Welcome to our (very personal) reviews of the campsites we have visited. If you arrived here from a link on our travel blog, Semi-True Tales of Our Life On the Road, you can click here to read all of our campground reviews.

If you would like to know more about me, or contact us, click on "Who are We?" (to the right). For more information about what you can expect to find in these reviews, click on "About These Reviews". Finally, a note about the photos: hover your cursor over a photo to read the caption, or click the photo to enlarge it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Our Opinion: Recommended, if you are willing to pay the price.

Date of Stay: July 27 through July 30, 2008

Weather During Stay: Typical high mountain summer weather: highs to the mid 80’s, lows to the mid 40’s, with clouds and occasional rain in the afternoon/evening. Wonderful.

Site Description: Our site, 27A (bottom photo), was huge, with a great view out the front window. Roads and sites are gravel. Lots of variety in the sites. Plenty of trash barrels.

The park has two levels - big rig friendly sites on the top level, with 30/50 amp FHU, level, wide, long (third photo). The lower level has lots of tent sites, a playground, and a couple of dozen electric-only sites - all under huge shade trees on the bank of Chalk Creek (second photo).

There also are 3 nice cottages with fabulous views (top photo), nice bathhouses, laundry, and a pleasant office with a small store (they sell ice cream, t-shirts and RV supplies).

Rate: With taxes and no discounts, we paid $38.75/night - much more than our usual, but it seemed reasonable for such a nice place at the peak of the summer vacation season.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon phones worked well, but the aircard was very slow. However, the park has blazing fast, free WiFi. No cable TV, but no obstacles on the upper level sites for satellite RV dishes. Local NPR on 89.9.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Elevation is 7750’. Upper level is flat and open, with good views of trees and mountains; lower level is forested with creek views.

Lighting/Noise: Quiet at night; lighting is unobtrusive.

Favorite Sites: Though our site was long, level, and wide, it was in the middle of the action. Next time, we would ask for a site from 1A to 8A.

Hiking/Walking: The park is large and the walking pleasant, but you need to drive to get in a long walk/hike. There are great hikes very nearby.

Comments: If you want to stay in a campground in this area (Buena Vista/Nathrop/Salida) in the summer, you need a reservation - it is a beautiful and popular area. We met friends here, on their recommendation. Very nice, well managed park, with a high tariff in keeping with the time of year and location.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Our Opinion: Neutral. We have stayed here twice, and like it - but there are other nice commercial parks in the area, too.

Date of Stay: July 21 through 26, 2008

Weather During Stay: Typical summer weather in the high Rockies - warm days when the sun is out, frequent stormy clouds in the afternoon, and some rain. Cool nights.

Site Description: Because we wanted to extend our stay here beyond the one night we had planned, we had two different sites. Both were long and level, with neighbors very nearby on both sides. Site 81 was a 50 amp FHU with cable, facing directly west. Site 95 was a 30 amp E/W site (no sewer or cable TV) with nice shade, facing north.

Roads and sites are gravel. The 100-site park is well maintained, with pretty patches of lawn and flower gardens, plenty of trash containers, a nice office with small store, lots of park activities, friendly staff. As commercial parks go, this has a lot going for it, but the sites are very narrow. Neighbors chatting outside sound as though they are in our living room.

Rate: We paid $33/night for site 81, the 50 amp FHU. Site 95, the 30 amp E/W, was $26/night. We really appreciated the staff working to squeeze us in over the busy Fri/Sat time period after our plans changed. This park participates in Passport America, but not during the peak summer season.

Phone/radio/TV: Good cell signal for the phones. The aircard worked quite well, mostly on Broadband. Wi Fi is available (free, I believe) but we didn't use it. Some TV stations on antenna, but we used the satellite dish. Local NPR on 89.9.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: This is a flat, nicely landscaped commercial park at 8,100’ elevation. Views of nearby neighbors, trees, and distant 14,000+ foot peaks.

Lighting/Noise: Site 95 was darker and quieter at night than our first site; neither had obtrusive night lighting. We slept with the windows open and were not bothered by any traffic noise.

Favorite Sites: Not a lot of difference in the sites, other than the utilities and orientation. Pull-throughs are long side-by-sides, with the utilities between rigs, very close to each other, so we preferred the back-ins.

Hiking/Walking: Not much around the park - just the loops. We drive a few miles to a park on the east side of Buena Vista, right on the Arkansas River, where trails abound. Great hiking in the mountains in the immediate area, too.

Comments: We appreciated how friendly and helpful the staff is here. The park is very well maintained. If the sites were half again as wide, I would highly recommend this park. However, we intend to return to Buena Vista in a week, and made a reservation at another of the commercial parks - less expensive with sites twice the size of the sites at Snowy Peaks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Our Opinion: Recommend. This is an easy stopover spot when passing through the Denver metro area. No shade, though.

Date of Stay: July 19th and 20th, 2008

Weather During Stay: HOT. Near or at 100 both days with lows in the 60’s.

Site Description: We were in Site 2, a long, dirt and gravel site that sloped from back to front see middle photo). Sites at the fairgrounds have E and W only, not FHU, but there is a dump station on site (though difficult to maneuver into and it is kept locked). All sites but 3 are 30 amp only, and in full sun, so not good for a hot day (top photo)! Sites 1 through 6 are set apart from the main group of RV sites, closer to the entrance. Here, three boxes service 6 sites, each box with a 50 amp outlet and a 30 amp outlet - so 3 of the 6 sites get to use 50 amp at any one time. We were one of them, which is why we put up with the sloping site. Great restrooms with private, combination lock, showers are available.

Rate: $20/night includes use of the dump and bathhouse.

Phone/radio/TV: This is a metro area. Verizon phones worked great, aircard worked great, TV antenna pulled in local stations. NPR of 90.1. Nothing to obstruct TV satellite dish.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Jefferson County Fairgrounds is very roomy, with rodeo rings and lots of horse-related stuff going on. Enter off a frontage road along a busy freeway. Views are of other rigs, large expanses of mowed lawn and picnic tables, cars rushing along in the distance, interesting mesas, distant city lights. Somewhat rolling terrain. Elevation is 5,900’, a bit above Denver.

Lighting/Noise: Traffic noise is noticeable at night with the windows open; took awhile to fall asleep but didn't wake us up. Lighting was not intrusive.

Favorite Sites: Any of the 3 50 amp sites in summer, but we would take a standard 30 amp in the more level section if the weather had not been so hot.

Hiking/Walking: One loop around the fairgrounds is over a mile and makes a pleasant walk.

Comments: Call ahead to availability and to get the phone number for the on-site maintenance person who has to come to unlock your power and water when you arrive. We have stayed here several times when we are stopping in Denver only long enough to have service work done or stock up. It must be becoming more well known and used, as there are now two campground hosts on site. Costco, Safeway, Whole Foods and all the standard stores are within a short driving distance. Golden is a cute town with a good Farmer’s Market on Saturday (or is it Sunday?). There often are interesting activities going on at the fairgrounds.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Our Opinion: Neutral. Here, you get what you pay for - and what we valued was 50 amps of electricity on a very hot day.

Date of Stay: July 18, 2008

Weather During Stay: HOT.

Site Description: Reasonably sized 50 amp FHU. Level, gravel (the really big kind) pull-through. No table, no trees, no grass, no amenities other than bathrooms - pay a $2 key deposit and you can use ‘em.

Rate: $16.25 per night.

Phone/radio/TV: Good Verizon signal; aircard on Broadband. Local NPR on 89.9. No cable TV. Nothing to block TV satellite. We didn’t put up the TV antenna.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat gravel parking lot at 4,100’ on the outskirts of town. Views are of “edge of town” businesses, a row of houses, and other rigs.

Lighting/Noise: A train in the distance didn’t bother us. Typical residential and RV neighbor noise. Lighting was not intrusive.

Favorite Sites: We are in site 13. No favorites; all 22 sites are similar.

Hiking/Walking: We didn’t do any, but you would be able to walk along a sidewalk into town or to the river.

Comments: We stayed here one night 1 of a 3-leg road trip. We picked Torrington based on the distance we wanted to drive. We also had a tire leak repaired at a neighboring business, Olsen’s Tires. We didn’t need amenities, didn’t want to pay for any. The place worked fine for us.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Our Opinion: Neutral. We won’t return, but it is OK if you really want to be in Deadwood. It would work well, though, for tent campers or smaller rigs - or people with kids.

Date of Stay: July 14 through 16, 2008

Weather During Stay: Very warm days, cool nights, occasional rain.

Site Description: 50 amp FHU gravel pull-through, long and very narrow in a row of similar sites. Not very level. Peeling picnic table. When we had neighbors, their awning extended into our site. While in bed in the morning, we could hear the conversation of our neighbors while they were STILL INSIDE. As I write, I can hear their TV and their dog playing with a squeaky toy.

Rate: Usual rate is $36/night. With 15% off for being Escapees and tax added, we spent $33/night. Too much.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon phones have 2 bars. Aircard has 1 bar, but works, and reasonably quickly. No local NPR that I could find. No cable TV; antenna got two snowy stations. No obstructions for TV satellite antennas, though. WiFi available at no additional charge.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: This is a very sloped campground in a narrow gulch at 4700’. Views are of your very nearby neighbors and close, treeless hillsides.

Lighting/Noise: No road noise, and night lighting is not a problem if you pick your site carefully (not next to one of the numerous tall “streetlights”).

Favorite Sites: We were in 28, similar to the other pull-throughs. No favorites here; they are all WAY TOO NARROW and not sufficiently level. Plenty long, though.

Hiking/Walking: We chose this park because of the great walking. Walk to town (Deadwood) or head the other direction on the Mickelson trail, a wonderful 100+ miles trail on an abandoned RR grade. Excellent walking.

Comments: We came for the proximity to the town (a short walk or shuttle ride), but found it didn’t outweigh the tight, tight sites. We won’t return. BUT, when in Deadwood, have a great lunch, or dinner on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, at Deadwood Thymes CafĂ© Bistro on Sherman Street (closed Monday). Outstanding. Next time we want to stay in the northern Black Hills, we will stay at the city park in Spearfish. If you travel in a smaller rig, there are some wider, level, much prettier sites up at the high end of the campground and some interesting mining remains.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Our Opinion: Recommend. Super wide spaces, a river runs through it, and management is mellow but attentive.

Date of Stay: July 11 through 13, 2008

Weather During Stay: Two days of dangerously high winds (temps in the 70’s), followed by a day of heat (high 80’s).

Site Description: Our site, 506, was a wide, level, east-facing back-in with 50 amp FHU with cable TV. The park has a mix of pull-through and back-in sites with varying amenities, including some W/E without S or cable. An above-ground swimming pool is available for guests. Adequate trash containers.

Rate: We paid the Passport America rate, $16/night for 50 amp FHU with cable TV. Very reasonable. Full price, $32/night, would be too high.

Phone/radio/TV: Good cable TV. Tall trees can challenge rooftop mounted satellite antennas. We didn’t try the TV antenna. Verizon phones had 5 bars; aircard on 5 bar Broadband. Local NPR on 89.9

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: This private park at 2000’ is so roomy, rustic and spacious that it seems more like a county park. Roads and sites are gravel and dirt. The Heart River marks the eastern boundary of the park. Huge cottonwood trees shade many of the sites. This is not a manicured park. Sites are arranged in two long rows, so all sites have expansive views of mowed prairie grasses, big trees, the river and a few nearby rigs.

Lighting/Noise: A train goes by occasionally, but it wasn’t a problem even with windows open. No traffic noise; a hayfield provides a setback between the park and the road. No bright lighting at night.

Favorite Sites: Site 506 worked great for us, but there are many good choices here.

Hiking/Walking: Waling around the park is pleasant, but you need to go elsewhere for walks of any distance.

Comments: Dickinson is one of the larger towns in the area, with a good grocery store (Dan’s), a Walmart, and standard restaurants and other amenities. It is a 30 miles drive to Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s south unit and the tourist activities in the town of Medora. We enjoyed a day spent sightseeing the “Enchanted Highway” to Regent, east of Dickinson. Next trip, we would be likely to stay in Medora at Red Trails Campground, simply for the proximity to the national park.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Our Opinion: Recommend. Large, green, well-managed campsites near the Missouri River.

Date of Stay: July 10th, 2008

Weather During Stay: Hot (low 90’s) with severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

Site Description: The campground has three large loops. Sites in two of the loops can be reserved; we were in site 14 (photo) of the first-come, first-served loop. All sites have 50 amp electric and picnic tables. No water at sites. Potable water is available at the large, clean dump station is positioned at the entrance to the campground which can be used in either direction. All the sites are large and flat, with huge cottonwood trees providing shade. Lots of mowed grass. Each loop has a bathhouse and dumpster. The loops are connected by concrete paths. Two large playgrounds and access to the Missouri River provide recreation for kids. A pay phone is located at the entrance kiosk.

Rate: $14/night - half price with a Golden Age Pass, so we paid $7.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon phones had a signal; the aircard alternated between Broadband and the slower National Access. A couple of local TV stations came in on the TV antenna. Roof mounted TV satellites are challenged here. Local NPR on 88.5. Our NOAA weather radio did not get a signal here.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: This is a flat, grassy park with huge shade trees located at the bottom of a dam at 1700’ elevation. Views are of other campers, trees, and glimpses of the Missouri River.

Lighting/Noise: No traffic noise in this out-of-the-way location. No bright night lighting in our site.

Favorite Sites: Site 14 was great for us, long, level, and east-facing, but most of the other sites in any of the loops would worked as well.
Hiking/Walking: Two miles of trails and at least of mile of paved loop roads provide plenty of walking opportunities.

Comments: Unfortunately for us, the campground was plagued with mosquitoes when we visited. A tornado skirted to the south of us in the evening, and a high wind warning in the morning sent us on our way well before our usual departure.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Our Opinion: Neutral. Nice place for a family summer vacation, but so remote we are not likely to return!

Date of Stay: July 8th and 9th, 2008

Weather During Stay: Pleasant - highs in the low to mid 70’s, lows in the 50’s. A tornado had come through the area the day before we arrived.

Site Description: The campground has two loops. Sites 1-44, pullouts with 50 amp E and water, are in the “new loop” and are reservable. The older loop, sites 45 through 70 (?), is first-come, first-served, with much shorter sites (all backins), 30 amp E and water. All sites have a picnic table and campfire ring. Both loops have clean bathhouses with showers, dumpsters, and recycling of aluminum cans. A dump station is available.

Rate: We paid $15/night since we had an annual pass ($25). Without an annual pass, add $5/day to the cost of camping.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon phones have 3 bars and the aircard works, sometimes on Broadband, sometimes not. Getting a TV satellite signal is challenging in this wooded park (our roof mounted satellite was blocked). We didn’t try the TV antenna. Local NPR on 88.9.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Heavily wooded, gently rolling state park at 2200’. Lots of water, including Lake Metigoshe. Views are of other campers, trees and grass.

Lighting/Noise: Both low, unless you have noisy neighbors.

Favorite Sites: We were in long, level site 1. If someone had been in site 44, our neighbor, we would have been sharing lawn space. Many of the sites in the “new” loop are accessible for big rigs, with care, but many are not level. Almost all sites in the “old” loop are too short for big rigs.

Hiking/Walking: Nice! Trails traverse the park, often skirting the shores of small lakes.

Comments: This is a remote park about 4 miles south of the Canada/US border. The lake is a rustic resort area shared by the state park and private property owners. If you have a big rig, reserve a site in the reservable loop or be prepared to be assertive in using a vacant “reservable” site. It appears they prefer to have reservable sites go empty while the F-C, F-S loop is packed rather than going the extra mile to make “unreserved” sites available until the next reservation arrives.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Our Opinion: Rave. This huge park is lush and green, with wetlands, wildlife and close proximity to an interesting small city (Grand Forks) for shopping, dining, and browsing.

Date of Stay: July 2 through July 6, 2008

Weather During Stay: Changeable summer weather with highs from the low 70’s to low 90’s and lows in the upper 40’s to upper 50’s.

Site Description: We had a pull-out site on the outside of a narrow loop, with a very private “front yard” area. The campground has two sections, one with reservable sites, the other first-come, first-served. Both areas have 30 amp electricity at (or close to) the sites, with a limited number of water faucets scattered through the sites.

Choose your site carefully to make certain your power cord(s) and water hose are long enough. Most sites are level and long enough for big rigs (watch the trees as you drive the loops, however). Streets are paved; site parking is on dirt. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring. Each section has a large, clean bathhouse, a dumpster, and a bin for recycling cans.

Rate: RV campsites (which have electricity) are $15/night. Campers must also have a day-use pass, another $5/day, or $25 for an annual pass - so RV camping is $20/night unless you purchase the annual pass, which is cost effective after 5 days of camping.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon phones and aircard have a strong signal. Our TV satellite was blocked by tall trees, which would be a challenge in most campsites. Our TV antenna picks up two stations from Grand Forks. Local NPR is available on 91.9. A pay phone is located in the visitor center as you enter the park.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: The camping loops and tenting areas take up a small fraction of this very large, slightly hilly state park located at 1000’. Heavy deciduous forest in some areas; other parts are open meadow or mowed lawns. Turtle River runs through the park (flooding has done damage in the past). CCC shelters and rock work give the park a stately heritage. Cabins are available for rent, as is Woodland Lodge, an appealing venue for special events. Weddings are frequently held here.

Lighting/Noise: Totally and completely dark at night. No road noise at all. Wonderful.

Favorite Sites: We were in site 25, where we appreciated the privacy afforded on the outside of the campground loop, but many sites are nice and are large enough for our rig.

Hiking/Walking: Wonderful. Several miles of paved road throughout the park and several more miles of mowed trail.

Comments: Beautiful terrain, a (small) river, stately stone-and-timber CCC-built shelters, excellent trails, and electricity at campsites make this a great stay. Grand Forks, ND, 25 miles east, was destroyed in 2000 by flooding on the Red River. The downtown is now restored with a wide greenbelt and flood walls on both sides of the river. All the usual chain stores are there, along with restaurants, pubs, bakeries, and independent, interesting downtown shopping. Check out the downtown farmer’s market on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Our Opinion: Not Recommended. The couple who has recently purchased this RV park was friendly and helpful, but we would not return.

Date of Stay: July 1, 2008

Weather During Stay: HOT! Mid-90’s when we arrived, mid-80’s at 9 pm. Because of the heat, we were willing to pay for a FHU sites with 50 amp - which promptly shut down for 3 hours.

Site Description: We had site 22, a gravel pull-through with a mosquito-breeding wetland 30 feet behind it. FHU, but the 50 amp power went off around 50 pm. We ran our generator for A/C until 8:30, when the power was restored. The Escapee directory says there are 31 FHU sites, but we didn’t check. Showers and bathrooms are available; we didn’t check ‘em out.

Rate: $22 plus tax with the Escapee discount. Regular rate for a FHU site is $26 plus tax.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon phones are have 1 bar, sometimes less. To my amazement, our aircard works most of the time on National Access. Good NPR station at 91.5. Tall trees blocked the satellite dish (but provided welcome shade). We didn’t try the TV antenna.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: This is a small, flat, nicely shaded mom-and-pop RV park at 1,490’. Roads and sites are dirt/gravel. A large, mown, grassy playground is available for kids, probably because two live here.

Lighting/Noise: Noise from Interstate 94, very nearby but visually blocked by trees. Night lighting is unobtrusive.

Favorite Sites: None.

Hiking/Walking: None

Comments: Friendly staff and shade are highpoints of this park. Lots of junk sitting around the office building, and the sites need loving care. Many permanent rigs here, not unduly unappealing but they add to the general feeling that the park needs maintenance attention. Traffic noise from nearby I-94 is noticeable. Lots of mosquitoes, no doubt breeding in the shallow wetlands and small pond adjacent to the park.

The photos make the place look much better than it looks in "real life".