Well, I was looking through the statistics of my web pages and what posts or pages got read the most, and was amazed. One of my favorites of course is “Cody’s Page” which tells the story of our grandson who passed away this past January. It got a huge response after I posted it, and it still gets a couple of readers every day. It makes me very happy to know that folks still enjoy reading his story and looking at his pictures and videos. Of course the fishing reports that we post after each trip always get a bunch of readers when they are first posted, but then they drop off quickly.
What has surprised me though is the number of people who review the park and ramp information. The water level has been relatively stable since the big jump this past spring and once the lake was at a normal stage, the ramps have all held in very good shape. Since our blog site is primarily about fishing, we considered the ramp information to be pretty important when the lake is dropping or rising. But, apparently folks take a look at the park information as well as the ramp information, there are a ton of views of those pages.
I thought I would write a little review of the parks…. “MY OPINION“…. on this review… take it with a grain of salt… We typically don’t camp down at Whitney though we have camped some in the past. So these are “passing” observations….
First, the Corps of Engineers parks: I can tell you right off that my personal preference is for the Corp of Engineers parks for your average camping needs and in particular the Corps parks which have gates and are staffed by park personnel. The rates are reasonable, and if you camp a lot at Corps facilities across the country, you can get annual passes which are really cost effective. If you are 65 or older, then the rates can really be good as you can get half-off on all Corps park rates, including the annual pass. For example, we average fishing 2 times a week… and sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. The daily boat launch fee is $3.00. With an annual pass, that price goes down as you use it… I think the annual pass is about $30, maybe $28. anyway, you can break even after 10 trips… or so in two or three weeks, the annual pass pays off for us. Being seniors and having the senior pass, we get the annual pass at about $15. Over a years time, this makes our cost to launch each time at Whitney about 15¢…. not bad huh? Beats the heck out of $3.00. And the savings are similar for Day Use and Overnight Camping costs. A great deal! And, if you would rather be on your own, not in a controlled access park, the Corps also offers 3 primitive parks that are open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I think those parks are patrolled by Park Rangers and the local Sheriff’s Departments, but I am not sure about the frequency.
Here are the Monitored Corps of Engineers Parks on Lake Whitney: I really like these parks because there is staff on site at these parks at all times when they are open. The gates open around 6 a.m. each day and they close the gates at 10 p.m. That keeps other folks from just driving through the camping areas… it makes them a lot safer in my opinion. Some of the un-monitored parks are very remote. I don’t have any stories or information to share about instances of mischief in those parks, but personally, I am only going to stay in the parks with controlled access, the monitored parks. Reservations are required at all the Corps controlled access parks. The reservation phone number is 877-444-6777 or you can get to it on the web at www.recreation.gov . They will have all the fee information; don’t count on mine to be accurate! Also, these parks can offer different types of facilities in the form of restrooms, boat ramps, camp sites, shelters, beaches, etc. and, over time they change. It is best to check with the Corps of Engineers for the most current and detailed information.
Kimball Bend Park. If you want to fish or camp on the upper end of the lake, Kimball Bend is a great park. Over the last couple of years, the Corps has completed significant upgrades to this park. It has new restroom facilities and new camping areas for tents and RV’s. This is a pretty cool park because it has some historical sites on the park camp grounds. This is one of the spots the old Chisholm Trial crossed the Brazos River in the 1800’s. Cowboy stuff you know. There are some remains of some of the old buildings there and the Corps has taken the initiative to preserve those sites. There is a good boat ramp in the park with lots of parking. When we first started fishing Whitney lake, this is where we put in because it was the closest ramp to the Metro-plex. The ramp is also pretty sheltered from the wind no matter what direction the wind is coming from. The fishing isn’t half bad in the Brazos or down where the Nolan meets the Brazos and the main lake. We caught lots of fish up there. At pool stage, there is plenty of room on the river for lots of boats. White bass and striper fishing is good in the river when those fish make their runs. We are not much white or striper fishermen, we typically black bass fish and some good fish come from that area.
Kimball Bend Park is a very nice park for fishing and camping and is open year round.
Plowman Creek Park . If you leave Kimball Bend and travel south on the west side of the lake, you will find Plowman Creek Park. This park is also a great park, more remote than the ones around Whitney and likely less traveled… but don’t bet on it always having vacancies. There is an island out in front of most of the park that provides some pretty good shelter from some of the wind and that is especially true for the boat ramp. Actually, the area around the island and in Plowman Creek provides some good bass fishing and you don’t have to go far. There is a lot of good structure to hold fish and that you can easily target right there next to the park area. There are generally two sections of the park, the front and back sections. If you like camping in the open with an open view of the lake, then the front section might suit you better. The back section has campsites in a grove of trees along the shore. Its shady, but totally the opposite of the front section…. the camp sites are “in the trees.” I like the park, especially if you want to fish the upper end of the lake. For those who like horses, I think this park also has an equestrian center.
Plowman Creek is a nice all around park and is open year round..
Cedron Creek Park. Even though this park is on the west side of the lake, I never think about it that way because we access it from the east side most all of the time. It is right at the west end of the Katy Bridge and it is just a short hop to the town of Whitney from there. I really like this park. When we are not launching from McCown Valley, we are usually launching from the Cedron Creek Park ramp. This ramp is a bit tough when the wind is from the south. I don’t like the ramp if the wind is from the south and more than 10 mph, it makes it difficult to trailer a boat there. If a south wind is up though, it is just a short hop over to the other side of the Katy Bridge to the McCown ramp which is great when the wind is out of the south, but not so good if it is from the north or west. This park also has two areas. One is on the main lake side. this side has some camp sites that are relatively open and provide good views of the lake and some back in two groves of trees that are a bit more sheltered and private. The other area of the Cedron Creek Park is the back side or west side of the park. If I were camping with kids and wanted to fish, this is the park and the preferred area I would camp in. The down side to Cedron Creek is that it is only open 9 months out of the year. I believe it is from 4-1 to 9-30 each year.
What I like about this park is close proximity of good fishing. On the east side of the park, there is a long point that is shallow and the Corps keeps it mowed. You can take your kids fishing there. Sometimes you will see birds all along the shoreline. This will tell you that the fish, being bass, whites and or stripers, have bait fish pushed up in the shallows there where there is just acres of shoreline to fish. I think there is also a small swimming area roped off on the big point and you can drive your vehicle down to that area. Back in Camp Creek, to the west of the ramp, the shoreline also offers great fishing. I say this with a strong word of caution. This area can fool you pretty quickly. We have fished it many times from a boat. The shoreline back in the creek areas drops off quickly, sometimes straight down. The Corps also keeps this area mowed and I would say that fishing can be very good back in that creek area. You just have to be aware that those creeks are deep, as in 20 plus feet in some cases and that you need to use caution when fishing around the water there. If you fall in, you are proably going to be in over your head. There are some flat points back there too, but, as opposed to the big point on the east side, there are creek channels that drop off very sharply and not far from shore. The other side of that coin is that these creek channels can offer some very good fishing. We have caught whites and black bass up in them. If you are launching a boat, the good news is that you can fish this area without cranking your big motor unless you just want to. There is great fishing all around the Camp Creek and Cedron Creek areas. If you want to boat ride and run up or down the lake to fish, that’s fine. If you don’t and want to fish close to where you have camped, you can do that by boat or shore in Cedron Creek Park. The downside to Cedron Creek is that there is no Day Use area which means all that great shoreline fishing is limited to the folks who are camping there. And, I guess if you are camping there, that limitation is an upside. Personally, I think they should open the shoreline to everyone, especially the big point on the east side…. but, that’s just my opinion.
Cedron Creek is a great park for camping.
McCown Valley Park. When we first started camping on Whitney, we camped in McCown Valley Park because it was the ramp that we used most often. It has one of the largest ramps on the lake, a three lane ramp, and in the spring and summer, they need all those ramps and more. It is a very popular park. It also has an equestrian center for those folks who like taking their horse camping. McCown Valley also has a Day Use area. Some of it is beach and some of it is good for fishing. Just a little further down from the beach is a creek that goes back into the park. I have seen folks fishing this area from the shore before, though I have no personal experience fishing that area. Generally though, you are not going to find much place to fish from the shore in McCown Park. I do know that the main lake area just off shore from the beach area can be a pretty good white and striper area. Along that shore is purported where an old railroad bed runs and the fish sometimes stack up there. I think you have to have a pretty good fish/depth finder to find it, but it is there and sometimes the fish are too. There are some great views of the lake from many of the campsites along the shore line in McCown. There are also a number of wooded campsites back away from the shoreline. The equestrian area is on the back side of the park and away from the lake oriented activities. There are two great beaches there, one for the folks who are camping overnight and one for the Day Use folks. No life guards; you are on your own when swimming.
McCown Valley is a nice all around park and is open year round..
Lofer’s Bend Park. This is the largest Corps park on Lake Whitney. It is really 4 parks in one. It has a Day Use area up near the dam. There is a great boat ramp with ample parking, there, play areas for the kids, a sheltered beach area, and places where the shoreline can be fished. It is an outstanding Day Use area. As you enter Lofer’s Bend, it is the first road to the left. If you are going to Lake Whitney for a day of fun, but not camping, this is THE SPOT!
The Lofer’s Bend overnight camping is divided into two different areas. Lofer’s Bend West is open only from 4-1 to 9-30 each year. BUT, this park, Lofers Bend West, offers some of the most panoramic and picturesque views of the lake. Lofer’s Bend West has a good sheltered boat ramp, probably useable whether the wind is from the south or the north. It also has some areas that would make for great fishing from the shore. Again though, the waters around the shoreline can be dangerous with drop-off to greater than 70 feet, especially in the bluff areas.
I like Lofers’s Bend West. Never camped there, but I have been in the park taking pictures of the lake from the campsites on the bluff. Just beautiful.
Lofers Bend East is open year round. It has a good boat ramp, but parking there is limited. It is also a tough boat ramp when the wind if from the north; not one we would use if the wind was above 10 mph or so. It is a big, spacious park that is mostly open. There are some great views from the campsites, but not the “up on the bluff” views that Lofer’s Bend West offers. This park also has some play areas for kids and some of the shoreline is fishable from the bank.
We often use the boat ramp at Lofer’s Bend East when we fish the lower end of the lake.
The Corps parks with open access are Cedar Creek park, Walling Bend Park and Steel Creek Park. These parks have boat ramps and camping facilities and restroom facilities. However, these facilities are relatively more primitive. The open access also means that you are on your own when it comes to security other than the Park Ranger or Sheriff’s patrols. These parks are totally free for camping, boat launches and or just day use.
Cedar Creek Park is on the east side of the lake and provides great access to the mid lake area. It is directly across the cove from the Juniper Cove marina. Camping there is free and boat launches are free. There is some good fishing in the Juniper Cove area and some of the hot spots are, the creek that runs up through Cedar Creek Park, the shoreline and creek area between the Cedar Creek boat ramp and Point 7 on the main lake, Point 7 and the rocky bluffs on the opposite side of the cove as well as the marina. Lots of folks fish on up the creek there as well. It is an area that is often out of the wind and that can make for some comfortable fishing. White bass and stipers often run in the mouth of Juniper Cove and in the immediate main lake area. There are a number of wooded camp sites and they are all sheltered, out of the wind.
Walling Bend is on the West side of the lake and somewhat remote. Access is limited to one road accessed from Fm 2841. There are two ramps in the park, near the entrance at Walling Bend near Walling Bend island and the other on Rocky Creek. The ramp at the entrance is shallow, the ramp on Rocky Creek is deep. Rocky Creek gives you better access to the lower lake and the other access to the mid-lake area. Both ramps have plenty of parking. There is plenty of camp sites. The Rocky Creek area has great day use areas, but they have lots of sun. There are a few tables with sheltered tops, but most of the area is open.
Steele Creek, in my opinion, is the most remote area. It has two sections, one on the red buffs to the north side and one on Steele Creek itself. Both offer some great camp sites with great views of the lake. The north side bluff park offers some places that are often used for swimming. The ramp on the red bluff side is great and has a lot of parking. It offers good access to the mid to upper lake area. It is exposed to the north wind. The Steele Creek ramp is very sheltered and is back in the creek. The park itself on the Steele Creek side is more open and has few wooded sites as compared to the camp sites on the north side of the park. Views from both sides of the park are great. The Steele Creek area is purported to be one of the better fishing areas on Whitney. We just don’t fish up there much as it is not close to the ramps we frequent.
There are also a couple of Day Use only parks on the lake. They are Soldiers Bluff and Riverside. I think there may occasionally be fees charged at Soldiers’ Bluff, but not at Riverside. Soldiers’ Bluff is on the west side of the Whitney dam. Folks often swim there, but it is a bluff area and the water can be deep. You will note that the Corps has provided life vests for free in this area. Read into that what you will; none of the other parks have such a resource that I am aware of. The Riverside park provides access to the Brazos River below the dam. There are no amenities or facilities in that area that I can tell. You can launch a small boat by hand, but there is no ramp below the dam that I am aware of.
There is also another public park up on the Brazos River, west of Rio Vista in Johnson County. This is a large park and has recently undergone a major upgrade. It offers two great sheltered boat ramps and a huge parking lot. I believe they allow bank fishing along the Brazos. There are loads of camp sites and play ground facilities for kids. Many of the campsites overlook the river. You should check with them for fee information and availability. The park is run by Johnson County so fee structures and such are different.
The commercial marinas that I am aware of are White Bluff, Juniper Cove, Harbor Master Marina, and Uncle Gus’s Marina. Camping and rental camps are available at Juniper Cove and Uncle Gus’ Marina. Boat launching is available form all. Harbor Master Marina is located inside Lofer’s Bend Park. It has slips for rent, and a sheltered deep water ramp. I believe they also offer some water craft and scuba gear for rent. There is a convenience store on the site. I have visited with the owners a number of times and found them to be exceptionally “fisherman friendly” and boater friendly. I think if you want the straight scoop on what’s going on at the lake, they will tell you. Boat launching at Harbor Master was $3 last time I checked. Check them out if you need a marina.
Uncle Gus’ Marina is on the west side of the dam. It has a boat sales facility, a boat repair facility and a large number of slips for rent. There are also cabins for rent there. I have also visited with those folks and found them to be very friendly and helpful. They will also give you the straight and skinny on lake issues. You want to know something, just ask them. Their boat ramp is “the most sheltered ramp” on the lake. There is lots of good fishing in the area. I think boat launching there costs $5.
Juniper Cove is a mid-lake facility. I believe it offers tent and RV camping as well as rented cabins. It has a convenience store on the lake. And, it has a large number of boat slips for rent. It has two ramps that are relatively sheltered. Boat launches I believe cost $10 or at least that is what it costs to access the park.
The premier commercial facility on the lake is White Bluff Marina. White Bluff is primarily a golf resort. But it is also just a really nice facility on the lake. It has a super nice marina with a convenience store at the ramp. The marina has slips for rent and I believe that water craft can be rented there. In addition to tent and RV camping it has a hotel and condo’s for rent. It has 5 pools to swim in. In addition to the golf course, it has two very nice restaurants on the sites. If your bride or girl friend is not big into rugged outdoor camping, but is more accustomed to the finer things in life, this is great place to take her. The views from the hotels and the Lighthouse restaurant are great. The facility is just across the lake from Steele Creek park. If want all the comforts of home and great access to the lake, this is the place. You might even decide to buy a home in White Bluff.
Morgan Lakeside Park also used to be a commercial park. I believe this park is currently closed though I have not been around there for a month or so. There is a public ramp just outside the park if you would like access to the lake in the upper area of the lake. It rests between Plowman Creek Park and Steele Creek Park. I believe the commercial marina, store and camping facilities are currently closed to the public. But, things change, so if you are interested, you might call up that way and check.
Links to all the commercial parks are listed in my “Ramps” section of the web sites. Links are listed on the right side of the page as well.
I don’t have any current pictures to go with this post. You can check my Ramp section for pictures and I have some newer pictures in my February, 2012 update on the ramps. You can also link to the Corps of Engineers web site for Whitney lake for additional information.
Its summer. Whitney is a terrific boating lake. Every weekend, the wake board boats, sail boats, ski boats and jet skis cover the lake. The water temperature is now in the 80’s and the lake water is relatively clear. If you are looking for a great place for recreational boating or some challenging fishing…. give Whitney at try.
Here is a comment on wild life …. FIRST, there are snakes around the lake…. if you are frequenting the rocky shores, watch for them… there are moccasins and rattle snakes. And just because you are in a camping area, don’t think you are out of danger, keep a sharp eye and monitor where your children are. That being said, there is also lots of other wild life that is a lot more fun to watch. There are hundreds of deer, some with some beautiful racks. A number of the parks feed the deer so they are not particularly afraid of people. You will also see lots of other standard wildlife like coyotes, coons, opossum, fox and armadillo. There are all sorts of birds. We just recently saw a wild turkey near the McCown boat ramp. Most frequently seen are gulls and heron feeding on fish. There may be an occasional eagle or a osprey that will fool you into thinking its an eagle. There are the usual buzzards…and all the red birds, blue birds, swallows, etc. Just lots of good things to photograph or just observe.