Category Archives: Campground Review

Campground Review: Normandy Farms Camping Resort, Foxboro, MA

064Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Normandy Farms Camping Resort
  • Dates of stay: May 22 – Jun 18, 2020 (4 weeks)
  • Location: 72 West Street, Foxboro, MA 02035
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $52.89/night (monthly rate)
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: none – closed in winter
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes
  • Cell reception: ATT decent
  • Website: ww.normandyfarms.com
  • Pros: most amenities ever, huge campground
  • Cons: none

Full Review

This campground consistently appears on the “Best RV Resorts in America” lists, and for good reason. This enormous camping resort has literally every amenity that you might imagine — it’s just a shame that Covid prevented us from taking advantage of many of them.

Our assigned shaded gravel site was long, wide and level. It included a picnic table and fire ring. Although shade can be nice, it prevented us from connecting to satellite. We were able to get over the air channels, but mostly relied on the campground cable TV, which was more than adequate. Our full hookups worked perfectly — 50 amp, water, and sewer. The campground wifi was usable, as was our ATT mobile hotspot.

The amenity list is almost too long to share here:  bike park, baseball diamond, tennis and basketball courts, shuffleboard, disc golf course, walking trails, multiple pools and hot tubs, rec centers, fishing pond, and the nicest dog park that I’ve EVER seen at a campground. If you don’t own an RV, you can rent a chalet, or a yurt, or a glamping tent complete with AC, beds and a grill. The place is simply enormous (we clocked 2 miles walking the perimeter) and has something for everyone. And it is absolutely beautiful and immaculately kept.

Normally, this would be my dream summer campground with scads of amenities and planned/organized activities. But …. Covid. When we first arrived, everything indoors was closed including the bath houses. Gradually during our stay a few amenities opened up including some of the bath houses (which are lovely), the snack bar (on weekends), and the pool with limited reservations. There were no organized activities. Occupancy was obviously down, although the place did fill up considerably more for the weekends. After we left, I believe they did start offering a limited slate of “socially distanced” activities.

[One side note — we just happened to be there when pine pollen released. The campground is one big pine forest, and when the pollen cut loose, it coated literally everything with a thick yellow/green dust for days. Everyone’s car looked green. Our bus turned green. I kept windows shut and AC on to prevent it from filtering inside. I’ve never seen anything like it.]

This is a wonderful campground, and a real value for the money. We’ve paid way more than $53/night for far fewer amenities. I wish we could have seen it fully operational – it would have been a blast.

Bottom Line: Lives up to its reputation as one of the best campgrounds in America.

Campground Review: Pine Mountain RV Park, Pigeon Forge, TN

046Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Pine Mountain RV Park
  • Dates of stay: 4/28-5/18/20 (3 weeks)
  • Location: 411 Pine Mountain Rd., Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
  • Type of campground: Private/Independent
  • Cost: $47.71/night
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: did not ask
  • Cell reception: ATT good
  • Website: pinemountainrvpark.com
  • Pros: Close to the parkway and amenities
  • Cons: tight for big rigs

Full Review

I’m including this review because our bus did park here. We didn’t STAY in the bus, not even one night, because we were staying in our own Gatlinburg cabin. Due to Covid-related cancellations and uncertainty around traveling, we hunkered down in our cabin for about 6 weeks. This campground gave us a place to park the bus, on power, for part of that time. I thought I’d do a review anyway, just to be complete.

The Gatlinburg /  Pigeon Forge area is pricey for camping. The rate at Pine Mountain wasn’t too bad, considering we were primarily using it as a parking spot. For the area, the price is actually pretty good. Most amenities were open during our stay, including bath house (locked with a code), laundry, and splash pool (although it was too cold to use). Snack bar and store were closed.

Our “premium pull though” paved site had full hookups – 50 amp, water, sewer — but we only used the electric. We didn’t use the cable hookup or wifi. The satellite dish was unable to connect due to trees. The site worked for our purpose, but it probably wouldn’t have worked well for an actual stay, because it was TIGHT for our size. Jeff managed to wedge into it, but if the park hadn’t been mostly empty we would have had issues. Getting out was just as difficult, requiring us to run over the grassy site in front of us – there was no other way to do it. While parked, we had bare inches in front and behind,  and we would have had to park vehicles in the overflow parking at the front of the park. NOT ideal. The campground touts itself as being big rig friendly, but we didn’t find it to be so. All of the sites are the same size, but some may be easier to get into than others due to the layout.

The bathroom and shower looked very nice, and the campground looked new and well kept. But, it’s simply not laid out well for a rig of our size, the sites are too short and turning radius too tight. It would be fine for smaller units.

The location is right off the parkway, so it would be ideal as a base for Pigeon Forge fun.

Bottom Line: A decent park, but not for big rigs.

Campground Review: Recreation Plantation RV Resort, Lady Lake, FL

IMG_5873Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Recreation Plantation RV Resort
  • Dates of stay: Oct 30, 2019 – Mar 29, 2020
  • Location: 609 Highway 466, Lady Lake, FL 32159
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent (Adult)
  • Cost: $33/night (monthly rate)
  • Additional fees: some activities
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes (mail room)
  • Cell reception: ATT good
  • Website: https://recreationplantation.com
  • Pros: Inexpensive, great amenities
  • Cons: none

Full Review

Recreation Plantation is an adult RV resort that primarily caters to seasonal visitors. Although a small cadre of residents live there year round, the vast majority are snowbirds. Many sites are occupied by park models or stationary trailers, but there are still areas set aside for transient RV-ers.

We happened to be assigned a  spacious “double wide” space in the newest section. Designed for a park model, the utility hookups were way at the back. We needed a 50 amp extension cord and every bit of sewer hose we had on board to reach them. And the sewer connection ended up being slightly uphill, which made for awkward dumps. But those are small niggles in what was otherwise a great site and a great seasonal stay.

The new utilities included 50/30 amp electric, water, sewer, cable TV AND high speed internet! We were given a cable modem ($50 refundable deposit) and instructions for hook up. We were able to hook up the modem in the basement and enjoy real, honest-to-goodness high speed internet during our stay. After years of cellular internet, having this amenity was a delight. The provided cable TV wasn’t bad either, with 50 – 60 decent channels.

The park’s amenities included several sparkling clean bath houses, two multi-room club houses (a third was under construction during our stay), pool, hot tub, tennis courts, pickleball courts, bocci ball, shuffleboard, billiards room, card rooms …. the list goes on. A full time activities staff create a packed calendar of all sorts of activities from weekly coffee hour to bingo to every flavor of sport, game or exercise class. You could keep busy from morning through night. I learned how to play mahjong and do Swedish weaving. Jeff joined the Pickleball tournament ladder and played Tuesday-night poker. Friendly residents were always willing to lend a hand, give a wave, or teach a new skill. We loved this place!

Cost-wise, it’s a bargain if you stay several months. It averaged out to around $33/night for our stay, which included electricity, cable and internet! Not to mention all of the activities and amenities. If that’s not enough, the mega-retirement community of The Villages is literally next door, with all of its associated shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Our travel plans take us West for next winter, but we will be back the year after. Can’t wait!

Bottom Line: Awesome winter destination – we’ll be back!

Campground Review: Disney’s Fort Wilderness, Disney World, FL

035Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
  • Dates of stay: October 23-30, 2019
  • Location: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground Entrance, Fort Wilderness Trail, Orlando, FL 32836
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $125/night
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: 30 days (per reservation)
  • Accepts mail / packages: did not ask
  • Cell reception: ATT good
  • Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/campsites-at-fort-wilderness-resort
  • Pros: You’re at Disney!!
  • Cons: cost, availability is tight

Full Review

If you are a Disney-phile and you like camping, you HAVE to do Fort Wilderness, at least once. Camping in the happiest place on earth is just, well, magical!

As we routed back into Florida for the winter, we scheduled our Fort Wilderness stay before our previously-purchased annual passes expired. That way, our park tickets were taken care of, we just needed to pay the camping fees. And Fort Wilderness is not cheap – it averaged (for us) $125/night including taxes. It is officially the most we’ve ever paid for a campsite. But, hey, you’re in Disney!

037Our campsite was amply sized with an approximate 18 by 80 foot pad. During check in, we asked the clerk about size of pad and ease of back in (all sites are back in), and selected a site based on our needs. We had to wait a couple of hours in the overflow parking lot for that site to become available, but it was worth it to us to get the larger spot. When the site was ready, I received a text, and we proceeded directly there. The site itself was immaculate and equipped with full hookups (50 amp electric, water, sewer) and cable TV. Only at Disney will you find your utility pedestal disguised as a tree stump! We also had a picnic table and charcoal grill. Our site, like most at the Fort, was wooded and thus not satellite friendly.

042Staying at the Fort offers all of the perks and advantages of staying at any other Disney resort property. This includes free magic bands, 60 day advance Fast Pass selection, Extra Magic Hours, and all of the Disney resort transportation. The campground itself has two pools, restaurants, camp stores, playgrounds, and laundry facilities. The bathrooms are fully as nice as any hotel and kept immaculately clean. If being at Disney World isn’t enough, the campground offers a variety of activities including archery, crafts, horseback riding, etc (for a fee). Each night there is a free campfire sing along followed by a movie at the main pool. There is no lack of things to do!

The Fort is so large (at least a mile end to end), that it continuously runs 3 internal buses connecting you from your camping loop to the various transportation options and amenities. The boat dock to the Magic Kingdom is at the far north end of the resort, while the bus depot to all of the other Parks is at the south end. Many guests rent golf carts for their stay — we just rode our bicycles.

We took in the Hoop Dee Doo Review dinner show during our stay — we thought the food was just okay, but the show was hokey family entertainment at its finest and very enjoyable.

One tip is to stock up on groceries BEFORE you go! The on property camp stores have just a few basics and Disney restaurants are pricey. Being able to save a little by (mostly) cooking your own meals is one of the benefits of camping.

Bottom Line: It’s Disney – worth it!

Campground Review: Jones Station, Mebane, NC

012Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Jones Station RV Park
  • Dates of stay: September 23 – October 20, 2019
  • Location: 2710 Jones Drive, Mebane, NC 27302
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $18/night (monthly rate)
  • Additional fees: metered electric
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes
  • Cell reception: ATT fair to good
  • Website: www.jonesstationrvpark.com
  • Pros: Affordable, new, big-rig friendly, quiet
  • Cons: no-frills, not the best location for us

Full Review

Our son lives in Greensboro, so we wanted to find a suitably nice campground as close to him as possible. The pickins’ are slim around Greensboro – either small/older campgrounds that can’t accommodate our size, or campgrounds with dubious ratings. Jones Station RV Resort is 45 minutes out from Greensboro – not an ideal location for us, but perfectly suitable in every other respect.

Jones Station is almost brand new, only a couple of years old. It was laid out with big rigs in mind — equipped with wide internal gravel roads, ample turning radius, and long pull through gravel sites. (Some sites are shorter and back-in). The campgrounds terrain is a bit rolling, our site in the back was reasonably level, but some of those in the front appeared to be less so. Your mileage may vary.

Our gravel pull-through site was quite long, easily fitting our bus, toad and motorcycle. The newly installed 50 amp electric, water and sewer hookups worked flawlessly. Our site was open and satellite-friendly, although many other sites are wooded. The park did not offer cable, but quite a few over the air channels are available. The park ostensibly offered wifi, but we never got it work at our site way in the back.

Being a new park, the bath house was also new, nice and clean. Other amenities included a picnic shelter and small playground. Overall, the facilities were immaculately kept. Even though clearly some of the residents are long term, their sites were tidy and maintained. Shopping, including a Wal-Mart, a Tanger outlet mall, and a fantastic meat market, are just minutes away.

Here are the pluses:  The park is just so darned affordable. The $500 per month rate (plus electric) averages to less than $20/day. Our site was large and perfectly functional. The bath house is nice, the park is pretty and quiet, and the people friendly.

The minuses: There’s no fancy amenities here if that’s what you want – no pool, hot tub, or game room. The freshly laid gravel is loose in spots, making for tricky motorcycling.

BUT, for us it’s the best option available. We’ve already booked a return stay in April.

Bottom Line: New, affordable, no-frills RV park. We’ll be back.

Campground Review: Lakewood RV Resort, Flat Rock, NC

035Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Lakewood RV Resort
  • Dates of stay: September 9 – 23, 2019
  • Location: 15 Timmie Lane, Flat Rock, NC 28731
  • Type of campground: 55 plus Private / Independent
  • Cost: $46.43/night (weekly rate)
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes
  • Cell reception: ATT average
  • Website: www.lakewoodrvresort.com
  • Pros: clean amenities, planned activities
  • Cons:  bit tight in spots for big rig

Full Review

The Asheville/Hendersonville area has long been a favorite of ours. Usually though, we ran over here as a day trip from nearby Gatlinburg which limited our access. So we opted to stay here for a couple of weeks to really enjoy all that the are has to offer.

Lakewood RV resort is located a bit south/east of Hendersonville. It was a further away from Asheville than we really wanted, but we had difficulty finding a big-rig friendly resort that was nearer. Even this campground is tight in spots for our 43 foot rig. Our assigned site required very careful backing in to avoid a tree limb just a foot off the drivers side and you’ll want to be an experienced driver to navigate the interior roads. But that was the ONLY downside. Everything else about the park was very enjoyable.

This park is a 55 plus, adults-only community. We didn’t search that out —  it just turned out that way. About half of the community are homes (park models) and the other half transient or seasonal RV sites. I would say the majority of residents are at least seasonal, with quite a few that live there year round. Sometimes that is a recipe for trashiness, but the resort was immaculately kept up and the residents were friendly and welcoming. It really feels like a community. And, there are planned activities!! Water aerobics, happy hour, bingo, chair volleyball, nickel bingo, dominoes, poker and game night, cornhole, bridge …. the list goes on. One night a local winery did a wine tasting event (for a fee). Frankly, I had a ball here.

Once we shoehorned into our site, it was great. There was plenty of space to park our toad and motorcycle. The parking area was gravel, but there was a concrete patio with a picnic table. The full hook ups worked just fine – water, sewer, and 30/50 amp electric. The electrical box was located at the rear of the site, but our cord could reach it just fine. There were just enough tree branch obstructions to attenuate our satellite TV signal, so we watched over the air channels during our stay. The campground does offer cable TV, but it requires a (free) cable box and complicated set up. We couldn’t figure out how to make it work with our complex motorhome wiring. There is campground wifi available, but our ATT hotspot worked better (which isn’t saying much).

The amenities are lovely. The bath facilities aren’t new, but they are immaculately clean and work wonderfully well. The club house area offers a heated pool, large meeting facilities, shuffleboard, and an exercise room. No annoying door codes here either! The park is under new ownership as of a year ago, and the new owners have aspirations to make the park a premier destination. They are certainly on the right track.

The cost was average at $46/night at the weekly rate, but the amenities and activities made it feel like a bargain. Hendersonville is nearby, with a variety of shopping and dining options. Asheville is about a half hour away with attractions such as the Biltmore mansion and art district. I would definitely stay here again.

Bottom Line: Friendly 55 plus park with lots of activities at a reasonable price.

 

Campground Review: Safe Harbor RV Resort, Nashville, TN

014Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Safe Harbor RV Resort
  • Dates of stay: Aug 30 – Sep 8, 2019
  • Location: 3343 Bell Rd, Nashville, TN
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $67.80/night
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: Yes
  • Cell reception: ATT good
  • Website: http://www.safeharborrvresort.com
  • Pros: great location and amenities
  • Cons: Pricey

Full Review

Nashville has been on our bucket list to visit for some time, and this new RV resort is within a half hour of the city center (traffic depending). It’s a bit pricey at $68/night, but the quiet location looked awesome.

The RV park is laid out on a peninsula that juts out into a large lake, so nearly every site has some kind of water view. It just opened a year or two ago, so the amenities are brand new. Check in is done at the office at the front of the property, before a gate that lets you into the rest of the facility.

The long hilly one-way, one lane campground interior road requires some careful navigation with a big rig. Our site required us to traverse all the way to the end and around to our back-in concrete site. The site is long and just wide enough to just fit our bus, motorcycle and truck. Alas, the pad was not quite level, with about 1% grade back to front. Doesn’t ANYONE know how to lay a truly level site?? We haven’t had a level pad since Petoskey.

The utilities work perfectly, with water/sewer and 50/30 amp electric hookups. The campground also offers quite an extensive free cable TV package, but we are using our satellite TV and local digital over the air channels. All of the sites are open and satellite friendly. The free campground wifi is surprisingly robust and usable and a higher-speed wifi package is available for a fee. Trash is picked up daily from every site.

The new amenities are gorgeous. The bath house shower facilities are separate complete bathrooms – spacious, clean and beautiful. There are additional toilet facilities in the building next door and at the pool area. The pool area offers a sparkling blue pool, kiddie pool area, and lounge/pavilion. Other amenities include shuffleboard, corn hole, playground, dog walking areas (not fenced), and coin laundry. The Park also offers rentals of golf carts, paddleboard, and kayaks.

We were here over Labor Day weekend and the Park provided band entertainment at the pool area on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The staff is friendly and helpful. I had packages shipped here and when I walked to the office to pick them up, a friendly staffer gave me a golf cart lift back to my site. It really is a beautiful park with lake views everywhere and beautifully-kept landscaping and amenities.

Really the only downside is the price, but I believe all of the campgrounds in the area are similarly expensive. The pricing seems overly complex though, based upon site, dates and length of stay. It should be noted that not only is there a gate code for entry, there is also a separate security door code for the bath houses and laundry.  If the Park was located downtown or in a sketchy area I could see it, but the neighborhood is quiet and upscale. Seems a bit of security overkill to me. Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here if we passed this way again.

Bottom Line: Beautiful park and amenities, if a bit pricey.

Campground Review: Smoky Bear Campground, Gatlinburg, TN

017Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Smoky Bear Campground & RV Park
  • Dates of stay: August 27-29, 2019
  • Location: 4857 East Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $60/night
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: no
  • Accepts mail / packages: did not ask
  • Cell reception: AT&T good
  • Website: http://www.smokybearcampground.com
  • Pros: great location, nice amenities
  • Cons: cost, not satellite friendly

Full Review

We made a last-minute short-term booking here to take care of some business in Gatlinburg (we own a cabin here). Approaching the Labor Day holiday weekend, availability was very limited, but we were able to squeeze out 3 days here.

It is an older campground, but there are a few sites that are big-rig capable. Maneuvering the one-way one-lane road is do-able with care. Our site was a pull-through concrete site that was solid, but surprisingly unlevel (2% grade side to side). It has been surprisingly difficult lately to find a truly level site! We managed for a short stay.

The full hookups worked great – 30/50 amp electric, water and sewer. Due to trees, none of the sites are satellite-friendly. We did pick up a limited selection of over the air channels and the campground said they provide basic cable, but we didn’t try it. The free wifi, was quite decent. The site also provided a picnic table and fire ring. The sites have typical commercial campground spacing – not a ton of space, but it’s acceptable to us.

The campground has a nice, if small, pool and a hot tub! The bath house is modern and all of the amenities are squeaky clean. The campground even comes with a friendly campground kitty cat.

The location is great if you stay here on vacation. It’s about 25 minutes to downtown Gatlinburg and all of the attractions and amenities. Cosby is in the other direction, and our favorite restaurant (Apple Barn Restaurant and Farmer’s market barn) is about 15 minutes in the other direction.  It’s a bit pricey by our standards, but typical for the area. They don’t do weekly/monthly rates, only daily rates. Due to the area’s popularity, they can get it.

Bottom Line: A bit pricey, but a nice campground in a great area.

Campground Review: D&W Lake RV Park, Champaign, IL

003Campground Review Summary

  • Name: D&W Lake RV Park
  • Dates of stay: 8/25/19
  • Location: 411 W Hensley Rd, Champaign, IL 61822
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $30/night
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: did not ask
  • Cell reception: ATT decent
  • Website: http://www.dwlake.com
  • Pros: inexpensive, close to highway
  • Cons: none for quick stay

Full Review

This was an unusual one-nighter for us at this modest 40 site campground. Normally we’ll just park at a rest stop or casino parking lot, but we planned to meet friends here and there was no other convenient place to park overnight. The campground worked very well for our purposes.

The park is convenient to the highway and only cost us $30 for the night. It was a long back in site, solid gravel, slightly sloped. We booked only a electric/water site (no sewer) because of our short stay. We didn’t even bother to put out our slides or hook up the water. The electric was 50/30 amp, perfectly adequate for our needs. Most of their other sites are full hook up.

The campground is fairly basic, but nice. The bath house is clean and functional. The one dumpster location was completely across the entire campground from our particular site, but walking is healthy. The campground has a coin laundry facility, dog walk area, playground and dump station. There is a small lake on property with a path around it (a half mile, I believe). We weren’t there long enough to assess wifi or TV stations. In and out!

We did have a great visit with our friends.

Bottom Line: Convenient spot if you are visiting the area.

Campground Review: Cliffside Park Campground, Caledonia, WI

004Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Cliffside Park Campground
  • Dates of stay: Aug 19-25, 2019
  • Location: 7320 Michna Rd, Racine, WI 53402
  • Type of campground: County park
  • Cost: $30/night (with online reservation fee)
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: Seasonal park Apr – Oct
  • Accepts mail / packages: no office
  • Cell reception: ATT adequate
  • Website: racinecounty.com/visiting/campgrounds
  • Pros: spacious site, inexpensive
  • Cons: no sewer hookup

Full Review

As usual for a larger city, we had to range a bit out of town to find a decent campground. This one is more than decent, especially for a county park. Most local parks can’t fit our rig size so we were pleasantly surprised to find this little gem.

A note about reservations: Advanced reservations (online or by phone) are required for one side of the campground, while the other side is available for walk-up registration, space permitting. There is no office onsite – just a board with available sites posted. We booked online well in advance in order to secure an open site near one of the bath houses. If you do book online, remember your space number, as you will need to find it yourself! Cards denoting site reservation details are also placed on a post at each site.

We had no problems maneuvering into our back in space, which was solidly-packed gravel. Utilities include a 50/30/20 amp electrical hookup and water. There is no sewer connection at any site but the camp host site. (A dump station is available near the exit) Each site also has a picnic table and fire ring. The site was quite spacious, especially compared to most commercial campgrounds! The only negative was the back to front downward slope. Even with tire blocks and manual jack deployment, we couldn’t get quite level.

The campground amenities are basic: bath houses and playgrounds, no wifi or laundry facility. The bath houses are modern and clean with very spacious showers (two shower rooms per gender in each of the two bath houses). The shower operated by pushing a button which engaged the water for about 10 seconds before shutting off. You couldn’t adjust either water pressure or temperature, but both were fine by me. It was just slightly annoying to have to keep pushing that button.

Our ATT signal worked adequately and our open site posed no problems with satellite TV reception. Some sites are more wooded than others, so your mileage may vary. We could also pull in a number of over the air TV channels from nearby Milwaukee. The City is only about 40 minutes away with the Harley museum, Miller brewery, and other attractions and amenities.

Overall, this was a great stay. The campground is scenic and quiet – the only real negative is the lack of sewer hookup. It was no issue for our short stay, but it does discourage a longer stay. The onsite camp host couple received several negative reviews on TripAdvisor, but we saw no issues with them. The current cost is $28/night plus a $14 online booking fee, which is reasonable for what you get.

Bottom Line: Great little modestly-priced campground if you don’t mind no sewer hookup.