Often times we feel like we have to do something big just to escape for a moment of clarity, but as schedules tend to not allow us to plan that grand trip very often it is important to find a way to retreat and enjoy a get away within your own backyard. We often neglect to realize within driving distance of our own homes can be some of the most exciting places to spend a weekend away or spend a day relaxing from the day to day grind.
I looked in my own backyard within a 20 mile radius of my home and found that not only were there great places to be social and camp on weekends but also to retreat in a more primitive way depending on what I was looking for or needed at the time. I visited 3 very different campsites and checked out each of them and their amenities in the pursuit of showing just how easy it can be to find something for yourself or your family without having to break the bank or spend hours on the road.
I focused on County owned properties and National facilities, these along with state facilities are typically the least expensive options and allow for various amenities depending on your desires. Private retreats, while they can offer luxury can also tip the scales a bit more when it comes to camping so while I did find several private facilities this time, I chose to focus instead on three sites which showcased completely off grid camping, primitive with slight improvements and fully connected vacation options.
Check out these three apps for guidance with finding an area near you:
I located all three of the following campsites on (the Dyrt)
Black Creek Lake Improved Site Camping
There are two areas at Black Creek Lake that you can camp: this side, the improved side with amenities, and the back side, which does not have any amenities.
Typically you will find those wanting to camp on this side and those wanting to fish off the shore on the other side which has a gated entrance which is not always open.
This campground has restrooms and a gravel drive to access the grounds. You will find a small playground and picnic tables at this site as well as a public boat launch. A lot of people, depending the on the lakes level will also use this side for swimming.
This site is tent only primitive camping with an honor system at the kiosk for payment. $2 per nIght includes a fIre rIng and pIcnIc table at 14 official sites.
When I have been to thIs locatIon I have noticed a lot of small john boats launchIng especially durIng sprIng. There are birds, squirrels, raccoons and opossums which roam the grounds so I woukd advise against leaving food within reach at night.
During summer rattlesnakes are around in taller grass so avoid unmaintained areas. Most areas are well kept however there are outlying areas and some primitive trails which I would avoid during these times.
As a part of the LBJ Grasslands you will occasionally see someone patrolling the area however it is not as often as a National Park.
A unique marker of LBJ Grasslands is the green gates you will see, if you are entering this area you will notice the green gates and many times cattle guards if you are thinking you are entering this area but do not see one of these you are more than likely in the wrong area and because cell signal can be a little iffy out here this is a great way to have a landmark without access to online directions.
Bring your own firewood for fire rings. Though there is plenty of downed wood in the area, sometimes it is not easy to break down and can be a bit difficult to keep inside the rings when to large. Better safe than sorry when it comes to wildfires.
Bug Spray is a must!! For some reason there are HUGE mosquitos so make sure to remember your spray otherwise you will itching all night.
Pack A Tarp.- I usually don't endorse needing a tarp to lay below your tent, but during certain times of year small burrs can be out in this area and a tarp can keep these from poking into your tent base and make for a more comfortable stay.
Bring cash because the kiosk does not accept cards it is a cash only system with no ATM within 10 miles.
Black Creek Lake Fully Primitive Camping
There are two sides to Black Creek Lake both a part of the LBJ Grasslands. I have reviewed the improved side previously with its amenities however I wanted to make sure I included this as well.
The primitive side camping does not include any amenities or marked sites. You will often find that when you enter the cattle guard and gate to this area that you will wind around and see various vehicles parked in what look to be little pull ins around the shoreline where they launch small boats or fish off the shore.
There used to be a rope swing in this area that would swing into the water however it has broken so many times it is hard to count and currently is not there.
This area is open range so as you enter you might encounter someones cows roaming but typically at the camping area you won't see to many.
The biggest difference I have found between the two sides is this side can sometimes be a bit more overgrown and thus more snakes. I am sure there are plenty on the other side as well but here I have encountered a lot more, which I am deathly afraid of ironically.
Typically you see overnighters in vans of off road vehicles here not a lot of tents but a few off and on when the gate is open. Which brings me to the next issue, sometimes the gate is not able to be accessed, not sure why but from time to time it will not be open when you are looking to get in so you will be rallied to the improved side.
Wise County Park
I have not stayed here at night but I have gone to enjoy the day with friends who were and I really enjoyed the site on Bridgeport Lake. There is nothing better than a laid back place close to home to enjoy festivities and friends.
With RV and tent sites this place is popular during holidays and weekends. I was there on July 4th and it was like a mobile city moved in so they could have perfect placement to see the fireworks over the lake.
Different sites have different amenities and are priced accordingly. I noticed that RVs had electricity and water some even had sewer dump available. The public restroom and showers were busy so they could be expected to be a little more messy than usual however were not bad. Kids played on playgrounds, boats were launching off the ramp ad everything was lively.
The site my friends were in was a standard RV site with electricity and water. It was large enough for their 5th wheel to comfortably fit and allowed for spacing for recreation as well. It did not feel compact next to neighbors. It included a picnic table which we set up shop for an ultimate bbq and it was large enough for a full buffet.
I looked into prices for my own travels following my visit here and it was very reasonable only $5 for no hook ups like I would want for tent camping. $20 for RVs with connections. And something which I thought was nice as well was the parks attention to needs for those using the facility for day use. They offer rental of their pavilion for events and functions and for those wanting to plan group outings these also include spaces for stay. You can pay in advance through their main office or on the day of your stay.
If you are walking up come early on busy weekends because a lot of people like this spot for its access to the lake.
Bring your own firewood and check the burn bans in advance. If you are able to have a campfire at the time of your visit there are not really any resources for starting one in this area and the closest store doesn't usually have wood, this area has had several burn bans however over the years and gets very dry so check in advance before purchasing your wood.
Bring your fishing pole, shore fishing Is big here and will give you something fun to do solo or with family.
(This post is not a sponsored post or in affiliation with any of the sites listed above. This post is posted with thoughts and knowledge completely utilized in my own travels and in no way is affiliated with the brands mentioned. These are brands which I personally have found useful and share with my readers.)