Saturday, April 21, 2018

Staying at Old Lock One Park (Free!)

We stayed at Old Lock One Park for 14 days. This is a Army Corps of Engineer park that allows free dispersed camping.  This is a beautiful, rustic little park that sits directly on the Tombigbee River.

GPS: N 31° 34.363’ / W 88° 01.913

3800 Old Lock One Rd. 
Jackson, AL 36545

The park sits on the Tombigbee River. In the late 1800s, a lock system was built on this river, and for many years families lived on the property and operated the locks. We understand the pecan grove at this park was planted by the lock master.

A 1953 tornado destroyed many of the buildings, and the rest of the buildings were demolished in 1960s when a new system bypassed the old lock. Clarke County and the Army Corps of Engineers worked together to upgrade the park in 1999, adding bathrooms, hook ups for a host camper, and a pavilion.

Quick digression: The name of this river is the Anglicized 'itumbi ikbi', which was Choctaw for 'coffin maker'!
Dog Friendly: This is a small country park, with no amenities for dogs. Many locals use the boat launch and the fishing pier, even at night, so we would strongly recommend keeping your dog leashed, even after curfew. Also, the park does have alligators! 

Motorcycle Friendly: The road to the park, as well as the main parking area, is paved. The boat launch area was rutted and in need of repaving when we were there.
Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon is very patchy, with signal ranging for 0-4 bars depending on where you are in the park.
Amenities: The park has bathrooms, but no showers. There is a spigot for water behind the bathrooms. There is also a large pavilion,which has a couple of electric outlets. The primitive tent sites have tables and grills. The park has a boat launch and a fishing pier, but these may or may not be accessible depending on the water level.

Getting There: Turn onto Old Park One Road from Highway 69. The park sits at the very end of Old Lock 1 road, which is approximately 3.5 miles long.

Know Before You Go: As we mentioned earlier, there are alligators at this park. The park is well-used by the locals on the weekends, and also seems to be a very popular destination for people who just want to check the water level of the river. We lost track of the number of conversations that started with "The water's up." or "The water's down".😄

While the locals are very friendly, campers should be aware cell signal is very patchy and there is only a camp host in the winter, generally from September to March. The park is well-lit at night, but we didn't see much of a sheriff presence, and we understand the sheriff does not enforce speed limits at this park. We also suspect this park probably has a mosquito issue in the summer months when the water is lower.

Local Stuff: There is a Walmart about 10 minutes away Jackson, Alabama. We understand there is a Clarke County Historical Museum in Grove Hill.  A full list of local attractions can be found at the county's web page


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