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Campground of the Week
49 minutes | Jul 18, 2021
Casita Dean May Reviews the Townsend/Great Smokies KOA
Casita Dean May is back on The RV Atlas podcast with a fresh review of the Townsend/Great Smokies KOA Holiday. Dean and his wife Laura consider this to be one of the top three campgrounds they have ever visited. Dean and Laura have spent over 200 nights camping in there Casita and they have visited over 10 states. So this is high praise based on their wide experience. Our family also loved the Townsend/Great Smokies KOA when we visited about seven years ago on a 36 night RV trip that brought us to both sides of the Smokies for about two weeks. We were writing our first book at that time and we recorded the podcast in the bedroom of the RV after the kids went to bed at night. I loved the podcasts that we recorded during that trip because the activities and amazing hikes that we talking about were so fresh in mind! Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an abundance of options for camping both inside and outside of the park and we have covered the best of the best of these campgrounds here. The Townsend/Great Smokies KOA is definitely one of them! We also recently invited our friend DJ Odom on the podcast to talk about his absolute favorite places to visit in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and you can listen to that podcast or read about his favorites right here! And don’t forget to listen to today’s episode of the RV Atlas with Casita Dean May by clicking on the media player above! Or by subscribing to The RV Atlas wherever you get your favorite podcasts! See You at the Campground! -Jeremy The post Casita Dean May Reviews the Townsend/Great Smokies KOA appeared first on The RV Atlas.
40 minutes | Jul 5, 2021
4 Amazing Campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest!
On today’s episode of The RV Atlas we are heading west for a review of four amazing campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest that you are going to want to add to your bucket list! The Pacific Northwest is my favorite geographical region of our country and the entire RV Atlas crew cannot wait to get back some day soon. Four years ago our family took an epic camping trip to the Pacific Northwest and spend 26 days doing a huge loop from Seatlle to Olympic National Park, to Mount St Helens to Coastal Oregon to the Redwoods, back into Oregon for Crater Lake and Odell Lake and then back to Seattle—it was such an amazing trip–my favorite trip ever. I’ve been dying to get back ever since–my wanderlust for the Pacific NORTHWEST IS VERY VERY STRONG. Kendra and Tyler from Campspot So on today’s episode we are heading back to the Pacific Northwest with our terrific first time guests Kendra and Tyler from CAMPSPOT. Kendra and Tyler (and their two cats, Sunny and Luna) travel full time in their AIRSTREAM creating content for Campspot. They do photography, video, writing, camp cooking content and so much more and their visual style and killer photo and video chops can be seen all over Campspot’s website. Kendra and Tyler have travelled all over the country and we had a lot of cool options for podcast episodes–but of course I asked them to do an episode about campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest—during the interview I meant to say that I felt like a kid in a candy shop talking to them about podcast ideas–but instead I said I felt like a kid in a candybox. What the heck is a candy box? I don’t know–but it doesnt sound like it holds a lot of candy! So just so you know–I meant a CANDY SHOP! Because Kendra and Tyler have been everywhere! And I hope to have them back on the show to cover more great campgrounds in other parts of the country. So let’s dive in and get four great recommendations for campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest from Kendra and Tyler. And huge thanks to Tyler for the amazing photos in this blog post! To listen to today’s episode of The RV Atlas about campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest click on the media player above, or subscribe to the The RV Atlas wherever you get your podcasts! Or just check out Tyler’s amazing photos and and Tyler and Kendra’s highlights in the notes below each campground! Northern California Ramblin’ Redwoods Campground & RV Park in Crescent City, CA photo by Tyler D. Way photo by Tyler D. Way Redwood National and State Parks Favorite trails: Lady Bird Johnson old grove trail (easy access loop trail) Tall Trees Grove Loop Trail- Permit required trail— mildly difficult, but old growth and river Coastal trail — easy and great for sunset views Scenic drive on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (off US-101) Klamath Beach – sea lions Crescent City: SeaQuake Brewing (great fries with an amazing parmesan dipping sauce) Battery Point Lighthouse — also great for sunset Oregon Craine Prairie RV Resort in the Cascade Lakes Region of Oregon photo by Tyler D. Way photo by Tyler D. Way Beautiful, remote campground in a wooded setting with full-hookups Just around the corner from the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway Lake access and lake-views of Mt. Bachelor, South Sister, and Broken Top mountains The campground offers boat, pontoon, SUP, and kayak rentals Short drives away from Odell and Crescent Lake which was one of the clearest lake I’ve seen Near some incredible waterfalls including Salt Creek Falls in the Willamette National Forest that featured an easy hike down to the base of the falls but what makes these falls so great is its accessibility with paved paths and the location being just off the highway 1.5 hours away from Crater Lake Side note – they do not have 50 amp service at the park so make sure to bring your converter if you need it Milo McIver State Park, Oregon photo by Tyler D. Way photo by Tyler D. Way (Milo K. McIver (1897-1962), member of the Oregon Highway Commission from 1950 to 1962 and strong supporter of state parks activities. ) From their website: Seasonal Camping Mid-March to October 31 44 electrical sites with water (one accessible Nine tent sites with water nearby Hot showers and flush toilets Three reservable group tent camping areas with water, flush toilets, and fire rings Three hiker/biker campsites with water, lockers, solar charging station and fire pit RV dump station What to do in the area: -Clackamas River- people go out on rafts, canoes, or kayaks. It’s got great fishing at Estacada Lake that has a boat ramp and an ADA fishing dock and again the Clackamas River- it has steelhead and Chinook salmon SUP and Kayak Rentals Tons of hiking and horse trails. We walked through the Clackamas Fish Hatchery that’s located at McIver Park and did the self-guided tour that takes you through the life-cycle of Chinook Salmon and steelhead Lastly, it has a “world-class” 27-hole disc golf course at the Riverbend Day=use area and discs are available at the park office to rent or buy. (Tell story of people playing disc golf and an eagle swooped by and we were super excited) Super close to Portland (only 33 minutes away from Portland with terrific views of Mt. Hood) Washington State Elkamp Eastcreek Campground in Mineral, Washington photo by Tyler D. Way photo by Tyler D. Way We were just there last week and we already miss it. located at the foot of Mt. Rainier and located just a 15 minute drive away from the Nisqually Gate of the National park, the only entrance of the park that’s open year-found 10 RV sites, 10 tent sites so it’s never super overcrowded – always quiet, wooded and private with each site being surrounded by beautiful, moss-covered trees the pacific northwest is known for Owners Tom and Brian make you feel so welcome and have an incredible campground store filled with your basic things but things like campfire cookbooks, coffee table books on camping for all the camping vibes when you return home, art supplies, and more. Located near Portland and Seattle. What makes this park unique are the miles of nature trails right on site through the meadow of wildflowers (depending on the time of year of course) and the old growth forests and the green woods of moss and ferns, the kinds of woods you’d expect from the evergreen state The post 4 Amazing Campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest! appeared first on The RV Atlas.
34 minutes | Feb 26, 2021
Campground Review! New York City North/ Newburgh KOA
Our camping buddy and RV Atlas correspondent, Phil Travaglia, is back on the podcast today with another great review! Last time he gave us an enthusiastic review of Hither Hills in Montauk, New York. This time around he is taking us to the New York City North / Newburgh KOA–another one of his family’s favorite campgrounds. To listen to Jeremy and Phil talk about this KOA and all of the fun things to do in this beautiful region of New York State, click on the media player above, or subscribe to The RV Atlas wherever you get your podcasts! Or to learn a bit more about the campground just keep reading! Phil shares his thoughts about this campground in the guest blog located just below…. Guest post and photos by Phil Travaglia The Newburgh/ New York City North KOA has a HOLIDAY designation which means there is plenty to do at the campground, but it usually acts as a base camp. They are great campgrounds. There’s enough to do if you don’t want to leave the campground, but not so much to do that you feel like you’re missing out if you go exploring. This is one of our favorite campgrounds because it is located in such a culturally and nature-rich area with so much to do. The campground has always been clean and well cared for and the staff has always been friendly and accommodating. To us, this campground always has, and always will, feel familiar and comfortable. This was the first place we went to after my wife Leslie was well enough to travel following her battle with breast cancer and it was the first place we went to when we finally felt ready to venture out with the travel considerations of the pandemic. Newburgh KOA Accommodations: This campground has really everything you could need to support you for a longer vacation and everything you need if you just want a weekend to get away.There are a variety of site types from tent sites all the way up to deluxe cabins and deluxe patio RV sites. There are areas in the campground that have cabins and RV sites in close proximity, which is great for those people who may want to ask friends or family that don’t normally camp to join them for a trip. There is a small area that is a cluster of five or six cabins offset in a semi-private loop (great for family gatherings and reunions). The remainder of the sites are located in two main areas. The first is located in an area behind the main building. It is a nice mix of tent, RV and cabin sites. It’s nicely wooded with decent shade. Hammocks have a high probability of getting used here. The second area is located across from the main building. This area has larger pull through sites and some nice sized back in sites. The dog walking area is also found in this section of the campground. Again, these sites are nicely wooded with good shade. These sites, If I remember correctly, seemed to offer a bit more privacy. They have a bit more of the state park campground feel to them. There are a handful of what appear to be seasonal sites, but you do not get the feeling of being an outsider at all at this campground. We have stayed at other campgrounds that were heavily seasonal and at times we’ve felt like we didn’t quite belong. There is none of that here. Newburgh KOA Amenities The camp store is a “good one.” They have an area of camping supplies for RVers and tent campers, there is also a decent grocery area with the essentials (milk, eggs etc). They have great knick-knacks for the kids and they also have some great gifts for the grown ups too (camp casual plates, art work etc.). There are fax and copy services, available and wifi as well. I can’t really speak to the wifi strength as neither Leslie or I are big into the devices, but I don’t remember hearing too much complaining from James and Abigail about poor wifi (that has to mean something!). Another unique amenity is they have on-property RV storage. I do not know exactly what they charge, but it is something to consider if you want to keep your trailer there and make it easier to get away. If you are someone who can only get out on weekends, it may make getting to the campground a lot easier if your camper is already there in a secure lot. Attached to the main building (camp store/ office), is a great little local wine store. They sell wines from the local vineyards in the region. The main building also has laundry facilities and an arcade. Across the parking lot from the main building is a great snack-shack that has ice cream and serves quick serve type foods. There are also two pools located in the snack bar area. The pool areas are clean and spacious and well maintained. On the other side of the snack-shack, you can also find: a rock climbing wall, bounce pad, basketball courts, Ga-Ga ball and a minigolf course. Across from the pools you will also find a nice playground for the smaller kids. There is also a great little pond where you can fish and there are a ton of frogs to catch. Truthfully, we’ve had more fun than I can remember just walking the perimeter of the pond and catching frogs. There are some nice sized bass in the pond too. Fishing is allowed and it is catch and release. You do not need a license to fish here, as this is considered private property. Things To Do Near The Newburgh KOA What makes this campground such a great one is it’s location. This campground is located in the heart of the Hudson Valley of upstate New York. To those who don’t live in NY, this is an amazing region. There is such rich culture, amazing nature and incredible food in this area. It would take five episodes to cover everything that you could do here. There is an abundance of hiking here. One of our favorite places to go hiking is in Minnewaska Lake State Park. There are well marked trails with great scenery and it’s just a great way to get outside and do some family friendly hiking. To heed your hiking advice, get there early, because the trail heads and parking lots fill up quickly. If you are into rock climbing, this region is the home of the “Gunks” which is known for great rock climbing. I personally don’t do well with heights, so I don’t have much to share there. There is the Mohonk Mountain House (Castle) which allows for the public to hike the grounds. It is an amazing place from what I have heard. Personally, I haven’t been there but it is supposed to be beautiful. There is also plenty of antiquing in the area. I picked up some vintage Coleman coolers the last time we went. I found them at a great barn sale in the town of Gardiner. There are also local fairs and festivals. One of our favorite memories is of the time we went to a cupcake festival one spring with our friends Hector and Laura. It turned out to be a lot of fun because there was a huge rain storm that turned it into a “mud / cupcake festival”! It was still great. Amazing cupcakes, hearty people and just a plain old good time. We also enjoy this campground in the fall. It is great foliage-country and there are many apple picking farms. Our favorite is Hurds Apple Farm. The FDR home and museum is also another favorite of ours. You can walk the grounds. There are guided tours of the house and there is a comprehensive museum that was really great to see. New York City One thing that makes this campground great is that they offer tours to NYC that leave right from the campground. They are full day tours that leave at 7:30 am and take you to several of the major attractions of the city. The website for the campground is the best place to go for more information on the city bus tours. Truthfully, the campground website is an amazing resource for looking into things to do in the region (all within close proximity to the campground). There are too many things for me to list. However, I can say that there are activities for just about everyone, that cover a wide array of interests. Covid Safety Measures at the Newburgh KOA I have not been able to get in touch with anyone at the campground this winter regarding Covid-related changes in usual activities. What I can tell you is that when we went last May and July, they were very conscientious regarding Covid safety. You were required to wear a mask when off of your site. Only one of the two pools was open and you had to reserve a time for your family to swim (in one hour blocks). The rock climbing wall was not open and the snack bar had reduced services. The bounce pad was open and was supervised. Mini golf was closed. The basketball courts were open and there were no restrictions for fishing at the pond. I am sure they have modified their Covid policies, but the take home message is… They were taking it seriously and we felt safe. I am sure they have expanded their services and are well within safety compliance. That’s just the impression we took away last year. It’s a great campground in a great location with so much to do in the area. It is a gem just over the bridges and well within weekend striking distance. For out-of-staters, this is a great home base to explore the Hudson Valley region and get a taste of what New York has to offer. ENJOY! THANKS PHIL! The post Campground Review! New York City North/ Newburgh KOA appeared first on The RV Atlas.
38 minutes | Dec 15, 2020
Hither Hills Campground, Montauk, New York
Hither Hills Campground We have wanted to visit and review Hither Hills Campground, in Montauk, New York for years! But from our home at the Jersey Shore it could take 3.5 hours(or 6 hours) to get there, depending on traffic. We would also have to tow our RV over the George Washington Bridge. We have towed over the GW before–but it is not exactly fun. Our buddy Phil Travaglia camps at Hither Hills on the regular and we finally decided to have him on for a review. We are so glad we did. Phil loves camping at Hither Hills and he loves exploring Montauk. His passion for this beautiful place really comes to life in our interview with him. During Phil’s last trip to Hither Hills he met the team behind Sunny Day Camper Rentals. He was very impressed with their rental service and wanted to recommend it to anyone who doesn’t own an RV and might want to camp on Hither Hills, or anywhere on Long Island. Sunny was also kind enough to provide a few of the pictures below! All Thank you Sunny!! All other photos are by Phil! To ready more about Sunny Day Camper Rentals scroll down to the end of the post. To listen to Phil and Jeremy discuss Hither Hills Campground click on the media player above. Or just keep reading Phil’s great guest blog post to find out all of the information you need to visit Hither Hills and Montauk. Guest Post by Phil Travaglia: Layout of Hither Hills Campground The campground is divided into two main loops: the East Loop and the West Loop separated by a roundabout and a beachfront visitors center. The East loop and West are predominantly RV sites. Then there is a smaller “Tent only” loop called the “J Loop”. This loop does not allow generator use. The visitors center (pre-Covid) has a large community room geared towards environmental education for kids. There are “hands on” learning tables and the campground has a permanently staffed environmentalist who provides educational programs and hikes for the campers. Photo Provided by Sunny Day Camper Rentals All of the sites are considered oceanfront sites. The campground is separated from the ocean by a single row of dunes that run the length of the campground. You hear the ocean literally from every site. The camping is dry camping with water spigots interspersed throughout the campground for filling your tanks. They have designated hours when you can run your generators and the location is excellent for those who have solar set ups. The majority of the sites are listed for 30 foot rigs . The sites right up against the dunes are for smaller rigs up to 20 feet and there are seventeen sites that I counted that can take 40 foot rigs. There are four bath houses with showers. Personally, I have only checked out two of them. The West loop bath house is likely the original bath house for the park. It is older, but it is clean and well maintained. The East loop bath house is much newer and is very nice. Also, this one is clean and well maintained with modern shower stalls. There is a nice camp store on the grounds during the peak season. There is a very nice playground as well as a baseball/ softball field, basketball and some of the nicest oceanfront beach on Long Island. Tips for Visiting Hither Hills Campground During Peak Season Photo Provided By Sunny Day Camper Rentals There is a seven night minimum for renting campsites at Hither Hills during peak season which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Camp fires are also not allowed during this time. I asked about this and was told that they do this during the peak season for a few reasons: One is to cut down on the smoke… The layout of this campground is flat with low bushes and trees (typical for beach camping on the East Coast) during the peak season the campground fills up and the smoke from everyone’s fires can become a bit much for some. The second reason is fire prevention. The campground is very exposed as you would imagine and the grass and brush can become very dry Combine that with fires and wind and there is the potential for a brush fire. Hither Hills Campground offers organized activities such as: sandcastle contests, beach volleyball and environmental education programs to name a few. The camp store is open, however, I have not been in it. I’ve been told, they have the essentials… Like, breakfast and lunch sandwiches as well as serve ice cream. Tips for Visiting Hither Hills Campground During the Shoulder Seasons There is a two night minimum. Any single night openings are let out on a first come first served basis. Camp fires are allowed but they must be in raised containers. The camp store is closed during the shoulder seasons, but not to fear… there is a great bagel shop about a half a mile from the campground called Goldeberg’s Bagels. They have excellent coffee and the best everything flagels I’ve ever had. There are no organized activities at this time. Getting Reservations at Hither Hills Campground Photo provided by Sunny Day Camper Rentals All reservations are made via the Reserve America reservation system. This is an extremely popular campground and sites fill up almost immediately once reservations are open. You can reserve sites up to nine months in advance. The fee for New York state residents is $35/ night. The Fee for Non-residents is $70/ night Also, there are the Reserve America fees as well for changing, cancellations etc. Things To Do Around Hither Hills Campground There is an over abundance of things to do in this area of Long Island. If you head East from the campground, you head directly into the town of Montauk. You will see beautiful country and you may even recognize some landmarks from the television series “The Affair” i.e you will pass the horse stables featured in the show on the left side of the road heading into Montauk. Montauk itself is a charming town with great food, culture and history. It also has a variety of local shops. Continue through Montauk for about 4 miles and you come to the Montauk Lighthouse. The Montauk lighthouse is a National Historic Monument. It is the fourth oldest lighthouse in the United States and was the first lighthouse built in New York State. It was commissioned to be built by congress under George Washington in 1792. The lighthouse also has a wonderful museum, gift shop and three and a half acres of grounds and structures to explore. Currently, the museum and the lighthouse are closed due to Covid, However, a curator told me that the grounds are open for a self guided tour for a reduced admission fee. Parking at Montauk State Park (which is right next to the lighthouse) is free if you show your Hither Hills window tag at the gate. There is a separate visitor center located next to the lighthouse with a nice viewing deck overlooking the ocean. It is a nice structure with seating, restrooms and food available. Montauk State Park has many great hiking trails in the immediate area surrounding the lighthouse which give you direct access to the coastline (where you will often see seals and on the rare occasion–whales). They even have scheduled winter seal hikes for those listeners that don’t live too far and are looking for an outdoor day trip. Just before the entrance to the lighthouse, you will see a sign for Camp Hero State Park. This is a unique and very popular attraction. It is actually the grounds of an abandoned WWII coastal defense station. There are several structures still intact including a giant radar dish and the soldiers barracks. Apparently, this was established to detect enemy vessels approaching the U.S. I was told that you cannot go into the buildings , but you can explore the grounds around them. It is recommended that prior to visiting, you should do a little research about the facility. There is not a lot of actual on-site information available about the structures. A little pre-visit reading makes the whole experience much more interesting. Another popular place to visit while out in Montauk is the Ditch Plains Beach area. This beach is a well known surfing beach located on the Montauk peninsula. There even are local shops where you can sign up for surfing lessons if you’re feeling adventurous. Shadmoor State Park is also known for its hiking trails which run along the bluffs of the coast line. There is horseback riding, tennis, golf, cycling in the area. Also, one of my favorites, the fishing charter boats. You can charter a fishing trip on one of the many locally owned fishing boats for a great day on the water. The captains of the boats really know the local waters and always seem to find the fish. There are also restaurants in the area like the Star Island Grill that will cook your catch! The deckhands filet your catch and you can actually bring it to the restaurant and they prepare it for you! My buddies and I used to go to a great Chinese place called the “Wok and Roll” with our catch and they would prepare our favorite Chinese dishes using our fish. Sadly it is no longer open, but there are places that still do this. If you ask the deckhands, I’m sure they’ll be able to name a few. Food and Shopping in Montauk and Surrounding Towns There are too many amazing places to eat to mention them all. It is safe to say, there is no shortage of dining during the summer and early shoulder months. There is a variety of shopping and dining in the area. One area that combines them both is the Gosmans’ dock area. There they have a great waterfront restaurant, a fish market and plenty of shops right on the water. The fish market at Gosmans’ Dock makes daily deliveries to the Fulton Fish Market in NYC and actually supplies a great deal of the East Coast with fresh seafood. Don’t forget the surrounding towns. These include the Hamptons and the quaint little town of Sag Harbor. As with Montauk, you will find an abundance of shops and restaurants. There is so much to do in each of these towns you’ll have to come back again and again. Phil’s Personal Notes The Shoulder seasons have been the real secret for us. There are more sites available and for the most part, Long Island weather is fairly mild in the fall and the spring. This may be the way to get out here and decide whether you would like to spend a week in the summer. There are very little, if any bugs during these seasons. The East End of Long Island is beautiful in the fall with many seasonal activities (pumpkin picking, wineries etc.) My absolute favorite thing about this place is the night sky. There is very little light pollution this far out on the Island and the night skies are second to none. When the camp fires are out and the moon is up, it feels like you are in a planetarium, we bring the telescope every time. Sunny Day Camper Rentals There is a great way to consider checking this campground out without too much work. There is a locally owned camper rental business called Sunny Day Camper Rentals – Link: www.sunnydaycamperrentals.com I have been to Hither Hills Campground about five times and every time I’ve been there, I have always seen campers from Sunny Day. On our last trip, I had the chance to speak briefly with Sunny and she told me that they set up and break down the campers. Pretty much all you do is show up. The campers looked like they were clean and well maintained. They have different types and sizes including pop-ups and hybrids. You can even rent generators and other camping equipment! This is a great option if you do not want to drag your rig across the bridges to get to Long Island (if you are coming from out of state or upstate.) The East End of Long Island is New York’s own Cape Cod. There is so much food, shopping, history and culture to experience and Hither Hills gives you a great way to experience it. The post Hither Hills Campground, Montauk, New York appeared first on The RV Atlas.
23 minutes | Oct 18, 2020
Campground Review: Willow Valley RV Resort, Georgia
Location of Willow Valley RV Resort Willow Valley RV Resort is in the far northeast corner of Georgia. Just outside the little mountain town of Clayton. It is a sparkling new RV park with spacious sites, great amenities, and the perfect location for exploring this beautiful part of the state. The area has ample hiking, waterfalls, and gorgeous vistas. Its natural beauty rivals the Great Smoky Mountains. All without the crowds that plague the national park. Willow Valley RV Resort is about 2 hours away from either Atlanta or Asheville, NC. And despite its mountain location, it’s an easy drive to get there on good roads with gentle grades. To listen to our campground review of Willow Valley RV Resort with Gretchen Holcombe from Boxy Colonial and Boxy Colonial on the Road click on the media player above. Or subscribe to The RV Atlas wherever you get your podcasts! All photos in this post by Gretchen Holcombe. Sites and Prices at Willow Valley RV Resort The RV park has 80 full hookup sites, with a mix of back-in and pull-through sites. You can have your pick of a site close to the pool and playground. Or you can choose one of the brand new paved sites at the back of the campground on the banks of the Little Tennessee River. The campground is surrounded by mountains, so every site comes with spectacular views. Nightly rates range from $36 to $70, depending on the type of site and the time of year. Sites have good separation between them for the most part, but there aren’t many mature trees. So there’s not a lot of privacy or shade. All sites have picnic tables. But they are not equipped with fire pits (you can bring your own or rent one from the camp store). Amenities at WIllow Valley RV Resort Willow Valley has a lot of great amenities, including a pool, small playground, basketball court, outside games like corn hole, a dog washing station and dog park, and a really nicely done community fire pit area. There are scheduled activities on weekends, including arts and crafts and Saturday night s’mores, though the schedule is a little lighter this year due to Covid. Things To Do Near Willow Valley RV Resort Willow Valley RV Resort’s best feature is its great location. It is well positioned for exploring three different Georgia state parks and for taking advantage of the shopping and restaurants in nearby Clayton. Some great towns in North Carolina are also within easy striking distance for day trips. Black Rock Mountain State Park is right down the road from Willow Valley RV Resort. At 3640 feet, it’s Georgia’s highest state park. Check out the views from the 2.2 mile Tennessee Rock Trail or bring a kayak and paddle around the park’s small lake. Tallulah Gorge State Park, less than 20 minutes south of Willow Valley, features a spectacular 1000 foot deep gorge. You can hike down into the gorge and cross it via a suspension bridge. Or just admire the views via the rim trail up top. The main feature of Moccasin Creek State Park is boating and fishing on the nearly 3000 acre Lake Burton. It is half an hour from Willow Valley, There’s also an excellent, family friendly hiking trail to the lovely Hemlock Falls. The town of Highlands, NC is only 30 minutes from Willow Valley via a beautiful drive up into the higher elevations. The downtown area is full of shopping and restaurants, and there’s plenty of outdoor fun to be found in and near town. Check out the amazing view from Sunset Rock or take a kid-friendly ramble through the grounds of the botanical garden and Highlands Biological Station. A few minutes outside of town you’ll find the impressive Dry Falls, named because you can walk behind the waterfall and stay (mostly) dry. Local Shopping Near Willow Valley RV Resort Wander North Georgia is a must see shopping stop in Clayton, Georgia. It is less than 10 minutes from Willow Valley. The shop has gained a devoted following thanks in large part to its excellent Instagram account. It sells a big variety of outdoor gear and apparel, as well a great selection of books, plus other essentials like local beer and ice cream. Restaurants Near Willow Valley RV Resort Clayton has a surprising number of great restaurants for a town its size. Grab a pizza from Fortify Pi or have a burger and a local beer on the patio at Universal Joint. Pick up some Mexican from Manrique’s or get a super affordable and delicious family-sized fried chicken dinner from Sunday Diner. And then finish it all off with some fresh doughnuts from The Farm House. The post Campground Review: Willow Valley RV Resort, Georgia appeared first on The RV Atlas.
29 minutes | Aug 25, 2020
Campground Review of Castaways RV Resort in Ocean City, MD
If you’d like to pretend to be a castaway on a tropical island, you need to head to Castaways RV Resort & Campground, located near Ocean City, Maryland. This resort has it all, including a beautiful oceanfront location and tons of amenities. We are excited to have Bill from Disney Image Makers and A Camper and a Camera back with us to share a great campground review of Castaways RV Resort, as well as his amazing campground photos. When Bill sends us pictures, it’s almost impossible to decide which to include in a post! He recently shared a fantastic review of Carolina Pines. To hear more of Bill’s review of Castaways RV Resort, click play on the media player above or look for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Location of Castaways RV Resort Castaways is located in between two terrific Maryland locales, Ocean City and Assateague Island. Though you are far from Florida, Bill describes this as a “little piece of Key West.” He and his wife first experienced Castaways when they rented a travel trailer. His wife wasn’t sure about RVing, so he was a smart man to pick such a fantastic resort for her first campground stay. Bill says Ocean City is a great place to explore beyond the resort. While they enjoy the campground during the day, at night, they like to hit the town for dinner or a walk on the boardwalk. This is a classic beach town, packed with restaurants and amusements and shopping. Campground Details for Castaways RV Resort Castways RV Resort offers over 300 campsites, some with stunning views of the water. The campground is nicely filled with some shaded sites, while others are more wide open. Even those that are not right on the water are only a short walk away. Most of the sites are back-in, with just eight pull-thrus in the entire campground. While the sites are not huge, they are a decent size and have enough vegetation. There are two waterfront sections. Bill’s favorite is the Island Oasis. The sites are best for those under 35 feet. You really feel like you are beach camping here! You can be on the beach in just seconds. Bill also recommends the Landing Club. This area is gated, and the sites are huge. Only the campers in this area can use the amenities, including a personal pool. If you have a fifth wheel or motorhome and don’t mind the extra price, this area has great sites. But, honestly, Bill likes the easy access from the other sites just as much. Amenities at Castaways RV Resort As promised, Castaways is a fun place to play. One cool feature is the tiki bar, which features live music concerts right on the beach some nights. Of course, the water is the star of the show. Bill says families will appreciate how shallow the water is on the bay beach. It feels like a safe place to play. Adults like to sit their chairs in the water, while the kids run around. They even offer a separate section that is dog friendly. Castaways makes it easy to hit the water with onsite rentals of pontoons, jet skis, kayaks, and more. Other features families will enjoy are the pool, the splash ground, playgrounds, mini golf, and tons of activities. Booking a Site at Castaways RV Resort This resort is in high demand! Bill says it sells out most weekends and through much of the summer. They open reservations 270 days before your check-in day. You will want to call that day if you have a particular site or section in mind. If you aren’t as choosy, you might snag a spot closer to your arrival. You will pay over $100 a night for most stays at Castaways RV Resorts. They use dynamic pricing, which varies based on the season and section. Plus, you will pay extra per person above the base pricing. It’s around $8 extra per night per child. So, again, this is a pricy park, but if you’ll use the amenities, it’s the kind of park where you can stay busy for days on end, without paying for anything other than food. Bill’s only complaint was that the phone system is a little difficult to use for reservations because Castaways phones are currently routed through to their corporate parent, SUN RV Resorts. Cabin Rentals at Castaways RV Resorts Another popular way to stay at Castaways is in the cottages. There are 51 cabins sprinkled around the campground. They vary from $300-340 in the summer, and rent for less in the shoulder season. This is probably similar to what you might pay for a hotel in this area. Plus, the cabins are cute. We definitely enjoyed hearing Bill’s review of Castaways RV Resort and seeing all of his gorgeous photos. Be sure to check out Bill’s YouTube channel Disney Image Makers, his Disney Instagram, and his RV Instagram account A Camper and a Camera. Another huge thank you to Bill! See You at the Campground, Jeremy + Stephanie The post Campground Review of Castaways RV Resort in Ocean City, MD appeared first on The RV Atlas.
22 minutes | Aug 23, 2020
Campground Review of Jellystone Park Quarryville, PA
Last week we were excited to return to Jellystone Park Quarryville near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We were supposed to be taking a big trip across Utah in a rental motorhome this summer, but like many of you, our plans had to change. Luckily, we have some great parks close to home and we were able to snag a cabin at this awesome campground. Since we shared our original review of the Jellystone Park Quarryville five years ago, it is certainly time for an update! Here are ten things we love about this campground. To hear more of our campground review of the Jellystone Park Quarryville, click play on the media player above or search for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Very Nice RV Sites for Resort Campground Some RV resort campgrounds pack in so many great amenities that they leave little room for great campsites. You might think of these as the “rack ’em and stack ’em” parks. However, the Jellystone Park Quarryville is not like that at all. During our visit five years ago, we had a nice, roomy site. Far bigger than many we’ve had at other private campgrounds. The Jellystone Park Quarryville doesn’t just line spots along the roads. Instead, the roads meander and loop throughout the park, give each of them a little separation from neighboring sites. Plus, there’s plenty of trees. Each site is really unique and well manicured. Excellent Buddy Sites Buddy sites allow friends and family members to join their campsites together. The park puts the hookups on the sides, with the driveways coming in from alternating directions. Your trailer doors will face each other, and you have a common space in the middle. The Jellystone Park Quarryville has some of the best buddy sites we have ever seen. They’re huge! Just look at the picture above. This feature makes this Jellystone Park a great campground to enjoy with friends and family. We are really itching to come back here with friends next year and share one of these buddy sites, Cabins Galore The Jellystone Park Quarryville makes it easy for traveling buddies to stay close to each other, thanks to the buddy sites and the cabins sprinkled throughout the park. Instead of isolating cabins to a single section, you’ll find them mixed in with the RV sites. This is so nice when you are visiting with friends that don’t own an RV. For this trip, we enjoyed staying in a Pathfinder cabin. Though we really love our Jayco Eagle, it’s really fun to stay in a cabin every now and then. Even if you are a non-RV owner, you can still enjoy this park. Upper and Lower Pools and Hot Tub We’ve come to expect awesome amenities at Jellystone Parks, and Quarryville does not disappoint. There are two pool areas. You’ll find fun interactive play areas and features, including basketball, volleyball, balancing pads, splash ground, water slides and more! Of course, our family never passes up a good waterslide. We love that this park has different slides for different thrill levels. Dad even likes to get in on the waterslide fun when we hit a Jellystone Park. The hot tub is a feature we all love, of course. At this park, the hot tub is located near the upper pool, which is a quieter area. It’s kind of a nice to escape away from the busier area. We compare this to the Jellystone Park Maryland. They also have two pools there–one of which is quiet and peaceful. The pools also make it easy for the adults to relax while the kids play, thanks to generous seating areas. Cabana Splurges and other Splurges Even with all of the great amenities, there are some things that cost a little extra that are worth the splurge! As you can tell, we loved hanging out at the pool, so naturally, we decided it might be worth reserving a cabana. It nice to get out of the sun and have a shady place to enjoy some lunch. An unexpected plus was that we were able to stay in our cabana even when the pool areas were closed for cleaning due to the pandemic. A golf cart rental is another worthwhile investment. This park is HUGE, so you will enjoy having wheels. Finally, we know they have hot tub rentals that they will bring to.your.campsites. Now, we’ve never been able to snag one for ourselves. Plan early because those things look awesome! Amish Marketplace The Jellystone Park Quarryville is located in Lancaster, a well-known Amish region in Pennsylvania. A friendly family sets up a small marketplace at the park in the morning. They sell locally grown produce and handmade baked goods. They have the single best cinnamon buns (aside from possibly the ones at Old Mill Stream) that Stephanie has ever had! Mini Golf is FREE! At many campgrounds, they charge for activities like mini golf. We love that it is included here, so you don’t have to drop $15-20 each time your kids want to play. Plus, they have a really nice course. We also liked the hand and equipment sanitizing station that was set up at the entrance to the course. Premiere Laser Tag Facilities Our boys LOVE the laser tag at the Jellystone Park Quarryville. This is their favorite course in all of the land! It is large, and there are so many places to hide. You really have fun running around here. Plus, we like how they organize the game here. There’s even lighting at night and some heavy metal music that cranks up the intensity. It feels like it’s designed for teenagers, which makes it especially impressive for tweens. Bounce Pillow and Outdoor Activities One little thing we appreciate about the Jellystone Park Quarryville is the wide open spaces where kids can run and play. The bounce pillows are nearby, and they have one for big kids and one for little kids. Wes made sure to get in some quality time here during our recent stay. Our boys also love having spaces like this to play catch. Plus, after a busy day at the pool, this is kind of a relaxing way to unwind in the evening. An open field like this could easily be turned into more RV or cabin sites. So we really appreciate the open space. Concierge-Level Check-In Service This park feels more like a true resort thanks to the way they’ve set up the service stations. Instead of having people multi-tasking from a single desk, you’ll find several points of contact, each with a dedicated offering. Go to one area to easily check in, go to the other to inquire about the amenity upgrades, and go to another for ice cream. Having streamlined service helps lines move quickly, something we especially appreciated while RVing during the pandemic. The HUGE camp store was another amenity. You could easily spread out in here and find all of the Yogi Bear themed merchandise, plus all of the usual camp supplies. OUR BOOK is For Sale in the Bookstore!!! Something else you can find in the Jellystone Park Quarryville is OUR BOOK (See You at the Campground)! It was so nice to walk in and see it on the shelf! We added our signatures to them. If you get there soon, you might snag one for yourself. There are a bunch of other Jellystones with it on the shelves, as well, or you can order it online. See You at the Campground, Stephanie + Jeremy The post Campground Review of Jellystone Park Quarryville, PA appeared first on The RV Atlas.
31 minutes | Aug 15, 2020
Campground Review: Tiger Run RV Resort Near Breckenridge, Colorado
While Breckenridge is known as a premiere skiing destination, the fun doesn’t end when the snow does. Whether you are heading to the region in the sun or the snow, you can stay at one of the nation’s top-ranked campgrounds. Our review of Tiger Run RV Resort will fill you in on what makes this popular park so special. Tiger Run seems to be the only RV park in the Breckenridge region. A few national forest campgrounds offer limited hookups and amenities, making Tiger Run the main game in town–and luckily, it’s a good one! Kerri Cox, of Travels with Birdy, is back to share her review of Tiger Run RV Resort. Last week, she told us all about her recent trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and gave us a great review of the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake. If you are Rocky Mountain dreaming, don’t miss those episodes. To hear more of our review of Tiger Run RV Resort, click play on the media player above or search for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Location of Tiger Run RV Resort Tiger Run RV Resort is situated at 9,000 feet in elevation. You are really up in the mountains here. It is conveniently located between the popular ski towns of Frisco and Breckenridge, just south of Interstate 70, the main thoroughfare across central Colorado. Kerri’s family noted that the the drive from the east was just beautiful along this interstate, and they had no trouble on the road to the resort. Though both are in the mountains, both were wide and smooth. You will encounter some steep grades, so checking your brakes is a must. Campground Details for Tiger Run RV Resort Tiger Run RV Resort is a private campground. It actually has the rare distinction of being a park where owners own individual campsites, which are then rented out through the resort. Even though you can select a site when booking, you are not guaranteed to have that exact site, due to possible changes in ownership. You will find very specific rig requirements for booking in this park and for book specific areas of the park. In general, RVs should be newer than 20 years old, be longer than 20 feet (not including the tow vehicle), and have no tent/canvas components. You can see the requirements for each type of spot here. Tiger Run RV Resort is a large park, with over 200 sites (find the park map here). There are also many rental chalets situated in the campground. Kerri was surprised to find out the park had this many sites. Since you really don’t see them all at once, you don’t realize the park is so big. One cool thing to note is that you can stay here in the winter. If you want to take your RV out for a ski vacation, Tiger Run is the perfect place to stay since the park is maintained throughout the year. Campsite Details for Tiger Run RV Resort iger Run RV Resort has a very lush appearance, thanks to the many trees. Kerri wouldn’t describe it as being like a state park since it’s not exactly natural or rustic. Instead, the park feels very manicured. Each site has its own landscaping, so you’ll see beautiful flowers everywhere and may find a lot of privacy between sites. There is not a lot of grass at the sites. Many are mostly a mixture of concrete and landscaping. Kerri’s site was about three times the width of an average campsite, with a generous space for the picnic table and chairs. Sizes and campsite details vary across the park, though, as each owner develops the space individually. All of the campsites offer full hookups, with electric, water, sewer, and cable. You’ll find a variety of furnishings. Some owners have built-in plush patios, with nice furniture and fire pits, while others have a simple picnic table. In general, fire pits are not necessarily included. You may bring your own, but you have to be mindful of fire regulations and be careful to avoid damaging the concrete at your site. Booking Details for Tiger Run RV Resort You will book sites at Tiger Run through the online reservation system. Before booking, be sure to review the descriptions about the types of campsites. As mentioned earlier, some have different length requirements. Certain sites are for Class A motorhomes only. Expect to pay $100-$120 per night. Yes, that is a premium cost, but again, this is a premium resort in an expensive location. You can find a detailed rate sheet here. Kerri booked her site a couple of months in advance of her summer vacation and was able to get a spot, but there were not a ton of choices available. Amenities at Tiger Run RV Resort Like the “resort” park of its title implies, Tiger Run has a slate of onsite amenities. There is a huge indoor pool and hot tub. The clubhouse has a game room. Outside, there’s a great playground and tennis and basketball courts. Most of these items were closed or required reservations and limited occupancy due to COVID-19 protocols during Kerri’s stay, so they did not get to take advantage of them. Two rivers run through the park. You’ll find a short walking trail along one, and you may fish for trout in them. Another nice feature is that the park is huge and has smooth roads, making it a great place for kids to bicycle. Just watch out…Kerri says it is easy to get lost. Insider Information If you aren’t traveling with a vehicle or want to leave yours in the park, you will find a bus stop for Breckenridge’s public transit system right across from the park. There’s also a biking trail that runs along a river all the way from the park into town. Nobody’s Perfect Kerri noticed a review that suggest trash pickup would be an appreciated amenity here, and she agreed. The park is huge, and there is one main trash dump. She did see workers frequently circling in golf carts, so it wouldn’t be hard to add trash pickup to their rotations. Regional Highlights Near Tiger Run RV Resort The towns of Breckenridge and Frisco and all of the surrounding natural beauty are the main attractions for Tiger Run RV Resort. Kerri’s family spent an evening in downtown Breckenridge. There are hip shops that were not quite as touristy as Estes Park. Kerri noted lots of people hanging out on a riverside park, with some kids playing in the creek. Nearby, the Riverwalk Center is a performing arts facility that hosts concerts, plays, and more. Due to COVID-19, a portion of the main street running through Breckenridge’s hip downtown area was shut down, allowing many of the restaurants to move their seating outside. She honestly felt like this added to the experience instead of taking anything away from it. Live music floated through the air, and views of the mountains could be appreciated while eating. One of Kerri’s big highlights of her visit to Breckenridge was catching (and touching!) her first trout. The Blue River runs through an area called “the Steps” near the Breckenridge Recreation Center. The town has created a short run with little pools, where trout like to hang. This is a great fishing spot that’s very convenient to town. We want to thank Kerri for sharing this great review of Tiger Run RV Resort! You can follow Kerri’s RV adventures over on her Instagram feed or her website Travels with Birdy. Look for her work on Trailer Life, the Good Sam Blog, Togo RV, and more. See You at the Campground, Stephanie + Jeremy The post Campground Review: Tiger Run RV Resort Near Breckenridge, Colorado appeared first on The RV Atlas.
21 minutes | Aug 9, 2020
Campground Review: Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake
Choosing the PERFECT campground in Estes Park, Colorado, can be a bit difficult since there’s not a clear standout. However, we hope this campground review of the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake will reassure you that it is a great choice, as long as you adjust your expectations. This campground review is a part of a series of podcasts we are doing with Kerri Cox of Travels with Birdy. If you are staying in Estes Park, be sure to check out the paired episode, which is a trip planning guide for Rocky Mountain National Park. To hear more of this campground review of the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake, click play on the media player above or look for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Campground Selection in Estes Park Estes Park is a super popular summertime vacation spot thanks to its beauty and easy proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. You would think there would be an amazing selection of parks in this amazing location, but unfortunately, they each have pros and cons to balance. Many of the most beautiful campgrounds are found right in RMNP. Unfortunately, you will not find hookups, not even electric, which was a dealbreaker for Kerri’s family. If you can dry camp, definitely put these parks on your list! Most of the private parks in town get mixed reviews. Some have very strict cancellation policies and will keep your full payment if you cancel fewer than 30 days out. Be sure to read each park’s policies very carefully. Other parks get complaints about the management, tight campsites, or rundown facilities. Kerri noted that the Jellystone Park of Estes Park (which was reviewed on our show here) and Estes Park KOA both have more trees onsite and are actually built into the mountainside. The interior roads and sites are a little tighter. Kerri worried about getting cell signal at Jellystone due to its location. Location of Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake The Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake is located right in Estes Park, just minutes from the gates of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is located at 8,000 feet in elevation, which makes for cooler weather in the summer. It has views of the Twin Sisters Peaks Estes Park is a popular gateway community for RMNP, known for its cheery downtown section, with stores and restaurants. It does has all of the tourist favorites (t-shirt shops, fudge), with more of an outdoorsy vibe, too. Campground Details The Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake is a public park, but it’s not a state or national park. Instead, it is managed by the Estes Valley Park and Recreation District, which oversees the campground at Mary’s Lake, as well as the East Portal Campground, which has small sites for tents and RVs up to 22 feet in length. You’ll find 130 campsites. Over half are suitable for RVs, while the rest are tent sites Physical Appearance The Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake is mostly situated in a large flat area with wide open views of the surrounding mountains. Some of the bad reviews that the park gets is for the fact that the campground itself isn’t particularly scenic. The full hookup sites are all in a large parking area, with no atmosphere at your campsite. However, the whole park looks out at the mountain views, which IS scenic. The park has no shade in the full hookup area, which can get very sunny in the daytime. During Kerri’s stay, daytime temps never got above 85 degrees, so she had no trouble keeping her trailer cool enough (and this was in July). The campsites are all gravel, and some people complain about the amount of dust. The good thing is that the roads are nice and wide. Price Range and Ease of Booking Expect to pay $55 for water/electric sites and $60-65 for full hookup. Book early! Estes Park is quite popular. You’ll make reservations through the Reserve America site. A few sites are set aside for walk-ins, but Kerri never quite figured out the exact rules of getting those (once you get one, can you stay several nights?). Site Details Here’s a map of the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake. Sites 1-47 are full hookup with 50/30 amp. Of these, 1-22 are pull-thru sites, which are much better than the back-ins. The pull-thrus are extra wide. There’s room to park your vehicle beside the RV. The back-in sites aren’t quite as wide and seem more clustered since you have someone else’s picnic table right behind/in front of yours. Sites 102-166 are back-in with water/electric only. Some of these have shade and very nice views (105-110ish). They are shorter, so long trailers will not fit in this area. The rest are a mix of non-electric and tent sites scattered across the area. Amenities There is not a lot to do onsite at the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake. You will primarily use this as a basecamp for exploring RMNP. Kids can enjoy the small pool. It wasn’t opened while Kerri was there due to COVID-19. The weather is often below 60 degrees at night. The playground was also closed, but kids were having fun scrambling on nearby rocks while deer enjoyed the grass in the playground. You can walk across the street to Mary’s Lake, which offers fishing, but no swimming or boating. There is a clean shower houses, but be sure to take some quarters. It costs $2.00 for a 5-6 minute shower. There is a nice camp store onsite, with good gifts, some necessities, and a laundry room. The workers were nice about enforcing the COVID-19 protocols to keep numbers limited inside the store. The campground doesn’t offer WiFi, but Kerri had a very good Verizon signal. Part of the reason she picked this park is that some of the other Estes Park campgrounds do not have cell signal, which she needed for work. Insider Details about the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake Kerri recommends getting up to watch the sunrise at least once! It’s spectacular to see it come over the mountain ridge and to cast the morning light on the mountains behind the campground Regional Highlights near the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake Of course, most visitors spend their time exploring RMNP and all of the surrounding natural beauty. The town of Estes Park is a cute place to do some shopping and strolling. Kerri had not planned to eat out so much due to the pandemic; however, these great options lured her in with their open-air seating or to-go options: The Barrel — This open air beer garden hosts rotating food trucks and has a great selection of brews La Cocina de Mama — Their food truck was at The Barrel during Kerri’s visit. They also have a restaurant and are located elsewhere on various nights check their website for locations. The food was amazing! Antonio’s Real New York Pizza — Kerri felt assured that this was real NY pizza as the name says since the guy on answering machine recording had NY accent. During the pandemic, they are offering online ordering and parking lot pick-up, with some outdoor picnic tables you can use. You Need Pie — This adorable pie shop has late hours (open until 9!) and great coconut creme pie! Fresh Burger Stop — You can pick up home-cooked burgers in this drive-through. You can order online to make it faster. Munchin House — Kerri loves all things huckleberry, and this was her Estes Park hookup for huckleberry ice cream! We want to thank Kerri for this awesome campground review of the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake! If you’d like to take a walking tour of the park, she shared one on our Facebook group. Check it out here! You can follow Kerri’s RV adventures over on her Instagram feed or her website Travels with Birdy. Look for her work on Trailer Life, the Good Sam Blog, Togo RV, and more. See You at the Campground, Stephanie + Jeremy The post Campground Review: Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake appeared first on The RV Atlas.
35 minutes | Jul 25, 2020
Campground Review: Carolina Pines RV Resort
The Myrtle Beach region is a hopping location with so many great RV park options…and now, there’s another over-the-top campground to choose from. The Carolina Pines RV Resort takes the “resort” part of its name seriously. This review of the Carolina Pines RV Resort is going to tell you all about the sites and amenities at this hot property, thanks to our friend Bill Sferrazza. Bill is an amazing photographer, and he’s taking us on a visual tour of this campground, as well as a verbal one. When he’s not taking photos of RV parks, Bill is primarily known as a photographer of all things Disney. To listen to our interview with Bill on the The RV Atlas click on the media player above. And Huge thanks to Bill for all of the great photos of Carolina Pines that appear in this post! A Camper and a Camera As a member of the Disney Vacation Club (which we told you about here), Bill was going to the parks once or twice a year. As a photo fanatic, he was, of course, snapping tons of pictures along the way. He began to share those online with a group, which grew and grew. Bill ultimately began doing some freelance Disney photography and even started a YouTube channel called Disney Image Makers, where he and his friend Eric Weber help others learn how to up their photography game. You can see their Disney photos on Instagram (where he has 75,0000 followers!), too, as well as Bill’s RVing photos, which he shares under the account A Camper and a Camera. While Bill loves photographing Disney, he has also enjoyed turning his camera to his RV and the parks he visits with his family. This hobby has led to more opportunities. You might see his professional work out there for Jayco, Jellystone, and more. We are excited to have Bill here to share his review of Carolina Pines RV Resort. Carolina Pines RV Resort Location Carolina Pines is located in Conway, SC, around 25 minutes from the heart of Myrtle Beach. For his trip, Bill and his family mostly enjoyed the resort itself and the beach. If you want to be closer to the main attractions of Myrtle Beach, you might want to check out one of these campgrounds. But, if you are like Bill and you plan to take advantage of all of the amenities and hit the Atlantic, then Carolina Pines just might be for you. Bill describes Carolina Pines as being on par with Disney Resorts in the quality and ambiance of the park. So, come ready to play onsite, and you may find yourself deciding not to leave. Campground Ambiance at Carolina Pines This brand-new resort feels very grand right from the entrance, and Bill has been to many of the best parks in the Eastern U.S., including Fort Wilderness, Normandy Farms, Anchor Down, Ocean Lakes, and so many more. He describes Carolina Pines as being on the “next level” like these amazing parks. Even in the middle of a pandemic, Carolina Pines set the bar higher. They gave Bill’s family a gift pack upon arrival, complete with masks, surface wipes, and hand sanitizer. The resort required mask use inside, while they were optional outdoors in less crowded spaces. We really appreciate knowing this, as we know everyone is deciding whether or not they’ll feel safe while traveling during COVID-19 (check out our list of 12 tips here). Campsites at Carolina Pines RV Resort Carolina Pines RV Resort offers two types of campsites. You’ll find both pull-thru and back-in sites. Bill described the pull-thru as being large enough to fit his truck, 35-foot trailer, another truck, and even a golf cart. You could park practically any rig on these gigantic concrete sites. However, even the back-in sites are plenty generous in length. While they don’t have concrete pads for the rig, the back-in sites do have a concrete patio and the gravel looks well-maintained. There is only a $10 difference in price, so if you can get a pull-thru, you might as well. One thing to note is that this is a new campground, so the landscaping is still growing in, which means you won’t have a ton of privacy between sites. While they are nicely spaced apart, you will see your neighbor. Campground Sections at Carolina Pines RV Resort Bill gave us the lay of the land at Carolina Pines. This resort currently has three sections open, with more under development. Section A was the first phase of the park. It has 31 premium sites and 103 back-ins, and the annual sites are located here. You are closer to the road here and may pick up some road noise, but the landscaping is more developed, which is nice. This area has an indoor pool and spa, dog park, horseshoes, and bath/laundry facilities. Section B has 35 back-in sites and 112 cabins. You’ll find a great selection of cabin styles, including some that are handicapped/wheelchair accessible. This is a great area for traveling with a group of friends or family that includes non-RVers. This area is close to the sports courts and has a fenced playground. A walking bridge connects it to the main recreational building, restaurant, store, and pool areas. It also has its own laundry/bath facilities and dog park with a dog-washing station. Sections C & D has 118 premium pull-thru sites, 100 back-in sites, and 5 cottages for sale. These areas have close proximity to the main hub of the resort. The wide roads are perfect for easy maneuvering. Bill says if you are going to rent a golf cart, this is the place to do it! This place is HUGE! Facilities at Carolina Pines RV Resort Of course, as you might expect, the facilities at Carolina Pines RV Resort are top notch. From when you first pull up, you get a sense of grandness. Bill really liked how you could find seating areas with fire pits in many locations across the campground. Near these seating areas, you even find some games to play, like corn hole. All of these public spaces really add to that resort feeling. Bill points out that the laundry rooms and bath houses are exceptionally clean and well designed. They are located in each section. As far as WiFi and cell signal goes, you’ll find access to both at Carolina Pines. Bill said the campground WiFi wasn’t quite as fast as their cell data, so they preferred to use their own hotspots. Amenities at Carolina Pines RV Resort Our review of Carolina Pines RV Resort would not be complete without running through this awesome list of onsite amenities. Let’s start with the waterpark. Carolina Pines has multiple pools and hot tubs. Plus, they have a gigantic waterpark. These waterslides are not just for kids, they are the real deal. You’ll also find a spray ground, cabanas, waterfalls, a zero-entry pool, and so much more to make your time at the pools a whole adventure. A lazy river is even in the works! Two of the pools are part of a “serenity area” aimed at adults, including a nice indoor pool. This is a quieter area, where you’ll find a spa and a wait staff that can bring you poolside food and drinks. We know where Stephanie would like to hang out… But, wait, there’s more! The recreation center has facilities for basketball, pickle ball, volleyball, and horse shoes. There’s an onsite gym that is not just a work-out room, it’s a massive full-service gym. Even the mini-golf course is amazing: We STILL aren’t done with those amenities. There’s an indoor bowling alley: You’ll also find a snack bar, a full-service restaurant, a bar, and food delivery options. Like we said, you could arrive at Carolina Pines and not want for anything during your stay. The Carolina Pines RV Resort Beach Club Now, even though Carolina Pines is not directly on the beach, they have some fantastic beach access around 20 minutes away. A complimentary shuttle will even take you there. The shuttle runs every half hour from 9:30-5:30. Or, you can drive yourself and pay a minimal parking fee. The nice thing is that you find much more than a beach access. Carolina Pines actually has a facility with some bathrooms, some social areas, and a pool! This makes it so much easier to enjoy your day at the beach. Bill has stayed at other resorts directly on the beach, and while that is nice, he doesn’t think the location of Carolina Pines is a problem since the newness and amenities really make up for that. Plus, you’ll still have great access. Reservations at Carolina Pines RV Resort This review of Carolina Pines RV Resort may have you salivating about going there. So, how much are you going to have to pay? And, will you have trouble getting a site?? Bill says that Carolina Pines RV Resort uses dynamic prices, which means the rates vary depending on the season, day of the week, and other factors. During his 6-night stay, he may have paid a different price each night. In general, you can expect to pay around $100-$110 during summer for a pull-thru site, with back-ins being around $10 less. Of course, you may pay less during the shoulder seasons. We know that price is eye-popping to some, but again, if you look at the total entertainment value beyond just the campsite, it can be worth it. What Can Be Improved? While Bill knows there isn’t much the resort can do about this, there is virtually no shade. Since the park is brand new, it will take years for the small trees to grow in. So, for now, the sun is a little unrelenting. With temperatures in the 90s in the summer, you can expect your AC to run continuously. There are some tables with sun umbrellas, and the pools have some cool shaded lounge areas (shown above); however, the poolside spots get snagged quickly. You can rent a cabana for $80 to get your own dedicated shade. So, while this sun might be enjoyable in early spring, if you are going in the middle of summer, be prepared. Wow! We definitely enjoyed hearing Bill’s review of Carolina Pines RV Resort and seeing all of his tremendous photos. Be sure to check out Bill’s YouTube channel Disney Image Makers, his Disney Instagram, and his RV Instagram account A Camper and a Camera. A huge thank you to Bill! We are putting this one on our list. See You at the Campground, Jeremy + Stephanie The post Campground Review: Carolina Pines RV Resort appeared first on The RV Atlas.
27 minutes | Jul 20, 2020
Campground Review: Moose Hillock Campground in Lake George, New York
There’s so much to love about Moose Hillock Camping Resort in Lake George, NY. You’ll find huge private campsites, super fun amenities, and a great location. We are excited to share our review of this gorgeous family-owned campground with you. Though Moose Hillock isn’t too far from our home in NJ, it’s taken us years to get there! Though it should only take a four-hour drive, navigating NYC traffic can add hours to the trip. Thankfully, we finally had our chance to hit Moose Hillock earlier this summer. And, we’re so glad we did! To hear more of our review of Moose Hillock campground, click play on the media player above or search for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Location of Moose Hillock Camping Resort Lake George, NY Moose Hillock Camping Resort is located just ten minutes away from the southern end of Lake George in the Adirondacks. It has great proximity to the lake and to the town of Lake George.While there may be other RV parks closer to Lake George, Moose Hillock is definitely worth a few extra minutes of driving. The Lake George area has two very popular campgrounds. The Lake George RV Park is a long-term favorite, while Moose Hillock is a little more new to the scene, but quickly gaining in popularity. While we haven’t stayed at Lake George RV Park, we’ve driven by and have heard many, many great reviews. In a head-to-head comparison, we would say that Moose Hillock gets the edge if you want a huge private campsite, while Lake George RV Park has more manicured, resort-style campsites. Both are seriously great, depending on what you prefer. Review of Moose Hillock Camping Resort Campsites You know we have stayed in a LOT of campgrounds, and the campsites at Moose Hillock are probably the largest, most spacious, and most private campsites we have ever seen at a private campground. They even rival the best public campgrounds. We’ve heard that the owner wanted his worst site to be better than the best sites at other campgrounds. We think he’s fulfilled in that mission. You will pay premium resort pricing for these sites. At over $100 a night, Moose Hillock is pricier than many campgrounds. However, your campsite is double the space you’d get elsewhere, and you do have to remember you are in a popular travel destination in New York. We think the price is absolutely worth it. The closest comparisons we can think of are Rafter J Bar Ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Sandy Pines in Kennebunkport, Maine. Both have that natural, state park feeling with many private campground amenities. Amenities at Moose Hillock Camping Resort Speaking of amenities, Moose Hillock has them! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience a lot of them since we visited while it was still early in the season and while the coronavirus pandemic was a concern. Not everything was open while we were there. Boy, do we wish we could have checked out the pool! This pool is so epic it has its own name! The Aloha Beach Tropical Swimming Pool is a huge, heated zero-entry pool. It has two waterslides, rentable cabanas, live entertainment, and big screen movie nights. This is definitely a wow feature. Families also love the fact that the pool stays open late. That means, you can get out and explore the Lake George area all you want and still return to Moose Hillock for some swim time. Since the campsites are so large, you can imagine this park is pretty spread out. If you do get the sites at the back of the park, you are further from the amenities. Moose Hillock offers golf cart rentals to make it easy to navigate the campground. This is a great park to make a rental worthwhile. What’s Not So Perfect? Our review of Moose Hillock campground would not be complete without answering our usual question: What’s not so perfect about this campground? Our only complaint was that the golf cart parade included many political flags. We understand that everyone has different political opinions. However, we think private campground owners needs to watch out for this. We would love to see campgrounds provide a respite from the political noise coming at us from all other directions. We know it is not easy for campground owners to make that declaration, but it is possible. We’ve stayed at parks that explicitly asked people not to include political materials in campground parades, and we stay vigilant about keeping politics out of our Facebook group. We don’t like seeing the political flags at campsites, but we wouldn’t complain about that. In this case, it was the Memorial Day parade at the campground, which seemed like a place to promote our nation. Instead it felt like a political rally. Lake George Regional Highlights Near Moose Hillock While you’re at Moose Hillock, you’ll have the whole Lake George region at your fingertips. It’s worth exploring. Here are eight interesting facts about Lake George (that we Googled from the internet, just to be honest): Lake George has a maximum depth of 200′ and a maximum width of four miles. If you take a boat tour of Lake George, you can learn more facts like this. Lake George has 186 islands. New York owns 154 of them, and tent camping is offered on 50 of them (if you have a boat to reach them). Lake George is known as the “queen of American lakes.” Don’t ask us which lake is the king. It is a beautiful lake! The Lake George region has more beds for tourists than any place in New York state, other than NYC. We can see why. That iconic vision of summer campground we all know was partially born in the Adirondacks. Some people claim there is a real lake monster named Georgie. Thomas Jefferson called it the most beautiful water he ever saw. Rachael Ray grew up here and owns a home nearby. You just might spot her in town! Taking a bath in the lake is prohibited. Just don’t. You can let the pristine waters clean you, but no soap or shampoo allowed. We hope our review of Moose Hillock campground convinces you to put this great park on your list! It’s certainly staying on ours. This week inadvertently ended up being “moose week” at The RV Atlas. Check out our previous episode about Silver Moose Restorations for more moose-related content that has little to do with actual moose. See You at the Campground, Stephanie + Jeremy The post Campground Review: Moose Hillock Campground in Lake George, New York appeared first on The RV Atlas.
28 minutes | Jun 27, 2020
Anchor Down RV Resort
Anchor Down RV Resort, located in Dandridge, TN, is one of the hottest campgrounds in the nation. It seems everyone we know has either gone there or is wanting to go there. With meticulous campsites located on Douglas Lake and views of the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance, Anchor Down is an exceptional campground in an exceptional location. We are especially pleased to be bringing you this great review from Will and Britta Brown from Browns Dope Little Adventures. We have followed their blog for years and when we saw they were recently at Anchor Down, we knew they were the perfect people to bring us a review. To hear this full review of Anchor Down RV Resort, click play on the media play above, or search for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Meet the Browns Britta and Will started sharing their adventures before they even had an RV. Their Instagram account followed the couple as they played with their Jeep Wranglers, modifying them and taking them overlanding in California. Will’s plan was to go tent camping on these trips, but Britta was not into camping without a bathroom. Next, the couple considered purchasing a teardrop. But, the $20,000 price tag STILL did not include a bathroom. Britta was not into that, either, nor did it seem like they would both fit in such a small rig. So, they ended up purchasing an 18-foot Winnebago Minnie Drop that made them both happy. Later, Britta and Will upgraded to a bigger Keystone Outback and even lived in it full time for a couple of years, as their jobs took them from one state to the next. Now, with a more permanent home, the RV is used for more traditional travel. It seems like Britta and Will would not have a lot of time to travel. Will is the Assistant Director of Video Operations for the Detroit Lions, and Britta is the Assistant Athletic Director for Development for Eastern Michigan University. Despite their busy careers, they make time to hit the road, taking weekend trips and one big trip per year. With all of this experience under their belts, we are excited to hear their review of Anchor Down. Introducing Anchor Down RV Resort Anchor Down RV Resort is located in Dandridge, TN, just 20 minutes south of Knoxville. The campground was built into a ridge above Douglas Lake, and the Smoky Mountains can be seen off in the distance. Almost every site has gorgeous, expansive views. Will thinks sites 28-29 might be the cream of the crop with their location at the top of the hill, but good luck booking those! This large campground has over 170 paved campsites spread across three levels. Some back-in sites overlook the lake almost directly. Some pull-thru sites are located in the middle, and then the top of the hill has some of the best views. You can check out the campground map and rates here. Campsites at Anchor Down RV Resort The campsites at Anchor Down RV Resort are almost famous for their quality. First, they are almost all situated to take advantage of the views of the lake and mountains. They really just seem to go on and on as far as the eye can see. Next, many of the sites have these beautiful brick fireplaces (shown above). This is more like high-end hotel quality, instead of what you’d expect at a campground. Finally, as you can see, the sites are nice and wide and paved. At the campsite and throughout the campground, attention is paid to keeping the landscape tidy. Amenities at Anchor Down RV Resort Anchor Down is also known for its amenities. This campground has a pool with a waterslide. Plus, there’s a swim beach at the lake, with two levels of lounge areas overlooking the water. Out in the water, there are inflatables, with a giant waterslide going down the hillside. It’s easy to stay active. The paved streets are great for biking (you just may not make it back up the hill on wheels). There are facilities for volleyball, gaga ball, pickleball, basketball, and more. Boaters will appreciate the onsite marina. If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent kayaks or paddleboards to take out on the waters. You can also rent golf carts, which is great for exploring this large, hilly campground. Other amenities include a very nice bathhouse, laundry facilities, camp store, and onsite cafe. You can expect to get cell signal reception (at least for AT&T, from the Browns’ experience). They didn’t try out the campground WiFi. One nice plus was daily trash pickup at the campsite. Finally, there is a large dog park and several pet stations around the park. Not everything was open during the Browns’ stay, due to COVID-19. They did have the pools shut down. Check-in was super easy, with no need to even leave the car. Plus, social distancing seemed to be encouraged and abided by. Insider Tips for Visiting Anchor Down RV Resort The most important tip shared by Will and Britta is: BOOK EARLY! It can be hard to get a site, especially on weekends. Word on the streets is that summer 2021 is already filling up. Another important thing to note is that some roads are tight if you have a long rig, especially depending on where your neighbor has parked his/her car. It can be hard to navigate with a long, long rig, though much of the campground is big rig friendly. While Will and Britta didn’t get to explore much since they visited while things were shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis, they do know it is a very cool area. Though Anchor Down RV Resort is not located right in the main tourist area surrounding the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the park and the neighboring towns are a short drive away (maybe 30 minutes or so). There is a lot to see and do in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and GSMNP. Check out some of our posts on the region here. The next time we make it to the region, we will definitely be booking a stay at Anchor Down! We want to thank Will and Britta for sharing this great review with us! Remember to look for them as Browns Dope Little Adventures on their website and on Instagram. See you at the campground, Jeremy + Stephanie The post Anchor Down RV Resort appeared first on The RV Atlas.
25 minutes | May 8, 2019
Campground Review: Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA in SC
Live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and a unique antebellum history set the stage for your stay at the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA.The ambiance of this campground perfectly matches the romance and charm of the nearby city of Charleston. Plus, central South Carolina’s beautiful beaches beckon from nearby. After our stay at the campground James Island County Park during a previous visit to Charleston, we were hard pressed to imagine a better place to park our rig (check out our full review of it here). However, the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA not only rose to the challenge, it blew it out of the water. It easily landed on our list of favorite campgrounds of all time. We are so pleased to know there are two fantastic RV parks to choose from in one of our all-time favorite cities. Campground Details: Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA The Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA is just 15-20 minutes northeast of Charleston. The location off Route 17 is close, but not too close, to downtown Charleston, and it’s also very convenient to the popular beach communities of Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. In recent years, KOA has rebranded many of its properties, designating them as Journeys (perfect for quick, overnight stops), Holidays (a great basecamp for exploring a location, while enjoying some upgraded amenities), and Resorts (prime parks packed with enough fun to make the campground an attraction in and of itself). The Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA is branded as a Holiday, and it’s a perfect example of that designation. The campground provides an excellent basecamp for Charleston, while still being a fun place to come back to each evening. The beauty and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry shine through in the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA, starting with the fact that it was built on the grounds of a former plantation. The park has preserved a huge portion of the property, providing wagon rides to the historic plantation house. The small campground footprint is surrounded by a 30-acre fishing lake, a stunning nature preserve, and manicured grounds. While some private RV parks pack in as many sites as possible, this KOA leaves a large portion of the property open for exploration an play. Campsite Details: Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA The Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA is a medium-sized campground, offering fewer than 100 sites. Campsites vary in size and amenities, with the most plush option being KOA’s new deluxe patio sites. We opted for one of these, and were not disappointed. Our site (#4, off Swamp Fox Row) was gorgeous and spacious. It came complete with chairs, a fire pit, and a round picnic table divided into two zones–a fire pit area and a picnic area (see photo above). The other pull-thru and back-in sites also looked very nice and reasonably sized. Thanks to the huge fishing lake, the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA has some lovely waterfront sites. There really isn’t a bad area of this campground! As with any RV park located near a prime destination, you can expect to pay prices on the higher end. Deluxe patio sites are upwards of $90 a night, while regular 50-amp, full hookup sites might run closer to $75. Just remember, you are camping in an urban area outside the very expensive city of Charleston. Campground Amenities: Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA While parents might be happy just to have a campground oozing with beauty and charm, we all know the kids look for the amenities and activities. And, yet again, the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA exceeds expectations in every way! This Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA offers: a 30-acre fishing lake a pool 2 nice playgrounds a recreation hall a dock and boat rentals disc golf a beautiful KAMP K9, right on the water gaming areas (basketball, volleyball, ping pong, and more) hiking trails through the wooded nature preserve narrated wagon tours of the Oakland Plantation (not to be missed!!) pancake breakfasts (on Sundays in the summer) a seasonal rotation of activities plus, a splash pad is coming! We were pleased to note that the WiFi signal was strong, and we were able to broadcast a Facebook Live chat for Go RVing. You can get a peak at the campground, and hear more about why we love urban camping in this video… Plus, the customer service was outstanding. The Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA had one of the nicest, most helpful staffs ever. We’ve never seen a larger maintenance and grounds crew at a campground. They even blew off the concrete pad every day. Insider Details: Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA There are so many things that made us fall in love with this campground. First, it is open year round. Do note that summers are exceptionally busy. If you can make it there in the spring, the weather is especially heavenly! We loved being able to bike ride to Starbucks and nearby shops. Plus, there’s tons of good food right in Mount Pleasant. We enjoyed Paige’s Okra Grill (amazing regional fare!) and Tidal Grounds Coffee. As you can tell, the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA is the complete package! Don’t forget to check out our recent paired RVFTA podcast episode detailing 23 Things to Do in Charleston, SC or our older podcasts and articles Greetings from Charleston, SC and 6 Standout Restaurants in Charleston. See you at the campground, Jeremy + Stephanie The post Campground Review: Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA in SC appeared first on The RV Atlas.
23 minutes | Apr 25, 2019
7 Urban Campgrounds for Your Next RV Adventure
An urban campground sounds like an oxymoron, but we love exploring amazing cities in our RV. You might find more concrete than grass, skyscrapers instead of trees, and postage-stamp sized campsites. However, if you adjust your expectations, you can have a grand time at an urban campground. On this episode of Campground of the Week, we review seven top picks for great basecamps near cities. But first, we’ve got some tips to make the best of your metropolitan camping experience. Urban Campground Reminders To make the most of your stay at an urban campground, you have to adjust your mentality. Start by lowering your expectations for the campground experience and focus more on how this location serves your broader travel goals. Plan to spend time exploring as opposed to hanging at the campground. Chances are, you’re staying at this urban campground because it puts you close to an amazing travel destination, so get out there exploring! You can relax at the campground on a different trip. View the campground expense as a cheaper, more comfortable hotel. Campsites can cost as little as 1/2 or 1/3 of the cost of a hotel room, making them a VERY economical choice for urban travel. Now, these campsites might cost a lot more than a traditional campground, especially considering the lack of ambiance and amenities; however, they are still so much cheaper than a hotel. Think about security like you would in any urban area. You might look online to learn about the campground’s security set up. Some offer locked gates; others have security patrols. Also, be more mindful about leaving items outside unattended. Lock up your bikes, and lock your trailer doors. Overall, just be aware of your surroundings. Research routes in and out. Navigating an urban terrain can be trickier with a big trailer in tow. Don’t just trust your GPS or phone app. Instead, be sure to talk to campground staff since they have extensive experience guiding people on the safest routes. Urban Campground #1: Liberty Harbor near New York City, NY Liberty Harbor RV Park is located in Jersey City, NJ, right across the Hudson River from Manhattan. This is the closest campground to NYC, and it’s the only one that’s less than an hour away. One great advantage of this campground is that you can take the PATH (public transit) or the ferry right into the city. NYC is literally at your fingertips. Campsites at Liberty Harbor are truly in a parking lot, and they are relatively narrow. While you might not be able to fully extend your awning, this RV park is big rig friendly. You can get water and electric hookups. While sewer is not available, the park offers bathhouses and a dump station. If you’re traveling in winter, you’ll still be able to book at site at Liberty Harbor; however, the water will be turned off. Tent sites are also available–no joke! Expect to pay around $110 per night. Urban Campground #2: Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA The Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA is located just outside of Philly in in the suburb of Clarksboro NJ. It’s just under 30 minutes to downtown. You can read a full review here or listen to the Campground of the Week episode. The Philadelphia South KOA offers small sites, but it is actually pretty wooded and shaded, compared to other urban campgrounds. Also, it does have more amenities than many urban campgrounds with a pool, catch and release pond, a jump pillow, and more. It’s really nice that you can get out an explore the city and still come back to the campground to unwind while the kids explore and play. Glamping tents and cabins are available. This campground is open year round. Urban Campground #3: Cherry Hill Park near Washington D.C. Cherry Hill Park is truly a unicorn of urban camping in that it offers ambiance and amenities in addition to its awesome location. Located in College Park, Maryland, this campground puts you within 30 minutes to the National Mall. Plus, public transportation to DC is available right from the campground. Listen to our full review on Campground of the Week or read more over on rvfta.com. Cherry Hill Park seems a lot like a resort campground thanks to its amenities. It offers a pool, a hot tub, a sauna, a splash ground, a cafe, and an arcade, as well as a full lineup of activities in summer season. This is the kind of place where you can relax and unwind. It’s open year round with heated water hookups. For non-RVing folks, you can also find great alternate accommodations. Urban Campground #4: San Francisco RV Resort San Francisco RV Resort is located just outside of the city in Pacifica, CA. This campground is a mere 15 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, making it a great basecamp for exploring the City by the Bay. While this RV park is basically a parking lot, it is right on the ocean. Walk to the edge of the campground to experience the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. Aside from the awesome views and close proximity to the city, San Francisco RV Resort also offers a pool and a playground. Plus, it is big rig friendly. You can find a complete review from podcast correspondent Kerri Cox (from Travels with Birdy) on Campground of the Week or read more here. Urban Campground #5: French Quarter RV Resort While there are several other campground options near New Orleans, LA, the French Quarter RV Resort puts you right at the heart of the action. Within walking distance of the French Quarter, it aims to operate like a luxury hotel within the city. The only difference is guests are staying in their own RVs. The French Quarter RV Resort doesn’t necessarily offer true “resort” amenities; however, you will find a pool, fitness center, WiFi and laundry facilities. The standard rate is $105 per night, but pricing is dynamic for popular events like Mardi Gras and Jazz and Blues Fest. Here’s a great campground tour from YouTube’s Drivin’ and Vibin’… Urban Campground #6: Downtown Riverside RV Park in Little Rock, Arkansas This recommendation comes to us from the RVFTA Facebook Group (one of the friendliest bunch of RVers on the Internet, we must say). Listener Elissa shared a good review of the Downtown Riverside RV Park in Little Rock, AR, which piqued our interest. She said it is clean and convenient, and really, what more could you ask for in a good urban campground? Located right on the banks of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock, the Downtown Riverside RV Park provides easy access to all that Little Rock offers, with views of the city skyline. Walk or bike to downtown restaurants and attractions. Campers can enjoy free WiFi and use of the group pavilion. At $29-$33 per night, campsites are also exceptionally reasonable. Urban Campground #7: Casino Queen RV Park near St. Louis, Missouri The Casino Queen RV Park is located just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, MO, in East St. Louis, IL. As its name suggests, it is attached to a casino. Podcast listener and guest correspondent Gretchen Holcombe (from Boxy Colonial on the Road) said the park itself isn’t much to look at; however, it had great views of the city at night. Plus, it was very convenient to all of St. Louis’s family friendly attractions. The Casino Queen RV Park is big rig friendly and offers full hookups for rates starting at $50 a night. A bath house and laundry facility are available. Plus, the park offers a shuttle to the Casino Queen and to the MetroLink (public transit) station. This campground is open year round. While people often associate RVing with rustic, woodsy campgrounds, your RV can take you to the destination of your choice, especially if you’re willing to trade a little scenery for some great accessibility. We hope this list of 7 great urban campgrounds inspires you to put one on your list! If you have a recommendation for an awesome urban basecamp campground, let us know either in the comments below or in our RVFTA Facebook Group. See you at the (urban) campground, Jeremy + Stephanie The post 7 Urban Campgrounds for Your Next RV Adventure appeared first on The RV Atlas.
31 minutes | Apr 16, 2019
Campground Review: Three Waterfront Campgrounds in Florida
With over 1,300 miles of coastline along the Gulf and the Atlantic and tons of lakes and rivers found in between, Florida waterfront campgrounds are some of the most popular RV destinations in the country. Jacksonville’s Hanna Park, Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine, and Orlando’s Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake are just three of the amazing Florida waterfront campgrounds offered by Florida’s city and state park systems. On this week’s episode, our friend Johann Schnell shares his top picks for the best waterfront campgrounds in Florida. He has been camping with his wife and two kids in his home state for the past three years while enjoying the Sunshine State’s great outdoors and great theme parks. Florida Waterfront Campground #1: Hanna Park in Jacksonville Located in Florida’s northeast corner, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is an oceanfront park operated by the city of Jacksonville. It features 1.5 miles of beach along the Atlantic, as well as a 60-acre lake. Offering a prime surfing locale and over 20 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, there are tons of recreational opportunities to be enjoyed without ever leaving the park. Hanna Park is a local favorite for Jacksonville residents, giving it a true hometown feel, while its location near the I-95 corridor makes it a popular layover for RVers traveling along the Atlantic Coast. It is close to the city, but big enough to feel worlds apart. Shaded by massive Spanish oaks, Hanna Park is a true retreat, with wonderful campsites to return to after some fun in the Florida sun. With 280 sites, Hanna Park is a huge campground. The sites are all well shaded and mostly level. Electric and water hookups are available, as well as a dump station and shower houses. Johann gives props to the city park system for keeping the facilities well maintained. Expect to pay around $34 per night for a campsite. This campground is popular, meaning you’ll want to book ahead (through the online reservation system). Luckily, since there are so many sites, you have a shot at getting a spot even if you don’t book a year in advance. Aside from the campground, Hanna Park is renowned for its many amenities and recreational opportunities. Start at the beach, where one of northeast Florida’s best surf spots is found. Known as “the Poles,” this location is best surfed by those with experience. Everyone else can enjoy the 1.5 miles of sandy shore. The freshwater lake is a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking, with rentals available onsite. Kids will also love the large playground and the splash park. Florida Waterfront Campground #2: Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine Anastasia State Park is probably one of the most well-known campgrounds in the Florida state park system, and for good reason. St. Augustine is a historic city, with its origins dating back to the 1500s, and this campground makes it easy to enjoy both the town and the shore. Johann points out that there is so much to explore and experience nearby. Take the kids to the Alligator Farm Zoological Park, tour historic Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, head to the top of the St. Augustine Beach Lighthouse, or stroll down popular St. George Street, appreciating the architecture, shops, and restaurants. Johann recommends booking as soon as possible after the 11-month window opens since this park is very popular. There are only 92 campsites. While 70 spots are available for RVs, many are not big-rig friendly. You also will not find sewer hookups in this state park, so plan accordingly. Expect to pay around $28 per night. Within Anastasia State Park, you can enjoy a number of amenities. Most importantly, you’ll find 1600 acres of scenic beauty along the Atlantic Coast. Check out marshes and sand dunes, play in the waves, watch for wildlife, and hike the nature trail. The amphitheater nearby has frequent concerts (ending no later than 10:30 pm, so campers can get to sleep). Seasonly, you may find a farmers market right in the park. Johann recommends bringing a bike, so you can explore the park on wheels. Florida Waterfront Campground #3: Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake in Orlando Orlando, of course, is one of Florida’s premier camping destinations, thanks to the plethora of theme parks. However, Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake takes you out of the tourist area, providing a respite from the busyness. Since this is in central Florida, you won’t be close to the ocean or gulf; however, the campground sits right on Turkey Lake. With only 36 campsites, Bill Frederick Park is a nicely intimate park. However, the drawback is that it can be hard to get a site. Johann recommends booking far in advance. Coming in at less than $20 a night, this is an economical choice that lets you save a few bucks if you’re planning to drop a bunch of dollars on Disney. It’s less than a 30-minute drive, and Johann points at that the drive is pretty cool because it takes you alongside other parks. Johann warns that it can be a little challenging to get your rig level at these natural campsites; however, even larger rigs can fit into the park. The sites are large and wooded, other than in the center. Most sites have tree coverage, providing some relief from the summer sun. Inside the park, campers can enjoy the lake, nature trails, mountain biking, disc golf, and more. The Olympic-size pool is great for swimming, but the lake isn’t due to the alligators that call it home. One unique feature is a dedicated drone-flying area. Whether you use this for a basecamp for Disney or plan to spend tons of time in the park, Johann highly recommends Bill Frederick Park. A big thanks to Johann for these three great insider recommendations. The Sunshine State truly has some phenomenal public park options. We’re ready to load up the kids and the kayaks and head on down! For more ideas, check out the other Florida campground reviews we have on the site. See you at the campground, Stephanie + Jeremy Stay up to date on all the latest RV & Travel news from RVFTA First Name Email Address The post Campground Review: Three Waterfront Campgrounds in Florida appeared first on The RV Atlas.
21 minutes | Apr 9, 2019
Kentucky Bourbon Trail Camping: Great Campgrounds to Park Your Rig
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is more than a trail, it’s an entire region of the Bluegrass State. Travelers can explore the history and distinct flavors of local bourbons at the many distilleries that dot the region. If you plan to visit with your RV, you’ll first need to decide where to stay. The Louisville South KOA and the Elkhorn Campground are two spots that come highly recommended by Kate Dunbar. Kate Dunbar, author of The Campground Gourmet, spent six fabulous days exploring the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Over on this week’s episode of RVFTA, you can hear all about her travel highlights, but she saved her campground recommendations for this episode of Campground of the Week. Kentucky Bourbon Trail Camping: Louisville South KOA Holiday in Shepherdsville, Kentucky Photo Credit: Elkhorn Campground Kate was immediately drawn to the Louisville South KOA Holiday because of the magnificent trees and the amazing pool, both of which offered a respite from the summer heat and humidity. When she arrived at her campsite (#212), she fell even more in love once she laid eyes on the huge patio and the rocking swing that came with her site. Plus, it was close enough for her kids to easily access all of the fun at this KOA Holiday. Kate purposefully picked the the Louisville South KOA because of its “holiday” branding and all of the amenities that would come along with that. She knew she would be spending some time exploring the Bourbon Trail sans kids, and she wanted to ensure the family would have plenty to do at the campground. It did not disappoint. This KOA offers a jumping pillow, catch-and-release fishing pond, outdoor movie cinema, nature trails, bike rentals, and seasonal activities. Photo Credit: KOA Aside from the amenities and activities, the Louisville South KOA offers a beautiful, lush campground, offering the perfect place to unwind and let the kids catch some fireflies (or lightning bugs, depending on your local terminology). A variety of RV campsites and cabins are available. The Louisville South KOA is continuing to upgrade sites around the park, making plush campsites that elevate the camping experience. Kate recommends booking early if you’re traveling during horse-racing season, but otherwise, you might easily find a spot. Kentucky Bourbon Trail Camping: Elkhorn Campground in Frankfurt, Kentucky Located between Louisville and Lexington, the Elkhorn Campground in Frankfurt is truly at the heart of Bourbon country. This “mom and pop” campground truly welcomes visitors and tries to make them feel like family. Plus, the location along Elkhorn Creek offers a scenic environment for your stay. Sites 6-38 are right along the creek. Sit back at night, and listen to the water ripple and the crickets chirp. Kate describes this as the perfect place to catch a breath. The Elkhorn Campground offers 125 campsites, with a mixture of seasonals, pull-thrus, and back-in sites. Some offer full hookup, while others are water/electric only. The onsite general store offers hand-dipped ice cream. The big pavilion is a great place for a get together, or on rainy days, you can stay dry and warm near the fireplace. Kids will also enjoy the pool and putt-putt golf. If this episode of COTW made you curious about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, don’t forget to check out the paired episode over on RVFTA. Kate shares her travel highlights, including her favorite attractions, bourbon distilleries, and of course, the best restaurants in the region. Thank you, Kate, for painting a poetic picture of summertime in Kentucky! See you at the campground, Stephanie + Jeremy The post Kentucky Bourbon Trail Camping: Great Campgrounds to Park Your Rig appeared first on The RV Atlas.
32 minutes | Apr 3, 2019
Campground Review: Reelfoot Lake State Park
Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake State Park is a scenic spot for outdoor recreation, thanks to its location along the shores of the 15,000-acre Reelfoot Lake. Visitors come to toss in a line, to boat and paddle across the lake, and to take in the natural beauty. We know we can always count on Casita Dean to share with us the best state park campgrounds of the South, and this week, we are thrilled to have him back on the show to tell us all about Reelfoot Lake State Park. Dean and his wife, Laura, greatly enjoyed their visit to Reelfoot with their egg-shaped Casita in tow. A weird, but fascinating fact, is that Reelfoot Lake was created when a violent series of earthquakes caused the Mississippi River to briefly flow backwards in 1811-1812. Since the lake is actually located in a flooded forest, the aquatic habitat is quite unique. Campground Details: Reelfoot Lake State Park Reelfoot Lake State Park is located near the Mississippi River in the extreme northwest tip of Tennessee, where the state border meets Kentucky and Missouri. It is about 125 miles north of Memphis, TN; 230 miles south of St. Louis, MO; and 225 west of Bowling Green, KY. The state park features two campgrounds. The South Campground is located right on the lake and offers 86 RV and tent sites with partial hookups. Airpark North Campground has 14 RV sites with partial hookups and 10 primitive sites. As you might expect in a state park, campsites are mildly to moderately wooded, with some sites in the South Campground offering lake views. An insider tip from Casita Dean: Sites #14-21 in the South Campground were his favorite. Campsites can be booked online. Expect to pay $25-35 per night. A handful of cabins are also located in the park, with fees ranging from $229-249 per night. There is no WiFi in the park, though Dean reports fine cell phone coverage. Amenities at Reelfoot Lake State Park Dean and his wife, Laura, stayed at Reelfoot Lake’s South Campground, so he was able to share the details on all of the amenities found there. The campground offers three comfort stations. Two of these have showers, and one has a washer and dryer and a dishwashing stations. The campsites do not have sewer hookups, but there is a dump station located near the entrance. A very small camp store is located within the campground, offering ice and bait (larger stores can be found three miles away in Tiptonville). For those wanting to hit the lake, a boat launch is accessible nearby. And, if you come home with a big catch, there’s also a fish cleaning station onsite, with water and electricity. Recreation at Reelfoot Lake State Park As mentioned earlier, the story of how Reelfoot Lake came to exist is quite a story in and of itself. Created by the strongest earthquakes to occur in North America east of the Rockies, Reelfoot Lake is strangely shallow. On average, the lake is only 5.2 feet deep, with the deepest areas only reaching 18 feet. Cypress trees rise right out of the lake waters, and many stumps are found below. Boating and paddling are popular activities at Reelfoot Lake, with kayaking and canoeing being the best options. Speedboats and watersports are prohibited by the shallow waters and the stumps. If you take a slow cruise around the lake, you’re likely to spot a lot of wildlife, including a strong bird population. Bald eagles and wading shore birds can be spotted. Below the surface, crappie, bluegill, and bass thrive. Dean pointed out that many anglers opt for flat-bottomed Jon boats instead of fiberglass boats. The activity and event calendar at Reelfoot Lake State Park stays packed, especially in spring and summer months. Guided swamp tours and scenic pontoon cruises are offered, as well as organized hikes. January and February offer the best chance to see the bald eagles, as they return here for their winter home. Guided excursions take you to the best viewing points. A museum and nature center are also onsite. Regional Highlights near Reelfoot Lake State Park While in the area, Dean and Laura recommend checking out the following: Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge Discovery Park of America (a children’s museum and history/science center) Boyette’s Dining Room (for down-home cooking) Boathouse Restaurant Blue Bank Fish House Cheatham’s Pit BBQ Lakeview Dining Room Thank you to Casita Dean for sharing another great state park with us! May the road ahead be filled with many more egg rallies and state park adventures. See you at the campground, Jeremy + Stephanie Stay up to date on all the latest RV & Travel news from RVFTA First Name Email Address The post Campground Review: Reelfoot Lake State Park appeared first on The RV Atlas.
28 minutes | Mar 26, 2019
Campground Review: Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Caledonia, WI
Family fun is practically guaranteed at Jellystone’s network of campgrounds. With a reputation as one of the best RV parks in Wisconsin, the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Caledonia brings that big dose of family fun to the Milwaukee region. Our Midwest correspondents, Matthew and Melissa Kellas, travel with four kids ranging in ages from 11-17. They bring a wealth of experience to finding campgrounds that kids–and parents–will love. On this week’s podcast, they tell us all about the amenities that attracted them to the Jellystone Park Caledonia. The Jellystone Park Caledonia recently underwent a major transformation, almost doubling its size. In 2019, the campground added almost 150 campsites and many cabins after purchasing land beside the existing park. Melissa and Matthew are excited to return and see the upgrades, especially the plush, modern cabins. Campground Details: Jellystone Park Caledonia This park is located in just off Interstate 94 in southern Wisconsin, near Lake Michigan. It is 30 minutes south of Milwaukee and two hours north of Chicago. While families can find plenty to enjoy within the park, it is also a great base camp for exploring Milwaukee. Matthew and Melissa recommend booking early since this park is a getaway spot for families from the nearby cities, as well as for travelers visiting the region. The themed weekends are especially popular, especially the Christmas-in-July and the Halloween weekends. Expect to pay up to $100 for a premium site (which include full hookups and most of the park’s amenities). Small sites with partial hookups may be closer to $50 per night. Reservations can be made online. Melissa was especially impressed with the interactive map, which details which sites are open and which are not. One unique feature is that you can pay an extra $7 to lock in a specific site. The Jellystone Park Caledonia offers a mix of landscapes, with both open spots and wooded ones. While some sites are a little tight, others offer plenty of room. Both back-in and pull-thru sites are available, as are a variety of hook-up options. The Kellas family selected a premium site, which was larger and had extra amenities. Seasonal sites are an option for travelers who live nearby. WiFi is offered and worked well throughout the park, and cell signals were terrific. Melissa points out that Jellystone offers Club Yogi points, which accumulate with every stay. Learn more about this program here. Amenities: Jellystone Park Caledonia With four teens and tweens in tow, the Kellas family loves amenities and activities that appeal to kids of all ages. The Jellystone Park Caledonia did not disappoint. From playgrounds to the jumping pillow to the inflatable obstacle courses, kids will never run out of things to do at the Jellystone Park Caledonia. The “b” word is officially banned here! The Jellystone Park Caledonia is a great place to cool off in the summer, offering pools, a “sprayground,” and water slides as part of Yogi’s Water Zone. If you want your water with a side of competition (as the Kellas family does), join in the Water Wars, where water balloons zoom through the air. A massive water obstacle course is supposed to open in 2019 in the newly-acquired lake. One of the Kellas family’s favorite activities was laser tag, which took place out in the woods. There’s also a 18-hole mini-golf course included with your stay. Check out the daily recreation calendar to see what organized activities the park is hosting. Expect to find options like movie nights, human fuze ball, candy car bingo, and more. A couple of activities do have an additional fee, but not many. Little ones will especially love having Cindy Bear deliver milk and cookies at bedtime. Extra fun can be had during the Christmas Carnival holiday season, as the park fills with light displays. While camping isn’t available, you can take a sleigh ride and sing Christmas carols as you tour the park. Local Area: Jellystone Park Caledonia The Jellystone Park Caledonia is a great base camp for visiting Milwaukee. Matthew and Melissa recommend hitting up a Milwaukee Brewers MLB or Bucks NBA game. Head to AJ Bombers for the burgers, brews, and more. The “bombers” part of the name comes from the fact that the bartender sends bombs of peanuts to each table. You have to see it in person to even begin to comprehend the fun! Adults also won’t want to miss the Foundation Bar, a groovy tiki bar. We want to thank our Upper Midwest correspondents, Matthew and Melissa Kellas, for coming on the show to share this awesome park with us. See you at the campground, Stephanie + Jeremy The post Campground Review: Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Caledonia, WI appeared first on The RV Atlas.
39 minutes | Mar 11, 2019
Campground Review: Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA near Pescadero, CA
The Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA is a unique offering under the KOA moniker. Described as an “eco-friendly resort,” this park offers resort-level amenities within a more traditional campground atmosphere. Located halfway between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, this KOA has an excellent location for exploring the beauty and charm of the Pacific Coast. Karen and David, from The Camping Playlist, didn’t initially think they’d enjoy camping in private campgrounds, but places like the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA helped to change their mind. On this episode, they describe why this KOA won them over. Campground Details: Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA The Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA is located in Pescadero, CA. It’s situated about an hour south of San Francisco and within thirty minutes of Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. The campground is located beside the Costanoa Lodge and shares many amenities with it. The Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA offers 90-100 campsites. David appreciated that the sites are not super manicured like you might find at some resort-style campgrounds. Instead, they maintain more of a natural campground feeling. Cabins and tent bungalows are another popular offering at the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA. You’ll find 10-15 cabins and approximately 50 tents of various configurations scattered throughout the property. (These are actually reserved through the Costanoa site.) This area has become incredibly popular in recent years, making it harder to get campsites at the last minute. David and Karen recommend booking a few months in advanced, if possible, though snagging a site a few weeks out isn’t unheard of. Expect to pay $85-125 per night, depending on the season and the type of spot. While this might sound high to some travelers, this range is quite normal for the California coast, especially near the Bay Area. Campsite Details: Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA The first thing you must know is that all of the campsites at the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA are rather tight; however, Karen and David have found that some areas are much more preferable than others. Here’s their breakdown: Seaside Loop: This is the most popular area in the park, likely because the sites are the most spacious and some offer ocean views (while the KOA isn’t directly on the ocean, it is just across the highway and visible from the higher hills). This loop has 20 or so sites at the front of the park. There’s a nice grassy field in the middle of the loop, giving the kids a place to play. These are the most expensive sites. Eucalyptus Loop: While less expensive and less popular than the Seaside Loop, David and Karen say Eucalyptus is their favorite. Though you might have to extend your awning over your neighbor’s hookups, these sites offer one major benefit: a back deck with ocean views! The small wooden platform behind the campsite is a nice place to set up a tent or pop up your camping chairs. Enjoy the grass and shade, and bring on the campfire. Karen and David especially love the sites at the bottom of the loop. Seriously, check out these views: Whales Loop: This area has around 20 pull-thru sites with concrete or gravel pads. Benefits include partial ocean views, wider sites, and trellis coverings for the hookups, making them less of an eyesore. The drawback is that there isn’t a grassy area or deck. Karen and David recommend snagging the first spot if you can (it usually books a year in advance) since it has the best water views. Coastal Village Loop: This area is very similar to the Eucalyptus Loop, with some cabins mixed in. The only drawback Karen and David have noted is that the grass is drier in the hot summer months than in the other loops. Campground Amenities: Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA As mentioned earlier, the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA shares its amenities with the Costanoa Lodge. Adults will love the onsite spa, which offers massages and a hot tub (for spa guests only). They might also want to enjoy a nice meal at the Cascade Restaurant + Bar, which features farm-to-table California coastal cuisine. Some produce is even grown onsite. For a more casual experience, check out the Pine Tent. Open spring through fall, this open-air eatery and bar often features live music. Karen and David point out that the outdoor deck has great views of the playground, meaning the parents can keep an eye on the kids while enjoying a glass of wine. Speaking of the playground, kids will also appreciate the many amenities of the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA. They can take their pick from the large playground, grassy playing areas, giant chessboard, and more. Karen and David said they even had a rec tent set up with a turntable and games the last time they visited. Plus, during the summer months, you might find a vendor onsite with climbing walls and gravity jumpers (for a fee). On Sunday mornings, they’ve traditionally offered a falconry program. If you need to pick up some items while at the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA, you’ll find a small camp store that doubles as the KOA office and a larger general store, shared with the lodge. One thing to note: Prepare to disconnect during your stay. WiFi and cell service are both lacking in the park. WiFi is offered, but the service is spotty. Your cell signal may only be 1-2 bars, as well. A phone at the office may be used in case of emergencies. Finally, there are natural areas fringing the park. If you, your pets, or your children venture into the taller weeds, they may encounter tics. Plus, you should keep food products put up at night, so you don’t attract skunks and etc. Local Highlights Near Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA The ocean is right across the street; however, it is not easily accessible. You’ll have to cross a highway and through some sand dunes to reach the water, so don’t try to set out for a walk with your beach gear in tow. Instead, head to one of the nearby public beaches. There are tons lining the highway. The Pigeon Lighthouse is nearby. Pescadero is a cute little town nearby. Karen and David recommend the Downtown Local for coffee and for exploring the nifty vintage shop. They also enjoyed grabbing food and drinks at Duarte’s Tavern. They recommend making recommendations. Play with the goats and pick up some great cheese at Harley Farms Goat Dairy. Seriously, who doesn’t love a baby goat? Take a 30-minute drive to explore Half Moon Bay. This town is a little bigger and livelier than Pescadero. It’s home to the Mavericks surf competition. Near Half Moon Bay, Lemos Farm is a great place to take the littles for some rustic farm fun, complete with hay rides, pony rides, train rides, petting zoo, and more. They even offer goat yoga! Hearing about the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA makes us wish we lived much closer to the California coast! We want to thank Karen and David for sharing this amazing campground with us. Check out their photos on Instagram and find their playlists on Spotify by looking for @thecampingplaylist. See you at the campground, Stephanie + Jeremy The post Campground Review: Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA near Pescadero, CA appeared first on The RV Atlas.
27 minutes | Mar 5, 2019
Campground Review: Piñon Flats Campground in Great Sand Dunes National Park
If sledding down giant hills of sand sounds like your kind of fun, you’ll want to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park in south-central Colorado. And, if you do, you’ll want to stay right at the heart of the beauty and the action at the Piñon Flats Campground. This park is home to the nation’s tallest sand dunes, set against the epic beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Here, snow-capped mountain peaks rise above the golden dunes. Shellie Bailey-Shah, editor of KidTripster, and her family have visited an amazing number of national parks–44 to be exact–and they place Great Sand Dunes National Park in their top five. She came on the show to describe why they fell in love with this park and the Piñon Flats Campground. Campground Details: Piñon Flats Campground Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in south-central Colorado. It’s about a 3-hour drive southwest of Colorado Springs or a 4-hour drive from Denver. Piñon Flats Campground is the only place to stay right in the national park. Open April through October, this campground offers 88 sites for tents and RVs. Expect to find dry camping only, as campsites do not have water, sewer, or electric hookups. The campground does offer modern restrooms with flush toilets, running water, dishwashing sinks, and water spigots. There is also a dump station onsite. Campsites are divided among three loops and most are back-in. Check out this map for more details. It is important to note that rigs must be under 35-feet long to book a stay at Piñon Flats Campground. If your rig is too long, or if you are seeking a different experience, there are other parks nearby. Shellie notes that a commercial RV park (the Great Sand Dunes Oasis) is located just outside the gate and a primitive campground (Zapata Falls) is a short drive away in the Rio Grande National Forest. Several other RV parks can be found within 40 miles, and the NPS site offers a list describing several. However, Shellie absolutely recommends staying onsite at Piñon Flats Campground, if you can. Aside from being close to the sand dune recreation, Piñon Flats Campground also offers natural beauty. Campsites are surrounded by piñon pines and sagebrush, and some have amazing views of the surrounding mountain peaks or rolling sand dunes. Booking Details: Piñon Flats Campground Campsites are very reasonably priced at Piñon Flats Campground at $20 per night. Reservations are made through the recreation.gov website. You can make reservations up to six months in advance. Since this is a popular national park, sites do book up well in advance, especially during the summer travel season. Late May and early June is a peak season at Piñon Flats Campground. During this time, the Medano Creek flows readily through the Great Sand Dunes, providing another epic way to have fun in the park. During this time, all of the campsites will be reserved well advance, and most of the campgrounds within 30 miles or so will be full, too. Amenities: Piñon Flats Campground As mentioned early, you’ll be roughing it at Piñon Flats Campground. In addition to having no hookups, you may have spotty cell phone reception since this is a remote area. Shellie did note that Verizon users might pick up a signal near the visitor center or at the campground; however, it’s best to expect to be mostly unplugged during your stay. A camp store is located between Loop 1 and Loop 2 of the campground, offering basic amenities during the summer months. Outside the park gate, you’ll find the Oasis Store, but expect to travel almost 40 miles to the town of Alamosa for larger grocery stores. Again, the NPS site does a great job of describing the options. Similarly, there is a small restaurant outside the gates; otherwise, you’ll have to travel 20-30 miles. Overall, Shellie recommends coming prepared with everything you need for a self-sufficient stay in the park. Aside from exploring the dunefield, the main activity offered onsite is the ranger programs. Stargazing is popular in the summer, and there are occasional programs at the amphitheater. You can participate in the Junior Ranger program onsite, and Shellie said her boys especially enjoyed the extra Night Explorer badge offered in the park. She also recommends viewing the movie at the visitors center to learn more about how these massive sand dunes came to be located in Colorado. Recreation: Piñon Flats Campground As you might expect, the Great Sand Dunes are the star of the show during your stay at the Piñon Flats Campground. You can walk right to them from the campground; however, Shellie recommends starting early if you’re visiting in summer since the sands can heat up to 150°F. Your best bet is to start at sunrise. Inside the park, you won’t find any designated trails. Instead, you just make your way across the dunes any way you wish. At 699 feet in height, High Dune isn’t the tallest in the park, but it’s close and it’s accessible. Expect to spend up to an hour hiking to the top. Though this sounds daunting, Shellie saw several families with young children making the climb (some were having to carry the little ones, though). The highest dune (Star Dune) reaches 750 feet, but it involves a 5-hour roundtrip hike, making it much less accessible. Aside from hiking on the dunes, the most exhilarating way to experience them is with a sandboard or sled. Shellie points out that you can’t bring your own since typical boards won’t work on the sand. Instead, you can rent boards at one of several location near the park. The NPS site offers several tips for sand sliding success. If you work up a sweat from playing on the dunes, if you’re at the park in the right season, you can cool off in the waters of Medano Creek. During May and June, the creek reaches peak height, allowing you to float. Sometimes, a strange phenomenon known as a “surge flow” happens, producing rippling waves in the water. Shellie’s Top Tips for Exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park Bring plenty of water. You will be in a hot, sunny landscape. Don’t forget your camera. The views from the dunes are spectacular. Bring socks. Your sand board or sled will get hot. Remember to only use rental boards or sleds. Their waxy bottoms work best for propelling you down the sand. Rent your boards and sleds the night before if you plan to hit the dunes at sunrise. Thought this is more expensive, it helps you get on the sand much earlier. If you’re visiting during the full moon, be sure to get out and explore at night. It’s amazing. Dogs are allowed on the dunes and in the creek; however, only take them on the sand when it is cool enough not to burn their paws. Zapata Falls Recreation Area is another great area to explore nearby. You can combine a trip to the Great Sand Dunes with Rocky Mountain National Park and/or the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, as Shellie did on her family’s quest to hit all of Colorado’s national parks. Check out more of Shellie’s tips and stories over on her post about the Great Sand Dunes on KidTripster. We want to thank Shellie for sharing this awesome, bucket list park with us! It sounds like a great place to take the teens and tweens, especially if you have some reluctant travelers on your hands. Shellie shared some great advice for traveling with this age group over on RVFTA #216 RV Travel with Teens and Tweens. See you at the campground, Jeremy + Stephanie The post Campground Review: Piñon Flats Campground in Great Sand Dunes National Park appeared first on The RV Atlas.
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