The Phoenix Nest

Washington, DC, while staying at Harpers Ferry KOA, West Virginia

Washington, DC, while staying at Harpers Ferry KOA, West Virginia

A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour

By Jim Fulton

 

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Abstract

I spent a week at Harpers Ferry KOA, in order to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Based on web reviews, this KOA looked to be the best value among campgrounds within a reasonable drive of D.C. It was a disappointment, however, especially given the resort pricing I had to commit to. The campground itself, only slightly larger than the parking lot in front of the office, was basically a gravel hill, divided into tight, barely large enough sites, with such poor drainage that the week’s spate of showers littered the grounds with perpetual puddles. The Smithsonian on the other hand almost lived up to its reputation. Annoyingly, when I visited, its Fossil Hall was closed renovation, and won't reopen until 2019. Nonetheless there were fossils a-plenty on display, as well as meteorites, old rocks, and skeletons of modern wildlife. I photographed so many of these that it took two days to edit and label them for my web site. I hope to return when the Fossil Hall reopens, though I will choose a different campground.

Page Prerequisites
Table of Contents
Page Specifications
Id Flights_GFT_2018_0327
Title Washington, DC, while staying at Harpers Ferry KOA, West Virginia
Subtitle A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
Keywords Washington, District of Columbia, Harpers Ferry KOA, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Author Jim Fulton
Author's URL http://fenixnest/Phoenix/
Copyright 2017
Status Published: 2018/5/9
Last Revised 2018-05-09

Washington, District of Columbia

Arrived 2018/3/27
Day of Tour 248
Nights Stayed 7
Departed 2018/4/3
Map miles from last stop 205
Mileage on arrival 34,487
Actual miles from last stop 326
Accumulated miles for trip 15,970

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From Williamsburg I drove northwest through central Virginia, crossed Virginia’s wine country with its huge chateaus, rising into the Blue Ridge Mountains before dropping into the Shenandoah Valley, then across the state line into West Virginia, ending up in Harpers Ferry. The last half the trip passed through slushy remnants of the storm a couple weeks ago. The parking lot of the KOA where I’m staying still has 4’ high piles of snow on the parking lot from clearing off the camp sites.

Why West Virginia, you ask? Wasn’t Washington, D.C, and the Smithsonian your destination? Yes, but decent RV sites in the immediate environs of the Capital are hard to find, and affordable ones are even rarer. The KOA here is only an hour away from the Metro and my way into the city. Only problem is that now I will not have camped in Maryland. Oh, well, I’ll be driving back and forth across it on my way to Washington.

Page Contents

Washington, District of Columbia

Washington is a city of power. Everything about it reeks of intimidation. Never mind that that power is exerted in such conflicting ways that it creates only heat, never light. To its denizens, it is far more important that nothing be allowed to happen that even appears to conflict with the interests they are supposed to represent, than that something be achieved to forward those interests, much less those of ordinary people.

Around Washington

My tolerance for power games having shrunk to near nothingness, as well as legs' limited stamina, I kept my visit to Washington short, limiting it to the Smithsonian and its immediate environs. I did take a few photos of its power buildings.

Photo Gallery for Washington

Washington, District of Columbia
Washington, District of Columbia
The U.S. Capitol from the Mall
Washington, District of Columbia
The Department of Justice
Washington, District of Columbia
The Department of Justice
Washington, District of Columbia
The Department of Justice
Washington, District of Columbia
The National Museum of American History
Washington, District of Columbia
The National Museum of American History
Washington, District of Columbia
The National Museum of American History
Washington, District of Columbia
The National Museum of American History
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Monument
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Monument
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Monument
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Monument
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Monument
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Monument
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Monument
Washington, District of Columbia
Trump Tower (Discovered by Accident!)

Harpers Ferry KOA

I selected this park because it was little more than an hour’s drive to DC and the Smithsonian, and there are few decent campgrounds any closer. I generally choose to camp away from big cities.

The staff was very helpful and friendly. However, Harpers Ferry KOA was a disappointment, especially given the resort pricing I had to endure. The campground itself, only slightly larger than the parking lot in front of the office, was basically a gravel hill, divided into tight, barely large enough sites, with such poor drainage that the week’s spate of showers littered the grounds with perpetual puddles. They provided the standard full hookups, with power, water, and sewer, but the power supply was so poorly located at my site that I had to use my extension cord. Pity the poor camper that doesn't bring one.

When I arrived, and when I left, it was mostly empty, except for a few units parked in a row apparently reserved for long-termer. But that week bracketed Easter weekend, when the park was packed. To the gills! There was so little room in the sites that campers plunked their play equipment down in the lanes, so that when I returned from errands, I had to wait on the site-holders to move the equipment out of my way.

Clearly it’s a popular park for weekenders and holiday campers, who can return home to brag about roughing it. But for a traveler like myself, who lives in his RV in constantly changing locations, this is not a park I will choose again. When I return to Washington, I will look elsewhere.

Photo Gallery for Harpers Ferry KOA

Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA
Address 343 Campground Rd
Harpers Ferry WV 25425
Home Page https://koa.com/campgrounds/harpers-ferry/
Phone Reserve: 800-562-9497
Info: 304-535-6895
Associations
Rate (net US$) $70
Pros
  • Staff froemd;lu and helpful
Cons
  • Campground resembled a gravel quarry
  • Undersized sites
  • Power access required extension cable
Reviews (as of 2018/4/15)
Reviewer Rating Out of
RV Park Reviews 6.9 Good 10
Good Sam n/a 10
KOA 4 5
Tripadvisor n/a 5
Phoenix 5 10
  Site Type pull-through  
  Site Size 7 10
  Ease of Access 8 10
  WiFiNotes 6 10

Points of Interest

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was among my first entries in my list of target destinations for my Grand Fossil Tour. Harpers Ferry, of course, is one of the principle sites from the Civil War. But wintry weather and weariness of that war from my travels through the south kept me from trudging through yet another one.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian almost lived up to its reputation. Annoyingly, when I visited, its Fossil Hall was closed renovation, and won't reopen until 2019. Nonetheless there were fossils a-plenty on display, as well as meteorites, old rocks, and skeletons of modern wildlife. I photographed so many of these that it took two days to edit and label them for my web site. I hope to return when the Fossil Hall reopens, though I will choose a different campground.

I've included a few fossil photos here to whet your appetite for the more comprehensive collection that I'm building in all my spare time.

Photo Gallery for Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Original Smithsonian National Museum
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Olmec Head Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Olmec Head Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Olmec Head Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Modern Sea Creatures
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Obligatory Triceratops
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Obligatory T-Rex
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Fossils at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The fossil collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was definitely worth my time, and I took lots of photos. As of right now, however, I am unable to show them to you, since I have begun planning a major consolidation of my fossil photo collection, and the time it would take to organize a temporary local collection, for each of the museums I have not yet shown to you, would impede that redevelopment. Furthermore, I'm not allowing myself to work on it until my weekly blogs are up to date. The photos will come, I promise you. It's only a matter of correcting a few bugs in the programming, thereby generating a few new bugs and correcting those, thereby ....

Next Stop

My next stop after leaving Washington I headed east to see the beaches of Delaware, mainly so that I could add it to my list of states where I have camped.

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