On the “Camping Checklist” provided by Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Lazy River Camp-Resort in Gardiner, “SMILES!” are listed under “Miscellaneous,” right along with bikes, fishing tackle, and flyswatters. But the truth is, even if you arrive without your smile, this family camping resort is pretty much guaranteed to provide a fresh supply. After all, who wouldn’t smile watching their kids cavort on a giant jumping pillow or giving Boo Boo Bear™ a big kiss? “Kids get here and don’t want to bother sitting around
staring at a screen, what with all the other kids and activities to do with them,” says Annemarie Byl, a marketing associate with Northgate Resorts, which has owned the park for the past several years. “We have a lot of different amenities that keep everyone busy having fun, and there’s a neighborhood feel. There’s no need to be a helicopter parent here. One kid can be at mini-golf while another one’s at the Water Zone, then you can all get back together as a family.”
It’s easy to see how parents might want to jump into the Water Zone right along with their young’uns, and they’re more than welcome. The 40,000 square-foot “interactive splash pad” features “two 100-foot waterslides, a 750-gallon hydrostorm, kiddie slides, a fort, water cannon, spray features, and much more.” That’s in addition to two spacious outdoor swimming pools, one of them heated. Want more? There are two well-equipped playgrounds, mini golf, a jumping pillow, a gaga ball pit (think dodgeball, but without the pain), an arcade, hiking trails, a fishing pond, and facilities for basketball, shuffleboard, horseshoes, and sand volleyball. Most Saturday nights feature live music. And for a reasonable add-on fee, you and your family can do some gem mining or play lazer tag.
In more ways than one, Jellystone is the perfect solution to trouble-free camping, with a range of options to suit any taste.
Newly added: a “Bark Park” for the family dog. In more ways than one, Jellystone is the perfect solution to trouble-free camping, with a range of options to suit any taste. “Our big thing is to provide a place where anyone can come without needing to load the car with a ton of high-tech gear,” says Annemarie. “We have rustic tent sites and RV sites, and cabins for people who are more into ‘glamping’, and want to be in nature but come back to all the comforts of home after a full day.” Guests can also rent luxe add-ons like private pool cabanas, hot tubs, golf carts, and kayaks.
There are cabin choices that can accommodate groups ranging from four to sixteen people, from the Hillside Premium Loft Cabins, Tiny Homes, and River Front Premium
Even the lower-key options include air conditioning and heat and a TV/DVD player; the fancier ones have full baths and complete kitchens, the better to take advantage of your finds at the farmers market.
Cabins, to the slightly more modest (and considerably less expensive) Rustic River Cabins. Even the lower-key options include air conditioning and heat and a TV/DVD player; the fancier ones have full baths and complete kitchens, the better to take advantage of your finds at the farmers market. The “Ranger’s Retreat,” designed for larger groups, has a deck with its own hot tub. Northgate’s ownership has resulted in more and better amenities; meanwhile, the resort is still very much engaged with
the local community and proud of its beautiful Hudson Valley spot on the lazy Wallkill. “We have kayaks you can rent and explore the river together,” says Annemarie, “and the sunsets over the Shawangunk Ridge are stunning. We coordinate with the community; our SuperSweet Birthday for Boo Boo event, for example, is timed to coincide with the Gardiner Cupcake Festival.” Boo Boo’s birthday is far from the only special occasion observed. There’s Pirates and Mermaids Week, which features dress-up and a water balloon battle;
Halloween weekend features site-decorating and dress-up for all; and Fiesta Weekend celebrates Cinco de Mayo with maraca-making and piñata games. Additionally, there is a Luau Week, a Kids Rule Week (willing parents can expect to get dunked), Christmas in July, and an Under the Sea Week. The Ulster County Fair is celebrated with carnival games and magic shows. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other holidays get spectacular treatment. Each year during opening weekend at the end of April, kids get to “Wake Up the Bears” from hibernation, and Yogi™, Cindy™, and Boo Boo stay awake all summer long. “The bears come to activities and sometimes just walk around interacting with campers,” says Annemarie. “The kids love it. They run up to them to hug and kiss them.” Special Bear Visits can be arranged to celebrate birthdays and other milestones.
It’s hard to believe anyone ever leaves the resort—except that it makes a great home base for enjoying Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve, not to mention the sights of New Paltz and Gardiner, all just minutes away. “People love the setting,” Annemarie says with pride. “This is not a place where you’re just parking your RV in the middle of a big field; it’s gorgeous to begin with, and beyond that, the whole area is so beautiful and so full of attractions.” Absolutely true, but most of those attractions don’t include a jumping pillow and two gaga ball pits. However, locals are welcome to come and partake as day guests. And the choices just keep growing. “We’re in the works of getting an outdoor movie theater set up,” says Annemarie happily. “Our whole thing is, we want to give you a vacation you won’t need a second vacation to recover from—we focus on making everything special and yet easy as can be. This is camping taken to the next level.”
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort
50 Bevier Road, Gardiner