Over the last five years we have spent more than 120 nights camping at dozens of campgrounds with our three young boys Max, Theo, and Wes. Well, after four days camping in Virginia at Jellystone Park in Luray, our boys have proclaimed it to be their Favorite. Campground. Ever.
On our first day there we realized it would be possible to have an amazing family getaway without ever leaving the campground. The packed schedule of activities, wonderful amenities, and energetic staff kept our whole family happy from breakfast to bedtime.
Here are our top 12 reasons why your family should choose Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia for your next family camping adventure:
1. Spacious Campsites: Easy to back into, our site was roomy enough for the boys to run and stretch their legs. We also enjoyed the added benefit of being directly across from the playground. This meant that we could relax in our zero gravity chairs while watching them climb and play.
2. Fun and Friendly Staff: Throughout our entire stay, we were incredibly impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. The Rangers were willing to give directions and tips on where to eat. The camp store was well-stocked and run efficiently. The young activities coordinators, such as Ryan Cubbage (pictured above), were warm and welcoming. The staff made our boys feel special from the time we arrived to the time we departed.
3. Cute Crafts and Terrific Tie-Dyes: Everyday this campground offers an opportunity for the kids (and adults!) to get creative. There is always a free craft available during craft time such as the medals we made for Wacky Olympics Week. You can also pay to paint ceramics or color a pillowcase or bag. The prices were very reasonable, so we didn’t have to blink when our boys wanted to try painting the $2 dinosaurs. We have made a lot of campground tie dyes, but the staff at Jellystone Luray helped our boys make their best shirts yet.
4. Two Large Pools: The two large pools gave our kids plenty of room to splash, jump, and dive for rings. Our boys are not yet confident swimmers, so we loved the large, shallow kids’ pool with the fun water fountain feature.
5. Yogi Bear’s Water Zone: The colorful and exciting water zone had plenty of opportunity for imaginative play. Our five year olds loved the slides, and our one year old hung out around the edges, happy to watch the water show in front of him. Next year he will definitely be excited to plunge in.
6. Wonderful Water Slide: This is a pretty amazing water slide for a campground. Its fast and ridiculously fun for the adults as well as the kids. The best part is there are no long lines for the slide—even on a weekend. Although all of the kids rushed in when it opened in the mornings, for the most part you could walk right up and slide right down.
7. Perfect Playground: There are a few separate sections to this playground, so many kids of all different ages can enjoy the equipment without it feeling crowded. We particularly appreciated the smaller enclosed play set, perfect for our 16 month old. Our boys walked across the moving steps (pictured above) dozens of times each day.
8. Two Jumping Pillows: Max and Theo wanted to visit the jumping pillows both before and after any scheduled activity with Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, and Cindy Bear. We probably stopped between 6-8 times a day for a brief but intense aerobic workout. Two pillows meant there was always room for all the kids to comfortably jump. In the late afternoon or evening, you might even get the pillow all to yourself.
9. Peaceful Mountain Setting: Even though this Jellystone Park was an action packed place for the kids, it was also a deeply relaxing setting for us, since we had panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains no matter where we were on the property. From the morning mountain mist to the evening sunsets, we truly enjoyed the beauty of this campground’s Shenandoah Valley location.
10. Room to Roam: We love it when a campground has a large, grassy common area, and Jellystone Luray delivered on this in spades. Over the course of our stay we saw games of frisbee and catch, families picnicking, and people napping on the grass in front of their cabins. This wide-open field invites families to relax and play together…and isn’t that what vacation is all about?
11. Pancakes with Yogi Bear: On Sunday morning the Cartoon Cafe serves up a fun Pancake Breakfast, attended by Yogi Bear himself. You can order the Yogi (three pancakes) or the Boo Boo (two pancakes) depending on how big of an appetite you worked up during your pre-breakfast jumping pillow session.
12. Tractor Rides: Our boys have been on many tractor rides over the last five camping seasons. This was by far the most fun for them. Yogi Bear and Boo Boo both took turns on the tractor (yes, we went on two rides), but perhaps the best part was the sing along. Both parents and children enjoyed clapping and singing standards such as Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Yankee Doodle, and the Wheels on the Bus.
Jellystone Park Luray offered more activities and amenities than we could possibly experience over one long weekend. We didn’t even get to the Laser Tag building, and we couldn’t fit Story Time with Boo Boo into our packed schedule. There is always next time.
So what are your family’s favorite things about Jellystone Luray? Let us know what you would add to our list!
You want to go camping, but you are little apprehensive. Maybe you’re even a little ashamed to admit the reason. What is it? Like many others, you are afraid of encountering wildlife, specifically bears. Don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Seventy-four percent of campers try new things while cabin or tent camping — new things that they were initially afraid to do (that can include camping in the first place!).
What is the deal then? Should you be afraid of bears at family campgrounds?
Even if you are tent camping in the very midst of bear country, you’re unlikely to even see one, at least in most cases. “Many hikers never even know that they passed close to a bear because the bear did such a good job of avoiding them. Most encounters end with the bear and human departing in opposite directions, without harm to either party,” The Grizzly And Wolf Discovery Center writes. “Your risk of being hurt by a bear is lower than your risk of being hit by lightning and much lower than your risk of being hurt in a car accident as you drive to bear country.”
But If Must Do Something…
For some people, knowing that a bear attack or even an encounter is extremely unlikely isn’t enough. For Americans who want to do something to proactively lower their chances of a run-in with any kind of bear, there are some fairly simple steps you can take.
First, most campgrounds already have a carry-in, carry-out policy when it comes to trash. Following these policies, instead of letting your trash or litter end up on the ground, will help you avoid any unwanted encounters with wildlife. Some campgrounds will provide bear-resistant food or trash containers upon request, or you can always temporarily stow it in a hard-shelled vehicle, like an RV or even your car. (Keep in mind that some popup campers use water-resistant cloth only in some parts, so it may not be the most secure container for your trash.) Making a lot of noise while hiking — sing, talk, recite limericks, do what you gotta do — and sticking to marked trails will also keep you out of trouble.
Forty-three million Americans went camping in 2013. Don’t miss out on the fun because of bears. Remember, you’re completely unlikely to even see one. Making noise along hiking trails and carefully containing any food and trash will lower your chances even more.
Camping is easily a favorite American pastime, with regular campers taking an average of five trips every year and each approximately 191 miles from their homes. Thankfully, all camping trips can be a completely unique experience, so your family will never tire of it — and will, in fact, look forward to the next big adventure. What are some ways to mix things up and keep camping excursions interesting year after year?
Teepee And Yurt Camping
Okay, so what’s a yurt? Ancient yurts consisted of a single, circular room; the structures were typically built from pelts and animal skins laid over a wooden frame. Today, there’s is a lot more freedom in this design. (For one thing, most camping sites replace the pelts with durable, water-resistant cloth.) In any case, yurt and teepee camping is a great way to keep things at their most basic level, and to get back in touch with nature and the simple pleasures in life.
“Water, Water Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink”
Manufacturers and tent rental companies are now offering inflatable tents that float. This is a pretty ideal arrangement, especially if your favorite campground is located nearby a lake or even on the beach. We all remember what happened in the required reading favorite The Cay, however. Be mindful not to drift too far, and never drink untreated water or salt water.
Stop Roughing It, And Start Enjoying It
Many campers are stuck up on the idea that they have do to everything the hard way, or it doesn’t count. Guess what? It’s your vacation, and family campgrounds are more than happy to keep your secrets. If eating cold beans out of the can and sleeping on the ground (with twigs, grass, and pebbles poking into your back all night long) doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, don’t do it. Modern campgrounds offer a variety of experiences, and some sites come with plenty of nearby luxuries and amenities, like heated cabins, swimming pools, gem mining, theaters, playgrounds, and mini golf.
Keep camping trips fresh and interesting by making a point of doing something new every time. You have to try yurt camping at least once, and you can promise the kids a site right next to the swimming pool next time to make up for it.
Want to make your visit to nontraditional or family campgrounds unforgettable? There are plenty of ways to do just that, and these ways range from creative to truly bizarre. In 2013, 43 million Americans packed up the bare essentials and pitched tents on camping sites. Camping can be a great family experience, and campers can choose from tent camping, cabin camping, or even camping in relatively new yurts. Now Americans can also choose their own adventure — and decide whether they would like to center camping trips around the popular book series The Hunger Games or even the zombie apocalypse.
Camping Hunger Games Style
Disclaimer: please do not challenge friends, family, and/or fellow campers to fight to the death. New, Hunger Games-themed camping experiences teach young adults survival skills, such as foraging for edible plants, building shelters, and starting a fire. Kids also learn archery and play games, similar to capture the flag, with opponents from other districts. Thankfully, the Hunger Games boot gamecamp does not recreate the extreme violence in the books and films.
Bring Out Your Inner Cowgirl (Or Cowboy!)
Do you know how to make a grill using just a tin can? Get stuff done around camping sites — and do it using just the bare minimum, like they did long ago. To create your very own tin can grill, use heavy-duty metal scissors to cut several three- to four-inch slits in the sides of the can. Bend back these flaps to create a basket-like fixture, and weigh down the very bottom of the can with some dirt. Cover the whole thing in aluminium foil, add some charcoal, and a grill rack, and you’re all set!
What Do Zombies Have To Do With Camping?
Some new camping trips can help you be prepared for anything, including the zombie apocalypse. “Survivors learn how to build a shelter without any tools, collect wild edibles, and lean just what to pack if you’re camping in zombie territory. Survivors will also be taught paramilitary field tactics to escape and evade zombie hordes,” The Westman Journal writes.
Camping can get pretty unique and interesting. Choose from yurt or tent camping, or really mix things up by going on camping excursions that help you imagine what it’d be like roughing it during the zombie apocalypse.
As the kids head back to school and with fall sports and activities, it can be challenging to maintain the tighter bonds formed during the summer. Fortunately, September is still a wonderful month for camping – warm days are perfect for swimming, fishing and plenty of outdoor play, while cooler evenings offer a special opportunity for snuggling in front of the campfire and telling spooky stories over s’mores. Many of our Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resorts offer great deals on September camping. Read on for a sample.
Fall Classic Package: September 1- October 5: Park your trailer on site and enjoy 6 weeks of the best camping of the year for $650. ($1,100 Value)
Fremont/Barton Lake, IN
OFF SEASON RATES:
- Sept. 5-7: Bingo Bash Weekend (Pools, Splash Park & NEW Aqua Play Zone Still Open)
- Sept. 12-14: Apples Galore Weekend (Pools, Splash Park & NEW Aqua Play Zone Still Open)
Throughout September: Camp with us any weekend in September and receive 25% off a two-night stay. Call 1-800-437-0566 and mention the code #113 Yogi Bear™ September Special.
- Value Season Weekend Package – Water/Electric/Sewer for only $150 (Includes site rental and Resort Fee, 4 wristbands, 10 Yogi Bear™ bucks, and Golf Cart Rental). Also available for rentals starting at $188 plus tax.
- Double Value Season Package – $99 includes 2 consecutive weekends, onsite storage, 4 wristbands each weekend, 10 Yogi Bear™ bucks each weekend, Fire & Ice (1 wood bundle & 1 ice bag) each weekend. Add Golf Cart rentals to both weekends for only $100.
- SUPER September Package – $199 Includes ALL FOUR WEEKENDS IN SEPTEMBER, 4 wristbands each weekend, 10 Yogi Bear™ bucks each weekend, onsite storage, Fire & Ice each weekend. Add Golf Cart Rentals to ALL four weekends for only $199.
- Subject to site/rental availability. Does not include security deposit. Payment in full due at time of booking.
Pine Lakes/Pittsfield, IL
Sept. 17-19 – On Camper Appreciation Weekend, selected Yogi Bear™ merchandise is 50% off, $5 off per hour on golf cart rentals, 10% off second night of camping or lodging, food and drink specials, and more.
Lawrence/Kansas City, KS
- Sunday-Thursday – $99 for a Lodging cabin (not valid on holidays, weekends or with other deals.)
- Sunday-Thursday – $89 for a camping cottage (not valid on holidays, weekends or with other deals.)
- 10% off all RV and tent sites during the entire month of September.
Mammoth Cave, KY
- Sept. 5-7 – Grandparents, Yogi Bear™ & Me Weekend – 20% off cabins or campsites for grandparents who bring their grandchildren.
- Sept. 26-28 – Thanks Campers Weekend – Anyone who camped at Mammoth Cave Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort in 2014 receives 20% off their campsite this weekend.
Sept. 5-7 – Two families camp for the price of one, plus 2-for-1 prices on mini golf and boat rentals.
South Haven, MI
Camper Appreciation Program – Every time you stayed with us in 2014, you received a voucher by email for $25. This $25 voucher can be used towards camping for any of the following weekends in September:
- Sept. 5-7: Grandparent’s Weekend
- Sept. 12-14: Football Fan Weekend
- Sept. 19-21: Harvest Weekend
- Sept. 26-28: Halloween Spooktacular 1 Weekend
- Enjoy five days at our Branson park in your RV, our Ranger Smith™ Camper RV, a Cindy Bear™ Cottage, or a Boo Boo™ Bear Cabin and only pay for four days – get one day free!
- Stay even longer – Reserve any of the above for five days, and get TWO days free! That’s right – stay for a full week and pay for only five days!
- Sept. 5-28 – Camp & Store Package – Leave your rig on site and enjoy having a home away from home at Jellystone Park™! That’s four consecutive weekends of enjoying the end of Summer and start of Fall with Yogi Bear™. This package includes Dog Lovers Weekend, which is the last weekend for the Water Zone. It also includes Chili Cook-Off & Football Fan Weekend, which is the last weekend for Ranger Smith™ pool, Storybook Weekend and our Pumpkin Patch Weekend – all for one low rate!
- Extend the Fun – All campsite guests can add either a Thursday or Sunday night to a 2-night reservation (Fri. & Sat.) for only $25! Cabin renters – the 3rd night is 1/2 price! (Activities and amenities are Fri.-Sun. until check-out time only; limited amenities on all other weekdays.)
Available on the following weekends:
- Sept 4-7 Dog Lovers Weekend
- Sept 12-14 Chili Cook-off/Football Fan Weekend
- Sept 19-21 Storybook Weekend
- Sept 26-28 Pumpkin Patch Weekend
Tabor City, NC
- September 25-28: BBQ Cook-Off and Camper Appreciation Weekend. Camp with us for 2 nights and get the 3rd night free. Free night must be used on Thursday or Sunday night. We will be hosting a BBQ cook-off on Saturday. Categories will include pork, foul (chicken/turkey) & beef. The winner will receive a free weekend in 2015 to come back and defend their title as BBQ Champion.
Gloucester Point, VA
- Sept. 5-7 – For Camper Appreciation Weekend, enjoy 50% off campsites and 20% off rentals.
- September – November 15 – Spend two consecutive weekends and leave the camper hooked up onsite for a discounted rate.
Sioux Falls, SD
- Sept. 5-7 – Kids camp free with their grandparents on Grandparents’ Weekend.
- Sept. 19-21- Witching Weekend – camp two nights for $75 (two night minimum stay required.)
- Sept. 26-28 – Yogi Bear’s Pumpkin Patch Weekend – camp two nights for $75 (two night minimum stay required.)
Mill Run, PA
Sept. 1 – end of season – 50% off all campsites, 20% off all rentals, and 50% off golf cart rentals.
- Camp & Store Package – Leave your camper with us for the month of September and enjoy four weekends (September 5-28) of fun with Yogi Bear™ at one low rate! Our Camp & Store Fall Special includes 4 consecutive weekends of camping (Friday and Saturday nights) and leave your camper set up and plugged in on site between weekends. Save money on gas and only set up your site once! Enjoy fun themes including Hollywood Weekend, Cindy Bear’s Magical Birthday Weekend, Honor our Heroes Weekend, and our first Halloween Weekend of the season!
- Sept. 26-Nov. 2 – Extend the Fun – Add either Thursday or Sunday night to a 2 night weekend campsite reservation for only $25. Third night in a cabin is 1/2 price. Add Monday night only for Labor Day weekend. Discounts may not be combined.
- Sept. 19-21 – Honor our Heroes – Everybody has a hero. To some young ones, it is a lovely princess, or a super hero of comic fame. We have great fun planned for them. To others, it is our loyal Club Yogi™ Reward members, and to all of us, it is our Military, Fireman, Police, EMS and Correction Officers. This weekend honors all of them. We will give a 20% discount off of your campsite or cabin for this weekend when you tell us you are one of these heroes at the time of your reservation. A two-night reservation is required and valid ID must be presented at check-in. Club Yogi™ Members will enjoy a 20% discount on their stay this weekend only! It’s our way of saying Thank You for being our Hero! Our loyal, return guests, who grow up with us year after year, THANK YOU.
Canyon Lake, TX
- Camp & Tube Special – Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort and River Sports Tubes in Canyon Lake, TX are teaming up to offer FREE TUBING on the Guadalupe River to Jellystone Park™ campers who book new reservations for a stay at a campsite or cabin anytime in September (excluding September 1st)! Quantities are limited, so book today! Must call Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort to book reservation (877-964-3731) or book online and select ‘Camp and Tube’ as the referring source. 2 night minimum stay required. One tubing pass per person ages 5 yrs and older, passes will be issued at Jellystone Park™ upon check-in. Not to be combined with any other offers or specials. EXCLUDES Labor Day Weekend.
- Sept. 5-7 – Grandparents Weekend – Grandparents: Bring your grandkids for a fun weekend! You get to play lazer tag free if a grandkid is playing, and on Sunday, Grandparents eat free at pancake breakfast. Happy Grandparent’s Day! We hope to see you here!
- Sept. 19-21 – Homeschool Weekend: – We are offering a special low-key relaxing weekend for all home-schooling families: Stay 2 nights but pay for only one! Meet others who homeschool at our social and enjoy the park without the crowd! (There are no speakers but networking is encouraged.) Get your school year started off with a bang! Please call our reservations office to take advantage of this deal – 877-964-3731.
- Sept. 1-30 – Camp & Store Package: Save on Gas! Our September Camp & Store includes 4 consecutive weekends of camping (Friday and Saturday nights) and you can leave your camper set up and plugged in on site between weekends!
- Sept. 2-25 – September Campsite and Cabin Special: Book a new cabin or campsite reservation for at least two nights between the dates of September 2-25 and get a weeknight added to your stay for FREE! Please call (800) 420-6679 to book this special offer. *This deal excludes the Ranger’s Retreat and Three Bears Lodge. This deal also excludes existing reservations.
- Sept. 5-7 – Superhero Weekend/Cornhole Tournament – This weekend we salute our soldiers and emergency/medical workers by giving them an additional 25% discount on campsites (not valid for any cabin rentals). Offer must be mentioned during reservation to get discount.
- Weekends Sept. 5-21 – September Mini Fall Package: $220 site fee, per person: ages 0-2 FREE; ages 3-64 $16; gains 65 & up $8. Stay all three weekends for a discounted rate! Arrive on Fridays at 4 p.m., leave Sundays at 2 p.m. and leave your unit unplugged and unattended in between. Per person fee listed is for the duration of the stay and must be added to the package price for each person to get the total price. Taxes not included.
Labor Day (or Labour Day, as they call it in Canada) is coming our way August 29-September 1st, complete with cookouts, pool parties, and plenty of fun. It’s one of our very favorite holidays, and our parks work hard to make sure you don’t have to! We’ve come up with activities galore for your family to choose from; all you have to do is join us and let loose for a Labor Day you’ll never forget! Three full days (and nights) of camping and wholesome outdoor fun with friends and family – there’s no better way to spend summer’s last holiday.
Elmer, NJ – The unofficial end of summer is here. Although there is still plenty of camping left in 2014 we’re going to celebrate the end of summer in style! Pool Parties, Dancing, Games, Live Bands and much more will send the 2014 summer off right.
Milford, DE - (Delaware Beaches area) – Summer’s not over yet! So come join us for Tournaments, Arts and Crafts, Candy Bar Bingo, Scavenger Hunts, Paper Airplane Launching, hayrides, music, and movies.
Mt. Gilead, OH - (North of Columbus)- Join us for an all park sports competition version of Labor Day week. Each section of the park will be a team to compete to be crowned Gold Campground Winner. Also, join us for a dance where Six Pack Theory will be performing live. An outdoor movie and water activities are planned too.
Bagley, WI – Yogi Bear™ and his crew still want to have some fun. Pool party, daylight madness sale in the Ranger Station on Sunday, crafts, tournaments and more!
Branson, MO - Labor Day is designated Mystery Site Weekend: Which will it be? One site or cabin has been designated the mystery spot this weekend, and if you are the one who books it, it’s FREE! Join us for mysterious games, and scavenger hunts! Join Ranger Smith™ for one weekend that will leave you guessing! This weekend we will have two inflatables for you to try.
Kingston, Nova Scotia - Olympics Weekend (Labour Day) -Calling all competitors to Jellystone Park™ for this fun filled weekend! Participate in the Mini Golf Tournament, Marshmallow Shot Punt, Slippery Water Balloon Carrying, Synchronized Swimming, Basketball Tournament and the Olympic Torch Glow-stick Parade! Enjoy the Medal Ceremony and Victory Dance with Yogi Bear™!
Yogi Bear™ and all his friends across North America look forward to celebrating Labor Day with you and yours!