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Old 05-08-2021, 07:26 AM   #1
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Is there such a thing as a high quality RV Campground?

I've been a tent camper at exclusively state and national parks for the past 40 years. Brand new to camping with an RV. Looking to camp more comfortably, and to enjoy the convenience of water, sewer, and electric. I've started to plan several trips, mostly in the northeast, but also spreading out a bit, mostly along the eastern coast. My husband and I are an older couple without children.

I've been using the excellent resources of RV Life to plan my trips and have noticed an over-proliferation of RV Parks with poor and negative reviews. I have come across very few campgrounds with ratings above a 3. Lots of "trashy seasonal campers", "poorly maintained roads," "nasty staff", "poor facilities and hookups."

After reading review after review complaining of conditions at RV Parks, I'm about ready to go back to the state and national parks and boondock.

In contrast, I am also a new member of Harvest Hosts, and have read glowing after glowing accounts of the experience RV owners have had.

I also received a complimentary membership to Thousand Trails when I purchased my RV, and I have yet to read a review that would entice me to try a "free" stay.

I'm not expecting the spaciousness and naturalness that a state campground provides. But I do want to feel safe and well cared for anywhere I go.

So my question is - what's the deal with RV "Resorts"? Are they all as awful, overpriced, crowded, noisy, and poorly staffed and maintained as the reviews seem to indicate? Or is it that only those with negative experiences take the time to leave a review?
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:33 AM   #2
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Get out and about ... form your own opinions. Only you know if you’re satisfied. Each individual experience is unique. We’ve stayed at poorly rated place we enjoyed, we’ve stayed at highly rated places we didn’t much like.

You know what is said about opinions! They are like .... well, enough of that.
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:35 AM   #3
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It all depends on what you're looking for.

My wife and I full time in our Class A (have been since 2016). We typically stay at state parks or corps of engine parks. Some are good and some are bad.

We generally don't stay at private parks if we can help it. But we have a Passport America membership that cuts the price drastically if we do. When you stay at one of the private parks, you have to expect that you'll be parking amongst people that LIVE at the park.

We have had a couple years of Thousand Trails. We only get it when we'll be in a region that has many participating "resorts." I'd say 90% of the resorts have passed their due date... I'd imagine in the 70s or 80s they were a great place to stay and have fun. Now we treat those parks as a private park... Expect things to be run down with people living at the park.

I know there are other helpful sites, but our go to is for checking the campsites.

EDIT: Oh - and we got rid of our Harvest Host (and Boondockers Welcome) memberships. We bought them to try to save money. But whenever we camped at a "free" winery, we ended up spending more on bottles of wine than we would have spent at a private RV park. And we spent more in gas to get to a Boondockers Welcome site than we would have had we stayed at a private RV park closer to our direction of travel.
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:51 AM   #4
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only those with negative experiences take the time to leave a review.
That is one problem but then you have too many trees in the woods and too much sand at the beach. Some bad reviews sound good to us.
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:54 AM   #5
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KOA tends to have consistent quality, they are always at least "OK" and occasionally pretty awesome. Cherokee comes to mind. Yemassee, which was a beautiful little surprise. Flagstaff. Like you, at first we didn't know where to stay and KOA was our go-to, and we still maintain a discount card and still stay there from time to time.

Good Sam tends to give you a selection of decent campgrounds, rare to see them list anything with less than an 8/10 rating. They have an app or you can search on the web. Most of the time that's what we use to decide where to stay. Also well worth having that discount card, which is also good at Camping World and Pilot/Flying J.

Key is to avoid urban areas, where there's sometimes an ambiguity between "RV Resort" and "trailer park." Outside of town, you'll mostly find owner/operators who mostly cater to RV's, they tend to be quiet and safe, and occasionally they will surprise you with a pancake breakfast or some fried catfish for dinner.

To be clear, it ain't the Four Seasons. There are some super-high-end resorts out there but evidently they don't want people like me in there ("How old is your rig? Send pictures! You don't have any pets do ya? Certainly no children I hope!" Sheesh, I know a place where I can park RIGHT ON THE BEACH for $30...)
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Old 05-08-2021, 09:24 AM   #6
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Well, in 21 yrs I’ve been to many High Quality Campgrounds.
1. Normandy Farms - MA
2. Trasverse Bay Rv Resort - MI
3. Crystal Lakes- Naples
4. Great Outdoors - Titusville
5. Rushmore Shadows- Rapid City
6 Association Island - NY
7. Turning Stone Casino - NY
8. Jellystone - Luray VA
9. Hilton Head Harbor - SC
10. Narrows Too- Bar Harbor

There is 10 of the top of my head, I can name about 20-30 more excellent RV resorts I stayed at.
None are free
None are Harvest Host.
None are state parks
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Old 05-08-2021, 10:08 AM   #7
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I wonder if this is a east coast thing. We travel west mostly.

I have stayed at thousand trails and yes very 70-80s but have been nice and never felt totally run down.

We tend to plan ahead and always view the parks via google maps/street view, to determine quality.

Also I found most parks close to the interstate tend not to be as nice as one you drive to a bit.

I have also found the word “resort” and “park” to be very subjective.

Harvest host is not an issue for us (we don’t drink)
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Old 05-08-2021, 10:09 AM   #8
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I think quality depends on how much you you want to pay and what your expectations are.

We recently stayed at 2 very different campgrounds in eastern NC. Our first time at a KOA was the location in Currituck, NC. It is an older campground that has been taken over by KOA and is in the process of being rejuvenated. It is surrounded by the sound, huge lots, full hook ups with good WiFi and decent cable, dog park, camp store, game room, play ground, boat ramps, etc. No pool, but we have yet to get into a camp ground pool. The worst thing and probably beyond their control, poor water pressure. It was so bad we used our fresh water and the water pump for showers.

Our second stop was all the way down in Hatteras Village. They are undergoing a major renovation. The are creating concrete pads for all of their sites. Due to location, the sites are much smaller and the pads take up almost the entire site. They have a pool, but it was early in the season. It was pricy, but not many campgrounds in the area. The bathhouse was clean and the staff friendly. No big camp store, no dog park (a minus for us), no play ground, pretty good wifi and great cable. But a quiet location in the village.

We enjoyed both. We stay at state parks, COE parks, and private. All have their good and bad points. The Passport America parks tend to be a little more run down, but we use them for over night stops.
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Old 05-08-2021, 10:20 AM   #9
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If you are looking for nice, friendly people to go camping with--the east coast probably isnt the part of the country to do it in--former Alexandria VA resident for 7 years [smile]....
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Old 05-08-2021, 01:12 PM   #10
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This is the site we always liked to use:

The reviews are by folks that have been there unlike Good Sam ratings that are given by their paid inspectors.

Within one park there may be good and bad reviews. It just depends what you care about. Summer is hot so if a reviewed states this park is so hot then it's up to you to decided if heat would bother you. Or like when we volunteered in Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park and a camper stated they would never return to this dirty park - meaning the pollen from the pine trees! Some folks can tolerate more than others. A park doesn't have to be perfect and very few could be deemed as 'unsafe' otherwise it wouldn't be in business.

So basically, read the reviews and then you decide if a bad review would really bother you.

We love public parks because we like nature and not blacktop. We're OK with gravel roads/sites and bugs. We don't need amenities. Therefore, it's easier to know what to expect. To us, these types are 'high quality' parks. Others won't agree. When you get into RV parks people expect too much and then are disappointed.
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Old 05-08-2021, 01:29 PM   #11
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Thumbs down Do you like trains?

"KOA tends to have consistent quality, they are always at least "OK" and occasionally pretty awesome. Cherokee comes to mind. Yemassee, which was a beautiful little surprise. Flagstaff. Like you, at first we didn't know where to stay and KOA was our go-to, and we still maintain a discount card and still stay there from time to time. "

I can't comment on the first two KOA's you mentioned but Flagstaff, seriously??? Like most KOA's the Flagstaff site is right on a major rail line and you will get to hear the trains all night long. If they are not on or adjacent a rail line they usually are right on a busy highway and almost always the priciest in town. The only KOA I would ever consider returning to was their Moss landing park which while small and pricey has an amazing location.

Obviously I am no fan of KOA but then I do not travel with children {they usually have nice kiddie facilities} but other then that... {Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?}

As always... Opinions and YMMV.

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Old 05-08-2021, 01:50 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Capt Steve View Post
Like most KOA's the Flagstaff site is right on a major rail line and you will get to hear the trains all night long.
We used to pass the Flag KOA all the time on our way to Bonito national forest campground at Sunset Crater. It's on 89 north.

There's no RR tracks by the KOA. The RR runs along I-40 E/W and Historic Rte 66.
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Old 05-08-2021, 02:54 PM   #13
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We have never felt unsafe at RV campgrounds we have stayed in.....check the reviews beforehand. That said the campground is NOT the destination for’s just a place to park with full hookups. We look for gravel or paved spots (no grass as we could get stuck if it rains), reviews which state sites are big enough for big rigs, and good 50 amp electric. Hard to beat thousand trails when you are staying for basically free once you have the membership. Yes you could stay in parks that charge $50-100 nightly, and get nicer surroundings, but we don’t look for that.
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Old 05-08-2021, 03:33 PM   #14
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If you visit a campground with your nose in the air you will always find a few things you don't like. If I paid $150 a night I'd expect a waiter following me around with a tray full of Martinis. For $40 per night if I had sewer, water and a 30 A. hook up I'd be satisfied. Anything extra would be a bonus.
One thing you will find anywhere you stay are some good like minded people. I love just wandering off and stopping along the way and chatting with people. I could strike up a friendly conversation in a gas chamber.
If you pulled into a campground and handed the host a list of demands it probably wouldn't work out so well for you. You'll take what they give you and like it, make the best of it or move on.
Look for the good in someone or something and you will always find something good.
Reviews are worthless. They are either written by someone expecting too much or someone connected with a facility who is naturally favorable. Pay no attention so you won't be disappointed. You could miss a wonderful memorable stay
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