We are lucky to live within weekend-able distance of the historical town of Kingston Ontario, and all of the terrific attractions there and in the surrounding Thousand Islands area. But one issue we’ve had is finding an RV campground near Kingston that we like.
When traveling, we usually stay with Boondocker’s Welcome hosts or we boondock in parks and parking lots, but there just aren’t a lot of good boondocking options in the area. Plus, when taking a weekend holiday we like a bit of space and tree cover, preferably with the ability to have a campfire – and having a campfire generally requires paying to stay in a proper campground. I haven’t loved the other campgrounds near Kingston that we’ve tried, so this past weekend we tried somewhere new, Pickerel Park RV Resort & Campground.
We visited Fort Henry and then drove 35 minutes back toward home and camped at Pickerel Park. I found out about Pickerel Park from the Camping Ontario booklet I picked up from CAA/AAA, and I thought that staying there might offer us a campfire experience, while also shortening our drive home the next day.
Pickerel Park is located right between Picton and Kingston, around 35 minutes from each. It might be a bit far from either to serve as a good base for a multi-day stay to see Prince Edward County, Kingston or the Thousand Islands, depending on whether you have a tow car to use for sightseeing. And Pickerel Park Resort & RV Park is not a destination unto itself; however, if you are visiting Kingston from the Toronto area and want to shorten your drive home a bit on your last day, Pickerel Park is a pleasant option. And as far as RV parks go, we liked it better than the other campgrounds near Kingston that we’ve tried, and we would happily camp there again.
Setting and Feel
Pickerel Park is located right on the Bay of Quinte, and the shoreline faces the sunset. Lovely though that is, come for the convenient location and not for the setting. The park is part of the Sun RV Resorts group of campsites, the website of which significantly oversells the campground’s outdoorsy-ness. “…over 700 feet of shoreline and 21 acres of shaded woodland surroundings” is not at all what you experience! Rather, Pickerel Park is primarily a busy, large, densely-populated seasonal RV park, with most of the shoreline comprising parts of rented seasonal sites (ie. not to be walked on by guests) and the “shaded woodland surroundings” only being viewable from the sites along the park’s perimeter – which are also the sites closest to the adjacent, somewhat noisy road.
So forget Pickerel Park’s advertising and know this: so long as you’re not wanting privacy or an outdoorsy Provincial Park-esque experience, Pickerel Park is a pleasant park to spend a night in. We enjoyed walking around and looking at everyone’s trailers, decks, toys and decor. Wandering Family Boy loved spotting clever wind-spinners in trees and Wandering Family Girl excitedly asked some seasonal campers if their Mustang was a race car. Everyone we passed and spoke to was very friendly and we had several excellent chats with people, both seasonal and overnight campers.
Pickerel Park is well-maintained, with good gravel roads and new-looking road signs and washroom buildings. While there aren’t enough trees to afford the sites any privacy, there are enough to throw adequate shade as you walk around looking at people’s camping equipment to get ideas for your Christmas wish-list.
Pickerel Park feels like staying at the family cottage. Over half the summer residents are seniors who are there all summer. The remaining seasonal tenants come up for weekends. There are a lot of resident dogs, all leashed, and a pleasant number of kids. It felt cosy and very welcoming.
The overnight RV sites that are reservable through the online reservation system are clustered near the entrance to the park, near the office, playground and pool. They are somewhat small and are back-in only.
I noticed during our stay that none of the overnight campers were assigned to these sites, including us, even though I had selected one when I made our reservation. Instead, we were all assigned to larger sites near the outskirts of the park. I’m not sure if that was due to the Covid pandemic or not, but we certainly appreciated being moved to a larger site in a less-dense area!
We paid $45 for our drive-through site with hookups (which we didn’t use, but the park doesn’t have un-serviced RV sites) and $10 for a bag of good, dry firewood that lasted from 7 to 11 pm. Check-in time is 2 pm and check-out time is noon.
If you’re booking a large RV site, don’t be fooled by the website’s description of the “up to 43 feet” pull-through sites being in the “Canadian wilderness”. There is not much wilderness here!
Pickerel Park has four large cabins for rent; we didn’t stay in one or see inside, but a lovely woman with whom I chatted in the pool was staying in one with her husband and two pre-teen children, and she said she was very happy with it.
Amenities & Rules
When we visited Pickerel Park RV Resort & Campground the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing and so many of the park’s amenities were closed. As such, I can’t show you any photos of the washrooms or showers. The washroom buildings all appeared new.
Near the entrance of the park is the pool, which is gated and unsupervised, heated, medium sized – and which our family loved because it was the perfect temperature on a hot day! I’d have stayed in for hours but they were limiting numbers due to Covid so we could only swim in blocks of 30 minutes, booked ahead. It’s a plain pool with a cement deck enclosed by a black wire fence, not fancy, but clean and pleasant.
Adjacent to the pool is a good playground with swings, a contemporary jungle gym and see saw, and backhoe toy. There are swings for toddlers and big kids, and the ground is sand.
There is a large wood picnic pavilion next to the playground which I understand normally sees a lot of park social events, all of which were cancelled for the summer due to Covid-19.
There is wifi in the pool/pavilion area (which is also where the back-in overnight RV sites are); we tested it on our phones and found it to be not too week, but not strong either.
The small beach, enclosed by a three-sided deck, was pleasant enough for some sandcastle building but my kids preferred the pool for swimming. You can fish off the dock at night and although we didn’t catch anything, having shore fishing available was a big plus for my kids – they love to fish! The dock is also where to be at sunset for the best view.
Pickerel Park is very dog-friendly and people were constantly out walking their dogs. Leashes are mandatory at all times and everyone we saw abided by that rule, which was great.
Quiet hours are 11 pm to 8 am but we found it to be very quiet after 9 pm. During the day a number of trailers will be playing music but not at top volume. Pickerel Park is a social RV campground, but it’s not a party place.
The tiny on-site store was closed when we were there so I can’t speak to what it would normally stock, other than packaged single-serve ice cream (I could see the telltale freezer!).
We found the customer service to be excellent. Check in was fast and easy and the staff member was very pleasant. Wood is sold at the office so it was easy to grab it while checking in. The office is accessible, with a push button for the door and no stairs.
At the time of our visit Ontario businesses had been permitted to be open for around six weeks, so by that time I was becoming quite critical of companies who didn’t yet have careful Covid-19 protocols in place. Pickerel Park is very good in this regard: masks are mandatory in the office, and upon check-in we were given a “Covid-19 hospitality kit” containing disposable masks, two small bottles of hand sanitizer, and a package of disinfecting wipes.
Overall, for a one-night holiday stopover, we were very happy with Pickerel Park RV Resort & Campground. Roll in, take a swim, walk around looking at people’s decor, walk the dog, chat with other people walking their dogs, fish off the dock while the sun goes down, and then relax beside your campfire. Just don’t expect “Canadian wilderness”!