Welcome to our (very personal) reviews of the campsites we have visited. If you arrived here from a link on our travel blog, Semi-True Tales of Our Life On the Road, you can click here to read all of our campground reviews.

If you would like to know more about me, or contact us, click on "Who are We?" (to the right). For more information about what you can expect to find in these reviews, click on "About These Reviews". Finally, a note about the photos: hover your cursor over a photo to read the caption, or click the photo to enlarge it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Our Opinion: Rave.  We love coming to this lovingly developed and maintained desert park.

View of Bisbee from Queen Mine RV Park Date of Stay: We have stayed here half a dozen times over 4 years.  This stay began 12/20/2009; we plan to be here 2 weeks.  This is an update of our 9/2008 review.

Weather During Stay: It is winter here now, so weather is cold.  Low’s might go below freezing, with daytime highs anywhere from the 40‘s to the 60‘s.  Wind, sun, clouds...

Site Description:  Queen Mine RV park is a large, level, graveled circle, perched high up on the side of the open pit copper mine that dominates Old Bisbee.  The 25 FHU sites (30 amp), all with cable TV, are all back-ins, lining the outside of the circle, facing center.  Generally, motor homes park in the sites on the south side, facing the view to the north, backed up to a mountain; 5th wheels with large rear windows park on the north side, their view windows facing Bisbee or the red mountain to the north.  Great views.

Low rock walls and plantings of native plants and trees have transformed this gravel lot into a cozy refuge.  Above the Queen Mine museum and tours, it almost feels remote… but it is a short walk down the hill into charming, funky, old town Bisbee.  The small office building houses a clean laundry room and restrooms.  Trash and can recycling is near the entrance.  A covered picnic table outside the office makes a pleasant spot to socialize, and a small dog walk hugs the driveway.

Site 6, QMRV, with no neighbors! Rate: This park no longer offers Passport America or Escapee discounts.  Rates - including WiFi and cable TV - are $28/night, or a weekly rate of $165, electric include.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon signal is strong here, and the aircard is on speedy Broadband.  WiFi is available at no extra charge, though we haven’t tried it.  About 30 channels on cable TV; no obstacles for satellites.  Radio in this part of the state is crummy - no local NPR (hooray for Sirius!).  NOAA weather radio does not get a signal here.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: A level RV park at 5300’ on the side of a deep, defunct copper pit mine.  Wonderful views of deep red mountainsides and the Victorian buildings lining the steep canyons of Old Bisbee.

Lighting/Noise: Subdued night lighting is unobtrusive; very quiet.

Office and laundry/bathhouse building Favorite Sites: Since we travel in a motorhome, we like the sites that back up to the hillside, where we face north east.

Hiking/Walking: Walking up Tombstone Canyon, though Bisbee to the underpass, is about 4 miles round trip.  Wandering through the streets of Bisbee is fun, too.  Lots of good hiking in the area, but all the hikes require a drive.

Comments: Finding the way to the park can be tricky.  We unhooked our towed the first time we came up here to check it out, as the road and route can be confusing. The Bisbee Natural Food Coop is a short drive away, Safeway is a little farther.  A good golf course is in Naco, 5 miles away.  Eat at Rosa’s for great Italian food, CafĂ© Roka for expensive and delicious fine dining, Bisbee Breakfast Club for delicious (and large) breakfasts and lunch.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Our Opinion: Rave.  This large regional park has spacious sites and good hiking trails, adjacent to an urban area (Phoenix, AZ).

Classic desert scene at Usery Mountain ParkDate of Stay: December 15th through 19th, 2009.

Weather During Stay:  Lovely mild southwest winter weather.  Lows at night in the low 50’s, daytime highs in the 70’s.  Mostly blue skies.

Site Description:  Our site (27) is a very spacious back-in, aligned mostly east-west, perfect to capture the sun’s morning warmth.  The reasonably level, gravel pad is suitably sized for a big rig, with lots of level, graveled space behind.  A Palo Verde provides shade and privacy on the south (patio) side.

Of the 75 sites available, it looks as though half a dozen are occupied by hosts - and it shows in the meticulous maintenance of the sites.  Both “pullout” and back in sites are available (predominantly back ins).  All sites are raked gravel, with large concrete picnic tables, fire rings and grills at each site.  All sites have water and 30/50 amps.  Most sites can accommodate big rigs, and most sites are level enough – but we did see several that are too sloped for our use.

Typical back-in site at Usery Mountain Park This is a huge park, and the campground designers did not skimp on space. Several restrooms (with showers); adequate dumpsters.  Spacious dump station available. 

Rate: W/E sites are $25/night.  No senior discount; no weekly discount.  Camping fee includes use of dump station.  All sites are first-come, first-served, no reservations.  14 day consecutive stay limit enforced, but only one night out required before you return. 

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon service is good on both the aircard and phones.  No obstacles for roof mounted TV satellite. All networks, PBS, and a few independents on rooftop antenna. NPR on 91.5 (probably others as well).

Huge site 27 at Usery Mountain ParkElevation/Landscape/Terrain:  This is gently rolling terrain, punctuated by arid hills and stony mountains.  Fairly dense desert vegetation: palo verde, saguaro, barrel and cholla… very appealing desert scenery.   Elevation is 2,000 feet above sea level.  Views from the campground are of other (reasonably distant) campers, cactus, multitudes of birds, and high, rocky mountain outcroppings.  Distant views of the city lights at night.

Lighting/Noise: No streetlights in the camping loop (a good thing), but the restrooms have fairly bright lighting at night.  We were positioned so that wasn’t a bother.  Very little urban  noise of any kind.

Favorite Sites: Many, many, appealing sites here.  Choose according to your sun exposure and view preference.  As usual, we prefer perimeter sites to the interior sites, and back-ins to pullouts.

Site Spacing with pullout site on rightHiking/Walking:  Walking the loop road of this campground is pleasant for a stroll, or take the half-mile nature trail.  Trailheads for several longer hikes are a short drive from the campground.  We enjoyed the birds-eye view from Wind Cave, and a viewpoint on the Pass Mountain Trail.  Trail maps and information are available at the check-in kiosk.

Comments: This park is a lovely oasis next to densely populated Phoenix, AZ.  The campground occupies a small area of the park, which includes substantial day use areas, numerous trails, and a horse staging area.  November and December would be ideal times to visit - the campground was half full during our stay, but is full daily from mid-January through the end of March.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Indio Elks Lodge Parking - our site in November 2007. UPDATED DECEMBER 15, 2011 (FEE INCREASE).

Our Opinion: Recommend, but best before winter “high season“, when the parking feels quite crowded.  Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: December 11 and 12, 2009 and December 13-16, 2011.  

Sites: 54 sites, 4 (back-ins along the back wall of the lodge) of which are FHU.  The remaining 50 sites have water and 30 amp E.  All sites are reasonably level, about half on asphalt (all back-ins) and half on gravel (back-to-back sites, which you can pull through if not crowded).  Sites are sufficient for big rigs, but are very “cozy” when all spots are filled – just enough room for slides and a slightly extended awning.  (In the photo below, we have an empty site on both sides of our rig.)  No picnic tables. Dump station on site.

Site 17, Indio Elks Lodge, 12/09 Rate: For 30 amp E and W, $25 for the first night, $20/night for subsequent nights.  FHU sites are $5 more per night. Less for dry camping – $10?

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal.  WiFi available in the parking area; get the password from the lodge. Local NPR on 89.3 FM.  No obstructions for TV satellite.  Several local TV stations available on antenna.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat, level parking on gravel and asphalt in a large lot behind the lodge.  This is mainly a residential neighborhood, very quiet. Views are of other rigs, the lodge, and palm trees.   Elevation is not much above sea level.

Lighting/Noise:   Subdued night lighting and little noise at night.

Site width at Indio Elks; there is an empty site between these two rigs. Favorite Sites: In the center of the parking area, there is a little green “park” with grass and a few trees.  If you can snag one of the two sites that put the park on your door side, they give you a little extra space.

Hiking/Walking:  Not much in the area unless you enjoy neighborhood sidewalks.  Good hiking in the nearby arid mountains.

Comments: This is a bargain in a pricy area.  We like to stay for awhile to soak up warmth, hike the arid mountains, eat at good restaurants and ogle the beauty of this super-wealthy area.  Plenty to do around here; close to every kind of shopping including Costco and Trader Joes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


View of the campsites from a hillside trail Our Opinion: Recommend.  A rather rustic, reasonably priced campground in a large regional park in California’s premier wine-making region.

Date of Stay: Our fourth stay - mid-October, 2009

Weather During Stay:  A mix of mild weather, with sun, fog and showers.

Sites: The campground has a mix of FHU and W/E sites, all on gravel, all reasonably level.  None of the sites are very spacious, though most are long enough to (barely) accommodate a 40’ motorhome, with slides and awnings.

The campground map shows 19 FHU sites, but one appears to be unusable.  Two of the FHU sites are pull-throughs.  Eight of the FHU sites are back-to-back; the remaining 8 FHU sites are back-ins along the edge of a little cul-de-sac.  Many of the FHU sites have shared utility boxes, two sites per box - first camper in gets their choice of the 20, 30, or 50 amp outlet.

The 20 water and electric sites (30 amps) are a mix of back-ins and pull-throughs, and feel a little less crowded than the FHU sites.  Tents have a separate, very spacious, grassy area.

Back to back sites in FHU loopRoads and all sites in the campground are gravel.  Trees scattered throughout the campground and around the perimeter provide shade in some sites.  All sites have picnic tables. Restrooms and showers are available (get a key when you check in). 

Rate: $27 per night for FHU; $25 per night for W/E.  If you are a senior (age 62, I believe), ask for the senior discount - $2 off per night.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phone and aircard signals.  Few obstacles for rooftop-mounted satellite TV.  PBS stations available on TV antenna.   NPR available on 88.5 (and probably several others).

W and E sites at Skyline Wilderness ParkElevation/Landscape/Terrain: Level parking on two tiers in a large, hilly regional park.  Lots of trees and shrubs surrounding the campground.  There is a native plant garden on one side of the campground and a dog run on another side.  Views are of other campers, huge oak trees, and forested rolling hills.  Elevation is close to sea level.

Lighting/Noise: Although there are streetlight-type lights on tall poles in several spots in the campground, they aren’t turned on at night (YAY, though it is probably for budget reasons).  Very dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites: No real favorites here - they are all similar except for the utilities.  If we are staying a short time, we pick a W/E site - cheaper and less crowded.

Sites 33, 32, and 31 in cul-de-sac area.Hiking/Walking: This is where Skyline Wilderness Park shines.  It is HUGE, a regional park with miles and miles of trails for hiking, biking, or horseback riding.  Don’t like hiking?  Take a lovely, easy stroll through the large, fenced native plant garden, or find a seat at a picnic table under the huge oak trees.  A frisbee golf course seems to get lots of play, too. 

Comments: The Napa Valley is a “world-class” destination, and this park is a relaxing, mellow base camp.  A reasonably priced municipal golf course is a few miles away, as are Target, Raley’s, etc.  Chain and independent restaurants abound.  Call 707-252-0481 to reserve a site (no specific site reservations can be made – but you are guaranteed a site with a reservation).

Monday, October 12, 2009


Typical view at Collier Memorial State Park Our Opinion: Recommend.  This makes an excellent base camp for visits to Crater Lake.

Date of Stay: October 9 through 11, 2009.  Updated October 2011.

Weather During Stay:  Mostly sunny, cool days and COLD (mid-20’s) nights.

Sites: 50 FHU sites (30/50 amp) in two loops tucked among huge pine trees, heavily shaded.   Most sites are reasonably level and large enough to accommodate big rigs. Nine of the sites are pull-outs - quite close to the narrow campground road - while the rest are back ins.  The campground road and all the FHU sites are paved; an additional 18 dry camping sites are gravel with tent pads.  All sites are first-come, first-served - and were full each of the 3 nights we stayed there.  (Edit: plenty of space available in October of 2011, though early arrivals had a far better selection.)

Site 23, Collier Memorial State ParkOnsite facilities include restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, laundry facilities, and pay phone.  Four sets of campground hosts kept the campground well-groomed and sold firewood.

Rate: We paid $13 per night (Oregon’s “Discovery season” rate) for 50 amp FHU.  The in-season rate is $17, still a bargain - but we heard the fees would be increasing by $4/night next year due to budget problems.  (Edit: Paid $17/night for FHU October 2011, Discovery Season rate.)

Phone/radio/TV: Good Verizon phone and aircard signals.  Our roof-top mounted TV satellite couldn’t find a signal through all the trees, though there were a few sites (very few) that might work.  No TV stations on the over-the-air antenna.  No radio stations - hurray for Sirius satellite radio!  (Edit: Jefferson Public Radio, an NPR station, available on 90.9 in October 2011.)

Clear blue water of Spring Creek, a short walk from the campground.Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat, level parking at about 4,000 ft.  Views are of neighbors and tall pines.  A few of the sites on the south side of the campground had views of the Williamson River.

Lighting/Noise: Very dark and very quiet at night - lots of stars. 

Favorite Sites: We probably would opt for a site near the river next time - until we explored the campground on foot, we didn’t realize there is a river nearby.  We didn’t like any of the pull-outs along side the campground road, but they were snapped up by those who don’t like backing in.

Hiking/Walking: Though it was not immediately apparent, this campground has GREAT walking.  Beautiful, clear Spring Creek joins the Williamson River very close to the campground, and trails along the riverbanks are a real treat. 

Spacious sites, but no privacyThe state park is also home to the interesting Collier Memorial Logging Museum and Pioneer Village, a short walk away along the river.

Comments: This campground would rate a RAVE but for one thing: lack of privacy in the sites.  The sites are roomy and very well maintained, but have no bushes to provide any privacy at all… that’s how it is in a pine forest.  We certainly will return, though.  Only 25 beautiful miles from the campground to the southern entrance to Crater Lake National Park.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Our Opinion: Rave. This is our favorite urban dry camping site.

Parked along the river at the back of the Valley River CenterDate of Stay: October 7 and 8, 2009. This is our 5th stay here.

Weather During Stay: Beautiful. Highs in the low 70’s. Low’s around 50.

Sites: No developed sites. This is dry camping on asphalt, nestled up against a bike trail and the Willamette River in a far corner of a shopping center parking lot (Valley River Center).

Rate: Free. 2-night limit, can be extended by speaking with security.

Phone/radio/TV: Excellent Verizon phone and aircard reception. No obstructions for TV satellite. We didn’t put up the antenna, but there are no doubt some local stations available. NPR on 89.7 (and probably others).

View to the south, towards the shopping center Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Elevation is 430 feet. View is of trees, the wide Willamette River, bikers, walkers, skaters, and joggers on the multi-use trail, and a wide expanse of parking lot between you and the shopping mall parking (this photo).

Lighting/Noise: Lights along the trail and in the parking lot illuminate the sides of the RV at night, so choose your spot with that in mind. Noise during the day from cars in the parking lot, and the conversations of passers-by on the trail. Quiet at night, until the occasional footfalls of the early joggers begin at dawn.

Favorite Sites: We like to park facing west, next to the curb along the river or, in colder weather, facing south along the curb on the west of the lot. Shopping center regulations ask that you park in the northwest corner of the parking lot, which is the least used section of the lot.

Scenes from within 1/4 mile of the drycamping areaHiking/Walking: Can’t be beat. Green space laced with a paved trail follows both sides of the river. A four-mile loop crosses the river on two pedestrian bridges (one is about 50 yards away for where we park), or cross the river and head east to the university, past a community garden and a large rose garden in the parkway. Beautiful in all directions. Photos in this collage were taken during a springtime visit, within 1/4 to 1/2 mile of our parking spot.
Comments: We love Eugene, and this convenient, free parking is a plus. Jacks and slides allowed. The parking lot is patrolled by friendly security personnel, who will stop by to register your rig. They have a list of “regulations”, apparently designed to be able to give the heave-ho to those who might take advantage of the shopping center’s tolerant attitude. After spending two nights here on one visit, we had an appointment for minor repairs in Junction City, so spoke with the security guard about the possibility of returning afterwards for one more night if necessary. Answer: “no problem“. Eugene has both a Costco and a Trader Joe’s, a short drive from VRC. A few chain restaurants are within walking distance; several good restaurants in downtown Eugene.

VRC RV Overnight Parking Guidelilnes Directions: From I-5 (north or south), take exit 195 to head west on the Beltline Highway. After a few miles, exit to head south on the Delta Highway (I think there is a sign for “Valley River Center”). Head south a mile or two to Valley River Center Road and go west. At the intersection with Goodpasture Island Road (there is a Red Robin on the left and a Marie Callendars on the right), turn left. Turn right at the next road (not the parking lot driveway) and head towards the river, passing the small (now apparently defunct) car dealership on the right. At the dead-end (stop sign), turn right and find a place to park along the curb next to the bike trail or the field.
You can find this on Streets and Trips by looking for “Valley River Center, Eugene, OR”. I imagine the same is true of GPS systems. 

Friday, October 2, 2009


Site 30, Armitage County ParkOur Opinion: Rave.  This new Lane County campground is a great option for FHU camping in Eugene.  A plus for dog owners: a huge fenced dog park is located adjacent to the park entrance.

Date of Stay: October 1 through 6, 2009.  Updated during a 5-day stay in June, 2011. 

Sites: 6 long pull-outs (95+ feet) and 26 spacious back-ins (55+ feet), all with 30/50 amp FHU including cable TV.  Roads and very spacious sites are asphalt, with large expanses of grass and many trees.  About half the sites are shaded; the other half are in a sunny, cleared area.  Each site has a substantial picnic table and fire pit. 

Restrooms are available, but no showers.  The park is adjacent to the Mackenzie River with a large day-use area for picnickers and a boat-launch ramp. 
Rate: $30 per night for 30/50 amp FHU with cable TV and free WiFi.

Sunny Sites at Armitage County Park
Phone/radio/TV: Good Verizon phone signal, but the aircard signal alternated between broadband and very slow national access.  Free (unsecured) WiFi doesn't quite reach to site 30, but would be work in the majority of sites.  Satellite TV will be blocked by trees in about half the sites, but cable TV is included at all sites.  NPR available on 89.7.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat, level parking at about 500 ft elevation adjacent to the Mackenzie river.  Views are of other campers, huge trees, and green grass.  Very appealing.

Lighting/Noise: There is distance noise from I-5 that did not bother us during the day or keep us awake at night.  The park itself was very quiet.  Lighting is on each utility pedestal, directed downward and fairly unobtrusive. 
Looking at Site 30 head on 
Favorite Sites: Sites 1 through 15 are situated in a sunny, open, grassy area; the remaining sites are partially or completely shaded.  We were in site 30, facing south.  Our site choice would depend on the temperatures expected.  

Hiking/Walking: Decent walking around the park and picnic areas, but we drive to one of the access points to Eugene’s extensive bike trail system for longer walks.

Comments: What a great addition to Eugene’s camping options - certainly these are the most spacious FHU sites available at a reasonable fee.  The campground is close to town, with easy access to shopping (Costco, Trader Joe’s and Safeway are all located on Coburg Road, as is the park).  Make reservations by phone or online for a $10 fee.  The website has excellent descriptions and photos of each site. If you arrive without reservations, you can pay for only two nights due to the reservation policy.  14-day stay limit.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Entering Windy Cove B, looking east. Our Opinion: Neutral.  Salmon Harbor/Winchester Bay area is fun for RV’ers; this is the most reasonably priced FHU campground in the immediate area.

Date of Stay: September 28-30, 2009

Weather During Stay:  Cool, some heavy rain one night.  Partly cloudy most of the time.

Sites: Windy Cove is a Douglas County campground tucked under the bluff on the south edge of the Salmon Harbor camping area.  Two camping loops hold 40 FHU sites and 29 no hookup sites.  We stayed in a FHU site and didn’t explore the no hookup sites.  22 of the FHU sites are reservable (541/957-7001); $10 additional fee to reserve.  The remaining sites are first-come, first-served.

Windy Cove Sign Full hookup sites (30 amps) are arranged in three rows on a narrow strip of land nestled between Salmon Harbor Drive and a high, forested hillside.  Sites are reasonably spacious with campfire pits and picnic tables.  Restrooms with showers.  On-site office.  Roads and sites are paved.

Rate: $20 per night for 30 amp FHU.  Add $3 for extensive cable TV if desired.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal (broadband).  Satellite TV will not work in most sites (hence the cable TV for $3 more per night).  Didn’t try TV antenna.  NPR available on 89.1 and others.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat, level parking at sea level.  We were in the front row, closest to the road, with expansive views of the water and marina.  The two rows behind had less spectacular views, with the center row facing away from the water towards the steep hillside.

Windy Cove B, site 29, front row Lighting/Noise: Quiet at night.  Lighting is reasonably unobtrusive. 

Favorite Sites: Sites 29 through 40 are in the front row, with the best views.  We had site 29, on the east end of the row, one of the few where a TV satellite will get a signal. 

Hiking/Walking: Great walking around the huge area of the Salmon Harbor Marina and the small town of Winchester Bay.  Dunes and a lighthouse nearby.

Windy Cove B panorama, showing the hillside behind. Comments: Windy Cove Campground has one drawback for me: it is nestled at the base of a steep hillside which effective blocks sunshine much of the day.  This area is cool or cold WAY more often than it is hot, so sunshine is an amenity - and much of it is lost in this campground.  Winchester Bay has a GREAT Thai restaurant, Pah Tong’s Thai Cuisine.  Call 541/271-1750 for reservations or take out.  Closed Tuesday.  Highly recommended by us for lunch or dinner!


Aerial view of Winchester Bay (foreground) and the Salmon Harbor Marina Our Opinion: Rave, if you are willing to pay to dry camp.  Salmon Harbor a great place to know if you find yourself traveling the Oregon coast without a reservation on a holiday weekend.
Date of Stay: September 24-27, 2009; again for a few days in mid-August, 2011 
Weather During Stay:  Cool.  Calm mornings, cold, windy afternoons.  Frequent fog.
Sites: 166 reasonably level dry camping sites on asphalt.  Pull-through sites are arranged in a long, long row down the center of a long parking lot. More spacious back-in or pull-in sites lines the edges of 2 asphalt-topped piers that extend into the water of the the marina.  Sites on the piers have picnic tables, a bit of grass, and are most spacious.
Drycamping at Salmon Harbor, pullthrough sites. Clean restrooms with showers.  No water or electric at sites.  Dump station available. Recycling. There is an on-site host.
The dry-camp area is just one of several camping options here, ranging from $11 dry-camping to $36 FHU sites in a lovely resort.  Lots of camping and fishing activity goes on all day long - great people- and activity-watching, but don’t come here for seclusion.
Rate: $11 per night for basic pull-through sites; $14 per night for larger sites on the piers; $18 for the few sites at the very end of the piers. 
Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal (broadband).  No obstructions for TV satellite.  Didn’t try TV antenna.  NPR available on 88.5, 89.1 and others.
Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat, level parking at sea level on asphalt.  Views are very appealing: other rigs, boats in the marina, seabirds, blue water, and forested hillsides.  
Lighting/Noise: Very quiet and dark at night if you avoid the strategically places security lights. 
Site C 27Favorite Sites: We try to get a pier site, and pull in front to the water for the best view.  On this stay, we lucked out and got a huge site on the end of a row on Pier C.  Sites are first-come, first-served except for group reservations.
Hiking/Walking: Great walking around the huge area of the Salmon Harbor Marina and the small town of Winchester Bay.  Dunes and a lighthouse nearby.
Comments: This busy area is a fun slice of life for RV’ers and fisherfolk.  The setting is beautiful, with lots to do in the area.  If you find yourself caught without a site on the Oregon coast, this is a good spot - we have never seen it full in four visits.  Winchester Bay has a GREAT Thai restaurant, Pah Tong’s Thai Cuisine.  Call 541/271-1750 for reservations or take out.  Closed Tuesday.  Highly recommended by us for lunch or dinner!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Site 10 at the Florence Elks RV Park, a nice back-in.Our Opinion: Rave.  This is a beautiful, lovingly maintained Elks RV park.  Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: September 18-23, 2009.

Weather During Stay: Rain, sun, cool, warm... typical Oregon late summer weather.

Sites: Forty roomy sites are spread throughout a large RV park, four or five miles north of the town of Florence and the Elks lodge there.  All sites have 30/50 amp electricity and water, and 4 channel cable TV (the 3 networks plus PBS).  Sixteen sites are long pull-throughs, facing north; the remaining sites are back-ins. All are suitable for big rigs, level, and unusually spacious, with room for your slides, awnings, and tow or towed vehicle at your site.  All sites have wooden picnic table. 

Some of the pull-through sites.A bath house has toilets and showers.  Two dump stations serve the park. Roads and sites are gravel.  Large and small evergreens surround the park and are scattered throughout, so a roof-mounted satellite would present challenges in some sites. Beautiful landscaping throughout the park.

Rate: $18 for electricity and water, dump station use, cable TV and WiFi. 

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon phones and aircard work here, but the signal is rather weak – it was difficult to make phone calls. We opted to use the free, blazing fast WiFi instead of our aircard.  Pick a site carefully for roof-mounted TV satellite (many will work).  Just four cable TV stations.  We didn't check antenna reception.  Local NPR on 89.7 FM.

Site 29 Florence Elks RV park, a long pull through Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Level sites in a beautiful RV park separate from the Elks lodge (RV parking with water and electricity is also available in the lodge parking lot). Elevation is near sea level. Views are of large and small evergreens (looks more like the mountains than the coast) with other rigs hidden in the foliage.  

Lighting/Noise: Quiet and dark at night.

Favorite Sites: Many, many beautiful sites here.  Because of our roof-mounted TV satellite, we would avoid 1-6, 22-27, 31, 32, 37 and 38.  Sites 9 through 20 are south facing back-ins, nice to catch winter sun (if it exists).

Hiking/Walking: Walk around the park for a short bout of exercise.  Sutton Recreation area (across Hwy 101) has hikes through the dunes, or head back south towards Florence a short distance to Heceta Beach for miles of beach walking.  For a longer hike, drive several miles north to Heceta Head Lighthouse to hike over the headlands

Looking down the road at the Florence Elks EV ParkComments: What a beautiful park!  Wonderful, friendly hosts.  It’s about 5 miles to Florence and the Elks lodge.  We began in site 10 (a back-in), then moved to site 29 (a pull-through) so we could stay a few days longer than our original plan.  Reservations recommended; probably essential during the summer.  For an excellent meal, visit Waterfront Depot in Old Town Florence (close to the bridge), a favorite with locals (for reservations, call 541-902-9100)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Typical sites at Oceanside RV Park Our Opinion:  Recommend.  If you want a beautiful beach location with good hiking nearby, this is for you.

Date of Stay: September 14-17, 2009 (Our third stay here.)

Weather During Stay: Cool, some sun, some showers, some fog.  Usual coastal summer weather.

Site Description:  We were in site 21A, a long level back-in.  Sites are slightly larger than typical commercial park standards (in other words, you have room for slides, awnings, the provided picnic table, your towed or tow vehicle - and room for your chairs, too!).  All sites have FHU, with 30/50 amps.  Cable TV is provided, with 14 channels. 

Site 21A at Oceanside This park has 67 FHU sites, most of them back-ins around the perimeter of the park.  The condition of the utilities varies from one visit to the next, but is generally fine.  Sites are level, and all have a picnic table and a bit of grass.  The 17 pull-throughs are quite long.

Rate: $30.30 per night for RV sites.  Fantastic tent sites in the dunes are available for $21.21.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon cells phones and the aircard work well here.  We didn’t check local TV stations on the antenna since basic cable TV was included.  No obstacles for satellite TV in most spaces (those just north of the bluff might have a problem).  Local NPR is available on 88.5. WiFi is available, but we didn’t try it.  Propane is available for sale on-site.

Looking east from a pull through site. Elevation/Landscape/Terrain:  This small park is at sea level, with a small width of sand dunes separating the park from the beach.  Views are of neighbors, a tree-covered bluff, and the short dunes.  You DO NOT see the ocean from your site (not a problem for us) because of the grassy dunes between the park and the beach.

Lighting/Noise: Night lighting is unobtrusive.  Very quiet at night.  Road noise is not a problem even in those spaces that are close to the road.

Favorite Sites: The back-in sites around the perimeter offer a little more privacy than the pull-throughs.

One of their great tent sites in the dunes. Hiking/Walking: Walk a short distance through the dunes to a beautiful beach, at least a mile long.  Beautiful Sunset Bay State Park is one mile away, with a few miles of hiking trails along the coastal bluffs.

Comments: If this park was in a more mundane location, we wouldn’t stay, but this location makes it special.  Wander out to the beach, explore the tide pools on the rocks to the south, or drive the short distance to the state park to hike the bluffs or visit the gardens at Shore Acres.  The scenic fishing town of Charleston is nearby, and major shopping is not far away, in Coos Bay.  Reservations recommended.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Brookings Elks parking on a wet morning. Our Opinion: Recommend.  Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: September 12-13, 2009.

Weather During Stay: Foggy and overcast, with light rain from time to time.

Sites: Seventeen sites (2 pull-through and 15 back in) have at least 30 amps (rumor has it that some sites have 50 amps, but we didn't research this) and water at each site, along with cable TV.  All are suitable for big rigs and unusually spacious compared to most Elks parking, with room for your slides, awnings, and tow or towed vehicle at your site.  All sites have wooden picnic table in decent shape.

In Site 7 at Brookings Elks LodgeAbout half the sites are on gravel with some shade from perimeter trees; these are fairly level.  The remaining sites are on asphalt and are rather sloping; rigs in these sites are jacked up pretty high. We used blocks under our front jacks in site 7. 

The very nice Brookings Elks lodge is up a hill just east of Highway 101, in the middle of town.  The RV parking area is behind the lodge, away from traffic noise.  Easily accessible dump station and even a laundry room!

Rate: $15 for electricity and water, dump station use, cable TV and WiFi. 

Sites 1 - 4 at Brookings Elks Lodge Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal.  No obstructions to block TV satellite.  Lots of cable TV stations, so we didn’t check antenna reception.  Local NPR on 91.1 FM.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Mostly level parking on the perimeter of the large parking lot behind the lodge.  Elevation is near sea level, but high enough to be out of reach of a tsunami! Views are of the row of rigs across from you, green trees, and the back of the lodge.

Lighting/Noise: Quiet at night; reasonably unobtrusive lighting.

Favorite Sites: We liked 7, but 1-4 look the most appealing - except that the trees behind them tend to drop dirt and tree litter on your rig.  (Our neighbor in site 6 was complaining about the work of cleaning the tree drippings off of his motorhome.)   The shade would be welcome on a hot day.

Brookings Dump StationHiking/Walking: Walk down the hill to town.  No good hiking without driving, but there are many nice beach walks a short drive, including Harris Beach State Park a mile or two north. 

Comments: This was our second stay here.  Convenient location in a nice small town with scenic marina and a nearby state park.  Good price for the services and large sites.  Walk to Fred Meyer or Ray’s Place for groceries, and the Fred Meyer had good prices for fuel.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Our Opinion: Recommend.  Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Eureka Elks RV parking Date of Stay: September 8-11, 2009.

Weather During Stay: Sun and fog, cool nights, overcast mornings.

Sites: Twenty-four back in sites have 30 and 50 amps, FHU (yes, sewer too) and cable TV.  All are suitable for big rigs, but they are quite narrow.  Your slides will fit, but not necessarily your awning.  Sites are gravel; some are more level than others.  We needed blocks under our rear jacks in site 8.

The RV parking area is down a hill next to the lodge, away from traffic noise, but in easy proximity to Hwy 101.  Very secure.  No dry camping allowed; if all the RV sites are filled, head to Redwood Acres, the fairgrounds, and come back early the next morning!

Site 8 at the Eureka Elks Lodge Rate: $20 for FHU, including cable TV and WiFi. 

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal.  No obstructions to block TV satellite.  Lots of cable TV stations, so we didn‘t check antenna reception.  Local NPR on 90.5 FM.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Level parking in a bowl - heavy bushes and tress on one side, a hillside on the other. Elevation is near sea level. Views are of the row of rigs across from you, green trees, and the side of the lodge.

Lighting/Noise: Quiet at night; reasonably unobtrusive lighting.

Favorite Sites: Doesn’t make much different, as all sites are narrow backins.  Pick your row based on whether you want morning or afternoon sun (assuming there IS sun).

Walking/birdwatching at the Arcata Marsh Hiking/Walking: No good hiking without driving, but there are many, many nice hikes and beach walks within a short drive.  This photo shows the wetlands at the Arcata Marsh, 15 miles north of the Eureka Elks.

Comments: This was our second stay here.  As before (June of 2006), all 24 sites were full every night.  The price is right for full hookups, and the location convenient.  If the RV parking is this full next time we come, though, we might drive on out to the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds simply to have a bit more space (check with them first to see if they have an event going on).  They have FHU for $25/night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Site 2 Napa Elks RV parking Our Opinion: Rave. Nicely sized FHU sites in a quiet, convenient area of Napa. Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: Late August, 2009.

Weather During Stay: Warm days, cool nights, overcast mornings.

Sites: Of the 12 FHU sites (mostly 30 amp E, but a few 50 amps), most are suitable for big rigs and one is occupied by a host’s rig. Sites are back-to-back in two rows, reasonably wide (room for slides and awnings) on level gravel, with a small concrete picnic table and benches at each site. No pull-throughs.

The RV parking area is behind the lodge, away from traffic noise, with a combination-controlled access gate. Very secure. Dry camping is allowed in the large parking lot in front of the lodge only if all the RV sites are filled.

Napa Elks Parking, facing south Rate: $20 for FHU, including cable TV and WiFi.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal. No obstructions to block TV satellite. Lots of cable TV stations. Local NPR on 88.5 FM.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Level parking with trees on two sides of the area and nice landscaping. Elevation is near sea level. Views are of the back of the lodge, trees, a walking trail adjacent to the Napa River (on the edge of the lodge property) and nearby homes.

Lighting/Noise: Very quiet and dark at night.

Typical site at Napa Elks Favorite Sites: The host is in one of the end sites on one of the rows; the other three end sites are a tiny bit short (though we have seen big rigs in them). We preferred the sites that are not on the row ends. No reservations here, so take your choice when you arrive - after getting the gate combination from the bartender.

Hiking/Walking: A combination lock on the gate at the back of the lodge property offers access to a 1.2 mile walking trail. Turn left on the trail to walk a short distance to Trancas Avenue and a grocery store. Lots of good hiking in the Napa Valley, including Skyline Wilderness Park at the south end of the city.

Back of Napa Elks Lodge, seen from RV sites. Comments: The Napa valley is a world-renowned destination. This appealing lodge parking gives us the chance to enjoy it at a reasonable price with great amenities. What’s not to like? There is a Nob Hill grocery store within walking distance, as is the Wal-Mart. Farmer’s market Tuesday and Sunday during the summer (until the end of October) at the Wine Train parking lot about a mile south. Trader Joe’s is approximately one mile west on Trancas, a nearby cross-street.