I just returned from a weekend at Garner State Park and it is absolutely beautiful! We went a couple of weeks ago during Memorial Day weekend and weren’t able to enjoy the river due to heavy rain. We hiked the Old Baldy and Crystal Cave trails and liked the park so much we decided to go back and hopefully enjoy the river on our next visit. None of the pictures in this post are Photoshopped, filtered or altered in any way other than some minor cropping on a few and the making of two picture collages. All photos were taken with a mobile phone. The river really is this beautiful! I say this because when I came during the heavy rain, the river did not look this beautiful and I thought maybe all the photos I had seen online were altered. I am so glad I decided to come back and see it in its normal state! I will post some other helpful tips on the bottom of this post.
My “I feel like a kid and can’t wait to go to the river” selfie:
1. If you are able to drive through Utopia on your way to Garner State Park, I highly recommend it. It has stunning views and if you have kids with you this will build the excitement.
2. Garner State Park will close to guests once it reaches capacity so I recommend you get there early in the morning if you do not have a campsite and wait in line until the park opens. The line will become very long but the worst thing would be to be turned away because you arrived too late (we saw this happen to many people). The good thing about this is it keeps the park from feeling crowded! You will not feel crammed or claustrophobic here unlike some other rivers.
3. When you reserve a campsite, you are guaranteed a site but they are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. So if you want to have an option on your location it is best to arrive early. The clerk on our visit was very helpful and advised us on the differences on the available campsites (some were closer to the river, some in full shade, some with no shade, some with more space between campsites) but I have read that not all clerks offer this information.
4. Because this is a family-friendly park, alcohol consumption in public areas is not permitted. If you like to consume alcohol while floating the river, this park is not for you. I personally love that this park enforces that because it keeps the park family-friendly.
5. The bathrooms are cleaned twice a day (when I was there, that is what I saw) but they do get dirty quickly and are dated.
6. If you plan on doing tubing, wear water shoes because the river rocks hurt.
Below are some links to some of my other travel posts: