SP Campground Review – Sampson State Park, Romulus, NY
A lovely, huge (2000 acre!) green state park right on the Eastern Shoreline of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes Area of north-central NY
Link to campground here: Sampson State Park, Romulus, NY
Link to map location here: Sampson State Park, Romulus, NY
- Site Quality = 3/5
This is a huge campground with 300 sites (245 electric sites, plus 55 primitive sites), and there is a lot of variation in site quality so it’s a bit hard to generalize. The electric sites are all on the north-side of the park arranged in 5 large circular loops (loops 1-5) along a hill. On positive side they are all large sites (can easily accept up to 40-feet) with excellent separation, very spacious grassy “sitting areas”, picnic table and fire-pit and a good amount of trees/shade. You will definitely not feel cramped here! Sites are 30A electric only (no water, no sewer) and pedestals are shared between 2 sites, so the hookup can be up to 30-feet away from your RV depending on the site (make sure to bring an extension cord!). Biggest ding is the huge variation in site covering and levelness. Some of the electric sites have a firm gravel area to park on, but others do not (they are grass only or the gravel area is very small) and the ground does get VERY soft when it rains (we saw some deep ruts from RV wheels in some of the sites, and the check-in office had warnings about sinking in the ground), so this can be a specific problem for big/heavy rigs. Also some of the sites are VERY unlevel, to the point that it would be impossible for “the beast” to level even with all our blocks under her wheels. Sites near the top of the hill (loops 1 & 2) are by far the most level and would be our #1 recommendation for big rigs. As you get nearer the bottom/sloped part of the hill (loops 3, 4 and especially loop 5) the sites become more progressively unlevel. The worst loop is loop 5 IMO, even though it’s the loop closest to the water and the only loop with any water views. Loop 5 has the most unlevel sites in camp, plus while we were here (June 2017) there was construction going on right next to the loop (new cabins being built) which made it very noisy too. Sites in electric section cost $26/night (weekday) or $30/night (week-end). NY residents get $5/night discount.
- NOTE1 -> Site Selection: If you’re a big rig I recommend choosing your site carefully here. Look for graveled sites (the grass gets wet, so gravel will prevent you sinking) that are as flat as possible (can be hard to judge on a picture, but do your best). CampADK.com has pictures of EVERY site in camp, so I highly recommend using that to help book the perfect spot. We used it and ended up with an awesome site (#75).
- NOTE2 -> Primitive Sites (sites 301-364): This campground also has a separate primitive (no hook-up) section which is also referred to loop 6 on the camping map. The sites are just side-by-side back-in sites on a large grassy field with picnic table and a paved road in the front. Sites nearest the top of this loop (#344-364) do get slices of water view, but have zero shade. Campsites nearest the bottom of the loop (#301-339) do get some shade in the afternoon. Sites here cost $20/night (weekday), $24/night (week-end). NY residents get $5/night discount.
- NOTE3 -> Cabins: There are also 7 cabins for rent here which look quite nice. In addition 10 NEW cabins were being built while we were here (by the lake near loop 5 of the RV camping section) which look absolutely amazing (modern/clean design, lake views, lovely!). If you can snag one of these when they open up, definitely do it!
- NOTE4 -> Road Quality: The road coming into camp is rather old/bumpy so just be prepared for that. We read that campground loops also used to be in a really bad state, but most of them have been re-paved now (only loop 4 had not yet been paved when we were here) so camp loop roads are now OK.
- ALL sites are reservable and reservations are highly recommended in summer!
- Facilities = 3.5/5
Decent facilities here. There is a large bathroom/restroom facility in each of the electric camping loops with flush toilets and two individual shower stalls. All were clean while we were here. Main ding is that only one of the showers had a separate bench for your clothing (the disabled access shower) whereas the other did not. Also, although the shower pressure was good it took a while for the hot water to kick in (give it time). On-site dump station with potable water near the check-in office (2nd dump station was being opened near loop 5 while we were here).
- NOTE/ Since there are no water/sewer hookups and 300 sites the dump station can get REALLY busy here. Recommend coming into camp already dumped with a full tank of water (if possible).
- Location = 5/5
Fabulous location to explore Seneca Lake. You are right on the eastern shore of the lake with direct access to the lake and lots of activities in camp. There is an on-site marina, boat launch, swim beach, concessionaire stand, large game room (with put-put, ping pong, arcade games you-name-it), playgrounds (multiple) bicycle hire, military museum (very interesting) and miles of hiking/biking trails (the grounds are over 2000 acres!). Also you are only ~15 mins from the nearest wineries/breweries and only ~40 mins from Watkins Glen (a must see!). No great shopping/grocery nearby so stock up before you come.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
Fabulous place for doggie. Lots of space in camp, plus miles & miles of grassy fields and dog-friendly trails to hike. Only place doggie is not allowed is on the small section of swim-beach and inside the military museum, otherwise you’ll be allowed to take them everywhere. On-site poo bags.
- NOTE/ RABIES Certificate is REQUIRED for all pets and will be asked for upon check-in, so make sure you have that with you when you arrive. Also there is officially a 2-pet limit here, but the office seems flexible to extend on a case-by-case basis (they had no problem with our 2 cats and 1 dog), so just ask before you come if you have more than 2.
Overall Rating = 4.1
BONUS ALERT = Camp in 2,000 acres of green park right on the shoreline of Seneca Lake!
Video Overview: Want to see it in living color? Check out our detailed ~22 min video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KdXQNPiHK4
Summary: This is a pretty amazing place to stay. Sampson State Park is the site of an old Naval Training Base and covers over 2000 acres of land right on the shoreline of Seneca Lake. It’s an awesome location by the lake, in the perfect spot to explore everything there is to see in the area. There are no end of wineries & breweries within 15-20 mins as well as Watkins Glen State Park only ~40 mins away (a must see!). Plus there’s just TONS to do in camp itself. Lots of grassy fields, swim beach, lakeside trail, playgrounds, marina, boat launch plus MILES of interesting bike/hiking trails that take you around historic parts of the old training camp. The campground itself is also huge with 300 camping sites (245 electric sites, plus 55 primitive sites), but it is on the older side. The road coming into camp is rather old/bumpy and sites are rather variable in their quality. On positive side all the sites have great separation, large grassy “sitting areas” and a nice selection of trees/shade. Biggest ding is that some are large, flat sites with firm gravel parking area whereas other are just grass sites (or sites with a slice of gravel) and grossly unlevel. This can be an issue for bigger/heavier rigs, especially as the grass gets rather soft when it rains (we saw some big ruts in some of the sites). So, site selection** is really key here. In general sites nearer the top loops (1, 2) are much flatter than sites on the hill nearer the bottom loops (3, 4, 5) withe loop 5 being the most unlevel (and our least favorite). The campground does seem to be actively working on renovations. There were 10 new cabins being built (near loop 5) which look absolutely amazing, plus campground loops had been re-paved and a second dump station was being installed, so I expect more improvements to come. We had a FABULOUS site (#75) in Loop 2 with an enormous “sitting area” and a wonderful green view so we were very happy. Also we just loved the location and area. Great on-site nature (water, hiking trails) great nearby wineries and breweries, and so cool to see the amazing gorge of Watkins Glen. It was the perfect spot to explore Seneca Lake and we’d certainly return.
Extra Info: Decent cell signal. Verizon was the strongest at 2-3 bars LTE, whereas ATT was rather poor and only had 1-2 bars 4G (sometimes we’d loose the signal). Surprisingly T-Mobile worked great (Binge On worked). Total 300 sites. 245 electric only sites (30A) costing $26/night (weekday) or $30/night (week-end). 55 primitive (no hookup) sites costing $20/night (weekday), $24/night (week-end). New York residents get $5/night discount. All sites reservable online. On-site dump station and potable water.
** CampADK.com has multiple pictures of EACH and EVERY site in this campground, so I highly recommend checking that resource before booking your site.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Lisa Cantrell says
Oh, I see you are at Letchworth today. One of my favorites!
Thanks for your excellent review as always I will mention that Button Bay State Park in Vergennes, Vermont also has the same problem with variation in condition of sites. Few are gravel, though in 2015 they intended to make more of them gravel. It is nowhere close as big and the sites are pretty close to each other but if there has been rain venture forth very carefully.
Nina, we have been off the road since the end of April as we came to visit my husband’s ailing father and I ended up nursing him for the last 3 weeks of his life. We are now cleaning out his house a rather huge chore since he was here for many years and was a well-developed packrat. But the house sits on the banks of the Hudson River so our days are filled with beauty. I am hankering to get too many of these places that you have been reviewing!
Oh goodness, a tough few months for you I’m sure. Family Health issues are so very difficult. As RVers we have the flexibility to go and be there for our loves ones (which I do think is a blessing), but it doesn’t make the process any easier. My deepest condolences to you.
Here’s looking forward to some relaxed sunsets on the lake for you in the future.
Great review of a near to us campground. We’ve never stayed there but have been to the park in the fall for the annual dog shows held there. One teeny little detail for you to be completely accurate….. the lake is called Seneca Lake (not Lake Seneca) All the finger lakes are that way Honeoye Lake, Hemlock Lake, Conesus Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake, etc. etc.. as opposed to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, etc. A nit picky thing, but I know you like to be correct! See you next week!
Ahhhh…cheers for that detail. I’ve updated the blog post to correct it.
Ralph E. says
It just isn’t New York that has Lake on the end. There are famous lakes such as Crater Lake, Jackson Lake, and Yellowstone Lake. In Michigan there is Higgins Lake, Houghton Lake, Cass Lake, and a slew of other lakes that end in lake.
Bill Carroll says
Will you be doing a review of Letchworth State Park? I had noted that you had been there and was looking forward to seeing a review. You always have excellent and detailed information. We happened to have reservations for mid August so I have been hoping to see what you thought. (Love that you love dogs. So do we)
Yes I will! Coming within the next week or so.
Jodi Heesakker says
Thank you for this awesome and thorough review. We are staying at Sampson State Park in August and have never been before. After reading your review, I changed my reservation from site #125 in Loop 3 to your recommended site #75. We are renting a 31″ class A and have never camped / driven one before. This site looks perfect for backing in at an easy angle. Shade and lots of green space for the dogs! Thanks for the great info!
Awesome! So glad the review was helpful. Enjoy your stay!