Camping with the Crew at Tyler State Park

My mother-in-law was in town for a visit, so we took her camping with us last weekend. Last month we revisited Eisenhower State Park, and we wanted to try a new spot this month. We opted for Tyler State Park since it seemed to fit our criteria.

Over the past two years, we’ve refined what we look for in a campground.

Our list of demands preferences for camping (it keeps growing):

  1. We prefer a destination less than 2 hours from home. Camden doesn’t love car travel, but under 2 hours is reasonable.
  2. We like having a site with a screened shelter. It’s not 100% necessity. Maybe 95%. It’s helpful to have a place (other than our van/truck) to store our stuff…a place to flee from bugs when we are eating…a place to take refuge from rain.
  3. We want electricity and running water.
  4. We want to camp at a time of year when the temps get at least down in the low 70s at night so that we can sleep.
  5. We like a campground that has a beachy lake swim area. Really nice if the day-time temps are warm enough for swimming. We gotta have stuff to do, and swimming is a great past-time for our guys.
  6. We need a reasonable amount of personal space. Instead of a free-for-all system, we like being assigned a number and having some room.
  7. Hubby needs a good flat space that accommodates our 6-person tent.
  8. Mama likes a water-view.
  9. The kiddos need room to play (and preferably where they can have some independence)…to ride bikes, play soccer, drive the remote-controlled cars, etc.

Tyler State Park is just at the 2 hour mark from our house. We packed up the truck, picked the boys up from school after lunch, and we headed straight to the campground.

I had seen site S6 online and liked it, but hubby felt there wasn’t much play space. img_4538We settled on site S3 and it was a good home-away-from-home for us. The sheltered sites are in area 9 as you can see on the park’s facility map. I’ve heard good things about area 2 (the Lakeview tent and trailer camping area), as there are spots right on the water. Apparently, if you want a lake view site it’s best to arrive early.img_4135 img_4162A panoramic of our site: img_4243


The boys explored and played with their RC cars while we set up the tent and unloaded. The trees were so pretty!

We walked over to the fishing pier.

Then the boys “helped” me get the beds put together in the tent.

We feasted on chicken fajitas for dinner and then played around our site. We brought the boys’ bikes and they did enjoy riding them, but the roads around our area where too hilly for Camden to ride independently.

I had some chill time in the hammock Saturday morning.

Carson and Brian played with the walkie talkies while we headed out for a trail walk.

The trail was close to our campsite. It was an easy walk and nicely shaded.

So pretty and peaceful.

Carson, Brian and Grandmom played some Uno.

Thankfully, our site had some decent space to kick around the soccer ball. Carson loves soccer and Camden loves the hammock, so all was well.

It does make me smile to see how much Camden enjoys the hammock. So happy, and Carson so content with Little Dog.

Number 1 on our trail map listed a children’s wading pool and waterfall as points of interest. When we got there, here’s what we learned was considered the children’s wading pool. We passed and headed to the swimming area instead.img_4262We typically like there to be a sandy beach area at the campgrounds we visit to allow for sand play and water activities. The swim area at Tyler had a concrete wall with steps into the water. There was a sand area near the water. Here’s a panoramic of the area: img_4264It was clean and well-maintained. There were bathrooms nearby and a little store. The weather was sunny and 85-88 degrees with some wind. It was a nice day, but the water was a bit chilly. We still had a blast, but about 5-10 degrees warmer would’ve been helpful. Camden loved having Grandmom to pull him around on the floats and play. Carson and Brian played ball and jumped off the pier.

The boys did have a good time digging and playing in the sand.

The little store by the swimming area is where you go to rent boats. We walked over to see what the options were. img_4319Carson fed the ducks while we tried to make a decision.

We rented 2 of the 2-person kayaks for an hour. Grandmom stayed back. Carson and I shared a boat.

Brian and Camden shared a boat.

The lake was small (but pretty) enough that we were able to easily row around the lake within the hour that we rented the kayaks. Here’s the view of the swimming area from the middle of the lake. img_4458After a night in the tent and spending the day in the water, we were all looking forward to getting back to the campsite for our dinner of sliders. Brian realized the burgers weren’t packed, so we headed about 6 miles to Chili’s. Oops.img_4469Brian made breakfast Sunday morning and then we started packing up. img_4480It was extremely helpful having Grandmom with us so that she could watch the boys while we packed up.

A group shot in front of S3 before heading out. img_4543If you look at the trail map, point of interest #3 is near where we road bikes. We chose the EZ Loop since it was 3/4 of a mile and received an easy rating. img_4549It started out okay, but quickly became more of a challenge certainly for Camden’s adaptive bike, and at times, for Carson’s bike. It was hilly, narrow, and lots of tree roots growing across the trail. I wouldn’t have given it the “easy” rating, but that’s from the perspective of a special needs mama. The pictures look harmless. That’s because I was pushing someone’s bike and was unable to snap photos.

We stopped at the park entrance to snag a few shots in front of the sign. I always intend to get pics when we first arrive, as opposed to when we are all exhausted and dirty and done. Maybe next time. img_4571img_4578img_4582We enjoyed Tyler State Park. I’d be a-okay going back. I think our favorite is still Cooper Lake State Park. There are two sides of the park: Doctor’s Creek and South Sulphur. Both great!

You can check out our other camping trips here:

If you have any tips, suggestions, or favorite places to camp around TX and OK, I’d LOVE to hear!!


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