Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Searching for a place to go camping? Get

Many of you that follow this blog know that I really enjoy hiking, camping and backpacking. Whether it is camping in the front country or back country... it is all good.

I recently came across a resource that has really made it easier for me to research and plan my trips. The website, app and community are called TheDyrt. "The Dirt" is an idiom which means the gossip or real story. So getting TheDyrt is a play on words which translates to finding out the real story about campgrounds. website allows users to search for campgrounds in the U.S. (currently only available within the U.S.) and read user generated reviews of the campgrounds. Sometimes the reviews are very general and sometimes very specific - down to the campsite number or cleanliness of the facilities. The website markets itself and its service as the of camping.

The community just launched a new app which can be downloaded via, the Apple Store or Google Play 

 Similar to the website, the app allows one to search for campgrounds.

You can search via a search box or a map. The app will display the campgrounds nearby.

Once you have narrowed your search by the area, you can read Overviews and Reviews of specific campgrounds.

When you click on a campground a page will open up with an "Overview". The Overview highlights basic information about the campground and the amenities that are available.

With a touch of the "Location" tab you are provided a map of the area, GPS coordinates and the ability to get turn-by-turn directions to the site.

With a touch of the "Review" tab you are provided a list of reviews written by community members.

As part of the reviews you can often view photos and even videos of the park, campsites, amenities and unique features. If you typically find places to camp by looking at park websites or Instagram photos you probably realized that you only see the idealized beautiful images. I find it useful to look at other people's opinions of campgrounds rather than simply relying on glamour shots. 

There is also a growing community behind To take part in the community or write a review simply create a profile and review a campground that you've visited. It's kind of a cool way to share your experience and first-hand knowledge. 

Of course, similar to Yelp, one has to read each review with a grain of salt. One man's trash is another man's treasure - and vice versa. The greater the number of reviews that are written for a particular campground increases the probability that the overall rating is realistic. As always with review sites, you can toss out the extreme viewpoints.  

Another cool feature and benefit of TheDyrt is that they often run contests.

When you write a review (including text, photos and videos) you earn points. The more reviews that you write, the more points you can earn. Check out the rules of the contest to learn how to maximize your ability to earn points.

Throughout the duration of the contest (typically a month), the points are tallied on a leaders board. At the end of the contest, the leader is declared and wins cool camping gear. The runner-ups win gift certificates. I've been using the app and writing reviews for a couple of months.

I won this sweet Primus Profile two-burner stove. 

And these handy Midland Two-Way Radios.

So the next time you're planning a camping trip check out or download the app. And after your trip, write a review. Maybe you'll have a chance to win too!

Happy Camping! 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Best Places to Camp in Texas Each Month of the Year

Guadelupe Mountains National Park

It is possible to hike, camp and backpack year round in Texas. Our winter is mild, spring is temperate, summer is somewhat hot, but fall is fantastic. While it is possible to spend time outdoors all four season, I've compiled a month-to-month list of places to visit based on my experience and preferences. I've taken into consideration factors like the crowds, festivals, weather, rain, heat, water, insects and even flora (such as poison ivy). So here's my list.

Sam Houston National Forest and Caddo Lake State Park
Reason: At this time of the year there is less rain, cooler weather, fewer insects and less poison ivy.

Seminole Canyon State Park

Seminole Canyon State Park, Lake Amistad and Judge Roy Bean Museum
Reason: The Rock Art Rendezvous Festival only happens once a year during this month. Also there is cooler weather and less crowds.

Yuca plant in bloom

Guadelupe Mountains National Park and Monohans Sandhills State Park
Reason: The weather is more temperate and the flora are just starting to bloom.

Enchanted Rock State Park and LBJ State Park
Reason: Beat the summer crowds and enjoy the temperate weather. See cactus in bloom.

Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore
Reason: The weather is starting to heat up, so it's a great time to hit the beach.

Pedernales River

Pedernales Falls State Park
Reason: You should expect hot weather, but there are plenty of shade trees and water holes available to cool off.

Davis Mountain State Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, McDonald Observatory, Balmorhea State Park
Reason: The town of Fort Davis puts on a truly Americana Fourth of July celebration. The weather may be hot, but you can cool off in the spring fed pool at Balmorhea.

Colorado Bend State Park, Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Caverns State Park
Reason: During the heat of the summer it helps to be close to cool water or cool caves.

Pecos River

Devil's River State Natural Area
Reason: It may be warm, but you'll be surrounded by pristine water.

Caprock Canyon State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Reason: The soft light of fall blends well with the colors of the canyon.

Lost Maples State Park, Garner State Park and Bandera
Reason: Time it right and you'll have the chance to observe the fall foliage. On any given Saturday you will likely encounter some real cowboys walking around Main Street in Bandera.

Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park
Reason: Not too hot, not too cold, just about ideal weather and smaller crowds make it the perfect time to visit the sky islands in the desert.

That's my list. What's your favorite area to explore in Texas?