Our most recent camping trip took us to Martin Dies Jr. State Park. It’s located about two hours East-North Est of Houston near Jasper, Texas on the shores of Steinhagen Reservoir. The area is wooded, and there is lots of wildlife at this park.
We were able to check in very easily with what was probably the quickest and easiest check-in we’ve had at any state park. The map directed us to our spot which Sherry picked for us and was right on the lake. Although it was cool and windy the weekend we went, the tall trees helped mitigate some of that wind.
The campsite we had reserved was spacious and could easily accommidate two tents and two vehicles. We parked the Gunship on the provided space and pitched the Tuff Stuff Alpha roof top tent.
It was also our first time using the Joolca Hottap water heater. While we didn’t use it for showers, it was very nice to have hot water to do the dishes after meals. The campsite we were at did not have electricity, but it did have water (directly over my shoulder in the photo above).
The reservoir is very large and people into boating, kayaking, and canoeing could easily find days worth of exploring around the park. I did see a lot of people fishing from their boats as well. We brought our kayaks with us, but it was too windy to be safe, and we didn’t want to risk it. Besides, we had Buddy, our Shihtzu with us, and we didn’t want his first kayak ride to be scary.
Speaking of pets, the park is pet-friendly, and there were lots of dogs at the campsites around us. The dogs are required to be leashed at all times, however, so if you do bring your dogs, make sure you have a leash.
We were able to get some hiking in, and while the trails aren’t very long, they are very well maintained and it’s a very pretty trail and area. We haven’t ever hiked in an area like this, and the trees and plants were very interesting to look at.
There are alligators in the area, so that is something to be aware of, but we didn’t see or hear any. We did see some oppossums and squirrels, though, as well as many birds. The people at the campsite next to us were bird watchers, and they were having a great time looking at all the winged wildlife.
All in all, it’s a really nice park. It’s spacious, the campsites are well-maintained and clean, and the interactions I had with the staff were all positive. The fire wood was a bit on the pricey side ($1/stick) which made me glad I brought some purchased locally outside the park.
Of all the parks we’ve been to so far, I’d put this one on-par with Fairfield State Park which is rated a 7/10. However, this park has larger campsites, a much larger body of water, and it just felt more secluded. Therefore, I rate this park at 8/10. It is a very-well laid out park in a very nice location with lots to do as long as you’re into kayaking, canoeing, boating, hiking, and/or biking.
I recommend using the Reserve America website to secure a campsite well in advance. One of the realities of the world in COVID-19 is that more people are visiting parks and forests than ever, and unless you have a reservation, you will likely be unable to camp at a standard campground. We have been using Reserve America with great success since last year. It makes the reservation process easy and reduces the wait during check-in.