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Writer’s Family Has a Blast at Jellystone Park

August 8, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

The train that travels through the Jellystone Park near Eureka, Mo.

Editor’s Note: Amy Bertrand, a writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, filed this first-person account of a recent camping trip with her family to the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort near Eureka, a St. Louis suburb. Click here to read this and related stories.

I have such wonderful memories of camping growing up: the smell of bacon cooking on a Coleman grill as I woke up in the morning; the crunch of a marshmallow charred from a campfire; muggy nights, my sister and I up late listening to our parents play cards outside the pop-up camper. I’ve wanted to pass these memories on to my own children since they were born, but alas, I married a city boy.

He finally agreed this year to one night, in a cottage at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort next to Six Flags in Eureka. We’d enjoy the campground during the day, stay the night and head out to Six Flags the next morning. To be honest, the air-conditioned cottage was hardly camping, but it was perfect for my husband’s introduction. The cozy manufactured home has a living room with futon and satellite TV, a kitchen area, a bathroom, a small bedroom (more like a closet) with bunk beds and a bedroom with a queen bed. The place is full of windows, has a large porch, a grill and a fire pit, where we roasted marshmallows (a store on site has all the fixin’s). We spent the night using our StarWalk app on the iPad to look at and identify the constellations on a clear night.

Yogi befriends some campers at one of the cabins at the Jellystone Park near Eureka, Mo.

It helped that my kids (4 and 6) love Yogi Bear, star of last year’s “Yogi Bear” movie. Yogi makes several appearances a day at the campground, one of which is a nighttime tuck-in, in which (for $10 extra for the first kid; $5 for each kid after that) Yogi comes to your cabin, tent or camper, gives hugs and poses for photos and delivers a cookie and a balloon while his handlers read a poem.

There is more than enough to keep everyone busy: a pool, mini-golf, video arcade, train rides, outdoor games area, activity field and hikes through the area. A team of recreation directors plans out activities, such as craft mania every day at noon.

We woke up the morning of our visit and headed to the Snack Shack for a pancake breakfast ($4.95 adults; $3.95 for kids).

Afterward, we headed up to the mini-golf course. It’s not fancy, but the kids loved it. Then we hopped on a little train that runs through the campground. Most days, you pull up to the ranger station and go “wake up” Yogi, who is sleeping at a pic-i-nic table (I can’t tell you how many dads have mastered the Yogi voice). On our day, he was already up when we got there, but my kids didn’t mind a bit.

Jellystone Park has a variety of options available from the cottage we stayed in ($119.95 to $164.95, depending on the season) to primitive campgrounds ($26.95 to $34.95). Next time, I’d love to stay a couple of days, this time in the tents they have already set up and with air-conditioning ($66.95 to $68.95). That’s as close to roughing it as we’ll get.

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