State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio

In our third installment of state park stays, we review parks in New England, Canada and the rust belt.

Chippokes Plantation State Park, Virginia

Cost: $35/night for non-residents.  Hookups: Water, electric. Sewer is available for extra $$  Amenities: Nice individual showers, clean bathrooms, laundry and outdoor sink for dishes. Additional Fees: None. Fees are less expensive for VA residents.  Hiking: There are several trails throughout the property; it’s heavily wooded and great for hiking! Online Reservation: Yes. Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon). Overall Rating: 4/5 We had a pretty major breakdown at this park which prevented us from exploring too much (see our Virginia post for more). What we do know is this: there's great hiking, lots of trees, very nice amenities and comfort stations and the staff is wonderful. When trailer troubles prevented us from staying in Elsie, the camp host comp'd us a cabin for free. Pocahontas, we'll be back.
  • Cost: $39/night for non-residents, water + electric.
  • Hookups: Water, electric in one loop; just electric in another
  • Amenities: Nice individual showers, clean bathrooms, laundry room with sink to do dishes.
  • Additional Fees: None. Fees are less expensive for VA residents. 
  • Hiking: There is a paved trail out to the old plantation that takes you past a real working farm!
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, cell service limited / spotty (Verizon).
  • Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Chippokes was a bit expensive for our taste, but it was nice! We stayed in the loop with water and electric; all the sites were paved and very nice bath house with laundry. The camp host was fantastic, and while it's a small park it was well kept. Take the trail past the working farm; Costello got a kick out of the donkey there and he went swimming in the James River, too. Take the ferry across the James into Williamsburg. It's a fun ride and less time consuming than driving around!

Pocahontas State Park, Virginia

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $35/night for non-residents. 
  • Hookups: Water, electric. Sewer is available for extra $$ 
  • Amenities: Nice individual showers, clean bathrooms, laundry and outdoor sink for dishes.
  • Additional Fees: None. Fees are less expensive for VA residents. 
  • Hiking: There are several trails throughout the property; it’s heavily wooded and great for hiking!
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon).
  • Overall Rating: 4/5

We had a pretty major breakdown at this park which prevented us from exploring too much (see our Virginia post for more). What we do know is this: there's great hiking, lots of trees, very nice amenities and comfort stations and the staff is wonderful. When trailer troubles prevented us from staying in Elsie, the camp host comp'd us a cabin for free. Pocahontas, we'll be back.

NOVA Parks Bull Run, Virginia

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $78/night for cabins which do not have a bathroom, but do come with fridge and microwave. Must bring your own sheets/bedding. // $29/night for electric-only site for non-residents. 
  • Hookups: Electric. Water and sewer also available, though we declined to save $$.
  • Amenities: Nice bath houses and showers. Some comfort stations are better than others! Laundry and dish washing available, too. 
  • Additional Fees: None. Fees are less expensive for VA residents.
  • Hiking: Hiking is pretty limited — there are some short trails. We recommend the Blue Bell trail in spring when they’re blooming! 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon + US Cellular).
  • Overall Rating: 3/5

This is one of two county parks close to D.C. They are pretty much your best and only bet for camping with amenities while visiting the area. We stayed in a cabin most of the time we were here with my mom and grandmother who visited. We showered in the comfort stations and used all the amenities, including DVD library at the main office. Overall, this place is just average. 

Trap Pond State Park, Delaware

Cost: $35/night for non-residents.  Hookups: Water, electric. Sewer is available for extra $$  Amenities: Nice individual showers, clean bathrooms, laundry and outdoor sink for dishes. Additional Fees: None. Fees are less expensive for VA residents.  Hiking: There are several trails throughout the property; it’s heavily wooded and great for hiking! Online Reservation: Yes. Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon). Overall Rating: 4/5 We had a pretty major breakdown at this park which prevented us from exploring too much (see our Virginia post for more). What we do know is this: there's great hiking, lots of trees, very nice amenities and comfort stations and the staff is wonderful. When trailer troubles prevented us from staying in Elsie, the camp host comp'd us a cabin for free. Pocahontas, we'll be back.
  • Cost: $26/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric. 
  • Amenities: Bath houses aren’t great, but they are clean. No laundry, no outdoor sink for dishes. 
  • Additional Fees: one. Fees are less expensive for DE residents. Rates also dependent on season (fall, winter, summer, spring).
  • Hiking: Highly recommend the BOB trail which runs the perimeter of the park and takes you past a historic church. 4.6 mile loop. 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon).
  • Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Trap Pond was inexpensive and a pretty comfortable stay even though the comfort stations aren't really great. The showers are old and need a facelift, but they were workable. The trail around the park is nice and the location was great for us. We'd recommend it again.

Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, New Jersey

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $35/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: Decent showers and comfort station. Will warn it is small and older. No laundry or outdoor sink for dishes. 
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: Lots of hiking trails in this beautiful county park.  We recommend the Highlands Loop and Pine Swamp Loop Trail. Go to Headley Overlook if you visit.
  • Online Reservation: No. Pretty sure you either have to call or walk up.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon).
  • Overall Rating: 3.5/5

We loved this little county park in upstate New Jersey. It was small and the comfort station a little dated, but for the most part it was clean and the sites were paved and it's heavily wooded which means quite a bit of privacy. The water hookup is a little different here; it's a hose in the middle of the woods between all the campsites, but it worked for us. We also hiked a lot here and really enjoyed it. 

West Thompson Lake, Connecticut

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $30/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: As expected with Army Corps of Engineers Parks, there was a very nice shower/comfort station. No laundry or outdoor sink for dishes.
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: Yes, there were several smaller trails and one longer hike — probably about 4 miles round trip — that takes you by the lake and to an abandoned bridge area. It was serene & wonderful. 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon).
  • Overall Rating: 4/5

West Thompson Lake is an Army Corps of Engineers park, and in our experience they tend to be very nice and have great showers. West Thompson was no exception. It had really nice and well appointed comfort stations, plus there were some cool, shorter hikes right from the campground. The sites are dirt, not paved, so if you've got a Costello of your own (aka dog), be prepared for some dust. 

Salt Rock Campground, Connecticut

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $52/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric. Though mostly only electric. There’s a limited number of spaces with both for RVs and trailers. 
  • Amenities: The comfort stations were gross, very outdated — we did not use them. No laundry. No outdoor sink. 
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: No. There’s a walking path to the river, but definitely not a trail. 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon).
  • Overall Rating: 1/5

This park was a rip off and we pretty much told the staff so. We cannot figure out why this park is $52 while West Thompson, less than an hours drive away, is 30 less. Mind blowing. The comfort stations were so unclean / malnourished that we didn't use them. Plus there are only 8 sites with electric and water, so if you want to shower in your camper make sure you get one of those. Overall I would not recommend.

Fishermen’s Memorial State Park, Rhode Island

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $35/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: Pay showers. No laundry. No outdoor sink for dishes. 
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: No.
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No Wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon).  
  • Overall Rating: 3/5

We got to Fishermen's Memorial just before their really busy season; basically we were lucky to get in! We hear it fills up early. This is a big park with a small park on the premises. But no hiking or beach access from the park. The sites are all paved and spacious. A downfall for us was the pay showers. We showered in our trailer since we had a water hookup so it wasn't a big deal.

Lake Umbagog State Park, New Hampshire

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $35/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: Pay showers. There was one coin washer/dryer available. No outdoor sink for dishes. 
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: No hiking, but it’s really a canoeing/boating/kayaking kind of place. There are different islands you can explore only via boat!
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, no cell service (Verizon). 
  • Overall Rating: 4/5

First, don't follow Google Maps here. Second, when you arrive you'll probably think that it's not much to look at. But if you can strike #1 and #2 from your mind before you get there, you'll settle in almost as quickly as we did! It's great. Not a park suitable for huge RVs as many of the sites are small, but the park is a gem. Comfort stations are surprisingly nice. Laundry on site. You're incredibly close to the lake and you can rent kayaks and canoes from the office to enjoy the main feature of this park: THE LAKE. 

Winhall Brook Campground, Vermont

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $26/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: Very nice comfort stations with outdoor sinks nearby for dishes. Only one shower per gendered bathroom, but it was good and hot! No laundry. 
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: The campground connects to the West River Trail, which Mel highly recommends. 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: Wifi is free, but only available at the camp office. It was decent. Cell service was limited, but we had a site where we got 1-2 bars (Verizon). 
  • Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Winhall Brook was a sprawling park nestled in rural Vermont. It was, as usual for Army Corps of Engineers parks, well maintained and well appointed. Only one shower per gendered comfort station, but it was hot and clean. Comfort stations are nice. Plenty of outdoor sinks to wash dishes. Sites were huge with lots of privacy. We did have a weak Verizon signal in the park, but it was more than our neighbors not on Verizon. So beware that cell service could be a problem. Really close to Ball Mountain Lake and hiking and biking along the West River Trail.

Voyageur Provincial Park, Ontario near Montreal

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $37/night with taxes + fees. 
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: Comfort stations in each campground loop, there is a nice updated one in the middle that we didn’t know about until our last day. The showers were painful and cold. Very high pressure and didn’t warm up. There was laundry and sink for washing dishes. 
  • Additional Fees: None. We chose this park instead of Quebec parks because a) many Quebec parks only allowed dogs on a trial basis, and those that did did not offer full hookups; b) we would have had to buy an annual pass for entry. These two options made it better for us to go the Ontario route. 
  • Hiking: We didn’t encounter many hiking trails, though we did walk to the beach area quite often. 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Our Verizon plan allowed us to pay just $5/day for access to our data + cell service on my iPhone6 in Canada. Was on the Rogers network)
  • Overall Rating: 2.5/5

Canada was a learning experience for us, as you can probably tell! 1. Check your Verizon plan to see if you can get a travel pass to use your data / minutes in Canada for a small daily fee. 2. If looking at parks in Quebec, they just started a pilot program to allow dogs. But most of the sites that do allow them don't have electric or water hookups. 3. If staying at parks in Quebec, you'll need to purchase an annual pass which will add on to your final bill. For reasons #2 and #3, we chose to stay in an Ontario park just on the other side of the border. It was a drive, and honestly we weren't that impressed with the park itself, but we are cheap. And we have a dog. We're learning(!)

Bronte Creek Provincial Park, Ontario near Toronto

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $37/night with taxes + fees.
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: Rather large comfort station with individual showers at the head of our loop. It was busy, but clean and the showers weren’t hot, but much warmer than the others. No laundry. No outdoor washing station. 
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: Not many hiking trails in the camping part of the park. But there was an amazing off-leash dog park nearby that was basically a wide-open fenced-off field. Costello loved it. 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No Wifi. Cell service via Verizon (see above post for details on our out of country service).  
  • Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Bronte Creek was a much nicer park than Voyageur. It's a big, big park with lots of camping and electric hookups. Note that the campground is not at the actual park itself; you'll drive to the gates and they'll give you typed directions on how to navigate to the camping portion. The site are huge with lots of grass and fire pits. Comfort stations were really nice and clean, though the water never got "hot." And there was a huge off-leash dog park nearby, great for Costello. 

Leonard Harrison State Park, Pennsylvania

State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
State Park Stays: Virginia to Ohio | Local Color XC
  • Cost: $30/night.
  • Hookups: Electric only. No water.
  • Amenities: Nice + clean comfort station with outdoor sink for washing dishes. No laundry. 
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: The Turkey Path trail connects you with PA’s Pine Creek Trail, a rails to trails network. That’s 60+ miles of hiking and biking along the river!
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, no to cell service (Verizon).  
  • Overall Rating: 3/5

Leonard Harrison is a pretty remote park on a winding road that leads you to PA's Grand Canyon. It's a smaller park with only 30 campsites or so and only a few of those offering electric. There are no water hookups here. The comfort stations were surprisingly nice and clean for this size of campground. There was also a nice outdoor sink for washing dishes. The sites are large so you're never too close to neighbors. Overall just a really nice park within feet of the scenic overlook. It's a hidden gem for sure! Oh - but no cell service :(. Go to Wellsboro for that. 

Tomlinson Run State Park, West Virginia

Tomlinson Run SP Campground.jpg
  • Cost: $25/night.
  • Hookups: Water, electric.
  • Amenities: The comfort stations don’t look like much, but it was a nice, hot shower. And they were always clean. Laundry was available. No outside sink for dishes, but there was a sink in the laundry area.
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: No much hiking, but walking through the park is beautiful and satisfying.
  • Online Reservation: No; call or walk up only. 
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon).
  • Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Carson had a boys weekend in Pittsburgh with his friends and we were looking for a place where Costello and I could camp out. There wasn't anything incredibly close to Pittsburgh, and on a whim I decided to see if there was anything in WV's middle finger to stay at (look at a U.S. map, you'll know what I mean). Turns out Tomlinson run was about 50 min. away and pretty cheap. The park is nice -- big swimming pool, boat access, paved roads, hiking. The comfort stations don't look it, but they are clean and nice. I had some really good showers here! Overall a great campsite. Only downfall is that you are taking lots of rural roads and steep turns to get there if traveling between here and Pittsburgh. Drive slow. 

Punderson State Park, Ohio

  • Cost: $26/night.
  • Hookups: Electric. Water available only at select few sites.
  • Amenities: Comfort stations were in fair condition; not great, not new, but cleaned regularly. No laundry, no place to wash dishes — which was a bummer.
  • Additional Fees: None.
  • Hiking: Limited hiking; what Mel calls “midwest trails” which are mowed paths through open prairies. 
  • Online Reservation: Yes.
  • Wifi / Cell Service: No wifi, yes to cell service (Verizon). 
  • Overall Rating: 3/5

Punderson was an easy and comfortable park to stay at while visiting Cleveland. We were about 40 mins. from downtown and it was an easy drive. The park is giant and entry give you access to the beach and you can drive over to the manor area to tour the historic building, swim in the public pool, play volleyball or visit the cabins. The bathrooms were dated but clean and the showers were fine. They have also crammed a lot of sites in here -- if the park hadn't only been a quarter full and we didn't get the chance to choose our spot, I don't know if we'd have been happy with a lot of the different set ups. Also: absolutely no place to do dishes here.