Date of Stay: June, 2006
Well, where do I start. This is going to be a mixed review. I would say that the good far outweighs the bad. This is a well maintained property that is in a good location. The staff is friendly and answered several questions cheerfully. If you have kids, this is a great place to stay, as there are many activities (swimming/fishing) for them. The campground has a great beach with plenty of toys. It also has it's own marina. However, their boat rental prices were WAY out of line. We ended up renting a pontoon boat from another marina on Cudjoe Key just over the bridge. Good boats and good prices. Cudjoe Key is also a great place to start when going to Looe Key for diving. The bathrooms and laundry facility were top notch. Never had to wait in line for either. Now for a few of the bad items. Mosquitoes and no-seeums were really bad. But of course, the property can't control that and I didn't take off points for this. Just bring industrial strength bug repellent. On the last day of our vacation, some campers that had a "bad vibe" arrived in several RVs. I've been camping a long time and I can sense when things are going to get loud. One of the tipoffs was that they had a whole goat on a picnic table between two RVs. They were preparing for the roast that night. Fires are not allowed in this campground and they didn't have a grill big enough to cook this beast, so they were obviously going to start a fire on the ground and use a spit. So I went to the office and told a lady of my concerns. I ask whose door I could knock on that night if it got loud and she showed me an intercom button on the front door of the office that I could use. I warned her about the "goat ritual" that was going to take place that night. She wondered aloud how they were going to cook it. Good question. Did she go ask them? No. Also, I asked her what the intercom person was going to do if things got out of control. She said they would ask them to quiet down. What if they continue? She said they would give two or three warnings before asking them to leave. Two or three? I mentioned the police and she seemed to think that was a bad idea. The bottom line is that I took a sleeping pill, put in ear plugs and got a bit of sleep. So we get up at 5:00 am to get an early start. We get hooked up and head to the showers before we leave. That's when we see Bubba passed out on the laundry table, a Budweiser (his last one I suppose) a couple of inches from his hand. This guy is REALLY dead to the world. It concerned me enough to check out his color and check his breathing. Where this guy belonged was a mystery. But here is the disturbing part. There was a property employee cleaning the showers and he saw this guy (walked past him) at least two times. I'm thinking that this is supposed to be a family place. It's now about 6:30 and families are getting up and will be heading to the showers soon. Why wasn't this guy asked to get where he belonged? Unbelievable. As I mentioned earlier, the good outweighed the bad, but there are some issues that the property owners need to address.
Date of Stay: May, 2006
We really enjoyed our stay here over the Memorial Day weekend. This is a small campground in the heart of Maggie Valley. It's close to everything. Even though it's on the main road (all of the other campgrounds are as well), it really quiets down at night. The wireless internet signal was strong. A nice trout stream runs right through the campground. It's actually stocked from the bridge on the campground property. The bathrooms are great. They are not your typical campground bathrooms. There is a house on the property that serves as an office, the owners residence, game room, coffee/tv room and houses the bathrooms as well. The owners keep them spotless. Speaking of the owners, they are new owners since the prior two reviews on this board and they make the campground what it is. From the minute we stepped in the office, we were made to feel at home. They let us know that if we had any needs, they would take care of them and you just have this feeling that it's not just lip service. They are really people oriented. If this campground were more isolated (in the woods) I would give it a 10. The owners still get a ten though. We will definitely stay here again.
Date of Stay: April, 2006
This campground has no hookups and the bath houses have only toilets and cold running water, but they were VERY clean. Cades Cove campground is located in one of the most beautiful locations in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Wildlife is everywhere. It's very wooded and quiet at night. At least it was quiet when we were there. If it get noisy, the ranger lives within a quick walk of any of the loops. As for my choice of loops, C Loop seems to be more spacious. B Loop seems to be a bit more wooded and gets more wildlife coming through. Deer browse close to the B Loop. The campground has a store that's stocked pretty well. They also rent bikes here for people that want to ride the 11 mile scenic loop adjacent to the campground. For kids with bikes, this is paradise. For me, taking sponge baths in the popup camper was a small trade off for the kind of camping experience offered here. I would highly recommend it.
Date of Stay: November, 2005
We camped here so we'd be close to the Blackwater River, which runs VERY close to the campground. To my knowledge, there are no sites ON the river, but they are within a five minute walk. We came for the express purpose of running a section of the river from Bryant Bridge to Deaton Bridge. We camped in a pop-up with two other couples who also had pop-ups. First, the rating of a 5 should not be misconstrued as bad. It was OK for us, but some might not like it. The camping loops are on dirt/sand roads so there is quite a bit of sand that will get tracked into your RV. Having said that, it IS Florida. The sites are large enough, but some are larger than others. This is true in most campgrounds. The bathrooms were clean and usable. One toilet did get stopped up one morning. When I came back in the afternoon, it had been unstopped and cleaned. The bathrooms are not heated though. There was a small playground for children. No pool. If you have kids, they can certainly play in the river. It's clean and shallow. As far as staying multiple days though, your kids would really need to be content with nature. There is nothing else to do. For that matter, it's the same with adults. Unless you are canoeing/kayaking the river or doing some minor hiking that's available you'll be bored. So anyway, this is a good place to stay to run the river. Just don't expect more than a place to stay. And one other caveat. We stayed here in the off season. I have been told that it is a total zoo in the summer.
Date of Stay: August, 2005
I must say that I smell a rat on the previous reviews. I highly suspect that the reviews were from friends of the business owners. Here's the good and bad from a real customer. Good. The grounds are kept neat and clean. The bathrooms are very clean. All sites are pull throughs. The campground is also easy to find. There was a nice pool for the kids. (No lifeguard of course) The bad. The campground is surrounded by businesses and at night the mecury lights are everywhere. I had to use eye covers to sleep. When we got here on Friday night we got out to setup and were greeted by the sound of stock car racing. The track is just a few hundred yards away. They didn't stop racing until 11:15 PM. And guess what? The lady that booked my reservation didn't mention a thing about the track. I guess she just forgot. I also asked the lady if I actually needed reservations and she told me that I should go ahead and book because they usually fill up on weekends. Well, it was getting close to full, but I noticed something after walking around a bit. While most of the sites were occupied with real campers, MANY sites had RV's with price tags from the dealer. Hmmm. Glad I made reservations. Also, on the weekend, the office (which seems to be a part of Shipp's RV service) is not open. We didn't see campground personnel all weekend. I guess that can be good or bad depending on how you think about it. This would be an OK place to stop for the night, but you have to have reservations. On the other hand, there were several spots open, and since there is no one from the campground to be found on the weekend, I guess you could just make yourself at home and not worry about it. Very strange.
Date of Stay: April, 2005
We stayed in the Gulf Breeze loop of this campground. Site was level and spacious enough. The walk to the beach was less than 1 minute from our site. While the campground was full, the beach never seemed crowded. Shells everywhere if you're into collecting. A comparison of the two loops - Gulf Breeze is more in the open. Less shade and more breeze from the ocean. Shady Pines is much more wooded and shady with less of a breeze. Pick one depending on what you like. I'll say that while we had some problems with no-seeums (flying teeth), they were mostly a problem when the wind was not blowing. So if bugs bug you, Shady Pines might be worse. We also picked Gulf Breeze loop because of the new bath house. It was nice and we saw the cleanup crew there several times each day. Having said that, we visited the bath house at Shady Pines, and while older, it was still clean. As a previous reviewer wrote, this campground is a pretty far drive away from the nearest town, so get what you need before you get into the park. Driving anywhere to buy something you forgot will cost you, not only in a premium price for the item, but in wasted gas. Overall, we were very pleased with this campground and we will go back. $65.00 plus gas for a 3 night/4 day weekend at the beach. Not bad.
Date of Stay: January, 2005
We went down for a long weekend in January to swim with the manatees and do some other stuff. This was a very good location for doing everything. We were the only popups (us and another couple) but we felt welcome. The grounds are nice, bathrooms clean and staff helpful. We were also on the younger side of the clientelle there, but again, no problem. Everyone was nice. We would definitely stay here again.