Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oconee State Park, South Carolina. Part I Drive to the Park

Oconee SP WebPage Table of Contents for This Series

  1. Drive to Park and Initial Impressions.
  2. The Park Entrance, Office, and Swimming Area
  3. Interview with Ms. Leslie White, Director, Oconee Heritage Center
  4. Interview with Oconee State Park Manager, Ms. Jo Anna White

Off to Oconee State Park today. Another of South Carolina’s CCC-built Parks. Completed, if memory serves, in 1935.

Many folks who RV camp in South Carolina describe Oconee as their favorite. The Park is one of Oconee County’s “must-see” features, in the westernmost part of the State. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the country. With an elevation of around 1,800 feet. So it should be a bit cooler than Columbia.

Route to Oconee SP The drive up took about four hours. Nearly all of it on nice two-lane secondary highways. The interstates would have been faster. But if you hurry to get to recreation sites after you’re retired, it’s time for a reality check!

Before I knew it, I was driving through Walhalla, Oconee’s County Seat. Route 28 goes right through town. Walhalla looks like a nice village. I’ll be back on Tuesday, if all goes well, to visit the Oconee Heritage Center and interview Ms. Leslie White, the director.

It was only after Walhalla that the road and surrounding scenery took on that characteristic mountain feel. At least for me. Steep banks of rich green moss-based forest on both sides of the road. One side sharply up; the other sharply down. Hairpin and near-hairpin curves that required full attention when pulling a trailer. Good thing cell phone service around here is spotty at best! Drivers on this road don’t need that distraction. And a freshness in the air that’s hard to describe.

entrance 01 After forking right on Route 107 it wasn’t long before this impressive State Park entrance came into view. More on that in another post.

office porch Then over to the CCC-built Park Office to check in and on to site # 16. The Park Office too requires more comprehensive treatment in a later post.

Oconee State Park maintains well over 100 RV-ready campsites. All with electricity and water. As well as tent sites, primitive camping sites, and around 20 cabins. In other words, this Park offers the overnight visitor with a lot of choices. Even Campophobics could be happy here!

If one of those cabins is unoccupied, maybe the Park management will allow me to go in for a look around and some photos. Let’s hope. But first, over to settle in on RV campsite # 16.

By the way, I use the convenient internet-based ReserveAmerica service for campground reservations. It’s a great improvement over the old call-and-pray system. Their descriptions of campgrounds, and of specific sites – so far, anyway – have been detailed and accurate. A few even include photos. On-line sign-up and reservations are quick and simple. Still, even with ReserveAmerica’s resources, I’m apprehensive before the first visit to a new campground.

site 16Here’s a photo of site # 16 at Oconee State Park. As you can see, no need for apprehension. A nicely maintained pull-through with a view of the lake. Here’s a short video with some more detail.

Did you see the Park pickup that drove by while I was shooting video? That was Mr. Bobby, Park Host and all-around facilitator for this part of Oconee State Park’s campground. Mr. Bobby drives through slowly several times a day, checking to see if anyone needs help, and to make sure the campground’s roads and sites remain spic-and-span. His efforts make a big difference. Don’t know where he gets all that energy!

Enough for now. Tomorrow I hope to wander around for closer looks at the features Oconee State Park has to offer. So stay tuned.

Click here for the next post in this series.

Click here to return to the CarolinaConsidered Project website.

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