Friday, October 14, 2016

Washington DC and Cherry Hill Park

We originally planned to visit the Washington DC area for two or three days.  Within an hour or so of getting settled into our site at Cherry Hill Park, we went back to the office and extended our time there so that we could stay for a full week.

My wife has a childhood friend who lives about five miles from Cherry Hill, and between her visits, campground time and some siteseeing, we thought the extra time would be worth it.  We weren't disappointed.

Sorry for the lack of photos in this post.  I thought that the ones I took were too typical, meaning they were just pictures of "typical" RV sites, a camp store, etc.  Nothing unusual or worth showing.  Visit Cherry Hill Park's web site if you want to see photos.

Cherry Hill Park Campground

I have read many Facebook and IRV2 posts asking where to stay when in Washington DC and, by far, most of the responders recommended Cherry Hill Park.  We entered CHP as our destination in the CoPilot app on my phone and tablet and it took us there without any issues.  The park is very close to I-495 (the beltway) and is easily accessible to big rigs.  It's important to note that it's best to arrive or depart on a weekday between commuting hours, on Saturday mid-day or on Sunday mornings.  Anything else means that you'll likely be mixing it up with billions of other cars.

When you arrive at the campground, you'll check in and be shown on a map the route to take to get to your camp site.  The check-in process takes longer than other parks because....well, they're just slow. When we checked in, and had to go to the office for other things during our stay, the front staff often incorrectly calculated numbers in their heads, asked us to repeat things, and seemed to be unfamiliar with how to best use their computers.  They get you in and out, and are polite in doing so.  It just seems to take quite a bit longer than it should.

It's probably a good idea to disconnect your toad in front of the office.  As an alternative, take the loop to the left that goes in front of the cafe and un-hitch in the parking lot.  Those seem to be the best spots since they are long and level.

CHP is not cheap.  Before your 10% Good Sam discount, premium back-in sites will cost $78 per night.  This rivals Fort Wilderness in Orlando, which speaks well for the old realtor's adage "location, location, location".  The campground offers many amenities, including on-site bus stops, plenty of help to understand and assist your siteseeing, pools, playgrounds, clean bathhouses, clean and modern laundry rooms, and a very nice diner.  There's also an 18-hole mini-golf course and an extremely well-stocked camp store.

The campground is very clean, and the maintenance staff responds quickly.  

Camp Sites

Sites at CHP are quite close together, but they are easy to get into and (as far as I know - be sure to check) all include 50 amp service, water, sewer and the best cable TV that we've encountered in our very short time doing this.  There are 60 digital (high definition) channels.  "Regular" sites have a picnic table and a fire ring.  Premium sites add a concrete or brick patio pad, a metal table with chairs, and a grill.

In almost every case, your toad will have to be parked sideways between your backed-in rig and the street - and it'll barely fit with your toad off the road. (There are a few pull-through sites, but the vast majority of sites at CHP are back-in).   Our 43' rig fit as long as we backed our tag axle to the end of the gravel site and hung the tail over the grass.  This still allowed room to park our toad in front of the coach.

Sites are pretty close together.  Our neighbors fire ring was probably three feet from our bathroom window (and had grass growing in it due to lack of use).   Most fire rings were quite a bit more accessible, though.

Nearby Shopping and Attractions

If you turn right on Cherry Hill Road as you exit the campground, it's about a four minute drive to a Home Depot, Best Buy and Shoppers supermarket.  Shoppers is really nice, rivaling some of the largest Ingles we've seen.  It includes a very nice salad bar, ready-to-eat food, deli, bakery, and a pharmacy.

Turning left out of the park and driving a few miles, you'll come to a nice shopping area with many restaurants, a Kohl's, a Target, and quite a few other retail outlets.

Our GPS said that it would take 31 minutes to drive from the campground to the Washington Monument.  I say that as a reference, because there's no way we'd drive into DC's traffic when the metro is available.  CHP has bus service at frequent intervals that can take you to the nearest metro station (College Park, about 4.2 miles away).  You can also drive to the Metro station, which will take 20+ minutes and will cost a little more than $5 to park for the day.

CHP sells metro cards for $2.  If you plan to go into DC, we'd recommend paying $10 for a card that will have $8 on it ($2 is for the card itself).  We went all the way to the Washington Zoo and returned in rush hour and each had 15 cents left on our cards at the end of the day.  It's really easy to add money to your cards at any Metro station.  If you're 65 or older, you can get a Senior Metro Card.  I believe it also costs $2, but all of your fees are discounted 50%.  Nice.

CHP offers a siteseeing information session every weekday at 4pm.  The nice lady who gives the talk is well-informed and gives quite a few great tips for getting around Washington.  She knows the metro system, bus lines, and quite a bit about the area's attractions.  She also has handouts that show local restaurants and shopping.

Will we go back?

Probably, but it's pricey.   I think that a lot of parks like this have amenities that we'll never use (the bath houses, playgrounds, multiple pools, and more), but we pay for them anyway.  CHP appears to be well-managed and, from everything I've heard, it's the closest "nice" park to the DC attractions.  But despite how nice it is, $490 for a one-week stay is steep.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike, it's Steve S. I'm enjoying reading your blogs about your new life RVing. Interesting that you mentioned using the College Park Metro station to get into DC. Many years ago, Dana and the girls and I stayed at a hotel in College Park on a vacation there and rode the metro into DC from that same station.