Sunday, October 16, 2011

RV Camping at Chester State Park, South Carolina


Last week I got to spend another five days at South Carolina’s Chester State Park. Don’t know how many of you folks have visited this Park. But if you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat. Maybe even a surprise. You don’t hear as much about Chester as some of the other Parks in the State system. That may be changing, though, judging from the number of RV campsite reservations made for the weekend. Full-up! Things seem to be looking up here at Chester State Park.

I know; I know. Every South Carolina State Park I visit is a treat. And that’s been pretty much true. One skeptical reader even wrote to ask if I work for the Park System! I don’t, of course. And am careful not to receive any freebies or special treatment from them either. Well, other than the opportunity to enjoy their remarkable recreational facilities. But everyone can do that. All are welcome. All, that is, who are willing to abide by the Park System’s very sensible rules of conduct.

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Chester is one of those Parks you can begin to enjoy even before you get there. Have a look at this map. This Park is far enough off the beaten path to take you along some of South Carolina’s scenic two-lane roads. Natural and social scenery abounding! But it’s also just a few miles from downtown Chester, a city of around 6,000. Small enough for a comfortable visit, yet large enough to fill any off-site shopping or dining needs you may have while staying at the Park. And, it’s only 50 miles from Columbia and just under 50 miles from Charlotte. An ideal location, in other words, for repeat visits.

This time I drove down from Iron Station, North Carolina, rather than from home. So I got to travel a couple of secondary roads I hadn’t seen before. All part of the adventure! Farms in this part of the state have a look quite different from those in the Lowcountry. Or even those in the more mountainous parts of the Upcountry.

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I arrived just around official check-in time of 2:00 p.m. And went directly to the site. Chester doesn’t have an elaborate check-in system like some of the busier Parks.

A word of caution, though. Take the time to go on-line to make a reservation before you arrive. I find ReserveAmerica’s service the most convenient. It can be reached at Or, call the Park directly at 803-385-2680. But if you plan to occupy an RV campsite, be sure to check availability before going. Especially on weekends. This Park has become considerably more popular during the past few months.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by Assistant Ranger Brandon and Camp Host, Bunia Totherow. Bunia, and her husband, Wylie, are among the most friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable camp hosts I’ve encountered in the South Carolina Park System. And that’s saying a lot! You’ll enjoy meeting them. They live not far away, and know everything worth knowing about the Park and surrounding area.

I discovered, right off the bat, that I’d made a mistake with the reservation. Assistant Ranger Brandon cheerfully helped straighten things out, and got me settled on my site. Park personnel mean so much to the tone and atmosphere of a Park. Almost as much as the natural environment! This sort of welcome really makes a difference.

Lake Satellite ViewBe sure when you visit to spend some time at Chester State Park’s lake. Here’s a satellite view. Click the photo for a larger, more detailed image. As you can see, this lake is quite large. Over 160 acres!

lake and boat house[3]You can rent a jon boat from the house pictured above. Or bring your own. As long as it’s paddle-powered or has only a small trolling motor. I took that photo, by the way, during my last visit.

community-center3Chester State Park too is well known in the surrounding area as an ideal site for large family picnics, reunions, and even more formal gatherings. Look at that community center. Plenty of room, and even kitchen facilities. It too requires reservations, though. So be sure to call ahead.

There’s much more to see here at Chester State Park. But we’re running out of time. Click on the short video above to see a bit more of the Lake. And stay tuned to the Mobile Studio Travels for more of South Carolina’s interesting people and places.

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