Date of Stay: August, 2007
The first thing my wife said when she opened the door upon arrival at this campground was “this place smells”. She couldn't have been more correct - on many levels. More on that later. Since we looked at the reviews on this site before considering a stay here, we knew we didn't want to be located in the front next to the road because of the noise. Unfortunately, the old adage “be careful what you wish for” applies here. The back of the campground is definitely the slums, with absolute junk trailers all over. We noticed a review from back in 2003 that described this place as “the pits”. We also noticed a review from July of '07 that said the owners were cleaning the place up and planting trees. I'm sorry to report that now, August, '07, this place is STILL the pits, there are NO trees being planted, the grass obviously hasn't been cut in weeks (it's a foot high in LOTS of places) and the view out my window includes an old beater van sitting on blocks with someone working under it. The whole scene reminds me of “The Grapes of Wrath”. In all fairness, the owners are refurbishing the laundry room with new dryers, and they now have free wifi, so they are apparently trying to make some changes. Oh, did I mention the hydraulic excavator that was unloaded from it's truck next to our site at 6AM this morning, accompanied by much banging, crashing and loud talking? And proceeded to start digging a huge hole. And loading dump truck after dump truck, which then drive back and forth by our site about every 10 minutes. As for the smell, it reminds me of the “aroma” you get when driving by an oil refinery (although not that strong). I hardly notice it, but it really bothers my wife. The entire experience in this place smells.
Date of Stay: July, 2007
We wanted to stay a couple of days in Southern Illinois, and based on past experience the campground choices weren't very promising. Imagine our surprise when we picked up a visitor's guide and saw an ad for a new campground in the area! Marion Campground, as the name implies, is located in Marion, Illinois, at I 57 exit 53. It opened about 3 months ago, according to the person in the office. We were hesitant to stop, because it's not listed in any of the campground directories or on this site, and most of the campgrounds that aren't even in the directories are REALLY bad. We're glad we did decide to stop, because this place is really much nicer than any of it's competitors. It's located near the exit ramp, and in fact you can see the vehicles on the interstate from our site, but noise hasn't been a problem at all. Making the turn into the street the campground it located on can be a little tricky because of some ongoing construction, but it's not bad at all. The campground is right in Marion, and is located right behind several houses, but that hasn't been a problem, other than a dog at one of the houses that occasionally barks. There is a train track that runs directly next to one side of the property. However, the switch engine from the Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad runs by the campground exactly twice per day – once in each direction – never at night. And I've never seen it haul more than 2 or 3 cars at a time in the two weeks we've been here. There are 58 RV sites, of which 27 are pull-through. The sites are level and some are long enough for 40 foot rigs towing without unhooking, but the site layout can make it really confusing figuring out which way to go to get into the assigned site. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the owners don't have site maps yet. Just keep your eyes open and all will be well. The electric is good, and sits right at 120 volts or so, even in the 104 degree heat that's been here for a few days. Water pressure is good, but seems to be a little on the low side. They have satellite TV available. This isn't exactly the same as cable tv, but the end result is about the same – They receive satellite tv channels on their dish, and make about 25 of them available on their internal cable system that's available on each site. You just connect your tv to their system, set it to “cable” and receive the 25 channels. It works pretty well. They also have wifi. When we first arrived here, the wifi was very intermittent, and it finally croaked for a day or so. Since they had it serviced it's worked very well, with a download speed of almost 1.5mB/second. There is no store or pool yet, although it's my understanding they're planned for the future. They do have a kid's play area, with a swing, slide and other playground items. They also have a pavilion. The laundry room is clean and, like everything else here, new. The shower rooms are unusual – Each individual shower room has a shower, toilet and sink. And clean. One of the 4 shower rooms is fully handicap accessible, with a roll-in shower stall. The only negative I noticed is there is no one on-site at night, and there is no provision for security, such as a gate. And the owners don't make a night contact phone number available in case of an emergency, or power failure, etc. They don't seem to understand that the campground business isn't a 9-to-5 operation – hopefully they'll address this in the near future, before a serious problem forces them to. All in all, this is a nice campground, with all the amenities we needed. We initially planned to stay for two days, and wound up staying for two weeks.
Date of Stay: July, 2007
This campground is very near Evansville, Indiana, and I'm surprised it hasn't been reviewed here before. This is a relatively new campground – as far as I can tell it's been open for about three years. Although it's privately owned, it sits in the middle of a large nature area that's popular for hunting and fishing. The surrounding area appears to be reclaimed strip mining pits and tailings. The reclamation has left a large number of lakes, and a lot of vegetation has been planted to attract wildlife. The property is huge, and it's obvious that the owners could easily enlarge the campground if needed. Right now, there are 59 RV sites, mostly back-in, with a few pull-through sites. They also have 100 Tent sites. We had a 50 amp pull-through full hookup site on the top of the hill at the end of the loop. The sites are reasonably large, bigger than most private campgrounds. By the way, if you need to use the bathhouse, make sure to tell them when you check in. Since this campground is so large physically, you may wind up with a site a LONG way from it. The electric was solid at 120 volts, and the water was fine. There was NO noise other than the sound of the crickets. It was like being in a state or national park, but with full hookups and 50 amps. Since we were on the top of the hill, it was a little windy, and we had to be careful with putting out the awning. There is no store, pool or laundry, but there are two fishing lakes on the property. There is a slab poured where other facilities apparently will be in the future, but the owners haven't built it yet. They do have a bath house built, but we didn't use it. The only other thing I would have liked to see would be WiFi, or at least an available phone line for dial-up. Neither was available. In fact, if WiFi was available, we'd probably consider staying here for several weeks. The owners are not on-site at night, but there is a locked gate at the entrance, and guests are given the combination to the lock. Also, there are a number of security cameras mounted strategically around the property. We never felt unsafe at any time. The only reason we didn't give this campground a higher rating was the lack of WiFi and laundry facilities. The other lacking items weren't important to us.
Date of Stay: June, 2007
A nice park, relatively new. Only a dozen or so pull through sites, which are level. A lot of the back-in sites (especially the river sites) slope drastically to the rear, and we’d never be able to level our motorhome if we used one, although there are level back-in sites available. The 50A electric was as high as 132 volts (not a typo) late at night. Water pressure varied from good to very low randomly, day and night, which made taking a shower interesting, but the water seems to be of good quality. I measured the pressure while we were unhooking, and it was only 28 psi. There are a lot of seasonal units throughout the park, but all were newer units that were well taken care of. We had no concerns for our safety while we were here. The campground’s convenient for the New Tygart Flyer train ride in Elkins. The track was less than 20 feet from our pullthrough site, which allowed us get some pictures of the train literally from the door of our rig. (And of our rig from the train!) Don’t be concerned about train noise, though. It runs on Saturday and Sunday only (once in each direction per day), and the rest of the week the only thing we saw was a single hi-rail maintenance truck on the track one day. By the way, when you make reservations for the train, you can actually request that the train stop at the campground for boarding! We chose not to do that though, and drove the 9 miles to the newly restored station in Elkins, because one highlight of the ride is a 1600 foot tunnel that would be missed if you board at the campground. It’s about a 50 mile ride in each direction to the Cass Scenic Railroad, which is without a doubt the most unusual State Park I’ve ever been to. If you’re interested in trains, it’s well worth the trip to see rare Shay locomotives in their natural habitat - pushing trains up mountains via switchbacks with up to 9 percent grades. There are three different train rides that can be taken, depending on the day you visit.
Date of Stay: June, 2007
This is a fairly typical worn-out KOA campground. Unfortunately, most of the KOA system is made up of campgrounds that were built during the RV boom of the mid ’70’s, and a lot of the properties are simply worn out, with a tremendous amount of deferred maintenance evident. This is one such property. The road into the campground is very steep, and full of potholes, that can really jar the fillings right out of your teeth. The office is a typical KOA A-Frame. From the office, we were escorted to our site by the very friendly and helpful owners (or work campers - we weren’t sure which) The road from the office is VERY steep, and again, rough, with old broken picnic tables and other junk strewn along the side. The pull-through sites were adequate for our length, but barely so, and if we put our awning out, it would have definitely touched the rig in the next site. These sites are REALLY tight. The water and electric were OK, with no problems. We were able to get a good satellite signal for the TV. They have WiFi available, and the signal strength was great, but the campground’s internet is supplied via Satellite, so it’s response is slow, and the campground limits use to 50mB per day. They don’t have cable TV, but regular TV reception was good, with several Pittsburgh stations available. The campground has I-79 on one side, and I-70 on the other, so it’s extremely noisy. Earplugs were mandatory for sleeping. The walk from the office (where the showers are) to the campsites is via a long, steep set of steps, and we saw several older folks really struggling to make the climb. Some sites are level, while others are badly out of level, forcing people to break out the leveling blocks. Guess which one we had? This campground would benefit greatly from doing some of that deferred maintenance I mentioned earlier, and getting rid of all the accumulated junk.
Date of Stay: May, 2007
The Dayton KOA, at 7796 Wellbaum Road, is actually in Brookville, OH. This is a nice, updated campground, in much better repair than most KOA's. The sites near the office are good, and the electric is OK. The only negative is the water - it’s awful! It tastes bad, and it’s brown from the iron, even with an extra external water filter. Plan on a new filter when you arrive, and throw it away when you leave, if you’re going to be there for several days. There’s no Cable TV, but local TV reception is OK. Satellite TV reception can be spotty because of all the trees (after all, it is called Tall Timbers!), but sites near the office usually work for us with a little maneuvering. The WiFi worked well, and now it’s free.