Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Old Mill Stream Campground, Lancaster, PA

If you have been reading along, you know that we have been on several trips in the Roadtrek since we first got it in April. All together so far we have been in three campgrounds. One of those we have stayed in several times and that one is Old Mill Stream Campground in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We have had sites in various parts of the campground and I think we have sampled the full experience of being at this RV park/campground.

Mill Stream Campground is located off of Route 30 in the heart of the tourist area of Lancaster County - famous for the Pennsylvania Dutch that live in this area. This area has attracted visitors who want to get a glimpse at the day to day existence of a people who in this day and age do not have electricity in their homes, do not drive cars, do not have telephones, and get from one place to another in a horse and buggy - on the same roads that you drive you car or RV on. These are German people who came to America for religious freedom and live their every day lives with a strict interpretation of the Bible. That is why people come. Most visitors stay in hotels and motels, of which there are many. There are also a number of RV campgrounds. Old Mill Stream Campground is one of the most centrally located.

The campground is on the edge of the property of the Dutch Wonderland amusement park. This is a theme park for young children and it includes a small water park. It is owned by Hershey - you know, the makers of chocolate bars. The Mill Stream Campground is owned by Dutch Wonderland which means that it is also owned by Hershey. The campground is set into the back of the property. It is wooded property and there is a stream that runs along the back of the campground. By the way, fishing is permitted in the stream. If you look off to the rear of the campground property across the stream there are woods and an Amish farm. It is not unusual to see the Amishman who owns this farm out on his horse-drawn plow in the fields that are also visible from the campground. To one side of the campground toward the amusement park is a large fence and you do see some of the amusement park rides in the distance. Part of the stream behind the campground goes around the amusement park and the steamboat ride travels in the stream. (No steamboat whistles blow.)

There are both RV/Trailer sites and tent sites. The tent sites are along the stream. The RV/Trailer sites are gravel and offer 20 amp/30 amp/ 5o amp electrical service, water, sewer, and cable television on most sites. There are a few sites that are just electric and water only. Propane is available on site for purchase and for those in sites without a sewer hookup, there is a central dump station. There are three bathhouses/restrooms spread across the middle row of the campground making it convenient from just about everywhere in the campground. For the size of this campground this surprised me as we have been in a much larger campground in another state that had only one bathhouse. There are spaces that will accommodate all size RVs including Class As. Wifi is strong throughout the campground.

We chose this campground at first because of the cable TV hookup. For about the same per day price as some other campgrounds without cable hookup, it is nice to have 48 channels of clear television and not rely upon local digital broadcasts through the antenna. I know that many do feel that TV and camping do not mix - but for us, and for many, our RV is our traveling hotel room and we are traveling and not camping - and we want everything that we have at home. The provider service for TV here is Dish TV. The picture reception is good. The channel selection is good - not excellent, but good.

We have been in several sites here and they are "mostly" level. I say mostly because in a small RV like a Roadtrek, a space that may be level for a large RV, may mean that the smaller RV needs to move around the space a spot that is level. At one site we gave up looking and placed one "lego" block under each back wheel. Another night in that same space, we found the level spot. At another site, I could not find the spot and the site was off level side to side. Again, it only took one "lego" block under the driver's side front and rear wheels to get the Roadtrek level. It would be nice if the sites were dead on level, but on a gravel site level is going to vary with the shift of the gravel.

Sites are surrounded on three sides by grass and tall trees. If it rains, the grass does get muddy. There is a picnic table and a fire ring at each site. Sites are spaced evenly and you are not "too" close to your neighbor. The roads that go through the campground are adequately wide for all RVs.

There are two things that I read that people are concerned about at this campground. One is the closeness to the roller coaster in the amusement park. The other are the "T" spaces. We stayed in a space that was close to the roller coaster. In our Roadtrek, which is well insulated from noise, we did not hear the roller coaster inside the Roadtrek when it started in the morning at 10 AM. I did hear it when I went outside. It was not overwhelmingly loud - but I could hear it. If you are in a thin walled RV or travel trailer it is possible that you will hear it. If this concerns you, make your reservations early and request a space on the other side of the campground. The amusement park is not open late at night and your sleep will not be disturbed by the proximity to the rides. They do start at 10 AM.

Now, the "T" spaces... This is something to be concerned about and about half the campground is comprised of these unusual "T" spaces. A "T" space is actually two spaces for two RVs access by a short driveway in the middle. Each RV is parked front to back or back to front with the other. The side that the hook up is on varies by the side of the row the T space is on - so you may need to pull in or back in to get the correct side of your RV on the same side as the hook up. When I heard about these spaces and when I saw them, they concerned me too. One big problem is that people park their cars in the small drive that access both spaces. If there is a car parked there adn you need to pull your RV out - you are not going to be able to. We actually had to stay in one for a few days. There was no one in the other space opposite us so we had no problem being blocked in. What I did find disconcerting was that after I backed in and got ready to hook up, we found that the services were on the other side. This meant leaving the space, pulling head in and that meant that we had to back out each time we left. We were lucky that there was no one in the other space and had there been, that there was no one parked in the drive. There are some "T" spaces that are off both the road into the campground and the road along the row. If you have one of these spaces you can easily access your space from the entrance road and there is no problem at all. When I make reservations I ask for "Not a T space" just to be sure. If it is a busy weekend or a busy time of the year and you wait to make your reservations, you are going to end up in a "T" space as they fill last. I have read comments that there are fewer of these spaces now than there had been in the past. It would benefit this campground greatly to redo these spaces into regular, single back in spaces.

One more thing to mention about spaces. There is one drawback to the spaces near the stream in the summer - if it rains. After the rain, the mosquitoes come up and there is little that you can do to avoid them outside your RV unless you spray or use a repellant. They were not getting into the Roadtrek but when we had to do something outside - after a rain - it was a problem. This is all part of nature - and camping...

I like this campground very much. The people who work at this campground are exceptionally nice and very accommodating when they can be. There have been several glitches in our stays - not of their doing - and each time there really has been no problem at all. We we had reserved three two nights and this went into the day that the hurricane was supposed to hit back home and there was no problem that we were leaving early and no expectation for us to pay for that day. We had changed a reservation which somehow had been confused in their computer records and they expected us several days before our new arrival date. They called that day to make sure we were OK or if we were on the road. When we said that we had changed the reservation, there was no problem. So far everyone here has been very pleasant. Check in is simple and easy. The office is open until 8 pm or 9 pm depending on the season and if you cannot arrive before the office closes your space will be posted at the door. They will also post available spaces if there are any for those arriving late without reservations. The next morning you just go to the office and take care of business. This may be standard operating procedure at some campgrounds but not all.

The other thing that I like about this campground is that it is open all year. Many in this area close at the end of October. We travel in October and also December and it is great that we have this campground in this area to do that. If you have not figured this out by now, we travel in this area a lot. Not only do we visit here just to be here, but we also stop here heading south and then on the return back north. It is about halfway to Virginia for us.

There is a shop inside the building with the office that has RV supplies and equipment (and the prices are not bad) and there are some groceries and also PA Dutch souvenir items. You can also buy fishing tackle and bait here to fish in the stream. As mentioned, you can purchase propane just behind this building. There is a game room that is open all night. There are posted quiet hours and they are well adhered to. There is no swimming pool at Old Mill Stream Campground. There is a water park at the amusement park next door and if you purchase a ticket at the campground office for the amusement park in the mid to late afternoon on one day, admission for the next day is included. This is what the park suggests in lieu of a swimming pool. There is so much to do in this area during that day that it is hard to fit swimming in also, but I can understand families with kids wanting a swimming pool. There is a small playground on site for kids.

The bathhouses are kept very clean. We have seen them both in the morning and at night and the restroom facilities are clean and the showers are kept clean. As I said, there are three bathhouses spread across the length of the RV park. While the Roadtrek has its own facilities, you will read in the near future about a trip in which we were very happy to have one of these bathhouses close by.

Right now I have two trips planned that include this campground to finish out the year before it is too cold and freezing to take the Roadtrek out overnight. I recommend it. (Perhaps, I shouldn't so that there will always be a space there for me...)


  1. It is so nice that you and Meryl are using the Roadtrek for these trips. You seem to be enjoying its conveniences very much. I also like PA, particularly Lancaster county, and have found most of the people and business owners very kind and gracious. I think it has a lot to do with the Plain people who make their home there and do their business in the community. Enjoy!

  2. I've enjoyed reading your comments on purchasing and "breaking in" your new Roadtrek! Hopefully that will be in our future, too. I wonder if you could comment on "living" in the Roadtrek--using the kitchen and bath, dealing with making the bed daily, etc. Perhaps Meryl is doing that while you are working with the gray and black tanks, but this is also part of Roadtrek living. A piece that I'm especially interested in. Thanks from Oregon.

  3. That is a good idea and as the camping season starts to come to an end that will be the subject of at least one article. Look for this in a few weeks!

  4. For the first time, Old Mill Stream Campground is closing for the months of January, February, and March. This will be a regular thing from now on - closed January 1 to April 1.

  5. There have been big changes at this campground since this article. It is now the most expensive campground in the area. The operation has become very corporate - gone is the nice couple who were always so helpful. The entrance and exit has been redone and now takes you right through the middle of the amusement park parking lot.