We recently went RV camping at the Conestogo Lake Conservation Area, and here is our in-depth review of that whole ordeal 🙂
This was our second big camping trip in the new-to-us RV.
There had been hints that there may be a chance of seeing Aurora Borealis that week, so I went looking for a camp ground not TOO far away.
I wanted somewhere that was on the south shore of a body of water, and Conestogo seemed to fit the bill.
I’m going to be honest here, our experience with Conestogo Lake Conservation Area was SO over-the-top bad, I feel a little hesitant to actually post about it.
It just doesn’t feel like a great way to start out a blog review section, you know?
However, it IS our most recent camping trip, and really... I wish I’d had a head’s up that things were going to be awful.
Red Flags... Ignored
On second thought, I probably should have known, there were a few red flags leading into it.
First of all, the first thing I saw on their website was a section of water quality information, which indicated that there was a water quality advisory in effect.
It was just for sodium content, it didn’t seem TOO out of range, we’re not in the high risk groups, and really... we have plenty of bottled water.
So, we ignored it.
When we went in early June, the temperature was over 30 degrees as we pulled up to the camp ground.
... and at the same time, the site was recommending ice fishing and snow shoeing as current activities.
Little things, really... but looking back, they definitely could have provided us with some clues as to what to expect.
Finally, the site is a bit of a mess to deal with. It’s actually 2 sites, and clicking the wrong thing can take you on an endless loop. Very frustrating.
Anyway, let’s get to the in-depth review.
(Spoilers: It was really, really bad!)
Campground Name: Conestogo Lake Conservation Area
Open Season: May 1 to October 15
Address: 6580 Wellington County Rd. 11, RR #2, Mapleton, ON N0B 2S0
Website: Grand River Conservation Authority - Conesotogo Lake
Price: $42.48 - $50.44 / night, plus 11.50 Reservation fee.
Reservations: Online, www.grcacamping.ca
Logistics, Check in, etc.
Here was the next red flag, and it’s going to sound petty.
As we pulled up from to the gate from Wellington County Road, the park staff mostly checked us in through the window of our RV. They had been standing around outside as we pulled up.
Being a high risk household, Porter was wearing a respirator mask as he talked to them... so it was pretty clear we were distancing, etc.
Once they got our information, they asked him to come inside anyway. As it turn out, it was JUST to print off a receipt.
It was just silly and unnecessary - they had been / continued to hang around outside. Why not just go in and get it?
I don’t want to sound entitled, and I know that probably sounds entitled. There was a weird vibe about it.
Campground Amenities & Info
Conestogo Lake is a man-made lake, and the main attraction of this conservation area.
Created by the Conestogo Dam, the lake is host to many different water activities.
Fishing & Hunting
Fishing is allowed both in the reservoir and in Conestogo River (on the other side of the dam).
The official website touts it as a spot for “brown trout, smallmouth bass, pike, catfish and the occasional walleye.”
In addition to fishing, there’s archery and a controlled hunting program for deer and migratory birds.
All hunters must have their permits in order, and be members of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.
Water Sports & Recreation
The far end of the park apparently has a sandy beach, sports field, picnic shelters - and open picnic tables - and a food concession stand that’s open on weekends.
There’s also a boat launch, allowing for power boating, sailing, water skiing, etc.
Unfortunately, due to the layout of the campground, we can’t really comment on any of the amenities in this campground.
The grounds were long and narrow, and the camp sites seemed to be several KM away from the beach, etc.
It was a fairly long drive from the entrance to the camp site, and the beach was in the other direction.
There were a few Pokestops on the grounds, but over by the entrance - none where anywhere near the camp grounds, and it would have been a 20+ minute walk to get the closest one.
Anyway, once checked in, we went on the drive to our campsite. What we were met with was just... sad.
The camp sites were tiny, and SUPER close together. Had it not been for our piddly air conditioning, we probably could have heard our neighbours chewing.
Our picnic table was literally within roasting distance of the next site's sunken tire rim.
Absolutely zero privacy.
The “fire pit” in the back of our site was just a tire rim that had been sunken into the ground, surrounded by grass.
No ambiance to speak of. It was wild to look at our bag of marshmallows, look at the tire rim, and just feel utterly uninspired to start a fire!
Anyway, they have 28 serviced and 35 unserviced sites, as well as some seasonal camping (which looked like something out of a horror movie, TBH).
They had sites to fit Single Tent, 2 Tents, Trailer or RV up to 18ft, Trailer or RV up to 32ft, 3 Tents, or Trailer or RV up to 25ft.
From what we could see, all/most were back-in sites. Don’t quote me on that, though!
So the sites were either serviced or unserviced, with “serviced” being water and “power” (yes, those quote marks are intentional - more on that in a minute!).
There was a dump station along the route from the camp site to the entry, and wifi was apparently available if you were within range of the front entrance. (None of the camp sites were anywhere near it, though!).
As far as the utility post on the camp site goes, they had one post for every 2 camping sites.
As such, every second person either had to run their power and water under their truck to the other side, or drive in forward and just have a crappy view.
(Though really, it was either that nothing view, or looking at the neighbours across the street.) SMALL SITES.
In theory, we had 15/30 amp power to our site.
In practice, running anything other than the lights and the small air conditioner would blow the circuit breaker - something that happened repeatedly.
The first time it happened, the guy across from us mentioned that he was having the same problem.
The thing is, we tested our power draw, we weren’t using anywhere near the 30 amps. (Not surprising, as we have NEVER had an issue like that!)
Also, I’d say only ¼-1/3 of the camp sites were occupied - so it wasn’t a matter of too many people drawing from the power source.
We tried to run a generator, as it was over 30 degrees and I was getting heatsick from it, but we were immediately told that we weren’t allowed to.
When Porter explained that there was an issue with the power supply, the employee basically said “too bad”.
Only one vehicle is included with the camp site, and any additional vehicles need to pay an “overnight fee” of $14.16 per vehicle.
I have no idea where any additional vehicles would even fit. Perhaps the tire rim was sunk into the ground so you could just park on top of it?
SO, we had sweltering weather, weren’t allowed to run a generator when we weren’t able to run an AC on the *trickle* of power coming into our site, and it was SO hot out.
We were too far from anything to do, had no phone reception to entertain ourselves with, and it honestly just felt like we were parked in a random parking lot, with other people RIGHT up in our business.
We had booked three nights, we left first thing in the morning after our FIRST night.
Due to their reservation policy, we had to just eat the cost of ⅔ of our trip.
It wasn’t really safe for me at those temperatures - and with the lack of the advertised power, we got NO sleep, and it was all just really miserable.
We were on the road by 9 am, just 19 hours after arriving.
I had sent them an email to let them know the problem, and that we were leaving early.
That was well over a week ago, no one bothered responding.
We won’t be back.
More Campground Reviews
Want to read some more of what we have to say about the campgrounds we've stayed at? Here are some more reviews!
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