Date of Stay: Sept. 8-15, 2011
Weather During Stay: A few warm days (mid-80’s) until more typical temperatures returned; mild nighttime lows.
Site Description: Tall Chief RV Resort used to be a Thousand Trails Preserve, and feels more like a rustic state park than a typical commercial park - but with some extra amenities.
In a canopy of heavy forest and very tall trees, 176 site have water and electricity (about 20 of the sites have 50 amps, the rest have 30 amps). Site size/length varies, but most are large and most a quite level. Many have a substantial picnic table. Most are very private, buried in tall trees.
Sites are on thin grass, moss and leaves. Roads throughout the park are dirt and gravel; at the time of our visit, they were dry and extremely dusty.
To visit friends, we had reserved a site for a week. Sites are first-come/first-served. When you check in, you get a map of the park, along with a list of which sites have 50 amps and which sites MIGHT allow you to use your roof-mounted TV satellite dish. After touring all the “TV satellite might work” sites (all full), we settled into a 50 amp site, 174 - large and level (top photo).
The forest canopy was so dense that we had to have lights on inside even at mid-day. After four days in the gloom, I couldn’t take it any longer. With map in hand, we walked the entire park looking for a site with an open aspect to the southern sky, and found one not on the “satellite TV” list and not taken. We moved to site 59, large and level, with 30 amps (somewhat unstable), some sunshine, and a narrow shot through the trees to the TV satellite. The trade-off? Site 59 is adjacent to the road to the office, more heavily used and dust-laden.
No sites have sewers, but there is a large, centrally located dump station. A honey wagon is available for a fee ($25, I believe) and makes a scheduled run twice a week (sign up at the office).
The park has a common area away from the dusty roads with a large, clean, swimming pool; an indoor hot tub; play ground; and pool tables. The office and clubhouse are in another location, with a TV lounge (old TV, converter box, no batteries in remote control); vending machine; book trading library; and jigsaw puzzles.
Rate: We booked a week-long stay at a “special“ price of $149.00. By the time taxes and other fees were added, the total was $188, almost $27/night for a rustic, W/E site.
Phone/radio/TV: Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard. As far as I know, WiFi is not offered (if it is, it didn’t reach to our sites). We got two or three channels on our air antenna in our first site; none in our second site; no cable TV and you’re VERY LUCKY to be able to use a roof-mounted satellite dish. We saw several mobile satellite dishes set up on the shoulder of the dusty road. Local NPR on 88.5.
Elevation/landscape/terrain: This is a hilly park! Elevation is probably around 300’. Very heavily forested, the exception being the swimming pool area. The forest makes for good privacy, but lots of gloom and no distant views.
Favorite Sites: None.
Hiking/Walking: This is a large, hilly park, so walking for a little exercise is pleasant.
Comments: Tall Chief has changed hands, from Thousand Trails to Encore, so is no longer a membership-only park. Staff was friendly and seem to be making an effort to improve the camping experience (like adding speed bumps to the dusty road).
The campground was no more than ¼ full when we visited. If you like rustic, densely forested parks, this one works and it probably would be great for a family camping experience (good place for kids).
I found it overwhelmingly gloomy and claustrophobic, and the lack of a sewer hookup and any TV service made a one week stay seem too long. We were here to visit friends in the park, and we all felt that the two-times-a-week honey wagon service should be provided as part of the camping fee. We would not return, but I can imagine others would enjoy the rustic camping experience.