Wow… non-stop rain, extremely muddy site, river flooded over all riverfront sites, relocation, exhausted parents, but the kids still had fun and will have memories for a lifetime. Tent camping is an outdoor activity so one needs to expect the elements and be prepared as such. We are seasoned campers (immediate family) and have been through snow, sleet, strong wind, rain, hail, and thunderstorms. We have enjoyed all of our camping trips. On this trip Hubby, myself, and 12y/o son invited 10 y/o nephew, and 13y/o son’s friend. We were prepared for the elements and the travel time to this location was about 5hrs+. In this particular camping trip, the rain did put a damper on things because our site was primarily dirt which turned into slippery, soft, digging in kind of mud upon arrival. We had a premium waterfront site. The river over flowed which caused everyone in the waterfront sites locations to evacuate on the 4th of July because it was no longer safe. The water surpassed our fire rings and in some sites covered more. Having said this, the camp staff did an excellent job in assisting everyone to relocate to a higher campground site. Our second site was in the overflow grassy area which did have a fire ring and shared water spigot but no electric hook ups. Rachel, the manager, charged back $40 to our account. Everyone liked this site better due to the grass but I didn’t care for it as much because there was no shade and separated from all the activities. But it was safe none the less and more peaceful. Overall we would come back if we lived no more than 2hrs away. Please read on for specifics on the actual campground.
- The campground itself gets a B+. Lots of pro’s and some cons.
1) FUN: (A-) Lots of amenities for children of all ages (pool, large waterslides, two jumping pillows, put putt golf, swim-lake, basketball, recreation center, playground, hay rides etc). The kids loved all of it. What made this campground stand out is the young staff who made all the scheduled activities fun. This campground has multiple activities throughout the day. Most are free and some charge a fee. The swim-lake is so-so for me but the kids enjoyed it. The fishing pond water looked yucky. The river would have been fun had but no one was allowed to tube or canoe due to the high level of water- rendering it unsafe –so it was a safety issue and I am glad they care for our safety. Unfortunately, we chose this specific campground because we wanted to do this particular activity so it was a huge bummer. But it is not as if the campground can predict or control Mother Nature so moving on….
CONS: They should have bike rentals available instead of those expensive golf carts. Just don’t get the novelty of it. They are expensive $42 weekdays and $100 for the weekend. People go camping as a less expensive way to have fun. But not everyone will agree with me as evident as just about everyone had one of them. To me they are more of a distraction and they take away from the peace - but to each their own. I also don’t think they should charge to take a picture with the characters – this campground is on the expensive side already – so why be greedy? Most importantly, for the amount of money paid to camp they should have lifeguards at the pool and swim lake. This is inexcusable to me as not all parents are trained lifeguards or even know how to swim. Lucky for my family, we all know how to swim well.
2) PREMIUM RIVER FRONT CAMPSITE: (C+) Nothing beats being waterfront. Shady trees, electric, water, picnic table, and fire ring w/ cooking grate. Would be great on a dry day however wouldn't bother with these sites if there is any chance of rain due to the condition of the sites. I wish I could tell you otherwise.
CONS: The sites are a little too close together for my liking. Although I knew this information ahead of time (website pics), this is still part of the grading. What brought the grade down further was that our site was mostly 90% mud. Needless to say everything got muddy – no fun. The sites do slope a little downward toward the river and watery mud did run through our fire ring. You have to be very careful not to slip, fall, or get your vehicle stuck due to the soft ground. Staff should install gravel, pads, or grass as this would help remedy all of this. Further, Wi-Fi was soooo slow to non-existent (Probably the worst connection ever in my opinion). The website stated “available throughout the park and most of the camping areas.” Well it didn't work at our riverfront site nor did it work at our upper campground site. It didn't work well throughout the campground itself either. We asked a few neighbors if it worked for them but no dice. My suggestion would be to not count on it/or ask specifically for a site with it if it is important to you because in my opinion they are treading a fine line of false advertising. Lucky for my family it is not a deal breaker. Lastly, it was still a hike to get to the pool and comfort station. They did have port potties for us in the lower part of the campground. Our second site had more private restroom/shower combo but it was still a hike to them. The bathrooms themselves should be cleaned a little more often. I expect more when paying premium. Overall disappointed that flush toilets were up a hill. Think a C+ is more than fair. Phone reception is bad too but that is not part of the campground itself.
3) SNACK CENTER and GIFT SHOP: Life saver when we arrived because it was raining heavily and didn’t want to cook. Prices are fair and food was good. We ordered pizza and cheese sticks. Serves as a place to get dry, watch movies, and do crafts. The gift shop is very well stocked they just about sell everything you need if you forget something. You can also start a line of credit if you want your children to be able to get things without cash. The only con is the interior of the buildings look a little dated and could use a face-lift. Other than this I can’t complain about either one.
4) STAFF and GUESTS: (A) Upon arrival we were escorted to our site by a friendly man. With the exception of one older lady who was short tempered and snappy, all staff was friendly and helpful. Give an extra special kudos to the young staff in charge of activities. Guests seemed to be locals and were courteous. Everyone said hi to each other and was friendly. No complaints.
In conclusion, yes it wasn't the best camping experience for the parents. It was actually down right exhausting setting up twice and worrying about the weather. But it was FUN for the kids, locals were friendly, staff was helpful, and we were safe. In the end that is all that matters to us. It could have been a lot worse. We would come back if we lived closer. Nothing wrong with this campground just a little too far to deal with the above said. The area itself is close to a lot of sight seeing and Natural Bridge. There are other Jelly Stone Park Campgrounds near where we live and will try them too. Hope this review was helpful.
Riverfront campsites can flood if there is heavy rain.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.