Ranger Review: Aftershokz Trek Air Headphones at Afton Canyon Campground

Campground Review

This was my first time camping at Afton Canyon, a BLM run campground about an hour east of Barstow. It’s only about 10 minutes off the I-15 freeway but you would never know it! This small but well-kept campground offers access to amazing outdoor opportunities and sits by a true desert oasis. Despite being in the middle of the Mojave Desert, Afton Canyon is the only place where the Mojave River flows aboveground year-round! With ample riparian habitat you get many different ecological experiences at this one of a kind site. The canyon itself is called “the Grand Canyon of the Mojave” and is an awesome geologic feature. The riparian habitat makes wildlife in the area abundant. Plus, the famed Old Mojave Road 4x4 trail runs right through the area.

The campground itself is nice and secluded. Each site has a well-constructed fire-pit/grill and a shade structure over the picnic table. The campground has potable water and pit toilets too. I stayed at a site near the back so we could explore the surrounding area for critters. There are a lot of cool things to see from lizards, kangaroo rats, snakes and more often than not big horn sheep!

A few downsides: There are active train tracks that run by the campground though they did not run all night, which was nice. I had no problem with noise from the trains late at night or early in the morning. The one issue I had was the mosquitoes! Because of the water from the Mojave River the mosquitoes when I was there (April 18) were REALLY bad. I’m a mosquito-attractor and easily got 40+ bites without even realizing they were out. Not too pleasant the next day! So even though you're headed for the desert pack your bug repellant and use it.  

Product Review

As a Dyrt Ranger, I also get products to test and review in the field. At this campground I tested the Aftershokz Trek Air Headphones.

These headphones are wireless with bone conduction technology, which means they don’t actually go in your ears. Wrapping around the ears, they sit on your temples and just behind you ear - very futuristic! My favorite qualities are:

  • The sound quality is great though it’s even better when you wear the provided ear plugs! I would say it’s comparable to other wireless ear buds currently on the market.
  • They sit very comfortably on my head and don’t move around when active and they don’t get sweaty.
  • As someone with smaller ear holes (is that the right term?) they don’t hurt my ears which is great!
  • The buttons are easy to use and straightforward. They also have a built-in mic so it can be used to talk on the phone, say when you’re in the car!
  • The charge lasts quite a while on these headphones, and it charges rather quickly. The cord is also pretty universal which makes charging a breeze!
  • Finally, they come in a convenient smooth matte bag so everything (including the cord and ear plugs) can stay together. And I LOVE the forest green color I picked.

They are truly great active headphones and are perfect for outdoor activities when you want to enjoy the world around you or hear you friends while hiking but still want to listen to your tunes! Plus, the bone conduction means that everyone around you isn’t forced to enjoy your music – please say no to hiking with Bluetooth speakers and get some of these!!!

Amazing FREE Campground in Death Valley NP

Nestled in the mountains just west of Death Valley this campground is a cool (both temperature and vibe) place to stay. I camped here in late March just before temperatures got outrageous. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Stovepipe Wells (which has gas, food and other services), but the elevation and thus cooler temperatures are well worth the extra time and gas. I had come for a short weekend trip to the park and didn’t spend too much time at the campsite beyond sleeping. The sites are nice and quiet surrounded by desert sage brush which doesn’t offer too much privacy. The campground has 23 sites pit toilets, potable water, fire rings and picnic tables. It’s first-come first serve but I had no problem getting a spot despite the fact that I arrived after sunset. The best part of this campground is that its FREE!!! I’ve stayed at much worse campgrounds that cost $25 + a night.

The road to the campground was filled with wildlife so do drive carefully. Many animals also darted towards the car as I drove in so please drive slow. I was also stuck behind a wild burro for a while as it was using the road too :p

The park was rather warm for March reaching well over 100ºF. The wildlife seemed rather hot as there was both a roadrunner and a coyote resting in the shade at the visitor’s center. I was able to see quite a lot of the park in the weekend. It wasn’t very crowded despite being there at a more popular time of year though the park is rather large. I was also there during a meteor shower which was amazing. The sky in the park and at this campground are very dark and the star gazing was particularly spectacular.

Overall this was a great campground in one of the nation’s most iconic desert landscapes. I would highly recommend!! For more info click here.

5 Star Group Camping in the Zion

I stayed at this campground in May of 2012 with a large group. This is the bigger of the two campgrounds in Zion National Park and the only one that accepts reservations. Because of the popularity of the park reservations fill up fast often months before, especially for peak weekend nights. The campground has sparse tree cover providing spotty shaded areas. It might get quite hot in the warmer months. The sites here seemed rather cramped and they did not offer much privacy. The campground has 176 sites and 6 group sites, and each site has picnic tables and fire rings. The campground has flush toilets and drinking water and is $20 per night for tent sites. 

The best part of this campground in my opinion is the proximity to hiking and the shuttle lines. The campground is within a 5 minute walk of the visitor center where you can access a shuttle into the park or the shuttles that go to Springdale, where there are grocery store, gift shops and restaurants. There are also several hikes that you can access from the campground. This includes a paved walking trail the follows the Virgin River and a moderate hike to on Watchman Trail which has scenic views of the valley below. This campground is pretty basic and typical of cramped national park campgrounds but does offer the convenience of location which is ideal for those who plan to spend most of their days in the park.

For more information about the campsite click here and to make reservations click here.

Beautiful park but mind the desert winds

I stayed at one of the three group camp sites located in Valley of Fire State Park in late May 2012. I have since visited the park and done some of the day hikes so this review will reflect both trips. The group sites are located across the road from the other two campground and can hold roughly 45 people per site. I was with a field class of geologists and there were easily 30-40 of us each with our own tents and we fit just fine. The group camps have large dining and cooking areas with picnic tables and large grill spaces. Each site has its own bathroom as well. We loved climbing the nearby rocks and the sunset and sunrise views were incredible. The only issue I had with the site was the wind. We had experienced campers who had properly staked down their tents have tents blow away. My guess is that there were gusts up to 30+ mph. I decided to sleep in one of the vans because I didn’t want my tent to hit me in the face all night – great decision given how I was one of the few who got more than 4hrs sleep! The park is beautiful but do be mindful of the wind conditions before venturing out. Also I think the other campgrounds (Arch and Atlatl) are more protected than the group sites. These campgrounds are first come first serve and can book quickly in peak months.

As for the park, it is truly beautiful. I spent time hiking off White Domes Road and especially liked the Mouse’s Tank Trail and White Domes Loop. I would highly recommend stopping by the visitors center as it was packed with good information and neat specimens. I stopped by Atlatl Rock to look at the petroglyphs and the Sunday I was there was a group offering atlatl practice throwing. The park was very busy in a bustling exciting way. This park does have a $10 entrance fee and I 100% think it is worth the price of admission. Be aware that it can get really crowded – as I was leaving there were about 30 cars lined up waiting to get in! Check here for an informative map of the park.

Cramped, crowded and overpriced walking distance to the park

This is a private campground located a few miles from the Zion National Park entrance in Springdale. This campground is run by the Quality Inn Springdale and located just behind the hotel. I spent two nights here in March 2017 on a Friday and Saturday night. After not successfully reserving a campsite in the park and hoping to avoid the stress of first come first serve, I found this private campground still available. It is $39 per night for tents and each site comes with a picnic table and fire ring. The campground has flush toilets, free showers (one token per night per person and 6 min of shower per token) and drinking water and some sites back up to the Virgin River.

While this campground is conveniently located to the shops and restaurants of Springdale and close to the shuttle stop, it lacked greatly in ambience. Our site backed up to a fence with homes on the other side a mere 5 feet away. The sites themselves were very small and we had to rearrange the camp to fit our small two person Marmot tent on a flat piece of ground. The campground was loud with many uncourteous neighbors who were loud well past midnight. It’s hard to get up early to hike when your camp neighbors (who are only 5 feet away) arrive at 10PM, set up multiple tents and then decide to start partying around midnight. 

I did appreciate the clean hot free showers and the closeness to the park and restaurants. I walked to the park entrance every day instead of using the shuttles. I also highly recommend two close and local restaurants. The Whiptail Grill had an amazing dinner with delicious enchiladas and the Café Soleil had great breakfasts and lunch. I went to the café 3 times on our 3 day trip and purchased some of the local art available in the front of the café.

Zion Park itself is beautiful but overcrowded. Having been to 30+ national parks I don’t quite understand the level of popularity of this park over others besides its close proximity to Southern California and Las Vegas. 

For more information or to make reservations click here.

A photographers dream site - close to all the views

This is the only campground in the Islands of the Sky unit of Canyonlands National Park. I drove down from Salt Lake City on a Sunday in mid-March and snagged the last site at this small campground (it was just about noon). This campground fills quickly and has no reservations so you may want to come prepared with a backup (I recommend the BLM sites on the Colorado River closer to Moab). There are other campgrounds just outside the park as well that seemed available. The campground has large secluded sites, but only has a total of 12. The campground has clean vault toilets and each site has a picnic table under a shade cover and a fire ring. The fee is $15 per night. One important thing to note is that this campground has NO running water, so be sure to stock up at the visitor center and bring a 5-10 gal container. The nights we stayed it was a bit windy, but this is to be expected for a desert mesa top.

This campground is walking distance to Green River Overlook which is a beautiful spot to enjoy the sunset. There is plenty of hiking nearby to keep you busy during the day. I enjoyed hiking to upheaval dome and Aztec butte. I also woke up at sunrise to catch the spectacular views from Mesa arch. My one complaint about the campground is that it was far from Moab which I had wanted to check out and enjoy. It takes about an hour to get there from this campground. However, this is the tradeoff for being very close to the sites and hikes of the park. Overall this was a quiet and clean campground with all of the basic necessities, but I may have preferred to camp closer to Moab for convenience. For more info about the campground, click here.

Land of the swarming mosquitoes and rats

I attempted to camp at Bridger Bay Campground after driving from Yellowstone NP to Salt Lake City in mid August. It is located on Antelope Island within Antelope Island State Park. Antelope Island is an island located on the Great Salt Lake a few miles from Salt Lake City. I chose this campground because it seemed close to the major routes I was taking back towards California. I arrived after sunset and was happy to make it onto the causeway before they shut the gates. Arriving at the campground I noted that most of the sites were taken by trailers and RVs, which should have been a sign. After finding an open site, I got out of the car to one of the most horribly infested campsites I had ever seen. The air was thick with flies and mosquitoes making it miserable to try and unload and set up. The camp site also had several rats scurry around as I flashed my headlight around. At this point I decided to leave, so I did. I had never left a campsite before due to unsavory conditions, nor have I left one since. I got back in my car and drove back over the causeway. The gate was shut, but thankfully opened to let me out. While I’ve heard pleasant things about the island it may be best visited in a different season or time of day. I thoroughly enjoyed the motel I found. Here is more information about the campground and about the park. I hope to make it back someday to watch the Pronghorns, but will not plan on camping.

Ranger Review: Mountain House Food at Lodgepole Overflow Campground

Campground Review 

Located off Scenic Highway 4 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this small forested campground is a convenient 5 minute drive from Lake Alpine. I camped at site 13 of 30. I headed up to Lake Alpine after work on a Friday afternoon in July. None of the campgrounds in the area take reservations so I planned on trying my luck with first-come first-serve campgrounds. All of the campsite next to the lake were full by the time I got there. Because the campgrounds further east past the lake are quite a bit of a drive, I decided to stay the night in this overflow campground. 

The sites were cramped and there wasn’t much privacy. I had brought my filled 5 gallon water jug and was glad I had as I never could find potable water (though I think the campground had some). The bathrooms were pretty awful. They weren’t pit toilets but rather porta-potties (Chemical toilets) and they were rather old and unpleasant. The campsite didn’t offer any bear lockers though we saw bears on our drive up the mountain. Plus the fee (25$) seemed rather steep for the amenities offered.

Overall it was an OK place to stay for a night but definitely nothing special. Its major perk is its proximity to Lake Alpine which was beautiful! Despite the numerous full campgrounds I had the lake nearly to myself (save a few fisherman) until about 10 AM. It’s a nice clear lake with good fishing. It’s not a huge lake as it took me about 45 minutes to paddle the whole length and back.

For more info about the campground, click here!

Product Review

As a Dyrt Ranger, I also get products to test and review in the field. At this campground I tested an assortment of Mountain House dehydrated meal kits including:

Breakfast Skillet

Pasta Primavera

Chicken Fajita Bowl

Raspberry Crumble

As a disclaimer, this was not my first go round with Mountain House meals, so I purposely chose meals that I have not previously had to try new things. Just for reference I find their Chili Mac with Beef and Beef Stroganoff meals to be rather delicious and awesome for backcountry dinners.

As a general review, all of the Mountain House meals were very easy to make and filling and most of them had a lot of flavor. The salt intake is a bit on the high end, so be aware if you generally avoid high sodium foods. They are excellent backpacking choices because they are light weight, filled with nutrition and calories, and much more exciting to eat than ramen or peanut butter. A huge benefit is that they cook quickly with minimal equipment. All you need is boiling water, a measuring cup (key to perfectly cooked meals) and a utensil to stir and then eat the contents right out of the pouch!

Now for meal specific reviews:

Breakfast Skillet: This meal includes potatoes, scrambled eggs, pork sausage, peppers and onions. I ate this as a midday brunch as I’m generally not a huge breakfast eater. Everything heated well though the eggs were a bit runny for my taste. The flavors were good and the meal was very hearty. If weight isn’t a concern I think this would go amazing in a tortilla with some hot sauce as to me it tasted like the inside of a breakfast burrito. Overall I give this meal a solid 4/5 stars.

Pasta Primavera: This meal includes zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, red and yellow peppers, green peas and spiral macaroni in a parmesan cheese sauce. I was a bit nervous about this one as I can be finicky abuot how my pasta is cooked and I was worried how filling the meal would be without meat. This meal was my favorite of them all. It was cheesy, but not in a mac’n’cheese way and the vegetables and pasta were perfectly cooked. The excess water wasn’t a problem here because it was a saucy pasta dish. It was very filling, though may not be enough for someone who was actually backpacking. Overall I give this meal an overwhelming 5/5 stars.

Chicken Fajita Bowl: This meal includes grilled chicken, rice, roasted vegetables and black beans. This meal was actually the first one I tried. The flavor wasn’t as strong as I would want in a Mexican inspired dish. The beans, veggies and rice were all cooked perfectly. I particularly liked the roasted veggies as they kept a lot of the flavor you would expect from roasted vegetables. The chicken however was only OK. One larger piece was still dry and uncooked in the middle. The rest generally lacked flavor. I added quite a bit of hot sauce to help this meal. I imagine adding it to a tortilla and making it a burrito could have also helped. Overall I give this meal an average 3/5 stars.

Raspberry Crumble: DESESRT!! Yummm. This meal consists of raspberry sauce with chocolate cookie crumbles. This meal was quite sweet and delicious. It cooked very well and became a warm jam of sorts. There was a separate bag of very crushed cookies. I think I would have preferred larger cookie bits or possibly bringing my own cookies next time to eat with the sauce as after a while eating what is basically jam can be overwhelming. Despite this I found it to be very delicious and give it a solid 5/5 stars.

This will definitely not be my last trip with Mountain House meals. They are lightweight, convenient, nutritious and generally delicious, plus they’re very easy to clean. I highly recommend them to campers looking for an easy no fuss meal and especially for backpackers looking for delicious low weight meal alternatives.

Ranger Review: Optic Nerve Sunglasses at Silver Lake East Campground

Campground Review

The campground is off Hwy 88 in the El Dorado National Forest just a few miles from the Kirkwood Resort. It sits on the northeastern side of Silver Lake. I drove up to this campground for an overnight stay on Saturday last August to escape the heat of the Central Valley. I didn’t have reservations and got the last campsite in the campground, which was very lucky. You can make reservations online, though the campground is pretty popular and gets booked up early! There were many sites that appeared to have large groups camping together making it a very family friendly campground. It’s not the most secluded atmosphere as a result but still quiet and relaxing.

It was a big spacious tent site (55) that required a bit of a walk-in, but not too far. The site was wooded and pleasant. I have camped in the area before and it can be a bit cold in the late spring. However, by this point in summer it was beautiful. The campground is a short 5 minute walk away from the lake. I brought fishing gear, relaxed by the shore and spent some time kayaking. Silver Lake has a boat launch and was a beautiful lake to go kayaking. There was also plenty of hiking nearby for those staying more than one night.

The campground has vault toilets, drinking water, fire rings, picnic tables and bear proof storage boxes. The fee was $24 per night for a tent site. The campground is also adjacent to a small resort (the Kit Carson Lodge) which had a general store and a restaurant if you forget anything or don’t feel like cooking. For more info click here and to make reservations click here!

Product Review

As a Dyrt Ranger, I also get products to test and review in the field. At this campground I tested a few pairs of Optic Nerve Sunglasses including these styles:





As an avid Kayaker, these sunglasses are great for watersports, and I can’t wait to bring them up to the ski slopes with me come winter! Here are my favorite aspects of these glasses:

1.    Quality construction – solid frame construction ensures the hinges won’t bust anytime soon and they should be able to endure a fall

2.    Quality lenses – the lenses were amazingly crystal clear while still offering the protection you expect from sunglasses, especially when you’re out on highly reflective surfaces like water/snow

3.    Affordability – all of these styles were under $40, as someone who loses sunglasses often to canyons and rivers I can easily replace these without too much heartache

Of all the glasses, my favorite style were definitely the Bonnaroo as they were lightweight, comfortable and stylish! My adventure partner and real life boyfriend tried some out as well. He tends to have more difficulty finding affordable good quality sunglasses to fit his wider face shape. He loved all of the styles though his favorite were the Kindred, as they were highly stylish, fit his wider face perfectly and were still incredibly durable. Plus at $35 they are a steal! When purchasing these sunglasses I really appreciated the option to filter for face width. Anyone with a wider face knows the struggle of getting a pair of beautiful sunglasses in the mail only to have them be way too tight! The Mashup and Steelhead are also both great glasses. The cool blue lenses add style to the hip Mashup frame. The Steelheads are great for long days on the water either on a boat or fishing (for steelheads!) as the thicker sides provide extra protection. Overall these are all solid glasses and I would definitely recommend Optic Nerve to any adventurer who needs some high quality affordable sun protection.

Ranger Review: Seattle Sports FrostPak™ CoolPak at Mid Hills Campground

Campground Review About an hour drive from I-15 or I-40 in the Mojave National Preserve, this high desert campground has an abundance of desert life with ample views of the surrounding mountains. I camped at site 21 at the far Northern end of the campground. The site was surrounded by juniper trees and pinyon pines which offered shade during the day and a wind break at night. I camped here in late May and while valley temperatures were in the upper 90s, this campground stayed about 10° cooler and was almost chilly at night. A fire came through the campground in 2005 leaving the southern sites much more exposed than the northern sites. Some northern sites also have views of other mountain ranges.

One thing to note it that this campground is a bit far from some of the main attractions of the Mojave Preserve. It’s about a 30 min drive to Kelso depot and an hour to the closest food and gas, so come prepared. The campground had massive sites that could easily fit multiple tents (in fact the group next to us had 6 trucks and as many tents on their site). This campground is good for families, couples, or groups and apparently is popular with hunters and off roaders. The nights I was there it was quiet and secluded despite most sites around being filled.

My favorite aspect of the campground was the abundant wildlife. At my site, I saw many lizards, bunnies, kangaroo rats, birds and beetles as well as blooming cacti and wildflowers.

The fee to stay here is a very reasonable 12$ per night and it is first come first serve. This campground has pit toilets and water available. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring with a grill grate. Click here for more info about the campground!


Product Review

As a Dyrt Ranger, I also get products to test and review in the field. At this campground I tested the Seattle Sports FrostPak™ CoolPak.

This FrostPak™ CoolPak was a great companion for a hot desert trip! Why you ask?

1. This cooler is very well insulated while still being spacious. It held ice for about 10hrs while sitting in the sun and kept drinks cold for over a day. It held a 6 pack easily with ice.

2. The backpack feature works great making it easy to carry and access. The straps are adjustable and comfortable. It is as heavy as you pack it though using freezer packs may provide cool temperatures for lighter weights. I foresee packing it with drinks and lunches and bringing it to the beach, to a picnic or out on the lake.

3. Though many backpacks are prone to tip, this one doesn’t. It stands very well on its own meaning you don’t have to worry about losing your ice or your lunch if you leave it open.

One word of advice: the backpack has a zipper at the top and while every other part is well sealed, the zipper is not and may slowly leak over time if the bag is not upright. Overall great product perfect for many different adventures!

Great spot very close to the beach and Mendocino

This is a beautiful campground in a beautiful section of the CA coast. I camped here with a class of soil scientists here to study the unique soils of the nearby ecological staircase. It was overcast and a bit drizzly, but still quite comfortable. The temperatures were nice and cool – great for summer! We stayed at the group site which was in an incredible spot, secluded near the creek with a large meadow like field. There were bathrooms nearby, all clean. The park had a few trails though I did not use them. The cell service was also terrible though I suppose most people don’t camp expecting it to be great. This campground was close to Mendocino which has beautiful views and beaches and ample shopping and dining. The beach at the park is really nice. We went for a quick swim despite the cold temps of the Pacific. The beach is walking distance from the camp. Overall this is a great spot and I would definitely recommend it for everyone! Though I would plan ahead and make reservations early as is it quite popular.

Close to the view with many amenities

I stayed here while on a geology fieldtrip in 2012 and it was a wonderful campground. The campground had ample room for all of us students, clean restrooms, and a shower facility. The pine forest setting was an unexpected surprise for the AZ desert. The campground had a small general store that had camping essentials and ice cream – a great treat after hiking on the North Kaibab Trail. There are a few scenic areas and hiking trails that you can walk to from the campground, which was great for our large group. The campground wasn’t too crowded despite being a weekend in late May during an eclipse. Though the N Rim can be a bit more out of the way than the S Rim, it is truly just as beautiful and imho nicer because there are fewer crowds. The N Rim has the same views and equal amounts of hiking and is a great option for those seeking fewer crowds.

Comfortable, clean and close to Glacier NP

I found this campground after unsuccessfully trying to find an open spot at one of the several Glacier Natl Park campgrounds last July 2015. I was driving down from Alberta and didn’t get to the East entrance of the park until about 3:30. There were a few open spots in Agpar but by the time I rushed through the Going to the Sun Road to get to the West side they were gone. Frantic to find a place to sleep I drove into West Glacier looking for lodging. I found this campground and drove in to see if they had open spots, which they did! At 25$ a night this campground was nicely wooded and came with a tent pad, picnic table and fire ring. Fire restrictions weren’t required so I had a nice campfire my second night. The campground had a few restrooms sites with warm showers included in the price of my stay. The site itself was really nice, quiet and peaceful. This is a private campground and on site had a small restaurant, a general store, laundry facilities and a playground. Although it was outside the park, the campground was only a few minutes from the western gate. Having driven through Agpar I had to say that this site seemed much less cramped and overall had nicer amenities. The only down side is that because it isn’t in the park, I had to drive and find a place to park while going on my all day hikes. As for glacier must-sees I was only there for two days three nights, but I feel like I got a lot of sightseeing in. The first day I hiked the highline loop beginning at the Logan Pass Visitor center (if you are driving be sure to get there early as the parking spaces fill up by 9:30/10) and ending at the Loop. This is a bucket list type of hike that even getting caught in a monster thunderstorm couldn’t be rivaled. Later that night I grabbed delicious burgers and brews at Eddie’s Café. Day 2 I hiked to Grinell glacier on the east side of the park out of Many Glacier. This is one of the few parts of the park where you can get pretty close to one of the last remaining glaciers, though it is a bit of a drive from the west entrance. I finished that night with dinner at Lake McDonald Lounge in the fireside dining room – a bit of a cap to end my amazing road trip. Overall my time at Glacier was amazing and I would definitely recommend a trip to this true national treasure!

Many happy memories of geology summer field camp

This campground may not be best for the average camper, but is designed for geology field camps. Close to many wonderful geologic hot spots, this campground has three very large group sites perfect for classes. There are large common areas with picnic tables and fire rings and several pit toilets. I spent a month here in summer 2012 and the weather was great! My class was mapping most of the week in the infamous poleta folds with several field trips to other interesting and relevant sites. The campground was our home base. While there are no showers, there is an accessible section of the Owens River that is nice for a swim and a quick rinse with eco-friendly water safe soaps (like dr. bronners). The infrastructure of the camp was central to the site meaning there were small tent villages spreading in all directions from the tables and toilets. This ensured that the class didn't get too annoyed with each other. Again while i wouldn't recommend this for most campers - there are other campgrounds not too farther up the road - this is a great site for classes and large groups.

Standard Campground near many Yellowstone attractions

With no reservation we drove into Yellowstone hoping to find open campgrounds. This was the closest open campground. We stayed at site 196, which was right across from the campground amphitheater. The campground was pretty standard. There were ample clean restrooms though this campsite had no showers, which meant we had to drive to another and spend part of our day adventuring to shower. This campground is right off the main loop of the park with relatively short drives to many of the main attractions. There was also a lodge just across the street that offered cheap breakfast items, because everyone deserves a plate of pancakes before sightseeing and hiking. There were ranger talks every night, which we could hear from the campground – made walking over to watch an easy choice. We had no major wildlife encounters at the campground but were extra careful to keep items with smells and food in the car out of sight – no grizzlies for us please! The sites were a bit crowded without much privacy but since we were away for most of the day this wasn’t to big an issue. Overall the campground was a bit pricy and pretty standard – nothing particularly special. I’m sure there are others in the park that are much nicer. As this was my first trip to Yellowstone I spent most of the time driving around taking in all the sites. I was of course wowed by all of the geysers, springs and colorful pools. However what was the most unexpected and favorite part of my stay was the grand canyon of Yellowstone the stairs down to see the waterfalls were awesome and it’s a part of Yellowstone that is not as well known. I would definitely recommend visiting!

Camping right in the swamp with many amenities and things to do

I camped here while visiting NOLA over Fourth of July weekend 2015. I made last minute reservations just a few days in advance which was smart as the campground seemed pretty full when I got there. The campground had full service bathrooms that were mostly clean (there may have been showers, but I don’t remember as I didn’t use them). My site (#30) was large and right on the bayou making it quite scenic. As I’m not from this part of the country I don’t know if there were gators in there or not but if there were, my tent was quite close which may be a concern for some. I was tent camping (read no RV), which made for quite a sweaty night sleep. There wasn’t much privacy from the surrounding sites, but most everyone else was in an RV or trailer. The bathrooms were quite far from our site with a necessary walk across a patch of swamp filled with mosquitos. Did I mention the bugs in this park were relentless (but honestly as to be expected when camping in a bayou). The state park was a bit hard to find and I had to call and ask for directions a few times. The park itself was quite large with various different amenities including boating access, a nature trail (see video), a playground and a swimming complex. I was in town to explore the heart of NOLA so I didn’t use many of these features, but I imagine it would be great for families. For travelers passing through this park offered cheap accommodations only 20 min outside of downtown NOLA. Though I must advise that if you are only brining a tent you may be quite sweaty during your trip! Overall this campground had well maintained facilities, was full of friendly folks and satisfied my basic needs.

Nice campground, a bit close to the road

I had been planning on camping in White Sands National Monument, but got there right after the main gates had been locked. Frantic to find a campsite with daylight diminishing and thunder clouds on the horizon, I found this sweet camping area only about an hour from White Sands. Right outside the small town of Cloudcroft, this campground offers pine-filled sites just a short drive from the New Mexican desert. I came looking for a campsite (read no reservations) last June 2015 and found this cool campground. Because I arrived late I didn’t interact with the camp host. I was one of only a few campers, probably because I was there midweek. I had the lower section of the campground all to myself. I arrived during a wicked lightning storm so I spent the first hour or so just enjoying the view before setting up my tent on a very well established tent pad. I made a quick dinner before turning in. The bathrooms (vault toilets) were very clean, came with hand sanitizer and actually smelled nice! I think that was the hosts doing. I slept very comfortably in what were perfect camping temperatures. I packed up in the morning before move on further east. The only concern I had about the campground was how close it was to the road. There weren’t many other people up the mountain, but because the main road loops all the way around the campground I could imagine it being a bit noisy with passing traffic. This campground is very close to Cloudcroft and a short drive down the mountain to Alamogordo. While I didn’t have time to enjoy the mountains it appeared as though there was plenty of hiking and fishing opportunities. The campsite is about and hour or so from White Sands National Monument which I visited after departing the campground. I got great morning shots after fresh wind and rain cleared much of the tracks in the dunes (check pics and video). Overall this site is a great hideaway in the desert (especially for those who are looking for a place to throw a tent for the night) but may be a bit noisy on a busy weekend if you’re planning on hanging out longer.

Clean comfortable campground in a suburban park

This campground is pleasant but literally in the middle of a residential neighborhood. I stayed in this campsite while driving across the country last July 2015 and came upon this campground as a good no reservations option for staying near Madison, WI. I stayed at site 10 near the back of the main loop close to the park border. While the park offered nice bathrooms with showers and many amenities, waking up from my tent in the morning to the sounds of morning rush hour traffic on the road not 100 yds away was quite un pleasant. The sites are mostly shaded with many trees and grass to put the tent on and they are well spaced so as not to feel too crowded. The park offered lake access with swimming, fishing and a boat launch, a playground and volleyball, tennis and basketball courts. The lake was beautiful – I only wish the campground was closer . . . maybe they should have switched the playground and campground. There were suburban houses beyond the edge of the park that could be seen from our tent site.
On the upside the park was not far from downtown Madison where I drove to enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants. Madison was a very wonderful town and I couldn’t recommend it more. I can’t say as much for this campground. Overall the location and layout of the park was confusing and definitely not advised to those seeking a respite in nature though it may be perfect for families looking to dip their toes into the idea of camping.

Peaceful forest oasis in the Nevada desert

I camped here as the first night of a two week western states road trip after a long drive across the Loneliest Road in America (Hwy 50 across NV). After hundreds of miles of desert this beautiful forested spot was a true oasis! When I arrived the camp host was there to greet me and help me pick a prime spot for my tent close to Lehman creek. This campground is first come first serve which was a bit frightening as I drove 10 hrs across Nevada with no other backup plans. The site was forested, clean and had a picnic table and fire ring. The campground had bathrooms but no showers. The campsite was fairly private with not too many other campers. There were a few trails leading from the campsite, but I did not use them. The next morning I drove up towards Wheeler Peak. The views were incredible and it reinforced how amazing this little park truly is. I hiked a part of the Bristlecone trail but had to turn around when a lightning storm got a bit too close for comfort. I saw deer and plenty of birds along the way. If I had more time I would have loved to make it to the bristlecones as they are such a rare and unique tree. While this park is difficult to reach from any direction it is quite a little forest paradise and this campground is definitely recommended.

Nice quiet campground right on Medicine Lake

I camped here two nights with a large group of friends the first weekend of last October and it was beautiful, but freezing!! The campground had pit toilets, sturdy picnic tables and large fire rings. We took up 3 sites towards the front of the campground and had plenty of room for our numerous tents. The campground was right next to a beautiful lake which seemed very popular with the many fisherman staying there that weekend. While everything was well maintained and clean I must warn that it was pretty cold for late summer/early fall camping with lows well in the 20s. I definitely recommend bringing appropriate gear and checking the weather before heading out. The campground is close to many awesome volcanic sites such as glass mountain and Mt Hoffman. It is not that far from Lava Beds National Monument which is another great thing to check out. Overall this seemed like a peaceful forested campground with lake access and many cool outdoor recreational opportunities. Just beware of the weather!