We stayed at Miami Whitewater for two nights. While we had car camped here before, this was our first trailer trip to this particular campground. We stayed on campsite 132. It was near the water source and playground. It was halfway in-between the bathroom with 2 showers (not really a bathhouse) and a three-hole pit toilet. As a side note: if strong odors bother you, avoid 117 and 119 during the hot months. I'll limit my comments and rating to the campground only. The campers this particular weekend were a whole different story. The check-in is a little inconvenient. You have to drive to the boathouse (about 500 yards down the road from the entrance) to check-in. The associates have to share time with the boat renters, fishers, and campers, so you have to wait on the weekends, when people are most likely to camp. I have yet to encounter one that really knows which sites would be best for your needs. The campground is unofficially divided into two areas: an upper area (up to 116) and a lower area (117 and up). The upper area is usually tent campers (aka pop-ups) and campers in tents. The sites up here are smaller and all have dramatic slopes. The lower area is roomier, has a playground, and the sites are a little more level. The sites are all gravel, back-in, and on some sort of slope. Some are sloped down so far that the trailer tongues rest on the ground to get level. The most level of the sites are between 126 and 136, but some of those are also not trailer-friendly. there are 15 and 30A electric hookups at each site. The playground is in great shape. Adults: stand your ground with the older kids about hogging swings and equipment. They generally move on. The bathhouse is small: VERY small. It is right by the entrance to the campground. The men's side has two urinals, two commodes, and two showers (one accessible). The women's side has three commodes and two showers (one accessible). The dump station is ridiculous. I never noticed this when tent camping, but it's on the wrong side. You can dump facing downhill if you have at least 12 feet of hose, but you'll likely leave a little bit of grey/black in your tanks because of the angle. If you don't want to do that, you have two options: pull past it towards the upper section and back down or go out, turn around by the boathouse and pull back in. We left before 9:00am, but I can't imagine the RV ballet that occurs between 11:00a and noon. I'd love to give this park a higher rating, especially since it's the closest to my house. However, it's just not up to the basic standard of modern campgrounds; even for a park district. The same district sunk millions into Winton Woods and a great campground was produced. Since they're bid to build a new one failed here at Miami Whitewater, they really need to look at updating what they have now. It would go up to a 7/8-star right away with water hook-ups, an updated bathhouse, and a relocated dump station.
We camped here with a group of 20 families from our church in Springdale, Ohio. They were very accommodating with us, especially since they don't accept reservations. We had a nice "peninsula" of campsites at the end of section "B". The area was heavily wooded with tall pine trees and provided lots of shade. There were other parts of the campground that were not as shaded, namely the seasonal campers. There was a lake for swimming, boating, and fishing. There were go-karts (adult and child), a bounce house, several large picnic shelters, and a nice hiking area (including a small cave). My only complaint is that the seasonal campers are permitted to ride their golf carts and ATVs through the entire park, including the daily rental section. It can become quite annoying at times, but it's not too bad. Apparently the local past times also include riding around in pickup truck beds and staring at the other campers. All joking aside, this was a nice area. I wouldn't make it an annual trip, but they have done a very good job with the campground.
We spent the entire week after Mother's Day at the Great Smokey Jellystone Campground. All-in-all, it was a great experience. There are only two reasons why I gave it a "9" instead of a "10": (1)The sewer hook-up for our site was up hill from our site. Since we were in a TT (and not a higher 5th Wheel or Motorhome), that made it near impossible to empty our tanks easily. We still had to go to the dump station at the end of our trip to empty them all the way. (2)The playground was very muddy. Having a three-year-old with us, this was unacceptable. If you are going to bill yourself as having a playground, it should be playable. These two small things were not enough to put a damper on our trip. I know that you don't want to read anything else about Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, or GSMNP, so I'll tell you about the campground and the immediate surrounding area (Cosby, TN). When we arrived, we were greated nicely by the son of the owner. The campground is run VERY well by the Landry family. We were led to our pull-through site by a golf cart and were guided onto the gravel pad. The site was not level, but it was close. There is a nice gameroom and store. They show family movies 6 nights a week (1 night is a talk about the GSMNP). Some of the titles as of May '09: "Bee Movie" and "Ratatouille". Good eats near the campground: Pizza: DJ's Deli. They are in a Marathon station about 1 mile north of the campground on US-321. They serve Hunt Brothers Pizza and it is delicious. Homestyle: Carver's Applehouse. This is on an apple orchard about 10 minutes north of the park on US-321. The food is wonderful and very affordable.
Big Bone Lick State Park has a great family campground. The bathrooms are immaculate, but that could have been because it was the first weekend of the season. The camp store was very small with a very limited selection, but there is a large grocery store (Kroger) in Union, about a 10-15 minute drive from the park. The check-in station is inside the camp store, but there were very limited hours during the weekend; they had not yet found a camp host for the year. The swimming pool looks nice, but it was not yet open. The sites are clean, but some require slight leveling. All sites have a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern pole (you cannot hang lanterns on trees in KY state parks). Firewood is $4.75 per bundle. They are average size and well-seasoned. There are many things to do inside the park: (1) Museum with bog diorama (nicer than it sounds) (2) Nature Center (3) Bison Prarie (there were 13 adults and a calf when we visited) (4) Fishing Lake (5) Ball fields The only things that they could improve are: (1) Hire a camp host (2) Post age restrictions on the playground