Monday, October 22, 2012


One of our favorite parts of camping is the evening campfire. There's nothing like cooking supper over the fire, then sitting and chatting while watching the fire. Campfires are so important to us that we often avoid campgrounds that don't allow them.

Campfires serve many purposes for people.

I've often observed lone campers sitting by a campfire throughout the day, reading books or writing in journals. What a wonderful setting for contemplation!

Campfires are also wonderfully intimate settings for couples to cuddle and chat, to recall their past and to plan their future.

Campfires are great for families to talk about the day's events - swimming, sightseeing - or issues related to past events and future dreams. They are also fun settings for family sing-alongs and skits. Kids never seem to tire of performing by the light of the fire.

Campfires are fabulous settings for gathering with old friends and meeting new ones. Dave and I have visited with some very interesting characters, ranging from itinerant artists to government officials, around the campfire. All of us were drawn together by our mutual love of the outdoors and the simple pleasure of a campfire.

If you have any special campfire stories to share, please add a comment.

Virginia, Charlottesville – Charlottesville KOA

Campground: Charlottesville KOA

Location: Charlottesville, VA  - just south of Charlottesville between Hwy 20 and Hwy 29

Overall Rating: B

Setting Rating: B
(Large hills; woods, farmland, picturesque area of the state)

Site Rating: B+
(not an overly large number of sites; partly sun to mostly shaded sites, full-service with 50 amp to primitive sites; good number of pull-thrus; can handle the largest rigs; gravel pads are mostly level; fair spacing; campfire rings; quiet campground; tables in good condition; sites well maintained; cable TV; wireless internet at sites)

Washroom Rating: B+
(central modern washroom; clean and ventilated; well maintained; laundry)

Recreation Rating: B
(a nice well kept children’s playground; a well maintained pool is of a nice size with some deck furniture; Monticello along with other historical sites and a range of sightseeing options within 20 miles; game room)

Conclusion: Last visited 2005. This is a lovely friendly campground for sightseeing and a week of relaxation. We would not hesitate to visit again.  


Virginia, Haymarket – Greenville Family Farm

Campground: Greenville Family Farm

Location: Haymarket VA

Overall Rating: C

Setting Rating: B
(Rolling hills; woods, farmland; on the back of a farm)

Site Rating: C-
(full sun with some shade in the full-service area; well shaded sites that are water and electric; good number of pull-thrus; packed soil pads that are not overly level in some sites; good spacing and good sized sites in the non-full service sites; full service sites well grassed but with tight spacing; campfires not allowed in full-service area; average spacing; quiet campground; not a highly used campground; wooden tables well aged and some in poor repair; many sites are not well maintained and are somewhat overgrown)

Washroom Rating: B-
(central aged modern washroom; clean and ventilated; laundry)

Recreation Rating: C
(good sized pool; several historical and site seeing sites within 10 miles)

Conclusion: Last visited 2010. An adequate campground for sightseeing in Washington DC area. We are likely to visit again for a weekend.  



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Virginia, Madison – Madison KOA

Campground: Madison KOA

Location: Madison VA, along Hwy 29

Overall Rating: B-

Setting Rating: B
(Rolling hills; woods, farmland)

Site Rating: B
(well shaded sites; some pull-thrus; primitive to full service; packed soil and gravel pads; while pads are generally level, some adjustments may be necessary; average spacing; fire pits; cable hook-ups available; quiet campground)

Washroom Rating: B
(central aged modern; well maintained; clean and well ventilated)

Recreation Rating: C
(pool; small playground; laundry; several historical and site seeing sites within 25 miles)

Conclusion: Last visited 2011. We are likely to visit again for a weekend.  

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Virginia, Stafford – Aquia Pines

Campground: Acquia Pines Camp Resort

Location: Stafford VA, I-95, Exit 143A

Overall Rating: B

Setting Rating: B-
(Suburban campground; rolling hills of northern VA; woods, farmland and around an increasing number housing developments, tall pines)

Site Rating: A-
(part shade in one area of campground with full shade in another area of the campground that is in the woods; average spacing in the part sun area to good spacing in the full shade area; some sites are a tight turns; gravel pads; primitive to full service with 50 amp; no fire pits at the sites; cable hook-ups in part shade area; some road noise from I-95 and Hwy 1 can be heard in the campground)

Washroom Rating: B+
(two moderns; clean and well ventilated; aged)

Recreation Rating: B
(good sized pool; a nicely equipped playground; laundry; a host of sightseeing opportunities within 25 miles in Washington DC and Fredericksburg VA; a nicely stocked campground store; wide selection of groceries within 4 miles)

Conclusion: Visited 2012. We are likely to visit again for a weekend. A good choice from which to travel into Washington DC

Ohio, Forest Park - Winton Woods

Campground: Winton Woods Country Park

Location: Forest Park, OH – 2.5 miles south off I275

Overall Rating: B+

Setting Rating: B
(Suburban park; Country Park surrounding a manmade lake; part of the campground overlooks the lake; quiet campground set around tall pines)

Site Rating: A-
(excellent size and well spaced; well leveled concrete pads; primitive to full service with 50 amp; good size fire pits; mostly sun to well shaded; well off the main highway; quiet campgrounds)

Washroom Rating: B+
(central modern; well maintained; clean and well ventilated)

Recreation Rating: B
(manmade lake for swimming; lake at a distance from the campgrounds; a long paved walking trail goes around one part of the lake; canoe rental; a range of sightseeing opportunities within 20 miles)

Conclusion: Last visited 2012. If we were staying in the Cincinnati area we would visit this campground again. We could readily stay for up two weeks at this campground.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wyoming, Chugwater - Diamond Guest Ranch

Campground: Diamond Guest Ranch

Location: Chugwater, Wyoming

Overall Rating: B+
Setting Rating: A+

(The setting is one of the strengths, located deep onto a functioning ranch at the western end of a box canyon, semi-arid, scrub brush, foot-hills, campground is an old summer outcamp, former bunkhouses have been turned into a small conference center)

Site Rating: B
(Not all sites well leveled, part shade to full sun, water and electric to full-service, well maintained grass sites, some sites are close too close, good size fire pits but firewood not available at the campground)

Washroom Rating: B
(Two small modern washrooms well located, aged but well maintained)

Recreation Rating: B+
(Small well maintained heated pool, could use more deck furniture, walking trails, horseback riding, horse shoe pit, children’s playground)

Conclusion: Last visited in 1998. We hope to visit again for 3 to 7 nights. The setting is outstanding. Horseback riding and the horse trails are a great asset. Food stores are at a distant so make sure you are well stocked before going to the campground.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Maryland, Hagerstown - Greenbrier State Park

Campground: Greenbier State Park

Location: Hagerstown, MD – 12 miles east of,

Overall Rating: B

Setting Rating: B+

(mountains and woods; picturesque area but limited picturesque glimpses from campgrounds)

Site Rating: B+
(excellent size; well leveled gravel pad; primitive to electric; water taps could be closer but we have seen worse; excellent size fire pits; well off the main highway; quiet setting and quiet campgrounds)

Washroom Rating: B(central basic moderns in each campground; adequate maintenance; clean and well ventilated)

Recreation Rating: B
(man made lake for swimming; lake at a distance from the campgrounds; basic playground by lake and picnic area; numerous hiking trails in the area; a good range of sightseeing opportunities within 20 miles)

Conclusion: Last visited 2011. From our experience Maryland has some of the best state campgrounds. We have visited this campground twice for 3 to 4 nights and will likely do so again. As with most state campgrounds, recreation within the park outside of swimming and hiking is thin.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Virginia, Winchester - Candy Hill Campground

Campground: Candy Hill Campground

Location: Winchester, VA – just off US Hwy 50 and Rte 37

Overall Rating: B

Setting Rating: C+
(backs upon busy Rte 37, one hears the traffic; boarders farmland, golf course and city; mountains off to the west)

Site Rating: B+
(Well maintained sites. While some sites are off a nice size, there are several sites that are narrow; 50 amp full-hookup to primitive; a number of pull-thrus; plenty of room to maneuver for back-in sites; numerous paved pads with others being gravel; gravel are generally level; fire rings brought to site upon request; most sites are partly shaded with a handful well shaded and a number mainly sun; grass around all sites is well trimmed; A handful of sites are close together, so close that some canopies only clear the next site by four to six feet; A number of sites of a nice size; the heart of the campground itself is quiet, but road noise is an issue for about a third of the campground)

Washroom Rating: B (central older modern; adequate size and kept clean; well maintained)

Recreation Rating: B+(a good size pool with a large amount of deck furniture; shuffleboard; a well equipped games room; a good children’s playground; a group meeting room; basketball hoop; several golf courses in the area; a good amount of sightseeing opportunities within 20 miles)

Conclusion: One of the better campgrounds in the area. In our opinion the campground's biggest issue is road noise. The campground is a solid place that is a good place for those traveling through the area to spend one to four nights. The camp store is well equipped with the staff friendly and helpful. 

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Virginia, Mountain Valley KOA

Campground: Mountain Valley KOA

Location: Harrisonburg, VA – 7 miles north of

Overall Rating: B+/A-

Setting Rating: B+
(situated in a rural setting; rolling hills farmland and woods; situated in the Shenandoah Valley; quiet and well off the road)

Site Rating: A-
(excellent size and spacing for a private park; good privacy; large stone fire pits; many pull-thurs; full-service to primitive; the majority of the gravel pads are generally well leveled; water and electric hook-ups well placed; little grass around sites; well shaded; average size tables)

Washroom Rating: A-
(very clean and well maintained moderns; of adequate size; close to most primitive and pop-up sites)

Recreation Rating: B
(adequate size pool; good amount of deck furniture and tables just outside the pool deck; movies shown on weekends; access to a 2 mile hiking trail from campground; fishing pond; well marked pet walk; several sightseeing opportunities within a 25 minute drive; nice playground equipment with parent benches)

Conclusion: We have visited this campground twice and find it to be the best campground we have visited of between Hagerstown MD and Lexington VA along the I-81 corridor. Though it is not strong on the recreation side, either in the campground or within 5 miles, it is a very lovely campground for an extended quiet stay.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ontario, Port Burwell Provincial Park

Campground: Port Burwell Provincial Park

Location: Port Burwell, Ontario

Overall Rating: B

Setting Rating: B+
(Situated along the north shore of Lake Erie; wooded and flat campground; farmland throughout the area)

Site Rating: B
(Large dirt and packed sand sites; large sites well spaced; mostly shaded; no pull-thrus or full-service sites; electric and non-electric; most sites allow for a high amount of privacy; water is evenly spaced but at a distance for a small number of sites; good size fire pits)

Washroom Rating: C+(Modern with showers located in the heart of each campground; Each could be enlarged to meet demands in the morning; More could be used as the existing moderns are at a distant from a good number of the non-electric sites; Some pit toilets; average cleanliness)

Recreation Rating: B (An excellent and large sandy beach; Strong undertow; Water is clean; Beach is not near the heart of the campground…fair walk or a short drive; Some recreation equipment in the park; Numerous nature trails; Golf courses within ten minute drive)

Conclusion: We visited in 1999. On the whole we have found the Ontario Park system to be a good choice. This is a campground we would be pleased to revisit for a week or more. It is quiet and family orientated. It is not located to high tourist centers and therefore is a great escape from the crowds. Weekends the campground tends to be full, so it is best to reserve your site at least three months in advance.