10 best family campgrounds
Lysa Allman-Badwin | 8/20/2015, 12:25 p.m.
I have always loved to go camping! Being away from the everyday stresses of life, leaving behind most all of today’s modern conveniences, the enhanced taste of food when prepared alfresco and the opportunity to immerse myself in nature at the beach, in the mountains, in state and national parks and at other amazing places.
Recently, TravelChannel.com published their list of “The 10 Best Campgrounds for Families” across the country, each offering its own unique amenities for spending time in the great outdoors (www.travelchannel.com/interests/outdoors-and-adventure/articles/10-best-campgrounds-for-families). Following is a snippet about each, plus quotes from the Travel Channel explaining why it made each selection.
Herkimer Diamond KOA (Herkimer, N.Y.)
Located in upstate New York approximately 15 miles from Utica, Herkimer Diamond KOA is great for those who enjoy watersports, including canoeing, tubing and kayaking. Campers here are also close to the Herkimer Marina, which offers a canal boat ride that goes through a lock along the Erie Canal and is within 30 miles of the famous Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Science-loving kids will go mad for the Sky Catcher, an astronomy-themed cabin with its own observatory and high-powered telescope. Or book Professor Gadget’s Robotics Lodge, a deluxe cabin outfitted with a vacuuming robot, motion-sensing lights and plenty of robotic toys.” http://koa.com/campgrounds/herkimer
Lake George Escape (Diamond Point, N.Y.)
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park at Lake George Escape. The park encompasses 178 acres and is recognized as one of the premier family camping resorts and destinations in the region.
“A full-time activities staff ensures that children have plenty to occupy them every week of the summer, from doing the limbo at a luau to decorating bikes and joining a Mardi Gras-themed bike parade.” www.lakegeorgeescape.com
Fort Yargo State Park (Winder, Ga.)
This beautiful state park is nestled between Atlanta and Athens, and features a log fort built by settlers for protection against the Cherokee and Creek Native American tribes in 1792. Eighteen miles of trail and a 260-acre lake offer loads of outdoor recreational activities for the entire family.
“Fort Yargo State Park is one of 13 state parks participating in Georgia’s 3-year-old First-Time Camper Program, which enables families to experience sleeping under the stars in a tent before investing in their own camping equipment. … The state park also offers ranger-led nature hikes and three-day Junior Ranger camps.” http://gastateparks.org/FortYargo
Ventura Ranch KOA (Santa Paula, Calif.)
Located off scenic Highway 150 approximately an hour and 15 minutes north of Los Angeles, between Santa Paula and Ojai, Ventura Ranch KOA is a 76-acre campground. Activities here encompass rock climbing, zip-lining, nature walks and Friday night movies under the stars
“In the evening, settle in-to your tent or cabin. Even better, reserve one of several Sioux Indian-style tepees. The campground also has safari tents with comfy beds and private porches.” http://koa.com/campgrounds/ventura-ranch
Jellystone Park (Larkspur, Colo.)
This family-oriented, 100-acre private park offers a wide array of accommodation options, plus a wealth of activities, including hiking, fishing, disc golf, basketball and volleyball, horseshoes and ranger-led activities. It has also been awarded a “Pinnacle Award for Excellence” three of the past five years.
“Families can’t help but love this Yogi Bear-themed campground … Explore nearby Pike National Forest or spend the day at the campground for goat walks, fossil digging, archery classes and geocaching.” http://jellystonelarkspur.com
Jellystone Park Mammoth Cave (Cave City, Ky.)
Engage the whole family at this campground located a little under an hour and a half from Louisville, Ky., with teen and adult kickball, sand castle building, arts and crafts, pool volleyball and Yogi Bear cartoons inside the ranger station.
“Kids love the theme weekends, which can involve competing in Olympic-style events and turning campground staff into a human sundae. Look for a variety of cabins and cottages, including the Boo Boo Bungalow, which sleeps up to 15 people.” http://jellystonemammothcave.com
Bend-Sunriver RV Campground (Bend, Ore.)
Bend-Sunriver RV Campground, situated on 283-acres along the Little Deschutes River, offers the best of central Oregon, with horseback riding, boating and kayaking in the spring, summer and fall and great skiing nearby in the winter.
“It’s minutes from central Oregon’s Mount Bachelor, where there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, canoeing and fishing. In the evening, relax in your tent, RV or even one of the on-site cabins or yurts.” www.thousandtrails.com/oregon/bend-sunriver-rv-campground
Blue Bell Campground, (Custer, S.D.)
Mount Rushmore isn’t the only place to enjoy in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota. Nestled in a Ponderosa Pine forest near French Creek, Blue Bell Campground really exudes “back to nature” with campsites that accommodate tents and large RV's.
“As a bonus, Buffalo Safari Jeep Rides picks up at the nearby State Game Lodge Resort, enabling visitors to tour the park with an expert guide and get up close with wildlife such as buffalo and elk.” http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/campgrounds/blue-bell
Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort (Santa Claus, Ind.)
There’s a reason why, in addition to the Travel Channel’s nod, Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort was named a 2015 “Top Destination RV Park” and a two-time “National RV Park of the Year.” Rental RVs, cabins and cottages are among the more than 270 vacation rental options here.
“In a town called Santa Claus, Ind., nearly every road and section of the campground is Christmas-themed (e.g., Blitzen Bay Pool and Frosty Lane).” www.lakerudolph.com
Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes (Friday Harbor, Wash.)
Getting to Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, located in Washington state on San Juan Island, is part of the fun, as it is easily accessible by ferry or floatplane from Seattle, making it a real one-of-a-kind experience.
“Lakedale Resort was designed for the modern-day camper, with log cabins, canvas tent cabins and even an Airstream trailer rental right on the lake. Of course, it has classic campsites with fire pits and picnic tables, but there’s also a lodge with deluxe rooms and whirlpool tubs.” www.lakedale.com
Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, featuring “adventures for the mind, bod and belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).