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  1. Default Tent camping road trip with kids and a dog

    Hi all! I am in the beginning stages of planning a summer road trip with a couple young kids and a large dog. We will be leaving from Central California, and would consider going as far as Idaho/Montana, if doable. Since I've got the dog, I know some places wont work for us, and I am not really looking for any major attractions, just cheap or free dog/kid friendly camping and short distance hiking. Rivers, lakes, that kind of stuff. The less people, the better :)

    I know I want to hit up Northern California, and definitely Oregon, and as I said above, possibly Idaho and western Montana. As far as time, I'm pretty flexible, at least 2 weeks, on up to close to a month at most. Probably head out after July 4th, and spend the rest of the month traveling, spending at least two nights at each spot.

    Any suggestions as far as camping spots or places to avoid? Again, I am pretty flexible with time and destinations, I just want to make sure to go places where my dog won't be banned and my kids can have fun.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you really would be best off spending your time looking into National Forests - and there are no shortage of them in the areas you are considering. There are also other public lands, particularly BLM areas, and at times even state parks and other state forest areas you should focus on as you dig into exactly where you want to go.

    National Forests and these other areas seem to offer exactly what you are looking for: They are generally pet friendly with few restrictions on where you can go with your pet. They are often far less visited than National Parks, with yet still with plenty of great hiking, rivers, lakes, etc. They often have relatively low cost campgrounds, or if you really feel like roughing it, often they also have the opportunity for "dispersed camping" where you simply find a good spot in the woods (typically a minimum distance away from roads and water) and pitch your tent. Of course, there are zero facilities if you go that route and you need to pack out all of your waste, and it does typically take a little extra time to find a suitable place for such camping.

    That's still a huge range of places that would fit the broad general places you are looking for, if you want to get into more specifics, several National Parks are surrounded by just these kinds of places and could be a good place to start digging in - for example, there is the Lassen National Forest surrounding Lassen National Park, or the Rouge River and Umpqua National Forests near Crater Lake.

  3. Default

    I can't believe I didn't think of National Forests myself! I live right outside one! I guess now I need to nail down some locations, or educate myself on the different forests. I just know that each place needs to have a body of water very near by.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    One summer, a long time ago, my husband and I did a Northern California camping trip. We stuck pretty well to national forest campgrounds, with a few state parks thrown in. Check out Clair Engle Lake (Shasta-Trinity National Forest), Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area (ditto). One campground that was almost deserted, NOT near water, was Philpot, near the town of Peanut, CA. It was very memorable, but not for the right reasons, but because it was almost empty and it was HOT and there was very little shade. Another campground that comes to mind was near Shasta Lake, near the townsite of Lakehead -- Antlers. But don't look for that one to be right "on" the lake -- it's too far above it, especially with the lake level so low these days!

    There are some beautiful campsites in the coastal redwoods area. One is Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park -- albeit, more expensive than the national forest campgrounds, but there are more amenities, too. That's up near Crescent City near US-199. Good hiking in this area!

    For other good hiking, don't overlook the Trinity Alps Wilderness area. We stayed at Preacher Meadow National Forest campground before taking off on a hike somewhere. (I honestly don't remember what trail, only that we got to one place, overnight-ed next to a meadow, and then a ranger came along and told us to head back to the trailhead: a fire was in the area.)


  5. Default

    Thanks for your response, Donna :)

    I am definitely looking into the Shasta- Trinity National Forest. Seems like lots of options there, just need to narrow them down and hope I make good choices :) I just don't want to end up in crowded campgrounds or one where the creek or river dried up. Looking at camping along the McCloud River, but it seems pretty popular.

    Also wanting to get close to the coastal redwoods for sure.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not to be missed

    Quote Originally Posted by Boob View Post
    Also wanting to get close to the coastal redwoods for sure.
    Be sure not to miss the Avenue of Giants, in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The kids will love it. Stop to have a picnic lunch under the 1000 year old trees, and contemplate on how many people these trees have seen. See if you can fit through the drive through tree.


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