I was huddled behind an old broken down bus with my sons Max and Theo, along with our new friends and campsite neighbors John and his son Austin. It was almost dark. We were locked in an intense laser tag battle. The other team had us surrounded. It was time to make a move or lose. I was sweating and exhausted. I was also having an insane amount of fun. Maybe the most fun I’ve ever had at a campground—and I’ve been to a few. John made a strong run across the field and we all followed him screaming at the top of our lungs. We repositioned ourselves, finished strong, and won! As we drove our golf cart back to our site Max and Theo couldn’t stop talking about the game and how they couldn’t wait to play again. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day of camping.
Our first impression of the Lazy River Jellystone Park in the Hudson River Valley of New York was of a peaceful country campground with pretty riverside sites and views of the mountains. But that is only half the story. This Yogi Bear campground also has an action packed activity schedule and world-class amenities. Laser tag may have been the highlight for our crew, but the waterpark, Ga Ga Ball Courts, hayrides with Cindi and Yogi, miniature golf, jumping pillow, and organized arts and crafts were all awesome. So if your family is looking for a campground that combines natural beauty with resort-like amenities, then this is a pretty tremendous option.
We spent most of our daylight hours bouncing back and forth between the SplashPad and the heated pool. These amenities were theme-park quality and our boys couldn’t get enough of the waterslides. Mom and dad enjoyed ordering delicious sandwiches and wraps (and even a cold beer!) at the Tiki Bar while chatting with other parents around the pool.
We were also impressed with how friendly and professional the entire staff was—they really helped make our stay terrific. The general vibe at this campground is totally relaxed and totally friendly from the maintenance staff to the pool attendants to the front desk. Whoever is doing the training here deserves a high five and a big bear hug from Yogi.
You could spend your entire vacation at this campground and never come close to getting bored, but we recommend that you check out the surrounding area. It’s beautiful and rich in history. Lake Minnewaska is pristine and perfect for hiking and swimming. More adventurous spirits might venture to the Shawangunk Mountains, aka “the gunks,” for mountain climbing. The nearby town of New Paltz is cozy and charming and filled with great options for food, culture and craft roasted coffee at places like the Mudd Puddle café.
Our favorite day trip was to Hyde Park, a National Historic Site and the former home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Our morning tour with the highly theatrical and knowledgeable “Ranger Dimitri” was fun, informative, and compelling. We are fascinated with presidential history and this hit a sweet spot for all members of our family. The boys completed a Junior Ranger activity book and earned their badges and mom and dad dropped a few bucks in the gift shop for books and magnets. This is a must-do day trip if you are camping at Lazy River and is only a forty minute drive through pretty countryside and across the Hudson River.
At the end of our stay at the Lazy River Jellystone our boys DID NOT want to leave. We said good-bye to our new friends and took down phone numbers and email addresses. We have heard that this campground does awesome thematic weekends in the fall and we promised to meet up again in September or October. Halloween Zombies Weekend anyone? Sound too scary? We would be just as happy to meet up at Celtic Weekend. Who doesn’t love a pipe band marching across the campground on a crisp fall day? We will see you there!
Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co hosts of the weekly RV Family Travel Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts, as well as the creators of the RVFTA Podcast Network. They are also the authors of The Idiots Guide to RV Vacations and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop up camper six years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) at rvfamilytravelatlas.com.