Date of Stay: June, 2016
We stayed at the Hot Springs National Park KOA for five nights in June. Note: this is the KOA in Hot Springs, Arkansas. There is another KOA named "Hot Springs KOA" which is in South Dakota. Due to tire troubles on our way we arrived just as the office was closing at 7:00 PM. They were just about to post our late arrival instructions as we pulled in. Despite our late arrival they had someone sticking around to show us to our campsite. This KOA is literally cut into the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. The roads are hilly but we didn't have any trouble maneuvering with our 39 foot fifth wheel. Some of the campsites are terraced which gives a little more privacy. We stayed in site L2. This was one of five or six sites without as many trees as some other areas. When we made our reservations the area was described as "great for satellites." It rained on and off on four of the six days we were there. Fishing is allowed in their small pond. We saw several people fishing between rain showers but we didn't try. The pool looked nice, and several kids seem to be enjoying it between showers. The National Park (downtown) is just a few miles away. Since we had read that parking can be a challenge we used the KOA's shuttle on two of the days we were there. The shuttle cost $5.00 per person and is available on demand. They also have a site seeing tour, which is free, but they require a minimum of four people. They serve breakfast on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They advertise a "full menu" but we didn't try it. They seemed to have more tent sites than other KOA's we have visited. The playground was situated on quite a large grassy meadow which looked perfect for active kids. The average rate of $42.68 reflects a VKR discount.
Date of Stay: March, 2016
We stayed at the Dallas/Arlington KOA for four months while we were looking for a new house. The campground is in a flood plain but despite record rainfall, the water in the nearby creek never reached the campground. The campground overall and the restrooms and showers in particular were always clean. The pool was very nice. They had a nice pancake breakfast benefiting the KOA Kids charity on Sunday during the summer. They placed the long-term campers towards the back of the campground. All the long-term campers were very friendly and always greeted us when we drove or walked by. The campground was very quiet; we never experienced any problem with noise. The playground was nice but pretty basic and perhaps a little "old fashion." They have two dog parks, one for smaller dogs and the other for larger dogs. While we don't have a dog we did hear a neighbor complain that some of the campers were not cleaning up after their dogs. This same neighbor told us that when they complained to the owner he wasn't receptive to their concerns. They were having trouble with the Wi-Fi while we were there. There were several days when it wasn't working at all. We used it mostly for email and reading the electronic copy of the newspaper. When it was working it wasn't super fast. After some frustration we began using our own wireless "Mifi" for the newspaper. Rate reflects monthly rate of $560 plus electricity.
Date of Stay: February, 2015
We stayed here for four nights in February. We camped in Bayfront site # 34. We made our reservation in the Bayfront area because it has much more room for maneuvering. (Since this was our first visit here, I talked to a ranger before making my reservation.) The park staff were all quite friendly both before and during our visit. Once we arrived we explored the wooded area and found there were some sites, which would accommodate a larger rig, but there were indeed some that would be challenging. The Bayfront sites also have 50 amp hookups but in February, that was not a factor. Neither area has sewer hookups. The surface of the Bayfront sites is made up of a sand like material. (I'm guessing ground shells.) Each site has a shelter with a picnic table. While there is plenty of room to maneuver, I actually pulled our trailer in by circling around from the site two sites over. (I asked our next-door neighbor if he minded first.) A number of people (mostly motor homes but some trailers) pulled in. We even saw one trailer that was parked parallel to the shore behind the shelter rather than next to it. There was quite a wind off the bay two of the nights but little or no wind the other two nights. I can see the wind could be an issue at times. The park has a very nice fishing pier. While we didn't do any fishing, we did see some dolphins from the pier. We were told that the bird population was down considerably from other years due to the drought. Nonetheless the park was a great place for birding. We participated in both the songbird walk and the shorebird walk. The birding hosts were both quite friendly and knowledgeable. They also hold a "Birding 101" and "Birding 201" class, which I would have liked to attend, but our schedule didn't allow it. There are a couple of trails in the park but they are quite short. The longest, Turks Cap Trail, is only .66 miles long. If you are interested in birding, besides the shore area, there is a very nice bird watching area next to the rest rooms on Warbler Way. The birding hosts' site also has several feeders set up and they told us we were welcome anytime. I can only think of three negatives about this park. The first, based on speculation, would be the potentially strong winds off the bay if you were in the Bayfront sites. The second is the lack of maneuverability for some of the sites in the wooded area. Finally, the biggest negative in my opinion is the lack of full hook-ups.
Date of Stay: October, 2014
Our stay did not start well. I had made a reservation on September 23rd for a six-night stay starting on October 2nd. On October 1st (the day before our stay was to begin) I received a phone call from the campground. They said that when I made my reservation they “forgot” to tell me that it was NASCAR weekend, which is considered a holiday weekend. Not only were the rates higher for that weekend but also I had to pay the full amount in advance. In actuality, I had made my reservations through Book Your Site, so I suspect the rate mistake was due to them. We were assigned site number 223, which is to the right after you enter. According to the brochure these are considered “deluxe RV sites.” We were given an escort to our site. The road into the area is gravel and the sites are also gravel with a lot of mud. As we approached our site, we found a pickup truck parked in it. After about a half-hour wait, the owner showed up and was apologetic as he moved the truck. As we were waiting our neighbors from both sides had come out and they were nice enough to help me back into the space. Due to the narrow road, it was quite an adventure. The mud was so bad from recent flooding that our jack pads were sinking. I think we would have been in real trouble if we didn’t have the pads. There was quite a drop-off behind our site and there was nothing (like a railroad tie or concrete blocks) to block us from the drop-off. As we were exploring the campground, we saw several nice concrete sites that were empty. While in the office I told them that we were quite disappointed with our site and asked about the empty sites we saw. They said they would not accommodate our rig. I still believe those concrete sites are long enough for our rig. The campground did have an abundance of trees and shade. The bathrooms, showers and laundry room were very clean. Both the Wi-Fi and cable worked well. We didn’t have any kids with us but the playgrounds looked nice. There were also basketball courts, tetherball, shuffleboard, and horseshoes. We actually saw some in the ponds but we didn’t have time for any fishing. The country store had snacks, a limited selection of canned goods, and beer and liquor. They also had some camping supplies and souvenirs. There were only two trash bins. The one closest to our site was by the office, which was quite a walk. The second was close to sites 75 through 120. There were some “street lights” throughout the campground but several were not working. I’m not sure I will stay there again. Since there aren’t too many campsites in the Kansas City area I may but if I do, I want to make sure I get one of the better sites. The rate listed reflects the average of three nights at the NASCAR rate and three nights at the Good Sam rate.
Date of Stay: October, 2014
We stayed here for four nights as the last stop of a two week / four stop trip. Upon arrival we were met at the campsite entrance. The polite host walked in the office with me and checked us in. The entire staff was very friendly. He also provided maps of the campsite, the Branson area, and information on activities and shows in the area. Once we had paid for our stay and gathered all the info, he escorted us to our site (# 177.) This is a premium pull-through site. Once at the site, he not only guided into the site but also assisted us in getting positioned on the concrete tire paths. (My wife said that alone was enough to give them a rating of 10.) The site is gravel with two concrete tire paths (similar to old style driveways.) Our site was the next to last on a row of sites on a hill. Each site has been terraced so that each site was level making the row resemble a staircase. As with most commercial campgrounds the sites are fairly close to together. They are separated with a white wood fence. There was sufficient room for our four slide outs. The driveways between the sites were wider than a lot of parks. (We really appreciated this since the narrow drives at our last park provided us with some challenges.) There also was plenty of parking areas. Our site did not have a tree, but here were several young trees on our row. It looked like we were in a newer section. Other parts of the park had more trees, which were more mature. The cable worked fine most of the time and they had more channels than the other parks we stayed out during this trip. During some near severe storms the local stations froze up a couple of times. (This trip was during the baseball playoffs and the games were only on cable. The American league games were on TBS, which was available at all the parks. The National League games were on MLB Network and Fox Sports 1, which were only available here. Fortunately we are American League fans.) The restrooms and laundry room were very clean. They also have a fitness center which we didn’t use but it looked very clean. Their store had quite a few camping supplies like sewer connections and TV cable. They also had a few souvenirs along with ice cream and fudge that looked very tempting. (I resisted the fudge for the first two days but finally gave in and it was VERY good.) The Wi-Fi had a very good signal but at times it seemed slow. I also learned that the access code they give you is only good for one device. After connecting my tablet to the Wi-Fi I was not able to connect my laptop. They told me they weren’t supposed to give out a second code but they did. Since we usually only use the tablet to read our local paper, if I had known the code was only good for one device I would have used my wireless Wi-Fi for my tablet. They had a very nice playground, which I’m sure our grandson would love. They also serve free pancakes until the end of October. (Sausage, biscuits, cereal, and drinks cost.) We would definitely stay here again. The rate reflects the Value Kard Rewards price for a Premium pull-through site excluding tax.
Date of Stay: October, 2014
We stayed here for two nights while visiting relatives in Columbia. The location was convenient from both I-70 and US-63. The restrooms, showers, and laundry room were very clean. Like many commercial campgrounds the sites are close together. Each site has a young tree. The position of these trees can make maneuvering into and out of a site a challenge. Such was the case when we tried to pull in to our first site (#67.) I think we could have backed in from the other end but since there were plenty of empty sites, after two attempts we asked if we could change sites. The staff was very friendly and helpful in changing our site. Our second site was number 40. This site was on the opposite side of the drive so the tree was toward the end of the site. We wouldn’t have had any trouble with this site except that there was a small SUV parked across the drive from our site, which prevented us from making the wide turn we required to get in the site. Fortunately our neighbor was in and he was able to move his SUV. After parking our 39’ RV, there was just enough room to park our truck parallel to the drive. Our site had a small bush that was actually a little too close to our rig. One of our slide outs was actually up against it. The sites are gravel but very level. Each site has a picnic table on a concrete pad. Between visiting relatives and the rains, we really weren’t able to explore the campgrounds but the playground looked nice. Just a note: This campground fills up on Mizzou football weekends. We left on the Friday before a game and we were told it was sold out for the weekend. As we were leaving we once again had to ask a neighbor to move a car so we could manage the turn. Due to the closeness of the sites and the position of the trees I would call this campground “big rig tolerant.” It would have been more friendly if the roads were wider and the trees were positioned differently. The rate listed reflects a Good Sam discount plus $2 surcharge for using a credit card. I believe the park also gives the same discount to AAA members.
Date of Stay: October, 2014
We just stayed here one night as we were driving through OKC. The park was beautiful and well maintained. We were assigned site W10, which is a pull-through just inside the entrance. The overall site was sloped but the center of it was level. I’m not sure how long the level portion was, but it was at least 40 feet since our 39 foot fiver fit well within it. There were two sewer connections. We had our rig set up in record time due to the “sweet spot” being level and the proximity of the hookups. In retrospect, I would have positioned the trailer a little further back so that I could park my truck in front. There was room to park a long bed crew cab on one end or the other but not both. The rest rooms were very clean. Both the laundry room and fitness center looked very clean but I just looked in and didn’t actually go in. We didn’t try the Wi-Fi. The location was very convenient just off I-44 and less than a mile from I-35. I did notice some highway noise from I-44 at night. Now for the negatives: The sites were very close together. The picnic table was less than one foot from one of our slide-outs. (We probably could have repositioned the trailer or rotated the table so that the slide-out was not so close.) The fire ring was right next to the wooden picnic table and if we had rotated the table it would have even closer. We would have not have been comfortable with a fire that close to the table. The fire ring was also so close to the camper that it was a tripping hazard after dark. The rules were very restrictive for children. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult in the restroom. It’s been awhile since our kids were 15 but I don’t think they would be very happy if we told them they couldn’t go to the restroom by themselves. We would definitely stay there again. Rate of $40.05 reflect Good Same Discount. (Same discount is available for AAA members.)
Date of Stay: May, 2014
Before I begin, in interest of full disclosure I have to admit I’m a big fan of the Texas state parks. We camped here the week of Memorial Day arriving on the Monday holiday and staying through Friday. The park is subject to flash flooding and the area had nearly four inches of rain the week before. As result most of the park was closed on the Friday before the holiday until the next Wednesday. They are working on replacing at least three of the low water crossings with bridges which should improve access after heavy rains. During flooding only two campgrounds, Sagebrush and Hackberry, are accessible. Of all the campgrounds, only Sagebrush and Mesquite have 50 Amp service. None of the campgrounds have full hook-ups, so if you are camping very long, you may want to bring a waste tank. The rest rooms were dated but clean. One of our pet peeves is that none of the rest rooms in the state parks have hand soap, so bring your own. The park host was very friendly and actually offered us some watermelon one evening. The park has over 30 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Some of the trails are quite long and rated as “difficult,” so plan your hikes carefully. During the summer the temperature in the canyon can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. We hiked the “Lighthouse Trail” to the park’s iconic “Lighthouse” formation. That trail is the most popular and is 5.75 miles round trip and rated as “moderate.” It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes. The information provided by TPWD warns to take plenty of water since most of the heat related injuries and deaths to people and pets occur on this trail. The park does have a few family friendly “easy” rated trails. The park has a very nice wildlife viewing blind, which quickly became a favorite of ours. We visited it several times during our visit. We saw a variety of birds including Northern Cardinal, Purple Finch, Painted Bunting, Yellow Fronted Woodpecker, and wild turkeys. Palo Duro Canyon is advertised as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” Prior to visiting, I just figured that was another Texas exaggeration. After viewing the canyon from the overlook at the Visitor’s Center I was definitely impressed. It’s not the Grand Canyon, but it is definitely breath taking. (We visited the Grand Canyon in February of this year so I had fresh memories for comparison.) They do have a few pull through spaces, but most are back-in sites. Some of the sites looked a little short, but our space (# 142) was long enough for both our 39’ fifth wheel and our full size crew cab pickup. The park also has a stables and amphitheater in the park. During the summer months the musical “Texas” is presented Tuesday through Saturday at the amphitheater. During our visit both our AT&T cell and data services was intermittent. Data service on both our phones and our MiFi device ranged from none, to edge to 4G but it would change by the minute. Camping rates do not include admission to the park. Admission is $5.00 per person per day. If you are planning of camping at more than one state park, I highly recommend purchase of a Texas Parks Pass. Passes are $70.00 per year and include unlimited admission to the parks and several coupons for 50% off a single night’s rate. The nightly rate specified reflects a Texas Parks Pass and a coupon for 50% off one night’s stay.
Date of Stay: October, 2013
Lake Tawakoni State Park: This was our first time camping at this state park. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a big fan of the Texas State Parks. I really prefer them to most commercial campgrounds. When we arrived there were only two full hookup campsites left. We picked a pull through site (#78), which they said was about 60 feet long. I think it was actually a little longer because we had no problem with our 39’ fifth wheel, our F-350 crew cab long bed and my daughter’s Corolla all parked in the site. They have a total of 16 full hook-up sites. (According to the web site.) It looked like there were quite a few large sites for large rigs. The Texas State Parks has had some budget “challenges” the past few years and some of the parks have become run down. That did not seem to be the case here. The concrete sites seemed to be somewhat new, and the asphalt roads were in good shape. There was plenty of room for our four slide outs also. We were a little close to one tree. (We could have moved up a little but that would have put us further from the sewer.) There was quite a bit of shade. They had some “double wide” campsites where there were two back in sites next to each other with a doublewide drive between. Those sites would probably be nice if you were camping with another family. The restrooms were clean. The ones in the area we were in were the more traditional variety with a Men and Women’s side. In one of the other areas there was a unisex building that had individual rooms with toilet and shower. They have a beach, but the lake level was very low, so the sand stopped before the water started. They did not have a playground. They did have a store that sells bait and rents boats, but it was closed both days we were there. The park has several trails. Since it had rained the day we arrived, they were muddy, and we only explored the Spring Point Trail. If you’re not familiar with the Texas State Parks, the camping fee does not include admission to the park. If you do not have a Park Pass, the fee is $5.00 per day per person 13 years and older. Also if you have any more than two vehicles you must pay an additional $4.00 per day per extra vehicle. Since a trailer counts as a vehicle, my daughter had to pay for her car. (But not for herself since she also has a Park Pass.) If you are going to stay at a Texas State Park more than a couple times in a year, the Park Pass pays for itself. The rates quoted for this review reflect the average nightly rate with a Park Pass and a coupon for ½ price for one night. If you like to get out once in a while, we found a very nice Italian restaurant in Wills Point. It was Verona’s Italian Café. It’s right on 4th Street (FM 46.) The food was great and the prices very reasonable.
Date of Stay: September, 2013
We’ve stayed several times over the past six or so years. We like it because it has full hook-ups (Bois D’Arc Ridge area) and it’s close enough to the Dallas / Fort Worth area for a weekend trip. There are several hiking trails in the park which we’ve explored on previous trips. There is a small swim beach but as others have mentioned it’s quite a hike down the steps to get there. I don’t think we’ve ever been there that we didn’t see any deer. There is a little meadow just as you turn into the Bois D’Arch Ridge area and they are frequently there early in the morning or in the early evening. We’ve also seen them around the campsites. On one previous trip there was a couple deer within ten feet of our travel trailer. During this trip I saw a doe and fawn about two campsites away. They have two fishing docks which we’ve enjoyed using. During the summer months the campgrounds can be fairly crowded, although I don’t think they’ve ever been sold out when I’ve tried to make reservations. This past weekend the campgrounds were fairly empty. As with most of the Texas State parks were built by the CCC, so they are old and recent budget challenges have left them in disrepair. This year the budget situation has improved and I noticed that they had re-surfaced the roads in the campground. There is a yacht club in the park where you can buy bait and which has some boat rentals. The last time I checked the rental prices, they seemed pretty high and I think all they had available was pontoon boats. The nightly camping rate does not include admission to the park. If you don’t have a Texas State Park Pass, you have to pay $5.00 per day for each person 13 or over. By the way, when you buy a Texas State Park Pass, you also get a couple of electronic coupons for one-half off a day (night) of camping. The park has always been clean and the restrooms, while dated, are clean. Many of the sites in the Bois D’Arc Ridge area are not level. Several years ago we had a spot that was so unlevel, we overextended a jack on our old travel trailer. Many of the sites (particularly on the outside of the loops) are long enough for larger rigs. We were in site 82 which was over 100 foot long. They said it was “level” and it was level from front to back, but was not level from side to side. Our automatic leveling system had our right tires off the ground. They are supposed to have Wi-Fi available, but we didn’t use it, so I can’t report on it. We did have one complaint on this trip. There was a burn ban in effect, but it was not posted anywhere. I knew there were burn bans in some of nearby counties, but in the past fires were allowed in the fire rings. After we bought firewood from the park headquarters (again no mention of the burn ban) we were told by a Ranger that fires were only allowed for cooking and had to be extinguished after cooking.
Date of Stay: July, 2013
We stayed here for five night during the week of July 4th. As mentioned in other reviews the staff was very friendly (although they did give a a hard time about being too dependent on my GPS. There is an abundance of shade which is one reason we chose this CG. The CG was also very quite. We had a back in site. They do have some pull-through sites. There was plenty of room four our 39 ft. RV with four slide outs. It is very close to Silver Dollar City. You can occasionally hear the train horn, faintly. On the negative side the roads are in need of repair. They are asphalt with a lot of pot holes. Also, the playground could use some updating. There are only three swings and three teeter totters. (Although my 6 year old grand son was perfectly happy with it.) We would definitely stay here again.