We have all heard of ghost towns, but ghost camps are a little harder to come by, especially when they don’t show up on official trail maps.
A short hike from the River Bend Campsite within San Angelo State Park will lead you down a trail dotted with a couple dozen concrete picnic tables overgrown with cacti. They are covered by rotted wooden awnings, which allow the sunlight to filter through.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, the campsites were built in 1995 around the time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leased out 7000+ acres of land around O. C. Fisher Lake, but haven’t been used since 2002. There is no information available as to why the campsite has been neglected instead of torn down or refurbished, though it is likely a result of parks department funding issues.
Humans have inhabited this area for at least 18,000 years, beginning with Paleo-American hunters, then the Jumano Indians, then Euro-American people like Spanish explorers and missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. No humans occupy the campsite today, but dirt daubers and wasps have happily taken up residence in what is left of the Lower Ghost Camp’s restroom.
Also near the camp is a landlocked, cactus-lined boat ramp with no water in sight. And while the days of mammoth Ice Age game are long gone around these parts, be on the lookout for 1,200-pound members of the Texas Official Longhorn Herd who freely roam the park.
Know Before You Go
Go South on the trail that goes through River Bend Campsites until you see the pipe trail marker for Lower Ghost Camp. Coordinates are approximate.