Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gunter Hill COE Campground - Third Visit - Halloween

We left Gunter Hill COE Campground from our second visit wondering what happens at the park during Halloween weekend that makes people talk excitedly about it. By the time we parked our trailer at Fort Rosie, we decided to make reservations for Halloween weekend. We were surprised that both loops were nearly full. The Catoma loop, the one recently reopened after renovations, was full. There were about a dozen sites open in the older Antioch loop.

Surprisingly, site 101 was open so we booked it. This was the second time we were able to reserve this premium space and this would have been impossible in previous years because this site was typically reserved months in advance.

Since we figured that this was going to be a festive weekend, we decided to buy some decorations for Rosie, our Airstream trailer. We found some orange Christmas-type lights at Home Depot plus we bought some awning lights at Camping World. We knew that we would be able to fit in with families camping over Halloween at Gunter Hill Campground.

As we were checking in, the park attendant said that he just had a cancellation in the Catoma loop. He also said that there were only seven open sites in the entire park for the weekend. For the second time, we switched from site 101 to an unknown one in the new loop.

The park attendant described Catoma as the "festive" loop. We understood what he meant when we turned into the campground area. There were lots of Halloween decorations and lights everywhere in the park. Suddenly, we knew what the camper meant three weeks ago when he excitedly asked if we were planning to return for Halloween. It was apparent that this was going to be a fun weekend.

You have to keep in mind that Gunter Hill is, in my opinion, one of the top Corp of Engineers parks in our region. They have great sites, full hook-ups and the park is well maintained.

Rosie, our Airstream trailer, with Halloween lights
We have already talked about this park in previous posts. This posting is about being in the park during Halloween weekend.
Some of the festive lights at Gunter Hill's Halloween weekend

The Trick-or-Treat Parade at Gunter Hill COE Campground

Autumn colors at Gunter Hill Campground
Fall at Gunter Hill Campground
Annie getting very involved in a game of Sorry
We learned that a number of other parks have "holiday specials." The obvious dates are the 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Years. We found that Gunter Hill's Halloween celebration was great fun and well worth the trip.

This was also a time when the park was filled with families and small children. It also seemed that most people in the park knew each other. We were in the Catoma loop because of a cancellation. It appears that the family that cancelled was probably related to the campers all around us. Fortunately, the family was very nice and we enjoyed camping next to them.

We plan to return next year for Halloween at Gunter Hill Campground.

Gunter Hill COE Campground - Second Visit

Our second visit to Gunter Hill COE Campground was very different from the first. There are two loops at Gunter Hill and we stayed in the Antioch loop the first time. Actually, the Catoma loop wasn't an option since it was closed and being renovated.

Gunter Hill COE Campground - Catoma Loop
We enjoyed being in the Antioch loop during our last visit. It had some sites with great views of the creek. (It seems silly to call Catoma Creek a creek. It is wider than some rivers.) The loop was also alive with lots of campers, children playing and the smell of camp foods being cooked.

We learned on our second visit that the Catoma loop was open, the Antioch loop was about to be closed for renovation and that only three or four campers were in the Antioch loop. We thought we were very lucky to have site 101, a premium waterfront site, reserved in the Antioch loop, but we quickly decided to give up this site for an unknown one in the Catoma loop.

The bridge in the Catoma Loop
Armed with a new campground map, we started looking for our site. First impressions were very positive. Camp sites were very spacious and your neighbors were not right next to your trailer. Each site had a concrete pad, water, electric and sewage hook up. In short, it was easy to see why the campers moved over to the Catoma loop.

Another view of our camp site
The Catoma loop has wide sites and is well maintained. It doesn't have as many water view sites as the Antioch loop, but you substitute the feeling that you are in the woods and you end up with a reasonable trade.

The newly paved roads were great for riding our bicycles. They were also good for taking walks.

Sunset at Gunter Hill COE Campground
What about the Antioch loop? We rode our bikes over to look at this area. It was sad to see this mostly empty area, which was full of campers a few months earlier. We didn't notice the first time we stayed in Gunter Hill how close the sites were to each other. We didn't notice how cramped the sites were. We didn't notice how many ruts were in the road. We did notice this time how sad we felt about this good camping area as it was clearly reaching it final moments before being closed for renovations.

The bottom line is that the Catoma loop is one of the best Corp of Engineers parks near Montgomery. It is nice to be less than 15 minutes away from Alabama's capital city and to be in a relaxing country setting.

Annie enjoying Gunter Hill COE Campground
On our last day in the park, a fellow camper asked if we were planning to return on Halloween weekend. We asked what happens on Halloween. His response was that they really do Halloween right.

Not knowing how to do Halloween right, we decided that we needed to return to Gunter Hill COE Campground in three weeks for Halloween.

For the record, the campsites in Gunter Hill's COE Campground Catoma Loop has:
  • 30 and 50 amp electrical service
  • Concrete pads
  • Full hook-ups (water, electric sewage)
  • One dump station
  • There are some great roads for riding your bicycles
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in this park via antenna
  • Campers said that it was a challenge to capture either Dish or Direct satellite TV
  • There isn't wi-fi in the park, but AT&T's 3G and 4G service is adequate
  • The restrooms and showers in this park are modern, functional and clean.