James Island County Park Campground (Charleston, SC)

Site 75

“…so we loaded up the RV and headed to James Island…..” OK, so I shouldn’t mess with the lyrics to the Ballad of Jed Clampet. But the CurbCrushers did load up the RV and head to Charleston, South Carolina the first weekend of June to spend a week. Lady CurbCrusher has been wanting to go to Charleston for a couple of years. Last year she started talking about a place to stay, the James Island County Park Campground and Cottages. This county park is located just across the river from Charleston on James Island, has full hook-up, a water park, dog park, bike trails, a dock and a rock climbing wall. I think I remembered everything.

Before you enjoy the park though you have to get there. It was about an eight hour drive north from Orlando and started as a nice overcast drive. Once we hit Jacksonville the thunderstorms started, and for the most of the trip up I-95 we drove in and out of storms and rain. Once we arrived in Charleston, we followed the GPS and found ourselves driving down a couple of narrow roads. You first turn off of US-17 onto Folly Road, which is a four lane road, but it feels extremely narrow. The telephone poles are right next to the road, creating the feeling that you are going to rip off your right side mirror if you stay in the right lane. Then you turn down Central Park Road, which has lots of tree. None are to low, but I sweated the entire mile or so we were on that road. We left by a different path, traveling on Riverland Drive to Maybank Highway to Main Road to get to US-17. While a bit further, it was a much less stressful drive.

This trip also marked the first trip where we averaged over 7 MPG for the whole trip. It was roughly three-fourths of a tank of gas each way, averaging 7.5 MPG on the way up and 7.05 on the return trip. The entire MPG experience with the motorhome is documented here.

The Park and Campground
Arrival and set up was easy enough. You drive into the park past the fee collection booth, and then drive to the campground where you actually check in. The check in process is typical and quick enough. The campground has over 120 sites, and is laid out with plenty of room to turn, and wide enough streets that you can maneuver while backing up. The campground roads are paved, and the campsites are a packed gravel/dirt. All but five of the sites are full hook-up, and fairly deep and wide, so it’s easy to get into and out. There are 30 and 50 amp plugs in the electrical box, and the water and sewer were located on the back drivers sides of the campsite, so there is no need for extension cords or extra hoses. I did notice that some trailers which have forward sewage ports did have to use some long sewer hoses.

This campground is full of families, so there are lots of kids around on their bikes, trikes and scooters during the day. Since there seem to be mostly families, it was very quiet at night, no parties or loud groups gathered. There is a lot of turnover in this campground, and it also seemed like there were a lot of people that moved from site to site each day. I think there was one motorhome we saw on four different sites over four days. I guess if you don’t book early enough, you have to move each day if you want to stay.

There is plenty to do in the park also. The park contains a dog park, a large section set aside for people to let their dogs off leash and run. I don’t think there was a time that we were driving in or out of the park that there weren’t people at the dog park. The dog park has lake frontage, which a number of people were fishing in at all hours of the day, and on Saturday there were folks racing remote controlled sailboats in the lake. The park rents kayaks and paddle boats, which wander the lake, and the small kayak slalom course that is on a canal area. There are a number of nice long bike paths, and the park rents bikes also. The playground is very new, and got the Little CurbCrusher Seal of Approval as a “Great Playground!” There is also a dock on the river, where you’ll find people crabbing and fishing.

Of course in the summertime you want to get wet, and there are a couple of options available to you at the park. There is a Splash Pad near the playground. The Splash Pad is an area with the rubber playground topping and water jets in the middle that shoot up like a fountain. A great place to go cool off. For $8.99 you can buy access to the Splash Zone, which is a water park that is inside the county park. The Splash Zone has two adult size water slides, a pool, a lazy river and a kids play area with another 3 or 4 kid’s size slides. The regular admission is $11.99 for non-county residents, but the campground store sells passes for campers for $8.99. We went on Tuesdays when you buy-one-get-one free, so all three of us went for about $21.00 (The buy-one-get-one doesn’t apply to the $8.99 price.)

If you prefer the beach, you can drive the fifteen minutes over to Folly Beach County Park. Admission is $7.00 per car load, but is waived if you are camping at the James Island County Park Campground. Just show your camping pass and they wave you in the gate.

The park is well known for being decorated at Christmas time, and there is evidence throughout the park of all the lighting that takes place. Since we enjoyed ourselves, and think the place is probably beautiful at Christmas, the CurbCrusher gang is tentatively planning on a return to the James Island County Park Campground just prior to Thanksgiving in 2010.

Pictures of the park are here.


There is a lot to do in Charleston. The CurbCrusher family alternated days at the park (where there was plenty to do) with trips to Charleston area attractions.

Entry to the Hunley exhibit
H. L. Hunley
The first submarine to successfully be used in combat. Used by the Confederates defending Charleston to sink one of the Union blockade ships, the Hunley was lost after the attack in 1864. In 1999 it was finally found and recovered. Since that time, it has been being restored and analyzed. You can take tours and see the actual vessel on Saturdays and Sundays. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in the Hunley. The submarine is still in water, so you can only look down into the tank that it is kept in. Furthermore, their “museum” area and store are so intermingled, that I didn’t feel like there was as much history as there could have been.
Sailing Vessel
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site
The State of South Carolina has a historic site where settlers landed in 1670. There are cannon and musket demonstrations, a 1600’s replica ship and a museum (although I’m noticing that they’ve started calling these “interpretive centers” now). You walk through the park and can visit the small zoo area, and the archaeological dig. We brought our lunch, had a picnic and spent about three or four hours walking around.
Fort Sumter Sign
Fort Sumter
I think most people will associate Charleston with Fort Sumter and the start of the War Between The States. Fort Sumter sits on an island in the middle of Charleston Harbor, and is a National Park (or Monument or some such designation that might not be a National Park, but it’s managed by the National Park Service, so there). At the foot of Calhoun Street in Charleston is a visitors center with an “interpretive center” (or museum) component. You can purchase tickets for a boat ride over to the fort and the boat departs from the dock behind the visitor center for a two and a half hour tour. It takes about 45 minutes to travel each way to the fort, and they give you an hour on the island. When you arrive at the Fort, a park ranger gives about a ten minute talk about the fort, its origins and history before, during and after the Civil War. You can listen to the ranger and then wander around the fort, or you can just start wandering. There is a another museum in the fort. Well worth the effort to make the trip.
Battery Street Houses
Downtown Charleston
So what do you do after a cruise out to the Fort? Take a five mile hike through the streets of Charleston. We wanted to walk along battery street and admire the old houses, and Lady CurbCrusher wanted to see White Point Gardens. We also wanted to take the Gateway Walk (I could not find a functioning website with the map) that runs through a number of church yards and cemeteries. This would probably have been a great walk, but it was kind of ruined by the locked gates between the cemeteries and the poorly marked path through the cemeteries, which caused numerous detours. Finally, we hit Market Street and the Official Visitors Center before calling it a day.
Morris Island Lighthouse
There are two lighthouses that are easy to see in Charleston, the Charleston Light on Sullivans Island and the Morris Island Light. the Charleston Light is about a mile from Fort Moultrie, and the Morris Island Light is just north of Folly Beach. You can drive right up the Charleston Light, but with Morris Island you drive to Folly Beach, make a left and drive ’till the road ends. Then you park and walk a quarter mile to see the lighthouse.
Fort Moultrie Sign
Fort Moultrie
Fort Sumter is not the only Fort in the Charleston Area. Fort Moultrie lies on the north side of Charleston Harbor and also took part in the Civil War. Some of the first shots at Fort Sumter were fired from Fort Moultrie. Fort Moultrie was first a fortification during the Revolutionary War, when it was built using palmetto logs. The Americans found out that the fibrous nature of palmetto logs absorbed cannon fire when they repelled a British attack on Charleston. Fort Moultrie is near the Charleston Lighthouse, and near the spot the Hunley launched from the night of its fateful mission.
Folly Beach
Folly Beach
Well, we did spend one day lazing around the beach. We went to the Folly Beach County Park and played in the sand and surf. Not a lot to say about the beach. The entire CurbCrusher gang is made up of native Floridians, so we may be a bit biased, but we haven’t been to a non-Florida beach in the Continental US that is better than the worst beach we’ve been to in Florida. Not saying we didn’t have a good time, just that it’s not much to write about.
Charleston Tea Plantation
The only “tea garden” in America, or so the sign says. South of the campground down Maybank Road, lies the Charleston Tea plantation. We spent a couple of hours, and took the tour. While not really exciting, it was educational. For instance we did not know that tea comes from camellia plants, and it was interesting to see how they harvest and process the leaves in order to make tea.

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