Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Friday, November 25, 2016

Panther Creek State Park (Tennessee)

Panther Creek is a Tennessee State Park northeast of Knoxville. It's easily accessible from 11E. This was not our first visit, but it was the first visit since renovation. 
All 50 sites are paved and are level. Some sites have full hook-ups, but all of them have electricity and water. In addition, the sites have picnic tables, grills, and fire pits.
The sites are spacious; you don't feel like you're right on top of your neigbor.

There are 2 bath houses: 1 for the top and 1 for the lower.
The lower bath house has 3 bathrooms; the upper has 4. Each bathroom is large with a toilet, sink, and shower. 

There is a laundry room in each bath house with 1 washer & 1 dryer. Compared to other places we've camped, these were quite the bargain at $.75/load!
There are 2 pavilions that adjoin the bath house.

A huge plus for us is the trails that are all over. There are hiking and mountain biking trails all around the state park, as well as behind the campground.

As you come into the park, there is a swimming pool, outdoor basketball/volleyball (maybe tennis, too...we didn't drive up to them, so I'm not real sure.) courts, and a playground. Campers get a break on using the pool during the summer.
There is an amphitheater at the top of the campground; it's a short hike to get there.

 The steps are a nice addition since the renovation; it makes it easier to get to the trail in back of the campground:

As far as cell service, 4G was spotty; there were times it was good, but there were times it wasn't very good. There was supposed to be wifi but we weren't able to get it to connect. I was under the router and tried to connect but wasn't able to connect. 
We went without a reservation; however, it is better to have one. Unlike other campgrounds, signs are not placed on the poles to indicate which sites have been reserved. We looked online the night before to make sure there were some open, then talked with the Park Ranger after we got there. 
Panther Creek is one of our favorite campgrounds, and with it being about an hour away from us, it is perfect. There is a WalMart and Aldi not far away, so if you forget anything it's convenient to run out and get what you need. 
Even though it is close to Morristown, you'll feel like you're out in the middle of the wilderness.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Steamboat Lake, Colorado

Steamboat Lake State Park is located about 30 minutes outside of Steamboat Springs. During our stay, our site was in the marina area. There wasn't an exceptional amount of water traffic; it was a rather quiet campground, but we were there during the week.
The #1 reason to stay at this campground has to be the views.

 In addition to the $20/night charge (for the "Bridge Island Loop"), there is a daily charge of $7 to be in the state park.

 There are some easy hiking trails available, as well as paddle boat/kayak/canoe rentals. Fishing is also popular. We saw quite a few kids fishing for crawdads.
All of the sites have 2 level, gravel pads, picnic table, and fire ring. This area has no electricity or running water, although there are a couple of faucets in the campground to fill up water containers.

 Vault toilets are available in the Loop. There are flushing toilets and pay showers in the building near the cabins. 

The showers are $1 for 5 minutes, then a quarter for an additional minute. The showers were hot with good pressure.

There are also laundry facilities. 
 I used the large sink to wash dishes. I wasn't sure if I was really supposed to, but there wasn't a sign telling me not to!

We didn't have Laika with us, but pets are allowed as long as they're on a leash. There were campers with dogs; these guys didn't seem too concerned with them:
If more entertainment is needed, these guys will provide plenty:
In the afternoons, there was a lot of wind, but it died down around sunset. All of the sites have a beautiful view of the lake & mountains. We had 4G but no wifi.
The closest grocery store that we found is in Steamboat Springs, so stock up before you get to the campground. There is a store in Clark; however, we didn't stop in there so we're not sure how well-stocked it is. The marina has a small store with very little groceries, but it does have a snack area. There's a place down the road called Hahn's Peak Roadhouse that has an excellent restaurant. Attached is a small store with only essentials. You can also reserve horseback rides/tours, ATV/Ranger tours/rentals, and pony rides. Winter reservations include snowmobiles, horses, and sleigh rides.
Overall, an A+ campground! Quiet, beautiful, with trails, wildlife, and flowers. It was the perfect way to wind down at the end of our vacation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spokane Creek Campground, South Dakota

When we began our search for a campground for our trip to the Black Hills, we had certain criteria that had to be met: electricity, running water, shade, and near some kind of creek, river, lake, etcWe attempted to get a site in one of the many state and national parks in the area, but since it was the week of the 4th of July, we came up empty. So, we began looking at private campgrounds, and we found the perfect spot. Spokane Creek is just outside of Keystone, SD on Iron Mountain Road.
Since our camper is small, we were able to get one of their "tent sites", which is perfect for pop-ups or small trailers. The campground met all of our criteria.

Our youngest son was able to have his personal space, pitching his tent closer to the water.
 The whole campground was just beautiful.

Some sites are "dry" (no electricity or water).
 There is a field for tossing ball, throwing frisbees, or just running.
 Each campsite has water, electricity, picnic table, and fire ring.

 A trailer gives campers a place to use the restroom that is closer than the shower house. There are men's and women's restrooms with 2 toilets and 1 sink on each side.
 It may not be the prettiest or nicest facilities, but they were clean, and it got the job done!

Tent sites to the right, RV to the left. The sites that back up to the park do not have fire rings due to their proximity to the woods.

 A small pool is available,
as is putt-putt.
One feature of the campground that was really appreciated was a dishwashing station. It lacked hot water, but we were able to get our dishes washed.
 On their facebook video, it is said that if you climb to the top of the mountain (see can barely see a flag at the top) you can see Mt. Rushmore. It's true, but bring binoculars so you can see what it is!
There's a small playground across from a pavilion (no pictures; there was a reunion going on so the pavilion was in use).
 Cabins are available for those not wanting to camp.
 A small store has souvenirs and the very basics that you may need. There is a grill attached to the store that has an awesome breakfast.

The showerhouse is just beyond the front cabin on the right.
Coin washers & dryers are available. These machines only take quarters; the nice folks in the store will be happy to help you out if you need change.
 The showers have plenty of hooks and a bench: plenty of space!
 Overall impressions:
Very clean campground, with exceptionally nice workers. The girls working in the office/store were great help when it came to suggestions on what to do in the area.
Very reasonably priced.
Spacious sites; we didn't feel like we were right on top of the people beside us. 
For the most part, things were pretty quiet.
Pets are allowed.
We didn't have cell service at our campsite; however, there is wi-fi. It was pretty reliable during the week when it wasn't as crowded; when the campground was crowded, we had to go to the store/cafe for more reliable service.
This is definitely an excellent place to stay. As we drove around, we peeked at other campgrounds and were very glad that we chose this one!
Our stay was 6 nights; we very easily could have stayed longer.

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