Updated: Oct 21, 2021
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All of our reservations were made through reserveamerica.com
We love state parks and prefer them over almost any RV Resort; and while we have had a few that surprised us in a not so good way, we have had quite a few surprise us in a great way. Most of our surprises are due to us booking a state park simply because it is along the route and available for a low price. We are not planning on the park being our destination, but upon arrival, realize we could have had it as a destination. Here are a few of our favorites to date.
# 1. Florida
There are so many state parks in Florida that are great and we have a list of parks we have yet to get in to; however, from the many we have stayed in, Henderson Beach State Park is at the top of our list. At the end of the day, finding a favorite spot is very subjective and aligns with what is important to you and your camping experience and this park checks all the boxes for our family.
#1 - Park is on the beach. You do not have a direct view of the beach, but a long stroll over the boardwalk lands you on one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.
#2 - Sites are private and large. We love privacy and space when camping. We have stayed at this park many times, in many sites and have yet to feel as if there is a "bad" site.
#3 - Facilities are clean. If my kids are willing to use the restrooms and showers, then you know it is a clean comfort station. They also have several washers and dryers for a reasonable price.
#4 - In the heart of Destin. You feel a world away at the campground, but just outside the park is every comfort and amenity you could ask for.
# 2. Georgia
This park was booked randomly as it just happened to be along our travel route. We knew nothing about it, but when we arrived, we realized we had landed somewhere special, We had originally planned this as a 2 night rest stop, but upon arriving to our lakefront site on beautiful Lake Lanier, we quickly cancelled our next planned stop and extended our stay at Don Carter.
The park has a boat ramp, a beach, kayaks, hiking trails, playgrounds and cabin rentals. The cabin rentals are quite impressive and something we may return to experience. Many of the sites are lakefront views. We did feel that we lucked out with the best loop and one of the best sites in the park. If we had been more prepared, I would have planned on a day of boating. Sites are concrete, private and large; laundry facilities were available and the comfort station was clean. There was even a park store that sold souvenirs, wood, sundries, snacks and soda.
# 3. New Mexico
This park was another surprise that we booked simply because it was on our route, but turned out to be a fast favorite. It is by far a favorite of my 4 children. They rate parks on bug levels and this park had almost none. Very few ants, no horse flies and no mosquitoes during our stay and my son was pretty sure he found Bigfoot tracks. I do not think my kids got on devices at all while we stayed here and mostly spent their time exploring the nearby woods and trails. For the parents, this park was truly a relaxing getaway.
This is the type of place you set out a hammock and read a book. However, there were a few challenges we had as a large family of 6. The sites are electric only and have no water. They do have water stations to fill drinking water. There are no comfort stations, and the bathrooms are outhouse style. We were not prepared for this properly and that presented a small challenge, but nothing we couldn't work through. The park backs up to the Cibola National Forest so if hiking is your interest, then there is an abundance of trails to explore of all levels, but keep an eye out for Bigfoot. My kids were very confident in their discovery of the Bigfoot Tracks.
# 4. South Carolina
Kings Mountain State Park was a park we had never heard of and upon arrival found out that a huge part of it had been flooded out so our private site in the back was moved right to the front in the busiest spot in the park. Lucky for us, our new site was right across from the playground which our children made good use of in the two days we were there and we were close enough to the office to use the public WIFI from our site. There are over 20 miles of hiking trails and a ridgeline that connects multiple parks and 2 states as well as 2 lakes
. We love hiking and this park was perfect for that. The park is very well maintained and landscaped.
# 5. Texas
Surprising is an understatement. I honestly do not know how we ended up at this park. It is so far off the beaten path that I cannot fathom how I thought this was on our route as we headed west. Maybe I was trying to keep us hopping from state park to state park; whatever the reason, I sure was glad that I had it at the time that I booked this.
Upon arrival we were told that we could not drink the water and we were handed 6 small bottles of water. We have a Berkey and a Clear Source water filtration but opted not to use them for fear of contaminating both. That evening we had a massive hail storm that dinged up our RV. In spite of all of this, we were blown away by this park. The scenery is breathtaking and full of beautiful hiking trials. The scenic drive is exactly that...scenic. However, the best part was that a herd of Bison lives here and just outside our campsite stood the herd surrounded by prairie dogs. Once again, our rest stop turned in to a destination experience.