(Click here for an article I wrote about Thousand Trails.)
Address: 14152 French Town Road, Oregon House, CA 95962
Phone: (530) 692-1852
# of sites: 556
Full hookup price: From $64 per night
Open: 5/15 to 12/31
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Very few sites have sewer hookups, nearly zero cell reception
Make no mistake, this is a California campground, not Oregon as its town name implies. The Lake of the Springs RV Resort is in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains on the fringe of the Sacramento Valley. It is a very large resort, as the number of sites indicates, and is on a private small lake.
This is the one of only two Thousand Trails resorts in the region and is closer to larger towns. It is set up in several sections, from the private lake on up the hill to a section with some cell phone reception. There is a boat ramp, beaches (including a pet beach), swimming fishing and many water sports available (post COVID), as well as panning for gold and the usual entertainment amenities (pool, tennis, shuffleboard, etc.).
The sites are spacious enough and give a fair amount of privacy between them. As a mature park, there are a substantial number of full-grown trees scattered among the sites in every section except the one that has cell signal up top. With out booster we were able to get Internet in the D section, though we had to stand next to our indoor antenna to make or get phone calls. There are also deer and a substantial amount of wild birds and hummingbirds throughout the resort.
Proximity to lakes, rivers and the Sacramento Valley is a plus. Lassen Volcanic National Park is less than three hours away, as is Sacramento, Reno and Lake Tahoe. In addition, this is right in the middle of an agricultural nirvana. You'll find fresh fruit, produce and fresh-baked pies along any road-side stand most of the year, outside of winter.
Only about 20% of the camping sites in this resort have sewer hookups and none have 50 amp service, meaning we had to juggle our appliances and A/C. It's first-come-first-serve for arrivals and we were very fortunate to snag the last full-hookup site that was available. Many of the best sites are in the section immediately next to the lake, but almost all of those sites are taken by seasonal residents.
Only two of the sections are within convenient walking distance to the lake, pet beach and clubhouse. Our section was more than a half-mile away. Almost none the sites we looked at were level, with both forward/back and left/right angles remarkably steep for parking. The primary road from the main gate to the clubhouse has been freshly repaved, but most of the sections have old asphalt paths that are cracking and rough, and most sites are filled with loose gravel. I had to have my truck in 4-wheel drive to make sure I could park in and leave the entrance of our site safely.
There is an amazing lack of cellular signal in the region, including for Verizon, which was hit-or-miss, and Sprint, which was nonexistent for miles around. Even with out booster, both the cell service and Internet were faint and slow.
To call Oregon House a town would be stretching the point. The closest supermarket or box store was 30-45 miles away, depending on whether you wanted a full-sized market. The post office is relatively close by but since the park won't accept US mail, you'll need to know whether a package is coming mail or UPS to give the correct address or General Delivery.
We had our share of frustrations in this park and, for our full-time purposes, I've rated it two out of five stars. I would not have a problem recommending it to weekend warriors with kids, since they would not need the sewer hook-up for a short stay and there will be plenty of family activities available once the pandemic is over.
Click here for an article I wrote about Thousand Trails.
Address: 877 E. Rodeo Rd. Williams, AZ 86046
Phone: (928) 635-4077
# of sites: 96
Full hookup price: From $49 per night
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The Railside RV Ranch is so named because it sits along the railroad tracks of the Grand Canyon Railroad (GCRR), about a mile from the boarding center. Like Williams, the park is known for being the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, which is the main reason people stay here. Unfortunately the National Park was closed due to COVID-19 while we were there, so we could only explore Flagstaff and the surrounding areas while here and none of the resort's amenities were open.
The biggest advantage to this park, besides its proximity to the Grand Canyon, is the relatively low pricing for its sites. We saw significantly higher rates in nearby campgrounds, a few over double what we paid. Amenities include a pet spa, covered pavilion, showers, spa and sauna, and free cable TV.
The GCRR visitor and boarding center is almost walking distance from the park, about a mile away right in Williams. Several friends and acquaintances had recommended the railroad, and we were eagerly looking forward to it, but it was closed for our stay. My guess is that the scenic RR trip probably would have been the highlight of our stay.
Williams is a quaint town on Historic Route 66 that now has more modern fast food and stores than ever before, helpful for anyone staying in the area. Flagstaff, the closest populated city, is about 35 miles away and worth the drive. Within proximity to the park are Bearizona, three miles of Ponderosa Pine Forest for viewing of North American animals in natural habitats, Sedona at the foot of Oak Creek Canyon, Jerome, the old mining town, Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff and multiple locations of the south rim Grand Canyon. Fishing and boating is available in nearby Dogtown Reservoir, only about 6 miles away.
Railside is relatively pet-friendly, though they don't have an off-leash area. However, there is a large, mostly-fenced field next door in which I was able to walk the dogs to the far end and let them off-leash.
Railside is a small, somewhat dreary park that is clean but not very green, with dirt and gravel aisles and sites, though there are small trees scattered throughout the campground. It is adjacent to a couple of large apartment complexes and near an interstate highway that each take away from the ambiance of a rustic campground.
Since the park is rather small and the rates are really due to the proximity to the Grand Canyon, it's not a surprise that the amenities don't include much in the way of entertainment, such as pool, spa, tennis, shuffleboard, etc.
An off-leash dog park would be a big improvement, should they choose to add one, and the closest large box stores are in Flagstaff, 30+ miles away.
The bottom line is that if you are heading to the Grand Canyon or don't mind a lack of landscaping and amenities, this park is a clean option that is one of the least expensive in the Williams area. Since it is otherwise nothing to write home about, I rated it 3 out of five stars.
Be sure to add your comment below if you have a different opinion or is you share our views of this RV park.
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.