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  1. Default Las vegas to Portland for about 8 days

    Hi, everyone!
    I desperately need your advices for a camping trip. For heads up, my wife and I have long lived in urban areas, and never been to NPs.. So, it's our first camping trip since childbood.
    On June, we are going up to Portland from Las Vegas via yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic NP, and Crater Lake NP about 8 days, and down to LA thru coast line for.. 3~4 days. We'll stay in Portland for 25-30 days.
    My problem is that because I didn't reserve any campsite, I should be at every first-come-first-serve site in the early morning. There should be 4-6 hours of driving between spots. Should I drive at night every other day? If someone experienced like this, please give me some advices.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Not a good idea.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    Driving at night isn't a good idea. Not only will you not see anything your body clocks will be all over the place and you will need to rest during the day when you can see things in daylight. I would recommend looking for campgrounds to book close to the National parks for the night you arrive and then head in early the following morning to try and secure a spot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Practice and Prepare

    If you haven't camped in....a while, then I'd urge you to do at least one shake-down overnight camping trip before leaving on your adventure. This could be a quick trip to the nearest state or local park that allows camping or as simple as camping out in your own back yard. But make sure that you prepare a couple of meals, dinner and breakfast, 'out'. The point would be to give you some experience with your equipment - how to set it up and just as importantly how to take it down and re-stow it for the next day's drive. You'll also get a chance to see how long both set up and break down take (surprisingly long!) Keep a written list of everything that didn't work, equipment you forgot, any 'extras' you wish you had. All of that will make your actual camping experience a whole lot more enjoyable. And while it may sound counter-intuitive, I'd also urge you to do your dry-run when it's raining to really test your equipment and stomach for camping not at its best.

    I'd also note that the national parks themselves are usually not the only choice for camping in a given area. Many are surrounded by national forests, state parks, and other public (BLM) lands where camping might be cheaper and available even when the national parks are booked. Do a little homework to find a couple of such options near each of the national parks you plan to visit.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona



    I completely agree with Buck about testing your camping gear--that's good advice even for veterans. Always make sure everything still works, and that you remember how to use it!

    Since camping is not a regular thing for you, I would personally suggest alternating camping with the occasional motel. You're going to Yosemite, so, just as an example, you could stay the night in Bishop, where there are lots of hotel choices, and get up bright and early the next morning. If you get on the road at 6 AM, you could be driving into the park at 8 AM. Ask one of the Rangers at the first Visitor's Center you see to recommend the best bet for a first-come, first-served, tents-only campground. At that time of morning, you'll be first in line for any vacancies.

    At Crater Lake, you can stay the night at Grants Pass--again, lots of hotels, and if you get up early, you can be at the National Park by 8 AM, and you'll have a very good shot at a campsite. This technique worked perfectly for me last year, on the 4th of July weekend!

    Crater Lake is amazing. Two words: sunrise, and sunset. Try to be there for both.

    Crater Lake Sunrise.jpgCrater Lake Sunset.jpg

    I have a whole slide show of Crater Lake photos on my website.


    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-28-2016 at 03:14 PM. Reason: Preferred URL format herein

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    You might want to start making a list NOW, of the equipment you'll want to bring with you on your "shake down trip" (as we used to call those weekend campouts close to home). Make sure that a notebook and pen is on your list, so you can write down all those notes others have already recommended that you take!

    There are several camping (and other) packing lists in the forum, Gear Up! You might want to take a look at those to give yourself a good start.

    BTW, my husband and I tent-camped at many national forest campgrounds over the years. I wish I could remember which one we stayed at, near Crater Lake, but the one thing I remember about it was that it was NOT full -- and we were there in early August! This happened to us a number of times. As long as you aren't trying to stay at one that is within 50 miles of a major urban area on a weekend, you should find them accommodating! Most of them only have pit toilets and some faucets here and there, though we'd find one or two where water was only at a central spot, and woe to you if you didn't have a 5-gallon jug with you.


  6. Default

    Thanks, I really appreciate for your advices. I'll definitely try a weekend camping before the big trip. Lots of things to buy though, I have zero camping gear except two portable beach chairs haha.. I hope buying gears wouldn't hurt my budget real bad.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Are you convinced that camping is the best option?

    By all means do the shake-down tent camping trip if you are truly convinced that tent camping is the lodging choice for you on your road trip. It is going to cost you $$ to outfit your camping "kit" if you have no gear right now. Starting from scratch you probably need to budget a minimum of $600 to have the proper gear to sustain a 12-day camping road trip. (I am sure that the expert tent campers in this Enthusiast group will have cost suggestions) so what I wonder is whether or not it would make more sense to simply stay in motels on your trip?

    If you already had all of the cook and camping gear -- no question you can save money on such a trip by making your own food and creating your own lodging each night.

    On the other hand, if this is more about the desire to camp in beautiful places (and not about saving money) then purchasing what you need to camp and road tripping is a match made in heaven.

    These days, the appeal of sleeping on the ground, in or out of a tent is somewhat reduced for me.

    Since you are starting in Las Vegas, there is a campground near Red Rock that you can go to for your trial camping weekend. I mention it because it will test your tent pitching skills -- it's windy there. Remarkably it's less than 15 minutes from Summerlin...

    Oh, and you can probably get some awesome deals right now at Sport Chalet and Sports Authority since both chains are shutting down!

    In any case, have a great time.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Starting from scratch with camping gear isn't cheap, but you should be able to do it for a fair amount under $600.

    For the basics:
    Tent: $50-100 - Even for 2 people, I'd get something at least 9x7, which is usually marked 4 person.
    Sleeping bags: $30 each - I'd be looking for something that's rated at least to 30 degrees, considering your plans to visit high elevations areas that can get quite cool at night, even in summer.
    Sleeping Pad: $20 each - can be anything as basic as a foam mat to a full air mattress, but something to get you off the ground a bit.
    Camp Stove - $50. There are any number of options here, but that's a starting point.
    Lantern/Lighting - $30. I like having a propane lantern for outdoors, along with an electric one for use inside a tent.
    Misc - $50. You probably want some camp chairs, camp cookware, lighters, propane, etc

    That's about $300 for the two of you to get started. I'm talking about pretty basic stuff here - Coleman is a solid basic brand that is a good place to start - of course, there is much higher end and more expensive stuff out there. I would avoid some of the generic store brands from the big box stores, as that can really be a step down in quality and might not even last one good camping trip.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Misc - $50. You probably want some camp chairs, camp cookware, lighters, propane, etc
    Dishpan, for sure. As far as camp cookware is concerned, go to a thrift store. (Maybe Mark has some ideas, there.) The kitchen area should be full of stuff that's in decent condition. That would include some plastic dinnerware (nobody likes eating off paper plates for days at a time), utensils, and cups.

    I also highly recommend Coleman gear. It's good stuff and has decent prices.

    Watch for sales -- Sports Authority and Sport Chalet may have a lot, but also watch your other stores.

    If you like camping, this is an investment in the future.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Solar energy for water and light.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    ... and woe to you if you didn't have a 5-gallon jug with you.
    A few milk bottles, quarts or half gallon come in very handy here. I always carry three or four bottles full of water for washing, cooking and dishes. If you stay longer than overnight, put a couple out in the sun to warm your water. Painting one side of the bottles black helps to get it almost hot. Saves on campstove fuel.

    I also have a collection of solar garden lights which sit on the dash, up against the windscreen, to charge during the day, and give me light at night.... sometimes I find they are on until the wee hours. Not enough light to read by, but ample to be able to see what is where. Saves on batteries.


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