After spending two months in North Carolina taking care of our 18 month old granddaughter, I was ready to get back to some camping.
On the agenda: Our very first Grand Design Rally.
Park Review: Bonelli Bluffs RV Resort
This rally is in the newly reopening California at the Bonelli Bluffs RV Resort in San Dimas (cue Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure).
Bonelli Bluffs is generally a very nice park located within the Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park overlooking Puddingstone Lake. There are a few complaints that they are still working on and a few they won’t be able to fix. This park was previously under a different name and management. Since it’s been taken over, they’ve worked hard over the last year to revitalize things.
What we liked
After spending a lot of time camping in or around AZ (aka on dirt), we LOVED all the grassy areas and trees. The park is well maintained and, while there are still some older, full-time trailers in the park, we had no issues with them at all.
The park has several great spots with beautiful views of the lake and surrounding hillside homes.
The spaces are all paved.
The staff goes out of their way to be friendly and accommodating. Now, that could have something to do with the fact that we brought roughly 150 guaranteed rented spaces for a minimum of 3 nights but I think they do a good job of training everyone on staff to say hi and be friendly.
They are super open to feedback and are making an effort to make some significant improvements.
What still needs improvement?
I’m sure others will have their own opinions but here’s what we felt needed to be done.
*Dog park. There’s plenty of open spaces they could easily fence in an area or three for dog parks. With so many RVers being dog people, you’d think this was a priority. Some of our friends allowed their dogs to play in the taller grass area and came back with ticks so do be careful.
We ended up taking the dogs to the very nice San Dimas Dog Park approximately 6 miles from the RV park.
*Wifi isn’t offered and mobile data isn’t great. We have Verizon and, even on mobile data, the internet was painfully slow. We use the LTE Signal Strength Finder app for Android. Mobile signals are measured in decibels ranging from -50 (full service) to -120 (dead or no service). Our site was scoring -112. If we drove up to the top of the park, we managed a -98.
Things they can’t really change:
*The park backs to a small regional airport.
While mostly only small 2 seater planes and helicopters, the take off of these throughout the day can get loud if you are looking for a quiet and cozy place or trying to have conversations with your new friends.
*Lots of pedestrian traffic.
Because the park is located within the borders of the larger park, it is part of the park trail system. For this reason, the lower section (section F) receives a lot of through walkers and bikers as well as those accessing Puddingstone Lake.
A Big FYI
Section F is set up with larger events in mind so you’ll often get several spots with limited grass access. One spot will be open and spacious with grassy areas and the others will be narrow with the only grass being behind the space. Because we reserved through the Rally and didn’t have the choice of lots, I’m not sure if you can typically request a specific space but, if you can, be sure to request something in sections A through C.
With this being our first rally, I definitely learned a few things. If you thought there was an RVer “type” you were wrong! I loved seeing the wide variety of individuals and couples that gathered together to celebrate something they love.
However, if you are new to RV rallies, like we were, then you may want a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your experience.
Here are my tips and trick for you first timers out there.
- Read all the documentation in advance. Rallies are full of activities and events. This one had everything from a camper crawl (like a pub crawl only with campers) to a craft fair. There will be some things you can sign up for but need to notify the event coordinators before you arrive. Plus, it will help you determine what to pack and how to plan meals.
- Chairs, chairs and more chairs. Bring extra chairs for your area and lightweight chairs you can carry. These events are all about socializing, whether at your site or someone else’s. Having extra chairs at your site makes people feel welcome to join you. And having lightweight chairs to carry encourages you to join others at their sites.
- Find things in common. Whether it’s where you are from, the kind of dogs you have, or the type of rig you have, finding things in common helps you connect with others so strangers become friends.
- Bring food, snacks and drinks to share. You just never know when someone will stop by to chat and end up staying for a few hours or all night!
- Bring extra money. They have vendors and, especially if you are new to RVing, you’ll probably find something exciting to add to your rig or make RV life easier.
- Attend the gatherings! It’s the fastest, easiest way to meet new people.
- But manage your energy. If you are an early to bed person, feel free to go to bed early. If you need to take the afternoon to recharge for the evening activities, then do what works for you.
- People love to tour the different rigs. If you are OK with it, invite others in to see how you are set up. And don’t be afraid to ask to tour someone else’s!
- Make new friends, but don’t attempt to get to know everyone. It’s impossible and you’ll just be exhausted!
- Get fixed! Grand Design brings out their service trucks to work on any warranty or other similar repairs. They won’t (and can’t) do everything but it’s handy having someone that cares instead of your local service center…
At this rally, we enjoyed meeting new friends who live just 30 minutes away from us. We also attended a few workshops/classes, ate at some amazing food trucks (in lieu of large dining gatherings) and attending an open air concert with a Beatles Tribute band.
We are already scoping out additional rallies for the future.
Next up, Fool’s Hollow in July. In the mean time, I’m heading back to North Carolina for more Grammy duty.