We learned two things in reading online campground reviews: One, there are some seriously sketchy campgrounds out there, and, two, people have wildly different expectations for what a campground should be. Some reviews are entertaining, some are downright scary, some are ridiculous.
Here are our favorites.
1. Campground near Mt. Shasta, California, Yelp
“There were pine needles EVERYWHERE in our site and in everyone else’s for that matter. Not only could that have been a fire hazard but it would have been nice to arrive in a CLEAN campsite. This is a small attention to detail that would go a long way.”
2. Mather Campground, Grand Canyon National Park, Yelp
“Our particular site was rocky, especially in the main walkways. I stubbed my toe a couple of times.”
3. Campground in northern California, Yelp
“People do not understand what the concept of a KOA is. Its not to go camping out in the middle of nature and take in the stars and see a bear walking around.”
4. Campground near Eureka, California, Yelp
“Upon arriving to this campground, I happened to step in human feces in the bathroom stall. Then we got a surprise when we arrived to our site. We had planned to cook over a fire that night, but, as it happened, our cabin did not happen to come with a fire pit. The basketball hoop was in the middle of the road so, as it happened, there were cars interrupting our game at every given moment.”
5. Hodgdon Meadows Campground, Yosemite National Park, California, Yelp
“We stayed in this camp site in the first two nights of our camping trip. It was pretty nice with a lot of pine trees and shady location where is near to the restroom. It was our first camping experience, we were adjusting to the new surrounding at the first night. The temperature is very different from day to night. It was hot in the day time, but freezing cold at night. I was awakened by the coldness at the first night and couldn’t fall back to sleep after I tugged back to my sleeping bag. I felt awful about the fact that I was lack of sleep. My hubby did not sleep well either-he was awaken by someone’s loud snore nearby. That is one of the drawbacks in camping.
“Hitting those scenes is remarkable. e.g. Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, Mirror Lake. But camping is tough, dirty and tiring, not to mention the lousy quality of sleep.
“We will never go camping again! It is a LOT of work!
“I rather stay in a cabin, or RV or a hotel. Camping is not for me!”
6. Campground near San Jose, California, Yelp
“It is hard to reduce to words how bad the tent ‘campsites’ are. They are not really ‘campsites,’ they are just a road that has a series of places to set up a tent on a portion of the road and shoulder thereto. There is a very real possibility of someone’s tent getting run over or hit by a car here.”
7. Campground near Joshua Tree National Park, Yelp
“We got turned away from the lake itself because I had my bearded dragon with me. I wanted to let her get some sun and enjoy myself at the same time. Well, one of the wardens told me I had to have her on a leash if I wanted to be around the lake because he didn’t want her ‘jumping in and harming the delicate ecosystem.’
“A lizard on a leash. Riiiiiight…”
8. Campground near Jackson, Wyoming, Yelp
“After we came back, I spent a whole day cleaning and washing. everything was dirty! I strained my arm muscle washing tons of clothes and camping stuff. It is not that much fun! I will never go on a camping trip again! It is Work! Not a vacation! I rather spend on a hotel instead of a camp site. It is just not worth it!”
9. Tuolumne Meadows Campground, Yosemite National Park, California, Yelp
“We were told that they had wifi. What we weren’t told is that they have it configured so badly that it is impossible for anyone to access it. The ineptitude of this campground’s IT skills made my life incredibly difficult while staying there. There is no TV, you cannot get any radio stations, and you should just plain forget about trying to use a cell phone, because it’s just not going to happen. Unless you stand in the middle of the highway-which, if you’re unfortunate enough to stay here, you might want to do anyway…out of sheer depression.”
10. Campground near Stockton, California, Yelp
“That night a group literally had a dance party. They were respectful if you came over, but you shouldn’t have real DJ with color lights, a mixing table, and professional speakers out at midnight in a KOA.”
11. Campground near Cloverdale, California, Yelp
“Don’t expect to catch up on the news: cable TV isn’t available, and while there is wifi, you’re going to have to pay an additional fee if you want to use it.”
12. KOA Las Vegas Strip, Nevada, TripAdvisor
“After our bikes were stolen, the security guard said that they have had a theft of at least once a week since Sept 2010 and often more than that during the summer. The detective in Tourist Crimes with the Las Vegas Police Department said the same thing. Specifically the thieves target rental RVs but others are also at risk. If they don’t take bikes off the RV then they break a window and take electronics etc from inside the RV. The thieves always come around just after sunset when people are at dinner and then are gone by around 8 pm. Of course if you haven’t had anything stolen you don’t think it is a problem. We would have appreciated at least a warning from the KOA staff since they are well aware of the problem.
“If you do risk going there, the best bet is to buy the cheapest used bike possible and leave it out as a decoy. That way, they won’t bust a window and go through your stuff on the inside.”
13. Camp 4, Yosemite National Park, California, Yelp
“The place (Camp 4) basically was nothing but a noisy zoo filled with screaming, trash-throwing monkeys. There’s no peace or quietness in that camp, no sleep at all (how are you supposed to get up early to start your long hike and how do you recover from workouts without sleep?)”
14. Fernwood Resort, Big Sur, California, Yelp
“Why do I give this place one star? Stupid, drunk, 30-year-old Jersey-Shore-wannabe douchebags blaring ’90s rap and ’70s classic rock from their boom box 24/7 while rambling about how Robert Plant is still the most amazing musician alive. You know the type, right? Ugh.”
15. Campground near Big Sur, California, Yelp
“Also, for some reason this place thinks 10pm is not quiet time, it is do NOT make a sound because staff are hiding in the trees watching your every move. SERIOUSLY DON’T FART YOU WILL GET YELLED AT We could not even whisper at our campfire because the staff was consistently bugging us to quiet down when it was them making the noise telling us to quiet down. But don’t worry, because you will listen to RV generators all night long.”
16. Campground near, Stockton, California, Yelp
“On our final night a camper managed to steal a Golf Kart from one of the security guards and as he recklessly drove through the camp he hit our tent and almost ran over our daughter. When security finally caught him they were unable to control him and his friends and the situation got really bad.
“The sheriff came and the thief was arrested which really angered his friends and they continuously came back to our campsite threatening us. Security stayed by us, but had no real control of the situation and wanted to eject the campers.
“Unfortunately the owner overruled security and allowed them to stay. The thief’s friends continued to threaten us and screamed at my young daughter that they wish she had been run over. They were very drunk.”
Photo by David Sutherland
Camp Notes is a big high five to the fun of sleeping outdoors and all that comes along with it. You know, camping and stuff.