A "Gem" of a Campground Find near Salisbury, NC

After my 'full-timing' adventure of last year, poor Juno found herself neglected in the yard most of the summer. I think I suffered from a little RV PTSD.  As the temperatures grew and the humidity descended on our little piece of mountain paradise here in Asheville, NC I was content to enjoy not worrying about my electric consumption, not having to pack up my home every time I needed to go to the grocery store, and poo that just goes away forever when you flush! 

Finally, however, I roused myself for a little fieldwork adventure and loaded up the motorhome with the dog, cat and my mom to meet up with one of the ladies involved in my thesis project at Dan Nicholas Park for a short week.  Both Salisbury, which is about ten minutes away, and the campground, was such a find, I had to share it here.

We timed our stay to also check out the Second Annual Pickers Festival at the local fairgrounds.

For those that followed my prior adventures, you'll be happy to know Juno was given an A+ by the mechanic after her trip across country and back, and she ran beautifully the three hours to the park and back.  Despite the summer temps, no issues with heat sink back up the mountain.  She stayed a tic left of straight up on the temperature gauge - where she'll start bucking when being pushed.  

Leaving the mountains for the piedmont of NC at the end of July was probably a little crazy, but the campground is heavily shaded so it was more than tolerable, even in the heat of the afternoon. It took me back to childhood when you stopped to siesta  and didn't do much of anything except get lost in a good book. 

And that was one of the wonders of this place...it is perched on the edge of a lake, and on the other side of the lake is an amusement park.  And it is not the type of park you visit today with long lines and prices that make your head hurt - instead, it is the kind of park from the 70s or 80s where you can find your inner kid again (or bring the grandkid and you'll have a fun day on a twenty dollar bill). 

Notice that most of the riders on the miniature train are adults...

The whole park is well-maintained - trails, open spaces, tennis courts (with racquets and balls to rent at the camp store), picnic shelters, a place to shoot hoops (dirt), and the camp spots themselves had some distance between them so it felt like you had some privacy.  Flower beds are maintained and the camp store even had a Little Free Library out front.  Campers can fish free, and if you are just visiting it's only $1.50.  Park staff was super-friendly, and we joked that even the bugs were friendly...the week we were there despite the rain, there were no mosquitos.  Weird, and must have been a fluke.  Maybe it had been dry the weeks prior!  We also were on the other side from the lake.

Campsites do not have full hookups - you dump at the first shower house - but the electric hookups are house, 30 and 50 and each has water.  Do bring your levels - sites aren't too bad, but I needed more than my one set and had to do some negotiating to find a manageable spot.  Each has the requisite picnic table and fire pit with a grilling grate.

The camp is alcohol-free, and that might have gone a long way to what was a blissfully quiet experience despite the weekend being close to full with both RVs and tent campers.  It is also tobacco-free but I did notice a few people light up as I took my walks with Freyja.  I think if you keep it low-key it's not going to be an issue.  Not sure I understand that rule when campfires are going to be much more of an issue to anyone with breathing problems, but I appreciate the camp's effort to be family-friendly.  Also, no generators.  If you aren't camping they also have some tiny cabins.

Our electric/water site was $27 a night and I found the tiny camp store to be quite reasonable, ie a roll of paper towels was $2.00.  Certainly not Aldi's cheap, but not gouging either when you need that alka seltzer.  They had firewood for $5, ice, ice cream and snacks, you could even rent kids bike helmets, and all the usual essentials to please kids and RVers (such as forgotten water hoses).  The bathrooms/shower house got a little messy over the weekend with all the use, but were cleaned daily and in good repair.  Fellow campers were all friendly - seemed a good mix of young, old, couples, families, and races, although predominantly white.  

A wide path runs around the lake, there is a wooden foot bridge across one end, a historical metal bridge that has been moved to the location, fishing pier and paddle boats.  

There is a petting zoo (50 cents), nature center (free), zoo (dollar, dollar fifty if I remember right), splash park (free) and the Miner Moose Gem Mine.  Remember when you were a kid and your parents never stopped to do the tourist traps?  The three of us 'old' gals fulfilled one of those fantasies by buying a bucket of sand to sluice at the gem mine.  This was the most expensive thing - $8 - but it was a fun, wet and shady way to while away half an hour.  Mom found the best one (yes, yes, we know they are seeded! lol! but, sometimes you have to just let that go).

There was a gem and rock shop with plenty of cheap things like arrowheads along with more expensive jewelry, shady places to sit in a rocker and enjoy a soda, concession stands for the necessary lemonade, funnel cake or dippin dots, a playground, coin operated train and horse (like you used to see outside of grocery stores), and best of all...? 

An old carousel complete with piped in organ music!  Tickets a dollar...

I have to admit the nature center was a little sad.  Cheerwine has apparently donated the aquarium in it, which I was excited to check out as I love aquariums, but it turned out to be pretty small and then only had one catfish in it.  What was uncomfortable for me, however, was seeing several animals in extremely small spaces, especially a beautiful kestrel.  It was the one dark spot (literally) in what otherwise was a bucolic adventure in a park straight from a storybook.  I actually ended up deciding to forgo the zoo in case it too offered up some less than humane sights - although the one enclosure you can see without entering (for the bald eagle), seemed well done, if perhaps smaller than progressive zoos would allocate (a good example of that is the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo in Gainesville, Florida).  

Salisbury itself, ten minutes away, is also fully worth a visit - a lovely downtown is walkable, with historic homes, a beautiful three story library that will lend without requiring residency, sculpture walk and free art museum with three galleries featuring local artists.  There is a train museum and Amtrak comes through and stops at the depot several times a day.  We sat and watched it and a freight train pass through - felt like we were in Mayberry.  The police station 'paddy wagon' is even an ice cream truck! 

Thrift store shoppers will like the local Habitat for Humanity store - well laid out and housewares displayed nicely.  Food Lion, an Aldis, Big Lots, and several restaurants are on the park side of town - easy access to any supplies needed.  If you are towing a boat, ten minutes the other way is a big lake and a marina with a family restaurant.  Finally, we didn't go, but my friend did and recommends checking out the nearby Tiger World sanctuary in Rockwell.  

Alrighty, that's my report from the road!  Afraid I've put any further renovations on Juno on hold and other than putting her to bed for the season, probably won't be doing anything else.  Classes start again in a few weeks and the powers-that-be are miserly with their breaks and nearby campgrounds are full during leaf-peeping season.  But we'll see...

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Tags: campgrounds, dan, nc, nicholas, park, salisbury

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Comment by Dawn Michelle on August 3, 2018 at 7:28am

Do that!  Let me know what you think - 

Comment by richard nance on August 3, 2018 at 6:25am

thats an hour for me so i might check it out.

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