5 things you need to know about the Harley-Davidson fall rally

Welcome bikers! Bikers will be rolling into Ocean Lakes next week as the Hurricane Alley Fall Rally kicks into gear.

The rally - which starts Monday, Oct. 2 and continues through Sunday, Oct. 8 - attracts thousands of bikers to the Grand Strand for rides and events, but is much smaller than the spring Harley-Davidson rally in May.

We want all our guests who are here for the fall rally to have a fun, safe visit! Below are a few reminders about our rules, information about parking and tips to make your stay as smooth as possible.

Motorcycle rules

You cannot ride your motorcycle through the campground. Riding motorcycles past the designated area at the entrance (signs mark the boundaries of the designated area) or coasting (not under power but with a guest sitting on the seat) are NOT permitted.

Rope and motorcycle dolly towing are permitted to and from your rental site or campsite.

Three-wheel rides such as Can-Am Spyders and Polaris Slingshots must follow motorcycle rules - they aren’t allowed in the campground and must park in the designated motorcycle lot by the South Gate.


Motorcycle parking

We have a designated area for motorcycle parking at the South Gate entrance. There is no charge to park in this area. You must be a registered guest of Ocean Lakes to park in our designated motorcycle parking area.

Trailer parking

Guests can park their utility trailers at their site if it safely and completely fits in their reserved home site or campsite.

If that doesn’t work, trailer parking will be available in our West Lot, across the street from the campground with easy access off S.C. 544. Cost is $5 a day. This is for storage; you will not have 24-hour access to use your trailer as the place to park your motorcycle at the end of the day.

Swing by our Main Office to purchase a pass for our storage lot.

Getting into Ocean Lakes

The South Gate will be open for the fall rally weekend. Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

This will allow more convenient access to the designated motorcycle parking area and help alleviate congestion at our Main Gate.


Guests can unload their motorcycles at the South Gate parking lot or in the West Lot trailer storage area off S.C. 544 across the street from the campground.

We recommend that you do NOT unload motorcycles at your rental house or campsite unless you have a tow dolly. Remember – you won’t be able to ride your motorcycle from your site.

Have fun and ride safe!


Ocean Lakes water park to wrap up season; sets 2018 schedule

Our water park will wrap up its 2017 season at the end of September, capping its second year of providing fun and thrills for Ocean Lakes guests.

The Sandy Harbor Water Park, which has become one of our most popular amenities since its debut in May 2016, will shut down at the end of operation Sunday, Oct. 1 until next spring.

“Our guests have had a blast at Sandy Harbor this year,” said Morgan Blackmon, our Aquatics Supervisor. “Guests would spend all day racing down the slides or relaxing while floating along the lazy river – then come back the next day for more.”

The water park scaled back hours after Labor Day, when other area water attractions shut down for the year. But the Ocean Lakes team worked to extend our water park season beyond the traditional last hurrah of summer.

This is the second fall for our water park, and we set a consistent schedule after learning a year ago what works best for this new amenity.

“Last year was a trial run for everything,” Blackmon said. “We learned a lot from last year.”

The post-Labor Day hours:

Adventure (lazy) River and Splash Zone | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day through Oct. 1
Drop Zone Mat Racer and The Tube slides (including the tube slides in the Splash Zone) | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 1; closed on the weekdays
Outdoor pool | 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. It will be open into the fall until it is too chilly to swim.
Indoor pool | 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Open year round.

We let guests know well in advance about the planned fall schedule, posting it on our website, blog and social media.

But some guests still have had questions. We’ve answered a few of the most common ones here:

Why aren’t the slides open during the week?

The slides require additional lifeguards – mandated by state regulations – and certified lifeguards are hard to find after Labor Day. This includes the Drop Zone Mat Racer, The Tube and the slides in the Splash Zone.

Many of our lifeguards are teachers or students in high school or college who return to class and are no longer available to work after the summer. Our team has worked hard to recruit certified lifeguards into the fall. About 70 lifeguards worked the water park during the summer.

We cannot operate the slides without the lifeguards required by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. And we aren’t going to put our guests at risk by operating the slides without those lifeguards.

“That’s my biggest thing – safety,” Blackmon said.

Will the water park be open during Halloweekends?

No. By mid-October, it’s getting a bit chilly to splash around in the water. And there’s also the staffing dilemma; most of our lifeguards are high school and college students who have returned to class.

But there’s still plenty to do during our Halloweekends, including costume contests, trick or treating and site decorating competitions.

When will the pools close?

Our indoor pool is open year round. Our outdoor pool stays open until it’s too chilly to swim, which is usually some time in October.

When will the water park open in 2018?

The water park will open for Easter weekend March 30-April 1, then will shut down until May.

The rest of the 2018 schedule:

May 1 | Weekends only (Saturday and Sunday) with “hours as posted”

Memorial Day weekend – Labor Day | Open every day with summer hours

Post Labor Day | Open “hours as posted” through Sept. 30. The lazy river and Splash Zone will be open every day; the slides will be open Saturdays and Sundays only


Ocean Lakes fares well from Tropical Storm Irma, clean up underway

We’ve fared well from Tropical Storm Irma. Lots of leaves and limbs scattered throughout the campground, but overall we are in good shape.

The recently completed beach renourishment was finished just in time to protect us from this storm.

“Thank God we got the renourishment when we did,” Lance Thompson, Ocean Lakes General Manager and Vice President, said while standing on the beach Tuesday morning. “It could have been a lot worse.”

There’s still some cleanup to do - mainly from downed leaves and limbs - and our team already has jumped on it. Our camper storage lots look good, no flooding or downed trees.


Our team has cleared outfall drainage pipes of sand the storm had pushed into them to get water flowing freely again. Lakes levels already are dropping, and the ponding around some of the lakes such as Sand Dollar Lake also is clearing.

Horry County Stormwater crews were on site first thing this morning ensuring that drains are clear.


Lots of leaves and limbs are scattered throughout the campground. 

If you collect debris at your site, please help us out and drop it off at the designated areas by the South Gate. This will help us get all the limbs and leaves out of here quickly.

Crews also will be out today cleaning sand from beach accesses.

“We weathered the storm quite well with just your standard storm debris, tree limbs,” Operations Manager Kevin McWhirter said.

Operations Manager Kevin McWhirter (left) talks with Lance Thompson, General Manager and Vice President, about clean-up efforts from Tropical Storm Irma on Tuesday morning.


Ocean Lakes back to 'business as usual' as Hurricane Irma's projected path shifts away from Myrtle Beach area

It’s back to business as usual at Ocean Lakes Family Campground on Friday morning as Hurricane Irma’s projected path shifted farther westward away from the Myrtle Beach area.

Campground officials continue to closely monitor the powerful storm, which is expected to hit Florida and travel up the state toward Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The Myrtle Beach area is no longer in the projected path.

“Now it’s just kind of business as usual and wait and see,” Lance Thompson, Ocean Lakes General Manager and Vice President, said Friday morning.

The area could get between an inch to 5 inches of rain, and there's a slight chance of some tropical storm force winds late Sunday into Monday, according to the early Friday morning advisory from the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.

“A track across Florida would mean less in the way of impacts for this part of the Carolinas, but it is cautioned again that we can’t let our guard down at this time,” according to the advisory.

But the Myrtle Beach area isn’t off the hook just yet. Hurricanes can quickly shift tracks, so Ocean Lakes continues to closely monitor the latest projections and will be ready if the track takes a negative shift back to us.

“We feel much better about the situation but still need to be vigilant and watch it,” Thompson said.

Ocean Lakes will continue to issue refunds for guests with reservations arriving between now and Sept. 12 who want to change those plans.

Before the storm’s projected path shifted dramatically late Thursday, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said during a mid-afternoon news conference that evacuations of coastal areas likely would begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. McMaster has another news conference planned for 2 p.m. Friday where he is expected to update folks on any possible evacuation plans.


Governor plans to order evacuation ahead of Hurricane Irma starting Saturday morning in Myrtle Beach area, coastal SC

Gov. Henry McMaster said Thursday that he likely will issue an evacuation order for coastal South Carolina including the Myrtle Beach area starting Saturday morning as the powerful Hurricane Irma continues heading toward the state.

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, McMaster and other state officials urged residents and vacationers to make plans and be prepared for Hurricane Irma, which is expected to bring rain, wind and potential storm surge to coastal South Carolina on Monday and Tuesday. The intensity of the storm’s effects here still is uncertain because it depends on the path the storm ends up taking.

McMaster said he is 99 percent sure that he will issue the evacuation order to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and has another news conference planned for Friday, when he will give the latest on the evacuation plan.

“As soon as he does [issue the evacuation order], we will get the word out to everybody,” said Lance Thompson, General Manager and Vice President of Ocean Lakes Family Campground.

Because of evacuations in Florida and Georgia, traffic on roads in South Carolina already is picking up and is expected to get heavier. Lanes on several roads in coastal South Carolina will be reversed to help with the likely evacuations, including U.S. 501 in Horry County. S.C. 544 into Ocean Lakes Family Campground is not scheduled to be reversed for the evacuation.

“There’s plenty of time to evacuate but if you want to get out early that’s not a bad idea, either,” said Major Gen. Robert Livingston with the S.C. National Guard.

Residents and visitors should prepare for significant impacts from Hurricane Irma, which is a powerful Category 5 storm with 175 mph winds.

By late Thursday afternoon, Irma's projected path had shifted westward, which would weaken the storm, according to forecasters.

"The trend in the models and the new forecast track from the National Hurricane Center has been westward today taking Irma right up the Florida Peninsula. IF this happens, it would weaken Irma MUCH faster as it moves toward Georgia and the Carolinas. Can't run out it staying over the ocean so please stay vigilant and prepared for the worse case scenario," WPDE Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski said in a Facebook post Thursday afternoon.

The Myrtle Beach area could get between 4 and 7 inches of rain, which would cause flooding, according to the 5 p.m. Irma update from the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.

"There is a chance of direct impacts in portions of Georgia, SC and NC, but it is too early to specify the magnitude and location of these impacts," according to the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

In anticipation of Irma’s effects on the region and the possible evacuation order, Ocean Lakes on Thursday made a special exception to our “watch and warning” policy and began refunding deposits for reservations arriving Sept. 7 through Sept. 12. If your reservation is further out than those dates, you will still have to pay the normal cancellation fees. 

The team at Ocean Lakes continues to prepare for the storm. On Thursday, teammates removed flags from our oceanfront Observation Deck and cleaned brush from streams to ensure good flow.

We will continue to keep you updated on our Facebook page, the blog, our website and email. Be prepared and stay safe!