We truly enjoyed the two weeks we spent in the Houston area, visiting friends and some of the city’s many attractions. In our previous post, we shared more about our favorite family-friendly activities.
Thousand Trails members looking to visit the Houston area have two choices of member campgrounds in the Houston area: Colorado River in Columbus and Lake Conroe in Willis. Because of availability issues, we spent a week at each of these campgrounds during our time in Houston, and both are good options but for different reasons.
Colorado River Thousand Trails
Colorado River is located west of Houston off of Interstate 10. It takes about an hour to drive to or from central Houston, depending on traffic. Traffic in Houston is a significant consideration, though, and we were very thankful for Google maps real-time traffic updates on more than one occasion. We were able to know when an accident had occurred and find another route before getting stuck in the resulting traffic jam. The local area is relatively rural, and the closest town is very small. Basics like groceries, pharmacy, and gas are all available, but Columbus boasts the smallest Walmart we have ever seen labeled “Super”.
The campground itself is simple but pretty, and it was not unusual for us to encounter families of deer out for an evening walk at the same time that we were. The staff and some of the long-term residents offer many extra activities, such as an ice cream social and grilled hot dog evenings. Not all the sites have full hook-ups, but on our second day we were able to move to a full hook-up site that was within sight of the playground, as we requested. The lodge has a children’s room full of toys, books and videos, and our kids enjoyed going there when the weather wasn’t ideal for the playground. The pool was open but not heated, and in March they found it too cold to swim for very long. They certainly tried though!
Colorado River was a great place both to have relatively easy access to the city but also peace to catch up on school and other responsibilities. We filed our taxes, did lots of laundry, and investigated new opportunities for mobile jobs.
Lake Conroe Thousand Trails
Our initial arrival to Lake Conroe was disappointing, but first impressions are not always to be trusted. We had difficulty finding an available campsite, and felt frustrated that the people in the office were unable to direct us to a site so we could avoid towing our trailer around in circles and over bumpy roads as we tried to find a site on our own. Everyone is required to register their site numbers once they’re set up, so we felt they should have known which sites were available.
When we eventually pulled into a site, we quickly realized that there were a lot of families staying there and that we’d managed to camp perfectly in the ring of families that were surrounding a grassy area where our kids would end up spending many hours every day. It also didn’t take long to realize why so many families chose to be at Lake Conroe.
Lake Conroe is also about an hour outside of central Houston, to the north off of Interstate 45. Again, traffic is always a consideration in Houston, but we found the drive on I45 to be more convenient than the drive on I10. The Willis/Conroe area is much more populated with easier access to larger chain stores, secondhand, etc. Despite this, Lake Conroe TT still feels removed from the city lights and traffic.
The advantages to Lake Conroe were many. The playground was newer and nicer. The pool was also open (and also very cold) but there was also a sand beach for swimming in the lake, which our kids preferred. They managed to leave their shoes there one day and we never did find them. We didn’t spend much time in the lodge or recreation centers, but the laundry room was terribly infested with cockroaches. I’m not that squeamish about bugs, but wow. Ignoring the roaches, the most obvious advantage to being at Lake Conroe was how many other families were there with kids. It’s the first place Emelie cried to leave.
On our last night at Lake Conroe, we invited all of our Houston area friends to join us for dinner at the beach cooked over a campfire. (Beware the $10 day use fee for visitors!) It was ridiculously windy, and Staffan managed to burn his hand pretty badly lifting a log none of us knew was on fire, but all in all, still a wonderful evening. These were the friends who celebrated Peter’s first birthday with us nearly 5 years ago, and we hadn’t all been together since, but we were able to pick up as though no time had passed. Those are special friendships.
Our recommendation to other families choosing between Thousand Trails properties in the Houston area would be to choose Lake Conroe. But if, like us, you find yourself arriving during a popular season, such as spring break, Colorado River is also a good choice. Either way, be prepared to spend a lot of time in your car and in traffic as you visit central Houston.
Posted in Campground Reviews, Explore and tagged Colorado River, Houston area thousand trails, Lake Conroe, Texas campgrounds, Texas Thousand Trails, thousand trails by Christine with 2 comments.