- Published: Thursday, 19 March 2009 09:21
In mid March, 2009, we stayed at Beale AFB FamCamp for a week. We had never been to Beale AFB or this campground. I made the mistake of trying to follow my GPS to the campground instead of the directions provided here. Once I referred to the directions provided here, I was able to find the campground without problems. Approaching the base main gate worried me, as I'm over 60' total in length. The gate had barriers in place with no place for trucks to go around them. I hesitated at the entrance to the barriers, but decided to give it a try. Their looks are a little deceiving, as there was plenty of room to carefully maneuver through the maze in my rig without unhooking.
Beale AFB is located in a quiet part of Northern California. During our visit, the rolling hills were in bloom with flowers and green grass that went on for miles. It was very beautiful. The base is very spread out, with miles of cow pastures between areas. The FamCamp is a few miles from the housing area, and a few miles from the flight line. It's a mile or so to the commissary and exchange. We greatly enjoyed the slightly remote location, as there was no road or train noise, or hardly any noise at all. During the weekdays, there was an occasional USAF plane in the distance. Otherwise, we were serenaded by the robins and other birds. Located within view of the FamCamp is one of three PAVE PAWS radar systems in the USA. This Phased Array Warning System is primarily used to detect and track sea launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). This powerful radar system created static on the local television and radio stations. There's no interference with satellite TV and radio.
When arriving at the FamCamp hours, go directly past the FamCamp on C Street. Park your rig in the road (it's marked on the road) across from the office to check in. When done checking in, a dirt road will loop back around the office and have you going in the correct direction to enter the FamCamp. If arriving after hours, park and walk to the camp host in site F-2. This is also across the street corner form the office. Debbie was the current host. We also met the summer host, Dennis, who will return and become the camp host this July. Both hosts are very friendly and helpful. Too bad they're taking advantage of by MWR. I firmly believe that camp hosts should at least get a free RV site for their contributions to the campground. But there's been concerns over dodging income taxes with a free site. In that case, MWR should PAY the camp hosts more than what the site is worth and deduct the applicable taxes from their pay. Bottom line - camp hosts SHOULD be compensated!
We were aware the campground was currently undergoing an electrical upgrade. All RV sites were getting new wiring and electrical boxes with 20,30 and 50Amp service. To perform this upgrade, some loops were going to be closed off as they got upgraded. We knew we were taking a risk by not having reservations and were willing to dry-camp, if needed. But the office staff (John and host Debbie) were very friendly and let us stay in a FHU site with the older 30 amp electric service. Technically, this loop was closed and still being upgraded. But most of the work was already completed. The contractors still needed to run wires and connect everything, but they were done digging up the ground. We were happy to get this and didn't have any problems with the electric or the contractors.
The FamCamp is part of the old mobile home park, with it's old electrical system. The upgrades are a great improvement. The RV sites are arranged in 6 circles. While this arrangement is left over from the mobile home park, they do provide very large RV sites. However, they also provide VERY little room to maneuver and back-in to the sites. Although I have a motor home and it wasn't difficult, I can see fifth-wheels having a hard time turning to line up with the site. There's about 8 sites per each circle. During our stay, the grass was very green and was mowed and trimmed during the week. Unlike some bases that yell at you if you step on their lawn, here it was more like being in the country rather than a country club. There's mature trees spread out among the campground. I understand the sites with shade trees are in high demand for the summer.The RV sites and roads are asphalt paved. Although there's no paved patio, each site had a picnic table.
We were lucky to get a site that received a strong WiFi signal. The free WiFi is fast and available in parts of the park. They plan to expand the coverage to the entire park. Otherwise, it can be obtained from the club house. There's also a wired network connection available in the club house. The club house is next door to the office. While a little small, it holds a large book exchange, a small kitchen, television with satellite, games and puzzles, a game table and the computer desk. The campgrounds bathrooms and showers are also located here. There's also a small laundry room with 2 washers and 2 dryers. The laundry machines are a little expensive, at about $2 per load. A few blocks down from the campground is a little larger laundromat, but the prices are the same. Everything was modern and very clean. Be sure you get the combination from the office or host to use these facilities.
The base commissary is of a good size and was well stocked. The base exchange was a tad small, but had a good variety of items. The base has a new shoppette and gas station, where diesel is also available. However, it's located a few miles from the FamCamp in the housing area. But it's the only place to get diesel near by. MWR is very active here! There's a large selection of recreation equipment rentals, and a large variety of hobby shops. The Auto Hobby shop even has a lift large enough to raise a 30,000 pound RV. There were plenty of activities and trips scheduled, at least one a week. Although we didn't use it, retirees are allowed to use the base dining facility on holidays and Sundays.
This is one of the few USAF bases we've found that had in stock the USAF Frequent Camper Program packets for sale. The campgrounds nightly rate of $14 is perfect for this campground. This is the ideal pricing for a military campground. For us, the pricing was a little better. During these past few months, Beale AFB FamCamp was offering a special price package. You could get 2 nights free for each prepaid week, with a maximum of 4 weeks. During our stay, we paid for 5 nights and got 2 free. However, this special winter package deal ends in a few days (3/31/09). I understand MWR management regretted offering this deal, as they realized they were loosing too much money on it. Basically, they stopped advertising it. However, if you asked for this package price (as we did), then they would honor it. Of course, I didn't use a Frequent Campers Cash Coupon in addition to this deal, but since it was our first visit here, they did stamp my book!
Bottom line - Beale AFB mCamp isn't a RV Resort. It is a VERY relaxing and quiet RV Park with the amenities to be comfortable and to enjoy your stay. We GREATLY enjoyed our week here and will return.