Monday, February 3, 2014

Top Ten Lists - Private Campgrounds (first five years)

Roger here...   This time I will be showing you our favorite private campgrounds from the past five years.  Due to the fact that we have enjoyed so many facilities, this list is really top ten times two.

As with the past top ten posts, there are a few bits of information to know before looking at the list.

1.  We only considered the places where we have stayed in our motor home during the past five years.  Obviously, we have missed many great places that could be on the list.

2.  We have not (in the past five years) traveled to Canada, the Northeast, Montana, Nevada (in the motor home), and most of Idaho.

3.  The rankings are based on the things we like.  We tend to enjoyed great scenery, hiking, kayaking and access to interesting places.  In the private campgrounds, the quality of the hookups and the amenities at the facility are also factors.

Private Campgrounds (top ten times two)  

1.  Mountaindale Cabins and RV Park.  South of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Gigantic terraced sites cut into the side of a mountain.  The outdoor living area is meticulously landscaped on a pink granite stone surface.  This campsite reflects the determination of the owner who lives on the property to create an outstanding facility.  

The wildlife that wanders through the campsites every day help to make this place special.  Even the occasional visiting bear.

2. Mountainviews
RV Resort.  Creede, Colorado.

This is an upscale place that literally has mountain views in every direction.  The photo below shows a view of the walking trail that connects the park to the town of Creede tucked between the two cliffs.

The hot-air balloons from the Labor Day Weekend festival float directly over the park.  

3.  Fort Wilderness Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

The ultimate family campground in the heart of Walt Disney World.  Every amenity imaginable for the young and young-at-heart.
Our site could not compare to this Disney on Steroids site down the road.
A perfect place for fun with our kids and our granddaughter.

 4.  Jojoba Hills Escapees Park, Aguanga, California.

We must have had the best site in this immaculate park that is located near Temecula in the Southern California Desert.

 The views from our manicured eagle's nest site were spectacular.

Two off-leash dog parks!

We intend to spend more time here on our next visit.

 5.  Betty's RV Park, Abbeyville, Louisiana.

Full hookups, but only one amenity --- Betty

Betty has transformed the lawn around her house into a small RV park where she treats her guests like family.

 Everyone gathers in her eclectic garden for happy hour every night.  Attendance is mandatory :-).  Betty plans the excursions for the next day while her lucky visitors gather.  

She made venison stew for us one evening asking guests to bring side dishes.  She leads car pools to genuine Cajun attractions.  Nothing artificial here.  This is a one-of-a-kind experience that we intend to repeat.

 6.  Four Paws Kingdom, Rutherfordton, North Carolina.

Everything your dog could want: hiking trails, numerous off-leash parks, dog wash facilities,  agility courses, splashing in a stream and a swimming pond.

The gently-terraced sites are shady.  The dog-loving owners arrange lots of activities for the puppies and their human friends.  They quickly get to know you and your dogs.
A view of the gazebo next to the fully-fenced swimming pond.

7.  Bentsen Palm Village, Mission, Texas

Heaven for "Winter Texans"...  We spent two months here and ended up buying a lot at Retama Village, next door.  Great facilities, beautiful setting, colorful birds, state park adjacent to the RV park entrance, National Butterfly Park down the street.

There are lots of places to walk the dogs and ride on the bike trails.  That is the Rio Grande River behind Dianne, the dogs and the palapa.  We kayaked on an organized Rio Grande trip while we were there.  The palapa on the river is part of the Bentsen Palm Development complex.

 8. (3-way tie).  Escapee Park of the Sierra.  Coarsegold, California.

This well-maintained park is an ideal place for exploring Yosemite National Park.
 The tranquil wooded setting in the mountain foothills provides lots of great hiking within the park boundaries on an old wagon trail.

 8.  (3-way tie).  Wine Country RV Resort.   Paso Robles, California.

Finding this upscale resort in the Paso Robles Wine area was an accident.  We intended to spend the night in a winery parking area, but the fear of getting stuck in the mud during a predicted rain storm led us here.  The photo above shows the pathway to the best hot tub spa we have encountered thus far.  It was huge and very private --- surrounded by boulders.

Wine in a hot tub in wine country.  Ahhh!

8. (3-way tie).  Riverview RV Park.  Vidalia, Louisiana.

Across the Mississippi River from Natchez, Mississippi, once the richest city in the South.  The sites are on a bluff overlooking the river which are ideal for barge gazing.  Miles of paved walking/biking paths were great for walking the pups.

The Second Ten...

11.  Lakehead Boat Basin, Duluth, Minnesota. 

Not a fancy place, but the parking is on a boat dock surrounded by water.

The views of the lake traffic and the lift bridge were fun, especially at night when the lights of Duluth covered the hillside.  Lots of good walking from our site --- across the bridge to Duluth and the Duluth Trading Company, or in the other direction, an incredibly long and quiet beach on Lake Superior.

 12.  Winchester Bay RV Resort, Winchester Bay, Oregon.

The views from the front windshield of the bay and the breaking Pacific Ocean waves in the distance were well worth the stop.  

 We walked to the small fishing village and along the paved pathways along this peninsular park.  We explored the Umpqua Lighthouse on the hill.  The dogs ran on the beach and through the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (on both ends of Winchester Bay).  

The seafood restaurants were yummy.  So was the bakery where we purchased too many loaves of sourdough bread.

Hmmm.  Maybe we should have rated this one higher?

13.  Zion River Resort, Virgin, Utah.  This is an upscale resort about 15 miles from Zion National Park.  We spent a month here, exploring the area and having fun with our daughters and granddaughter.  

 These steps led from our campsite to the small stream in the photo below....

and then to the Virgin River where Bandido had fun fetching sticks from the water.

One of the best things about this was its proximity to the best doggie day care/boarding facility we have used thus far:  Doggie Dude Ranch.  Our dogs loved it so much that they cried with joy every time we put them in the car, for they knew that's where they were going while Roger and I hiked in Zion N.P.
Coming back to mom and dad (tired) after a day of fun at Doggie Dude Ranch

14.  Guadalupe River RV Park, Kerrville, Texas.

This was our base when we explored the Texas Hill Country with our Indiana camping buddies, Chuck and Cindy, AND Sophie (the luckiest dog in Fishers, Indiana).  Our kids visited us there as well.  

The large campground provided lots of room to walk the dogs next to the river, and lots of squirrels for the dogs to chase up the trees.

There was also an outdoor Texas-style bar and pavillion with beer and live music --- a fun, laid-back atmosphere.  

Bandido and I enjoyed walking on the water.  We were actually walking on submerged limestone boulders.

 15 (tie).  Saguaro Escapees RV Park.  Benson, Arizona.

Lots of hiking through the desert arroyos accessible from the back of the campground.
The campground, as seen from one of the trails, was a great place for exploring nearby Bisbee.
Also a great place for finding mystical rock spirals and for canine lizard hunting.

 15.  (tie).  Buckhorn Lake RV Resort.  Kerrville, Texas.

We have stayed in this upscale resort in the Texas Hill Country two times.
 Very convenient for quick trips to Fredericksburg.  This was the view from our front windshield during our first visit.
Yet another outdoor Texas-style bar.  Texas-style bars are big in Texas.  All things are big in Texas, just ask any Texan.  I am now officially a Texan, and no longer a Hoosier or a South Dakotan, so I know it is true.

17.  Fredericksburg KOA, Fredericksburg, Texas.

KOAs are usually not our favorite campgrounds, but the quiet setting at the back of this one next to an animal farm is kind of nice.  It is so close to all the things we love in Fredericksburg:  Lukenbach, the Wildseed Store, the LBJ Ranch, the wineries and downtown Fredericksburg that it will probably be a regular stop during our frequent visits.

Bandido here..... How do ya'll like the cowboy hat that I bought at Lukenbach?

 18.  Tom Sawyer RV Park.  East Memphis, Arkansas.

The attraction here is watching the barges on the Mississippi River from your RV.  There are also hiking trails, and Memphis is just across the bridge.  We were treated to a jaw-dropping sunset during our stay.

 19.  French Quarter RV Resort, New Orleans, Louisiana.

This is an upscale place in an unsafe neighborhood.  It is surrounded by a wall with razor wire at the top.  It requires a code to get through the gate.   Why stay here?  It is safe inside the park.  It is just two blocks from the French Quarter, a reasonably safe walk in daylight, and the resort provides golf cart rides to the quarter.  It is advisable to take a taxi back, especially at night.

This is really a nice park, especially as it is in the middle of a city.  The pool/hot tub area is pretty special, too.

 20.  Taos Monte Bello RV Park, Taos, New Mexico.

This is a quiet, unassuming park a few miles outside of Taos near the enchanted circle.  A maze of trails through the desert scrub makes hiking with the dogs interesting.

The views from the campsites are relaxing.  Due to the lack of ambient light, the nighttime stars are amazing.  (The most amazing night skies I've ever seen -- D.)

A couple of honorable mentions...

Malibu Beach Resort,  Malibu, California

Nice landscaping and walking paths.  Very expensive.  Difficult for guests to visit.  Tight spaces.  

But get a load of the view.

Lajitas Resort and Spa.  Lajitas, Texas.

 We were here in May --- the off season.   We had the place to ourselves.  This is actually a resort complex with one of the nicest golf courses I have seen.  (With permission, we walked it with the dogs).  There is also a hotel, a resort village with shops, a bar, and a restauarant.

 It is located next to Big Bend Ranch State Park and 17 miles west of Big Bend National Park.  The 50 amp electricity in this remote area makes it worth the drive.

Since no one else was there, the manager told us our dogs could join us in the enclosed pool area.  Very nice during the blisteringly hot weather.  

The next top ten list will include our favorite places for hiking and kayaking.  

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