Easter Weekend Camping

Our long Easter weekend trip once again proved to be a fabulous break for us, just as it was last year.  This trip was mostly a repeat experience from last year, with the exception of adding one additional night upfront at a new campground to check it out for the first time.

Some time back, I started looking for other places to camp in our area besides our beloved state parks, not because we are dissatisfied with them, but rather to just have some options when we want to go camping and cannot get a reservation at a state park.  We believe that more and more people in our area are purchasing RVs and going camping these days, as it seems to be a bit harder to get reservations than even three years ago when we first started traveling by RV ourselves.  We cannot always plan a quick weekend getaway too far in advance, since we are still limited by Hubby’s work schedule and his business travels, so we are very interested to check out some new places that can still provide us some options to get out-of-town in some last-minute situations.  Corps of Engineer campgrounds are another option, even though we do not have any in our immediate area, and the closest one is about four hours away.  That is still an option for us at times, so we decided to check out one of these campgrounds for a night.

Hords Creek Lake has two COE campgrounds, Lakeside and Flatrock, although Flatrock is shut down for the forseeable future, probably due to lack of demand.  We camped at Hords Creek Lake – Lakeside Campground on the Wednesday night before Easter, and it was a good experience for us, even though it was a bit confusing, too.  I reserved a full-hookup site online at reservation.gov for that night, and I’m glad I did, not because the campground was full, but apparently that is the only way to secure a site there, other than calling a toll-free number when arriving at the gatehouse.  Perhaps this is not the case in later weeks and months when occupancy probably increases, and we noted that the gatehouses were to open for the season a couple of days later, too.  We also wondered if it was even possible to camp overnight here if we didn’t have an advance reservation ahead of time.  We can do that in the state parks by just registering and paying in the drop box if the park office is closed.  And oddly enough, we never saw a single park person the entire time we were there.  We left around noon the following morning and even stopped by the park headquarters to make sure we didn’t owe a daily fee of some kind before we left the park.  The door was open and there were signs that someone was on duty, but after five minutes and asking if anyone was there, no one ever appeared at the desk.  It was just a strange experience for us, as we are accustomed to the state parks being well staffed and having security patrols come by regularly.  It left me with some mixed feelings about camping here in the future, even though the campground is actually quite nice.  We just like to have security around when in a remote place like this.  I am wondering if this is pretty much how all of the COE campgrounds operate, too.

I would recommend the campground as long as you don’t mind pretty much being on your own here.  We will definitely consider returning sometime, since we did have a bit of cell and data signal in case of an emergency, probably from the small town of Coleman which is about seven miles away.  I wouldn’t rely on having park personnel nearby to help in such a situation, based on our experience.  Lakeside is a huge campground, and I doubt it ever completely fills up these days, since the lake is still down 14 feet.  The lake is quite nice, though, and it is a beautiful and peaceful area with many wonderful birds.  There was also nice spacing between sites, more than the state parks, and there are some nice trees, even though it is not as densely covered as Abilene State Park and Lake Brownwood State Park, both of which are in this same general area for the most part.  This campground would definitely be a great place for a family reunion or other large gathering, especially if most everyone has RVs.  As we drove around the campground before we left, we saw many great group facilities, including one that probably had about twenty RV hookups.

For us, this campground would be a place to just getaway for a couple of days, and we would enjoy riding our bicycles here in the future.  We pretty much had the park to ourselves on this particular day, too.  There are no hiking trails, but since the park is so large, we would enjoy just walking the dogs on the roads and walking down by the lake which is easily accessible.  The restrooms were quite nice, and we noticed that the showers only have one water temperature.

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Hords Creek Lake
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Our campsite with nice trees and covered dining area
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An a nearby campsite at the end of the road
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Another view of our campsite
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Nearby campsites with restroom/shower building in the distance
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Nearby campsites
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All hookups are in one spot, including water on the ground
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Nice group area
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Nice group area
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Shelter for groups
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Restroom and shower building
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Restrooms were nice and clean
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Handicap shower with automatic sensor to turn on the water – one temp only
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Beautiful oak trees near our campsite
2015-04-02 08.55.48
The lake is down, but it is still there and quite nice

Given that this park and Lake Brownwood State Park are the same driving distance for us, we will likely opt for the state park, when it is available.  Lake Brownwood State Park is one of the iconic state parks of Texas and is 80 years old.  It has nice facilities and great hiking and biking trails for us, as well as full hookups in Council Bluff Campground.  It is a beautiful place and more prominently located in the hill country than Hords Creek Lake.  Brownwood is a nice town just 20 miles away and has good food and other services available, including dining at Underwoods BBQ, a favorite of ours and many others.  There is also a small grocery store and a convenience store available about 8 or 9 miles from the park entrance.  We adore Lake Brownwood State Park in the springtime and will likely continue to make a yearly visit there, but we know that there is another option available in this general area for camping now, too.

D
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Author: DK

Blogger at My Five Fs (Faith - Family - Food - Fotos - Fun) and Animal Wonder. Empty-nester that now shares life with my hubby and our two standard poodles. Enjoys camping in our RV, taking and editing photos, trying new low-carb recipes, baking pretty decorated cookies for special occasions, walking daily, spending time with family and friends when we can, playing with the dogs, and is grateful to God for every single day of this blessed life and for the opportunity to share and connect with some great people here.

8 thoughts on “Easter Weekend Camping”

    1. I totally understand, although our part of the state is a bit easier to find open spots than other areas most of the time. I think the occupancy is actually coming from residents in our area more than tourists most of the time. We just try to plan accordingly.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a nice place, only just a bit different from what we are used to. We did like the larger campsites, for sure, and I’m sure we will return again sometime to spend a bit more time there.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. At least in our experience your contact with the Corps is very unusual. Walk-ins are almost always available at specific sites (as long as they aren’t occupied already) and we have never encountered a corps campground where there were no ‘staff’ –(paid or volunteer) to be found. They are not always very visible — when we hosted at Eau Galle Lake someone made rounds about 2 times a day with local Law Enforcement driving through another 2 times a day — but there was a volunteer host on site.

    I suspect it was early in the season and no volunteer yet on site. I looked at Volunteer.gov and I see they are still listing two positions for Hords Lake — but they appear to be maintenance positions not hosts so not sure what might have happened.

    Each Corps park seems to have somewhat it’s own system. But they all have ways of identifying reserved VS non-reserved sites — so you should be able to tell which sites are taken for a given time period.

    But we also visited ONE park in IA where there was a reception hut and the volunteers felt they had their own little Fiefdom and treated the guests quite rudely — not realizing that no everyone knows their system in advance. That was our only negative Corps happening.

    Try again later in the year – or perhaps at a different site. ????

    Glad you had a great getaway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m interested now to hear what some others’ experiences are with the COEs, for sure. This was just a little weird to us, and I’m glad we were not total newbies to RV camping while here at this park. It is a nice place to camp for a few days, so for those that are familiar with RV parks, I would definitely check this place out sometime. Just make your reservation online before you arrive. I’m not sure that everyone will have cell signal there, but we had a bit (Verizon and Sprint). I hope they actually have some security patrols there, but we didn’t see anyone during our brief time there. These federally run places are just not as “user-friendly” as the state parks, at least in our own experience, but it is a nice place to camp. One of those empty camp host sites was really nice, too, probably the nicest host site we have ever seen. It struck both of us as to why such a nice place was built out here in the middle of nowhere on such a tiny lake. I mean, between Lakeside and Flatrock, there are literally hundreds of sites, which is really strange. I totally understand why Flatrock is closed, too. I seriously doubt that there are ever more than about 20 occupied sites at any given time here, even if the lake is up. No one really knows about this place either, unlike the state park camping areas which are well known due to the system the state has in place to make them available to the public. Wish the feds would at least donate Flatrock to the state park system to run, instead of just letting it sit there unused. Having a hiking trail or two would be very nice at this lake. We also saw a lot of deer here. Should have mentioned that in my post. One group had more than a dozen. Anyway, I’m sure we will go back again sometime, especially if we cannot get into a state park for a quick weekend trip. We also talked to some other campers at Lake Brownwood that felt pretty much the same way we did about Hords Creek Lake. They did mention that there are nice COEs at Lake Lewisville and Canyon Lake, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know…. The Corps sites are recreation sites but the Corps’ presence in any given place is always related to water control and somehow there must have been a need in the past. Was there a dam anywhere nearby? Or Spillway?
        Eau Galle Lake is like that — in the mid 50’s there was a devastating flood, in the 60’s the Corps finally had the work done to build the dam and it was finished in the last 60’s. Since then it’s hardly known about and used, but not nearly as heavily as other projects of it’s size.

        One of the reasons I like the corps locations is that they ARE less user friendly and that means they are a little less roughly handled and often in better shape than nearby state facilities (though not always).
        On our way out of Tex we are hitting 2 state parks, 2 LA state parks, 1 NPS campground and 3 corps campground before getting to IL where we’ll visit 3 more corps sites and 2 more state parks (WI). Obviously — we like them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The dam was just to the east of our campsite, and I’m sure that is why the Corps is here, flood control. We just think it is a shame to let Flatrock just sit there unused because from what we could see of it across the lake, it is a nice campground. The COEs are not well publicized at all, and it is a shame that people don’t know this place is here for them. If Flatrock was a part of the state park system, it would most definitely get used, especially on weekends when Abilene and Lake Brownwood state parks are full to the brim with campers. I’m not sure why the feds don’t attempt to do something else with it instead of just letting it sit there closed down. Not sure how they benefit by doing that. Just a shame really. For us, at this stage of our RV camping, we still like to have trails to hike and bike, as getting some good exercise is very much a part of why we go. We could ride our bikes on the roads at Hords Creek Lake, but that is it. I’m sure we’ll go back sometime and do that, and maybe try some fishing, if we can find a good spot for that.

          Liked by 1 person

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