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.

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.