SNAPSHOT REVIEW: 1= poor……5 stars = Outstanding
- Location (ease of access, things to do in the area) = 4 (Lake George is 10 miles away)
- Camp Site Quality (ease of getting into site, surface, hookups quality, privacy) = 4
- Campground Amenities (onsite pool, laundry, common areas, snack bar, etc) = 4
- Kid-Friendly = 4
- Adult-Friendly Amenities/Adult getaway = 2
- Pet Friendly (amenities like dedicated dog park, trails, activities) = 2
- Cell Signal = 1 (2 bars on 4G, Verizon), (Wifi only around pool area)
- Site # we had this trip #704
- Cleanliness: excellent. Sites are cleaned after check out, public buildings are very clean, modern and in good working order
- Cost $96 per night, 4 night minimum in Summer season (all sites are FHU)
We are fortunate to live in an area of upstate NY and at the base of the Adirondack Mountains where there are a plethora of campgrounds and RV resorts. Some are older, a tad run down but usable, others are newer or have kept up with upgrades and attract huge numbers of RVers with tons of amenities and great sites. To name some of the better, largers ones; Moose Hillock-NY, Lake George Escape, Lake George RV Park, King Phillips Campground, Riverbend Campground. The first two being large resorts with tons to offer, others being more modest but very decent traditional campgrounds but with great access to all that the Lake George region has to offer.
For our annual “grandson getaway” weekend this summer we chose to do a stay at Moose Hillock Camping Resort on RT 149 in Fort Ann, NY. (they say Lake George on their marketing materials only for marketing purposes, it is not located in Lake George)
There were several reasons for selecting this campground, one of which was our kids have to drive right by it to get to our house when they are coming from their home in VT- so this made the trip easier for them to drop off and pick up the kiddies. Secondly, we knew from pictures and reports from friends who had stayed here that their pool is amazing, heated and large and the kids would love it. Lastly, that the sites are super huge (room for kids to play) and very private from each other. We hate feeling stacked up like jets on a runway which has unfortunately become more the norm in many RV campgrounds these days.
I am just going to cover a few key things for us about this campground in this review. Certainly we encourage our readers to check out our review on Campendium, or others in Trip Advisor and other online review sites.
SITES: Moose Hillock opened about 8 years ago and sits on 182 acres. It has 749 sites and each one is thoughtfully carved out of the woods with a ton of privacy woods, bushes and topography between each site. 90% of the sites were definitely laid out with big 5th wheel trailers in mind. We loved all the room around our rig as it made a great space for the kids to play and for us to even park our extra car (was handy to have to shuttle up to pool and to Lake George, or drop off garbage-more on that later).
A drawback for us regarding the site was that all the roads in the park and the sites themselves are all hard pack gravel. This surface prevented me from pushing in my lawn flags and also was not a soft, nice ground for kids to play on. Even walking on our patio mat bare foot was a bit uncomfortable. On the positive side, the drainage is very good, so no muddy sites like we have experienced elsewhere so i guess comfort versus mud is a worthwhile trade off.
There were no issues with the electrical hook up (50-30-20), but we always use our Progressive Industries monitor regardless to ensure no issues. Cable worked well. Cell signal was nearly non existent and only Wifi is available up at pool area. Sewer hookup was set up for 5th wheelers and was closer to front of site and higher than normal for us. This caused us to have to pull further forward in the back in site than we normally would have because we have our discharge valve towards rear of our rig versus 5ers who typically have their mid way on their curbside.
Site privacy was excellent and certainly the best we have ever had at a privately owned for profit campground. We could barely see our neighbors curbside a little from our site, but it was not an issue. The site pad is huge and hard pack gravel with good drainage. We were on site #704 and would use again but it would be nice if we did not have the skunk smell every day and night–so maybe he will move?! Not sure if skunks were a problem in other sites and we do not leave any food out, nothing in campfire area either but wow…the smell at night even caused me to have to close my bedroom window one night- the skunk had to be right underneath me!
AMENITIES: Their pirate-themed pool area certainly is the claim to fame for this campground. I would argue, compared to other campground “resorts” we have stayed at ….this is their ONLY real claim to fame. The pool is lightly salted water, no eye stinging and hey, salt water is far better for you than chlorine! It is heated just enough for us to take that initial chill off when dipping in, but not so hot that you feel like you are in a bathtub-which we do not like either and is in our opinion a breeding ground for germs especially when loaded with kids. So we were all good with pool temp and salt water. The large 2 story rock backdrop with skull head was a “wow” for our grandsons but they were intimidated by the water slides and would not go down either one. Kevin and I did go down the big one…gotta say, had been many many moons since I one, but I wanted to show the kids that I could do it! It was fun! The pool has a whole side that is a gradual walk in so perfect for any age toddler to grown up. One side has a nice ledge for adult sitters too which we liked. There are some faux rocks around the edges shooting streams of water which we and the kids liked. A night, the whole “mountain” and skull are lit up as well as nice colored lights in the pool. See best photos of this on their website.
The max depth of the pool is 4 feet so our 6 year old grandson could touch bottom almost 3/4 of the way in. There are lots of kids in the pool, this is after all a family resort to be sure. There are no “adult only” hours or areas sectioned off. This might be a great idea for them to do as the pool certainly is large enough. Most of the kids were actually very respectful of the adults but I was surprised at the allowance of floats, tubes and ball play which the latter sometimes got a bit out of hand. The weather during our stay was not super sunny or hot, so the pool was not to capacity but i can imagine when it is, that ball play could be downright dangerous and maybe they curtail it. There are NO lifeguards on duty but there are staffers atop the two slides to ensure no foul play or too young venture down where they should not.
Their playground area in our opinion was very lacking considering this is clearly marketed as a family, kid friendly resort. The playground consisted of one piece of traditional swings and then five or so pressure treated climb on items like a ship, train, tractor with hay trailer. These were nothing unique or that captivating for our 4 & 6 year olds to be sure. They spent all of maybe 10-15 minutes in the playground and were bored. Thankfully there was one bench that we adults could at least sit down on to watch.
They do have a large 400 seat pavilion which is near the pool area and set on a large swath of nice grass. Due to intermittent showers the whole weekend we did not partake in any of the planned activities but we will assume they were still held underneath the pavilion. This is not closed in, but since the park has a pretty short season Mid May to Mid October, as long as you bring a jacket in shoulder seasons you should be warm enough. Their planned activities seem to definitely focus around weekends. The activities include live bands, musicians, magic shows, science projects and of course the proverbial bingo! This area is also the only part of the park that has nice paved trails and we saw several kids really taking advantage of it and going round and round this small rotary just to get some bike riding in. A further testament that the resort gravel and dirt roads are not bike friendly.
Laundry Facilities: There are two very clean and modern facilities, again near the main hub of the pool, pavilion and golf cart rental area. The cost was $3.00 for a wash and again for a dry. There were no signs for how long the dryer ran for that amount, but this rate is quite a bit higher than other parks we have visited. The facility I photographed was very clean, nice new machines which had an app feature that you could download, use and directly pay via a stored credit card-thereby avoiding the need to spit dollars into a change machine or carry around tons of quarters to meet the $6 it was going to cost you for one load. We did see one person using the dryer, i suspect more to just dry soggy beach towels. This park definitely attracts more regional visitors who are staying a week or so and in fact, many 5ers have their own W/D so i suspect this laundry really does not get a lot of use. There are NOT a lot of seasonal sites here that are used every day but rather they are weekend get away’s for folks living in the Albany/Capital District area which is only 1.5 hours to the south.
Main Lodge: The main lodge is located right at the main entrance to the campground. Registration lines are ample to pull off to go inside to check in. The staff was very friendly and helpful and reviewed all necessary information.
Also inside this building to the right is an arcade which features top line thrill rides like motocross, Jurassic Park, several shoot em up military modern games (my son in law would have loved) and of course several of those grab the toy game machines. They also have 2 skee bowl lanes which I love but the signs on them clearly say that they are NOT for prize tickets, so you are just playing for scores, not prizes. This deflated Lucas, our 6 year old and he moved on. At least the bells, sounds and lights of other machines were more reward for his $1. Kevin amused the boys for nearly 2 hours and $20 later on Saturday when I had errands to run into town.
Their snack bar sits off the back side of the building and overlooking the pool which you can see in the photo above. Pricing was pretty typical for a captive audience (we are talking pirate theme here afterall!) and so for the four of us for lunch, burger, chix fingers, and two grilled cheese sandwiches, one fry and 1 soda was around $33. Sawyer and I had the grilled cheese @$4 which was decent I thought and the cheapest thing on the menu. It was fun for the kids to eat at the pool area and under the Hawaiian style palm laden umbrella tables for one time.
They have a pretty decent camp store full of all the expected essentials and basic RV supplies. Their gift line focuses around a pirate theme as well as their own logo items which include their signature moose. Speaking of moose….they do have a mascot but we did not see him/her anywhere the four days we were there.
My suggestion would be they take a cue from Jellystone Parks and do a tractor pulled hayride type of thing through the park at least one x per day on weekends and have the mascot on board for the kids.
(if they do something like this I did not see it on our schedule)More of my suggestions for this park to follow below….
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT: (these are ranked in order of importance in my opinion of importance and ease of adoption)
#1 Provide trash pick up at campsites on a daily basis. This is fairly routine at most campgrounds we go to these days both large and small operations. Garbage pickup prevents hoarding of trash outside (we do not do) which begets skunks and other varmints (could be reason for our invasion each night). Surely at $96 per night and seemingly more than enough staff and workampers this could be done.
#2 Post an adult only swim time in the evenings even if only for one hour, or better yet, cordon off a section of the pool that is for adult swimming only at all times. Easy peasy to do.
#3 Pave at least the main roads in and out of each loop in campground. Thankfully it was pretty rainy during our stay, but the roads here must be so dusty when dry. The rigs along the main loop roads must get filthy (outside and in) and their towels out to dry must as well! yuck!
#4 Provide some sort of “quiet inside wifi and libary area” either in main lodge or separate building. There is no table game room, no where to visit if bad weather with a bunch of friends. Have this also have adult only times so adults that may need to do work while traveling can get good signal and peace and quiet. There were no area we say with a book lending, dvd lending, etc. either. Most campground all have something.
#5 Do a tractor pull wagon ride through the camp 1 x per day at least and feature the Moose mascot on board. The moose could also do cameo showings at the arcade now and then too.
#6 with 182 acres, perhaps they could create a nice paved bike trail system through the grounds for means to safely get to the activity areas or to just enjoy the woods without fear of being hit by a car or falling on sharp, hard gravel.
Some readers may think I am being overly critical of this campground by venturing suggestions for improvements. Those who know me, know my background in regional tourism. I am a former Executive Director/CEO of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB and have been deeply involved in operating both my own local tourist guide service as well as involved in other tourism attractions and have consulted local and regional businesses in tourism marketing, etc. Add onto that an RV camping background grown over 20 years off and on and staying in many parks in the northeast especially…So my suggestions come with a background of knowledge of what today’s marketplace consumer is looking for and how a business could position themselves from being good, very good…to spectacular!
Hope you enjoyed this candid review. We did enjoy ourselves at this park? Yes. Will we stay here again? maybe, but I would bring the grandsons to other “resort” campgrounds in our area first for their expert opinions to be the judge of which is the best! The kids did say they would love to visit the NH Moose Hillock to see the pirate ship pool….it does look cool!!
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Luisa and Kevin Sherman