CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Tionesta Recreation Area Campground

By:  Lisa & Dan Brown

5th Jun, 19


Location: 477 Spillway Road, PO Box 539, Tionesta, Pennsylvania 16353

Phone: 814-755-3512

Date(s) Stayed: August 2017

Length of Stay: N/A

Site #: N/A

Cost per night (with taxes): $35 (without discount)

Cost per night (with discount): $17 Access or America the Beautiful Pass

Connections: Water/Electric Only - dump station at entrance

Peak Season: May 20, 2019 - September 02, 2019

Overall Rating: 2

 

Traveling to Tionesta

From Tionesta, Pennsylvania, travel 0.5 mile south on State Road 36 and follow the signs into the campground. Situated near the Tionesta Creek, this campground lies at the end of one of the branches of the Allegheny River. Due to its location off the beaten path, the campground attracts mostly locals who enjoy camping, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and hiking.

Reservations

We made our reservations online two months prior through Reserve America as this was the only reservation method.

Arrival and Check-In

The road leading to the campground from State Road 36 was in dire need of maintenance. The dirt road was in disrepair and full of potholes. I'm not sure if it's a private or state road, but let's just say it was in rough shape -we advise driving slow.

After we checked in and drove to our site, we found that there was no way our 42' fifth-wheel would fit into the site we reserved. Their site length calculations listed on the Reserve America reservation site were vastly miscalculated. We had to drive back to see if there were any sites available. Unfortunately, being the beginning of the weekend, we were out of luck on being re-assigned to a site that would be more accommodating to our fifth-wheel.

Though the roadways in the campground were paved, they were extremely narrow and tight. We barely were able to navigate our fifth-wheel through the campground's roadway to leave. We ended up staying right outside the campground entrance in a grassy paid lot. The owner of the lot was very sympathetic to our predicament and allowed us to boondock for $10 per night.

That said, we still made our rounds of the campground to blog this review as if we stayed there.

Facilities

This campground is secluded, shady and very rustic. It's nestled under the trees near the Allegheny River and dam. A boat ramp and marina are nearby for easy access to water activities, and there are some hiking trails around the campground.

The bathhouses and restrooms are located throughout the campground for easy access. The sites are small, trees not trimmed, and the facilities were dated and not well maintained.

There is a play area; however, I wouldn't say it's a playground. There is a small field with a volleyball net and horseshoe pits. It looked like neither had been used for a while.

The nearby river and lake are popular boat, canoe and kayak spots. The campground also included a nice pull-through dump station with a large turn-out where you can fill RV tanks with drinking water if needed.

Campsites

There is a limit of one (1) wheeled camper and one tent per campsite, or 2 tents per campsite and parking on the grass is prohibited. Sites are average size, but most are not big-rig friendly (over 35'). While there are a few, they are most often reserved by locals when they open up the reservations for the year. There were also low-hanging branches that tested even the shortest of campers. The sites were provided with a fire pit and picnic table, and firewood was available for sale up at the check-in station.

Sites 69 and 71 are reserved for visitors needing a handicap-accessible campsite and require a Golden Access or America the Beautiful Access Pass.

Nearby Attractions 

Within walking distance from the campground, there's Sprinter's Mini Golf course for a friendly game with family and friends. There are also two Kayak and Canoe Rental companies in Tionesta. Downtown Tionesta, we visited the Market Village which is comprised of little shops arranged in the heart of downtown that had food and hand-crafted wares.

Nearby Titusville, we went on an adventure to the 240-acre site of Drake's Well. In 1859 the Drake Well struck oil, launching an industry that has forever shaped our modern world. There was an amazing museum of exhibits, operating oil field machinery, historic buildings and more. Drake Well Museum and Park tells the story of the petroleum industry’s birth in Pennsylvania and its growth into the global enterprise it is today.

While on our exploration of Titusville,  we learned that  John Heisman (1869-1936), college football coach/strategist known as Father Of The Forward Pass, moved here as a child and graduated from Titusville High School, Class of 1887. Heisman’s innovations as an early 20th century college coach earned him football immortality. Heisman's family was well-known in the area's oil industry.

Between the towns of Tionesta and Titusville you’ll find very minimal remains of Pithole or Pithole City. Pithole is a ghost town in Venango County - about six miles from Oil Creek State Park and the Drake Well Museum.

Cooks Forest State Park and Oil Creek State Park both have great hiking trails.

Final Thoughts

While we originally had high hopes for this campground, we were left with huge disappointment when we found our Landmark wouldn't fit in the site we reserved. Also, this particular campground was not indicative of the many other Corps of Engineers Parks or Campgrounds we've been to around the country. Its facilities and grounds are severely dated and lacking proper maintenance. Considering this campground’s location of being out of the way and not very lively, for the price (without our Access Pass) we wouldn’t have considered this destination.

We would recommend it to those who have smaller RV units and for those who prefer a more “traditional” camping atmosphere.


Lisa & Dan Brown

Lisa & Dan Brown


alwaysonliberty.com/

Dan & Lisa Brown are known as "Always On Liberty". They are two Coasties (30 years Retired & Veteran) who fought Mother Nature guarding our coasts and saving souls now travel between them with their two Maine Coon Cats. They have been full-time traveling since 2014 with their 2016 Heartland Landmark 365 Ashland (formerly '16 Heartland Cyclone 4100). They are avid hikers, ADV motorcycle riders, bloggers and travel enthusiasts. They enjoy visiting, hiking and riding our National Parks, Monuments, Historical Sites, Battlefields and strange places. 
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