- Published: Wednesday, 13 December 2006 17:00
After spending a week at Laughlin AFB FamCamp, TX, we moved a whopping 22 miles to Southwinds Marina (and campground) on Lake Amistad. This marina is also ran by the MWR staff of Laughln AFB. We did have reservations, which is currently listed as being required. However, during our 3 night stay, the campground was never full. I'm sure someone arriving without reservations wouldn't have been turned away since there were sites available.
The marina and campground is about 15 miles west of Del Rio, TX. There are no signs for the marina until you are within 1.75 miles from it, so it's a bit tricky finding the correct turnoff. Actually, we tried to find this campground in March, 2005. We didn't look hard, but didn't find it and ended up spending the night at the Amistad National Recreation Area campground down the street. To get to the marina and campground, find Del Rio, TX on your map. West of Del Rio is Lake Amistad. You'll be driving on US 90. There's a large train bridge crossing the lake adjoining US 90. You can't miss seeing this bridge. On the east side of the lake and train bridge, you'll turn south onto Hwy 349 heading to the Dam and the Mexico border. There are signs pointing to the dam on US 90. About a mile down the road and immediately before the road narrows for the dam, there is a small sign pointing to the right (west) for "LAFB marina 1.75 miles". Turn right here onto a small, windy road to the marina and campground 1.75 miles away. When you arrive at the campground, turn at the first right (which is past the playground). This will go down a small hill to the marina store, where you check-in.
The campground and marina is for military personnel only. However, the boat ramp and shoreline is open to the public. Around the playground are 4 small tent sites with a BBQ, and a picnic table under shade. There's also 4 small rental cabins. We laughed when we saw these small cabins with signs on them stating (resort). Near the top of the hill going to the store are 5 RV sites without sewer, but they do have Water and Electric, a BBQ, and a picnic table under shade. The remaining 15 RV sites are at the top of the hill lined up. They have W/E/S/ and CATV. The RV pad is level asphalt, with loose gravel in between sites. There's a picnic table and BBQ, but no shade. Being on top of the hill, in the open, there was quite a bit of wind during our stay. Also, the RV sites are along a public road to the lake. Especially on the weekend, we had quite a few trucks and boats zooming by. There's no overflow, so you're out of luck if the sites are all taken. However, there are a few Amistad National Recreation Area campgrounds nearby, as well as private full hookup RV campgrounds.
There are minimal items available at the marina and campground, primarily boat rentals. There is also a RV sewer dump, but it has a narrow entrance on torn-up concrete and a very tight turn. We didn't use it (since we had full hookups), but the only way I saw to use the dump was to pull into the small space provided, dump, then pull back out. Forget about pulling-thru the dump area. There is a nice playground and large picnic pavilion. The laundry room had 2 washing machines, which are free. Except one was broke. There are also 2 dryers, for 25 cents. The marina store isn't really a store. They might sell bait, but that would be about it.
Other than the high wind (at times) and the weekend road traffic, the campground was fairly quiet. We did have a constant showing of wildlife. Jack rabbits, cotton tail rabbits, and road runners were all over the place. A small herd of deer didn't seem afraid of us, as they were walking between RV's. At one point, I went out to BBQ and was startled to see 4 deer 3' from our door!
If you have a boat, this would be a great place to setup base camp and enjoy the lake. We wanted to rent a boat at the marina, but as with almost all military marina's, you need to attend their safety course first before you can rent a boat. Unfortunately, the safety course here is only taught a few times a year. We also inquired about the houseboat that was listed as being available to rent. The houseboat rental was discontinued over a year ago. Southwinds Marina is near Del Rio, TX, which is host to the Whitehead Memorial Museum and the Val Verde Winery. About 55 miles away is historic Fort Clark and Alamo Village, an active movie location and the site of John Wayne's Alamo movie. Judge Roy Beans' Saloon and home is 60 miles north, in the small town of Langtry, TX.
We rated this campground with 3 stars. In our opinion, the speeding vehicles, the location on top the hill, only 20 RV sites, no overflow area, and not being able to actually use the marina or rent a boat prevented us from giving this campground a higher rating. We still enjoyed this campground. For our purposes, next time we'll either stay at nearby Laughlin AFB Famcamp or use one of the public campgrounds.