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.