Now THIS is a campground. Within Davy Crockett National Forest in East Texas is the Ratcliff Recreation Area. (There are neither rats nor cliffs. Ponder.) This place is only a 45-minute drive west of Angelina National Forest, and had we known how much nicer it was, we would have driven away from Caney Creek in a cloud of dust yesterday afternoon.
On the drive in, we passed a restaurant in Lufkin with a lot of activity and a sign out front that said “Best Tamales in the World” so we figured it had to be good. Right? We picked up a dozen tamales to go. Six for lunch and six for dinner.
And the tamales were amazing. Hip, hip, hooray: Five stars for La Unica AND Ratcliff Recreation Area. Although the landscape is identical to Angelina National Forest (pine trees for days with lacy terraces of blooming dogwood peeking through) the facility is a billion times better.
We took a walk down to the old sawmill ruins and read about how the area was once a bustling logging town, complete with housing and a school. Once the area was completely deforested, the town was abandoned. During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration established a Civilian Conservation Corps camp at the site. The CCC enrollees built buildings and replanted the pine forest.
After the vault toilet horrors of Caney Creek, I was overjoyed to discover sparkly clean individual bathhouses. This means you walk in and lock the door behind you and you have your very own toilet, sink and SHOWER. It doesn’t get any better than that, y’all.
Campsites rate five stars, individual-type bathhouses rate 5 stars, always.