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.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Our Site at Mountain Top Our Opinion: Neutral, though there is much to like about this park.  Be sure to read our comments at the end of this review.

Date of Stay: June 17 through 19 , 2010.

Weather During Stay:  Highs in the upper 80’s,  upper 60’s, mostly sunny. 

Site Description:  This campground is a mom and pop operation on the very top of a hill, with great views in all directions.  It’s difficult to tell how many sites there are, but probably more than 100.  Almost all the sites are on grass (a few are graveled), with water and electric hookups at the back of the sites.  I don’t know how many sites have 50 amps vs. 30 amps.  Sites are not defined by anything other than the location of the utilities, and are incredibly spacious.

View of Mountain Top The campground was about ¼ full when we arrived.  The owners live in a home on site but weren’t here, so we picked one of the few graveled 50 amp sites and backed in.  Leveling took a board under each front tire and jack.

Some sites have picnic tables.  No fire rings, but you can build your campfire right on the ground (and can purchase firewood on site).  As usual with eastern RV parks, several of the rigs appear to be “seasonal” (left permanently to be used on weekends) and other rigs are stored.  I’m under the impression that the owner has a honey wagon he will use to pump your tanks when necessary, but we didn’t use this service, and didn’t see a dump station.  It looked to us that everyone drained their gray water to the back of their rig and down the hill, so we did the same.  Very sensible.

Rate: Standard rate is quoted at $40/night.  Considering the road to get here and the lack of sewer, I don’t know who would be willing to pay that!  Passport America is accepted without restrictions, except for special events (they used to hold bluegrass festivals here), so we paid $20 night. I believe they also give Escapees 50% off.

A view of the surrounding areaPhone/radio/TV:  We are within sight of a Verizon tower, so the signal was exceptional and the aircard blazing fast.  No WiFi, no cable TV.  No obstacles for satellite dishes, and 15 digital channels come in via the air antenna.  Three local NPR stations from Pittsburgh, including 90.5.

Elevation/landscape/terrain: It is a winding climb up a hill to get there - once on the mountain top, lovely views of green, green and more green in all directions.  Trees ring the park, but most sites are in the open.

Lighting/noise:  Dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites: No favorites here - make your selection based on the view or sun exposure you prefer.  Tent camping is allowed; we saw some tent campers in a grove of trees on the edge of the campground.

Hiking/Walking: The park is large enough for a nice stroll, but not sufficient for exercise.  We found a nearby rails-to-trails bike/hike trail for walking (the Freeport-Barton Trail), about 6 miles away in Freeport. 

Nice site at Mountain Top Comments:  We wanted to love this park, as it has so much to offer: reasonable proximity to Pittsburgh, huge sites, wonderful owners, mellow atmosphere.  The problem for us:  the voltage dropped so low on warm afternoons that our EMS box (Energy Management System) shut off our electricity (shuts down at 103 volts).  We could have bypassed the box, but didn’t want to damage our appliances.  This was with fewer than ¼ of the sites full, so I can only imagine what happens with more campers.  It was a big disappointment to us, because we really enjoyed this park otherwise… but no A/C when it is sunny and in the upper 80’s doesn’t work well for us!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Overnight sites on a sunny day.Our Opinion: Rave - quiet park, great area, great price for Passport America members.

Date of Stay: June 9 through 16 , 2010.

Weather During Stay:  Highs in the upper 70’s and low 80’s, lows in the mid to upper 60’s; sun, clouds and sprinkles.  The elevation here in the Laurel Highlands area is unusually high for Pennsylvania, so temperatures were relatively cool by summertime standards.

Site Description:  This 200 acre campground has 110 campsites, mostly in open grassy areas around clusters of trees.  Half the sites are for “seasonals” and half a dozen are tent sites.  Another dozen have water, electricity and cable TV - leaving around 30 FHU (50 amp) sites with cable TV, nicely separated from the seasonals.  There are two cabins for rent, as well.

The sites used by overnighters are arranged in three rows.  Each site has a fire ring and picnic  table on a large grass strip, well sized for a commercial park, with room for slides, awnings, chairs and BBQ grill.  Roads and sites are gravel; sites are reasonably level and long enough for a big rig and towed.

Site 100 at Hickory HollowThe park’s amenities include a small swimming pool, a small lake with paddleboats and a walking path; a large, clean bathhouse; a playground; and a small store in the office (with ice cream).  One washer and one dryer in the laundry room.  A large pavilion is available for groups.

Rate: Standard rate for 50 amp FHU with cable TV is $30/night.  Passport America is accepted all nights except Friday and Saturday, so we paid $15/night for 6 of the 8 nights we stayed.  Excellent deal!

Phone/radio/TV:  Our Verizon phones and aircard (usually on broadband) work here, though the signal is weak.  No obstacles for our satellite TV in our site, and cable TV is included in the price. No WiFi, and we couldn’t find a local NPR station.

Elevation/landscape/terrain: This is a hilly, green, partly forested campground at around 2,000 feet.  Views are of neighbors, grass, cows, trees and, for a few sites, a small lake.

Lighting/noise:  Dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites: We were in site 100, nicely level.   The “overnight” sites are all similar, but 81 through 87 are closest to the playground.

The Lake Hiking/Walking: Walking around the large park is pleasant, but good hiking is not far away - either in the nearby state parks, or on the Great Allegheny Passage rails-to-trails route (there is a trailhead less than 5 miles away in Rockwood).

Comments:  More appealing than most commercial parks, Hickory Hollow is centrally located to an amazing number and variety of sights and activities: the Flight 93 crash site and memorial; the Johnstown Flood Museum;  two Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes, including Fallingwater; several state parks with hiking/biking trails; river rafting at Ohiopyle State Park; and a rails-to-trails bike path.  This is a beautiful area, and we hope to return someday.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Typical row of sites in a shaded area. Our Opinion: Recommended, if you belong to Passport America or Camp Club USA.  Neutral, if you aren’t a member of a half price club.

Date of Stay: June 6 through 8, 2010.

Weather During Stay:  Pleasant early summer weather, highs in the mid 70’s, lows around 60.

Site Description:  This large, hilly campground has around 200 sites, but you wouldn’t know it when you drive in.  Instead of row upon organized row, sites are tucked in here and there, three or four rows in a shaded nook, another row or two in an open field, tent sites near the horse riding arena, “seasonal” sites partially shaded - a real mix.

Our site, #41, was at the end of a short, treeless row - we specifically asked for a site with a clear view for our roof mounted TV satellite.  It appears that more than half the sites are FHU with 50 amps, including our site.  The map indicates others are “seasonal”, W/E only, or primitive.

Site 41 at Artillery Ridge Roads are gravel, as are the sites.  The sites are nicely spaced for a commercial park with plenty of room for slides, awnings, and chairs.  Many (most) of the sites are not level, either sloping or undulating.  Many big rigs had difficulty leveling, and we felt lucky to be in a level site.  Sites have picnic tables and fire rings.

The park has many amenities, the main one being horse stables and corrals.  For those of us not bringing horses, the aroma can be challenging when the wind blows the wrong way!  It wasn’t too annoying, but be aware.

Rate: Standard rate for 50 amp FHU is $48/night, which seemed outrageous to us but is the norm for campgrounds here in Gettysburg (location, location, location).  We paid $24/night thanks to Passport America.

Our row of sitesPhone/radio/TV:  Our Verizon phones and aircard work here.  No obstacles for our satellite TV in our site - but be sure to request an open sky if you need it.  A few stations on the antenna.  No cable TV.  WiFi is included, but we didn’t try it out.  NPR on 88.1 from Harrisburg.

Elevation/landscape/terrain: This is a hilly, green, partly forested campground at 520 feet.  Views are of neighbors, grass, trees and horse corrals.

Lighting/noise:  Quite dark at night; no bright lights to bother us.  Very quiet.

Favorite Sites: We liked 41 for the open sky, but several in the range from 47 to 71 looked appealing, with shade trees but a possible shot through them for satellite reception.  Many are not level; ask for a level site if you have a big rig.

Typical shaded, gravelled site.Hiking/Walking: Walking through the large park is pleasant, but there is something better: follow the horse trail north along the road, cross the road, and walk the dirt road right into the battlefield.  You can walk to Little Round Top easily if you are a recreational walker. 

Comments:  This is a reasonably quiet park that worked well for us because of its very close proximity to the Gettysburg National Military Park.  The staff were accommodating when we checked in, and with the PA discount, the price was right.  We would return – and we wish we could have stayed a few days longer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Our Opinion: Neutral.  A better place for tents than RV’s, but it worked for us as a base camp for visiting family and a trip into DC.  Staff is exceptionally helpful in making and changing reservations.

The road through the RV loop Date of Stay: May 28 through June 5, 2010, which included the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Weather During Stay:  Warm and humid, highs in the upper 80’s, lows near 70.

Site Description:  This campground is a very small piece of a very large regional park, with a golf course, hiking trails, and historic sites.  The campground has paved roads, with 91 sites in 5 loops.

Of the 91 sites, all but 25 are for tents only.  The 25 RV spaces are slightly larger, with 30 amp electricity.  Sites are gravel and reasonably large, well spaced from one another.  Although many sites are long enough for big rigs, leveling is difficult as most sites slope, either slightly or significantly.  Site your rig carefully if you have slides, as all sites in heavily forested.

All sites are back-ins, with picnic tables and fire rings.  Water spigots as scattered through the loops (no water hookups at sites), and a nearby bathhouse has showers.  Two washers and two dryers are available at the centrally located activity center.  A dump station is at the entrance to the park.

Site 52, large and gradually sloping to the back. Rate: $31/night, paid at time of reservation and non-refundable.  We made several change to our reservations (moving the dates, extending the stay, and changing sites) without monetary penalty.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon signal for the aircard and phones.  Southern sky completely obscured for our roof-mounted TV satellite; even the Sirius satellite radio signal had a difficult time if the wind blew!  We got around a dozen channels on the antenna including several PBS stations.  NPR is available at 88.5.  No WiFi.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain:  Elevation is under 500 feet, in hilly terrain.  This campground is in dense hardwood forest; views are of trees, large and small, and neighboring rigs. Heavily shaded (important in the hot summer).

Lighting/Noise:  Dark, dark, dark at night, and quiet after campers retire from their campfires - or on empty weekday nights.

Favorite Sites:  We preferred the sites on the outside edge of the loop, as they were somewhat more level.  In site 52, we never managed to get completely level, and didn’t see any big rigs that did.

One of the few open areas, along a trail. Hiking/Walking:  Excellent!  Trails head off in all directions, with good maps available at the visitor center.

Comments: This is an excellent campground for smaller rigs and tents.  For us, it was the best of the possible alternatives for visiting family in the area.  Though we thought $31/night was steep for what we got, the nearest (and apparently only) commercial park charges more than twice the rate for much tighter sites.  We were 20 minutes from a Trader Joes and Costco, and 25 from the last stop on the Metro Red Line into DC (a 25 minute ride).