Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Campground Review: Lake Meredith National Recreation Area Fritch, TX

Northeast of Amarillo and just west of Fritch, TX lies the giant Lake Meredith National Recreation Area administered by the National Park Service.  I traveled to the area to do some boondocking at one of four camping areas the recreation area possesses, the Fritch Fortress Campground high on the bluffs overlooking Lake Meredith.

I checked out McBride Canyon but opted for Fritch Fortress campground.
The 10,000 acre Lake Meredith was created by the construction of the Sanford Dam across the Canadian River and has been, historically, a major source of drinking water for the cities of Lubbock and Amarillo.  Due to the lasting drought in the state withdrawals from Lake Meredith stopped in 2011 after the lake hit an all-time low depth of 26 feet -- as opposed to a depth of 102 feet when the lake was created.

That peninsula in the center is supposed to be an island in "normal" times.
Here's the Fritch Fortress Campground data sheet:


Hookups:                                 none
Fire ring:                                  yes
Water Access:                         yes
Dump station:                          yes
WiFi:                                       no
Level sites:                              yes
Laundry:                                  no
Store:                                      no
Pool:                                       no
Shade:                                     no
Verizon reception:                   4g, 2 out of 4 bars
Millenicom reception:              3 out of 5
Cost:                                      Free – 14 day limit

With the exception of one lone tent camper, who moved on a day after I got there, I had the Fritch Fortress Campground all to myself!  Probably due to it being off-season and the low level of Lake Meredith discouraging water sport and fishing.  The weather was in the mid-70's but winds, particularly at night were really strong, rocking the Tank even after I extended the lift poles as quasi-stabilizers.

The Tank's windy perch high up on the bluffs over Lake Meredith.
 After experiencing a somewhat scary windstorm my last night at Fritch Fortress I ran into a park ranger who let me know a lot of people choose to camp in the less scenic canyon campgrounds around the recreation area, like McBride Canyon, to avoid the high winds Fritch Fortress Campground often receives....good to know....now!  Still the views from my campsite were pretty spectacular and would be missed down in the canyons:

View out the Tank's "picture window".
Just like my time at Lake Abilene State Park my stay at Fritch Fortress was partially depressing with the realization that this tremendous National Park is only experiencing a fraction of it's normal visitation due to water shortage.  The ranger I talked to expressed concern that if things continued there would inevitably have to be staff cutbacks at the recreation area...guess they were glad I was there or they would have been staffing a completely empty campground!

At some point, when the great drought is over, I'd like to return to Lake Meredith Recreation Area and see it like it's supposed to be.  Also, I might try the canyon camping areas to avoid the hurricane winds on the bluffs, but hey, I sure can't complain about what it cost me to have a National Campground all to myself!

Thanks for reading!