Date of Stay: October, 2010
My wife’s observation on Willowind: "As an RV Park, it makes a mediocre storage lot!" When I search for places to go RVing, I look for places away from towns. If I wanted to camp in a Wal-Mart parking lot, there's a Wal-Mart 5 miles from home! This weekend, we drove about 310 miles to park in what amounted to a Wal-Mart parking lot! I knew Willowind was just a block off the main street, but had reasons for not going too far away from civilization on this trip. However, we were SO disappointed we packed up and came home early! We checked in, our phoned-in reservation was in order, and we were directed to our site on the only row in the park with drive thrus. Lucky us. There is no provision on the park web site to book reservations online. Selecting a site is not really feasible here. While there IS a map of the park online, the photos on their web site don't accurately reflect what sites are like. For example, the park web site states: "Large Shady sites with grass!" Grass, mostly. Large, you judge. There was approximately 15 feet of "grass" between our door and our adjacent neighbor's sewer and hookups! We didn't really have enough room for our awning mat. We parked on the extreme left of the pad to make hookups close and easy. In spite of that when we stepped off our bottom step we were in the dirt/grass: ie, the pad was very narrow. We do not have slide-outs! When I walked the park, I did not see anyone sitting outside their RV and only one or two RVs with chairs out. We had planned to cook outside. But in our assigned site this would have meant cooking very close to our neighbor’s sewer lines or on the pad in front of or behind our RV, pretty close to the access roads. We decided to cook indoors. We also could not open our awning because a tree limb was in the way. On the plus side, there was so much thick foliage on the adjacent trees we were able to easily forego the awning. There are no picnic tables or fire pits. I walked/photographed the entire RV park. No sites had picnic tables or fire pits. The hookups are not bad. Electricity, water and TV are correctly located on the left rear of the concrete pad. The water and sewer are under plastic covers in the concrete. The water cover is not cut out for a hose. At the spot we occupied, former campers apparently carved out a notch for the hose in the plastic cover. The sewer receptacle was recessed too deep to hook up. The threaded part was so low I was not able to thread it in because our sewer hose has a 90 degree fitting on the end. So I pulled out my brand new Hose Buddy, filled it with water and snapped it on to the right angle connecter of the sewer hose. Problem solved! Cable TV found 82 analog and 6 digital channels. The office did not have a channel guide but we found a guide on channel 10. Or you can use the internet site with includes links for most listings with descriptions, like movie synopses. WiFi: at check-in they told me to use either network Willowind 1 or Willowind 2. Willowind 1 appeared but I was unable to connect. Willowind 2 connected but was very slow. I use Windows 7 with a network icon in the tray like cell phone strength “bars”. Signal strength was never more than one bar. This was adequate for things like email and the TV listing. No other special login or agreements were required as is sometimes the case on public access wireless networks. I never had more than one bar. I actually LOST the connection many times. The connection barely worked for email, was worthless for anything else I think it is unreasonable to hold an RV Park accountable for external nearby activities. That said, their web site states, “Activities: ATV Trails adjacent to RV Park.” I was curious so I followed the link on the RV park site and found this on the site linked there, “Warning: The Trails shown on this Map are Proposed Only. All Riders should contact the appropriate Agency or Land Owner before riding any of these Trails!” I may have been disappointed had I brought our ATVs and expected to ride based on the RV Park web site. Also, there were no maps posted for ATV trails. I guess the lesson is check before you travel. The 5 mph in-park speed limit was neither observed nor enforced. That’s not a huge problem, people were not tearing through the park at high speeds. But it was pretty noisy. If I categorized RV parks as campsites or overnight stops, Willowind would go into the latter category. Most sites are too narrow, in my opinion, for “camping” activities. They lend themselves more to short overnight stays where travelers get in, get fed, showered and rested and move on. The management seems to have made a conscious decision to that type of use with no picnic tables, fire rings, pool, or other recreation areas (horseshoe pits, etc.) typical in a lot of RV parks that cater to campers.
Date of Stay: August, 2010
Even though I had a reservation confirmation, the RV Park Admin did not. Someone else was camped in the site I had requested so they put us in what appeared to be an expansion area. Not bad, we were almost entirely on our own, but that did not matter, read on. There are ATV trails nearby and ATV riders rode within the camp, including back and forth past our site even though no one else was camped near us. They were joy riding within the park without regard to other campers. This went unchecked by the RV park admin. Even though we were on the edge of the park, there was a highly used gravel road 2 sites away trafficked heavily by RV park admin Razor ATVs, horse drawn carts and horse boxes (trailers). It was dusty and noisy. The site was extremely narrow. We had hookups on the left and had to step down from our motorhome step because the gravel "pad" was elevated over the dirt (NOT grass) under our awning. The area under our awning was "natural". No effort had been made to level or even smooth the area. After a night of rain there were puddles along with the softball sized rocks to avoid. The vegetation was weeds. No attempt had been made to cultivate the area adjacent to the site. As noted, water and 20/30/50 amp hookups but no sewer. There is one dump station on the RIGHT as you exit the RV park, you would have to exit and re-enter the park for the dump to be on the correct side of a motorhome. While there was a dump station the hose was connected about 10 feet up a pole. It could not be reached without a ladder. The hose was about 6 feet long with no connection. It was just a cut piece of hose. So there is no way to connect a hose to rinse down the black tank with a "magic wand". Dump station was useless. The bathrooms and showers are centrally located in a nearly new building and they were very clean and well stocked/kept. There was one dumpster near the entrance to the area where we were parked. There was constant and annoying noise from either passing traffic near the site, what sounded like motorcycles on the public road, or what sounded like a gun club (skeet range) nearby. We did not observe the source of the noise, we just endured it. The camp "store" had plenty of candy, ice and drinks, but no milk! Come prepared. My impression, being as fair as I can, was the RV park is a work in progress. The showers/restrooms/hookups were all very good. The site was fairly level and gravel, but narrow. I would not consider going back anytime soon. The road out from Idaho Falls (highway 26) was almost all single lane traffic while the road was under construction. They had slurry coated the road in what passed for "surfacing". It was very dusty and getting a motorhome through the orange barrels kept me alert. I went slow enough to prevent wheel alignment damage from the huge potholes. Closest out-of-camp amenities were in Heise about 5 miles away. Signage to the RV park from highway 26 was very good. Maps on their web site only gave us an idea where they are located. There are no GPS coordinates posted and in emails, camp personnel were unable to provide these or tell me the names or numbers of nearby roads to help me get close. I took coordinates from Google Earth and crossed my fingers. This worked pretty well except mapping software would have taken me down a dirt road for the last 2 miles or so.
Date of Stay: July, 2010
The Campfire Lodge Resort is ideally situated on the Madison River. If you fly fish, it's apparently one of the places to be. The camp office includes fly fishing supplies, which I am unqualified to comment on since I don't fish at all. The office includes a cafe which serves a great breakfast if you are prepared to wait. Go with friends or fellow campers and chat among yourselves. The breakfast is worth the wait. Other campers did not come to dinner every night, but they were certainly friendly enough. We were cautioned the balance of our payment would be due in cash upon arrival. We also noted there is an ATM at the office. It sounds like these issues are being addressed by the new owners. We checked in and they pointed us in the direction of our site. We were at the far end of the camp sites and my wife maneuvered our 35 ft motorhome through the camp with no problem. I noted other reviewers (with travel trailers) found this "challenging". I watched an Itasca pull out of a tight spot and go all the way around the camp, slowly and cautiously, unscathed and with no apparent problems. On the way out my wife made a wrong turn toward some sites along the river edge and still got out OK without having to back up or make other corrections other than to go slow and easy. In short, the roads through the camp are navigable. As we surveyed our site, someone from the office came up to make sure we got settled in OK. So we did have help. I could not find the full hookups. The electricity was on a tree! That's the way they are. It was a 110 VAC outlet so I had to use an adapter for our 30 amp connector. I had one and by the time I was ready the camp staffer rolled up with an adapter in case we needed it. The hookup was on the right side when we backed into the site so I needed a 50 ft extension cable to reach. Water was nearby on a standpipe, also on the wrong side, requiring a 50 ft hose. The sewer was immediately adjacent to our utility cabinet so an easy stretch. However, a previous camper had apparently run over it on the way out and crushed the pipe, which fell into the sewer. The new owner saw it and had it repaired within 24 hours. I photographed it! The "repair" consisted of a new pipe held in place by softball-sized rocks that were held in place by expanding insulation foam! It wasn't pretty but it certainly worked well. It was as good as any sewer hookup we've had. I turned on one air conditioner as we were setting up and blew the fuse within five minutes. Our adjacent neighbor came over and explained he was on the same circuit. He is a seasonal camper & said we would be unable to run the air conditioners because the camp electric could not support it! We ran a fan without blowing anything. On our last night there, we lost power twice during the night but only briefly. Hookups are one of the challenges the new owners need to address. Electric is obvious. I would recommend they pour some concrete around the sewer hookups to harden them against damage from large RVs. There was a very large wooden deck at our site. Several sites in the camp have these. They were apparently constructed by prior campers who kept sites for the entire season. The deck at our site was under our awning when we backed in. Our steps extended right onto the deck. It was ideal. There was a field of wildflowers behind us with mountains beyond that. The river was about 75 yards in front of us. We could hear it from our spot. We could not have been more pleased with the location. I scouted sites for our return. If we are unable to get the same spot next year, there are several sites with riverfront access I have noted as alternates. Cabin Creek and the Madison River bound the camp on two sides. There are plenty of waterfront sites and those that are not are nice shaded sites. The sites along the Madison reminded us of a campsite we used in Bavaria when we were a lot younger ! There are horseshoe pits and volleyball nets near the camp office/entrance. There's no cable TV, Internet access or even satellite radio reception. I guess the adjacent mountains are high enough to inhibit signals. I did see satellite TV dishes out. I've rated it 9 out of 10 because we felt the hookups need work. We are planning to return next year with our son who is a fisherman.