That is a very cool website for packing lists. Thanks for that, Cool.
That is a very cool website for packing lists. Thanks for that, Cool.
You are very welcome, Judy. :-)
Well, I guess I'm going to have to re-think camping. I was so sure KOA was the way to go, I've got the KOA directory and joined KOA's club, but I'd much rather have a positive camping experience than be miserable at KOA campgrounds, so thanks for the info, and I'll be looking more at my AAA campgrounds book and leave the KOA directory alone.
Also, I have read that there was a major landslide in Yosemite that closed a major road...so between that and the fact that the snow has Tioga pass closed I guess Yosemite will have to wait for another time. That's no big deal, we still have Carlsbad, Grand Canyon, Zion, Olympic, Banff, Glacier, and Yellowstone on the agenda...maybe we can add the Badlands of South Dakota.
Cool...The Website you provided the link to is AWESOME! Thank you. It hit things that you don't even think about, such as cleaning out your fridge...We were so caught up in the trip, we forgot to remember the house we were leaving for almost two months.
Judy, as usual, your posts hit home and are most helpful. The camping you describe is exactly what we plan on doing. I do not plan on camping in any one place for weeks, I want a convenient, inexpensive place to sleep, that's all. If I can stay and enjoy the scenery for a couple days or so, so much the better.
Thanks for the info.
I'll post an itinerary with timeline (all tentative of course) later.
The AAA books are OK, but I really think your interests are better suited by planning to camp at Corps of Engineer, BLM, NPS and Forest Service campgrounds. (Truth be told, I haven't looked at a AAA guidebook in several years, so maybe they do include these places?). For a general guide, I don't think the Frommer's guide can be beat for tenting places, but Woodall's has a guide just for tenting campgrounds, Coleman's has one for forest service places.Originally Posted by Badduke
Well, not really. It was just the Mariposa road.Also, I have read that there was a major landslide in Yosemite that closed a major road...
AAA has two products for "camping" The first, is a glossy covered "camping travel book" which is geared for RV travelers. It does cover large regional parks, national forests and etc, but focuses primarily on RV campers. I have a couple of these from a year or so ago.Originally Posted by Editor
The other is a map series which is much more useful for tent camping. It covers BLM, National Forest, ACoE, local and regional parks, privately owned campgrounds, and etc campsites. It has a table which lists contact information, fees, number of sites, amenities (shower, laundry etc), and a map of the region giving a rough location for the campground. It's not as verbose as the travel book, but provides a better data source for camp campers I think.
Badduke, in no way did I mean to say that KOAs are bad places to stay. If I wasn't clear, I apologize. They don't necessariy provide a private camping experience for tent-campers. You will likely find yourself in an open field with no bushes or other barriers for privacy. But, when I go for a roadtrip, I often find myself staying in them. For a quick over-nighter, they're not bad at all.
In fact, there have been times when I've searched out an alternative campground to spend a night in only to drive up and go "Yucky!" and head down the road to the nearest KOA (I always travel with a KOA guidebook, just in case). Since I rarely know where I'm going to stop for the night, it's hard to research every potential location.
So, one major thing that KOAs have going for them is consistency. You know the bathrooms are going to be clean and decent. You know that quiet hours will be enforced so you can get a good night's sleep. You know that they will have a small store if you forgot something you need. And you know that they will have other amenities that you might need like laundry facilities, etc. And you know that most will have a pool or at least a hot-tub, often both.
If I'm rolling in somewhere at 7pm or later, and know that I'll be getting up and going by 7am or even earlier, a KOA makes a great place to sleep and clean-up.
However, if I'm going to be camping for a weekend or longer, I rarely stay in a KOA. But there are even exceptions to this. If I'm going to be leaving the campground all day to sightsee/explore the area, a KOA is just fine. They are usually crowded enough that I don't worry about stuff being pilfered if left out. There's enough people around that this should be discouraged.
And, occasionally, there are some gems in the KOA system that are wonderful places for tent-campers. I love the one in Bay City, WA. The one in Port Angeles, WA, is quite nice as well. I've also spent several days in the KOAs in Winthrop and Yakima, WA, and both have been fine. Oh, the one in Leavenworth is quite lovely as well. I can't remember all the other ones I've stayed in out-of-state but I know others have been surprisingly nice. (But avoid the one in Warrenton, OR)
But, yeah, most often if I'm doing a weekend or longer trip, I stay in national or state parks/forests and other more isolated places.
Anyway, I just wanted to make sure I was clear. KOA is not a bad choice and, quite often, it is the best choice in the vicinity. There are some real crappy, dumpy campgrounds out there. KOA has some decent standards.
And Mark gave you good recommendations for other guidebooks to check out.
One hint....I find it best to check out the campgrounds on the KOA website. It has a lot better descriptions and pictures than the KOA guidebook does.
Well, Mark re-posted my first post on this trip. Since joining this site and seeking advice that has changed. Some of the main visiting points are the same, but the order is totally reversed!
I feel a little better about the KOA sites now, but still, I’d like to avoid as many mistakes as possible on this trip, so if you’ll all indulge me, I’ll post our itinerary and maybe if any of you have camped in an area we will be visiting, you can recommend a campground that you had a positive experience in.
June 8: New Orleans to Fredericksburg, TX
June 9 & 10: Fredericksburg to Carlsbad, NM
June 10, 11, 12: Carlsbad to Tombstone, AZ
June 12 & 13: Tombstone to Grand Canyon
*June 13: Grand Canyon to Zion national park, UT (could possibly stay in an area around here longer, probably first camping area I’ll be looking for.)
June 13-16: Las Vegas and surrounding area. (If we stay in the Grand Canyon/Zion areas longer this will be pushed to 18-21 I don’t want to be in Vegas on the weekend!)
*June 16, 17, 18: Las Vegas to Yosemite (hopefully we can do Yosemite by this time or maybe a few days later)
*June 18,19,20: Yosemite to Reno/Tahoe area
June 20 & 21: Reno/Tahoe to California Coast above San Francisco. Will spend a night in a hotel to cut the drive short and just get a good hotel sleep and shower. Thinking of stopping in Clearlake for the rest.
*June 21 & 22: The Northern California coast. This is where we just relax and drive until we want to spend a night in the tent.
*June 22 & 23: Klamath Falls & Crater Lake, OR. This will probably be our only detour inland from the coast.
*June 23 - 30: Crater Lake to Oregon Coast near Coos Bay/Bunker Hill north to Olympic National Park in Washington. I’m sure camping will be beautiful all along the coast.
June 30 – July 7: Vancouver, BC.
*July 7 – 9: Vancouver to Banff, Alberta.
*July 9 – 12: Banff to Glacier National Park, MT
*July 12 – 15: Glacier National to Yellowstone, WY
July 15 & 16: Yellowstone to South Dakota.
*July 16 – 18: Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, and Rapid City.
*July 18 – 20: South Dakota to Cheyenne, WY. Stop at Fort Laramie along the way.
*July 20 – 22: Cheyenne to Denver, CO
July 22 – 24: Denver to Dodge City, to Wichita, KS
July 24 & 25: Wichita to Oklahoma City, OK
July 25 & 26: Oklahoma City to Tyler, TX.
July 26 & 27: Tyler to Alexandria, LA
July 27: HOME
The stops with the asterisk will be the places we will be looking to camp in our tent.
When in Crater Lake, just stay at the Mazama campground near the lake. It's not ON the lake but it is close. Very nice. The smaller Lost Lake one might be pretty cool and is probably quiet and peaceful but I'ven ever stayed there so I can't speak for it.
I stayed at the Page Lake Powell Campground the night after I left the Grand Canyon. It's not quite half-way between the GC and Zion. It was nice, very clean, but it is in town so it's not particularly rustic or near any trails or any other kind of outdoor activity. The tentsites were on nice grass lawns with a picnic table and a tree. You might check out the photos.
The Meeks Bay campground in Lake Tahoe is pretty cool. We didn't stay there but we walked around there. I don't recall the name of the campground we stayed in but it wasn't all that. If the Meeks Bay campground would have had any openings, we would have moved in a flash.
Gosh, it's been a few years since we camped the Northern CA/Southern OR coastal areas. And, at the time, we had a truck/camper combo so we weren't tent camping. I can't remember just where we stayed. I can only tell you that there seemed to be a wide selection of very nice campgrounds to choose from.
About 40-50 miles north of Coos Bay, OR, is the Carter Lake Campground. I recall this being pretty nice.
The KOA in Lincoln City is nice. The tent campers are up against a grove of trees and setback a bit from where the RVs are.
Cape Lookout State Park is awesome. It's between Lincoln City and Tillamook, OR, out on the coast. Very nice.
I would love to tell you to camp at Fort Stevens on the Oregon side of the mouth of the Columbia River but when I went to get the link for ya, I see that it is closed for some major renovations. Too bad. It's one of my favorites. Well, if you need to spend the night along here, the KOA in Warrenton isn't my favorite for tenters. It's a very nice campground but the tent sites are a bit too exposed for my tastes. Again, if you're stopping just for the night, it will do.
Now, when you get to the Washington side, there are few campgrounds that can beat the Cape Disappointment State Park campground (formerly called Fort Canby). Lovely.
I like the Bay City KOA just east of South Bend/Raymond, WA. It's pretty nice. The tent camping sites aren't particularly secluded but it's a smaller campground so it tends to be quieter anyway. And there is a nice, short trail down to a great beach. When we're there, we're at the beach more than the campground anyway.
I'm running outta time to do more links to I'll just list some other nice campgrounds. You should be able to google them and find them without problem. If you can't find info on some, let me know. Here's some websites that should get you where you need to go:
* Washington State Parks
* Olympic National Park
Just south of Westport, WA, is Twin Harbors State Park. Fairly secluded tent sites. Decent facilities.
Just north of Ocean Shores, WA, Ocean City State Park is also quite nice. Very private tent sites.
Driftwood Acres in Copalis Beach, WA, is very nice. However...a caveat. They have two different tent camping areas. Make sure you get a place away from the main area....it's down a short road. Beautiful, awesome, some of the best camping ever. Secluded campsites nestled in old growth timber, next to the Copalis River where you can watch ducks, cranes, etc. from your campsite. And then there's a wonderful wetland area at the edge of the campground that takes you down to the beach. I can't recommend this place highly enough. Oh, heck, here's the website. If you come this way, I don't want you to miss it. I should warn you that due to some septic system issues, they have limited hot showers. To get a shower without waiting in line a long time, you either need to take it later at night or at the crack of dawn or in the middle of the day. After breakfast, there's a line all morning.
At Lake Quinault, Falls Creek campground is very nice. It's part of the Olympic National Park campground system.
Another favorite is the Kalaloch campground (Olympic National Park) roughly halfway between Lake Quinault and Forks, WA. It's right by the beach (and it's a lovely beach). If you stop here, don't miss going to Ruby Beach at the northern end of the Kalaloch area. Lots of great tide pools, etc. But it's all beautiful there. A very rugged beach.
Gosh, to be honest, I don't think I've stayed at a bad campground in the Olympic National Park system. They're all good. Just be aware that some still have pit toilets and no potable water so come well supplied. Of course, that means showers are out. Do you research so you're not disappointed in the lack of amenities. But they are all gorgeous, rustic, in beautiful settings and have campsites that range from semi-secluded to extremely private. Some I really like are the ones at Sol Duc, Hoh Rainforest, Elwa, Mora, Seal Rock, Staircase, and Heart of the Hills.
And most of the state parks in Washington are very nice as well. It's hard to find a bad one. Some you may want to consider are Bogachiel (south of Forks, WA), Sequim Bay, Old Fort Townsend. Dosewallips, Potlatch, Scenic Beach, Mystery Bay, Deception Pass, Bay View, and Birch Bay.
I've camped a fair amount in southern British Columbia but the name of any of the places we stayed totally escapes me. Sorry. I don't remember stopping anywhere that was disappointing. But I do remember driving a bit to find places.
The KOA campground in West Yellowstone is nice.
Well, enough for now. Gotta run. Hope this helps.
Actually I only merged your most recent post back into the original thread. I don't "re-post" anything unless I make a boo-boo some place.Originally Posted by BaddukeI think there is a philosophical disconnect at work here -- so-called mistakes are the things that give most roadtrips their meaning. It is the gist of discovery and how roadtripping is different from a visit to Disneyland.but still, I’d like to avoid as many mistakes as possible on this tripWhy not? Las Vegas is a pretty interesting place on weekends. I am not sure what you are concerned by. The one thing I would warn you about -- summer has arrived here in Sin City. It was 106 today....June 13-16: Las Vegas and surrounding area. (If we stay in the Grand Canyon/Zion areas longer this will be pushed to 18-21 I don’t want to be in Vegas on the weekend!)I think access from the east side will still be very iffy here. I would substitute the ancient Bristlecone Forest. Mammoth ski area is going to be open to skiing until July 4th and we encountered 8 foot walls of snow and ice at Sonora Pass last week!*June 16, 17, 18: Las Vegas to Yosemite (hopefully we can do Yosemite by this time or maybe a few days later)*June 18,19,20: Yosemite to Reno/Tahoe area
I can't tell you how much this helped. Thank you so much for the time you put into helping my wife and I. I've taken notes, directions, and reservation phone numbers where applicable of the campgrounds you suggested. I'll be sure to stay in Driftwood Acres in Copalis Beach, WA.Originally Posted by Judy
Well, nothing against Vegas, it's just that I noticed rates at the hotels triple during the weekend. I look forward to camping, but while in Vegas, I'd like to stay at a casino hotel. I live in the New Orleans area...heat doesn't frighten me, scorpions and snakes scare the heck out of me though!! I'm pretty good about staying hydrated and finding shade when necessary. Thanks for the heads up though.Originally Posted by Mark