Andy H.
Wildomar, CA
Joined October 2018
CA
Ranger Review: GCI Outdoor Pod Rocker at KOA Lincoln City

Campground Review:

 This KOA was such a change from the developed and“overly urban” feel of most KOA establishments. It has a few of the KOA norms: cabins, playground, in-campground store, nice showers, and laundry facilities. However other than that it is a very beautiful and lushly forested site, with some of the tent sites backing up to a creek. The RV sites have great level and graveled parking areas, a large grassy area behind each campsite, and picnic table and fire pit. The store had a good supply of basic needs and also a good selection of beer!(which is a necessity on any camping trip:) The maintenance on the sites and grounds was tip top, and during our stay I personally witnessed lawn mowing, bathroom cleaning, and other general maintenance tasks being taken care of on a regular basis. My son enjoyed playing on the equipment and we also enjoyed sitting around the campfire in the evening. This was a really nice KOA off the main drag, but close enough to Lincoln City so as to experience the many tourist attractions and beaches. We even went and drove on the beach! 

Product Review: 

On occasion I receive gear to test out and review from The Dyrt, and on this camping trip I reviewed the GCI Outdoor Pod Rocker, and WOW! It blew my expectations away! I have used many different types of folding chair in my life, and so far none can compare to the GCI Pod Rocker! 

This chair is so compact that it folds up into its own shoulder bag just like any other folding chair, but it has the added perk of being constructed of powdered coated steel making it very durable. It has two springs attached to the rear main structure which allows someone to rock back and forth. It is a sling-style chair, but the great thing about the way it is designed is that it has subtle arm rests sewn into the fabric that actually work very well. The rocking is described on the website as being able to“Rock on any surface”, and they aren't kidding! I used this chair on sand, grass, slopes, and even in a river-rock-covered river bed, 3 inches submerged in the water! This thing is very well made, and takes my 200 Lbs easily and keeps on rocking! It includes nice breathable mesh at certain points and dries really fast if wet also. The only downside is that a smaller person may have a hard time getting the chair to rock with only their weight alone. It seems designed for larger people which is great for me, but may be a deterrent for smaller folk. This chair so far has withstood heavy use over a 3 week road trip, and I don’t doubt that it will continue to perform. 

On a small tangent, when sitting in the river, I had my phone dangling in the accessory pocket playing music. When I was swimming, the wind suddenly gusted and flung the chair forward, splashing down hard in the water! I don’t know if the holder was designed to do this, but as the chair fell, it used the water to flip up and keep my phone high and dry, saving my phone from a watery grave! I doubt they advertise this as a perk, but I was more than thrilled. Buy this chair if you want comfort, durability, and style.

Ranger Review: Midland X-TalkerT65 Two-Way Radio at Fort Stevens State Park

Campground Review: 

For years my family and friends have been making Fort Stevens our go-to for large family camping trips. I have experienced the park as a small child, teen, and adult, and can honestly say that it is the park that holds the most memories for me as a camper. The park used to be a military installation consisting of gun placements, defenses, etc. It has a tremendous amount of history as well as beautiful attractions such as the Peter Iredale shipwreck, beautiful beaches, and Coffenbury Lake. It has 174 full hookup sites(including some pull through), 302 partial hookup sites, 6 tent sites, Yurts, Cabins, a camp for hikers and bikers, and great day use areas. Some of the other amenities include heated showers, flush toilets, bike rentals, ice and firewood for sale, and a fairly new disc golf course. The camp sites are typically private with tree/underbrush dividing each site. 

My family booked 5 separate sites in 1 of the 12 campground loops and 1 other in a neighboring loop that had full hookups for my inlaws RV. Each site came with a paved pad to park your vehicle on, fire pit, and picnic table. We stayed in a partial hookup site though we were only tent camping, and having the water and electric right in our site was very convenient for charging phones/accessories and doing the dishes. We also truly appreciated having the paved pad, where we set up our tent which provided a great, level place that did not flood and stayed fairly dry(despite the 2 straight days of rain we received during our 5 day stay:) 

We thoroughly enjoyed the bike paths at the park, taking multiple bike trips as large groups or just my family by itself. From the campground you are able to ride to the beach, the lake, the Battery Russel(a military installation), and many other locations, though some are quite a distance away. All the bike paths are well paved and wide. 

Our stay was also unique in that my wife and I got married in one of the day use shelters that are available for rent, and are located near Coffenbury Lake. The shelters can be rented for 50$ a day and have a sink, indoor fire pit, electricity, and include seating for up to 300 people(though this many would be a stretch to fit under the structure). The area surrounding the structure has horseshoe pits and a volleyball court. This was a fantastic way to spend our wedding with our small family group who attended(20-25 people), and we enjoyed every minute we had at this beautiful location. 

Needless to say, Fort Stephens will always have a special place in my heart, and I highly recommend it as a must-stay location to anyone visiting the area. 

Product Review: 

As a Ranger, I sometimes receive gear to test from the awesome people at The Dyrt, and on this trip I had the opportunity to review the Midland X-Talker T65VP3 Two-Way Radio. 

This radio is awesome! It comes in a woodland camo color which was very cool, and boasts a 32 mile range when out in the open. Other specs include 36 channels, 121 privacy codes, an option to channel scan, and Midland’s patented weather alert and weather scan technology. I was able to use this radio in many different locations while camping at Fort Stephens State Park on the Oregon coast, and was very impressed by its durability, clear sound when listening and talking, and the battery life. 

We mostly used the radios as a way to communicate between myself, my wife, and my in laws while camping in the part because the cell reception was very poor. Our in-laws were camping in a completely different loop so these radios made communication easy. We also used it with our son when he would want to go off on his own(he is 11 years old). We would hand him the radio and off he would go, with the missive that he had to check in via radio every 10 minutes or so. This was so convenient and such a great piece of mind. 

We tested the range of the radio while driving on the coast in multiple vehicles, walking through the coastal woodlands, on the beach, and in the campground. When unobstructed we were able to get signal at quite a distance(the furthest we tested was around 10 miles), but when in the forest or obstructed driving through the woods we were only able to get around 1-2 miles apart before losing signal. The landscape in Oregon is very heavily wooded and I attribute much of this loss of signal to the obstruction. 

The battery life was also great and we were able to leave the radio on when traveling around the park for nearly 24 hours with varied levels of use before recharging was necessary. The durability was great and they sustained many drops from bicycles and even sat in a puddle inside a tent overnight without any ill effects(take this with a grain of salt however since I don’t believe the electronics were submerged but just the shell). 

The quality showed when using this product, and I will definitely buy Midland products again!

Ranger Review: Eclipse Sun Sleeves at Valley of the Rogue State Park

Campground Review: 

Along my summer road trip to the Pacific Northwest, I stopped in at this fantastic State Park! Perched right along side the Rogue River in the Valley of the Rogue, this gem of a campground is excellent for anyone traveling along the 5 freeway headed either north or south. It has 158 camp sites of which most are full hookup or partial hookup, with some pull through options. As I was camping with my In-laws who own an RV, there were plenty to choose from! They also have Yurts and group camping sites available. Other amenities include flush toilets, hot showers, a volleyball court, day use area, riverside trail, and green-way paved trail through the park. 

My overall impression of the Park was great! The access was easy, as the park was right off the freeway. This seemed like it would deter from the overall appeal, but the river noise somewhat drowned out the traffic noise. I loved having walking-distance access to the river! The water was flowing fairly quickly due to the high snowfall this year, but there was a great rocked-off area just down from our campsite where you could get into the water and wade around without the fear of your dog or child getting swept away(though kids should be closely monitored near the water). We stayed over the 4th of July, and we were close enough to towns in the area to access fireworks shows and events. The only major downside was that the campsites were fairly close together with not much undergrowth for privacy. In general this was a great camping experience that I would recommend. 

Product Review:

Occasionally I get the opportunity to review products as a Ranger for The Dyrt. During this camping experience I thoroughly enjoyed trying out my sun sleeves from Eclipse sun protective clothing. 

My first impressions of the fit were apprehensive since I had read other reviews/comments that described the sleeves and clothes as running a bit small. I am 6’1”, around 200 lbs, and have an athletic build. The sleeves come in 3 sizes(Small, medium, and large) and the Large fit me perfectly! They were comfortable, light in material, and maintained a very cool temperature on my arms despite the 90+ degree temperatures. I am a cyclist and often use modular clothing during long bike rides, especially during the cold hours of the morning, but I had not been able to find a sleeve that wasn’t way too hot during summer days. This sleeve accomplished the feat nicely and I look forward to wearing it during some rides in the future. There were multiple colors to choose from, including some with decorative patterns(even pink polka dot and Leopard). I am not quite so flashy in my color choices so I chose Pewter and was very happy with the color as it looked very similar to the pictures in person. The sleeves breathed very well and wick away moisture quickly leaving my skin dry underneath. They have a convenient thumb hole and half-glove that can be used or simply folded up on the wrist if unneeded. I highly recommend these sleeves to anyone who is as fair as I am and does not prefer to wear sunscreen. I personally despise wearing sunscreen and it is a bad pollution to our streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. These sleeves are a much more environmentally friendly option that are functional, stylish, and good quality.

Cool experience, sites not ideal for tent camping

This is a really fun place to stay and has a bunch of awesome amenities. Right behind the campground is the Pioneertown Main Street, featuring replica buildings from the old west. They have stores, gun fights, and a restaurant nearby. The campground itself has a communal fire pit and bbq area that all campers can use. Each site has a table and fire pit. The layout of the sites is a little cramped and there is no privacy. It is designed mostly for equestrian camping and has horse stalls you can rent along with your site. The restaurant (Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace) is somewhat of a local icon, and has amazing food and is known for their live music.

Gorgeous Views and beach access

Another great Northern Coastal Redwoods campground! This awesome site is located on bluffs right above Agate Beach which is accessed via a steep walking trail. Once on the beach you can enjoy searching for agates, shells, and other cool ocean finds, along with frequent wildlife viewing. We even saw a whale not 15 ft from the shore! The weather can of course be hit or miss on the coast, but despite it the Beauty of this coastal area still shines through. 

The campground is pleasant with large sites that include fire pits, picnic tables, and plenty of forested privacy. We had a blast cruising around the campground on our bikes.

Beautiful campground near the redwoods

This campground is an excellent stopping point along the 101 Highway and the South for of the Eel River. It has great access to the River for swimming/fishing, and the camp sites are well spaced and many are very privately tucked down in the trees. There is a bunch of wildlife including river otters which we saw while here, and some bald eagles! Nearby are some great hiking trails, some of which travel through groves of redwoods. Sadly while we were at this location the opposite bank of the river which usually houses a whole other section of campground and is much closer to the River was closed for renovation/construction purposes. However we still enjoyed this beautiful location.

Nice, Quiet,Local

If you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the greater Temecula area then this little gem of a campground should be on your radar. The sites are cute and back up to old Oak growth and chaparral forest, and there are not very many but there always seems to be one or two available especially during the week. Their is not usually a creek (only in the really rainy years) but you can hike up the main trail at the back of the campground and down the dry creek bed. During the summer the trail can be quite hot and is best to do in the early morning. The location is also excellent if you wanted to camp and also your the local wineries of theTemecula valley.

Beautiful Redwoods, Very Cramped Camp Sites

If you find yourself traveling through the redwoods while driving the Avenue of the Giants this is a really nice little campground to stop in and spend the night. They have first come, first serve for any unreserved spots, and during the week there are typically a few available. However, they can only be used for one night at a time. 

The campground has access to the South Fork of the Eel River right across the street for swimming and fishing, and hiking trails nearby. Much of the campground is surrounded by huge redwoods and the stumps left from fallen or logged trees, which are in themselves enormous, and so much fun for kids to play on! There is also a nearby town, Myers Flat which has a store and the awesome Drive Thru Tree! The only downside to this campground is the size of the sites, which are crammed together and don’t have much privacy.

First to Review
Hot Springs, but not great camping

Deep Creek is one of the iconic “clothing optional” hot springs of Southern California. Not a place for those who don't want to see naked people in hot springs. 

The springs are great though, and there 5 main pools of varying temperature degree ranging from really hot to mild. Many locals maintain the pools and they are modified and can be drained and scrubbed free of algae. 

Camping in the area is ok as it is part of the national forest, but typical backcountry rules apply, like camping at least 100 yds from water and leave-no-trace ethics.  However many people do not follow these rules, and there is much trash and disruption of the natural environment due to over use and lack of rule following.

To get to the springs, you must go 1 of 3 ways. First drive through Apple valley area and come in the back side, pay to park on someone’s land, and hike the 2 miles down hill the whole way to the springs. Second you can park at the Mojave River Forks area, where the PCT comes through the San Bernardino National Forest, hike 6+ miles mostly uphill and across various stream crossings. Last you can drive in the back way again on service roads (4x4 required) and then hike the short distance from there.

All in all the camping in this remote hike-in area is sub par, but it is worth it for the hot springs.

Most Rustic/Posh Outdoor Experience Ever!

Backing up to the John Muir Trail all the way into the back country of the high Sierra is this Gem of a ranch. It has amazing amenities, such as cabins, tent cabins, developed hot springs, all meals included, toilets and running water, horses back tours/packing, backpacker resupply, and store. 

Getting there however is quite a feat. First you have to traverse a one lane road nearly 30 miles back into Florence Lake. Then you have to take a boat ride to the other side of the lake, and finally you have to hike 5+ miles to the ranch. It is all worth it for the sunning views, great food, amazing fishing, hiking, and all around experience.

Small secluded campground in the heart of the Sierras

This campground is so remote that you can only access it on a single lane road that winds precariously along cliffs and through the Sierra Nevada mountains. It boarders Florence Lake, which has a small store and fishing. The dock at the lake has a ferry that you can pay for and they will take you across the lake to drop you off at the other side. This is great if you are heading out on a backpack trip and want an easy ride. The campground had tent sites with fire pits and picnic tables. Vault toilets were available.

Great local campground with Fun Amenities

 This campground is great! It is right next to the lake which has a swimming area, bike path, climbing area, Hiking trails, along with a camp store which has boat rentals and much more!  There is also a museum off the entrance road to the lake. The Perris Auto Speedway is also very close to the campground. They have full hookup, partial hookup, and tent camping sites. Many of the sites have shade trees but some are exposed and can get hot during the summer.

Hot Springs and Dispersed Camping

Arguably the most popular hot springs in the Mammoth and Lake Crowley area, this BLM managed area sees a lot of traffic, but is well worth a visit! It has a nice maintained gravel road that ends in a large parking lot. Just before the parking lot is a pull out area with fire pits and space for multiple tents. If this is full there is another road that goes past the parking area and a little further on there is another pull out for a tent or two. There are two large hot springs pools that are natural and mostly undeveloped. To get to them you must walk down a wooden walkway and gravel path about 500 yds to the pools from the parking lot.

Close to city, wineries, good amenities

This is a great family campground right around the corner from Temecula, Murrietta, and Menifee. It has tent, partial, and full hookup sites along with a camp store, fishing, biking, bathrooms, and day use areas. The lake is beautiful and boating is also an option. The fishing costs an extra fee per day on top of your California State License, so it’s a bit pricy. There are also nice hiking trails near the campground.

Good if you didn’t have a camping reservation in Sequoia...

Nice open spaces with tree cover near Hume Lake off the 180. This is a dispersed camping and OHV staging area that is first come first served for camping. Great for those who are backpacking and need a free place to camp before heading off into the Sierras! Most Parks have “backpacker camps” which allow you to camp 1 night before or after a backpacking trip, but Sequoia does not. This dispersed camping area is perfect for staging your next big hike, or simply camping for free in one of the most popular National Parks.

The best Military beach retreat ever!

This campground is so picturesque! It has a camp store, cabin rentals, and camping spots 10 feet from the sand. There are tent only, partial hookup, and full hookup sites available. Other amenities include playground, bathrooms and showers, a baseball field, and even a large gathering hall! The only downside to this location is that it is for military only, but this keeps the crowds down. The ocean wildlife is so cool, and at low tide you can see octopus, starfish, and all kinds of small fish/crabs. The views are spectacular!

Amazing access to the High Sierra!

Awesome spot! Great campground right on a creek, access to high Sierra hiking trails that put you right up at high lakes, and friendly park rangers/station.

Beautiful scenery, easy to get to

This camp ground is a great place to stay on your way to or from an adventure in the eastern Sierra. It’s easy to get to, has a small store, bathrooms/showers, and storage for your recreational vehicle if you want to leave it in a beautiful place during the off season :)

Crowded and lots of Bear activity

This campground is great if you would like crowds and lots of bear activity. The views are gorgeous, the campgrounds are fairly clean and have access to many amenities such as small stores restaurants and call the touristy stuff that Yosemite Valley has to offer. This would be a great place to take your family if you are not big on roughing it. It is good for younger children and a good first exposure to the outdoors. Also, if you eat at the Hotel restaurant the squirrels get inside and run around :-).

Excellent first resupply on southbound JMT

This is a great campground to use as a stopping point on the JMT. If you were hiking the traditional route, it is a nice point to meet family or friends, have a hamburger, and get geared up for the next leg of the trip.