Thousand Trails offered a new add on this year called “Trails Collection.” The upgrade makes over 100 more campgrounds available to members (on a more limited basis). The price we paid ($199) makes it a good deal even if you intend to use it only a week or two during the year. Twin Mills Camping Resort is our first Trails Collection campground.
The campground itself is an older campground with over 500 sites. Most, if not all, of the sites have electric and water. Many have full hookups. The main clientele is made up of seasonal campers. One man told me that they have been coming here seasonally over 20 years. There are many nicely done spots, with park model trailers and attractive landscaping. There are also many sites for traveling/weekend campers. Less of them are FHU, but many of them are. The campsites are in a primarily pine forest with lots of shade (and pinecones).
There’s a big pool, a few playgrounds, and limited lake access. Only a very few spots actually afford lake views and they have been occupied by permanent residents for many years.
Over the weekend the place was very busy. The campground, while not full, was well used and there were activities, mainly for the kids. It seemed that everyone had a campfire and at times the smoke was so thick it looked as if a heavy fog had descended on the place. Once the weekend passed the majority of the campers left and the air cleared.
Our only big complaint was associated with our arrival. Unlike Thousand Trails which is (supposedly) first-come-first-served so far as campsites are concerned the Trails Collection campgrounds let you specify your site amenities, if available. At least that’s how it is supposed to work. Here’s the deal: the Trails Collection campgrounds are supposed to set aside 10 campsites for the program. When we arrived, we were told that Thousand Trails is way overbooking those 10 sites. Because of that, we were told, there weren’t any more FHU sites left out of the allocated spots. That didn’t work well for us, especially since we were in for a longer stay. The folks in the office insisted that, in spite of the many vacant FHU sites that there was nothing available to me, a lowly Trails Collection customer. I decided to phone Thousand Trails service center to see if they could help. However, while I was on hold the folks at the front desk found a few FHU sites I could pick from. We moved into a nice spot among the seasonals and settled in. From what I was told by other travelers this is not an unusual situation for this particular campground.
Aside from the challenging situation upon our arrival we have no complaints about this campground. It’s a nice place in an interesting area.
Bear Cave Thousand Trails is just north of South Bend, Indiana in the southwestern corner of Michigan. The campground is situated along the St. Joseph River and there are several sites along the river. Most of these sites are a bit smaller and all are 30 amp/water sites. Campers with smaller rigs will enjoy these sites. There are several FHU 50 amp sites but many of these are sold to seasonal residents. Still, there were vacant FHU sites while we were at the campground. Most of the available FHU sites are large sites on or around a field rather than in the wooded areas beside the river. Not only would we have not fit in the river or playground sites, we wouldn’t have been able to get a satellite TV signal so we were satisfied with our back in site along the perimeter of the field sites.
The road into the campground is a bit of a concern. It is gravel and just barely wide enough for two RV’s to meet. “Just barely” may even be a bit optimistic depending on how close to the edge the drivers are willing to get. This isn’t a huge deal because the road in is fairly short, but it is something people might want to know.
Our Verizon signal was barely there even using a cradle booster. We had internet but it was only fair at best and sometimes unusable. Compounding the problem is the fact that there is no WiFi anywhere in the campground – not at the Activity Center and not for pay. I think Jackie and I both went through a bit of Internet withdrawal – not necessarily a bad thing.
The campground has a big pool (too cold for us in early June – but well-used by the kids) and a big Activity Center. The spa was out of service. These are a ways from the FHU section of the campground.
During our visit the cave itself was closed due to winter flooding. Work was being done on it and on the nice river walkway that was also damaged. The nicest feature of the campground, in my opinion, was a pretty waterfall that is right at the heart of the campground. In fact, there are some campsites that overlook the waterfall. I imagine that with the sound of the water that tenting in those sites must be great for sleeping!
Really, I think there’s a lot to like about this campground. It is a bit tired and in need of some corporate financial TLC but really, this is a pretty good Thousand Trails.
Cedar Lake Ministries, located about an hour southeast of Chicago in northwestern Indiana, has roots reaching back over 100 years when Chicago’s Moody Church took over management of a railroad recreation destination on a large lake. The ministry at this retreat center continues to this day. The Center has a nice RV park that is open to the public and that is where we have been the past few days. The RV park offers FHU back in sites, some with 50 amp electric service. The sites aren’t especially deep, but there is adequate parking for extra vehicles. The bathhouse is nicely done and clean. Water spigots are on shared hookups between every other site, equally unhandy to those on both sides so extra water hose will likely be needed. WiFi was pretty good although we did get frequent drops requiring us to reconnect. The sites on the north side of the road in and out are most likely to be satellite friendly. While we were at the campground there was a Christian music concert that we were welcome to attend. We thought the music was pretty good. There is no direct lake access but it is just a short walk to the public portion of the retreat center where there are benches along the lake, affording us nice views. My Verizon signal was good. We give this retreat center campground two thumbs up and would happily return.