We’ll Chose State Parks From Now On

 We’ll Chose State Parks From Now On

Here’s the first major lesson we’ve learned about where to camp: Toss the giant Woodall’s campground guide and choose state parks.

I’m posting this from the Henry Horton State Park in Tennessee, about 40 miles south and east of Nashville after a 400 mile series of horrendous traffic jams up I-65 from Florida.

We scoured that monster Yellow Pages-sized campground guide most of the day trying to find the perfect spot to enjoy camping. Nothing looked good. A couple of hours before dark, we pulled off near Columbia to look at one of the Woodalls-advertised campgrounds. But as we did, we saw a roadside sign noting this state park was just 12 mikes away.

We drove through the commercial campground just to look it over. It could have been worse. But, well, parts of it looked like the TV shots of a trailer-jammed NASCAR race infield of racing fans. So we made our way here.

Awesome place. It has several elements, including a championship 18-hole golf course over its massive 1,140-acres. Across from the ark entrance is a terrific restaurant and lodge.  The campground is on rolling hills, quiet, wooded, with very spacious lots for RVs and tents. Our Roadtrek sits on a pancake flat cement pad, we have water and electricity but… GASP!!!!…. no Wi-Fi!

My iPad (left) set up private hot spot for my MacBook Pro

You have to understand how this causes me to go through Internet withdrawal symptoms. I publish a bunch of Websites and, especially today, Easter Sunday, need to make sure my church’s Internet Campus is up and running, especially after the team campatin for today’s service emailed me (I got it on my iPhone) and needed help logging in.

But as you can see from the picture, if you have one of the new  iPads that run on Verizon’s network, you can create your own private Wi-Fi hot spot. Turns out I have 4g LTE wireless coverage in this park. So I hooked up my main computer to my iPad network and, at 4g speeds, its faster than any of the Wi-Fi systems I’ve seen in the other two commercial campgrounds we’ve overnighted in.

You can do the same thing with some Android phones and tablets, too.

We’re off for breakfast, then a bike ride andn hopefully a Kentucky State Park up towards the Ohio border along I75.


Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.


  • I am sorry to see the post about your dislike of “Private campgrounds”. While the state parks are nice, they often can’t accommodate some useful and/or necessary RV needs such as:
    1. big rigs – many, many state parks have 35′ limits on RV sites
    2. no pull thrus – this goes along with the big rigs mentioned above, but also includes smaller trailers and/or anything towing another vehicle
    3. no full hook up – if you haven’t dumped for a couple days and/or have laundry facilities onboard, you need that sewer hook up
    4. WiFi – as you mentioned, even for an overnight stay, WiFi is a necessary evil for many RV’ers. Network and air cards don’t always work at every campground (here we can’t get Verizon at all times although ATT is now better with the new tower 2 miles up the road)
    5. location – many of the state parks are WAY off the beaten path and that makes it inconvenient for an overnight stay

    State parks are great for a weekend or longer, and even overnight for a smaller camping rig, but the big rigs do need the campground books and more accommodating campgrounds than a state park.

    This is just my opinion, but I camped for 22 years before buying a campground – in everything from a tent to a medium sized trailer.

  • I discovered the advantages of state parks last summer in Michigan. I was pleasantly surprised at the nice shower rooms at the campgrounds we stayed at. I annoys me to have to pay for facilitys I don’t need at commercia campgrounds for an overnight stay. Beth has a point that they are off the beaten path. Sometimes that’s the path to take.

  • I haven’t used a state park for many years , almost exclusively use KOA . The problem I ran into was not being able to get in with their reservation system . On top of that there always seemed to be at least one or more groups that liked to party well into the night . I have never had loud partiers at any KOA , managers handled any problems quickly . Over the years we stopped and checked several Good Sam campgrounds and most were run down a bit and over grown . The only not so good KOA was just before they closed for the season . I have a friend that uses our state (Washington) campgrounds and thinks they are pretty good . So may have to try again , but during peak months , often booked solid . Have stayed at National Park Campgrounds and they were somewhat OK , but the price payed seemed a bit high for what you got . After selling our old class c and getting our Roadtrek , not having pull throughs isn’t an issue !

  • State parks rock! The only thing better is boondocking! KOAs and commercial campgrounds are overpriced and have amenities true campers just don’t need. I’ll leave the commercial campgrounds to the big rig traveling houses that can’t live without their wifi and full-hookups. Life is more peaceful that way!

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