Campground Review: Lake Francis Resort, Dobbins CA

Lake Francis Resort, Dobbins CALast week we discovered Lake Francis Resort thanks to our hard copy of the Woodalls Directory, after trying so hard to find a place that wasn’t booked up for Father’s Day weekend. Located in the Gold Country Foothills about 2 hours from Sacramento, we had no idea what to expect.

Pulling into the registration area, we saw a kitschy old west style restaurant, saloon, theater area and swimming pool with lawns and chuck wagons. My first thought was “uh oh, we’ve arrived at Wally World.” We drove back up the hill to the campground. What a relief to see that, as far as RVing goes, it was real camping. Only the pull through spots were paved, the rest were gravel and dirt spots, with lots and lots of shade to help stay cool in the hot afternoons (not so good for satellite internet/TV connections). Although the sites are almost a little too close together when the place is crowded, at less busy times the resort layout offers a lot more elbow room. It reminded me a lot of a great place I used to go to with my family as a kid, Camp Edison Shaver Lake, just outside of Fresno CA.

Reasonable Rates, Lots to Do, and No Powerboats
Now, RV experts say that whenever you see the word “Resort” in the name of a place to stay, it’s usually just an excuse to jack up the rates because the place has a swimming pool. We definitely didn’t feel like we were being had, and the rate was a reasonable $35 a night for up to four people, two cars, and two dogs. For the non RVers Lake Francis also has lots of tent camping spots, cabins and yurts too. The restrooms are sparkling, the showers are free, and the washers and dryers in the laundry room were nicer than the ones I used to own! Staff is super friendly too.

A great thing about this resort is that the lake is smallish, and powerboats of any kind are prohibited. That leaves out a huge segment of the boozin’, obnoxious sunburnt party crowd, which is fine by us. The crowd it attracts? Familys. Loads of them with kids, most under 15. If you have kids and have never camped before, this is the perfect place to try it.

Family Camping at it’s Best

All for a Great Cause
It’s so appropriate that the resort is owned by Environmental Alternatives, a non-profit agency that provides foster homes for underprivileged Northern California kids. All proceeds go toward sending EA’s foster kids to summer camp at the resort (fear not, the summer camp is located on the other side of the resort, so you won’t be in the thick of all that crazy kid activity!).

Normally, I’d shy away from any place that drew in breeders and screaming toddlers, but after hanging out there a few days, I realized that we were interacting with more people there than anywhere else we’ve been to so far. It was a nice change of pace from the pull-through RV resorts targeting the 55 and over crowd that tend to stay inside and watch TV all day. At Lake Francis, the kids were running all over the place, which brought out the parents for dog walks and such, making it feel very alive. And by 9 pm, the kids were pooped out, and the campground was silent. Nice.

The only downside? We had a really funky power supply at our site, and they should have recycling bins as well as lids on the trashcans. And they really ought to get rid of, or at least mellow out the one super bright “street light” that threw off stadium lighting on our site all night long.

Overall, I highly recommended it as a nice place to stay for a few days when you’re trying to beat the heat in the Sacramento area.

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