Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Campground Review: Hurricane, Jefferson National Forest, Virginia.

Carole and I have used a LOT of National Forest campgrounds in our years. Both when we tent-camped and after we got our Casita travel trailer. We have had almost uniformly wonderful experiences using the campgrounds in our National Forests, but some of them stand out above the others.

While not our all-time favorite campground, Hurricane--located in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area--is easily in the top three. What it might lack in some of the things some people expect in a campground, it more than makes up for in others.

As luck would have it, we were able to grab our favorite spot in the campground (#19). All of the sites have paved surfaces for your vehicles. We were able to back into our site with our truck and had much space to spare. There are no hookups (neither water, nor electric), so if you want to use electric appliances you'll have to have a generator. Also, fill up your onboard water tanks at home, or use a water spigot at the campground. These minor drawbacks (for some, not for us) are made up for in the campground's isolation from paved roads and subsequent lack of traffic and the peacefulness of the forested surroundings.

The campground has two bathhouses with flush toilets and warm water showers. But there is no dump station. Just a couple of miles down the road from Hurricane is Raccoon Branch Campground, another National Forest facility. It does have a dump station and it is open to campers at Hurricane.

We like this campground so much for many reasons. But at the top of our list is that it is very, very quiet. There is no noise from passing autos because the only nearby roads are gravel Forest Service roads and not heavily used. The forest is deep and lush, classic Southern Cove Hardwood. Plenty of trees of an amazing variety and lots of flowering plants in spring and summer.

There is no shortage of things to do here. I love to hike and there are hundreds of miles of amazing trails. You can access the Appalachian Trail from the campground. One can drive to Damascus and bike the Virginia Creeper Trail, which I very highly recommend. Start at the Whitetop Station and you can bike pretty much all downhill to Damascus. A very inexpensive and gorgeous way to spend part of a day. Grayson Highlands State Park is nearby, and the trails there make you feel more like you're hiking in Montana than in Virginia. Seriously. I have shown photos I've take above Massie Gap to people and they think I took them in the Rocky Mountains.

To our way of thinking, Hurricane Campground is one of the best options in the southeastern USA for camping. Trails. Quiet. Solitude. Waterfalls. Wildlife. Deep forests. What the heck else do you need?

Entrance to Hurricane Campground.

Our site was level. All we had to do was park and use the tongue jack. Level as could be!

Carole is always in charge of the campfire. She does about half of her cooking over the fire.

Unlimited firewood was provided free of charge by the campground hosts! They did this on their own. They had permission to cut up and split downed trees. Then the hosts would pile it up in a huge stack near the center of the campground. Take all you want!

Our favorite site: #19. Streamside.

Bathhouse with shower.

I didn't see much wildlife on this trip, but I did get this photo of a grouse.

A hike I took to bag a 4,500-foot peak. I got lost. This was actually taken after I'd gotten lost.

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