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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Left to Right, sites 1 through 6Our Opinion: Rave, if you have a self-contained RV.  Tiny (6 spaces), beautifully maintained, one block off the Main Street of Joseph.

Date of Stay: June 23-July 5, 2011

Weather During Stay:  Mountain-style summer weather - sun, clouds, rain, warmth, cold, wind, calm.

Site Description:  6 sites arranged in an L shape on a small, level, gravel lot.  All sites are FHU with cable TV.  Our site (site 1) had 50 amps, but apparently is the only one that does.  Each site has a sturdy picnic table. 

All sites backup to a wooden fence, so views are better for motor homes than for trailers.  On a cul du sac at the end of a gravel road, there is sufficient space for easy maneuvering of large rigs.  Lots of trees and flowers in the immediate area, and a clean, easy to use recycling station next to the small dumpster.

5 Peaks RV Park is intended for self-contained RV’s only: no restrooms, no showers, no laundry facilities.  This is not the place for tent or van camping.

Site 1, 5 PeaksRate: The park has an interesting and unusual fee scale, starting at $30/night.  $120 pays for 6 nights (so if you pay $30/night for the first 4 nights, you might as well stay 6!) and each additional night is $20.  The monthly rate is $325.  We paid $20/night, the “6 days+“ rate, a very good price.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon signal for phones and aircard, and a good signal on the free campground WiFi.   38 channels on cable TV.   NPR on 89.5. 

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain:  The small town of Joseph is at the end of a long road at the foot of the snow-capped (even in late June) Wallowa Mountains.  Elevation is 4,150 feet.  The near view from the park is of the owners small home and yard, and beyond to looming mountaintops over the trees, flowers, and small homes of Joseph.  Enchanting!

Lighting/Noise: Very quiet and dark at night. 

Favorite Sites: We had Site 1, closest to the owner’s home, and enjoyed it.  Site 2 is the most spacious site, and site 3 is nestled in the corner of the L.  Sites 4-6 face west. 

Fantastic view at 6 amHiking/Walking: Enjoyable walking all around this appealing town.  Walk to the small (but well-supplied) grocery store, or stop by the bakery for fresh coffee and pastries in the morning.  Wallowa Lake State Park is 6 miles farther south; pleasant walking there.  Drive a bit farther to hike the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

Comments: The first time we came to Joseph, we stayed in the pretty state park - but no cell service, no WiFi.  That’s fine when we are vacationing, but for a longer-term stay, we like all the amenities of home - including modern communications.  5 Peaks is the best of all possible worlds for us - tiny, friendly, beautifully maintained - and we enjoy the in-town convenience.  Very accommodating owners. 

Friday, June 24, 2011


Eagles Hot Lake Office and Site 60Our Opinion: Recommend.  A spacious, well-managed RV park in a rural area near La Grande.

Date of Stay: June 21-22nd, 2011

Weather During Stay: Sunny and hot one day; thunderstorms and cool the next.  The park had been underwater 3 weeks ago with rain and snowmelt!

Site Description:  100 FHU sites are arranged in two areas flanking the spacious entrance to the park.  Some sites are on gravel, others are on grass, but the overwhelming impression of the park is of a large, grassy meadow with ponds, landscaping, and lots and lots of parking for RV.  Plenty of room for rigs of any size here, and tenters have a shady, grassy spot away from the RV‘s. 

Our site had 50 amps, but not all do.  We faced a high, grassy hill, and when we made the reservation, the staffer thoughtfully asked if we have a roof-mounted TV satellite dish - apparently the hill presents an obstacle for satellite reception if you are in the row closest to the hill. Our site was on the west side of the entrance, where each site had a sturdy picnic table.  The grassy area to the east of the entrance was being used for a huge club rally and I’m not sure whether those sites had picnic tables.  Small (immature) trees are scattered through the sites.

View of the West sideOther amenities: laundry, recycling, small store in the office, grassy, shaded common areas, ponds, restrooms and showers.  The pool and hot tub were closed due to the earlier flooding.

Rate: $30/night; 10% discount for AAA, Good Sam and Military.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon signal for phones and aircard, and a good signal on the free campground WiFi.   Per staff, the tall hill to the south can provide an obstacle to the signal.  Several TV stations (including PBS) are available on the air antenna.  NPR on 90.3. 

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain:  This park sits in a low valley (2,720 ft. elevation) in eastern Oregon, an area of rolling range with mountains to the east and west.  The park is in a rural setting, separated from the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area by the gravel entrance road.  Lots of birds and morning birdsong, including the strange warble of the Sand Hill cranes.  Expansive views to the north, distant mountains to the west and east, and a very high hill to the south.  Quite appealing.

Office and Entrance Eagle Hot LakeLighting/Noise: Very quiet and dark at night.  A train track about ¼ or ½ mile away is very active, but the sound was quite muted - rather pleasant.

Favorite Sites: We were in site 60 and enjoyed it very much - quite roomy.  Most sites here are similar, though; I didn’t see any that were objectionable.

Hiking/Walking: Do several loops around the park for plenty of exercise, or walk west on the gravel road (Hot Lake Lane) along Ladd Marsh.  VERY little traffic.  Ladd Marsh is reputed to have good walking/birding trails.

Comments: In our short stay, we visited the Farmer’s Market in La Grande (small but good), visited the historic Hot Lake Resort next door (being renovated), and drove The Grande Tour, a scenic route though small towns and historic sites in the Grande Ronde valley - barely scratched the surface of all there is to do here.  DON’T trust your GPS for directions if coming from the south unless you don’t mind a drive of several miles on a washboard gravel road - ask the staff for directions instead.

Monday, June 20, 2011


RV park in John Day at the FGOur Opinion: Recommend.  Great price for FHU in a quiet and appealing setting.

Date of Stay: June 19-20, 2011

Weather During Stay: Sunny and mild, cool at night.

Site Description: 25 paved, level RV sites, half back-ins, the remainder pull-throughs.  Most are suitable for big rigs.  Each has 20/30/50 amps, water and sewer, along with a picnic table.  Lots of tall trees to provide shade.  The RV park is adjacent to a large grassy area where tenters can camp.  Restrooms and showers are available.

Rate: $20/night.  Sites can be reserved in advance (and apparently often are, for the various events held at the fairgrounds.)  Self-register at the kiosk as you enter the RV park – where you can also check to see which sites are reserved in the coming days.

Grant County FG Site 16Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon signal for phones and aircard.  Choose your site carefully if you have a roof-mounted TV satellite dish, as the many (appealing) trees present obstacles to finding the signal.  Three digital PBS stations (and nothing else) are available on the air antenna.  NPR on 91.5. 

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain:  At an elevation of 3,100 ft., the small town of John Day is just north of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.  Hillsides are cloaked with evergreens, and there was a lot of green grass to be seen when we visited.  Near views are of tall trees and the fairgrounds property (we are next to the equestrian ring); distant views are of high mountains (currently, with snow).  Very appealing.

Lighting/Noise: Very quiet and dark at night.  This probably changes when the fairgrounds hosts an event, but we camped here during a quiet time.

Main road at Grant County FairgroundsFavorite Sites: We were in site 16, one of the few back-in sites without trees to the south.  Several of the pull-through sites would have worked for us, but they face west… we wanted to face the morning sun so choose a back-in site.  The sites we would avoid are 12, 13, 14, and 15 – they are the least appealing in the park.

Hiking/Walking: The RV park is bounded on one side by a river; a new pathway along the river was recently completed, which provides about a 30 minute walk round trip.  Walking around John Day was very pleasant, and it is an easy walk to “downtown”.

Comments: Lots of history and recreation in this area, most of which we did not explore since we were moving on east.  We did make time to visit the fascinating Kam Wah Chung site, an well-preserved remnant of John Day’s Chinese history that is now an Oregon State Historic Site (within easy walking distance).  We will look forward to a return trip to this RV park next time we pass through.

Friday, June 17, 2011


RV spaces at Crystal CraneOur Opinion: Rave!  Relax in a natural hot springs pool in the wide open spaces of eastern Oregon.

Date of Stay: June 15-18, 2011

Weather During Stay: Sunny and cool (upper 60’s for highs) during the day; chilly at night.  This has been an unusually cool spring in Oregon.

Site Description: Seven RV sites total - five pull-throughs on level gravel have 30 amps and water; two 30 amp FHU sites are somewhat sloped back-ins.  No trees at the RV sites.  All RV sites face east.  Be forewarned: this campground does not have a dump station, and just two of the sites have sewer.  If you won’t be staying in an FHU site, come with empty tanks!

RV’s sites are just one part of the story here.  The Crystal Crane compound includes several cabins, a large area for tents or small dry camping RV’s, a “camp kitchen” for the use of the guests, and a cozy common area with comfortable seating, a small library, a computer, and a large screen TV with satellite service.  Coffee is often on.  A bath house has clean, modern bathrooms and two small, overused shower rooms for bathers and campers.  Private hot baths are available for an extra fee (hourly). 

Pool and cottageThe staff is extremely helpful and friendly.  You can rent swimming noodles for $1 for the duration of your stay, and we each also rented a big, thick, terrycloth bathrobe ($2 per robe for the duration of your stay) for walking from our rig to the hot pool, to the shower and back.  Towels can be rented for $1 each.  Besides the campers, day visitors can pay to use the pool between 9 am and 9 pm.  The pool is open 24/7 to campers; the temperature averages 95 or so, with much hotter spots near the inflow of the natural hot springs.

Rate: In theory, $18 per night for W/E - but a variety of discounts are available and we were able to use them.  For the first night, we paid $9, Passport America.  For the second night, we got a 15% Escapees discount.  For the third and fourth nights, we got a 10% Good Sam discount.  The price covers 2 people, including unlimited use of the hot pool, the common area, and the bath houses.  FHU sites are $20, and I don’t know if discounts apply to those sites.  AND, there is a separate charge for pets (except indoor cats).  I don’t know how much it is, but if you have pets that go outdoors,  be aware that there is an additional charge. 

Phone/radio/TV: Here in the middle of nowhere (25 miles from a town of 4,000 people), Verizon just installed a new cell tower!  Great signal for phones and aircard, but the campground provides high-speed WiFi as well (which we used when our aircard broke!).  No obstacles for TV satellite, and two PBS stations (and nothing else) are available on the air antenna.  NPR on 90.1. 

Morning mistElevation/Landscape/Terrain:  Crystal Crane Hot Springs is in Harney county, a very sparsely populated area of eastern Oregon at 4110 ft. elevation.  The campground is a small oasis in a vast western landscape.   Views are very open, across miles of flat, scrub-covered ground and occasional mountain ridges.  Wide open, spacious, relaxing. 

Lighting/Noise: Very quiet at night.  Unfortunately, the camp compound is lit at night by 2 or 3 tall streetlights - a shame since this would be such a perfect “dark sky” situation.

Favorite Sites: We were in site 2, one of the 4 identical W/E pull though sites.  The two FHU sites might be nice for a longer stay, but a not as level as the W/E sites.

Hiking/Walking: The grounds of the campground are spacious, but no hikes in the immediate vicinity. 

Common Areas Inside the camp kitchen
Comments: Harney County has plenty of beautiful scenery, historical sites, interesting geology, the well known Malheur Wildlife Refuge, wild mustangs, and the Steens Mountain - all spread over a very large area populated by very few people.  Fuel up, and bring food.  We loved it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Parked at Prineville ElksOur Opinion: Recommend.  Private; you must be an Elk to stay here.

Date of Stay: June 14, 2011.

Weather During Stay: Sunny, cool, and breezy.

Sites:  There are four electric boxes on two telephone poles at the back of the lodge lot, but sufficient space for only 3 RV’s if they have slides (4 Class B’s could squeeze in side by side).  We were the only rig there, so had our choice of where to park.  Electric only (no water or sewer at sites); nice new boxes with 20/30/50 amp outlets and excellent voltage. 

Parking is on level blacktop.  Your rig probably would be surrounded by cars if there was an event at the small lodge.  Located in a nice neighborhood two blocks off the main street and a couple blocks from the Crook County Courthouse.

In the lot at Prineville OR ElksRate: $10 for electric hookup; $5 to dry camp.  Dump at the county campground about a mile south for $5.  There is a hose bib on the side of the Elks which could be used to fill your tank if not obstructed by cars in the lot.

Phone/radio/TV: Strong Verizon phones and aircard signal.  No obstructions to block TV satellite.  One station (from Portland) on TV antenna.  NPR from Eugene on 88.1 FM.

Elevation/Landscape/Terrain: Level, paved parking in a nice neighborhood in a small town at 2,830 ft. elevation.  This is the dry side of the Cascades, but close enough to the mountains to have lots of pine trees around.  Views are of the lodge, the cupola of the Crook County Courthouse 2 blocks away, and a couple beautiful, substantial older homes across the street.   Pleasant neighborhood.

Looking down on PrinevilleLighting/Noise: Quiet at night; the lodge leaves outdoor lights on the building all night long.

Favorite Sites: No difference between them, other than proximity to the driveway or the sidewalk.

Hiking/Walking: Nice walking around this small town (10,000 population).  Likely to be hiking opportunities in the area, but we didn’t seek them out.

Comments: This was our first visit to Prineville, passing through on our way east.  Home to Les Schwab, the tire dealer, Prineville appears to be a friendly, prosperous small town with a beautiful golf course and lots of recreational opportunities in the area.  This friendly lodge made a great overnight spot.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Armitage County Park sunny sitesOur opinion: Rave. We first discovered this Lane County campground in October of 2009, and we returned for six nights on June 8, 2011 and another week in August, 2011. 
This is our choice if we want FHU when we visit this Eugene.  Spacious, close to town, usually quiet, with a combination of sunny and shaded sites.  The camping area shares the park with several picnic areas, a group camping area, and a dog park.
The only drawback to this park for us?  Our Verizon air card is on National Access here (read: slow), and the new (unsecured) WiFi provided at the park doesn’t reliably reach to our favorite site!  So maybe we’ll pick a new favorite site.  :)  Updated 8/2011: we are in site 14, and the WiFi signal is strong and fast.  Our friends in site 32 find it unusable, so pick lower numbered sites if WiFi is important to you.
In 2009, word was that showers would be built soon, but that hasn’t happened yet and we saw no sign of construction during this visit.  Click here to read our full review from our first visit, which has been updated to reflect changes since 2009.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


When we first visited this small, friendly park in August of 2009 (click here to read our full review from that stay), we made a mental note to return when we had time to stay longer.  We came back on June 3rd, intending to stay 3 nights on our way north.  By the time we had settled into site 9, an east facing back-in, we had decided to add two more days to our stay. 

Scotch Bloom in yellow Site 9, Umpqua Golf and RV Resort

Why?  Start with the camp host here, Lonnie Brock, friendly, mellow and extremely helpful.   After a 5 hour drive, it is nice to be welcomed with a big smile, helpful suggestions for site selection, and the opportunity to settle into the site before returning to the office to pay.  Sites are comfortably large for a commercial park.  Then there is the view, out towards the emerald green golf course and pine covered hills.  AND, it must be the best deal in all of Oregon if you are a Passport America member, as they continue to honor a Passport America rate of $15/night (50 amp full hookups, cable TV and blazing WiFi included – so fast that we used it instead of our Verizon MiFi). 

I particularly like the hilltop location, the reason we choose this park over the SKP park nearby (same price).  Odel likes the proximity to the golf course.  The only drawback is the moderate traffic noise from nearby highway 138, a main route to the coast.  Fortunately, traffic noise drops considerably after dark.  We could happily stay here longer… but have an appointment to keep in Eugene.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Sacto River in ReddingWe’ve used the Redding Elks Lodge many times in the past as we travel I-5.  This was a two-night stay, long enough to stock up at the Redding Costco before heading north and to take a couple of walks along the river.  Nothing has changed since our visit in 2009 (click here to read our full review from that visit).

Redding has many choices for RV’ers, including at least one RV park that participates in Passport America (1/2 price).  Although $20/night seems high for an E/W/cable TV/WiFi site (we just paid $20/night in Napa for FHU with cable TV and WiFi, in what seems a more desirable location), we continue to patronize the Redding Elks Lodge because it is friendly and easy – pull in, take any open site, pay using a payment envelope or at the bar.   This lodge’s RV parking is heavily used, so we try to arrive before 3 pm to be assured of a site.  Elks only.