rigs; Some of the largest, most spread out sites we've encountered in a state park.
Hook-ups: No hook-ups in Loop A; Loops B & C have 20/30/50 amp electric, but no water or sewer hook-ups. There is an easily accessed dump station on the way out.
Laundry: No laundry facilities
Price & Discounts: $12 in Loop A; $20 in Loops B & C; Prices are $10 and $15 in the summer
Other Factors: All sites offer easy satellite access; Arizona State Park websites give good descriptions of facilities; Bathhouses were very clean with great showers; Good variety of hiking.
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
We really liked this campground and its natural setting. I almost gave it a 7.5 due to the closeness of the interstate. The roar of the traffic is noticeable, especially at night. But the size of the sites and the distance in between them bumped it back up to an 8. We hope to come back sometime in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming - the photos I've seen are gorgeous during that time.

Picacho Peak State Park


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Journal Site 116: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 14-Day Free Camping Area, Plomosa Road, Quartzsite, AZ - Overall Rating: 7

Dates: January 20, 2009 - February 6, 2009
Location: In southwest Arizona north of Quartzite; Plomosa Road is off of AZ Hwy 95 about 6 miles norht of I-10; Our site was about three miles east on Plomosa.
Our Site: N/A - Park wherever as long as there are no signs saying you can't
GPS Coordinates: 33.766N, 114.176W
Reason Selected: We were invited to join the Montana Owners Club for boondocking in Quartzsite. We had wanted to see it for ourselves, but were more comfortable joining folks that knew what they were doing.
Setting: A bunch of RVs scattered throughout the desert on lava rock-type surface. Mountain views in all directions.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: No problem for any rig or combination of vehicles.
Hook-ups: None! That's part of the point. :) However, there are trucks that will come to you and pump out your wastewater tanks for $20. You can also have water brought to you. In Quartzite, there is a place called the RV Pit Stop where you can take on water, dump, and get propane.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: Free!
Other Factors: No problem with satellite. :)
OVERALL RATING: 7 (out of ten)
We both wanted to experience Quartzsite and test our boondocking skills. I had heard that it was extremely dusty and windy. Perhaps we were lucky, but it wasn't nearly as windy or dusty as I expected. Quartzsite is boondocking made easy. If you want to try it, hook-up with someone you know and go do it. Solar panels help, but they are by no means necessary. We would definitely park in the same place and do Quartzsite again.

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Journal Site 117: Alamo Lake State Park - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: February 6, 2009 - February 11, 2009
Location: The middle of nowhere in southwestern Arizona. About 40 miles north of Wenden, AZ; Turn left off U.S. HWY 60 in Wenden and keep driving to the end of Alamo Lake Road.
Our Site: B19
GPS Coordinates: 34.23253N, 113.5813W
Reason Selected: Chose it for its seclusion as we started northward from Quartzsite toward our camphosting duties at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.
Setting: Desert setting among Arizona Mountains overlooking the beautiful Alamo Lake.
Guidebooks: No factor.
Big Rig Friendly: Yes. Because Alamo Lake is a popular fishing lake, the sites are designed to accomodate RVs and boats. The road from Wenden to Alamo Lake has no shoulders which gives it the illusion that it's not very wide, but it is okay.
Hook-ups: 19 sites with full hook-ups and 50 amp electric; Several more sites with 50 amp electric and water but no sewer; Dry camping sites are also available
Laundry: None
Price & Discounts: $23 for full hook-ups; $20 for electric and water hook-ups; $12 for no hook-ups in the developed campgrounds; $10 for dry camping with no facilities other than chemical toilets.
Other Factors: No problem with satellite; Friendly rangers; Bathhouses are old and that makes it tough to tell exactly how clean they are - not up to the standards of other Arizona State Parks we have visited
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
The campgrounds aren't particularly special except for a row of sites in lower Campground B that back up to a wash and overlook the lake - we had one of those sites. Actually, the dry camping sites without facilities have some of the best views. But the peacefulness and the overall views are pretty hard to beat. This is a great place to come and relax away from crowds and noise. Your cell phone may not work though - a plus for some. :)


Alamo Lake State Park


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Journal Site 118: Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: February 11, 2009 - February 20, 2009
Location: In Cottonwood in central Arizona off Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff. About 12 miles west of I-17 at Exit 287.
Our Site: 87 in the Cooper's Hawk Loop
GPS Coordinates: 34.76123N, 112.0164W
Reason Selected: Decided to make this a stop on our way to Moab, UT for our March 2009 camphosting duties. In addition to the park itself and the adjacent Verde River Greenway State Natural Area, we selected this park for its convenience to Sedona and other area attractions that could be visited on day trips. Also, there is a Super Walmart where we could stock up on supplies for our workamping in March/April.
Setting: There are actually four campgrounds at Dead Horse Ranch. The Quail Loop is the oldest, smallest, and one with the most shade. The Red-Tail Hawk Loop has several back-in sites out in the open high desert, but that loop was closed when we were there. The Blackhawk Loop is for tents only and is also in the open high desert with good mountain views. We stayed in the Cooper's Hawk Loop which is between the Red-Tail Hawk Loop and the Blackhawk Loop. It has a combination of back-in and pull-through sites out in the open with good mountain views. All loops are away from main road and are quiet.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: No problem for any rig, but the Cooper's Hawk Loop is clearly the best for the largest rigs.
Hook-ups: 50/30 amp electric and water. No sewer hook-ups, but there are two nice dump stations conveniently located on the way in or out.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: $19. Or $12 if you choose to not hook up to electric
Other Factors: No problem with satellite. Volunteers were pleasant. Website is pretty good. Bathrooms with showers were fairly nice.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
Dead Horse Ranch is convenient to lots of attractions and near Walmart without feeling like you are in town. We stayed longer than expected. However, the sites, especially the pull-throughs are a little too close together. They are side-by-side and don't allow much room to sit outside. If not for that, I likely would have bumped this campground up to an 8. Also, I think we would have enjoyed the park itself and the Verde River Greenway a little bit more in the spring/summer/fall.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park


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Journal Site 119: Cottonwood Campground, Canyon de Chelly National Monument - Overall Rating: 6

Dates: February 20, 2009 - February 23, 2009
Location: Northeast Arizona. About three miles east of U.S. Highway 191 in Chinle, AZ.
Our Site: 19
GPS Coordinates: 36.14839N, 109.54130W
Reason Selected: Side trip to visit Canyon de Chelly National Monument on our way to our camphosting duties at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.
Setting: Lots of campsites squeezed into a fairly tight area. Not very attractive in winter due to dormant vegetation. Would be better in spring/summer/fall with the numerous cottonwood trees. The section with the most trees was closed when we were there. The largest sites sit across the road from the maintenance yard, so the views are not good at all. Also, the monument and campground sit within a Navajo reservation, so there is housing on the way to and around the campground.
Guidebooks: No factor.
Big Rig Friendly: Not really. It's easy to get to the campground with a big rig, but the turns within the campground are very tight and there are only a few big rig sites. We were able to get a site that fit our fifth wheel, truck, and Jeep primarily because it was winter and there were few other campers there.
Hook-ups: No hook-ups! There are restrooms with flush toilets, but no showers, and there is a dump station. However, the dump station is closed in winter months. There is a water spigot in the middle of the campground, but would take quite a bit of hose to take on water. The locals bring jugs to fill up with water at the campground spigot.
Laundry: None
Price & Discounts: Free! The best thing about the campground.
Other Factors: The Canyon de Chelly website has virtually no useful information about the campground. Satellite could be an issue depending on your site with the numerous cottonwood trees. Restrooms were adequate and actually cleaner than I thought they would be. With the poverty in the area and the numbers of locals coming to the campground to fill up with water or just to hang out, the campground didn't feel as secure as most other public campgrounds we have visited. We didn't have any problems, but we felt the need to keep things locked up more than usual.
OVERALL RATING: 6 (out of ten)
This campground certainly was not one of our favorites. We could imagine it being better with more campers and in other seasons. But with no hook-ups at all, very few big rig sites, and the concerns about security, we can't give it a very high rating. We did push it up to a 6 because it is free and because it is the most convenient camping for visiting Canyon de Chelly National Monument which is definitely worth the trip.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument


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Journal Site 120: Goosenecks State Park, Mexican Hat, UT - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: February 23 - February 26, 2009
Location: In the southeast corner of Utah near the town of Mexican Hat. Turn off U.S. Hwy 191 onto Utah Hwy 261. About 4 miles off Hwy 261.
Our Site: No designated site numbers. But we were in the large parking area that is part of the park overlooking the gooseneck turns of the San Juan River. The website says "four" sites, but the sites are not designated and there is room for more.
GPS Coordinates: 37.17462N, 109.9263W
Reason Selected: Recommended by friends who we joined there on our way to Moab, Utah for a workamping job at Arches National Park.
Setting: Wide open spot on the edge of a 1,000 foot canyon overlooking the gooseneck turns of the San Juan River. The right photo above is looking out of the rear window of the RV. Red rock views to the north and south including distant views of Monument Valley, AZ.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Plenty of space for rigs of all sizes. The road is paved all the way to the park. However, the parking area for RVs is dirt with some rough, rocky areas. Not a big problem, but care is required when parking. At the time of our visit, we made a large loop in the paved visitor parking area so we could hug the right side as we entered the dirt area to avoid some larger rocks and rough terrain.
Hook-ups: None. Pure boondocking. Pit toilets only and no dump station. No place to take on water at the park, but you can get water at the gas station in Mexican Hat about seven miles away.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts:Free!!
Other Factors: A long way from everything, but minimal supplies and gas/diesel is available at Mexican Hat. Spectacular views. Not much to do at this small 10-acre park except enjoy the views and walk the canyon rim. Satellite is certainly no problem.
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
A fantastic place to boondock. Excellent open area for satellite and solar panels. I would caution that the wind could get pretty bad. Goosenecks is about an hour's drive to Monument Valley and a few minutes' drive to the beautiful red rock formations of Valley of the Gods. Also, there are terrific views from the nearby Moki Dugway and Muley Point. Natural Bridges National Monument is also about an hour's driving time. If you like boondocking away from the crowds with spectacular views and easy access to more incredible landscapes, this ain't bad. :)

Goosenecks State Park


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Journal Site 121: Devil's Garden Campground, Arches National Park - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: February 28, 2008 - April 30, 2008 & February 26, 2009 - April 30, 2009
Location: Four miles north of Moab on Hwy 191. Actually, the campground is 18 miles into Arches National Park at the end of the park road.
Our Site: Well, we were campground hosts for most of our time there and lived in the host "cabin". But we did stay in Site 24 for a couple nights and Site 22 for a few nights as well.
GPS Coordinates: 38.61389N, 109.59333W
Reason Selected: Took a position as campground hosts for March & April 2008 and March & April 2009.
Setting: Absolutely beautiful Arches National Park with red rock formations all around and a view of the La Sal Mountains.
Guidebooks: No factor.
Big Rig Friendly: Yes, but sites for big rigs are limited. Shoot for site 7, 11, 19, 21, 22, 24 (a little narrow) in the non-reservable section. In the reservable section, sites 27, 46, and 52 are the best options. Be careful of the sites described as "pull-throughs" on the reservation website. They are really shoulders/pull-offs, on the campground road. They'll work, but they won't be what you expected.
Hook-ups: No hook-ups. Bathrooms with flush toilets, but no showers. And NO dump station.
Laundry: None
Price & Discounts: $20 a night. $10.00 with the America The Beautiful Senior Pass. Price increased from the 2008 rates of $15 & $7.50.
Other Factors: Arches National Park may be the single most spectacular place we have visited to date. Fortunately, we didn't have to make reservations or scramble for a first come, first serve site.
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
Arches is wonderful and it is great to explore it over several days by camping in the park. However, it is not easy to get in. The reserved sites fill up quickly during the March - October reservation season. Non-reservable sites are given away at the park entrance starting at 7:30 in the morning. There may be a couple sites or several sites. The actual number available are posted at the entrance station the night before. If you do happen to get a site, there is no guarantee a large rig will fit in one of the available sites. It's not so tough when it's cold. You can get in November through February without too much trouble. So, as much as we love Arches, the lack of hook-ups, showers, and dump station along with not being able to easily get a site won't allow us to give it more than an 8.

NOTE: All sites are going to "Reservation Only" for the 2010 season. Walk-ins may available for sites that have not been reserved, but it will become even more difficult to get first-come, first served sites.



Arches National Park Camping


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Journal Site 122: Palisade State Park, Sterling, UT - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: May 4 - May 7, 2009
Location: In central Utah off U.S. Highway 89 north of I-70 and east of I-15. About 2 miles east of the small town of Sterling.
Our Site: 8 in the Wakara section.
GPS Coordinates: 39.20609N, 111.6648W
Reason Selected: Looked like a great stopping point between workamping gigs - between Moab, UT and Chester, CA.
Setting: Campground is in a mountain valley at 5,800 feet elevation on a small reservoir. The sites are all paved and all have varying degrees of lake views. The location of the park is beautiful. The campsites individually don't have a lot of character - many are like spurs in a parking lot.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Very big rig friendly. The Wakara section is new and the sites are enormous. But the other sections can accommodate large rigs as well.
Hook-ups: About half of the 53 sites have full hook-ups with 50-amp service. The other half have no hook-ups. There is a dump station, places to take on water, and bathhouses with showers.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts:$25 for full hook-ups. $16 for no hook-ups. Also, there is an extra vehicle fee of half the cost of whatever type site you are in. But if you have an extra vehicle and are traveling as a single or couple, they may waive the extra vehicle fee if you ask and assure them you won't be having several other people join you. :)
Other Factors: Satellite isn't a problem in most sites. Really nice 18-hole golf course on-site with a snack bar/grill serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A long way from everything, but there is a gas station in Sterling that has gas and diesel. Fourteen miles up U.S. Hwy 89 in the town of Ephraim is a Super Wal-mart. Canoe and paddle-boat rentals and fishing in the Palisade lake. Two hiking trails. Pretty good cell coverage.
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
We heard that this state park is the most popular state park in Utah on weekends. It's a really nice out-of-the-way facility. The full hook-ups sites are very large, but the water pressure is lousy. We had to fill our fresh water tank and use our pump for better water flow. Almost all the sites are reservable and they get booked way in advance for the weekends, but availability is pretty good during the week. We loved this little state park, but we weren't crazy about the way the sites are set up. Don't get me wrong, it's much better than an RV park, but the sites don't have the privacy or character of most state parks we've visited. Still, an 8 rating certainly is pretty good. And if you are a golfer, add a half a point. :)

Palisade State Park


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Journal Site 123: Beverly Hills RV Ranch, Wells, NV - Overall Rating: 6

Dates: May 7 - May 8, 2009
Location: In the northeast corner of Nevada four miles west of Wells. About a 1/2 mile off of I-80.
Our Site: 17.
GPS Coordinates: 41.11476N, 115.0362W
Reason Selected: Recommended by RV-Dreams readers that knew we were coming through this part of Nevada on our way to a northern California workamping job. Also, a Passport America park, so half-priced camping.
Setting: Basically, an RV park out in a wide-open field with nothing else around. Mountain views in all directions. Sites are side-by-side and are mostly grass that has grown over the gravel. Green grass and some trees to break the wind, but the RV sites are mostly out in the open. Only a half mile from I-80, so there is highway noise.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Plenty of space for rigs of all sizes. It looks like they have doubled up some of the older, skinny sites to make wide sites for today's wider rigs with slides. Easy in and out and mostly pull-through sites.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 30-amp electric.
Laundry: There is a laundry facility, but we didn't check it out.
Price & Discounts:$30 nightly rate. However, it is a Passport America park and PA members stay for $15.
Other Factors: Nice folks. Satellite was no problem. No website (only a single page on the Passport America site). Four miles from a Flying J and Love's travel stops. Uncrowded.
OVERALL RATING: 6 (out of ten)
Certainly not our kind of place with the side-by-side sites and closeness to the interstate. But it is a nice layover spot when traveling across I-80. There are other RV parks in Wells, but this one was nice because it was out from town and uncrowded (actually empty during our stay). We would stay there again if our travels took us that way and we needed a place to stop for the night based on mileage. But we'd never pay the $30 regular rate. :)

Beverly Hills RV Ranch on Passport America Site


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Journal Site 124: Rye Patch State Recreation Area, Rye Patch, NV - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: May 8 - May 12, 2009
Location: In northwestern Nevada a couple miles off I-80 between the towns of Winnemucca and Lovelock. About 120 miles northeast of Reno.
Our Site: 19 in the riverside campground.
GPS Coordinates: 40.46742N, 118.30840W
Reason Selected: My research showed it was our kind of place on the way to our summer 2009 workamping gig in northern California. Also, it was highly recommended by RV-Dreams readers Laurie & Odel. See their
review of Rye Patch.
Setting: Campground sits down in a valley below the Rye Patch Reservoir Dam along the tailwaters which happen to be the Humboldt River. Some sites are along the river, but most are just a short walk from the river. Some sites have shade, some have partial shade, and some are open. All sites have a view of the mountains across the river. Roads and sites are all paved. It's a lovely setting.

NOTE: There is also a lakeside campground.

It's at the end of the park road by the busy boat ramp. It is basically a series of close-together, covered picnic tables with places just large enough for small RVs to park. Good views of the lake and the mountains beyond, but I'd leave those sites to the people with small RVs and those with boats on trailers that can be parked nearby.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Surprisingly big rig friendly for a state park out in the middle of nowhere.
Hook-ups: None. There is a nice dump station and potable water there (although the potable water wasn't turned on at the time of our visit). Also, there are numerous spigots within the campground to take on water. In Site 19, we filled up while in our site since we were able to reach a spigot with 50 feet of hose. There are four private bathrooms with flush toilets and sinks and two private showers (pay showers). There are a couple of pit toilets as well.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts:$10 per night (includes the $4 park entrance fee).
Other Factors: Satellite isn't a problem in about half the sites. Website is pretty weak. Easy access from interstate with limited interstate noise. We could hear an occasional train, but it wasn't annoying at all. We hear the fishing is good in the Rye Patch reservoir.
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
We love this little campground. It has the "it" factor we look for. If not for the distant noise of the interstate, I might have given it an 8.5. If they had electric hook-ups, I probably would have added a half point as well. If ever in this area again, we know where to stay. :)

Rye Patch Recreation Area


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Journal Site 125: North Shore Campground - Overall Rating: 7

Dates: May 15, 2009 - September 15, 2009
Location: Lake Almanor in northeastern California; About 3 hours northeast of Sacramento and 2 1/2 hours northwest of Reno, NV; On California Hwy 36 just across the Lake Almanor Causeway 2 miles east of Chester, CA
GPS Coordinates: 40.31143N, 121.18958
Our Site Number: Full hook-up Workamper Site next to Osprey Cabin; Separate from rest of the campground
Reason Selected: Accepted a workamping job there for the summer of 2009.
Setting: On the shores of Lake Almanor - one mile of shoreline. Sites sit among tall pine trees. Lake views and mountain views throughout the campground with varying degrees of views from each site. Hwy 36 to the north separated from the campground by trees and an old, unused railroad right-of-way. Lake Almanor to the south and west. Campsites separated from the eastern side of the campground where there are cabins, staff residences, maintenance buildings, etc. Interior roads are paved; Sites are gravel; Beautiful natural setting.
Guidebooks: None used
Big Rig Friendly: There are a few sites that can handle the largest of rigs - particularly Sites 20 & 21. However, with just a few exceptions, sites are pretty close together. Backing in can be an issue due to trees and/or narrow sites. Adequate for big rigs, but better if you are a skilled driver. :)
Hook-ups: 30 amp electric with water; No sewer hook-ups, but there is a dump station; Also, they have a honey wagon pump-out service two days a week - it's $10 on regular pump-out days, but if you stay a week or longer, you get one free pump-out for every seven days of stay
Laundry: Three washers and dryers but a tad on the expensive side
Price & Discounts: $37 a night for most sites; $49 a night for "premium" sites which are the best sites with no other rigs between you and the lake; Weekly - $225 & $305; Monthly - $685 & $915; Seasonal (late April - early October) - $2,800 & $3,825; All new monthly and seasonal guests will have metered electric; No discounts of any kind except premium sites MAY be discounted to regular rates after Labor Day due to low lake levels
Other Factors: Lots of rules, policies, and additional fees for extra people, daily visitors, pets, boats, etc. All the rules/policies are on the website - read them carefully! The website is pretty thorough although the pictures are a little outdated and don't really show the beauty of the surroundings; Tents are not allowed on RV sites, but there are several separate tent sites - many are on the lake. There is a boat ramp within the campground and two boat docks with slips that can be rented for an extra daily fee; There is a fish cleaning station and the fishing on Lake Almanor is excellent; Note that the lake is PG&E controlled and they start releasing water in mid-summer; The lake levels vary significantly depending on snowmelt from the mountains in the spring, the timing of PG&E releases, and the amount they release; By the end of the season, the water may be too low to launch a boat or use a slip; Lassen Volcanic National Park is about 30 miles from the campground, but there are a couple of remote sections that are closer
OVERALL RATING: 7 (out of ten)
The setting of the campground is wonderful and necessities and restaurants are a short two-mile drive away; As workampers, we didn't stay in the main campground which was a good thing as the sites are just too close together for us; Though expensive, the premium sites are worth the extra money as those sites are more spacious with better views and privacy; The weather is unbeatable with little rain, no humidity, bright blue skies most of the time, and very pleasant temperatures; The single bathhouse is cleaned daily and is pretty nice (until the tent campers tend to mess it up late at night and early in the morning on busy weekends); If we had stayed on a premium site, I'd consider giving it an 8, but then I'd knock it down for price; Considering the regular campsites alone, I'd probably give it a 6, but it gets bumped up for lake access and views; If I were a fisherman with a boat, I'd probably give it an 8; This is a tough campground to rate. We had the only full hook-up site and it had a wonderful lake view with excellent privacy - an 8 or a 9 for our site, especially since it was free. :) However, for the main campground, even though the pricing is reasonable for a California campground on a lake, we probably wouldn't choose to stay there in a regular site due to the tightness of the rigs and we wouldn't pay the price to stay in a premium site. Tough call. :)

North Shore Campground

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Journal Site 126: Tamarack Beach, Walker Lake Recreation Area, Hawthorne, NV - Overall Rating: 7

Dates: September 15 - September 16, 2009
Location: In western Nevada along U.S. 95. About 150 miles south of Reno and about 325 miles north of Las Vegas. Fourteen miles north of Hawthorne, but pretty much out in the middle of nowhere.
Our Site: No designated site numbers.
GPS Coordinates: 38.73805N, 118.76590W
Reason Selected: Needing to get from Northern California to the Hill Country of Texas in less than three weeks, preferably taking a route we had not yet taken, this option showed up as a good possibility about 250 miles from our starting point in Chester, CA. It's a BLM boondocking site with no fee and convenient to our chosen route.
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Setting: Campground sits between U.S. 95 and Walker Lake. Mountains across U.S. 95 to the west and mountains across Walker Lake to the east. Nice gravel road into the camping area. Remnants of campsite pads, but it's mostly a park anywhere you feel comfortable place. Definitely no shade.
Guidebooks: None used, but originally found this campsite on RVParkReviews.com.
Big Rig Friendly: Easy entry from the highway. Some challenges getting turned around, but it is doable with a big rig.
Hook-ups: None. No dump station, no potable water. There are pit toilets.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: FREE!
Other Factors: Satellite isn't a problem at all. Not much info on the web. Looks like the place doesn't get much attention. Lots of trash on the ground. But it is easy access with great views. Wish it was a little farther from the highway as tractor trailers cruise U.S. 95 all night long. Also, the site is competely visible from the highway, so there are some thoughts of safety issues though we had no problems at all. As a sidenote, there are two other BLM campgrounds along the shore of Walker Lake. Tamarack is between 20 Mile Beach and Sportsman's Beach. Sportsman's Beach Recreation Site has "developed" campsites for a fee.
OVERALL RATING: 7 (out of ten)
Great views, convenient, and free! If it were more private, farther from the highway, and less trashy, we would give it an eight. However, if it wasn't free and didn't have the great views, it would probably be a five or six.

Walker Lake Recreation Area


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Journal Site 127: Terrible's Lakeside Casino & RV Park, Pahrump, NV - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: September 16 - September 25, 2009
Location: In southern Nevada about 60 miles west of Las Vegas near the California border. Pahrump is off U.S. 95 on CA Hwy 160.
Our Site: Started in Site 107 on the lake, then moved to Site 131 as we needed to stay longer and other site was reserved.
GPS Coordinates: 36.13521N, 115.9594W
Reason Selected: We had planned to stay at the Escapees Pair-A-Dice RV Park in Pahrump on our way from northern California to our 2009 Rally in Texas, but we got bad directions. After a long day of driving, we ended up at our back-up choice, Terrible's. The reviews on RVParkReviews.com were good, and we had several readers that had been to Terrible's and liked it.
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Setting: Campground sits off Homestead Road a few miles off of CA 160 which is the main road through Pahrump. It's actually out in the desert, but is sort of its own little oasis. The RV park surrounds a small lake, there are a lot more trees than you would expect, and there is grass between all the sites - the only grass for miles. :) The park is bordered by roads on the east and south side. It's bordered by vacant property on the north and west sides, but they have built up grassy mounds on the north side, so you can't see the brown desert from the sites to the north. There are mountain views from the perimeters of the RV park. The interior roads and all the sites are paved.
Guidebooks: None used, but became aware of this park from the RVParkReviews.com and Passport America websites.
Big Rig Friendly: Definitely big rig friendly. Easy entry from the side road on the south. Don't enter on Homestead Road - that's the main entrance for the casino but not the RV Park. Go past the main entrance to the next road on the right. Turn there and then it's a quick right.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric.
Laundry: Three very nice laundry facilities.
Price & Discounts: Normal rates are $27 - $39 depending on your site and the time you stay. Weekends are higher. Half price discounts are available for Passport America and Camp Club USA members - three nights only.
Other Factors: Staff was very helpful and worked with us on getting repairs to our rig (thus the 9-day stay). With the surprising amount of trees, rooftop satellite can be an issue, but there are plenty of sites where it will work. Terrible's website does a decent job of describing the RV park amenities and provides a good site map. The sites are large and paved. The sites are separated by grass lawns, but they are still fairly close together (better than most RV parks, though). There is a large pool and hottub. The comfort stations are very nice bathhouses and laundry rooms attached. There are kayaks and pedal boats that are free for guest use. There is a sandy beach area on the lake for swimming or hanging out. You can fish without a license in the 7-acre lake. There is a 9-hole (very small) frisbee golf course. There are horseshoe pits. There is a paved sidewalk around the lake which makes for a nice morning or evening stroll. Of course there is a casino on-site (mostly slots with limited table games and no poker room). There is a decent restaurant in the casino. The casino is smoky and you have to go through it to get to the restaurant. But the restaurant is non-smoking and very reasonably priced with some really good specials. It's a very, very nice RV park. :)
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
With all the amenities and more character than most RV parks, Terrible's certainly deserves an 8. I almost gave it an 8.5 due to the half price discounts available. But, it is still an RV park with the sites being pretty close together. Also, there is quite a bit of road noise (the quietest sites will be in the northwest corner of the park, but they are also fartherest from the lake). It's most definitely worth a three-night stay with the half-price discounts, and (I don't say this often) it is a pretty good value at the regular rate as well. :)

Terrible's Lakeside Casino & RV Park


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Journal Site 128: Prospectors RV Resort, Lake Havasu City, AZ - Overall Rating: 6

Dates: September 25, 2009 - September 26, 2009
Location: Far western Arizona about 15 miles south of I-40 on the Arizona/California border at Lake Havasu. A few miles west of U.S. 95 on the north side of Lake Havasu City (the north end of London Bridge Road).
Our Site: CA 10
GPS Coordinates: 34.56087N, 114.3708W
Reason Selected: Total screw-up on our part. We missed a turn to our intended destination and ended up in Havasu City. Prospectors was the only RV park with a sign on I-40, so we basically chose it from that as we were ready to get off the road.
Setting: We didn't stay in the "resort" section, so I can't give it much of a review other than to say it certainly wasn't anything special as far as the setting goes. We just stayed overnight and were in a gravel parking lot with hook-ups. It was far enough away from U.S. 95 and the town to be reasonably quiet, but there wasn't really any "character" other than the entrance sign and the office which seemed to be remnants of an older park.
Guidebooks: No factor.
Big Rig Friendly: Pretty much. I didn't see anything that would be a problem.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 30-amp electric in the gravel parking section. Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric in the "resort" section.
Laundry: The website shows a very nice laundry facility, but we didn't check it out.
Price & Discounts: We paid $17 - not sure why. :) They do accept Camp Club USA half price discount, but we didn't have that. I guess he was just being nice as we they weren't busy and we were just overnighting. The normal rates are $28 - $34 plus tax with lower range in summer and higher range in winter. Weekly rates range from $185 - $200 plus tax, and the monthly rates range from $300 - $405 PLUS metered electric. The overnight gravel sites where we were are slightly less.
Other Factors: The website is pretty good. Looks like the facilities are nice for snowbirds, but we didn't really check anything out. Satellite was no problem at all.
OVERALL RATING: 6 (out of ten)
This RV park is not one we would have ever planned to stay. I'm giving it a 6 based on the gravel parking lot where we parked. The "resort" part may deserve higher due to conrete pads, 50-amp service, and amenities, but it didn't look appealing enough to us to make a return trip. P.S. There is a great little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant called Angelina's Italian Kitchen in the old part of town - definitely worth a visit. :)

Prospectors RV Resort


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Journal Site 129: Holiday Palms RV Park, Quartzsite, AZ - Overall Rating: 6

Dates: September 26, 2009 - September 30, 2009
Location: Southwest Arizona in Quartzsite right off I-10.
Our Site: 13, one of the overnight pull-through sites
GPS Coordinates: 33.66538N, 114.2235W
Reason Selected: Hadn't planned on staying in Quartzsite at all on this trip. However, we had a brake problem on our fifth wheel and had to limp in to somewhere. This seemed to be the best option of the RV parks at the time. It was 104 degrees, so the traditional Quartzsite boondocking wasn't going to happen. :)
Setting: Big, flat RV park that sits between I-10 to the south and Business 10 through Quartzsite to the north. Not our cup of tea at all, but at least they threw in some palm trees. :)
Guidebooks: No factor.
Big Rig Friendly: Plenty of room for the overnight pull-through sites. It looked a little tighter in the back section where there are permanent rigs.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp.
Laundry: There is a laundry, but we didn't check it out.
Price & Discounts: Nightly rate is $25 plus tax. They do have a 10% Good Sam Discount on the nightly rate. The weekly rate is $150 plus tax. The monthly rate is $270 PLUS metered electric March - October and $350 PLUS metered electric November - February.
Other Factors: The website tells you pretty much everything you need to know on one page. Satellite was no problem at all. We were here in the off-season, so we saw very few people and the office wasn't open very much.
OVERALL RATING: 6 (out of ten)
This RV park is another one where we would have never planned to stay. It certainly served its purpose while we waited for rig repairs in the 100-degree heat. But we wouldn't stay there again unless it was another emergency and just as hot. For what it is worth, it did seem better than all the other RV parks in town. :)

Holiday Palms RV Park


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Journal Site 130: SKP Saguaro Co-Op Park - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: September 30, 2009 - October 1, 2009
Location: A few miles off of I-10 in Benson in southeastern Arizona. About an hour east of Tucson.
Our Site: 250
GPS Coordinates: 31.94358N, 110.2912W
Reason Selected: Good stopping point on our way from northern California to our 2009 Rally in Kerrville, TX. This was our second stop at this park. We were in Site 270 before and stayed through the winter holidays. See the
SKP Saguaro Review below for the rest of the review.

SKP Saguaro Co-Op


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Journal Site 131: Sunny Acres RV Park - Overall Rating: 7

Dates: October 1, 2009 - October 2, 2009
Location: Located just off I-10 in Las Cruces in the south central part of New Mexico.
Our Site: 43
GPS Coordinates: 32.31111, 106.7988
Reason Selected: A good stopping point on our way from northern California to Kerrville, TX for the 2009 Rally. Due to some RV issues, we had to hustle across the southwest and choose convenient places rather than the public campgrounds we'd normally pick. We chose this one based mostly on Passport America and a few of the RVParkReview.com reviews.
Setting: An "in town" RV park, but except for the traffic noise and occasional siren, you wouldn't know it. It's a small park with reasonably large sites, grass, and trees. It was a pleasant surprise. :)
Guidebooks: None used, but selected mostly because of Passport America.
Big Rig Friendly: The entrance is a little hard to spot and the entrance road is somewhat narrow. But once in the park, there is lots of room to maneuver.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric.
Laundry: Nice little laundry facility.
Price & Discounts: $35 a night including tax. Escapees, Family Motorcoach Association, and AAA discounts. Also, Passport America 50% discount for two nights (we paid the $17.50), but not available December through April and not allowed on 15 pull-through sites. $210 weekly including tax. $425 per month or $450 per month for a site with a carport.
Other Factors: Satellite depends on site you are given, but we got it just fine in our site. The owners, Paul & Lynn, are very nice folks. Website is limited, but fair. Popular for seasonals in winter.
OVERALL RATING: 7 (out of ten)
This RV park was better than expected. It was probably a 6 or 6.5 but I bumped it up because of the Passport America discount, because the sites were larger and better spaced than we thought they would be, and because the owners were sweet. :) Again, we wouldn't normally choose this kind of "campground", but we would stay again if hustling through the Las Cruces area.


Sunny Acres RV Park


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Journal Site 132: Saddleback Mountain RV Park - Overall Rating: 6

Dates: October 2, - October 3, 2009
Location: Exit 212 off I-10 between El Paso and San Antonio. Just east of Balmorhea.
GPS Coordinates: 30.99231N, 103.6646W
Our Site Number: B6
Reason Selected: Passport America park right on the interstate as we scrambled to get to our 2009 Rally in Kerrville, TX. Also, saw a couple of other decent reviews online.
Setting: Twenty pull-through sites in two rows. For an overnight, interstate RV park, the native landscaping between the sites was a nice surprise. It's all gravel with long, identical pull-throughs in a west Texas desert setting. The only problem is that it is so close to the interstate and it's not very well "protected".
Guidebooks: None used
Big Rig Friendly: Any size rig can get in and out easily. The sites are long enough to stay hitched up and there is still room for another vehicle.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric. No showers, bathrooms, or dump station.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: $20 a night. Passport America 50% discount available for one night.
Other Factors: Rooftop satellite is no problem. It doesn't get any easier at check-in. You walk into the convenience store/gas station/office, pay the cashier, and choose a site. There is a short nature trail at the campground which, in addition to the landscaping, was also a little surprise. Now, the cast of characters we saw at the gas station and convenience store made us a little uneasy, but we had no problems.
OVERALL RATING: 6 (out of ten)
I almost gave this place a 7, but couldn't do it because of the proximity to the interstate. Had the RV park been located somewhere else, I probably would have bumped it up. It's certainly a great deal for $10 at the Passport America rate. We were in fast travel mode due to some prior RV problems. Otherwise, we probably wouldn't have stayed here in the first place. However, if we have to hustle across southwest Texas again for some reason, we'd stay here again.

Saddleback Mountain RV Park

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Journal Site 133: Super 8 Motel & RV Park (formerly Circle Bar RV Park) - Overall Rating: 5

Dates: October 3 - October 4, 2009
Location: Exit 372 off I-10 between El Paso and San Antonio. Just east of Ozona.
GPS Coordinates: 30.69652N, 101.0903W
Our Site Number: A14
Reason Selected: Decent stopping point between Balmorhea and Kerrville, TX, our ultimate destination.
Setting: Several pull-through sites in an old RV park right off the interstate. No character at all.
Guidebooks: None used
Big Rig Friendly: Any size rig can get in and out, but the pull-through sites are too short for today's longer rigs. Also, with large curbs between each site, the sites are pretty tight for big rigs. Have to park tow vehicles and toads in other sites. Fortunately, there are plenty of open sites and everyone does it. It works, but it's not the best.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric.
Laundry: There are laundry facilities, but we didn't check them out.
Price & Discounts: $20 a night or $18 if you pay cash.
Other Factors: Rooftop satellite is no problem. Gas/Diesel at the exit. No website.
OVERALL RATING: 5 (out of ten)
Stop here if you are desperate to get off of I-10 near Ozona. Otherwise, I'd plan on staying elsewhere. :)

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Journal Site 134: Buckhorn Lake Resort - Overall Rating: 8.5

Dates: October 4 - October 13, 2009
Location: Exit 501 off I-10 just west of Kerrville, TX.
GPS Coordinates: 30.11975N, 99.20026W
Our Site Number: 6062
Reason Selected: We selected Buckhorn Lake Resort for our 2009 RV-Dreams Rally. It is centrally located in the U.S. and has wonderful facilities for a rally. Their reputation for hosting rallies is well known. We had visited in early 2008 and looked things over, but we didn't stay.
Setting: A lovely, manicured RV park with. It sits out by itself, practically with its own interstate exit. :) It's still a little close to the interstate, and it is still an RV park with sites that are bit too close together for our tastes, but as RV parks go, this one is hard to beat.
Guidebooks: None used
Big Rig Friendly: This resort was built with big rigs in mind. All the pull-throughs are large enough for a 40-ft motorhome towing a 20-ft trailer. We had our 39-ft fifth wheel, our truck, and our Jeep in the site. Very big rig friendly.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric.
Laundry: There are wonderful laundry facilities.
Price & Discounts: Rates range from $39 - $49 per night. Discounts (10%) are available on the nightly rate for members of Good Sams, Family Motorcoach Association, AAA, and AARP. Weekly rates range from $210 - $260 PLUS metered electric. Monthly rates range from $500 - $590 PLUS metered electric. Also, you can negotiate lower nightly rates on groups of 15 rigs or more. Our group paid $30 per night.
Other Factors: Rooftop satellite is no problem. The staff was terrific and they made putting on a rally very easy. The website is very good. There is a pond/creek running through the property which certainly adds to the attempt at a more natural setting. You can fish without a license. There are two pools and whirlpools. There is a very nice fitness room. There is an "adult only" section. They have free Wi-Fi. There are several other amenities and many services you can get for an additional fee.
OVERALL RATING: 8.5 (out of ten)
Most people know we are not big fans of private RV parks and prefer more spacious, more private sites in a more natural setting. And it would be very rare for us to pay $39 - $49 per night. However, as far as RV parks go, this one deserves the name "Resort". Now, with that said and considering the success of our Rally, we still can't give it more than an 8.5 based on the criteria that is most important to us in choosing and reviewing a campground.

Buckhorn Lake Resort

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Journal Site 135: South Shore Park, Lake Bastrop - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: October 13 - October 18, 2009
Location: About 40 miles southwest of Austin, TX and about 5 miles northeast of the town of Bastrop off TX Hwy 21.
GPS Coordinates: 30.13921N, 97.28338W
Our Site Number: 32
Reason Selected: We were seeking a spot with a natural setting somewhere about 150 miles or less east of Kerrville after our 2009 Rally. We selected the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) South Shore Park partly based on reviews from RVParkReviews.com.
Setting: The campground sits in a loop in the Texas woods along Bastrop Lake. Except for a few side-by-side "buddy" sites, the sites are separated by space and trees. The interior roads are paved as are the long sites. The setting certainly fits our criteria.
Guidebooks: None used, but we did find the campground via RVParkReviews.com.
Big Rig Friendly: I'm a little conflicted on this. There is certainly enough room to get into the park, into the campground, and into the dump station. And most of the sites are certainly long enough for big rigs. However, there are some low hanging branches and the small loop, the Big Cedar Camping Loop, is way too tight for large rigs. So, I'm not sure I would call it "big rig friendly", but, with care, it is big rig "doable". :)
Hook-ups: There are a few sites on the inner side of the main camping loop that have full hook-ups. Most have electric and water only. Now, I thought that all the sites had 50-amp electric, but the website says there are 30-amp sites. So, if that makes a difference to you, check it out. :) There is a good dump station. Bathrooms were old and a little scary - we expected better.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: Rates are $15 a night or $20 a night for the "premium" sites (waterfront or full-hook-ups). By the way, I don't believe any of the waterfront sites have full hook-ups. BUT, they also charge a $4 per person entrance fee on top of the camping fee for every night. And since they are NOT a state park, they don't take the annual State Parks Pass for the entrance fees.
Other Factors: Rooftop satellite was an issue due to trees around the sites. There are a few sites where we could get it including Site 32 where we parked. The website is limited. The one confusing issue is whether the sites are first-come, first served or reservable. They are all reservable, but you can walk-in and take a site that hasn't been reserved. However, if you plan to stay awhile the site can be reserved out from under you if you don't pay for all the days you want up front. Almost happened to us. :)
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
Now this was our kind of campground. Even though it was pretty wet and the mosquitoes were bad when we were there, it deserves a 7.5. With the lake access and the hiking trails, it might have gotten an 8 if not for the poor bathrooms and that annoying per person per day entrance fee on top of the camping fee. :)

LCRA South Shore Park on Bastrop Lake

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Journal Site 136: Cagle Recreation Area Campground, Sam Houston National Forest - Overall Rating: 8.5

Dates: October 18 - October 27, 2009
Location: About 60 miles north of Houston. Five miles west of I-45 on County Road 1375 at the north end of Lake Conroe.
GPS Coordinates: 30.52470N, 95.58900W
Our Site Number: 16 - Sweetgum Loop
Reason Selected: We were moving east and wanted another natural setting, public campground 100 - 150 miles from the last one in Bastrop, TX. We had previously visited this campground while in the area. Also, the reviews on RVParkReviews.com were strong. And it didn't hurt that this is one of the few National Forest campgrounds that has full hook-ups. :)
Setting: The campground has two loops, the Sweetgum where we were, and the Sycamore which is closer to Lake Conroe and has a few lakeview sites. Both loops are heavily wooded. The sites are large and well spread out even though there isn't any vegetation between sites to create privacy. All the roads and sites are paved.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: The county road (1375) gets a little narrow as you approach the recreation area, but once in the park, there is plenty of room for big rigs.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric. Bathhouses were okay, but not great.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: Rates are $20 a night. Half price with the federal America The Beautiful Senior Pass.
Other Factors: Rooftop satellite was an issue due to tall trees throughout the campground. There were a couple where we think we could have gotten satellite (Site 15 perhaps). We were able to get internet by using our cell phone as a modem and we got TV with a manual dish and some cable (there are some openings in the trees). There are two short trails and a boat ramp within the park. As I said before, bathhouses were okay, but not great. The
OVERALL RATING: 8.5 (out of ten)
We loved this campground, particularly, the natural setting and the huge amount of space between sites. It has a great feel and we were certainly pleased with the full hook-ups. The one downside is the limited number of first come, first served sites. As most people know, we don't make reservations and we certainly aren't a fan of the federal reservation system, so we are always a little disappointed when federal campgrounds have more than 50% of their sites as reservable sites (about 70% in this case). And at this campground, they didn't "sell" the reservable sites when there was no reservation. So, if you walk in, you basically have to take your chances on getting one of the 14 non-reservable sites. Still, this is a great campground using our criteria!

Cagle Recreation Area, Sam Houston National Forest

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Journal Site 137: Sandy Creek Park COE Campground, Steinhagen Lake - Overall Rating: 9.5

Dates: October 27 - November ??, 2009
Location: About 70 miles north of Beaumont, TX. A few miles south of U.S. Hwy 190 on the east side of Steinhagen Lake. NOTE: If approaching from the west heading east on U.S. 190, DO NOT turn right on County Road 156 to get to County Road 155. Stay on U.S. 190 to State Hwy 777 south. Turn right on County Road 155 to get to the park
GPS Coordinates: 30.82746N, 94.1563W
Our Site Number: 12
Reason Selected: We were moving east from north of Houston and were looking for an east Texas Corps of Engineers Campground near the Texas/Louisiana border.
Setting: The campground sits right on the east shore of Steinhagen Lake out in the middle of nowhere. It is absolutely a perfect setting for RV sites if you like remote, quiet campgrounds as much as we do. Roads and campsites are paved. The main road meanders along the shoreline with deep woods on the other side. All campsites have lake views.
Guidebooks: None used, but originally found this campground on RVParkReviews.com.
Big Rig Friendly: It's not the easiest place to find or the easiest place to get to with a big rig. But once you make it to the park, there are wide, paved roads and some of the longest paved campsites you will ever see.
Hook-ups: Electic and water hook-ups only. There are a few scattered sites with 50 amps, but the majority have 30 amps. There is a dump station in the campground.
Laundry: None.
Price & Discounts: Rates are $16 a night for 30-amp sites and $18 a night for 50-amp sites. Half price with the federal America The Beautiful Senior Pass - what a deal!!.
Other Factors: Rooftop satellite is totally dependent on the site you have. There is very, very little information on this park on the web. There are three boat ramps within the park and every site has a lake view. Lots of deer and the birding is great. Each site has a sheltered picnic table and a fire ring. Bathhouses are clean, but rather industrial looking - not very inviting. Cell phone coverage is good on Verizon without needing an amplifier.
OVERALL RATING: 9.5 (out of ten)
This campground has quickly vaulted into our top ten! We absolutely love it! If it had 50-amp service at every site and sewer hook-ups, it would be a no-brainer 10. :)

Sandy Creek Park COE Campground, Steinhagen Lake

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Journal Site 138: Sam Houston Jones State Park Campground - Overall Rating: 7.0

Dates: November 3, 2009 - November 10, 2009
Location: A few miles north of I-10 just outside of Lake Charles in southwestern Louisiana. The best exit to take off of I-10 is Exit 33 onto U.S. 171 northbound to LA Hwy 378.
GPS Coordinates: 30.29257N, 93.25719W
Our Site Number: 33
Reason Selected: We selected this state park for the natural setting on our way from the west to the southeast.
Setting: Camp Area 1 is in the middle of the park among cypress ponds. It is wooded with gravel roads and sites. That area also includes several tent sites that are tightly squeezed in next to the RV sites.
Camp Area 2 is also wooded, but has paved roads and sites. Though it is separated from outside roads by woods and a river, there is still quite a bit of road noise as this loop is more on the edge of the park.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Big rig friendly getting into the park, but the sites themselves are pretty tight. It's a bit surprising how close together the sites are for a state park. There are a few pull-through sites, but most are back-ins. Most of the back-in sites in Camp Area 2 can accommodate large rigs, but many of the sites in the inner part of the circle have trees that can obstruct slides and awnings. Reserving sites online without seeing them first could be risky for bigger rigs.
Hook-ups: There are a few full hook-up sites in Camp Area 2 in the inner part of the campground. Most sites are water and electric sites with Camp Area 2 having 50 amps and Camp Area 1 having 30 amps. Both areas have old dump stations right in the campground. Caution: The website implies that all "premium" sites have full hook-ups, but that may not be the case. There are some sites that don't have full hook-ups that are considered "premium".
Laundry: No laundry.
Price & Discounts: Most sites are $16. "Premium" sites are $18. As of this visit there is a $3 one-time fee for walk-ins, and a $5 or $9 one-time fee for reservations (price depends on how the reservation is made). America The Beautiful Senior & Access 50% discounts apply - the only state park system we have visited so far that takes those federal discount cards.
Other Factors: Park personnel were very friendly. Website is decent, but not very good at describing campgrounds. Louisiana State Parks use Reserve America for reservations which, as I have said often, I hate. Rooftop satellite is tough, but we did manage to get it in Site 33. There are a few tripod opportunities. Trails, boardwalks, and a boat launch are also in the park. The park is loaded with deer and raccoons and some other wildlife. The West Fork of the Calcasieu River provides the southern boundary of the park. Bathhouses are fairly new and quite adequate. However, the push-button showers only stay on about 20 seconds at a time.
OVERALL RATING: 7.0 (out of ten)
Based on everything I've read, this is a highly regarded park. My opinion is that the park, and certainly the campgrounds, are just a bit overrated. We were fortunate to get Site 33 in Camp Area 2 as it has more awning-side privacy than most other sites. But the sites are really close together. And there is too much road noise in Camp Area 2. But it does have the natural setting we like, there is plenty of wildlife, and it is a great place for walking and bike riding. I wish the campgrounds were a little better so I could give it a little higher rating. :)

Sam Houston Jones State Park

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Journal Site 139: Betty's RV Park - Overall Rating: 5.0 with an asterisk (Be sure to read the entire review)

Dates: November 10, 2009 - November 16, 2009
Location: About a mile south of downtown Abbeville which is about 20 miles south of I-10 in southwestern Louisiana.
GPS Coordinates: 29.95301N, 92.14296W
Our Site Number: 11 to start (photo above) and then we dry camped for a few days.
Reason Selected: We chose this park for a completely different reason than we usually use. This time, instead of looking for a natural setting in a public campground, we chose Betty's strictly because of the "Betty's experience" as set out on RVParkReviews.com and in blogs of some of our readers. Oh, and it happened to be on our way as we traveled across southern Louisiana.
Setting: Seventeen sites crammed in around a personal residence on a fairly busy small town highway. The parking area is all gravel. Several sites back up to fences with a few other sites squeezed in around the perimeter of the house.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Well, sort of. There are a couple of entrances, and there are sites large enough for big rigs. However, much depends on how many rigs are already in the park and what sites are available. Betty, yes there really is a Betty, has to do massive planning depending on arrival and departure dates to be able to get rigs in and out safely. If Betty says you can get in, you can get in, but it might take some decent parking skills. She prefers to supervise all parking, so it's best if you don't just drop in.
Hook-ups: Most of the sites have full hook-ups, but there are a few dry camping spots as well. Some sites have 30 amps and some have 50 amps.
Laundry: No laundry.
Price & Discounts: $16 for 30-amp sites and $18 per night for 50-amp sites. Tax not included. There are discounts for Escapees RV Club members. Dry camping is around $10 - $12.
Other Factors: It is the "Other Factors" that make this RV park a worthwhile stop. There is a Happy Hour every day where most of those in the park get together on Betty's porch/patio and share snacks, drinks, and stories. Also, Betty goes out of her way to recommend numerous ways to experience Cajun and French Louisiana culture. Sometimes she has entertainment at the park. Sometimes she organizes group dinners and outings. If you want to experience the music and food of the area, and don't know where to start, Betty makes it easy. :) We didn't have any problem with rooftop satellite. Decent website for such a small, reasonably priced park.
OVERALL RATING: 5.0 with an asterisk. (out of ten)
I have to first address the campground. It literally is a bunch of RV sites squeezed in around a house. And the road noise is pretty bad. It is completely opposite of what we would normally look for. But it is certainly worth at least a 5 for the full hook-ups and very reasonable prices.

Now, with that said, the asterisk is because we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Though the campground is not our cup of tea, the entire experience deserves to be considered. We have absolutely no problem sending folks to Betty's RV Park, but only if they recognize it's about the social aspect and not the parking situation. :) Oh, I'd also make sure that Betty is going to be around and there are a good number of folks in the RV park. Without Betty's hospitality and the contributions of others in the park, the social aspect would suffer.

Betty's RV Park

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Journal Site 140: Fontainebleau State Park Campground - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: November 16, 2009 - November 19, 2009
Location: About four miles east of Mandeville on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain in southeastern Louisiana. Just a few miles south of I-12 on U.S. Hwy 190.
GPS Coordinates: 30.33941N, 90.04121W
Our Site Number: 138
Reason Selected: Well, we sort of fell into this one. Our truck had a blowout as we were passing through on I-12. After getting a new tire, we decided to change out all of tires. This state park was close and I had taken a look at it previously, so we decided to stay a couple of days while getting the truck tires replaces.
Setting: There are two camping loops. They refer to one loop as the "old campground" (Sites 99 - 143) and the other as the "new campground". The old campground is more open and has more pull-through sites. The new campground is more wooded and has a new bathhouse with a laundry. The sites in both loops don't have a whole lot of privacy and there are varying degrees of closeness. Some beautiful live oaks with Spanish Moss throughout the park. Both loops are deep into the park and, therefore, are pretty quiet.
Guidebooks: None used.
Big Rig Friendly: Although there are quite a few big rig sites, there are some low-hanging branches driving from the entrance to the campground and there are some tight spots driving through the campgrounds. But with care, those items shouldn't scare any big rigs off.
Hook-ups: There are five full hook-up sites and the rest of the RV sites have water and electric only (a mixture of 30-amp and 50-amp sites).
Laundry: Laundry in newer campground bathhouse. Nice, but only two washers and two dryers.
Price & Discounts: Premium sites (pull-throughs and full hook-up sites are $18. Water & electric sites are $16. As of this visit there is a $3 one-time fee for walk-ins, and a $5 or $9 one-time fee for reservations (price depends on how the reservation is made). America The Beautiful Senior & Access 50% discounts apply - the only state park system we have visited so far that takes those federal discount cards.
Other Factors: Park personnel were very friendly. Website is decent, but not very good at describing campgrounds. Louisiana State Parks use Reserve America for reservations which, as I have said often, I hate. Rooftop satellite is better in the old campground than in the new. Trails, a boardwalk through a wetland area, and a swimming beach on Lake Pontchartrain are some of the nice features. Beautiful sunsets. Quite a bit of wildlife as well.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
I had originally decided not to camp at this state park because I was concerned about it being too close to New Orleans. But we sure are glad that we had our tire blowout and made the stop. We really enjoyed our three-night stay. The campground itself isn't our favorite, otherwise we would have given it an 8. But there is a lot here for nature lovers and photographers. We'll definitely be back. :)

Fontainebleau State Park

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Journal Site 141: Davis Bayou Campground, Gulf Islands National Seashore - Overall Rating: 7

Dates: November 19, 2009 - November 22, 2009
Location: A few miles south of I-10 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the east side of Ocean Springs. A two mile drive south from the entrance at U.S. 90.
GPS Coordinates: 30.39674N, 88.79594W
Our Site Number: 29
Reason Selected: Got a couple of recommendations from readers. We were looking for a spot in southern Mississippi as we traveled toward Florida for the winter. This seemed to be one of only a couple public campgrounds near our route.
Setting: Small 51-site campground loop with trees around the outer edges. Through the trees, some sites backed up to an estuary. Campground roads and sites are all paved. Sites are a bit close together for a public campground and not much privacy.
Guidebooks: None used
Big Rig Friendly: Entry into campground is fine and there are a few sites with long pads. However, it's a tough squeeze to get both a big rig and another vehicle into the sites. There are a few overflow parking spaces. There is sort of a side loop that is more "campground like", but there are some low-hanging branches getting in and it would be quite tight for a big rig to make the turn at the end of that side loop.
Hook-ups: Water and electric only with 50/30 amp electric. There is a dump station, but it is not conveniently located for several of the sites. It sits in the middle of the campground on the one-way loop, so approximately a third of the sites have to head toward the campground exit, loop back in to the dump station, and then continue the loop back out.
Laundry: No laundry.
Price & Discounts: $16 a night plus tax. America The Beautiful Senior Pass is accepted making it $8 for pass holders. Sites are first-come, first-served.
Other Factors: Bathhouse was old. Several sites are fine for rooftop satellite (the sites on the inside of the main loop are more open). Website isn't very helpful at all. Convenient to a Super Walmart and the towns of Ocean Springs and Biloxi. Quiet, but it is within hearing distance of a railroad track. However, trains were not constant during our stay. There is a visitors center and a couple of trails, but there isn't much to do at the park.
OVERALL RATING: 7 (out of ten)
In our opinion, this was a so-so public campground. The sites were just too close together and it wasn't particularly inviting to sit outside. But of the area options it is probably the best natural setting and the price is right. We bumped it up a half point for the rate.



Davis Bayou Campground, Gulf Islands National Seashore

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Journal Site 142: Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park - Overall Rating: 8

Dates: November 23, 2009 - November 30, 2009
Location: Summerdale, Alabama. About 14 miles south of I-10 and then 4.5 miles west of U.S. Highway 59 on County Road 28
GPS Coordinates: 30.45915N, 87.78138W
Our Site Number: 86
Reason Selected: We like being at Escapees parks during the holidays and this one was on our route as we traveled toward Florida for the winter. We had heard a lot of great things about this park and had some friends staying there at the time.
Setting: Rows of very large, grass sites with Live Oak trees providing some shade. Very rural setting that sort of looks like an old farm. Paved roads through the RV park. The south side sits close to County Road 28 while there is a good buffer on all other sides.
Guidebooks: None Used
Big Rig Friendly: Could handle any size rig - no problem.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50 amp electric
Laundry: Very nice laundry facility. Four washers and six dryers.
Price & Discounts: $14.50 plus metered electric. Weekly rate of $85 plus metered electric. $5 per night for dry camping. These are all Escapees RV Club member rates.
Other Factors: Very large sites. Good place to be for Thanksgiving. A few activities, and a social hour every day. Sounds like there are more activities during the winter months. Website is not particularly helpful. Ten miles in opposite directions to two Super Walmarts (Foley & Fairhope). About 8 miles to a large Camping World (Roberstdale). Very rural location.
OVERALL RATING: 8 (out of ten)
Rainbow Plantation is a nice RV park with huge, full hook-up sites. Like most Escapees parks, the social aspect and warmth, as well as the price for Escapees members, are the draw. It's still not our favorite kind of park, but we have to give credit for the site sizes, the full hook-ups, the laundry, and price. :)

Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park

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Journal Site 143: Grayton Beach State Park - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: November 30, 2009 - December 7, 2009
Location: About 25 miles east of Destin on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast; A couple of miles south of U.S. 98
GPS Coordinates: 30.32985N, 86.15493W
Our Site Number: 56
Reason Selected: Wanted to check out some of the Gulf Coast state parks in the Florida panhandle while on our way to Northcentral Florida for the winter. We selected Grayton Beach because it's between the popular beach towns of Deston and Panama City. We liked the fact that it was a little more rural and had a new, full hook-up loop that could handle larger rigs.
Setting: This campground has two loops. The first is a newer paved loop with open, gravel sites that are large, but a little close together. The older loop has a sand and crushed shell with sand and crushed shell sites. The older sites have thick vegetation in between them providing some privacy, but those sites are a bit narrower and harder to get into for larger rigs. Both loops are carved out of natural Florida terrain and are about a mile from the beach.
Guidebooks: None Used
Big Rig Friendly: The newer loop is nice for big rigs. The older loop is pretty tight, but big rigs can get in some of the sites - not easily.
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups 50-amp electric in the newer loop; Water and 30-amp electric in the older loop.
Laundry: One washer and dryer at the new loop bathhouse
Price & Discounts: $30.00 plus tax per night for full hook-up sites; $24.00 plus tax for the other sites
Other Factors: Lovely beach with beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Rooftop satellite was fine in the newer loop, but could be quite a challenge in the older loop. Website for the park is decent, but lacking with respect to the campground. Very nice, new bathhouse in the new loop. A couple of trails and a boat ramp for canoes/kayaks on the lake.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
It was nice having the large, full hook-up sites in this state park. The sites in the new loop didn't have the privacy or character of the ones in the older loop, otherwise this would have probably been an 8. Also, at $30 a night, it's quite a bit more expensive than where we usually stay, but for camping so near the beach in that part of Florida, it's actually a pretty good deal. We wouldn't hesitate to stay at Grayton Beach anytime we are traveling accross the Florida panhandle.

Grayton Beach State Park


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Journal Site 144: St. Andrews State Park - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: December 7, 2009 - December 10, 2009
Location: Panama City Beach on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast; A few miles south of U.S. 98
GPS Coordinates: 30.1405N, 85.7435W
Our Site Number: 136
Reason Selected: Another opportunity to check out one of the Gulf Coast state parks in the Florida panhandle while on our way to Northcentral Florida for the winter.
Setting: This campground has two sections - the Pine Grove and Lagoon loops. The Pine Grove loop has more trees (pines of course). The woods are not as thick in the Lagoon loop. Both loops have site right on the Grand Lagoon. The campground roads are paved, but the sites are sand and crushed shells.
Guidebooks: None Used
Big Rig Friendly: Both loops have big rig sites.
Hook-ups: Water and 30-amp electric. Two dump stations.
Laundry: Two washers and dryers at each of the bathhouses. No promises that they are all working. :)
Price & Discounts: $28.00 plus tax per night
Other Factors: Lots of wildlife, a nice beach, a couple of trails, kayak, jet ski, and pontoon boat rentals. Rooftop satellite was a challenge in the Piney Grove loop - there are more options in the Lagoon loop. Website for the park is decent, but lacking with respect to the campground.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
The campground was okay - better because almost no one was there in December. :) I would imagine it would be quite crowded in busy season. But we liked the park with the wildlife, the bike riding, and other things to do. The park added a half point to our rating. We might go back someday - again, a nice park for being so close to population. But, we prefer campgrounds that are a bit more rural.

St. Andrews State Park


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Journal Site 145: St. George Island State Park - Overall Rating: 7.5

Dates: December 10, 2009 - December 17, 2009
Location: St. George Island on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast near the towns of Apalachicola and Eastpoint; Five miles south of U.S. 98 across a bridge over the Apalachicola Bay in what is called "The Forgotten Coast".
GPS Coordinates: 29.71976N, 84.74796W
Our Site Number: 42
Reason Selected: Another opportunity to check out one of the Gulf Coast state parks in the Florida panhandle while on our way to Northcentral Florida for the winter. The big draw to this one is that it is away from the big tourist destinations.
Setting: This campground as at the end of the park road at the east end of the island in a wooded area between the Gulf of Mexico to the south and the Apalachicola Bay to the north. The pines provide a nice shelter from wind and weather. It's a natural Florida setting with the campground roads being paved and the campsites having a combination of grass, packed sand, dirt, and crushed shells.
Guidebooks: None Used
Big Rig Friendly: Yes. The island road leading into the park is rathr narrow, but it's a good road. The campground is a loop with one side being smaller sites and the other side having sites with room for all size big rigs.
Hook-ups: Water and 50-amp electric. There are two older, but decent bathhouses with showers. And there is a convenient dump station.
Laundry: No laundry.
Price & Discounts: $24.00 plus tax per night
Other Factors: Nine miles of beautiful, undeveloped beach with some of the biggest dunes in Florida. Four miles of the beach are accessible by foot only. There are two boat launches on the bay side of the island and a couple of short trails. There are a couple of ponds with waterfowl and alligators. The campground is wooded, but there is good opportunity on the side with larger sites to get satellite. Website for the park is decent, but lacking with respect to the campground.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 (out of ten)
We liked the large sites of the campground and the remote, untouched beauty of the park and beach. There isn't a whole lot of diversity in the landscape, but there is certainly peace and quiet. Had the sites had a little more privacy and been a bit farther apart, we could have easily given this campground an 8.

St. George Island State Park


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Journal Site 146: Ichetucknee Springs Campground - Overall Rating: 4

Dates: December 17, 2009 - December 21, 2009
Location: Just north of Fort White, Florida - about a mile from the north entrance to Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Between Lake City and Gainesville on the west side of I-75 in Northcentral Florida.
GPS Coordinates: 29.98017N 82.75000W
Our Site Number: 16
Reason Selected: We were looking for an inexpensive camping option in north Florida on our way to a winter destination. We also hoped to find one near some natural attractions like state parks and the beautiful Florida springs. This campground showed up on FreeCampgrounds.com as a place where you could park for $10 - $15 a night.
Setting: After exiting the road that goes to the north entrance of Ichetucknee State Park, you make a turn onto a dirt road and then again down a bumpy dirt driveway that sort of looks like you are pulling up to someone's house. On the right as you go in is a large field with one campsite (where we parked) and a place where folks can boondock. The other sites are small sites tucked into the woods. Another stop out in the middle of nowhere. :)
Guidebooks: None Used
Big Rig Friendly: Not really unless you can get the one site in the field or plan to boondock. You can get around the loop that goes around the house/tavern (seasonal) to the dump station, but it does require caution.
Hook-ups: Water and 30-amp electric, although the electric was substandard (low voltage). There are bathrooms and showers, but we didn't check them out. There is a dump station, but it's a bit of a challenge.
Laundry: No laundry.
Price & Discounts: $15.00 plus tax per night for water and electric; $10 plus tax for dry camping.
Other Factors: This campground primarily caters to tubing and paddling enthusiasts that love to go down the Ichetucknee River. The state park doesn't have a campground, so this is the closest option. For a campground that is hard to find on the internet, there is a decent website, but there is also probably a good reason they don't have many pictures of the campsites. :) The road is terrible. Rooftop satellite would be an issue anywhere except in the one open field. Perhaps this place would be better in peak season during the summer, but it's not really an RV park at all.
OVERALL RATING: 4 (out of ten)
Well, we accomplished the goal of a cheap campsite near some attractions. :) But after experiencing the Ichetucknee River, there isn't any reason we'd return to this campground.

Ichetucknee Springs Campground


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Journal Site 147: Welaka Lodge & Resort - Overall Rating: 7.0

Dates: December 21, 2009 - March 21, 2010
Location: Hard to describe. On the east side of the St. John's River in the small town of Welaka in northeastern Florida. About 20 miles south of Palatka and about 45 minutes southwest of St. Augustine.
GPS Coordinates: 29.47508N, 81.67441W
Our Site Number: 10
Reason Selected: We found this campground when we received an email saying they were looking for workampers in the summer of 2009. After checking out the website, we determined it was a nice, small, inexpensive, rural Florida park where I might be able to get some writing done over the winter.
Setting: The dozen RV sites sit close together under large Live Oak trees with Spanish Moss and a few palms. It's a narrow property with the RV sites near the entrance road. Beyond the RV sites is a lovely pool area and updated cottages and then a hill leading down to a great boat dock/tiki bar where we sat almost every evening watching the sunset over the St. John's River. The interior road is a mix of gravel, hard-packed dirt, and sand. The sites are also a gravel-dirt-sand mix.
Guidebooks: None Used
Big Rig Friendly: Not really. We went in the wrong way, to the left. It's easier to get in that way, but the sites are angled the opposite direction. We got stuck in sand trying to get turned around. If you come in the correct way, there is a very tight turn past the office. It's big rig accessible, but not without some tight maneuvering and a little stress. :) CAUTION: Some GPS units will try to bring you to Welaka Lodge on Palmetto Street - that street only has a 7-foot clearance under the Live Oaks. Also, if coming from the other side of the St. John's River, some GPS units will try to bring you in through the Ocala National Forest and across the river on a ferry. It's only a two-car ferry at the end of a seven-mile dirt road, so don't try that!
Hook-ups: Full hook-ups with 50-amp electric (our surge guard did shut us down a few times during our three months due to low voltage). No dump station. There are bathrooms and showers in the pool house if you need them.
Laundry: Nice laundry with two washers and two dryers.
Price & Discounts: $27.00 plus tax per night; $135 plus tax per week; $325 plus tax plus metered electric per month EXCEPT in January, February, & March when it is $360 plus tax plus metered electric (unless you stay for three months or longer in which case you get the $325 rate - sheesh).
Other Factors: We didn't like the RV parking part of this place at all. The sites are too close together and there are some units that look terrible. HOWEVER, the owners are nice and the part of the "resort" beyond the RV sites is wonderful. They have "first Friday of the month dock parties" and most of the year they have Sunday dock or pool parties. Note: The parties are open to the public. We loved spending time on the dock. The website is pretty good, but their photos could be better. About half the sites are satellite-friendly. Restaurants and the post office are within walking distance in this sleepy little town. If you are have a power boat and like to fish, it doesn't get much better. The river is just a little too wide at the resort to do much paddling. About four miles from the campground is a two-car ferry ($10 each way) that can carry you across the St. John's River to the Ocala National Forest. It doesn't save much time, but it does save several miles if going in that direction.
OVERALL RATING: 7.0 (out of ten)
This is a tough one to rate. We liked the remoteness, the town, the owners, and we loved being able to walk a 100 yards and spend time on the dock. There are lots of nature activities in the area and the price was fantastic. But the RV sites have no appeal to us at all. They are just too close together and some of the "permanents" are not well-kept. Now, with that said, we enjoyed the rest of it and we'd go back again. I wish we could give it a higher score. If you go, tell Kevin & Jessica that Howard & Linda sent you. :)

Welaka Lodge & Resort


The Dock - Our Favorite Part!




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