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.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Site 16, Yucaipa Regional ParkOur Opinion: Recommend.  This large regional park has spacious sites and good hiking, in the midst of an urban area.

Date of Stay:  December 11th and 12th, 2011.  Our first stay here was in March, 2011 – click here to see photos on that springtime review.

Weather During Stay:  Mild and sunny when we arrived; changed to rain the following day.

Site Description:  Our site is a large pullout along the side of the campground road.  A school is next to us at the border of the park, so it is quiet at night but some “kid noise” during the day.  All sites are paved, with large concrete patios surrounded by grass.  BBQ grill and sturdy picnic table at each site.  FHU with 50 and 30 amp electric.

The campground is gently rolling, with lots of green grass and trees (most are leafless this time of year).  Most of the 42 RV sites are pull-outs, but some are back-ins.  Not all are level, but most are quite long; all are fairly spacious.  Many of the pull-out sites have multiple utilities for groups of two or three. Several restrooms (with showers); plenty of trash cans.  Tent camping sites are available in a separate area. Dump site available.  All sites can be reserved at www.sbcountyparks.com/.  Maximum stay 14 days in 30.

Lots of open space in Yucaipa Regional ParkRate: FHU RV sites are $35.  Senior camping rates are available Monday-Thursday, $30.  We paid the senior rate for both nights, though the website says the senior rate only applies Monday-Thursday.  Maybe because there were so few campers here?  There is a fee to make a reservation, which is advisable at other times of the year.

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon service is good on both the aircard (3G) and phones.  Lots of trees mean you need to pay attention if your TV satellite is roof mounted.  On the antenna, we have four digital stations, all PBS.  NPR on 91.9.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain:  Rolling hills, lots of trees, green grass and lakes.  Elevation 2,600 feet.  This large, regional park is in a busy urban/suburban area, with the school next door and homes nearby. Views from the campground are of other campers, the surrounding hills, and the school.

Lighting/Noise: No streetlights here (a good thing), but the restrooms are brightly lit at night.  We were positioned so that wasn’t a bother.  Noise from the neighboring students during the day.  Sites near the front of the campground had considerable road noise.

Site in Yucaipa Regional ParkFavorite Sites: All have some good, some not-so-good features.  As usual, we prefer perimeter sites to the interior sites.  The north end of the campground loop is quite open with very few trees; more sunshine and fewer satellite RV obstacles.

Hiking/Walking:  Walking the loop road of this huge park is pleasant.  A rather strenuous hike goes to the peak of the highest nearby hill, Mt. Zanja.

Comments: This park is a pleasant oasis in a busy urban area in the Inland Empire of California.  The campground occupies a small area of the park, which includes a large lake (with fishing), swimming beach, water slides, playground, and several large picnic areas.  I suspect this park is very crowded with day-users in summer.  Grocery shopping nearby; 18 hole public golf course ¼ mile away.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


SB Elks parkingOur Opinion: Recommend; a reasonably priced option in an otherwise expensive area.  This is an Elks Lodge - you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: December 9-10, 2011.

Weather During Stay: Cool, calm and sunny.  Highs in the mid-60’s, low’s in the 30’s.

Sites:  16 slightly sloped, well marked sites in a gravel lot adjacent to the lodge. All sites have 30/50 amp E and water, plus boards to use under your jacks.  All sites are back-ins, in two rows facing the center lane.  Sites are long enough for big rigs, with enough room for slides (though little else).  Dump available at the lodge. 

This is a well-designed RV parking area, with nearby, dedicated parking spaces for tows and towed (which won’t fit in your space).  Very well maintained. 

Site 1, the exit, and the SB lodgeThis is a busy lodge, and it is recommended that you call for a reservation (805/964-6858).  With a reservation, you know your site number in advance, which makes arrival and set up much easier - otherwise, you need to check in at the lodge to find out which sites are available before setting up.  According to the reservation form, the maximum stay is 5 consecutive days in 30 days, but it appears this can be negotiated.  Check out time is 1 pm.

Rate: $20 W/E (30/50 amp).   Dump at lodge is included.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard (4G) signal.  No obstructions to block TV satellite.  Several digital channels on the air antenna.  The lodge offers WiFi, but the signal in the RV lot was not working when we visited.  Local NPR on 89.5 and 90.9.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Small gravel lot surrounded by a privacy hedge. View is of neighboring rigs, lodge, huge trees, and distant mountains.  Quite appealing for an urban site.  Elevation is slightly above sea level.

We are in site 14Lighting/Noise: This is a busy urban area, a few blocks off Hwy 101.  Traffic noise is noticeable day and night.  Moderate lighting.

Favorite Sites: Sites 9-16, which face the lodge, look a little longer and wider than sites 1-8.  It appears that sites are assigned based on the size of your rig.  

Hiking/Walking: This is a residential area with sidewalks.  Walk the neighborhood - and you can walk a few blocks on the main (pleasant) commercial street to Trader Joes and Vons.

Comments: The lodge’s printed reservation form mentions “Access to showers, gym & spa” ($10.00 per stay); we didn’t inquire about this, but would if we were staying longer.  Santa Barbara is an appealing seaside town, about 6 miles from the lodge.  Good beach walking and people watching there. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Winter at the Oceano ElksOur Opinion: Recommend.  Fun location a few blocks from Pismo State Beach, a great walking beach also open to vehicles and camping.  This is an Elks Lodge - you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: December 5-8, 2011.

Weather During Stay: Lovely winter weather: cool, calm and sunny.  Highs in the low to mid-60’s, low’s in the 30’s.

Sites: 50 sites on level grass with W/E (30 amp) at sites.  Dump available as you exit the camping area.  Sites are back-in around the perimeter of the parking area, long enough for big rigs, but tight if all sites are filled.

Dave is the on-site host (805/305-7627) who assigns sites as you arrive (if he is there).  During the slow times, rigs are parked in every other site, providing space for slides, awnings, and rugs.  During busy times, what had looked like one nice spacious site becomes 2 very tight slots.  We saw slides interwoven when rigs had slides on both sides!  Dave will always do his utmost to find you a spot, but call ahead in summer.

Summer at the Oceano ElksRate: $25 W/E (30 amp) includes use of dump station.  This is on the high side for Elks - Salinas (to the north) is $20/night for the same utilities; Santa Barbara (to the south) is $20/night for W and 50 amp E.  Napa, CA, with FHU and cable TV, is $20/night.   Private parks in the area charge $40 and up for FHU; the state park across the street charges $25/night for no hookups. 

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal.  No obstructions to block TV satellite.  Several digital channels on the air antenna.  Speedy, strong WiFi available in the RV area - get the password at the lodge.  Local NPR on 90.1.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat, level parking on grass with trees on the perimeter.  View is of rigs, lodge, and attractive residential buildings across the street.  Elevation: sea level.

Lighting/Noise: Little traffic noise at night.  The lodge building leaves outside lights on all night, and the lodge parking lot has tall streetlights that burn all night.  The orange lenses help, but it is quite bright all night.

Big MH on beachFavorite Sites: Not much difference between sites; we choose to face the sun on these cool winter days. Dave, the on-site host, will point you towards the best space available when you arrive.  If the place is full, expect to squeeze into a long, narrow slot. 

Hiking/Walking: Walk three blocks to the west and you are on a fine, fine beach with good walking for miles – and dry camping for $10/night if you want to brave the sand (this photo – that’s not us!).  You can walk the beach all the way to Pismo Beach.

Comments: This lot is jammed in the summer, so don’t expect much personal space.  Per Dave, December is their slowest month, and we had plenty of room during this winter visit.  The fun town of Pismo Beach is a few miles north, a pleasant drive, with some good restaurants (try the BBQ ribs at Mo’s and fish and chips at Brad’s outdoor patio) and a pier over the ocean.  The lodge itself seems very busy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Spacious Salinas Elks Parking (when not crowded)Our Opinion: Recommend.  This convenient stop along Hwy 101 borders a golf course.  Easy access in and out. Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: December 2-4, 2011.

Weather During Stay:  Cool and clear, with highs close to 60 and lows in the 30’s.

Sites: Of the 28 sites provided with W/E sites (30 amp), 25 are usable at any one time (due to the layout).  Sites are on level dirt and gravel around the perimeter of a huge RV storage lot east of the lodge, adjacent to a golf course.  Sites face either south or west.  A few picnic tables are scattered around.

Camp Host at Salinas ElksA host is in the site next to the dump station.  To access the dump station, you drive directly towards his rig and the little self-registration/information kiosk. A dumpster is located near the dump station.

Rate: $20 for W/E, $15 dry camping.  Additional $5 to dump.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal (4G).  No obstructions to block TV satellite.  Some TV stations (including two digital PBS stations) using the TV antenna.  Local NPR on 88.9 and 90.3.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Flat, level parking area with lots of BIG trees around the perimeter.  Elevation is not far above sea level. Views of many, many stored RV’s, lodge, parking lot, golf course.

Lighting/Noise: The night lighting is unobtrusive.  Noise from highway 101 and the small municipal airport across the street was noticeable during the day, along with the thwacks of golf clubs on balls.  J  Very quiet at night.

Salinas Lodge buildingFavorite Sites: No difference in sites.  Pick whichever area is the least crowded.  Fewer than half were occupied when we stayed, so each rig had plenty of room - they would be typically crowded if all or most were filled. 

Hiking/Walking: No good walking at the lodge, but hiking is available within about 8-10 miles by car.

Comments: This is a very convenient location for traveling Elks, with easy access off of Hwy 101.  Monterey is less than 20 miles away, a very scenic drive; Santa Cruz is a little farther.  The golf course adjacent to the lodge is open to the public.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The slab at Cal ExpoUPDATED to reflect the improvements we found during our one month stay in April, 2012.

Our Opinion: Neutral. This is where we stay when we come to Sacramento; for us, it is the best of several choices in the area.

Date of Stay: We have stayed here for a month or longer once or twice a year since 2003. The usual limit is 30 days out of any 60 day period, but exceptions can be made with the managers approval (submit a written waiver).

Weather: We usually stay at Cal Expo during spring (April/May) and late Fall (November). Weather during those periods is generally pleasant, though you can get a surprising hot spell anytime! 

Sites: 200+ FHU (30 and 50 amp) sites, back-ins around the perimeter, pull-throughs in the center rows. The park consists of two lots. The lot near the office is paved and somewhat sloped (many large MH’s end up with their front wheels off the ground or on blocks to level).

A larger, mostly gravel, lot is best suited for big rigs.  We park on the edge of that lot, on “the slab”, separated from the gravel sites by a strip of grass and trees.  The slab is concrete; these back-in sites are very level, though quite tight.

Cal Expo Parking from leveeNo picnic tables at sites. Limited shade. Reasonable water pressure and good voltage. When this park is full, it is tight, with parking for tows and towed at a premium.  When the park is not full, the sites feel pleasantly spacious without immediate neighbors.  During our recent stay, several of the sites in the gravel area were designated for visitor’s car parking.  Nice improvement.

What used to be a no-dog grassy area has been converted into a small, pleasant, off-leash dog run.  Restrooms and a small laundry facility share a building with the office.

Rate: We pay the monthly rate, $595 for 50 amp FHU. Daily rate is $35, typical for the area.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones signal; aircard on Broadband, 5 bars. No cable TV.  Several TV stations on antenna, including 2 digital PBS channels, 6-1 and 6-2. Two local NPR stations. WiFi is available, and now reaches to all sites.  We used it all month with very few problems, quickly fixed.  Excellent improvement.

Site 411 Cal ExpoElevation/Landscape/Terrain: This is a big, mostly flat, parking lot, located at the edge of the California state fairgrounds 20 feet above sea level.  Patches and strips of grass and trees on the perimeter. Views are of other rigs, trees, the levee along the Sacramento river, the fairgrounds racetrack, and the fairgrounds maintenance buildings.

Lighting/Noise: Bright, streetlight-style security lighting at night. Noise is typical urban traffic, daily fairgrounds maintenance crews and the racetrack announcer during nighttime races.

Favorite Sites: We choose the level sites on “the slab“ at the back of the park. With a strip of grass behind and a line of trees in front, they offer more shade in summer and we consider them the prettiest of the 50 amp sites, though very narrow.

On the American River greenbeltHiking/Walking: Excellent! Walk miles in any direction on the American River bike path or the trails in a greenbelt area adjacent to the river and just outside the park‘s fence. You can walk to movie theatres, Arden Fair Mall and other shopping, to restaurants. No lack of walking opportunities here.

Comments: Location, location, location.  Convenient to all kinds of shopping and services, the central location makes a very convenient home for us when we re-visit our ex-hometown, friends, family, and medical providers. Don’t come expecting a resort or a “camping experience”.  Cal Expo is an urban experience, with the welcome amenity of the wonderful American River greenbelt just outside the fence. 

Monday, October 10, 2011


Overlooking RV park from the nature trailOur Opinion: Recommend.  Well maintained, visually appealing, with some special touches.

Date of Stay:  Oct. 9-10, 2011

Weather During Stay:  A day of sun (arrival), a day of rain and clouds (meant no golf for Odel).  Cool nights.

Site Description:  Fifty gravel sites, more than half of them long, mostly level, pull-throughs.  Our site (30) was a 50 amp FHU; some sites are W/E only.  Voltage was good, but water pressure was poor.  Since we had read about that problem already, we filled our fresh water tank before arrival and used our pump to augment the water pressure.

Sites are quite spacious, with nicely mown, wide strips of grass between sites.  Roads are gravel and easy to maneuver. There are a few trees here and there in the park, and many on the edges.  The overall feel is open and spacious.

Well maintained bath house with laundry facilities (2 washers; 2 dryers).  At least two 3-sided shelters (hide from sun, wind, or rain).  The office doubles as the golf pro shop and a breakfast and lunch grill - we enjoyed breakfast there.

Site 30 and shelterRate:  With an AAA (or Good Sam) discount, $28/night for 50 amp FHU.

Phone/radio/TV:  Top-notch Verizon signal for the phones and MiFi.  WiFi is available, but we didn’t use it.  No obstacles for our roof-mounted satellite dish.  Three PBS channels and one network on the air antenna (digital).  No local NPR station.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  This is a gently rolling campground (and golf course) at 4,600 ft. elevation.  Lots of juniper (or cedar?) trees on the sage-covered hillsides.  Views are of lovely high-desert shrubs and trees, rolling ranchland, and distant mountains.  Very appealing.

Lighting/noise:  Quite dark at night except for a tall security light here and there (too bad).  No traffic noise at all, no train noise, just a coyote chorus now and then.

Favorite Sites:  We were in site 30 and liked it fine - very spacious.  Pull-through sites 31-35 are in the “front row”, so you would not have other rigs parked between you and the view to the east, but those sites don‘t have sewer hookups.

View from Site 30 at Likely RVHiking/Walking: This park SHINES in this category!  Besides an 18-hole golf course, they have developed a geocache golf game, in three sections of varying lengths.  Do all three sections for 5.5 miles, or one section for as little as 1.1 miles.  If that doesn’t appeal, a 1.4 miles nature trail with several comfortable benches offers views of the golf course and surrounding area.  Thoughtful and fun amenities.

Comments:  The tiny town of Likely is in the remote NE corner of California.  Click here to read a bit about the history of the golf course and RV park.  Closed from the end of October until the first of May (high altitude = snow).  Otherwise, if you are traveling Hwy 395 in northern California, we recommend a stop here, especially if you golf.


Site B16 Collier MemorialOur Opinion: Recommend.  Roomy sites, lovely rivers nearby, pleasant walking trails, interesting logging museum, and reasonably close proximity to Crater Lake.

Our first visit to Collier Memorial State park was two years ago, when we used it was a base camp to visit Crater Lake.  On this visit, we stayed two night, October 7-8. 

A few things have changed:

The Discovery Season rate increased $4/night, to $17.  Still a very good rate for a spacious, paved FHU site (50 amps) in a very nicely maintained campground.  Still first-come, first served (no reservations taken).  We arrived on Friday at noon and had our pick of many sites; folks arriving later on Friday had fewer choices, but the campground was not full on Friday or Saturday night.

When we visited in 2009, no local NPR station was available.  You can now pick up Jefferson Public Radio, the NPR broadcast for southern Oregon and northern California, on 90.9 FM.

Click here to read our full review from our first visit, which has been updated to reflect changes since our 2009 visit.  By the way, there is a truck stop travel plaza 3 miles south on highway 97 (east side), at the KlaMoYa Casino.  Gas and diesel (with truck pumps); easy access for big rigs.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Bend Elks not too crowdedOur Opinion: Neutral.  Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: October 4-6, 2011.

Weather During Stay: Cold, day and night!  Some sun, plenty of clouds.

Sites:  Eight back-in sites at the back of the lodge on asphalt.  Sites are paved and sufficiently sloped that we needed blocks under our front tires and jacks.  All sites have 30 amp E.  Water available from one spigot on the side of the lodge when the lodge is open (you need the “key“ for the spigot).    No dump on site.

No trees; all sites have open exposure.  Sites are large enough for big rigs, but very narrow - just enough room for slides (on one side) and steps. Tow and towed vehicles can be parked in parking slots nearby.

Rate: $15/night for 30 amp E.  Stay limit 7 days.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal.  No obstructions to block TV satellite dish.  Around 10 digital stations on the air antenna, including 2 PBS stations.  Lodge has secure WiFi; we didn’t use it.  NPR on 88.1 (and probably others).

More rigs arrice in BendElevation/Landscape/Terrain:  This is a small, sloped parking area at 3,600 ft. elevation.  Sites face west, with a nice view of the Cascade range.  Near view is of the lodge and neighboring residences.

Lighting/Noise: Tall security lighting at the lodge keeps it very bright at night.  Reasonably quiet.

Favorite Sites: No difference between sites.

Hiking/Walking: Nothing appealing from the lodge, but there are plenty of recreational opportunities around Bend.  Several pleasant walks/hikes at nearby Pilot Butte.

Comments: Bend is a popular summer destination for RV’ers and recreation enthusiasts.  Though parking at the lodge is very tight, it is the best deal in the area for a short-term stay.  This was our second stay at this active lodge.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Row of RV'sOur Opinion: Neutral.  Well maintained commercial RV park on the edge of Boise with friendly, professional staff.

Date of Stay:  Sept. 27-30, 2011.  Updated May 17, 2012 to reflect our most recent stay, May 15 through May 19, 2012.

Weather During Stay:  Warm!  Daytime highs in the mid and upper 80’s; nighttime lows in the 60’s.

Site Description:  Very level gravel sites, long enough for motor home and towed.  All sites are arranged in long rows.  Streets are wide and paved (with numerous speed bumps).

Our site (60) was in a long row of sites used to accommodate short term stays, with neighbors coming and going daily.  Sites in this row were very well maintained, but quite narrow; gravel pad, narrow concrete “patio” or walkway, and a strip of grass (over which you neighbor’s slide protruded). 

We had 50 amp FHU plus cable TV, with good voltage - even in the heat - and water pressure.  We also had a picnic table, the same width as the concrete strip.

Hi Valley RoadSeveral of the rows had wider sites with grass yards and small storage sheds.  It appeared that these were used by semi-permanent renters (all very tidy).

Rate:  With tax, $33.05 per night for 50 amp FHU and cable (May, 2012).

Phone/radio/TV:  The Verizon signal was a little flaky, but usable.  Very reliable WiFi is offered through Tengo; get a coupon for free use from the office.  No obstacles for our roof-mounted satellite dish, and dozens of channels on cable TV.   Local NPR on 91.5.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  This is a flat park about 8 miles from downtown Boise at 2700’ elevation.  Views are of neighbors and surrounding dry hills.

Lighting/noise:  Reasonably dark at night.  Quite a lot of traffic noise from a nearby state highway, sufficient to bother me with our windows open at night.

Office, grass, playgroundFavorite Sites:  No particular favorites, as they are are similar. 

Hiking/Walking: Walk across the street (Horseshoe Bend) from the park to pickup a sidewalk that you can walk in either direction.  Boise and Eagle (the small town nearby) both have very nice walking trails along the Boise River.

Comments:  Odel liked this park better than I did.  It is very well maintained, the green grass is appealing, and the staff are friendly.  They sell propane on site, which is useful.  We hadn’t stayed in a crowded commercial park for quite a while, and the tight space and nighttime noise bothered me.  Close to shopping and restaurants, on a suburban edge of Boise.  During our stay in May of 2012, the overnighter spaces were much less crowded, and the office staff do a good job of leaving an open space between campers whenever possible.  I found the park much more appealing when it was less crowded.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


OfficeOur Opinion: Neutral.  A relaxed RV park with very friendly and helpful staff.

Date of Stay:  Sept. 24-26, 2011

Weather During Stay:  Highs in the upper 70’s to mid-80’s, 50’s at night.

Site Description:  This rustic-looking RV park has a mix of tent and FHU RV sites on level gravel and grass with plenty of large shade trees.  The entrance, though a small mobile home park, isn’t glamorous, but we find the RV park meets our needs.

We were in site 123, a long 50 amp FHU site with afternoon shade and no trees blocking satellite TV access.  Water pressure and voltage was good.  Our site had an aging wooden picnic table.

Rows and TreesThe park’s office, store and common area buildings are “rustic western” style, and tubs of flowers bloom along the roadway.  It is obvious that the owners care about the look of their comfortable RV park.  Nice laundry facility, spa, small swimming pool, clean restrooms, and a small store on site.  Propane sold on site.

Rate:  We paid $31/night with an AAA card and discount for paying by check.   

Phone/radio/TV:  Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard.  WiFi available for $2/day; we didn’t need it.  Cable TV with 40 channels.  Pick a site carefully if you have a roof-mounted satellite dish as there are a lot of tall shade trees here.  Local NPR on 88.9.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  This flat park is in a dry area of eastern Oregon at 3,400’,  Located on the edge of town, residential on one side, commercial on the other.  Views are of neighbors and trees.

Lighting/noise:  A few tall, bright lights keep it from total darkness at night.  Mostly quiet except for 4-6 distant trains per night.

Entrance and ExitFavorite Sites:  For our size rig, sites 115-127. 

Hiking/Walking: Walk out the gate on the east side of the park, a couple blocks south and a few more east to find the 2.5 mile Leo Adler Memorial Trail.  Follow the trail south along the bank of the Powder River into the Baker City Historic Center.  Very pleasant.

Comments:  Baker City is a very friendly, unpretentious town, and Mt. View RV Park is the same.  There are two RV parks in town, not far from each other.  We pick Mt. View because we can walk to downtown Baker City from the park.  The staff here is very friendly and helpful, and the owners appear to care about the park without turning it into a resort.  This was our second stay, and we would return.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Plymouth Campground road and sites.Our Opinion: Rave.  Perfect for a short stay with a Golden Age pass.

Date of Stay:  Sept. 22-23, 2011

Weather During Stay:  Highs in the upper 80’s, cool nighttime lows.

Site Description:  Just 32 sites, mostly pullouts parallel to the loop road on both sides (only three back-ins).  Fifteen sites have 30 amp water and electric; the remaining 17 sites are 30 amp FHU.  Half the sites can be reserved, the remainder are first-come, first served. 

The campground loop is paved, as are the level sites.  Each site has a substantial picnic table and a campfire ring on gravel surrounded by grass.  Plenty of shade trees. Voltage (even on a hot day) was good, as was the water pressure.

Without a reservation, we chose site 15, facing east with afternoon shade and an opening through the shade trees for our TV satellite dish.  We liked it and the park so well that we decided to stay an extra day.

Site 15 at Plymouth ParkOne bathhouse serves the park.  Nice playground.  Large dump station.  A day use area of the park is down the road about a mile, with a swimming area and boat ramp.  This campground appears to be popular with fisher folk.

Rate:  $24/night for FHU; $22/night for 30 amp E and water.  Since this is a COE (federal) facility, we paid just half of that with our Golden Age pass: $12/night FHU.  Stay limit unknown.

Phone/radio/TV:  Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard.  Our site had no obstacles for our roof-mounted satellite TV dish, but many did so pick carefully.  No reception on the air antenna.  NPR on 90.9.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  This park is adjacent to the mighty Columbia River at 260’ elevation.  Irrigation in the park keeps the grassy sites green, a welcome contrast to the surrounding brown scrub this time of year.  Near views are of grass, trees and neighbors; distant views are of dry scrub and hills.

Bath house and RV'sLighting/noise:  Very dark and quiet at night except for the trains that passed nearby 3-5 times a night - which didn’t awaken either of us, though our windows were open.

Favorite Sites:  Except for exposure and hookups, the sites are pretty much the same.  Given the warm weather, we wanted to face east, and were looking for afternoon shade.  Sites 1-16 face east; sites 17-32 face west. 

Hiking/Walking: We did a few loops of the park, but the good walking is at McNary Dam, about 15 minutes away (by car) on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, 2-3 miles of pleasant nature trails and parks along the big river.

Comments:  We planned this as a one night stop, on our way south.  It was so restful, pleasant, and inexpensive with our GA pass that we decided to stay another day.  I dithered about whether this should be rated “recommend” or  “rave”, but considering we changed our plans to stay another day, it deserves a rave.  We would return whenever in the area.

Friday, September 23, 2011


FHU loop at Lincoln RockOur Opinion: Rave.  Beautiful green grass, trees for shade, on the banks of the mighty Columbia River.

Date of Stay:  Sept. 19-21, 2011

Weather During Stay:  Sunny and warm, with a pleasant nighttime cool down.

Site Description:  A total of 94 sites are arranged in 3 loops.  Sites 1-27 have no utilities; sites 28 through 59 are FHU with 30 amps; sites 60-94 have water and 30 amp electric but no sewer.  Roads and sites are narrow asphalt; each site has a picnic table.  Voltage (even on a hot day) was good, as was the water pressure.

Most sites on the exterior of the RV loops are pullouts, fairly sharply curved.  Interior sites are back-ins.  Asphalt pads are only wide enough for the RV (quite narrow) and are surrounded by grass that is watered daily (be prepared to track in a LOT of grass).  Most sites are quite level.  Little privacy, but a pretty setting.

Site 83 Lincoln RockWe chose site 83, a W/E site, for our 3-day stay.  Because the weather was warm, our main criteria were shade, a site facing either north or east, and no obstacles for our TV satellite dish.  Few sites were available in the FHU loop and none of them met our needs, but site 83 (without sewer) had a shot to the TV satellite and afternoon shade.

This park also has a 4 cabins.  Each loop has a bathhouse with token-operated showers.  A huge days use area has sports fields, a boat launch ramp, and a swimming beach.  Dump station near the exit.

Rate:  $27/night for 30 amp E and water.  $28/night for FHU.  Stay limit unknown.

Phone/radio/TV:  Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard.  Our site had no obstacles for our roof-mounted satellite TV dish, but many did - so pick carefully.  Three snowy analog stations on the air antenna.  NPR on 90.3 and 90.7.

A pull through at Lincoln RockElevation/landscape/terrain:  This is a slightly rolling park with the FHU sites at the highest elevation, around 750’.  Near views are of grass, trees and neighbors; distant views are of the massive, dry hills of the Columbia River valley, dotted with deep green orchards.  Very appealing.

Lighting/noise:  Very dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites:  Looked like site 45, an FHU site with a nice view of the river, would be the winner, but there are many, many lovely sites here.

Hiking/Walking: This is a big park with nice walking paths throughout, though no trails of any distance.

Comments:  This state park is very near to Wenatchee (5-6 miles away), surrounded by orchards (lots of fruit stands nearby).  Reservations are strongly recommended during summer, but the reservation period ends on 9/15.  There were many sites available when we visited.  We would return.

Lincoln Rock State Park campground from across the Columbia Swimming area at Lincoln Rock

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Site 13 (far right), first fairway, pro shop and golf barn.Our Opinion: Recommend, especially if you are a golfer.

Date of Stay:  September 15-18, 2011.

Weather During Stay:  Two days of sunshine, two days of rain, cool nights.

Site Description:  Sun Country is a small golf and housing development in the Cascades, including 14 on-site RV sites.  Six of the sites are adjacent to the parking lot (with very easy parking access); the other half are accessed via a narrow road that circles the pro shop.  Sites are long back-ins on gravel and grass (mostly grass), reasonably level.

All sites are FHU (20 and 50 amp in all the utility boxes I checked) with cable TV.  Each has a sturdy picnic table.  Spacing is comfortable.

Golf barn and RV sitesAmenities include a putting green, a clubhouse that sells coffee and muffins, and a bathhouse, with several private, individual bathrooms (sink, toilet and shower).

Rate:  Friday through Sunday, the daily rate is $34/night.  Monday through Thursday, the rate drops to $29/night. 

Phone/radio/TV:  Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard, though the aircard access came to a screeching halt once or twice a day.  Free WiFi  is available in the clubhouse (we didn't use it).  Our site had no obstacles for our roof-mounted satellite TV dish.  Cable TV with 40 channels.   NPR on 90.7.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  Located at 2,000 ft. in the Cascades just off I-90, this park has a mountain feel.  Watch the comings/goings of golfers on the practice green and first tee.  Views are of the course, custom built homes lining the fairways, and forested mountains beyond.  Interesting and appealing.

Lighting/noise:  Very dark at night, with a light hum of distant traffic on I-90 that did not bother us even with windows open.  The traffic noise is more noticeable during the day but, again, not bothersome.

Bath houseFavorite Sites:  We found all the sites appealing.  When we checked in, Pearl (front desk) told us most people prefer the sites behind the pro shop; since we had a reservation, she had given us one of those sites (site 13).

Hiking/Walking: Excellent.  Quite interesting to walk through the small neighborhood of homes lining the fairways and the banks of the Yakima River.  For a longer walk, pickup the Iron Horse State Park trail (on the edge of the development), a 100+ mile rail/trail developed for hiking, biking and horses.

Comments:  Odel played golf the day we arrived, on a very pretty, up and down course (18 holes).  Short drive to the small towns of Cle Elum (with a Safeway) and Roslyn, where Northern Exposure was filmed.  We would return.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Site 174Our Opinion: Neutral.  We won’t return, but you might love it.

Date of Stay:  Sept. 8-15, 2011

Weather During Stay:  A few warm days (mid-80’s) until more typical temperatures returned; mild nighttime lows.

Site Description:  Tall Chief RV Resort used to be a Thousand Trails Preserve, and feels more like a rustic state park than a typical commercial park - but with some extra amenities.

In a canopy of heavy forest and very tall trees, 176 site have water and electricity (about 20 of the sites have 50 amps, the rest have 30 amps).  Site size/length varies, but most are large and most a quite level.   Many have a substantial picnic table.  Most are very private, buried in tall trees.

Sites are on thin grass, moss and leaves.  Roads throughout the park are dirt and gravel; at the time of our visit, they were dry and extremely dusty. 

Site 59To visit friends, we had reserved a site for a week.  Sites are first-come/first-served.  When you check in, you get a map of the park, along with a list of which sites have 50 amps and which sites MIGHT allow you to use your roof-mounted TV satellite dish.  After touring all the “TV satellite might work” sites (all full), we settled into a 50 amp site, 174 - large and level (top photo).

The forest canopy was so dense that we had to have lights on inside even at mid-day.  After four days in the gloom, I couldn’t take it any longer.  With map in hand, we walked the entire park looking for a site with an open aspect to the southern sky, and found one not on the “satellite TV” list and not taken.  We moved to site 59, large and level, with 30 amps (somewhat unstable), some sunshine, and a narrow shot through the trees to the TV satellite.  The trade-off?  Site 59 is adjacent to the road to the office, more heavily used and dust-laden.

No sites have sewers, but there is a large, centrally located dump station.  A honey wagon is available for a fee ($25, I believe) and makes a scheduled run twice a week (sign up at the office). 

Pool areaThe park has a common area away from the dusty roads with a large, clean, swimming pool; an indoor hot tub; play ground; and pool tables.  The office and clubhouse are in another location, with a TV lounge (old TV, converter box, no batteries in remote control); vending machine; book trading library; and jigsaw puzzles. 

Rate:  We booked a week-long stay at a “special“ price of $149.00.  By the time taxes and other fees were added, the total was $188, almost $27/night for a rustic, W/E site. 

Phone/radio/TV:  Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard.  As far as I know, WiFi is not offered (if it is, it didn’t reach to our sites).  We got two or three channels on our air antenna in our first site; none in our second site; no cable TV and you’re VERY LUCKY to be able to use a roof-mounted satellite dish.  We saw several mobile satellite dishes set up on the shoulder of the dusty road.  Local NPR on 88.5.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  This is a hilly park!  Elevation is probably around 300’.  Very heavily forested, the exception being the swimming pool area.  The forest makes for good privacy, but lots of gloom and no distant views.

Typical road and viewLighting/noise:  Very dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites:  None. 

Hiking/Walking: This is a large, hilly park, so walking for a little exercise is pleasant.

Comments:  Tall Chief has changed hands, from Thousand Trails to Encore, so is no longer a membership-only park.  Staff was friendly and seem to be making an effort to improve the camping experience (like adding speed bumps to the dusty road). 

The campground was no more than ¼ full when we visited.  If you like rustic, densely forested parks, this one works and it probably would be great for a family camping experience (good place for kids). 

I found it overwhelmingly gloomy and claustrophobic, and the lack of a sewer hookup and any TV service made a one week stay seem too long.  We were here to visit friends in the park, and we all felt that the two-times-a-week honey wagon service should be provided as part of the camping fee.   We would not return, but I can imagine others would enjoy the rustic camping experience.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Tall trees at TaidnapamOur Opinion: Recommend.  This nicely developed campground makes a good base camp for exploring Mt. Rainier National Park and the east side of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Date of Stay:  Sept. 6-7, 2011

Weather During Stay:  Sunny and warm, with a pleasant nighttime cool down.

Site Description:  This park, owned by Tacoma Power, was expanded within the past couple years to double the number of RV sites.  Originally 51 sites, now the park has 96 FHU sites (perhaps a dozen have 50 amps), 43 W/E (30 amp) sites, and 24 walk-in tent sites.

Sites in the old (original) loop are more heavily forested, but all sites in both loops are in trees.  Roads are paved, all RV sites are paved, and most sites are very level.  Pull-through sites are curved pullouts along site the road; the back-in sites are a little better suited for large rigs. 

We picked site 215, a long, level back-in which happened to be one of the 50 amp sites, a nice surprise.  Sites spacing is good, and each site has a substantial picnic table and a fire ring,

Site 213 and 215The park has flush toilets, private (coin operated) shower rooms, an abundance of trash cans, and a big, clean, double dump station.  Voltage and water pressure are good.  Roads are paved and easy to navigate (slowly) in a big rig.  The campground is near Riffe Lake; the park has a boat launch and a fishing bridge.

Rate:  $28 per night for full hookups.  $5 per night discount for seniors (age 62+) or disabled (quite a few ADA-compliant sites)!  We paid $23/night for 50 amp FHU.  Stay limited to 10 consecutive days in summer; 10 days out of 30 days the rest of the year.  Reservations and information are available at www.tacomapower.com/parks.

Phone/radio/TV:  Though on “extended network”, our Verizon phones and aircard work here.  Very few (if any) sites have a clear sky view for a roof-mounted satellite TV dish.  No stations on the air antenna; no local NPR station.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  This is a flat park at 800’ elevation.  Lots of tall evergreens.  Views are of neighbors (we didn’t have any), forest, and scampering squirrels.

Site 215Lighting/noise:  Very dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites:  Our site, 215, was very long, very level, very roomy - but many others were equally nice. 

Hiking/Walking: This big park is pleasant for walking - to the fishing bridge, the day use area, and the swimming area of the lake.  Quite a few mosquitoes at dawn and dusk during our stay.  We did our hiking at Mt. Rainier National Park, where the trails are unlimited.

Comments:  No doubt fisher folk and boaters love this park.  We came to visit Mt. Rainier, and it made a very comfortable base camp for our explorations.  The small town of Morton, 8 miles west, had a very well stocked small grocery store, Morton Country Store, along with a post office and a few restaurants.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Premium front row with others behindOur Opinion: Rave.  We got what we paid for at this small, pretty park on the outskirts of Astoria. 

Date of Stay:  The Labor Day holiday weekend, September 2 through 5, 2011.

Weather During Stay:  Unusually sunny and warm in Astoria, a real treat for us.  Cool nights and morning fog that burned off reasonably early.

Site Description:  We sprung for a “premium” site for this stay, adjacent to the green grass of a pretty, 9-hole golf course.  Utilities are situated so motor homes can pull in head first, facing the green expanse of the golf course.  Great setup, and a huge site, totally level.

Behind our row of 8 premium sites, 21 large, level FHU sites are arranged in two rows, 10 pull-through sites and 11 back-in sites adjacent to the road.  Another row of premium sites adjacent to another fairway have been added recently, 10 or so? 

Very nice site on golf courseRoads are paved; all sites are gravel with manicured grass between sites.  Spacing is good for a commercial RV park, particularly the premium sites.  No picnic tables or fire rings.  A large (very large) grassy area is provided for walking leashed pets.

Rate:  We paid $41/night for our premium site.  Seems a reasonable price for the amenities and location compared with other commercial parks we have visited this summer.  Golfing is $15 for 9 holes, $20 to go around twice.

Phone/radio/TV:  Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard.  They have WiFi (don’t know whether it is included in the fee or not), but we didn’t use it.  Our site had no obstacles for our roof-mounted satellite TV dish.  Cable TV with dozens of stations.  NPR on 89.7.

Elevation/landscape/terrain:  This sea level park is completely flat.  Views are of other rigs, the golf course, and the forest beyond.  Very appealing.

Another section of the parkLighting/noise:  Very dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites:  We loved our roomy site (A11) with its great golf course view.  A10 looked even larger.  We would not want to be in one of the back in sites adjacent to the road, B11 through B21 (though I’m sure the price is lower for these).

Hiking/Walking: Good for golfers!  Plenty of good walking within a short drive, though.

Comments:  We were happy we had chosen this park for our Labor Day holiday stay.  Well managed, attractive, quiet, close to all that the Astoria area has to offer - which is a lot.


Section of west loop Stub StewartOur Opinion: Rave.  Huge level sites, FHU, and unlimited hiking.

Date of Stay:  Sept. 1, 2011

Weather During Stay:  Sunny and warm, with a pleasant nighttime cool down.

Site Description:  Seventy-eight 50 amp FHU sites (almost all back-ins) are arranged around two loop roads, 43 in the west loop and 35 in the east loop.  All sites are HUGE, with large gravel pads.  Generous spacing between sites.  Most of the sites are very level.  The west loop also has a separate tent camping area (12 sites).

In both campground loops, sites angle off the loop road on both sides.  The east loop is very open; lots of sunshine and not much privacy.  The west loop has a thick row of trees running through the center of the loop, so sites on both the inside and outside of the road back up to trees, providing a lot more privacy.  Flush toilets and hot showers in each loop.  Each site has a substantial picnic table and a fire pit.

Big site 29 at Stub StewardWe choose site 49 in the west loop, facing east to capture the warmth of the morning sun and some afternoon shade from the trees at the back of our site.  Voltage and water pressure are good. 

Roads are paved and easy to navigate (slowly) in a big rig.  There is a playground in the east loop.  Just one collection point for trash and recycling, across from the “Welcome Center” as you enter the park.

This park also has a horse camp with 16 FHU sites and other amenities, and a “cabin village” of  12 one-room cabins and 3 two room cabins.

Rate:  $26/night for FHU.  Stay limit unknown.

Phone/radio/TV:  Good Verizon signal here for both phones and aircard.  WiFi was not working at the time of our visit.  Our site had no obstacles for our roof-mounted satellite TV dish.  No stations on the air antenna; no local NPR station.

Vernonia Banks State TrailElevation/landscape/terrain:  This is a hilly park!  Elevation is probably around 500’.  Most areas are heavily forested - the exception being the camping and cabin areas.

Lighting/noise:  Very dark and quiet at night.

Favorite Sites:  We loved our site, so big, level, and sunny.  We preferred the west loop, where the trees in the center provide much more privacy than the open east loop.

Hiking/Walking: The are trails everywhere in the park, for hikers, bikers and equestrians.  The centerpiece is the paved, 21-mile Vernonia/Banks State Trail.  A park brochure includes distance and difficulty information for all the trails.

Comments:  This fairly new park is a gem, with some of the largest sites we’ve seen in a state park.  Very friendly, helpful hosts.  As the photos show, the grass was dry and brown this time of year, but the park was appealing nonetheless.   Reservations can be made online, but very few sites were full on the day we visited during the week.

East Loop Stub Stewart Cabins at Stub Stewart