Before I begin, in interest of full disclosure I have to admit I’m a big fan of the Texas state parks. We camped here the week of Memorial Day arriving on the Monday holiday and staying through Friday. The park is subject to flash flooding and the area had nearly four inches of rain the week before. As result most of the park was closed on the Friday before the holiday until the next Wednesday. They are working on replacing at least three of the low water crossings with bridges which should improve access after heavy rains. During flooding only two campgrounds, Sagebrush and Hackberry, are accessible. Of all the campgrounds, only Sagebrush and Mesquite have 50 Amp service. None of the campgrounds have full hook-ups, so if you are camping very long, you may want to bring a waste tank. The rest rooms were dated but clean. One of our pet peeves is that none of the rest rooms in the state parks have hand soap, so bring your own. The park host was very friendly and actually offered us some watermelon one evening. The park has over 30 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Some of the trails are quite long and rated as “difficult,” so plan your hikes carefully. During the summer the temperature in the canyon can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. We hiked the “Lighthouse Trail” to the park’s iconic “Lighthouse” formation. That trail is the most popular and is 5.75 miles round trip and rated as “moderate.” It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes. The information provided by TPWD warns to take plenty of water since most of the heat related injuries and deaths to people and pets occur on this trail. The park does have a few family friendly “easy” rated trails. The park has a very nice wildlife viewing blind, which quickly became a favorite of ours. We visited it several times during our visit. We saw a variety of birds including Northern Cardinal, Purple Finch, Painted Bunting, Yellow Fronted Woodpecker, and wild turkeys. Palo Duro Canyon is advertised as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” Prior to visiting, I just figured that was another Texas exaggeration. After viewing the canyon from the overlook at the Visitor’s Center I was definitely impressed. It’s not the Grand Canyon, but it is definitely breath taking. (We visited the Grand Canyon in February of this year so I had fresh memories for comparison.) They do have a few pull through spaces, but most are back-in sites. Some of the sites looked a little short, but our space (# 142) was long enough for both our 39’ fifth wheel and our full size crew cab pickup. The park also has a stables and amphitheater in the park. During the summer months the musical “Texas” is presented Tuesday through Saturday at the amphitheater. During our visit both our AT&T cell and data services was intermittent. Data service on both our phones and our MiFi device ranged from none, to edge to 4G but it would change by the minute. Camping rates do not include admission to the park. Admission is $5.00 per person per day. If you are planning of camping at more than one state park, I highly recommend purchase of a Texas Parks Pass. Passes are $70.00 per year and include unlimited admission to the parks and several coupons for 50% off a single night’s rate. The nightly rate specified reflects a Texas Parks Pass and a coupon for 50% off one night’s stay.
Lake Tawakoni State Park: This was our first time camping at this state park. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a big fan of the Texas State Parks. I really prefer them to most commercial campgrounds. When we arrived there were only two full hookup campsites left. We picked a pull through site (#78), which they said was about 60 feet long. I think it was actually a little longer because we had no problem with our 39’ fifth wheel, our F-350 crew cab long bed and my daughter’s Corolla all parked in the site. They have a total of 16 full hook-up sites. (According to the web site.) It looked like there were quite a few large sites for large rigs. The Texas State Parks has had some budget “challenges” the past few years and some of the parks have become run down. That did not seem to be the case here. The concrete sites seemed to be somewhat new, and the asphalt roads were in good shape. There was plenty of room for our four slide outs also. We were a little close to one tree. (We could have moved up a little but that would have put us further from the sewer.) There was quite a bit of shade. They had some “double wide” campsites where there were two back in sites next to each other with a doublewide drive between. Those sites would probably be nice if you were camping with another family. The restrooms were clean. The ones in the area we were in were the more traditional variety with a Men and Women’s side. In one of the other areas there was a unisex building that had individual rooms with toilet and shower. They have a beach, but the lake level was very low, so the sand stopped before the water started. They did not have a playground. They did have a store that sells bait and rents boats, but it was closed both days we were there. The park has several trails. Since it had rained the day we arrived, they were muddy, and we only explored the Spring Point Trail. If you’re not familiar with the Texas State Parks, the camping fee does not include admission to the park. If you do not have a Park Pass, the fee is $5.00 per day per person 13 years and older. Also if you have any more than two vehicles you must pay an additional $4.00 per day per extra vehicle. Since a trailer counts as a vehicle, my daughter had to pay for her car. (But not for herself since she also has a Park Pass.) If you are going to stay at a Texas State Park more than a couple times in a year, the Park Pass pays for itself. The rates quoted for this review reflect the average nightly rate with a Park Pass and a coupon for ½ price for one night. If you like to get out once in a while, we found a very nice Italian restaurant in Wills Point. It was Verona’s Italian Café. It’s right on 4th Street (FM 46.) The food was great and the prices very reasonable.
We stayed here for five night during the week of July 4th. As mentioned in other reviews the staff was very friendly (although they did give a a hard time about being too dependent on my GPS. There is an abundance of shade which is one reason we chose this CG. The CG was also very quite. We had a back in site. They do have some pull-through sites. There was plenty of room four our 39 ft. RV with four slide outs. It is very close to Silver Dollar City. You can occasionally hear the train horn, faintly. On the negative side the roads are in need of repair. They are asphalt with a lot of pot holes. Also, the playground could use some updating. There are only three swings and three teeter totters. (Although my 6 year old grand son was perfectly happy with it.) We would definitely stay here again.
We’ve stayed several times over the past six or so years. We like it because it has full hook-ups (Bois D’Arc Ridge area) and it’s close enough to the Dallas / Fort Worth area for a weekend trip. There are several hiking trails in the park which we’ve explored on previous trips. There is a small swim beach but as others have mentioned it’s quite a hike down the steps to get there. I don’t think we’ve ever been there that we didn’t see any deer. There is a little meadow just as you turn into the Bois D’Arch Ridge area and they are frequently there early in the morning or in the early evening. We’ve also seen them around the campsites. On one previous trip there was a couple deer within ten feet of our travel trailer. During this trip I saw a doe and fawn about two campsites away. They have two fishing docks which we’ve enjoyed using. During the summer months the campgrounds can be fairly crowded, although I don’t think they’ve ever been sold out when I’ve tried to make reservations. This past weekend the campgrounds were fairly empty. As with most of the Texas State parks were built by the CCC, so they are old and recent budget challenges have left them in disrepair. This year the budget situation has improved and I noticed that they had re-surfaced the roads in the campground. There is a yacht club in the park where you can buy bait and which has some boat rentals. The last time I checked the rental prices, they seemed pretty high and I think all they had available was pontoon boats. The nightly camping rate does not include admission to the park. If you don’t have a Texas State Park Pass, you have to pay $5.00 per day for each person 13 or over. By the way, when you buy a Texas State Park Pass, you also get a couple of electronic coupons for one-half off a day (night) of camping. The park has always been clean and the restrooms, while dated, are clean. Many of the sites in the Bois D’Arc Ridge area are not level. Several years ago we had a spot that was so unlevel, we overextended a jack on our old travel trailer. Many of the sites (particularly on the outside of the loops) are long enough for larger rigs. We were in site 82 which was over 100 foot long. They said it was “level” and it was level from front to back, but was not level from side to side. Our automatic leveling system had our right tires off the ground. They are supposed to have Wi-Fi available, but we didn’t use it, so I can’t report on it. We did have one complaint on this trip. There was a burn ban in effect, but it was not posted anywhere. I knew there were burn bans in some of nearby counties, but in the past fires were allowed in the fire rings. After we bought firewood from the park headquarters (again no mention of the burn ban) we were told by a Ranger that fires were only allowed for cooking and had to be extinguished after cooking.