Potters Creek Campground, Canyon Lake, TX

Potters Creek Park Campground, site 74. Note the portion of the site where the truck is parked and how it slopes down to the campground road. Many if not most of the sites on the uphill (northern) sides of the campground roads are like this. Sites also include a separate area to the side for tow vehicle parking. that area is unused in this photo. You can see the concrete pier at the rear of it.

CAMPGROUND NAME: Potters Creek Park
LOCATION: Canyon Lake, TX
KIND: Army Corps of Engineers (COE or ACE)
RATES: $30
CLUBS: Government Interagency passes good for 50% off
RESERVATIONS ACCEPTED: Yes. There are also some First-Come-First-Served or (walk-in) sites
CAMPGROUND WEB SITE (Recreation.gov)
PHONE: 830-964-3341
GPS: 29.90800, -98.26300

ACCESS: Via paved roads
SITES: 119
MAXIMUM RIG SIZE: Most rigs will fit here I expect. Check with the office
LEVELNESS: Some sites are very level; some sites are partly level partly sloped (see text below); some sites are a bit tilty
SHADE: Some site yes, others no: see Google Maps satellite photo below
SPACING: Good, typical of the COE
TENT PADS: I didn’t see any but not all the loops were open
PETS: On leash

HOOKUPS: Water, Electric 30A, 50A
ELECTRICAL QUALITY: No faults, 120 volts (As indicated by my Progressive Industries Power Management System, Model EMS-HW50C.

CELLULAR: AT&T and Verizon were both quite good here including LTE

Over-the-air: Yes, maybe 20 channels or so
Cable: No
WiFi: No

RESTROOM RATING: A reluctant PASS. See text below. (I assign a Pass or Fail rating based on many considerations including: cleanliness, usability, hot water availability, hand soap availability, ease or difficulty it is to use the toilet paper, condition of fixtures, if using the restroom is a pleasant or unpleasant experience, etc.)
SOAP: No, hence the reluctant PASSing grade above.
SHOWER RATING: FAIL. See text in my report below. (I evaluate showers in a similar fashion to restrooms.)

BUGS: Not in late November when we were there

Gas: Nearby in Canyon Lake
Dump: In the campground
Propane: That may be Blue Sky Propane, 15 minute drive, 830-935-4328
Groceries: Brookshire Bothers in Canyon Lake. A nice market, not huge, not tiny.
RV Parks: There are 3 other ACE campgrounds surrounding the lake plus several independent campgrounds

Potters Creek Park is an Army Corps of Engineers campground. These are sometimes abbreviated COE (for Corps of Engineers) or ACE (for Army Corps of Engineers). One might think that they are intended for use by military personnel, but while they may be welcome at ACE campgrounds the general public is the primary beneficiary.

Oddly, or interestingly, this branch of the U.S. military “…is one of the nation’s leading federal providers of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states. Visitors of all ages can enjoy traditional activities like hiking, boating, fishing, camping and hunting, and for those slightly more adventurous there is snorkeling, windsurfing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking and geo-caching.” The quote I just provided comes from this ACE web page. All this will come as no surprise to many of my readers.

How the Army came to be involved in recreation remains a matter of curiosity to me as I have not been successful in determining the answer to that question in the short amount of time I have devoted to researching.

Google Maps satellite view of Potters Creek Park campground.
Google Maps satellite view of Potters Creek Park campground. The blue dot shows the location of site 74 where we were camped.

Now, as to Potters Creek Park Campground, it is located at Canyon Lake, a reservoir created by the COE in Canyon Lake (a “census designated place”), TX, a part of Texas known as Hill Country, roughly halfway between San Antonio and Austin in what might be termed the south central part of Texas.

Like many COE campgrounds RV campsites here have water and electricity, paved campsites with decent spacing between them, and the campground is on the edge of a lake created by a COE dam. COE campgrounds are also known to be reasonably priced. Here they are $30 a day or if you have an interagency pass such as the Lifetime Senior Pass the rate is half that. We stayed at Potters Creek for 5 nights for $75, a sum not much more than many much less pleasant independent campgrounds charge for one night.

Campsites at the east.
These campsites are at the extreme eastern end of the eastern loop,

Potters Creek Park Campground has a swimming beach. It also has a boat ramp and a fishing dock.

This is a JPEG of the campground map. A larger version in PDF format is available via the CAMPGROUND MAP link I provided above. They didn’t have any maps to hand out at the campground when I was there so if you think you might want one while camping at Potters Creek it may be best to print a copy. The PDF might be a little better for that.

During our late November stay the campground was largely deserted; some of the campsites were closed for the winter season. The campground remains open all year, by the way, and while we were there one of the loops was first-come-first-served while the other was reservable. The campground was very quiet most of the time but occasionally a loud motorboat would buzz by on the lake. During the main camping season the campground is packed and I can imagine it is a much less quiet place due not only to people but a great many more motorboats.

Potters Creek Park Campground: an area of trees next to the bathhouse if I'm not mistaken.
Potters Creek Park Campground: an area of trees next to the bathhouse if I’m not mistaken.

The restrooms at Potters Creek Park deserve a mention because they were rather nice by campground standards. We have found that some restrooms at the higher end independent parks are spacious with modern appointments, heat, ventilation, air conditioning, well lighted and are immaculately kept. Many restrooms at independent campgrounds aren’t quite so nice, and at municipal, federal or state campgrounds they often seem to need repair, redesign. Frankly, we prefer the shower in our RV to most campground showers, many of which we refuse to use.

At Potters Creek Park, while dated, I gave the restrooms a passing grade with the exception of no hand soap being provided. The showers, while nicer than many others still failed my pass/fail grading system. On the positive side they are very spacious, you can adjust water temperature to your liking and the water was plenty hot enough; at 6′ tall I could stand completely underneath the shower head; the bathroom/shower house was heated. Some distance from being perfect, lacking shelves for example, and while there are benches in the showers there are no curtains between the shower area and the bench by which to keep them dry when showering. Showering at Potters Creek Park was not an unpleasant experience for me as it would be at a great many other campgrounds. Diane, however, reported to me that in the ladies bathhouse in our loop the shower drain backed up during use making showering less pleasant than it should be. That is reason enough for me to give a failing grade to the showers.

These sites are along the shore of Canyon lake, just out of view to the right.
These sites are along the shore of Canyon lake, just out of view to the right.

In the men’s bathhouse there was just enough light by which I could shave and it was provided by the single skylight. There are electric lights inside but they appear to be on a timer or solar switch–campers have no means by which to turn them on or off… none that I could find, anyway.

As to the campsites themselves, some are shaded to a degree while others are out in the open. A look at the satellite view will show you what I mean. The campground is on a gently sloping hillside and some of the campsites reflect this. Ours for example (74) had a portion that sloped downward to the campground road (see photo above). This made backing-in something of an uphill push. Sites with this sloping driveway arrangement tended to be on the uphill (northern) sides of the campground loop roads. Those on the lakeshore and southern sides of the road tended to be flatter for the entire length of the pavement. We picked our site based on satellite photos because of the trees or shrubs we could see, hoping they would provide some additional privacy. They didn’t, really, as the leaves of the trees were above the level of our windows. The trees also needed some pruning so as not to scratch RVs as they pull in or out of the site.

I understand that much of the campground has been redone and still some not completely refinished. This is due to flooding that submerged a good deal of the campground. The attendant at the kiosk told me it flooded twice in recent years. The prudent camper will stay apprised of the weather, flood watches and warnings and the like.

From this photo you can see that some of the campsites on the left (north side of the campground road) tend to have a slope coming off of the campground road whereas those on the right (south side) do not. This isn’t true for all of the sites in all of the loops, but if you prefer a site that is more level from front to back then it may be better to pick one on the south side of the campground road if you are making reservations ahead of time.

While Potters Creek Campground has a 14 day stay limit, beginning sometime in December 2018, under some circumstances it may be able to arrange for a longer stay during the winter season. In order to do so some paperwork must be filled out… I’m sketchy on the details because when I spoke to the campground attendant the system of extended stays had not yet been implemented and the details weren’t totally clear.

If anyone is interested in birding there was a fair amount of activity in that department while we were at Potters Creek Park. Our sightings included a bald eagle, egrets, ruby-crowned kinglet, osprey, tufted titmouse, Egyptian goose and Carolina chickadee, among others.

Mission San Jose, San Antonio TX
Mission San Jose, San Antonio TX. One of a handful of old missions along the River Walk Hike & Bike Path.

One day we traveled to San Antonio, about an hour away by car, to bicycle a portion of the River Walk Hike & Bike Path that runs between several of the old missions built in the 1700s and at the northern end, the Alamo. Here is a map of the path which has off-street and on-street sections, pedestrian paths, shared pathways and bike rental stations.

The San Antonio Missions  is actually a unit of the National Park Service with a visitor center located at Mission San Jose. We bicycled between 3 of the missions on that trail: Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada. To the north, we did not bicycle to Mission Concepcion or the Alamo, the former due to time constraints and the latter for that reason plus it would involve city streets. Should you decide on riding the trail be advised that if you want to stay on a nice concrete path and avoid old gravely asphalt sections of it stay to the west side of the river. A ranger at the visitor center located in Mission San Juan suggested we ride part of the route on the trail which runs along the east side of the river. She said it was paved, but that is stretching the meaning of what people expect when you say “paved”.

The Alamo
The Alamo.

We would camp at Potters Creek Park again.

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