Memorial Day weekend my family and I decided to check out Yogi Bear park, or as its official name is Jellystone Park, in Marion, NC. We met up with two other families and, despite pouring rain all day Saturday, we had a really great time.
What We Thought About Jellystone Park
The park itself is pretty fantastic. There’s a lot of stuff for families to do, including a large water slide, a giant pool, water activities including boating and canoeing, and all kinds of scheduled activities such as Arts and Crafts, watermelon eating contests, kids races, story time with Yogi bear, etc.
Obviously the water slide was the big hit of the weekend.
At Jellystone Park there are a variety of ways for you to camp. You can go old fashion in a tent, you can bring a pop up or a full size RV, or you can choose from one of their cute little cabins. We were camping with some friends who have both a pop-up and an RV, and even though we were in a tent, we set up in the RV campground area in between the other two campers.
There aren’t really any other tents in this area, and after setting up we know why. The campsites are just big enough for the RVs/campers, and in some spots, although because our 3 families were occupying 2 camp sites, we had room in the middle for the tent. In this particular section of the RV area there are very few trees, which leads to very little shade. So when we woke up Saturday morning at 6 a.m., the sun was shining brightly into our tent. By 7 a.m. the tent felt like a sauna.
So if you’re going to camp with friends and you have a variety of camping methods, I suggest you either all go in tents or all go in RVs.
At first I was a little disgruntled because I thought that’s how all the campground areas for tents were set up, but as I explored more, I saw that there are other areas that are primarily for tents. Some of those spaces are well covered with trees, although not all of them. However, all the tent areas are really crowded, with tents piled practically on top of each other.
Not my preferred way to camp, but to each their own. We also have to take into consideration that it was Memorial Day weekend.
1.Lots and lots of activities. Obviously I’ve mentioned the pool and the water slide, which were big attractions for my kids for sure. Other activities scheduled throughout the day include line dancing lessons, Arts and Crafts, & I think I saw archery on the schedule. So if you’re bored at Jellystone Park it’s because you’re trying to be bored!
2. There is a gorgeous hiking trail along the river. Mia, my dog, and I went for a stroll along the river and it was very peaceful and beautiful. The trail is well kept, and despite the mud from all the rain we’ve had this season, its still in good shape.
3. The location is fantastic. The Asheville area of North Carolina has tons of things to do within a 20-30 minute drive, if you decide to leave the park and go do some activities.If you're bored at #jellystonepark it's because you're trying! Love #yogibear & friends!… Click To Tweet
4. The facilities are really clean and the bathrooms are well kept. I’m not a huge fan of tent camping, at least not for multiple days, but I can do it and I can enjoy it if it’s not an awful situation. I like to use a clean bathroom and a clean shower. The bathrooms here are, although small, very clean and always stocked with toilet paper. There’s nothing worse than hiking all the way from your tent space over to the common bathrooms just to get there and realize there is no toilet paper.
5. If you are RV camping they have some really great setups, like built-in decks but you can drive your camper right up next to.
6. It’s pet friendly. Like most campgrounds you can bring your animals and there’s plenty of places for them to be walk and frolic around. However the lack of shade is sometimes a problem. I’ll cover the pet issue more in the cons.
7. The Arcade and Mini-golf – definite pros! And the park, arcade, and mini-golf are all together, so our kids could run freely between. No one was bored all weekend.
8. Yogi Bear and Friends! Yes, the characters are there and a part of the weekend. The kids loved seeing them.
And now, the CONS
1. The hillside with the RVs is jam packed with RV sports and pop up camper spots. When we were trying to find our location and accidentally went to far we drove up into the hillside RV area and it was kind of like being lost in a gypsy town. The spots are all piled up one on top of the other and if you’re looking for a nice private camping get away, this is not the place. The same actually goes for the tent area. Personally that’s not the way I really enjoy camping, I love to be in the woods with lots of trees and lots of shade and even if the campsite is close next to you, at least with enough trees and brush and coverage, you still have a feeling of your own space. That is not the case at this particular place. See picture below.
2. The water slide and pool are open to the public. What?? Now granted, I understand they need to make money and on slow weekends and the weekdays, it makes sense to open it to the public. However on a weekend like Memorial Day weekend when every spot in the campground is full, it’s my opinion that they should close it off to the public. Maybe I’m just overly picky about that aspect, but I like a sense of privacy and knowing that the other people here are also campers.
3. There is no shaded area at the pool. Even though there are plenty of trees around, the pool is in the bright sunshine, and there are no tables and umbrellas. So for someone like me, with lupus he needs to stay out of the direct sun as much as possible, it is a little challenging to enjoy the pool area. However there is a nice covered picnic area at the bottom of the pool and slide area, so I could watch my kids come down the slide and run back and forth between the slide and the pool. However I’m not enjoying the pool with them, and it’s not an option with younger kids who need constant supervision.
4. In general, there’s not enough shade. While there are lots of trees and there are some covered areas like around the little club house with tables and places to sit, the playground is in the wide open sun, as is the pool and the pool and many of the camping areas. I am thankful that this particular Memorial Day weekend was much cooler than it has been in years past, or I would have been miserable.
5. This may be a pro or con, depending on your ability to break away and unplug, but there is very unlimited cell phone signal, no Wi-Fi, and limited data availability. At least for some carriers. Apparently AT&T had great coverage. So if you come here for a week and think that you’re going to be able to get some work done, or upload a bunch of photos to Facebook, you are mistaken. But if you’re coming to unplug and have a wonderful time with your family, it is magnificent!
6. While the park itself is pet friendly in the campgrounds they can’t go in the pool and water slide area. So while our family was in the pool, one of us had to be sitting down in the covered area with the dog. We could have left her attached by her chain to the car or RV, but we weren’t comfortable doing that lest she get tangled up in her chain or something along those lines.
7. Poor planning on the park staff – and the septic tank, which happened to be right next to our campsite, backed up. They spent all day Sunday working on it and eventually got a truck in to empty it. That put a damper on the day… but we still had a good time. (And thankfully, I had a cold and couldn’t smell!)
So, overall, we loved our experience. Would we go there again? Yes! Would we do things differently? Absolutely! My children had a FANTASTIC time and for me, that was the most important aspect.