I’m not exactly what you would call an outdoorsy person. I am terrified of bees and run screaming like a raging lunatic when a wasp dares to invades my personal space. I truly can’t help myself. I don’t have much patience for being hot and sticky, and I certainly don’t have the first clue about how to build myself a nice, roaring fire to keep warm when the temperatures turn cold. Suffice it to say, I’m not the kind of person who enthusiastically loads up the bed of a pickup truck with tents and folding chairs to head to a campground on a weekend, holiday, or any other day for that matter.
And yet, as my kids grow older, I find myself wanting to expose them to the outdoors at an early age in the hopes that they might avoid developing my paranoia of Mother Nature and all her glory. So when the opportunity presented itself to spend a weekend at the Yogi Bear Jellystone Guadalupe River Resort in Kerrville, I jumped on it. Here I could have the best of both worlds: an encounter with the great outdoors on a beautiful property AND all of those creature comforts that I hold dear. You know, the basics—AC, bed, indoor plumbing, coffee maker, cable TV.
The Jellystone Guadalupe is an RV park and campground located in Kerrville, about 65 miles from downtown San Antonio. As you can probably tell from the name, the Guadalupe River runs right through the resort, and to call it scenic doesn’t do the place justice. The grounds are so serene and the trees so huge and swampy you would swear you were in some bayou in the beautiful deep South. There are several different types of accommodations at the park—you can rent an RV site, a cabin, or their newest option, a cottage, which is essentially a “tiny house,” complete with a kitchen, full bedroom and bath, loft space for the kids, and front porch. We chose the third option, the cottage, which was perfectly situated looking out onto the river.
I was really excited about trying out the Jellystone Guadalupe for a few reasons: (1) I have always been very curious about RV parks and the “RV culture” you hear people talking about. Having never owned an RV, I’ve never been privy to the goings-on at an RV park, so it’s always been a source of intrigue for me; (2) I am equally intrigued by the concept of tiny house living. I love watching all the tiny house shows and have often wondered what it would be like to live in a tiny house. I wasn’t about to pass up my chance to give tiny house living a try for a few nights before I threw caution to the wind and tried to cram all my worldly possessions—including my three immediate family members and two dogs—into 300 square feet!; and (3) I love the idea of glamping at a resort so close to home…no major road tripping required!
Let me tell y’all: the Jellystone Guadalupe did NOT disappoint! It is a gorgeous resort filled with new amenities for the kiddos to enjoy, and the best part is you don’t even have to leave the property to enjoy a weekend filled with wonderful memories. I was especially surprised to learn at check-in that they offered scheduled crafts and activities for the kids throughout the weekend. (If I may add a note about the women working the front desk here, they are delightful and truly helpful, a rarity in the hospitality industry these days, at least in my experience.) We weren’t able to participate in some of these activities due to other commitments, but I know my kids ordinarily would’ve been all about joining in the fun offered on-site, which included a Shrinky Dink craft and sack races.
The grounds themselves offer plenty to keep a family busy. There are two different playgrounds located within a short walking distance from the lakefront cottages, one that includes a treehouse that seemingly acts as a magnet for all the kids in a two-mile radius (and all of the surprisingly assertive squirrels used to feeding off of the scraps left behind by all these kiddos, too). There is a newly installed jump pad that adults and kids alike seemed to be enjoying, and for the older kids, they have a sand volleyball court, gaga ball pits, and horseshoe pits. And although we did not have the opportunity to try them out, there is also an indoor and outdoor pool on the property. If you are into fishing, bring your poles because we saw plenty of fish in the river and various ponds throughout the property.
Perhaps my biggest regret is that we adults were not able to make it to the onsite saloon during our stay. I could tell from the highly emotive karaoke drifting through the night air that the grownups fortunate enough to be hanging out there were having a grand ol’ time!
I think the best way to experience the park is to round up a group of two to four families and head out there for a weekend of bonding, relaxation, and good old-fashioned outdoor fun. We went with three other families, and it was so fun to let the kids run from cabin to cabin and activity to activity. As you can imagine, by the end of the day the kids were so tired that once they were in bed, they didn’t even hear us adults yukking it up on the porch of the cabins well into the evening hours.
Here are some tips I learned along the way:
- Bring charcoal and a lighter if you want to cook out during your stay. While there are grills outside each cottage, they do not include charcoal.
- Bring some pans and baking sheets if you want to cook. While the cottage did include a skillet and a sauce pan, they were very small. There were no baking sheets provided.
- On second thought, just bring everything kitchen-related you think you might need…including a wine opener. The kitchen is very minimally stocked, so leave nothing to chance!
- Be aware that the smoke alarms in the cabins may sound when cooking. Every time we cooked, the alarms went off, so excessive ventilation is key. I assume this happened because the cottages themselves are so tiny.
- Be aware that sweet foods kept in the cabins will attract ants. We had maple syrup in the pantry that the sugar ants swarmed overnight, and it was hard to keep them at bay after that. Keep sweet foods sealed up in Ziplock baggies or in the fridge to prevent this scenario.
- Pack water shoes for the kids and closed-toe shoes for yourself. I threw in a pair of Toms with my bag full of flip flops at the last minute, and boy was I glad I did! Sandals are not appropriate for campsite terrain. Now I know!
- Bring little folding chairs for the kiddos so they can have somewhere comfortable to sit during movie night on the lawn.
- If you forget anything, rest assured that there is a Wal-Mart and an HEB nearby, so you will not have to do without all weekend.
- Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen! And snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.