Date of Stay: June 21-22nd, 2011
Weather During Stay: Sunny and hot one day; thunderstorms and cool the next. The park had been underwater 3 weeks ago with rain and snowmelt!
Site Description: 100 FHU sites are arranged in two areas flanking the spacious entrance to the park. Some sites are on gravel, others are on grass, but the overwhelming impression of the park is of a large, grassy meadow with ponds, landscaping, and lots and lots of parking for RV. Plenty of room for rigs of any size here, and tenters have a shady, grassy spot away from the RV‘s.
Our site had 50 amps, but not all do. We faced a high, grassy hill, and when we made the reservation, the staffer thoughtfully asked if we have a roof-mounted TV satellite dish - apparently the hill presents an obstacle for satellite reception if you are in the row closest to the hill. Our site was on the west side of the entrance, where each site had a sturdy picnic table. The grassy area to the east of the entrance was being used for a huge club rally and I’m not sure whether those sites had picnic tables. Small (immature) trees are scattered through the sites.
Rate: $30/night; 10% discount for AAA, Good Sam and Military.
Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon signal for phones and aircard, and a good signal on the free campground WiFi. Per staff, the tall hill to the south can provide an obstacle to the signal. Several TV stations (including PBS) are available on the air antenna. NPR on 90.3.
Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: This park sits in a low valley (2,720 ft. elevation) in eastern Oregon, an area of rolling range with mountains to the east and west. The park is in a rural setting, separated from the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area by the gravel entrance road. Lots of birds and morning birdsong, including the strange warble of the Sand Hill cranes. Expansive views to the north, distant mountains to the west and east, and a very high hill to the south. Quite appealing.
Favorite Sites: We were in site 60 and enjoyed it very much - quite roomy. Most sites here are similar, though; I didn’t see any that were objectionable.
Hiking/Walking: Do several loops around the park for plenty of exercise, or walk west on the gravel road (Hot Lake Lane) along Ladd Marsh. VERY little traffic. Ladd Marsh is reputed to have good walking/birding trails.
Comments: In our short stay, we visited the Farmer’s Market in La Grande (small but good), visited the historic Hot Lake Resort next door (being renovated), and drove The Grande Tour, a scenic route though small towns and historic sites in the Grande Ronde valley - barely scratched the surface of all there is to do here. DON’T trust your GPS for directions if coming from the south unless you don’t mind a drive of several miles on a washboard gravel road - ask the staff for directions instead.