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Thread: A round trip

  1. #1

    Default A round trip

    Hi everyone,

    I'm planning to visit my best friend who is about to start a combat medic course as a part of NATO program at army base in Austin Texas. The plan is to meet him in Austin when he finishes the course (9th of June), and go on a 10-12 day round trip that would take us from Austin to Huston, New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas and back to Austin, where we take a plane back home. We are thinking of renting a car a, picking out camping gear (since we prefer camping to motels), and hitting the road with no pre-set daily plans.
    Since nether of us have ever visited US, I'd really appreciate any and all advice 2 European near-middle age guys could use on the road and camping. Like; is there a real danger of rattlesnakes in Texas, outdoors laws regarding camp fires (one of the things we swore to make is a real Texan chili and grill our own T-bone steak...), any gear we should or should NOT have... things like that.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default What Can Be Foretold

    Welcome Aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The answers to your questions largely depend on the levfel of camping that you’re going to be doing. Starting from the most ‘upscale’, there are commercial campgrounds that generally cater to the RV crowd, but where any encounters with wildlife of any kind would be few and far between, and the basic firepit or grills would be provided. Next would be state and national parks and national forest prepared campsites. These also usually come with some sort of facility for a fire, but will have fewer bells and whistles and may also occasionally face fire restrictions, depending on the fire danger. Again, due to the prevalence of people at these sites wild life encounters will be minimal, but you will be in an area that attracts food scavengers. At the ‘low’ end are distributed campsites in the national forests. These are unprepared sites that will require you, in most cases, to pack in and out and set up at some proscribed distance from roads and water sources, but otherwise leave you free to camp where you will. At such sites, you will be completely responsible for building your own cooking facilities and you may place even further restrictions in areas that have not seen rain for a while. Also, since these are not frequented sites, the wildlife is in charge and it will be up to you to find out what the indigenous critters are and what precautions need to be taken. The area that you’re going to be visiting is large enough that no one can give you a blanket warning or all-clear on venomous snakes and insects or large carnivores that may see you as a tasty lunch (very few and far between). Best advice: Inquire locally!

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-21-2011 at 12:02 PM.

  3. #3


    O.K., thanks for the tips. Our only fixed plan along the route for now, is to visit the NASA center in Huston and WWII museum in New Orleans. Any sugestions on what else we should have a look at?

  4. #4

    Default June in East Texas and the Deep South

    Hello Ukkio,

    Within a short distance from Austin, headed towards Houston, you'll leave the Texas "Hill Country" and will be on the Gulf Coastal Plain practically all the way back to Dallas. The terrain you'll encounter will range from flat as a pancake to very gently rolling low hills. There will be miles and miles of pine forests, swamps, sluggish streams, and lakes. The weather is likely to be very hot and very humid. I would expect daytime high temperatures in excess of 95 degrees F and overnight lows in the mid- to upper 80s, with continued high humidity, at night. You may luck out and experience highs of "only" the upper 80s and lows in the upper 70s, but the humidity will likely make for uncomfortable camping even then, especially for Europeans not accustomed to midsummer heat. The likelihood of encountering campfire restrictions is very low, as the nearly jungle-like vegetation in the Deep South rarely dries out enough to present a fire danger in June.

    The National Forest (NF) system offer inexpensive, if rustic, camping opportunities, both on a "distributed" basis as noted by AZBuck, and through many campgrounds. I'd recommend using only designated campgrounds in this part of the US, as the NF units in the South are more often an odd patchwork of public and private property, and boundaries are challenging to locate at times. Better to use the well-signed campgrounds than to discover you've trespassed on somebody's woodland plot.

    A cursory glance at NF units on or close to your route shows the Sam Houston and Davey Crockett NF north of Houston and Beaumont, TX, Homochitto and Holly Springs NF in Mississippi as you head up I-55, and no nearby units down I-40 and I-30 back to Dallas (but just west and north of I-40 and I-30 are the Ozark and Ouchita NFs, offering low mountains, whitewater streams, and plenty of streamside camping). I'd spend some time on the National Forest website, where you can search and examine NF units on a state-by-state basis, with most having both maps of and detailed descriptions of their campgrounds. Be aware of the existence of numerous State and Local parks through out the states you'll pass through, many of which offer camping. There will be many water-supply reservoirs along the way, also, and virtually every one of them offers campsites.

    I wouldn't be too worried about rattlesnakes once you leave Hill Country, but the Coastal Plain is rich with copperheads and water moccasins (both are poisonous pit vipers, like rattlers), and some rattlers thrive in the lower, swampy country. On average, they're more scared of you than the opposite, so just be careful when walking through brushy, weedy areas, and don't reach your hand into blind spots. Frankly, I'd be more concerned with mosquitos and ticks in LA, MS, East TX, and AR.

    I'd also be unconcerned about other threats from other wildlife. There are a few black bears scattered about, some coyotes, and a whole host of varmints (javelina, opossum, raccoons), but the worst problem they present is the propensity to raid your food supply, so keeping the cooler and groceries locked up in the car is advised. And by all means, inquire locally, as it's been quite some time since I did much camping in LA, MS, or TX.

    As to what not to bring, you need to know the great majority of your tour is through the so-called "Bible Belt" where alcohol is not served everywhere and is not allowed within State or Local parks (The Banana Republic of Louisiana + Memphis are the LARGE exceptions to this general rule). Most often, however, simply having your beverages in a cup instead of walking about with a beer or wine bottle in one's hand, and of course exercising some moderation, will prevent the locals from worrying you about having a few at the campsite. High on the list of what TO bring will be insect repellent. After that's stowed in your gear, be sure to get some insect repellent. Once you've packed that up, be sure to get some insect repellent to bring along. Do you catch my drift? The Deep South is buggy in June.

    Oh, and it might be a challenge to find campgrounds in the vicinity of New Orleans. The terrain outside of the city and its suburbs is mostly swamp. I know of no NF units close by, but plenty of National Wildlife Refuges occupy hundreds and hundreds of square miles of swampland.

    Have fun on your Deep South Tour!


  5. #5


    Thanks Foy,

    these are some seriusly helpfull tips! If it is O.K. with you, I'll come back with some more questons at a later date...

  6. #6

    Default Of course!

    You're quite welcome, Ukkio, I'm happy to chime in whenever I have time.


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