Welcome back camping friends, today we are pleased to bring you the Gettysburg Campground located in, yes, Gettysburg Pennsylvania. We are so excited to be staying in Pennsylvania, this not only adds another state to our blog, but it’s home to one of the most iconic battles in American history, home of Hershey chocolate, Lancaster Caramel, Hershey Park, need we say more? This campground is a privately owned campground and is really more of a camping resort, unfortunately, complete with mini golf, ice cream, dance party trailers, swimming pools, movie stars… well… maybe not movie stars.
We are just going to say right off the bat, we are not fans of this campground, not even close. This might be for you, if you are into this sort of thing, but to us it’s just not camping. If we had to compare our experience to anything it’s a lot like the cheap hamburger patty in an expensive TV dinner. Sure it’s labeled Salisbury steak but when you get right down to it you’re wondering if its even meat. The worst part is you have to eat it anyway because you already traveled out to buy it, so now it’s all you’ve got. So, sure, the campground is marketed as a “campground” but it is loaded with RV’s, everything is scrunched together, including the cabins, there is no privacy what so ever, and there just isn’t anything here to reconnect you with nature. We did expect something much different, going by the website pictures and description, but in reality it is more like sitting around a campfire in a full trailer park, not that there is anything wrong with that if that’s what you like to do but it’s not for us. The worst part is we traveled all the way there, we paid for it, and so we were stuck with it, just like that TV dinner. What we expected was role playing, and reenactments, at the very least an old make shift civil war army camp surrounded by campers, we got nothing. What we got was a standard, over priced, every day camping resort with nothing different than if you decided to camp at a camping resort in New Jersey, if that’s even a thing. We will keep this about the campground for the most part, since that is the purpose of this blog, but we do have to say that the campground itself, and its activities, aren’t really the reason people come here. Some of it may have to do with their misleading website pictures, but it mostly has to do with the old Gettysburg battlefield, the old home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, tours, ghost walks, local artists, and some good old fashioned dining all located roughly half of a mile, to a mile, down the road. Gettysburg itself is just an amazing place to visit, and we highly recommend that if you’ve never been here, come at least once because it is a magnificent snapshot in time. We only wish the campground contributed more to the overall greatness of the area, and we say this with a heavy heart because we really did look forward to coming here. We are going to try to be fair in our explanation, and we understand that some people enjoy this sort of thing, and may even disagree, but this is our opinion so please take it as such. We will also say that we did visit a couple of other campgrounds, while we were in the area, and we will tell you that this campground is really the best you can expect. With all we have to say, there happens to be one man who has the talent to sum up this entire post in six words, James McMillan III… Mr. McMillan, what do you think of this place?
There you have it, truer words could not have been spoken, so lets talk about the prices. The prices are astronomical, costing $65.00 to $85.00 a night just for a primitive tent site and that’s only $4.00 less than a Basic RV site with electric. Want a cabin? Well that friends is going to cost you $129.00 to $169.00 a night, plus $100.00 security deposit, plus an extra $15.00 a night if you want to bring your family pet… plus 11% sales tax. Cabin with a kitchen…err cottage, lets just talk about that in more detail later.
We, as usual, chose a tent site, which was secluded from the rest of the park, no lights, no generators, so this area seemed pretty good, at first. We chose to camp on tent site 14, going by the map, which is located near the water. We had never been here before, but it seemed like it was the most secluded spot out of the bunch. The issue we had was our spot had a foot trail on one side, which was clearly marked on the map, but we were unprepared for just how busy, or how close, that trail would actually be. This trail is the main access point to the stream where all of the kids, in the entire campground, hung out, splashed around, and played. This typically isn’t a big deal, we like kids, we have five girls of our own, unless those kids are unsupervised, are riding their bikes through your site, tripping over your tent anchors, or standing just outside of your tent gossiping about their friends early in the morning, or late at night. The stream itself doesn’t really have much in the way for fish, and was shin deep when we went, but it does drain into a swampy marsh like area that seemed good for fishing. Realistically it is probably very overfished so don’t plan on catching anything over 6 inches, that was about average of what Spencer caught. The main attraction of the stream, however, are the huge amounts of crawfish, and of course they sell crawfish nets at the camp store so that’s what all of the kids are doing while splashing around in the water. Spencer actually joined in for 15 minutes, caught about 20 good size crawfish, and had a nice crawfish dinner but Kimberly was not as excited about the venture.
What Kimberly was excited about were the large number of hickory trees in the area. This was significant because since there are so many hickory trees, the ground is loaded with a ton of hickory nuts. Well, to be honest she couldn’t have cared less, and didn’t know how excited she actually was, until Spencer harvested a bag, shelled them, and made banana bread. They are somewhat of a nuisance to shell but they make an excellent banana bread, which came out with a hint of a hazelnut, but that may have been because Spencer baked the bread in his UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker). With that, we would like to bring up a very important point regarding these hickory trees… bring something other than a tent, like an umbrella or small canopy of some sort, or you will get clocked in the head, from time to time, with falling nuts. The nuts in the center picture are husked, so with their husk they average a size somewhere between a golf ball and a baseball. The critters are also constantly chewing them out of the trees so you have husk shavings raining down throughout the day with a random ::clunk:: as well so be warned.
The RV, and cabin, area is much more busy than the tent area during the day and the night. Not only do you have everyone stacked on top of one another, but there are a ton of activities going on, all the time. For instance they have a DJ trailer driving around, like an ice cream truck, stopping so the kids could dance and have some fun. It travels all around the campground blasting its music before it eventually stops in the center of the park for everyone to enjoy. People playing mini golf, horse shoes, shuffleboard, a playground, ball field, ice cream, they had some sort of flea market, or farmers market, going on in the main building, they even have a garage for RV repairs next to the swimming pool. Just about anything you can think of, they have, but bring your wallet.
The bathrooms were pretty gross, even during the height of the pandemic when social distancing and spreading germs was a big issue. These bathrooms are located near the entrance on the other side of the park so if you are tent camping we suggest bringing a bicycle. The Showers were always occupied, there are only a couple to go around for the entire campground, so plan on showering late at night, since there will be a line, and again, bring a bike of some sort since they are located in one spot.
Now, they do have restrooms near the tents but we say bring a bike because the disarray of the main bathrooms could only be surpassed by the outhouses they have strung out through the tent area. These outhouses not only stink up the place, but they were cleaned, and stocked, very rarely and in the summer heat it’s not a good place to be. Additionally, outhouses typically don’t have sinks, or running water, we get that but we thought it was funny they had a big bottle of hand sanitizer strapped to the urinal as if that would make any difference. No folks, handwashing is what the water spout outside is for, washing hands, in between washing your dishes, getting water for your coffee, filling your water bottle, and in this case going to the bathroom.
We both found this a bit irritating because if you really think about it, it wouldn’t be much to hook up a $50 hand washing sink, utility sink, or something to wash your hands that is separate from washing things that go in your mouth. Person after person would use that outhouse, hold the faucet with one hand while washing the other, then switching hands… But… you know what they didn’t wash? The faucet handle. Now, we did see a campground worker clean the outhouse at one point. She had her big rubber scrubby gloves on, cleaning all of the nastiness, in the urinal, in the toilet, under the seat, etc… but she kept coming out to the faucet, with her rubber gloves still on, to get buckets of water. She also did not clean the faucet you and your family use to….. well enough of that. Bottom line if you come to the tent area bring something to wash the faucet handle before you use it, or better yet, just buy your water at the market, which is just down the road.
Gross right? Lets talk about something positive, for that we would like to deviate away from the campground briefly because we feel we can’t honestly do the area justice without mentioning a reason worth traveling here. Honestly, If all we had to talk about was the campground we would say don’t bother, these come a dime a dozen, run, but it’s not just about the campground. The main attraction, the reason why you may want to suffer through this nonsense, is the battlefield, and its history, because it is unlike anything we have ever encountered. We spent the first day riding around listening to the audio tour, which was amazing in itself. For the audio tour you basically ride around to the numbered checkpoints, on a map, then at each checkpoint you hit play on the CD and listen to the historian talk about what you can see in the immediate area. Things you would never have guessed were objects, like random piles of earth covered in grass that happen to be the original trenches the Union, and Confederate, soldiers dug. They are smaller because of the ravages of time but it’s just amazing that they still exist. Then with the walking around, taking pictures of hundreds, and hundreds, of markers, and monuments, plan on spending at least 4-6 hours doing this alone. There is just so much that you’re not going to see everything the first day so plan on coming back. The second day we loaded the truck with our bicycles, drove the truck to one of the many parking areas, then with our bicycles peddled around the battlefield to get a closer look at some of the things we missed the day before. Then we ventured out and stopped at some of the local shops, we purchased some homemade peach rum jam, Kimberly loves to collect local pottery so we purchased some of that as well. We would also like to give a friendly, and thankful, shoutout to the Lion Potter which is a necessary stop before going back to camp. Local Pottery, fresh local vegetables, homemade jellies and jams, if you’ve never heard of it then please get acquainted using the link above, you will be happy that you did. That night we went on a ghost tour, which was little more than an eccentric museum tour, but it was still a lot of fun filled with tons of historic facts. We were both amazed to see some of the architecture still standing with the old bullet holes preserved to this day which included a bullet hole, in a solid wood door, that lead to the only civilian casualty in this massive battle. The town is just a fantastic place to visit, complete with people dressing in traditional 1800’s fashion, music playing from that era, and plenty of gift shops to stop at.
Many of the people reading this will have ancestral ties to this historic battle and after awhile Spencer finally found his. General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who was not a General during this battle but he was the commander of the 20th main, a professor, a college president, a governor, and war hero fluent in seven languages. Spencer came to Gettysburg looking specifically for this spot along with the monument marking the most critical battle of the area which awarded Joshua Chamberlain with the Medal of Honor. Now Spencer’s grandmother became very ill around the time we made reservations. She had been battling cancer but kept her condition a secret so not to worry anybody. She always wanted to come here, and she talked about it on numerous occasions, but she was unable to make the trip. We ultimately decided to make the trip for her, and bring back the pictures so she could see the area, and the marker itself. Sadly, Spencer’s Grandmother succumbed to cancer, and she passed, shortly after our return from Gettysburg so she never got to see it, at least in this life. So, this another shout out for Grandma Joan, or “Maud” as some people called her in reference to her own grandmother, we love you and you are missed.
From the monuments, to the fields, to the history, to the tours you cannot go wrong with coming to this town, and if you are planning on staying at a campground then the Gettysburg campground is the best you can hope for. In regards to the campground, itself, we really have no recommendations for specific sites unless you are planning on paying $86.00 to $106.00 a night for a premium RV site on the waters edge but lets face it, they are charging hotel rates for a small parking space where you provide your own room and board. If the cost of camping isn’t a real concern then stick with the premium sites because the rest are… well, you can judge for yourself, lets move on to the Standard RV sites.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “self, why are they including a picture of a dumpster for the standard RV sites?”. Well friends, what we are showing you are in fact standard sites 14-17 sharing a space with all of that garbage. That pile is actually small, that dumpster was overflowing at one point with a pickup truckload on the side. It gets better, on the left side of the dumpster is the dumping station for all of those RV’s lined up waiting to drain their septic tanks. One of these fabulous RV sites can be all yours for a measly $79.00 to $99.00 per night making this a vacationers dream in the hot summer months. Aside from these sites, the other “standard” sites aren’t really any different than the cheap “basic” RV sites. The “standard” sites may have a tiny bit more room, in some cases, but you can’t even say they are in their own isolated spot because some of them share the same space with “premium” and “basic” sites.
Finally we have the Basic RV sites and for a mere $69.00 to $89.00 per night you can have… well… we just hope you like group camping. Yes, there are six campers in this picture complete with each persons camping gear. Here you have empty site 205, followed by sites 204, 203, 226, 224, 222, and 220. These spots are so close together one campers awning is inches from another campers slider, and that’s just because its not extended all the way. In fact these RV sites are so close we aren’t really sure how they got the campers in, and out, safely, they were packed, and are most certainly a fire fighters nightmare. Can you imagine if one of those campfires got out of hand, the whole place would go up, it’s ridiculously dangerous and unnecessary. If you’re not looking for a lot of camping and are just looking for a place to stay to tour the battlegrounds then we suggest just choosing one of the cabins. However, there are a couple of those to watch out for as well, specifically 90, 92A, and 80A.
Now, these cabins have many of the comforts of home, they are air conditioned, have several bunk beds, a table, and mini fridge. Ranging from $129.00 to $169.00 a night, plus 11% tax, and minimum two night stay, you don’t have to bring a lot of gear, and you can come, and go, as you please without worrying about someone walking off with your stuff. This is only surpassed by the cottage which also includes a mini kitchen, but at $189.00 to $229.00 per night plus tax you will certainly be paying for it. We feel the cabins are worth more for the money, to be honest, especially if all you are going to be eating is take out, or burgers, just save your money. If you add an additional $15.00, per night, they will make the cabin/cottage “pet friendly”, whatever that means, then you can bring your pet with you. We think the extra nightly charge is more for them to be friendlier to your pet, we doubt they add a doggy bed and leave little doggy treats on your pets pillow at night. If it’s for cleaning then its just kind of silly considering they also charge you a security deposit in case of any mishaps. How do they discover mishaps? Well, they must go through and clean it whether you have a pet or not… don’t they? These buildings aren’t very far apart either but, to be fair, the spacing is pretty standard compared to other campgrounds. The downside is that they share the same space as the basic, piled up, RV sites so because the cabin location is a bit of an issue we would suggest aiming for 90, 91, or 92. These three are right in the middle so it gives you a bit of a cushion between the RV sites and your own space. Now, it’s going to be a bit noisy here from the surrounding area, but the walls and AC may actually help drown out that noise so sleeping, and noise control, may not actually be too bad.
To us, camping is about being outdoors, about enjoying nature, about being with family, and friends, enjoying the quiet, relaxing after a long week, and here it’s also about the history. It’s one thing to read about history in books, and see a reenactment in a movie, but it’s something quite different when you are actually here, knowing that you could be standing on mass graves, witnessing the damage done by cannon fire, and seeing first hand actual bullet holes, the courage, the sacrifice, and the devastation. Add to that the virtually unchanged landscape and you have a overwhelming feeling of awe and a wakened sense of duty to make sure this never happens again. For us we chose to tent camp, that’s what we do, and to be fair the tent sites aren’t really that bad considering the rest of the place. Aside from there being no brush, and everything being up close, and personal, all the time, we just expected a little more going by their website and for the prices they charge. We realize it’s a tourist area but this campground is certainly milking it for all that it’s worth while offering nothing different than other campgrounds in this category. That said the tent sites are covered in wood chips which could be worse, we know, but everything is then located in a giant field, with lines painted on the ground to show you where the boundaries are. There are also two giant piles of woodchips between sites 10 and 11, just sitting there, steaming, and composting in the sun. To make matters worse there are tree nuts falling on you all day/night long, and the area is littered with outhouses. In the picture you can see sites 4 through 9 with a part of site 10, that’s six and a half sites in one picture. This picture is also taken from the outhouse just behind the camera. If you do chose to camp in one of the tent sites then we suggest holding off for sites 12 and 13 but only if you can get them together.
As you can see from the picture, also taken from the outhouse, they are at the end of the road, they are right on the water, away from everyone splashing around, and it’s the furthest spot from everyone and everything. The only downfall is that you have residential properties right across the water to look at. Spencer guesses there are some decent catfish to be caught here since the water is calm, muddy, and murky, but he doesn’t know for sure. The night fishing might be worth a try since you can have your line in the water while sitting around the campfire, but it may be worth a try, please let us know if you do. Everything else here is going to be hit and miss depending on how full the campground is. This may not actually be a bad little area if you choose a time when there is nobody there, or have every other site booked, but there is just no way to plan that and we were not that fortunate. With a little creative maneuvering you can adjust your vehicle, and gear, to give a little privacy, but the fact of the matter is you are in close quarters with other campers, everyone in the campground accesses the stream at this location, you have a bunch of trees dropping golf ball size nuts on your head, you are constantly fixing, or watching, your gear from people running through, it’s just a hassle.
With that camping friends we are just going to say run as fast, and as far away, from this place as you can because this blog is just supposed to be about the campground after all. The battlefield does make this place tolerable but once you’ve seen the battlefield, and spent some time in town, you are then left with a high priced, mess of a sideshow that nickel and dimes you to death. Because of this Kimberly and Spencer both give the Gettysburg campground a very big thumbs down, even though we did enjoy ourselves thoroughly but that had very little to do with camping. We also enjoyed the late night fires, and sleeping with our own stuff, opposed to being held up in a hotel somewhere, but that was squashed with all of the activity in, and around, our site. We also understand that resort style campgrounds don’t offer much in the way of a camp like atmosphere anyway. Sure they are sometimes humorous because you see people doing really stupid things while drinking on occasion, but this was especially poor. Again, because of the price and location it could be that we just expected more, but chances are we would not have liked it anyway. If you follow our blog you know we have visited grounds like these in the past and they hardly ever sit well.
That’s it, that’s all of our gossip, hopefully we can bring you better news with our next adventure. Until then stay safe, stay healthy, love your family, and remember to always dance to the beat of your own drum.
-Kimberly and Spencer
Final Note: Our readers are very important to us, we would love to hear your thoughts, and just converse with other members of the camping community. Please leave your comments below, how did we do, would you come here, have you been here, do you agree or disagree, do you have a suggestion for us to try next? Thank you all for being such a huge part of our lives, please stay safe, and happy camping.