Campsite of the Month-Standing Indian Campground, NC

OFF FOREST DEVELOPMENT RD 67
FRANKLIN  NC  28734
(828) 524-6441
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recreation/ohv/recarea/?recid=48668&actid=62

The Scoop

Standing Indian Campground is located in the Nantahala Forest in Southeast North Carolina. Located just south of the Great Smoky Mountain Range within the Nantahala National Forest, this campground served as our viewing site for the August 21st total solar eclipse. Here you'll find great hiking, fishing, hunting and primitive, improved, RV and group campsites. It is well-know to hikers due to its access to the iconic Appalachian Trail. 

View from campsite #34 overlooking hill, grassy area and campsites 22, 23 and 30

What We Loved

There are some really awesome campsites here. Most sites are close together like you'd find at most parks, but a few, like the one pictured above, offered space and privacy and a break in the trees that was perfect for eclipse viewing! Standing Indian also offered great hiking. In addition to access to the Appalachian Trail, there were several trail systems within the park with great views and beautiful waterfalls. The camp store was well stocked and the park staff was friendly and helpful. The clean restrooms and hot showers were a much appreciated amenity as well.  

View from bridge crossing Nantahala River. 

What We'd Like to See Instead

There isn't really anything you could ding this park for so if we have to pick something, we'd choose the lack of a swimming hole. There were plenty of waterfalls to view and places where splashing in the creek was refreshing and fun, but an actual swim location would have been nice as well. Although, the water was pretty cold, so we probably would not have lasted long! 

Caving with the Kiddos

Ever since Curby and I went caving and rappelling at Colorado Bend State Park, our boys have been begging to go on a spelunking adventure of their own. They've been working on their climbing skills at a local indoor rock gym, but last week they finally had the chance to check out some of the awesome formations they have been obsessed with learning about. 

We took them to a great spot in Georgetown called Inner Space Cavern. Many kids in central Texas will at some point in their elementary school careers make a stop here (or at Natural Bridge Caverns near San Antonio). It was discovered in 1963 during drilling surveys related to the construction of an overpass on Interstate Highway 35. A portion of the overpass is actually built directly above the cave! Three different tours with varying degrees of difficulty are offered at the caverns. The Adventure Tour was perfect for our young beginners. It is an hour long excursion on a man-made, lighted path. Not exactly wild cave exploration (though you can get your fix on the four-hour Wild Cave Tour), but perfect for families or people with physical limitations. There is no crawling or climbing involved and all of the rooms are open and spacious. 

soda straw ceiling

temptation rock

During the tour, the boys were very excited to point out many examples of the formations they had seen in pictures and videos. They also enjoyed learning the names of some formations our guide showed us including soda straws, cave bacon, flowstone and the kissing column, a stalactite/stalagmite couple that will grow the last half inch needed to be considered an official column in a short 50 years. We also saw the original man-made entrance to the cave, an excavation site (the fossils and bones of more than 40 species of animals have been found inside the cave, including eleven that are now extinct!), and experienced total darkness—I’m not sure how much the boys appreciated that part! 

Beautiful example of flowstone

They did appreciate Temptation Rock. Since this cave system is considered live, or active, you are asked not touch any of the formations in the cave to minimize the risk of depositing foreign dirt or oils that might threaten the growth of a the beautiful formations.  Temptation Rock is a dead spot within the cave that the boys (and everyone else on the tour for that matter) were excited to be given permission to touch. Probably our least favorite part of the tour was getting cave kisses, a nice way of describing the droplets of water that sometimes fall right on top of your head from the cave ceiling. It can be quite surprising and cold! 

We had a great experience and for folks that are interested in exploring a little bit of the underground, Inner Space Caverns is a great place to do it. The employees were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. For more information on these amazing structures, visit the Texas Speleological Society webpage. They also have links to more of Texas’ show and wild caves. Happing Caving!

~The LIN Crew

Lake of the Moon

Campsite of the Month-Pace Bend Park

Don't let the name fool you! kid's cliff is not for little ones!

Don't let the name fool you! kid's cliff is not for little ones!

The Scoop

Another Hill Country gem, Pace Bend Park does not disappoint. This scenic 1300-acre park run by the Travis County Parks Department offers 20 miles of multi-use trails, 9 miles of shoreline (boat ramps and swimming only coves), improved and unimproved campsites, restrooms and showers for overnight guests, and numerous picnic tables, barbecue pits and fire rings sprinkled throughout the park. Boating, fishing and camping are among the most popular activities here. It is also a popular cliff diving spot! 

Improved lot with water and electricity

Improved lot with water and electricity

What We Loved

The trails here are a great combination of technical and scenic. You'll constantly find your attention being tugged between concentrating on your footwork and taking in the views. Campsites on the east side of the park offer views of the sunrise and easy access to the lake for swimming and fishing. On the west your campsite will sit atop ledges that overlook the lake and offer prime views of the evening sky. The northern section of the park is tucked away from the main park and is a great place for a large group to claim sites near prime swimming coves. Pace Bend currently only offers camping reservations for its 20 improved lots, so be sure to arrive at the park early on prime weekends to get the best pick of the unimproved sites.

Unimproved Lots along Levi cove

Unimproved Lots along Levi cove

What We'd Like to See Instead

Evidence of the real estate development in the area is apparent in the number of structures that are visible in the hills across the lake. The park is quiet and there is still a lot of green on the horizon, but you are definitely reminded of your proximity to the city. Our only other negative observation was how very close together the improved lots are to one another. Campers in this area will find privacy lacking. All of the lots circle the restrooms and showers and the convenient location is nice, but the steady steam of traffic near camosites is not as appreciated. Regardless, we encourage you to check out this great park and if you're brave enough, take a jump off of Kid's Cliff!