We stay at Pace Bend every time we go rock climbing in Austin. The campsites are private and there are always sites available. The campsites along the cliffs are beautiful at night.
Okay, I have been coming to Loon Lake since I was a kid, still love the area at 40. I have been to a lot of beautiful places but this is still my favorite. I love this lake… it's clean, clear and with not a ton of motor boats. It takes a little extra time to get there, most folks stop at Union Valley or Ice House, but the extra time is worth it! It's a great place to paddle and find a quiet place for a swim. Also, a great place to take hikes, you can head into Desolation Wilderness from a trail heads starting in this campground. The campground is rustic but well maintained (okay I'm biased… my dad has been the host for the past 7 years!), it is dry camping so be prepared. There is water faucets, pit toilets, camp fire rings, picnic tables, bear boxes and you can by wood from the hosts. The campground is typically open Late May/Early June (depending on snow melt - this year will be mid-June) through mid-October. I have stayed up there during the summer and fall. I have also snowshoed up in this area in the winter months.
Ipsut Creek Campground is a relatively easy 5 mile trek or bike ride with a 700’ elevation gain, down a closed road (due to the road wash out about 3 miles in) to a wooded campground nestled along the Carbon River.
Located at the trailhead are two bathrooms, a covered picnic area and a handful of parking stalls with additional parking located along the road.
The trail begins behind the closed gates into the shade of the old growth forest. The trail then alternates between the shade of the forest and sunny skys with river views and wildflowers along the way.
There are a few side trips off the main Carbon River Trail even before reaching the Ipsut Creek Camp;
1) Mini Rainforest Loop, 0.25 miles
2) Old Mine Trail, 0.6 miles round trip
3) Green Lake & Ranger Falls trail, 3.6 miles round trip
Note: Sadly, the trail to Chenuis Falls has washed out, so now there is just a log bridge into the water to nowhere.
Once you reach the campground, it has about 20 campsites with about half the sites located on the river. We were lucky enough to swoop up site number 15 though, strangely, another family decided to share it with us for our easy river front access. Thankfully the river is pretty loud and drowned out the noise of our close campers. We did choose to camp on the high-profile weekend of the 4th of July, so all the cool campsites along the river were obviously full, which is why we think we had “friends” join us. There was a large fallen tree sort of splitting the camp site in half, so we took the left half, with the smaller 1 picnic table option, while the strangers took the right half with 2 picnic tables.
The trees in camp are great for setting up hammocks. We set up a hammock triangle upon arrival in camp near the river for lazy afternoon naps. My siblings both slept in their hammocks fulltime, while my husband and I set up a tent in a small clearing on the opposite side of the picnic table, closer to the bear lockers (bear lockers are a huge plus, meaning a bear canister isn’t necessary if you’re not heading deeper into the backcountry).
The campground had a decent amount of wildlife running around. We had a number of chipmunks running around our camp cleaning up any scraps left daily; we found a live mouse chilling in a water bottle one morning upon setting up for breakfast, and deer came through the camp just about anytime it was quiet.
The campground does have two restrooms but they smell like the bog of eternal stench, so bring strong essential oils, a scented hanky, or a shovel to dig cat tracks in the woods far from camp and water sources.
The campground is a good base camp to explore the surrounding Carbon Glacier/ Mowich Lake area. We visited Ipsut Falls, which was less than a half mile round trip out of camp, making for a sweet little trip to break up the day in camp.
We also chose to make the adventure up to the Suspension Bridge and to the Carbon Glacier view point. Our morning started off cool in heavy fog, which burned off throughout the day, giving way to magnificent views of the mountain and glacier. The trail was covered in wildflowers, cairns, creeks and mini waterfalls. It made for a beautiful day trip out of camp with plenty of opportunities to go further into the backcountry closer to Winthrop Glacier, out to Tolmie peak area or back out along the Wonderland Trail. Backcountry options seemed endless.
Though the trail and camp (and site) were crowded, the hike to the glacier made the entire trip worth our cozy campsite. The Carbon Glacier is a bit dirty looking but to be standing in front of something so ancient and magnificent is truly amazing. My husband, sister and I have now added a new item to our bucket lists and that is to see as many glaciers as we can before they melt, here’s to our first. =)
Note: The campground is located within Mount Rainier National Park (no pets are allowed) so you’ll need to stop by the Carbonado Ranger Station for a Wilderness Permit and National Park Day Pass or Annual Permit to display for parking. No campfires within the campground.
Let me just start by saying this was my first trip to Florida, so my opinions are obviously limited. Location; perfect. Near a big city but I felt far enough away. The sites are perfect sized, not too much space yet you don’t feel like you are hanging out with everyone else. It looks like a few sites may be closer together than others. I was in site 49. Back corner with no one to one side and palm trees blocking the other. Love the environment and feel of the campground. Felt almost like a resort. Bathrooms were clean enough. Camp store was slightly overpriced but when you are in a pinch they did have some options. He sites have a water spout and an actual standard home outlet (was surprised). Spent most of the beach time at the south beach. On the last day we did go to the north beach and were not impressed. South beach was quieter and actually a closer bike ride. About 2.5 miles from our campsite. The negative is that the park is alcohol free, with that being said it did make for a quieter night scene. We would walk the entire campground after dark with our kids and things seemed peaceful. Will be keeping this place in our go to list.