Next stop on my 50 at 50 park tour is JC Cooper Campground at Satterwhite Point in the Kerr Lake State Recreation Area located near Henderson. Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a collective of eight access areas scattered around the shoreline of a 50,000-acre reservoir. The development of cities and homes along the Roanoke River and the increased demand for flood control and electricity led to the construction of the John H. Kerr Reservoir, named after the North Carolina congressman instrumental in the reservoir's development. Construction of this reservoir that straddles Virginia and North Carolina began in 1946 and was completed in 1952. The Kerr Reservoir Commission was then created to govern the North Carolina parks bordering the lake. The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation eventually took control of the seven recreation areas of the reservoir in 1975. In addition to water resource management, the reservoir provides fish and wildlife conservation, forest management and recreation.
I grew up camping at Kerr Lake and had never been to Satterwhite Point, JC Cooper Campground, or the park’s visitor center. Spending 4 nights here gave me plenty of time to explore the park by land and water. Our group of campers ranged from 4-7 people depending on the day. On the first day, after getting camp set up my priority was to walk around the campground to discover options for lake access and watching sunsets.
This trip was full of time spent swimming and floating in the lake, walks, good food, hammock time, laughs with friends, an evening campfire and good storms complete with wind, lightning, and rain. It was exhilarating to be floating on the lake, look up and see osprey, bald eagles and herons soaring overhead. One afternoon we saw a bird of a different type - an F-15E Strike Eagle that I assume was doing a test flight from Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro.
Most mornings included a long walk after coffee and breakfast. Friday’s morning walk included a stop at the visitor center. Our NC State Parks do a great job with educational experiences in the visitor centers, and this one did not disappoint. The experience had begun before I made it to the front door. Along the walkway, there was a sign about butterflies and their habitats. Once inside there were lots of passive and interactive exhibits about the land, water, and animals of the lake, including the day’s weather forecast.
After watching the sunset one evening, we were walking back to the campsite, and a young man on a bicycle pulled up beside us and began to chat. Not having met many strangers, I chatted back. His name is Treyzeon; he’s 13 and lives near Kerr Lake. He was there with his extended family for the annual family camping weekend. I asked him what he liked about the park, and he replied “fishing, camping and being outside.” It made me smile, and it felt good to know there are plenty of youth in our state that love and enjoy parks!
For more information on the Kerr Lake State Recreation area, visit https://www.ncparks.gov/kerr-lake-state-recreation-area