We chose Jellystone Marion for our first camping trip because it wasn't too far from home, offered a variety of things to do and was listed as family friendly. This was a Mommy-Daughter trip so it was very important to me that the campground be geared toward families. Jellystone Marion definetly fit the bill in that department. During the summer there are daily planned activities. Some of the planned activities were free while others had an additional price. Arts and crafts are offered frequently and there are numerous opportunities to interact with Yogi and BooBoo. From what I understand, Cindy Bear and Ranger Smith sometimes make an appearance at the campground. Lunch with Yogi was $8/person as was a nighttime event featuring campfire stories with Yogi. Most of the arts & crafts activities had an additional charge. Bubbles with Boo Boo, Smores Roast with Yogi and Watering flowers with Yogi were all free character encounter events that took place during our stay. Every afternoon during our stay a staff member hosted fun & games. The planned activities are spaced out and most last 30 minutes so there's plenty of time to do an activity and still enjoy all the park has to offer.
The park boasts a 300 foot water slide, a junior olympic size pool, a kiddie pool, a stocked fishing lake, boating (canoes, kayaks & paddleboats), a playground & sandbox, a nature trail, mini golf, an arcade, shuffle board, horseshoes, volleyball and gem mining. Many of the activities are free but some require the purchase of a wristband. We took advantage of a special offer and got 4 wristbands free for the duration of our stay. According to the website, wristbands for 3 -6 days cost $20 per person but the park was offering 4 free wristbands for arrivals between Sunday and Tuesday. Definetly check their website for special offers. The wristbands were required for the waterslide, mini golf and boating. Everything else was included with our stay except gem mining. That's $7 per bag.
The Ranger Station sells a variety of items including firewood and ice. I saw eggs, milk and butter in the store, too. Golf cart rentals are available but the park is small enough that it can be easily walked multiple times per day. The Pic-a-Nic Basket located at the Ranger Station sells slush puppies, ice cream, drinks, and some basic foods (hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, pizza, nachos). The food was good and the prices were reasonable.
The water slide, known as the Super Duper Triple Looper, was a lot of fun. The water at the bottom is approximately 3 feet deep and an attendant is present. The ride down is really fast. As you might expect, sometimes a line forms for the water slide. While we were there the line was never "too long" for the girls. The pool wasn't overly crowded either but sometimes all the chairs were taken. I was happy to see that the majority of the pool is 3 feet. The kiddie pool is 18 inches deep and is located near the pool. Both the pool and the water slide were open 10am to 4pm. Day passes are available for those who don't want to camp but want to spend the day at the campground. Prices for day passes are either $10 or $15. If you want to have access to boats and mini golf in addition to the pool and water slide, you pay $15. The pool reopened from 5pm to 8pm for campers.
Mini golf and shuffle board supplies are picked up at the Ranger Station which closed at 7pm the nights we were there. The Ranger Station is also where gem mining bags are purchased. The mini golf course was well-designed. The last hole doesn't keep your ball the way so many coures do so you can play as many times as you want without having to go back to the Ranger Station for balls. The arcade didn't have many games that appealed to my daughters but there are a number of games available. The playground is better suited for kids younger than my daughters (ages 13, 11 and 10). Boo Boo's Sandbox is roomy but became a big puddle after a night of heavy rain. Life vests are kept near the boats. Boating hours are 8am to dusk and life vests are required at all times.
Yogi's Lake is a 5 acre stocked lake. Fishing license is not required to fish here. It's catch and release; however, if you wish to keep what you catch, you can pay a price per pound fee. Bait and tackle are sold in the Ranger Station.
The highlight of the nature trail is Yogi Bear's Friendship Bridge. The trail was mostly in good condition. We did come across one mucky spot that was impossible to cross without getting nasty until we added some large rocks to serve as stepping stones. I would have liked more trail markers along the path. We picked the wrong 'fork' and ended up near a farm and road which made my daughters nervous.
Camping is available in various forms at Jellystone Marion. We stayed at a tent site with a fire ring, fire grill, picnic table and water access. There are a number of RV sites of various sizes and some group sites. There are also cabins outfitted with a full kitchen and a full bath. I found the description of our site on the park's website to be accurate. There is a bathroom and shower within short walking distance to every site except Yogi's Outback which is a primative group site with no water or electricity. The bathrooms and showers were always clean. There's a laundry facility at the main comfort station.
Every staff member we met was helpful and friendly. My daughters were pleased the staff remembered we were first time campers and that they asked how we did after a stormy night. The girls can't wait to go back.
Jellystone Marion is an excellent choice if you're looking for a place to camp with your family. There are a number of area attractions such as Linville Falls, Linville Caverns, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Biltmore Estate and Pisgah National Forest within a 30 to 45 minute drive of the campground.