Nothing will ever compare to our perfect trip to Douthat State Park in April. The weather was perfect, the people were perfect and the Lakeside Campground provided a picturesque backdrop for our vacation.
We had a waterfront spot with the most unbelievable views and the sites were pretty spread out. Some were closer than others, but there was a lot more room around the sites as compared to resort-style campgrounds that look like parking lots.
The Lakeside campground was recently renovated and each site now has water and electric. The bathhouse was also renovated and included individual shower rooms, which are a plus
On our first day we took a family walk around the entire lake. It was a great way to see all the park has to offer. It took about two hours, but it wasn’t too hard. We were able to see the children’s fishing hole, the beach and boat rentals, waterfalls and the playgrounds.
Seriously, playgrounds across America, you really need to up your game. One playground at the park actually had a waterfall in the background. If we had more time, I would have set up a playdate at the playground and brought wine and cheese for the parents to enjoy the view!
On the second day we rented a boat and did a little fishing. The Easter Bunny brought each kid a fishing pole and we put them to good use. The campground had just filled the lake with trout, but we didn’t have any luck. I blame their attention spans. They lasted a good thirty minutes, but Joel enjoyed being on the water. We were actually able to dock the boat right in front of the campsite which was a bonus.
There was a nice beach with a roped off area for swimming, but it was a little too cold for a dip. Next to the beach there was a big recreation building, however it wasn’t open when we went by.
Over the years, we’ve been to dozens of campgrounds, but we have never had such nice camp hosts. Our youngest really warmed up to them and they treated us like family. They really made our trip even better.
Our neighbors were also some of the best campers we’ve ever met. All the kids played together riding bikes, chasing each other, playing games and catching salamanders. On our last night we actually said it would never be better than this. Many of them came over after to dark to join us for a movie. When Woody falls asleep in a camping chair at 8 p.m., you know it’s been a good day!
Here’s a note about check-in, there are several different campgrounds to choose from at this park. Whispering Pines is the first one you come across. If you are staying there, you don’t have to go all the way into the park to register. They have everything waiting for you at the board as you pull in. If you are staying at White Oak, Lakeside, or Beaver Dam, you go to the check-in station further down the road and register there.
Another important note, PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGNS! We drove past the Lakeside campground entrance and there was nowhere to turn around. I mean, nowhere. We went an additional 15 miles and through another state park. It took extra time, but the payoff was worth it!
Here are a few details about the other campgrounds at the park:
Whispering Pines: This is the first campground and the sites are big and very spread out. Each site is pretty level and there’s so much room between each spot. This is the newest section and it’s not quite as wooded, but there is a section near a fast-moving creek that’s pretty sweet.
White Oak: You have to cross a narrow bridge to get to the White Oak campground and for that reason we avoided it. I’ve heard horror stories of people getting stuck there and it actually happened two days after we left. That said, the sites were very wooded and you really felt like you were in nature. The sites weren’t 100% level, but that’s the price you pay for privacy and a more authentic camping experience.
Beaver Dam: This campground was closed during our visit, but I’m told they have 14 equestrian sites.
Cabins: There were so many different cabins to choose from, but we didn’t have a chance to go inside. That said, they had pretty good reviews on Trip Advisor.
The only downside we experienced was the lack of wifi, but that was also a good thing. The kids couldn’t get on their devices and I couldn’t check work email.
Overall, we will definitely be back. This campground has officially taken over the number one spot in my book!