One of the things that Tom and I are really enjoying about our travels is the opportunity to explore small, out of the way places. For the most part, we try to stay in State Parks whenever possible. This allows us to experience an area thought to be of special beauty by the people in that state. We read about it, look at pictures, read reviews, and check it out on Google satellite. But you are never sure what a place will be like until you get there.
Paul B. Johnson State Park in Mississippi, just south of Hattiesburg, was a delightful surprise to us. Paul Burney Johnson, Sr. (1880 – 1943) was an attorney, judge, and politician who served as a US Representative and was Governor of Mississippi from 1940 to 1943. Paul Burney Johnson, Jr. (1916-1985) also became Governor of Mississippi and served one term from 1964 to 1968. He abandoned his father’s liberal political stance and adopted a strong segregationist stance in order to be elected. He was governor during the height of the civil rights activity and segregationist violence in Mississippi. Paul B. Johnson State Park is named after both men.
The State Park is beautiful, situated on a small lake. Paul B. Johnson State Park is primarily a campground, with 125 camping sites, most of them full hook-up. The older part of the campground had lovely, wooded, spacious spots with picnic tables and some decks. We stayed in the pull-through section, which was 15 sites on concrete pads that were very close together. When we put out our awning, it infringed on the space of the camper next to us. There is also a new campground with all the sites along the shore of the lake. There were restrooms and laundry in each area, but they did not look like they were cleaned on a regular basis.
Unlike most state campgrounds, which have a 14 day stay limit, Paul B. Johnson State Park has monthly rates and so a lot of snowbirds come to stay for a month or for the whole winter. We stayed 8 nights and would have stayed another couple of nights but the park was having a Halloween celebration and every space had been reserved well in advance. They were planning hay rides, games, trick-or-treating, and every site was being decorated.
Fishing is very popular at Paul B. Johnson State Park and we saw a lot of groups using the picnic pavilions. There is a splash park and beach open seasonally. We enjoyed walking along the one nature trail, although the boardwalk needed some work. Fortunately it is the dry season and we were able to walk through the part that would be swampish in the spring and early summer. There were two disc golf courses, which took us on lovely rambles through the woods and along the lake. One hole was a peninsula surrounded by water. There are waterside cabins to rent, and dorms and a kitchen that can be rented for large group camping.
Paul B. Johnson State Park is one of our favorite places to stay. We met several other people who feel the same way and who will spend the winter at the park. We will definitely stay here again when in this part of the world.