Audry P.
Anchorage, AK
Joined May 2017
Ranger Review: Midland USA Camping Bundle at Entry Cove State Park, AK

Campground Review:

Technically, this area is not a managed or maintained camping area, and like most remote beaches in Alaska it's first come, first served but you're not likely to have much competition. This spot is located in beautiful Prince William Sound, approximately an hour boat ride from Whittier, Alaska. We set up camp where the beach meets the wooded area  As always, it is up to campers to keep the areas free of garbage and pack in/pack out everything. Don't forget to bring along a little shovel to, ahem, bury your personal business and TP. Remember that the tide differential can be huge, so don't let your boat get stranded while exploring the area. 

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Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I am occasionally provided with products to test. We recently tested the Midland EX210VP E+Ready Bundle and ML500 LED Lantern with two of the harshest critics around– our 3 and 7 year olds.

EX210VP E+Ready Bundle – The items in this bundle are a pair of X-Talker T31 walkie talkies and the ER210 emergency weather alert crank radio. The walkie talkies were slightly smaller than others we’ve owned in the past, but they ended up being perfect for our kiddos and felt comfortable in the adults’ hands. The compact size means they fit perfectly in backpacks and jacket pockets, and can also attach via plastic clips. Often my husband will take one of the kids for a canoe ride and exploration in a nearby bay or cove and I’ll stay to beachcomb or hike with the other child, so it’s nice to have an option for keeping in touch while we’re separated, especially since we’ve encountered black bears and other wildlife in the past. Cell service is practically nonexistent in many parts of Alaska so we can’t always rely on our phones. 

I was most excited about the crank radio and it didn’t disappoint! First of all, it’s not heavy and pretty compact - about the size of a little camcorder. My kids loved the flashlight aspect and fought over whose turn it was to hold it. My husband loved the fact that it’s a NOAA weather band radio and he was able to easily access the sea forecast(does that weird computer voice creep anyone else out?) It took a bit of cranking before we could begin charging up a cell phone through the USB cord, but I’m happy as long as we have that capability. And if the battery or crank fail, you still have the option of running the device via solar power. 

ML500 LED Lantern – The light output on this is great, although we really didn’t need it since southcentral Alaska is currently seeing 21 hours of functional daylight. My daughter dropped the device on the some jagged beach rocks at low tide and the lantern still worked perfectly, even if the exterior plastic saw a few scuffs. The metal loop is perfect for hanging from the top of the tent. A wide base means it’s stable in a boat, camper, or on the picnic table. And yay for warranties, this is for one year. We didn’t need to run the lantern for long periods of time, but Midland says it’s good for 65/19 hours of illumination at low/high settings, respectively. Cons: This is very minor, but I do wish the lantern had come stocked with the three D batteries required to power the device. I realize Midland most likely went this route to lower the total cost of the light- a set of just two D batteries at our local store runs about $11. 

Overall I’d highly recommend all of these products from Midland. Our items were all color coordinated (red and black) which is kind of nice. We frequently camp with our young children on remote islands and areas only reachable by boat, so it appeals to my mom sensibilities to have gear that is reliable and can be used in a safety/communication capacity as well as for fun.

Lake Life

Lake Louise is huge with so many little coves and beaches to explore. We like this campground for the peaceful atmosphere, but we usually visit in late summer, early fall. Blueberries abound if you look in the right place. We take our boat out on the lake and do a little fishing too. A note of caution - if the water level is down don't take your prop boat through any of the connecting channels. Jet boats work best for navigating the shallow waterways. Lots of sites and it's easy to launch your boat (for a fee). FYI, it's a long and bumpy drive down the gravel road so tie down your toys pretty tight and make sure everything is secure in the camper!

Gem on the lake

Quartz Creek Campground is a lovely little spot, situated between Quartz Creek and Kenai Lake. There are 45 spaces at this campground, so it's one of the larger ones. With easy access to Kenai Lake, it's easy to see why so many kayakers and canoers visit this area. We've fished for Dolly and Rainbows in the lake too. If you get tired of camp food, the Sunrise Lodge is on the highway at the turn-off for the campground. Hiking trails abound and for a challenge, take the Resurrection Pass Trail. I've only done about 15 miles before doubling back but it goes for about 39 miles. FYI, we had 3 vehicles parked in a spot and the camp host asked us to move one of them and pay for another site.

Creekside camping

We have stayed in Granite Creek multiple times over the years and one of the major features of this campground is being able to camp next to the creek. Space #9 is gorgeous. We backed our truck camper into the site easily - it was at least 35 feet of clearance. The site had a wooden picnic table and metal fire pit. Bring your bikes (and helmets!) to travel along the path to Hope Road, or fish for Dolly Varden (we've caught some small Dollys before). Reserve online - especially around holidays (4th of July and Labor Day weekend).

#1 in Portage

Williwaw is my favorite campground in Portage. You're right at the base of the mountain and the scenery is beautiful. It's huge (59 sites) and a great place to camp with kids. The road and driveways are paved, so it's easy walking and biking throughout the campground. Lots of trees and bushes between sites. We saw quite a few pull-through spots for motorhomes/campers and multiple vehicles.

Camp host is the first site on the right as you enter the campground. There are two one-way loops with sites on each side. The first loop on the right featured walking access to the Williwaw Salmon Viewing Area (salmon are running later in the summer). Toilets, fire rings and picnic tables are available. Take a day trip to Alyeska Resort to hike around or eat goodies at the Bake Shop, or to the Wildlife Conservation Center for big animal viewing. Check out the Begich-Boggs Visitors Center to learn all about glaciers, local wildlife and history of the Portage area. Head through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to Whittier (fee applies) and take in a day cruise or fishing trip.

Adequate campground

If you're camping in Portage Valley, expect rain! This whole area (Portage and Girdwood) is classified as a rain forest so everything is wet most of the time. It's a few miles down the road (on the right) leading to Portage Glacier and Whittier. The campground is small with only about 11 sites, and the road/pads are not paved. Each site has a campfire ring and wooden picnic tables - most are pretty mossy! Hand pump for water is available. Sites are fairly close together and I wouldn't recommend them for larger campers or motorhomes. No camp host at this site. Head on over the Williwaw Salmon Viewing Area when the fish are running. And check out the Begich-Boggs Visitors Center to learn all about glaciers, local wildlife and history of the Portage area. If you can't get into Williwaw (just down the road) then this is a good alternative.

Nestled in the woods

The Cooper Creek sites are a nice alternative to when the Russian River campground is full. This campground is right off of the Sterling Highway. We didn't make online reservations for Memorial weekend so many of the Cooper Creek sites were reserved, but we managed to find one open. It featured a campfire ring with adjustable grilling rack, picnic table (with bench cutout for wheelchair access) and a bear-proof locker. The campground road and site pads are not paved, but all is well-maintained. We didn't notice any highway noise, which was nice! Lots of foliage and tree cover between sites. The camp hosts were super friendly. We saw them making the rounds of sites in late afternoon and also tidying up the restroom in the morning. Our site, #12, was right across from the start of a little trail that runs parallel to Cooper Creek for a little while. 2017 fees are $18 for single sites, $28 for doubles and $7 for firewood. There were a couple pull through sites that would be perfect for large campers/motorhomes, folks pulling boats, and multiple vehicles.

Outdoor fun on Turnagain Arm

A short drive from Anchorage, this campground is on the Turnagain Arm side of the Seward Highway. It's tucked into the woods - and while you'll hear highway traffic, you won't see it. This area underwent some upgrades a few years back and the facilities are much improved. You're right along the water and the opportunities for whale watching are high. Or catch a glimpse of the bore tide, or wind/kite surfers. Silver salmon are running in July and August so walk over to Bird Creek to see the combat fisherman. Bears are looking for meals too so be aware.

We've brought our bicycles along to ride along the paved route - the "Bird to Gird(wood)" trail. It's 12 mile (one way) or 24 round trip, and a fairly flat elevation. If you make it all the way up to Alyeska Resort, treat yourself at the famous Bake Shop! It can get a little windy so make sure you're properly clothed, especially kiddos. Helmets and sunglasses are a must.

Great for families

Camping at Eklutna Lake is convenient for people wanting to get away but don't want to deal with hours of driving. This campground is a short jaunt from Anchorage and features nice paved pads for parking, fire pits, picnic tables, etc. No reservations required but that also means spots fill up as the weekend approaches. The campground road is paved and it's nice for walking/biking. Bears have been known to wander through this area. One summer a bear clawed its way into a tent trying to get at toothpaste in a backpack!

The lake is the source of Anchorage's drinking water so it's a cool visual representation of the importance of keeping our waterways clean. Makes sense that no motorized crafts are allowed here. We've kayaked on the lake and the vistas are amazing. Always wear a life jacket! Watch out for the wind - it can whip up the surface of the water and make for a treacherous and difficult paddle.

Jumping off point for Denali Park

This is a great campsite near the entrance of Denali Park. Stubby taiga trees and brush separate sites but it's a busy place so be prepared for noise from traffic and other campers. No hookups. Make reservations online up to 6 months in advance to secure your spot. The Denali Visitors Center is a must see, and sign up for a bus tour if you have a whole day to spare. It's a long ride but you can get off and day hike if you're so inclined. The kennels are a fun way to pass a few hours, checking out the pups that pull the dog sleds for the National Park Service in winter.

Perfect location

You can't beat a location like this if being in the heart of Seward is what you're after. This campground is right on the waterfront in the downtown area, along a paved path. Sites are situated right next to each other, mostly on gravel with some grass. Some hookups available for an extra fee. These sites fill up on holiday weekends, especially 4th of July which is Seward's biggest holiday. No reservations taken so make sure to come early on Friday or midweek for a spot. It's a short walk to restaurants, shops and the SeaLife Center. Flush toilets, running water and showers (extra fee) available. If you have kiddos, a large and beautiful playground is nearby, along with a skate park.

Superb location & view

You really can't go any further down the Homer Spit once you hit this campground! It features spots for RV's and tents (we've done both) on gravel and grass. No trees to separate sites - it's all pretty open and you're right up next to neighbors. The sites along the waterfront have amazing views onto Kachemak Bay where you can watch the sea, wildlife and boat traffic - they are more expensive though and windy. This campground can get loud at night, especially during holiday weekends, since the amount of functional daylight hovers near 21 hours and people stay up.

Just a short walk to the beach and slightly longer jaunt to the shops and restaurants on the Spit. We tow our boat to the campground and launch it each day when fishing. There is some extra parking along the edges of the campground if you have extra cars, boats, trailers, etc.

Flush toilets and running water are available - as are showers and laundry for a few bucks for guests. Staff is friendly and keep the place pretty clean. Busiest times are Memorial Weekend, 4th of July and Labor Day - call quite a ways in advance to secure your spot during these holidays.

Fisherman's paradise

We spend many days at the Russian during the peak of salmon season. When the reds (sockeye) are in, whether it be the first run or the second, the Russian River Campground is the place to be. Sites are nestled in the woods and feature a paved driveway, metal fire pits with top grate, picnic table, and large bear/animal proof lockers for food and gear. Trees and shrubs abound - no scorched earth campsites here. Some sites are singles, others doubles and a few pull-throughs for larger campers and those towing boats & toys. No water or electric hookups. Toilets and non-potable water located in each loop. FYI, this is bear country - we've had bears walk through camp and past us on the river. Read up on bear safety prior to staying at the Russian!

Sign up through Recreation.gov as soon as the registration window opens (6 months prior) since spaces fill up incredibly fast. If you're planning on fishing, try to book one of the loops closest to the Russian River or its confluence with the Kenai River. Otherwise it's quite a hike down to the water.