Hello again friends, it’s been a rough start to the camping season, with the Covid pandemic, but we are back at it. Unfortunately state campgrounds aren’t granting new reservations until next weekend but we did eventually find a place to set up our tent. Our journey once again leads us back to the Green Mountains of Vermont, a place that we enjoy visiting very much. We have mixed feelings with the campground we visited, however, mainly because the website is highly misleading. Many of the website pictures are stock photos, not of this campground, the prices are astronomical, and the people who run the campground, although polite, don’t seem to know their own product very well. To make matters worse the campground employees seem to have little power when it comes to accommodating visitors for one reason or another. There was plenty to do though, it got us out of the house and around a campfire so we were very thankful for that. Unfortunately it wasn’t hard to see why it was so easy to get a campsite here when everywhere else was booked.
That said, with Spencer’s first impression of a KOA campground, and Kimberly’s history with KOA campgrounds they both agree that there is only one thing that comes to mind upon entering into an agreement with KOA. That thing is short, red, lives under the sea, and loves money but that’s who we dedicate our next campground to… Mr. Crabs.
Before we start, we would like to say that we certainly think our trip could have been better in this campground. The campground itself wasn’t awful, but this time we ended up with one of the worst sites, we think, we’ve ever had in all of our years of camping. Again, it’s not completely the campground itself, it really just boils down to poor management…..and money. Realistically, if we had known what we were in for ahead of time we probably would never have gone, especially out of State. Thankfully they had additional campsites available or we might have been in big trouble. Too bad there isn’t a website what tells you ahead of time what to expect, the condition of the grounds, the overall…… oh wait! THAT’S US! that’s where we come in, and that’s why we do it, so you don’t have to.
So, where to begin, firstly KOA (Kampgrounds of America) secure the reservations online with a deposit. They ask for all of your information, including how many people you have, children, adults, etc… From there we don’t know if the website chooses the campsite for you, or if the campground employees choose it when you arrive, but either way someone really dropped the ball during this process. Again, the website askes how many people are attending, they even charge extra for children but then they don’t seem to know their sites well enough to apply that information. There is an online map, but we’ve looked a few times and we had some difficulty finding it, right up to when this post was released, not that it matters because it is fairly inaccurate anyway.
Upon arrival the employees take the rest of your balance and send you off to find your campsite. Beware at this point, apparently once the payment is made in full the computer doesn’t allow the employees to make alterations to the reservation. Here’s the scoop, when we made our reservation it was for 2 adults and 3 children, but we guess you only get the first child free? The site was $31.00 a night plus an additional $5.00 per child, so we were charged an extra $10.00 for our site. Now, it’s our first trip of the season, we always refer to it as the trial run since we always forget something, or something always goes wrong…fine. We get to our campsite, site 139, and there is barely enough room for a tent, say nothing about a vehicle, a second tent for the children, and camping supplies.
It was small, and on the inside corner of a turn, we had to put the picnic table directly behind the tent, and we had to park the truck on the side of the road. Thankfully our neighbors didn’t mind us utilizing a small piece of their road frontage but what else could we do? We know, we will ask for a bigger site right? Wrong! Upon returning to the camp store we were forced to purchase a second site, at $31.00 a night since they, or the computer, would not allow us to switch sites. In the end we decided to get a small site right next to us, so the children weren’t running back and forth across the roadway. The frustrating part about the entire thing was that there was a very large campsite, site 136, not in use on the outside of the turn that we all could have fit on, but… it is what it is.
This same thing happened to the nice ladies camping on the site across from us, site 138. These two ladies were camping with their three children and two vehicles. They were originally given a very tiny campsite, like ours, but it was much further down the camping road. They too were forced to purchase a second site and then they just stayed at the bigger of the two. To add insult to injury the hug campsite was given to a couple, with a truck, and a tent, while we watched families pull in and out of the smaller sites dissatisfied, it was just a disaster.
For the most part the sites were very close to one another, the RV sites were a mess, but we recommend staying far far away from campsites 113-119 in particular. When we first arrived every one of these lanes were filled, three rows of them with their slides all the way out, there couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 feet in between some campers. Then with vehicles, bikes, extra tents, tables, we aren’t quite sure how they spend the weekend without getting hurt to be perfectly honest.
Sites 107-112, and 123-128 sit along each side of the 113-119 group, although these sites may be spaced out slightly more. They all do have grass, and have a nearby forest to offer some shade during the day but it was very busy, it was loud, lots of traffic, lots of kids, lots of dust, and lots of open sun. Don’t get us wrong we love people who dance to the beat of their own drum, and we love happy people, so if this is for you great. We only bring it up just in case it isn’t your cup of tea.
With that, let’s talk amenities, this campground has plenty of them, but… although this campground is on a lake, there is no beach. In lieu of a beach this campground has three, yes three, swimming pools. The main pool was still drained because they wanted to limit gatherings due to the covid pandemic. The kiddie pool, however, was open, which is very shallow and warm, Then the slightly bigger, 5 foot deep, pool was open as well. In the same area you have a decent size playground for the children complete with a sandbox.
Just beyond the play area is the community field where people come to picnic, play, or to just relax in the afternoon shade. Venture a little further you have a mini deck set up with two picnic tables overlooking the water, and despite the actual location it is quite lovely with a lovely view of the mountains. You then have the lake itself where there is a boat launch, and a few docks to park your water crafts. These docks, however are smack dab in the middle of a marshland with a half mile path, leading to the main lake, through the thick reeds and lily pads. This setup proves for some good fishing however and like everywhere else we’ve visited there are no shortages of fish stories.
Spencer listened to tales, for two hours, about 5-6 pound bass regularly caught off the dock, huge 7 pound catfish, huge fish eating other fish like sharks as they are being pulling out of the water. Spencer loves a good fish story and even though these fish are practically “climbing onto the shore” for you, Spencer realized nobody was actually catching anything. Spencer, however, caught/released a few small bass, and about two dozen bluegills by the time these tales were through but lake monsters they were not. Not to say they aren’t there, they most certainly are, but that spot is also definitely over fished so most of what you’ll catch will be small.
Moving on, the camp store is actually quite impressive, it’s large and they don’t gouge on prices, which is refreshing to see. They have ice cream, food, coffee, anything you could possibly need so if you forget something, even a fold out chair or a tent, they’ve got you covered. At the store you can relax on the front porch and play games, they have free WiFi in case you need to get in touch with the outside world for weather or email. They even rent golf carts, row boats, and fishing kayaks, they literally have everything you need. Across from the store they have a rather large arcade, then on the second floor of the arcade they have an entire indoor mini golf course. Finally next to that building they have a mini movie theater which, again, was closed, and locked, for social distancing purposes.
They do have a front gate, at this campground which rumor has they charge you an extra $10.00 for. Fortunately for us it wasn’t operational so we did not need to purchase a gate pass. This now leads us into campground traffic and campground rules. The one thing we can’t stress enough, if you come here, is please, please, please watch your children closely because the rules here are loosely enforced, at best. Late night noise and people having fun doesn’t really bother us, it may to some, but we did take notice of the traffic in particular. Even though the speed limit is 5 mph, people drive more like 15-20 mph. The road running through the campground is a single lane roadway but you would never guess by how recklessly people whip back and forth down it. While we were there we witnessed a little kid, couldn’t have been more than 6, get his bike helmet run over by a car, crushed. The issue is that most of the roadway is straight, you couldn’t miss it. Granted the little kid left it in the roadway but come on, get out and move it or go around it, at least drive slow enough to where you see it before you crush it. To make matters worse the drivers seem very arrogant zipping in and out like you don’t belong in their way but we certainly think speed enforcement is something that could be improved upon.
Back to amenities, yes there are more of them. They have horse shoe pits, a basketball hoop, gem mining, its crazy how much there is to do here. They have a laundromat if you need to do a wash, showers that range from very hot, to very cold, and their bathrooms are air conditioned, yes AIR CONDITIONED!
The bathrooms themselves are rustic, knotty pine, clean but could afford to come into the 21st century a little bit when it comes to water consumption. Even something as simple as installing urinals, for example, would go a long way to conserving water. Why bring up water consumption you ask? Well we do our best to recycle, cut down on trash, anything bad for the environment we really do try to go without. No matter how small of a part we may play, at least it’s something and we encourage all of you to try and do the same. The main reason for bringing it up is there have been reports of the wells running dry on occasion. Now, we are not really sure how a well can run dry on land hugging a huge freshwater lake but… there is that piece of silliness to add to the pile. Management should probably invest in appliances that use less water, seems simple, maybe not.
Click on the map for a larger version.
So, lets get to the sites, As we stated before, the RV sites in the 107-128 circle could not be any closer together, we would avoid those unless you like that sort of thing, which is fine. As far as RV sites go we think the best sites are 79 to 83. They are well shaded, on the edge of the forest, they are near the lake, and community field. They are also spread out pretty good but noise could be an issue at times because they are also across from the playground and swimming pools. Some of the RV sites, like 24, 25 and 30, are huge complete with decks and pavilions but we don’t know the back story with those. They are on the map as usable sites but are so immaculate that they could be the owners, maybe just seasonal campers, but they are quite nice. 2-5 and 7 are also pretty decent for RV’s, they are away from the hustle and bustle but we assume the red 50-amp hookup also means higher price.
The cabins are a bit better, they are spread out pretty descent, they maybe have 15-20 feet between them which is fine, and the interior looks nice but it was hard to see through the window shades for a picture. The deluxe cabins 71 and 72 are like small houses, we didn’t get to see the inside but the outside is a bit run down almost like a building from an old western town amusement park. They are also pretty expensive for being near the main gate, there was no privacy, lots of traffic, there was just nothing appealing about them other than it was large. 73 and 88 we wouldn’t even consider a deluxe cabin, they are more like a deluxe RV really. Two wood sided trailers, side by side, connected with a small 5 foot fence. One would think that if you were going to price these cabins so high that they would be a little bit off the main strip, away from people, certainly further away from each other but that is definitely not the case with these.
The tent sites are all mixed up, most have grass but you want to stay away from certain sites like 139, that was ours and it is the smallest site they have to offer. 141 wasn’t much better and we recommend staying away from campsites 139-142. Now 136 is a huge grassy site in the corner but Kimberly frowns on this site. She doesn’t think it would be a real great spot in the summer months due to all of the sun it gets during the day, but says it probably wouldn’t be that bad in the fall.
138 isn’t a bad site, it’s average size and sits back in the forest a bit, so it’s comfortable. There isn’t a lot of grass, but the bare spots aren’t real rocky either so its no problem. Next to 138 is also the location of the only water faucet we found for the tent sites as well. There could be more, we didn’t see any, and the map doesn’t list any. While we are on the topic we encourage you to read our PSA on community faucets, it’s short and has some good tips. Anyway, this brings us to site 137, which is the best out of the group in our opinion. It is a large site, grassy, only gets direct sun part of the day so we will call 137 our honey pot, that’s the campsite that you want to get if you can.
The next group are all pretty much the same so we will start off with sites 100 – 102 They are a bit more private, they are on the outskirts of the campground, shaded, so those are pretty good sites, we would definitely camp there. 130 and 134 are pretty good as well but have the same description. They are bit more private, on the outskirts of the campground, shaded and mostly grassy. It’s the same with 145 – 147, shady, grassy, very nice but we think that it’s worth mentioning that 145-147 are near the dog park so there could be a lot of pet noise. We didn’t actually hear any noise during our stay but it’s there anyway just in case it’s a concern. Again, we packed this group together since the the sites are pretty much the same, plus a lot of the other sites were occupied and we didn’t want to disturb anyone so we don’t have a lot of pictures.
So, here they are one more time in case you missed them.
- Tent Site 100
- Tent Site 101
- Tent Site 102
- Tent Site 130
- Tent Site 134
- Tent Site 137 (Honey Pot)
- Tent Site 138
- Tent Site 145
- Tent Site 146
- Tent Site 147
- RV Site 2
- RV Site 3
- RV Site 4
- RV Site 5
- RV Site 7
- RV Site 79
- RV Site 80
- RV Site 81
- RV Site 82
- RV Site 83
In the end we both gave this place a thumbs down, we believe that this could actually be a good campground with better management and less interference from the KOA chain. Kimberly has been to several KOA campgrounds and says they are all pretty much like this. Spencer now receives a lot of KOA spam for their Geico deals, among other products, even though he has unsubscribed to KOA multiple times. We also don’t like the huge misrepresentation found on their website, the careless disregard for campground safety, or the nickel and diming that came into play with our bill. Their corporate politics just spoils the entire place in our opinion. We go camping to get away from the daily nonsense, the hustle and bustle of life, not to complicate things with frustration and worry as we are sure you do as well. With that we end our first blog of the season, please leave any questions, or comments, below and as always happy camping!
-Spencer and Kimberly
So how did we do? we would love to hear from you in the comments below!