5 Great Camping Spots in the South

This was a guest post by John Colville, an avid camper and outdoorsman. John has been camping all over the Southeast and has “hike the entire Appalachian Trail” on his bucket list. John also runs Buy Camping Chairs, which is dedicated to helping you research, find and buy top quality camping chairs for your next trip into the outdoors.

If you are planning a vacation with your family, want to spend some time out in nature, or just need to take a weekend off, there are dozens of camping locations in the south that can suit your needs.  From the dusky historic beauty of Texas, to the tropics of Florida, there are locations for fishing, hunting, swimming, discovering historical roots, hiking, and much more in the vast expanse of the south.  Here are 5 great camping spots in the south.

Balmorhea State Park, Texas

Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea State Park (photo by hectore on Flickr)

Located four miles southwest of Balmorhea off of State Highway 17, nestled between Balmorhea and Toyahvale, Balmorhea State Park is an oasis in the desert of West Texas.  The state park features one of the largest spring-fed swimming pools in the world.  It is a great place for a family camping excursion and provides a wonderful historical site for the experienced camper.

Activities include scuba diving and skin diving. Not far also is the historic Fort Davis. The camp covers a small 48 acres, but is still a fascinating Texas experience.  The camp is easily accessible and is nice location for weekend vacation if you are interested in southern history, Texas wildlife, and fishing.

Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park (photo by davidwatterson on Flickr)

One of the first state parks in Arkansas, Petit Jean has some of the most outstanding scenery in the whole state.  After the rainy season when the waterfalls are in full flow, fishing and swimming become some of the favorite activities at the state park.   It is about an hour away from Little Rock and can be reached by road.

Offering more than 120 individual camping spots, the campground also provides 37 spots with electrical and water hook-ups where you can pull your camper or trailer into.  The price for individual campsites per day is about 14 dollars, and 75 dollars for a group.  You can also rent hiking and camping gear, boats, tepees, and tents.  If you do not fancy the thought of spending the night in a tent, you also have the option to rent a cabin for a slightly higher price.

Some notable features of the campsite include great hiking with breathtaking views, fishing, swimming, and boating.  There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails including the Cedar Falls trails, which lead you over and even underneath a series of waterfalls.  If you want the best views, you should time your visit right after the rainy season, as the falls will truly flow in all their splendor.  The longest hiking trail is the Boy Scout Trail, which is eight miles long.

Crabtree Falls Campground, Virginia

Crabtree Falls

The actual falls, themselves (photo by turbojoe (away) on Flickr)

Crabtree Falls offers beautiful campsites on the flowing river Tye.  The camping site is a half mile from Crabtree Falls, which is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi river.  A short two-mile hike to the top of the falls reveals a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Whether you are looking for a lovely spot at the base of the mountains for your family camping spot, or if you want to find a place of peace and quiet, this might be the place for you.  Accommodations provided include cabins with electricity and running water and bathroom facilities if you plan to sleep in your tent.  If you are planning to visit this campground, you had better make reservations, as they are usually full in the camping season. Because of the relatively small grounds, they only accept an allotted number of campers at one time.

Other activities include hiking, swimming, and fishing.  The river is slow moving and provides a perfect place for a dip in the fresh mountain springs.  With beautiful coves for quiet fishing, it gives an atmosphere of rest and recuperation for the lone hiker.  In addition, the Appalachian Trail leads you to a swinging bridge at a frightening height.  You can also hike the Priest’s 4063 ft., which is the highest elevated rock in the area.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

High up in the Guadalupe Mountains (photo by stevesheriw on Flickr)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to one of the world’s finest examples of a fossilized reef, an amazingly complex and unique family of flora and fauna, as well as one of Texas’ only designated wildernesses.  Hiking the trails of the Guadalupe Mountains is not very easy, so it is better to only try this with older children, teenagers, or adults, as young children may not find the area attractive.

The mountains give the hiker a sense of belonging and provide valuable perspective on life as one can feel a part of the lonely quietness of the plants, animals and masterpiece of landscape around him.  There are options for hooking up trailers and campers for a daily fee, as well as wilderness camping if you desire, for only an entrance fee.

The main attraction is hiking and you will find more than eighty miles of trails that wander through canyons, hills, mountains, and forests.  The weather on the mountain can change rapidly and can be hot during the daytime under the sunlight and then drop rapidly at night, so it is good to bring warm clothes.

Because of the mild climate of the day, you can enjoy hiking, backpacking, camping, wildlife viewing, photography, and star gazing.  If you are feeling extra adventurous, you could also try horseback riding- but you will have to bring your own horse.

Fort De Soto, Florida

Fort De Soto beach camping

The white sands of Fort De Soto (photo by Pet_r on Flickr)

The beach was named the best beach in America for 2009 by TripAdvisor, the internet’s largest online camping community.  Last on the list, but by no means the least, Fort De Soto, on the coast, is truly one of the best family camping spots in the south.  White soft sand, clear water, and a relaxing atmosphere are the advantages of the campsite on the beach.

With 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands, Fort De Soto is one of the largest campgrounds in Florida and a top camping spot for families from all over America.  Aside from good camping facilities marked at about 30 dollars a day for a small family, the park includes a variety of historical and cultural sites.

See also…

11 thoughts on “5 Great Camping Spots in the South

  1. Great post! I never realized Texas had so many nice camping spots. I’ve been camping in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida and would love to try out Texas sometime! Thanks.

  2. The beaches in Florida are the best… Last year, we had the chance to travel to Florida and I was so much fun. The beaches was so crowded during the summer but still as beautiful as ever. I hope to go back again there one time.

  3. Roy, If any of your visitors are shopping for a tent, could you take a peek at my site, and see if you would reccommend any of my tents?
    huntfishcampingstuff.com tks.

  4. Roy, I enjoyed this article. You have a great site here. I just went into business for myself, and some of my products are tents. Your camping insights will help me in educating my customers and ensuring they are better prepared to have a successful camping adventure.

    • Thanks Dennis, John did a great job on this one – it’s always great to get some insight into places to go camping that I have not been to.

  5. Great job on the posting of 5 southern campsites! I was so happy to see our state on your blog! Fort De Soto is a very beautiful park and beach. It has so much to offer for boaters, fisherman, birdwatchers, snorkeling and camping right in our own backyard! I have to add that our family has travelled up to North Georgia and the state parks are really nice too. It is nice to be in the mountains every once in a while. Happy camping!

  6. Pingback: Finding More Fun: Family Travel Links, 06/18/2010 | Travels with Children by minnemom

  7. Great post Roy and John. My girlfriend and I were thinking about taking a late summer camping trip to the East coast but now I’ll have to reconsider driving a little further south.