Like most RV’ers I prefer open ended camping destinations. However, during busy periods I know that I might end up out of luck so I compromise and make advance reservations when I’m headed for a popular spot or going to be out over a holiday weekend.
This is the case with our time in Estes Park, CO – the busiest time (July 4 weekend) in a very popular area. This year the county has purchased an older RV park, Marys Lake at Estes Park, turning it into a county park. As a commercial park, this one got poor reviews, however, the county has taken it over and it’s now a work in progress.
It’s a huge campground, with everything from tent sites to full hookup sites. We wanted full hookups so we ended up in the “parking lot” section. The place was packed over the 4th, but by the evening of the 5th there were lots of open sites. One of the nice things about the park is that there are a number of work camper “hosts.” These are fellow RV’ers, friendly, and out here because this is where they want to be. One fellow spent a half hour helping me back into a site that was really too short for my 30′ camper. He helped me get squeezed in between the concrete slab “patio” on one side and the electric/water pole on the other side. Once in there was about a couple of feet to spare. He then stuck around to help me level. Such help is fairly unusual except for upper end parks. (I guess it should be added, that it is also unnecessary in parks with wide, level sites!)
The park is just 5 minutes from one of the Rocky Mountain National park entrances. The only real grocery store in town, Safeway, is on the opposite side of Estes Park 10 or 15 minutes away depending on traffic.
When I booked the site I thought I was getting a good deal, $30 a night in a popular spot and full hookups. Once I got here, saw the tightness of the campground, the clean, but dated, restrooms, and especially the sneaky $7 a night park “admission fee” I decided I just did average. A total of $37 a night is high elsewhere, but I think I would have ended up at $45 or more in other are full hookup campgrounds.
The campground has a small laundry, bathhouses, and wifi is included in the price.
So: I’d rate the park, itself at a 6 or 7. I’d rate the value at a 7 or 8. Considering the location and the fact that when I’m at this park my main focus is on the national park, I’d likely return.