The small town of Grafton, ND has but one campground, so while the sign out front says Leistikow Park Campground, everyone around here just calls in Grafton Campground. This is where I’m staying while working the beet harvest.
It’s directly adjacent to Leistikow Park and is owned and managed by the city, so for the purpose of this write-up I’m going to treat the two of them as one entity, which they essentially are. Unlike privately owned campgrounds, staying here feels much more like camping in a state park, just on a smaller scale.
Remember that I mentioned in my last post that KOAs are not my ideal camping style? That the extra amenities didn’t do much for me? Well Grafton Campground doesn’t have a club house, convenience store, indoor pool, or hay rides, but it does have a lot of nature, and that IS my style. I love this place.
First, the details. Grafton Campground is officially open from May to October, weather permitting, but I’ve heard that it’s usually open until late November, but the water gets turned off to the sites early that month. The shower house has only one shower stall per side (great water pressure though), but right next to the campground is the town welcome center, and in there is another shower plus laundry facilities.
It’s $28 a night for full hookups, $145 a week or $435 a month during peak season (summer). There is no office here, just a self-pay station at the entrance and a campground host who can answer questions. All RV sites have mixed dirt/gravel pads (quite level), a picnic table, and fire ring. Starting after Labor Day, the monthly rate changes to $360 a month for us harvest campers. But as mentioned before, Crystal Sugar is paying for my campsite.
The center of the campground square has a open area with picnic tables and fire rings for tenters. It’s $10 a night from May to Labor Day, and $15 a night from Labor Day to November. There are also five cabins on site which start at $35 a night.
That’s all fine and dandy, but where this place really shines for me is the the park. Leistikow Park is a mix of mowed grassy areas and forest butting up against Park River. There’s a playground, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor pool (closed for the season now), 18 hole disc golf course, canoe and paddleboat rentals, and what I find most interesting: trails!
Camping within walking distance of trails is a huge perk, I find walks in nature to be very restorative. The trail system isn’t big, but great for quick morning jaunt before working on the computer.
So, I believe I also owe you all the rest of the story of my arrival here. Tuesday was pretty miserable with temps around 50 and a lot of rain, my site was under water when I arrived and I everything from my calves down got completely soaked through from trying to unhitch in it. To make matters more interesting the camp host insisted on hovering and talking to me while I was doing it (pro tip: it’s a lot quicker and easier to set up and take down camp when you can focus all your attention on it). Luckily the shower house has hot, hot water and the rain ended that evening. The mud is slow to dry but it’s getting there.
So in short, this is one of the better campgrounds I’ve stayed at while work-camping. I’ve enjoyed my two free days, but the vacation is coming to an end.
The harvest starts tomorrow (Saturday)! On the plus side, I’ve learned I’ll be working the Grafton site after all which will be much more convenient than Drayton. It’s only about 7 minutes from my camp rather than a half-hour – when you’re working long hours at a job where the main purpose is making money, being close is important.
To that effect, expect slower response times to comments and e-mails until the harvest is over. Remember I’m going to be working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week weather permitting. I may also have to go to one post and video a week, depending on what we get for weather days. Next update I’ll be writing about on-boarding, orientation, and my first impression of the harvest. Should be an interesting few weeks ahead!
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