I was discussing the three-day drive across Texas we’ve taken in the past and wondered how that stretch compares to other states. I decided to let Google Maps be my guide as I looked throughout the country for similar treks for the nine longest in-state drives.
I created a few ground rules, such as any route candidate for my list being calculated as the shortest drive between two cities or towns. This means that there may be longer routes to or from unincorporated towns not showing on Google Maps. I can’t do much about that. I only utilized routes that stayed within the state being researched. A few shorter routes may have existed through neighboring states. Also, traffic, season and weather don’t affect distance, so I kept to miles instead of hours.
One last point – I didn’t research all 50 states. Obviously, states like Hawaii, Rhode Island and Delaware won’t be on any longest drive list. But as I calculated the most extensive drives in states like Pennsylvania, Maine, Virginia and North Carolina, it became clear that most candidates were less than 400 miles. With the 9th largest stretching 629 miles, I could visually rule out dozens of states.
Here’s the list, ranked shortest to longest:
9. Oklahoma- Kenton to Tom- 629 miles
Many of the states on this list are of medium size compared to the rest of the country but have irregular shapes that provide longer routes. This is true of Oklahoma, where we start at the edge of the panhandle and drive catacorner to the bottom of the pan, covering over 600 miles. The route only utilizes a few dozen miles on an interstate (I-40) and flows through Oklahoma City smack dab in the middle of the Sooner State.
8. Michigan- Copper Harbor to Erie Township- 631 miles
Situated at the northern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or U.P., is Copper Harbor on Lake Superior, and it’s now on my bucket list to visit. On the other end of the drive is a small town near Ohio on Lake Erie. In between, the Mitten State will provide a variety of sights and views of three of the Great Lakes.
7. Nevada- Laughlin to Denio- 698 miles
It was surprising to see Nevada on this list. Laughlin is found near the state junction points of Nevada, California and Arizona in the far south of the Silver State. Almost 700 miles north is Denio, a small town at the Oregon border. Along the way, you’ll see some of the state’s desert and scablands, Las Vegas and other gambling meccas, and many miles of secluded highway.
6. Montana- Troy to Ridge- 721 miles
I did expect to see the Big Sky Country in the Top 9, but the surprise was that it wasn’t longer than a few others on the list. Troy is in the northeast corner near the Idaho border, sitting in the middle of the Kootenai National Forest. Over 700 miles southeast is Ridge in the opposite corner. The two towns show a stark contrast in environments, with Troy in the midst of fabulous forested mountains and Ridge reminding more of the barren hills of the Dakotas.
5. Idaho- Good Grief to Fish Haven- 827 miles
Another panhandle, another long drive. At the far northern edge of the Gem State is the best city name on this list, Good Grief. Because the most direct route takes you through Montana, we had to calculate traveling through Boise to stay in Idaho to reach the southeast corner of the state at Fish Haven. This takes you along several mountain ranges and forests until you reach the capital city, then the scenery becomes more scrub-like.
4. Florida- Muscogee to Key West- 840 miles
Let’s face it, panhandles give states an edge to get on this list, and the Sunshine State is no exception. Like Oklahoma, we begin on the far eastern edge of the panhandle in the town of Muscogee, then head west to the body of Florida before driving south, all the way to the Keys. The distance between the two is so far that Google shows the direct flying time to be almost four hours. The inland drive will repeat the same scenery for much of the trip, except for the time you are near the ocean. On this jaunt, south is best, as it includes West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Everglades and Key West, many of which are on most people’s bucket lists.
3. Texas- El Paso to Orange- 858 miles
Now we see the state that started it all, Texas, and its 3-day straight shot east from El Paso, all on I-10. The Lone Star State is vast and mostly barren, though green by comparison to much of the southwest. Hundreds of miles after leaving El Paso, you’ll finally reach San Antonio, the 7th largest city in the country, and about 3 hours later, Houston, the 4th largest. Orange is just across the state line from Lake Charles, LA, and is hurricane susceptible.
2. California.- Smith River to
Winterhaven- 1008 miles
Not far from the Oregon coast is Smith River, California, a continuation of the fabulous northwest coastline. This path takes you south along the coast until you reach San Francisco, then it heads inland through wine country and the Big Valley, before hitting the Los Angeles metropolitan area. From there you travel east, then south towards Mexico, ending up in Winterhaven, next to Yuma, AZ. You’ll see a wide range of panoramic views of ocean, coastline, vineyards, agriculture, historic cities, theme parks, and southwestern deserts. It’s never a bad time to take in a thousand miles of the Golden State.
1. Alaska- Homer to Prudhoe Bay- 1074 miles
As we all expected, the Last Frontier takes the top spot for providing the longest in-state drive. Interestingly, the longest route I could locate included just the main body of the state, since so much of Alaska is inaccessible by car, even in the summer. Speaking of summer, that’s the only season most of this route is safe. But, the views! Prudhoe Bay is on the Arctic Ocean and was built atop the tundra. This route is almost 1,100 miles in length and just about every mile has dramatic views. Like many awe-inspiring landscapes, photographs along this byway simply can’t do them justice.
Honorable Mention- Missouri- Watson to Cottonwood Point- 560 miles
At nearly 600 miles long, the Show-Me State was just out of the Top 9, but the odd-shaped state still deserves a mention. In the far northwest corner, Watson is more like Nebraska than Missouri. The lack of a direct route to the southeastern notch forces the route to take a bit of a zig zag, traveling south along the Nebraska and Kansas state lines, hanging a left in Kansas City and a right at St. Louis, then south along the Illinois line and the mighty Mississippi River. This would definitely be an interesting drive.
Now, then, these are the longest drives in the country that don’t cross state lines. Many of these are now on my future to-do list, if not my bucket list. I trust you have the same interest.
Address: 6275 S Ave 8 1/2 E, Yuma, AZ 85365
Phone: (866) 217-8111
# of sites: 228 (plus extended stay sites)
Full hookup price: From $10/day (RPI rate)
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Warnings: HOT summers, many permanent or seasonal residents
Yuma Lakes RV Resort is about 6 miles from I-8, about 11 miles east of downtown Yuma. Yuma is a popular winter destination for snowbirds due to the mild desert weather and its proximity to Los Algodones, Mexico.
The primary reason for our staying in Yuma is that the border crossing into Los Algodones is just a few miles west and that it is a city with most of the normal shopping and eating options one would expect. This Mexican border town is well-known for its low-cost, high quality, dental, vision and pharmacy services. The normal high temps here are in the 60's and 70's all winter, and the region has little rainfall during that time. Also, the sunsets can be spectacular.
This particular resort is large and has a sizable pond, Redondo Lake, at its edge. Bass fishing and birding at the lake is available all winter. Yuma Lakes is clean and well-maintained, with some green space scattered around the park, and most of the amenities you would expect, plus a dine-in restaurant on-site. There is an off-leash dog park, though it was about a quarter-mile walk from our site, so we never used it.
Golf Digest has ranked Yuma the 7th best city in the U.S. for golf, and all around the resort are excellent ATV and motorbike hills and trails, as well as several gun and archery shooting ranges. Also nearby the park is a lush date farm and store.
Yuma Lakes RV Resort is perhaps prototypical of a desert campground, with slender sites for squeezing in as many RV's as possible in the busy season, and gravel throughout. Even the picnic tables are extra-short to accommodate the space. There are a good number of palm trees scattered around the park, but few shade trees in the camping areas. Being remote from the city, there is very weak cell coverage, even with a booster. Verizon was minimal and AT&T was only slightly better, but its Internet speed was always bogged down as the entire resort must have been on it.
There are as many seasonal and year-round residents as there are transient RV'ers, and they function more as a sales organization than a campground. We heard from some RV owners that they were given a hard sell for buying a site there, and though they did come by our 5th wheel to take down our contact info and ask a few RV usage questions, we were not given a sales pitch. Yuma Lakes is one of the first resorts we have visited since the pandemic began that did not close down most of their amenities and group functions, including their on-site café. The problem is that almost nobody was social distancing or wearing masks, so we did not feel at all comfortable in using them.
They tout themselves as dog-friendly, and they do have an off-leash park. However, it is far removed from most of the resort and we never used it. In hotter times of year, you might not want to walk your dog on the gravel in the heat of the day, and there is little lawn to use.
The heat is HOT in Yuma, so plan your stay with the weather calendar in mind. Also, Yuma is very windy in the winter months. This park is place in the middle of farming land and any daylight excursion will include an obstacle course of farming machines, massive trucks and busloads of workers.
Last, Yuma does not have wealth of attractions to visit. It's a hot desert town a couple of hours away from Phoenix with little to see between them.
My initial inclination was to rate Yuma Lakes a 3 out of 5 stars, but in comparing them to others I've rated a 3, it just doesn't measure up. So, it is indeed a 2. We would only recommend this park to those who wanted to be remote from Yuma and who only planned to stay a few days in the winter season.
Address: 2207 N. Yucca Drive, Huachuca City, AZ 85616
Phone: (520) 456-9301
# of sites: 131
Full hookup price: From $14/day
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Warnings: HOT summers
Nestled in the southeast corner of Arizona, Huachuca City and neighboring Sierra Vista offer opportunities for exploration of desert mining towns unique to the area. The primary reason we decided on Quail Ridge RV Resort is for its proximity to Bisbee, Tombstone and Patagonia.
Though Nadyne is not a fan of vast desert scenery, we do enjoy visiting small mining towns. Both Bisbee and Tombstone qualify and both have restored sections of town to their glory days. Tombstone has the recognition factor, with the Earps and the Gunfight at the OK Corral in its history, and the town takes full advantage, performing gunfights several times a day on its restored western Allen Street and featuring Old West saloons, museums, shops and restaurants.
Bisbee is a bit less touristy, but offers visitors a rich mix of art, music, history, architecture, outdoor activities, dining and nightlife. Just south of Bisbee is Lowell, a four-block strip of town that seems in a time warp. There are cars and trucks from the 50-s and 60's parked on the street, a vintage Harley Davidson dealership and other stores from that era that haven't been upgraded or restored. The Patagonia Mountains are also a short drive away from Quail Ridge and the location of the town of Patagonia, an extremely popular small lake and state park, and other old towns.
The Quail Ridge RV Resort is itself a clean, comfortable park with a great number of pull-through sites at a terrific price. Its 4,400' elevation makes it cooler than much of Southern Arizona. Shopping, fast food and eat-in dining are plentiful about seven miles away in the moderately modern town of Sierra Vista. The Mexican border is only about an hour's drive away at either Douglas or Nogales.
As with many southwestern RV parks, Quail Ridge is almost completely covered in gravel, with almost no greenery and few trees. Arizona is a windy state and the winters are sunny but gusty. With the park sitting in a rather flat, wind-prone area, we weren't able to use our awning much, though we would have appreciated the shade.
The sites are very narrow, and though it is somewhat dog friendly, there are several cacti to keep them away from during a walk. There are few amenities beyond a laundry room, showers, a clubhouse and a pool table, the latter two of which were closed due to the pandemic.
Like much of Southern Arizona, even at its higher elevation, summers in Huachuca City can be brutally hot. We would only consider staying here during the winter months.
If it weren't for the fact that I haven't spent much time in this part of Arizona, we probably wouldn't stay anywhere near Huachuca City. The cheap prices and clean resort drew this up to a rating of 3-out-of-5 stars. If you've never been to Tombstone or Bisbee, it's well worth a week here.
Address: 10167 N. Encore Dr. Casa Grande, AZ 85122
Phone: (520) 836-2531
# of sites: 182
Full hookup price: From $54/day
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Poor phone services, HOT summers
If you want to avoid the Phoenix Metropolitan area but still want to stay in Central Arizona, Casa Grande has more than a few options. A little less than an hour's drive from Phoenix, yet situated at the split of I-8 from I-10, access to the rest of the state is easily available.
Casa Grande has grown up from the small town it once was, with plenty of shopping and dining options. Being outside of the Phoenix area keeps traffic light and lines relatively short, but within a couple hours are the Organ Pipe National Monument, Picacho Peak State Park, Kitt Peak, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Mount Lemmon and all of the Phoenix metro region.
Foothills West is a clean, comfortable, age-qualified (55+) park with adequate space between parked rigs. Though it mostly consists of gravel, sites have cement porch pads and there are live fruit trees throughout. The amenities are the usual, with a clubhouse, pool and spa, restroom and showers, laundry, billiards, shuffleboard, putting green, bocce ball and horseshoes. We could not use them due to the pandemic. Also, they would usually have a variety of activities happening every day.
Arizona is a sunset paradise and Casa Grande is no different. Also, being miles away from a large metropolitan area and having few mountains to block views, stargazing is also exceptional.
While Foothills West is relatively pet friendly, there is no off-leash dog park, nor waste bags, and mostly there is just gravel to walk them on. You also have to keep dogs away from cacti planted by residents all over the park. The garbage bins are located together and quite a walk from most of the resort, another of my pet peeves.
Casa Grande has a very short cool season, with temps soaring in March and continuing into November. It is also very windy, so much so that we couldn't have our awning out very often and for very long. It is easy to get tired of the desert scenery. It's the only scenery for hundreds of miles.
Another drawback to the area was the lack of adequate cell signal. We have Verizon phones and hotspot and an AT&T data hub, and neither service was very good at all.
Casa Grande is relatively close by a state prison (in Florence). While we were staying in Foothills West, two convicts escaped and were captured less than five miles from the park, most likely on their way to Mexico. Like many communities in proximity of the Mexican border, you must be aware of potential violence and other crime. This park does not have a gate, so the public can drive in.
We would recommend Foothills west to anyone passing through or wanting to spend a few days in the winter exploring the desert. With nothing significant in its favor or to its detriment, my 3-out-of-5 star rating seems appropriate.
Address: 8701 S Kolb Rd, Tucson, 85756, AZ
Phone: (800) 424-9191
# of sites: 331
Full hookup price: From $53/day
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Very popular Encore property
Whether you are scooting across Arizona to visit Texas or California, needing to escape from winter in the colder northern states or you simply like Southern Arizona, you may find yourself looking at Tucson for a stay. Voyager RV Resort is arguably the best-rated RV park in the region. The property has several sections, including an upscale manufactured home neighborhood for full-time residents, seasonal residential areas for both RV's and park models and short-term RV sections.
When not experiencing a pandemic, Voyager RV Resort has probably the best set of amenities found anywhere in the state, even including a full-service restaurant and a golf course, and offers more activities than one can count. These amenities are numerous, including a swimming pool and spa, fitness center, game room with billiards, clubhouse, and a dog park, as well as courts for pickleball, bocce ball, volleyball and tennis.
It would take a couple of pages to list all of the activities normally offered, but suffice it to say that several kinds of dancing and dance classes are available, as are cards, bingo, live entertainment, crafts and ceramics, and a variety of potlucks.
Relatively in town, shopping and restaurants aren't very far away, and even the Phoenix metro area is less than a two-hour drive from Tucson. Scenery is also abundant, with two Saguaro National Park sections, Mount Lemmon and the Catalina Mountain Range all just a day trip from the park. If you drive a bit farther, you can access the Organ Pipe National Monument and Picacho Peak State Park, a unique peak (actually two peaks that make an optical illusion) that is also the site of second westernmost battle of the American Civil War.
The Voyager RV resort is itself clean and well-maintained and the staff is friendly and helpful. The sites are long, if not wide, and each one has a cement pad with a small picnic table. They also allowed us to have a dog fence, something many Encore parks restrict. An additional bonus is one of the special aspects of Arizona -- sometimes spectacular, but always beautiful, sunsets.
There are not a lot of downsides in a highly-regarded resort like Voyager. One would be the bleakness of the RV site loops, with few trees or other greenery and gravel is throughout the RV side of the park. If you have one or more dogs you'll need to make sure you are assigned to a "dog-friendly" loop, since you aren't allowed to even walk them in other loops.
All told, we prefer less of a neighborhood and more of a campground feel of an RV park, Like most of the Encore properties, its base business is the full-time residential park and receiving RV visitors may be treated as an afterthought. There is also a list of restrictions to be aware of, such as not hanging laundry on clotheslines, so check the rules carefully.
The long, narrow sites were odd, with RV front doors facing the tow vehicle or toad of the next-door neighbor, but we conferred with them and agreed to park our own vehicles next to our sites instead, which also helped to open up the outdoor space a bit.
With the size and quality of the park, as well as the most amenities and activities you can offer, I rated the Voyager RV Resort 4 out of 5 stars, the only downsides being the lack of greenspace and the slim width of the RV sites. We would highly recommend the resort under most circumstances.
Throughout the country, RV parks have been correctly labeled as essential businesses, allowing full-time RV'ers to continue their lifestyle. However, different from other essential businesses, such as fast food restaurants and laundromats, RV resorts have maintained their pricing while reducing access to and the cost of maintaining their amenities.
Premium amenities is one reason some parks justify their prices. There can be heated swimming pools and hot tubs, spacious recreation halls with cable TV, libraries, exercise machines, dance floors, billiard and card rooms, exercise classes and much more. It doesn't take an MBA to realize that by eliminating or reducing these amenities without changing the price structure that supports them is a windfall.
Many full-timers are simply happy to have campgrounds to stay in, but as Thousand Trails members, we sometimes pay additional premiums strictly based upon the popularity and amenities of a property. For example, we recently stayed in an Encore property in Tucson, a resort included in our Thousand Trails membership. This resort adds a $20/day premium predicated on its high volume of reservations and the quality amenities included. When we arrived, however, its RV sites were less than half used and the amenities were mostly closed.
We had a similar experience in a private park in Williams, Arizona, at the beginning of the pandemic's first lockdown. Again, the rate was high, typical for a tourist park just outside of the Grand Canyon, but all national parks were closed, as were all resort amenities. In fact, the road TO the Grand Canyon was blocked about 30 miles away from its entrance.
Probably the worst thing about it is the number of paid staff and volunteers who have been let go or furloughed in the reduction of services, providing more savings to park owners and corporations.
As full-time RV'ers with limited ability to make an income, which is why we purchased the Thousand Trails membership in the first place, charging us the full rate or premium without any of the benefits they should cover is unfair at best and price gouging at worst.
Address: 417 Thousand Trails Dr, Whitney, TX 76692
Phone: (254) 694-4269
# of sites: 268
Full hookup price: From $51/day
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Warnings: No access to lake
Lake Whitney RV Campground is an old-fashioned park with many sites in various loops. Whitney sits slightly closer to Waco than Fort Worth, but both towns are within easy driving distance.
It's not as bad as we had heard. If that sounds odd, we had several comments from people who just don't like this park. We approached it with open minds and found a park that was very similar to one of our favorite Texas campgrounds at Medina Lake. Like that park, it is full of mature juniper and cedar trees and has a great deal of space, greenery and privacy between sites.
When not in pandemic mode, there are a good number of amenities available, including clubhouse, shuffleboard, swimming pool, whirlpool/spa/hot, restaurant, store, hiking trails, mini-golf, restroom/shower and laundry facilities, game room/billiards and a library. Unfortunately, most of these were closed during our stay, so I have no opinion as to their quality.
The campground's location in Central Texas makes it a natural stop for visiting the area. We drove to Waco a few times, including a stop at the Silos and Magnolia Farms, and during our next stay we'll probably visit Fort Worth. Dallas is only about a 90-minute drive away and within two hours you can find a myriad of lakes, rivers and creeks on which to go boating or fishing.
One of the downsides we were warned about was true- there are several sites and partial loops that have been closed for maintenance for quite some time. The spot we ended up in was in such a loop. If we had driven any farther we would have had to back out of the loop with no hope of turning around. We were fortunate that the site opposite of us was empty so I could use the space to exit.
There are very few 50-amp sites and those are almost always taken by seasonal campers. If 30-amp won't due, then skip this park.
They listed a dog park on their website but I never saw one. Perhaps it was in a closed section or near the pool and clubhouse, which I never visited since everything is locked up. But, their campground map doesn't show one either.
Though Waco and Fort Worth are within an hour or so drive of Whitney, the surrounding rural highways and ranch towns are as depressed as many areas of the South we have driven through. Waco itself is not a booming metropolis, with many sections of town to be avoided. I could have spent dozens of hours taking photos of abandoned and dilapidated houses and businesses.
Probably my biggest complaint would be that access to the lake is cordoned off. There is a primitive, rutted parking area near the trails that lead down to the lake that might hold 5 or 6 cars, but those trails were blocked. I crossed the ropes and walked to the lake for some photos and it looked like there was plenty of space for an enhanced parking and viewing area but no plans or marking for such construction was apparent. There was a mile or so of bank that would make for easy fishing, if one were so inclined.
The bottom line is that Lake Whitney RV Campground is worth staying in, especially if you need a respite on your way through Texas. The campground feel of the RV sites is a great improvement over the neighborhood-style resorts that are so popular, and being surrounded by trees and nature is calming. There are many downsides here, as I have mentioned, but enough positives to rate it a 3 out of 5 stars and give a measured recommendation.
Address: 11720 Thousand Trails Rd., Willis, TX 77318
Phone: (936) 856-7888
# of sites: 360
Full hookup price: From $55/day
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Hot summer months
Lake Conroe is a large Texas lake that lies on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, just west of Interstate 45 in Montgomery and Walker counties. The lake is a popular attraction for boating, jet-skiing, and fishing. We have stayed in the Lake Conroe RV and Camping Resort twice.
Lake Conroe is about 50 miles from downtown Houston and 100 miles from Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico.
This section of the country is very mild during winter and is a good alternative to Florida or Arizona for snowbirds. Though it is often in the mid-90's during summer months and rains, on average, six days every month all year long, I think you'll find the climate very agreeable most of the year.
Being in proximity to the Houston metro area gives access to all the shopping and restaurants you might be longing for, and the Gulf of Mexico is a couple hours away via Interstate 45. We really enjoy visiting Galveston and sightseeing on the Texas coast.
The Lake Conroe RV Resort is one of the Thousand Trails parks that is expansive, giving sites plenty of room, which we always appreciate, and most have full hook-ups. There was easily 30 feet or more between RV's in the sections we have stayed in. Most sites in the resort has 50 amp power and a few camping loops have only 30 amp. There is an extra charge for the higher power. Although there are a great deal of trees around the sites, there is ample access to sky for star gazing and satellite dish setup.
In addition to all of the normal amenities, the park has an extremely nice boat launch, with parking, boat docks and even boat rentals in their private marina. This makes using the lake for fishing and water sports as convenient as possible.
The Lake Conroe RV Resort is dog friendly, allowing pens and fences, and they have a small-ish off-leash dog park in a central location. A larger dog run would be desirable.
This part of Texas receives a lot of rain, as I had mentioned, which can put a damper on outdoor activities, especially on a shorter stay. You need to be flexible or fortunate to have the sunshine and warmth to accompany an outing.
Although this is a massive resort, it can still fill up during peak seasons and holidays, meaning you should put in your reservations as far in advance as possible and be prepared to put up with loud family activity into the night. For example, we were restricted to a day shorter stay than we requested on our last reservation and a neighbor couple wanted to extend their stay a few days and were turned down.
There is a downside in being so close to the fourth largest city in the country -- traffic. City traffic begins just about seven miles from the park and can be a clogged-up mess during rush hours, even that far from Houston. The highways and business routes just haven't kept up with the population growth, it seems.
Being so large a park means that walking to an amenity of the lake can be cumbersome and we ended up driving to them instead. This is a minor complaint, but long-term or seasonal residents are scattered around the camping loops, so us interlopers can receive attitude if we are staying nearby some of them, and they seem to congregate on the weekends late into the night.
Scenes from Galveston, TX
All-in-all, we rate this park 4 out of 5 stars, and Lake Conroe RV and Camping Resort is one of our go-to parks when we are in this part of the country. We highly recommend it to snowbirds, outdoors enthusiasts and RV'ers with families.
Address: 2690 Arena Road, Unadilla, GA 31091
Phone: (478) 627-3254
# of sites: 186
Full hookup price: From $395/month
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Interstate noise
Unadilla, GA, is a small town about 45 minutes south of Macon and nearly two hours from Atlanta. It is an RPI park, an add-on for Thousand Trails memberships, and we paid a discount price of $12/night for 30 amp and full hookups. Its convenient location heading southwest from Virginia and visiting a friend in Byron were our primary purposes for choosing this campground.
This resort is open year-round and Unadilla has milder winters, meaning you can wait just a little bit longer in the year before heading to your usual winter home or region, such as Florida, Texas or Arizona. The campground has a small fishing pond onsite (catch and release) and the sites are above normal in width.
Southern Trails has several of the expected amenities, such as laundry facilities, bath house, swimming pool, miniature golf, and clubhouse, though most of those were closed during our stay due to the pandemic.
The biggest negative aspect of this park is its proximity to I-75, which was literally a stone's throw from our campsite. Tractor-trailer traffic is continuous, 24/7. There was no noise barrier at all (barbed wire doesn't block much sound), so, even though we were so close, the entire park is a noise pit. The campground caters to monthly customers, and a few of the longer-term residents mentioned that they had gotten used to the noise, but if you are staying a few days, this won't happen.
This resort looks well-past its heyday, with perhaps the exception of its newest loops. Amenities and buildings are old and dated, dirt pathways narrow and uneven, and any landscaping an afterthought at best. I mentioned that they cater to long-term residents, and we find that this type of guaranteed revenue focus tends to dissuade owners from spending much for improvements or maintenance to attract new campers. There just aren't any outstanding qualities.
There was plenty of space to have an off-leash park for dogs, but they did not have one. Speaking of dogs, we had a canine welcoming committee (the black dog in the photo), which was skittish but friendly and was wearing a harness and collar, so I was pretty certain he belonged to a camper in the resort. He wanted to play with our dogs but wouldn't let me see his tags, so I leashed up Rosie and Sadie and he followed us to the office. I tied off our dogs and stepped inside to give the park manager the scoop of a loose pet and the woman couldn't care less. She basically said that it was my problem, not hers, and she couldn't do anything about it. Fortunately, as we were walking back to our site, a young girl ran up and apologized for my having to deal with their dog. She had a leash with her and took him away with a smile. I was pretty put out with the staff not stepping up.
As an example of our noise problem, I took the video below at 3:30am from my bedroom window (next to my head when lying down), still awake due to the cacophony from the highway.
The bottom line is that we do not recommend this campground for anything but the shortest of stays, and even then we might suggest a couple nights Cracker-docking. Because the park wasn't trash-filled and the hookups all worked, I decided that two stars out of five was more appropriate than just one.
Address: 12014 Trails Ln Gloucester, VA 23061
Phone: (804) 693-6924
# of sites: 465
Full hookup price: From $58/day
Open: May 22-Dec. 31
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Muddy after rain
On the eastern coast of Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay RV Resort sits on the bank of the Piankatank River, several miles upstream from the Chesapeake Bay. Nearby are three well-known towns of historical significance, as Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and the Jamestown Settlement make up Virginia's "Historical Triangle." Gloucester Courthouse, Mathews Courthouse and Urbanna are within a half hour's drive and offer historic museums, quaint shops and interesting dining, including on the waterfront. Virginia's central location along the East Coast gives residents and visitors easy driving access to the Outer Banks of South Carolina, Washington DC, Baltimore, the Jersey Shore and even New York City.
The first thing you notice when picking out a site is the considerable size of most of them. The 20-30' between rigs is a far cry from the ten feet from our neighbors we recently experienced. That has several benefits, such as space for large dog fences, less intrusion into neighbors' personal space, and even less noise from other families.
Speaking of dog fences, there is a nice, brand new off-leash park now set up behind the camp store. Our dogs really enjoy being off leash occasionally, and this garnered their approval.
This campground is not only on a wide river, but it is also supports a rather large pond, with at least one camping loop and several cabins nearby each body of water. The park has built a couple of docks and a few strips of beach on the Piankatank for its residents for boating, swimming and fishing. The river is of significant size and gives access to Chesapeake Bay nearly year-round, though the park is closed from January to May. It was also the site of numerous actions during the Civil War, adding even more historic places to visit.
Though we did not have the opportunity to use the amenities, everything you would expect to see in a quality resort is here, including a swimming pool and hot tub, mini golf, a clubhouse, a camp store and restaurant, laundry facilities, a game room, a banquet room, playgrounds and more.
The entire state of Virginia provides history buffs with unique opportunities, as it was one of the original thirteen American colonies, with Jamestown having been settled by the English in 1607. The home state of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers, Virginia obviously occupied a place of importance in the American Revolution. The city of Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War and more than half of the war's battles were fought in the state.
This park, like many older campgrounds, can quickly become a quagmire during and after rain, with more slop than grass or gravel in all of the camping loops. We were fortunate to arrive just after a rainy period and could select a site that was less muddy, even forgoing a 50 amp connection for 30 amp. It seems like more could be done to mitigate the problem, and perhaps there are plans underway. Even more gravel would help.
Only about a third of all campsites in the park have 50 amp power connections. While this is less important in the fall and winter, the east coast summer heat and humidity might require some to have it for air conditioning. Like most Thousand Trails resorts, sites are first come, first served, so there's no guarantee of getting the hookups you want.
We would highly recommend this resort during all but the mid-summer months. The low chance of 50 amp hookups in the the most populous and humid months of summer and the sometimes excessive amount of mud are the primary reasons I have not rated this park five out of five stars, though higher quality sites with pads wouldn't hurt either. We will keep this park as our go-to eastern midway point between north and south and return nearly every year.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.