I’m sitting here waiting for a flight after about 9 weeks of living in hotels. Fugured it would be a good time to write this review I’ve been holding off on. Anyway, let’s get started.
My buddy Stone and I didn’t really have plans for Memorial Day Weekend like everyone else, so naturally we had to make some. We decided to stay a little closer and avoid flying because that gets expensive over holiday weekends… instead we opted to go camping at Crystal Rock Campground for its proximity to Cedar Point Amusement Park! Seriously only took us like 30 min to get from camp to park.
The campground was $30/night for a tent site with no electric hookups. I understand it was Memorial Day Weekend and just happened to be Ohio Bike Week (I think) but we were packed in like sardines! Their were tent sites right next to RV sites which From what I’ve seen isn’t usually the norm. There are about 120 or so sites in the lower section of the camp all sharing one bathroom. The men’s restroom had 5 or so showers, one urinal, and one toilet. A sign on the door indicates it’s closed from 12-1 (if I remember correctly) for cleaning. I don’t know about you, but I think that one urinal and one toilet is not enough to adequately service 120 campsites. Especially at capacity, which they were when I was there. Our site literally butted right next to three other sites and it just felt very cramped. We were also the furthest from the bathroom you could be, which was quite a hike to do dishes. For these reasons, I give it a 3 out of 5.
I do imagine it would get more stars had I chosen a less busy weekend. It did have a “game room” closer to the checkin as well as a playground. I didn’t use those, but they did look nice.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. On this trip to the Crystal Rock, I tested out the Howler Brothers Aransas Shirt in Voltage Print that I got through Roanline. I give this shirt a 5/5. I’m actually wearing it right now. Here are some of my thoughts on this rad shirt:
So I got this shirt through Roanline and their packaging was super cool. I forgot to snag a pic of that but trust me. They even had a handwritten note in there that made it feel nice and personal.
So I have finally been able to get out of the hotel room for a night! I was seriously going stir crazy. What do I decide to do? Go camping of course! I chose Narrows Reserve just on a whim. I am so glad I did! I actually didn’t even look at a map until I arrived. That’s when I realized the primitive campsites were 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Oops.
Just kidding, that made it even better! My buddy, James, and I parked next to the Nature Center and trekked in. You can opt to park in the lower parking lot where there is a kayak launch too. You can also find a water fountain and port-a-potty there. I suggest you use that since there isn’t one in the meadow, it’s “primitive” after all. We did see quite a few people on the way in, but it seemed like they were all just enjoying a nice stroll on the trail. Speaking of the trail, it was very well traveled and very well maintained. It was a super easy hike in for the 1.25 miles. Along the trail there were spots where you could jump in the river and even a rope swing. I didn’t bring my swim trunks, but I wish I had! I did enjoy some of the other trails around the meadow though. (See the trail map in the photos) The meadow itself was pretty large and more than able to serve us and our neighbors who were six in number with two large tents and a wagon full of coolers and gear.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get the products to test from time to time. On this trip to the Narrows Reserve, I tested out the Primus Campfire Cookset - Large. I give this cookset a 5/5. I’ve only used it thrice; twice outside my hotel room because I’m tired of microwave food and once at the campsite. Here are some of my thoughts on the set:
(Also for a review of the Primus Onja stove, check out Ranger Asher's review here: https://thedyrt.com/camping/alabama/alabama-brushy-lake-campground/review/11547))
I was trying to get backcountry permits for Grand Teton National Park for the Solar Eclipse, but that didn't work out and a (NPS) Ranger mentioned Alaska Basin. She said was was an incredible hike and bordered the park so you could do a day hike/summit of a mountain all without permits. So I looked into it. And she was not wrong. Alaska Basin is such a beautiful area. Wildflowers were everywhere. The trail was well worn and maintained very well.
The particular weekend I was there was evidently the busiest it ever is because of the Solar Eclipse, but I never felt crowded at all. Even though we did walk past plenty of tents and other campers, my site was fairly secluded and no one bothered us at all. There were plenty of creeks/lakes to get water from and plenty of potential bear bagging trees. Overall, this place was incredible.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - on this trip I tested out some Mountain House Foods. Specifically for dinner we devoured some Italian Style Pepper Steak, some Sweet & Sour Pork, and even had some New York Style Cheesecake Bites for desert. We probably overate a little bit, but it was all delicious! After a hards day work of hiking it was nice to just sit back, relax, and make some dinner. Oh wait, by make the dinner I meant to say boil some water, wait 10 min or so, and devour some delicious food. It was simply very convenient. I can't even decide which flavor was my favorite, but they were both very well seasoned and tasty. The Cheesecake Bites you could tell were freeze-dried but they were still very good. They kinda reminded me of that 'astronaut ice-cream' that you can find. Another plus to the Mountain House foods - no clean up! We didn't have to do any dishes, dig a sump-hole or anything. We just simply zipped the bags back shut and put them in the bear canister and voila off to bed we went!
Alright. I was planning on staying in Grand Teton National Park, but since it was the Thursday before the 2017 Solar Eclipse the Park was full. And I am glad it was. I decided to just drive down a Forest Service Road and ended up on FS 30165 in a valley with wonderful views of the Tetons. There was even a creek a short walk away where I could filter water. The site I picked out was around 8 miles (20 min) from the main paved road into the park and around 50 min from the Visitor Center. Since it is in bear country you need to make sure you have a bear proof cooler or store everything in your car. While I was there the NFS had placed a fire ban due to the sheer number of campers in the area for the eclipse, I believe that fires are allowed otherwise.
I put this pad through the ringer for sure. I used it no less than once per week during June, July, and the first half of August. It still looks good as new. This pad is incredibly comfortable for all types of sleeping positions. At an R-value of 4.4, it packs down to just slightly bigger than a Nalgene water bottle and weighs only 25 oz. The bag that it comes with is slightly oversized, which means that you can actually get it back in the bag with little issues every time even if your roll is slightly sloppy. It also comes with a patch kit so you can fix it in the field should an issue arise, not that I have ever needed it.
I can also attest to Klymit's customer service as well. Prior to getting the Insulated Static V, I owned one of the original Static V pads. That pad survived from 2012-2016 until the valve developed a slight leak. I contacted Klymit to check out their warranty. They told me pads are covered under a lifetime warranty and after shipping it back to them I received a brand new pad within 2-3 weeks if I'm remembering correctly. So not only are the products great, but they stand behind them too!
Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Timber Creek Campground is a first come first serve campground located 8 miles from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center. Timber Creek sites are $26 per night, which is on par with most National Parks that I have visited. It seemed like there were a ton of sites when I was there, some walk-in tent sites, some back in trailer sites, and a few pull through spots for small campers like the SylvanSport GO. Since this campsite is located in bear country, you need to store your food properly in the shared bear proof lockers provided by the NPS. Each site does include its own table and fire ring though. If I remember correctly, each loop had its own bathroom building with a sink on the outside for doing dishes and what not.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. At Timber Creek I tested the Brokk Shirt from Beyond Clothing. I give this shirt a 5/5 because this thing rocks. (PS, it’s also on clearance right now, so I’d go snag one if I were you!)
Here’s what makes it so great:
I visited Arrowhead Point with a very large group of campers and was blown away by how accommodating they were! The staff was incredibly nice and made sure we were having a great time. They have a small store where you can pick up items that you may have forgotten or run out off. (They have everything needed to make s’mores, that’s for sure. Right down to the roasting sticks.)
The facility is really large and mostly geared towards RV’s and campers it seems, but the tent sites near where we were appeared to be isolated and semi-private. In fact, trailers aren’t allowed up the steep hill at all. Up the steep hill also has portapotties, but a short walk down to the store gets you indoor plumbing. The bathrooms by the general store also offer pay showers.
This campground is close enough to Moab and Arches to be really convenient, but far enough and with enough sites to be a recluse if that's what you're looking for. Beautiful views and rock formations add to the draw.
I arrived on a Sunday around 3pm. Loop 2 had a few sites available, but only for one or two nights. Loop 1 had around three or four sites available. Be sure to make reservations if you can! I got lucky and was able to snag site 18 for two nights. It is in a curve of Loop 1, with the mountains to the back and the dunes to the side. Not too far from the bathroom or the trail. The bathrooms have specified dish washing sinks, which was very convenient. Bring your own soap of course, for the dishes and the bathroom. The bear proof lockers were plenty large enough to fit coolers and dishes. It snowed on me while I was there and was very windy!
The Oasis right outside the park was a nice place to stop and eat or grab some last minute supplies. The short drive to Zapata falls is also worth it!
I was camping in a SylvanSport GO which handled the snow like a champ. Some of my water spilled in the front storage of the GO, but they had already thought about that and put in a drain plug! You can even use that front storage as a cooler in a pinch! Check them out at https://www.sylvansport.com/
This campground was on a large recreation area that included some ATV trails, which was pretty cool! There were several different camping areas that you could choose from: the right side was used mostly by ATV riders, the left along the lake was nearly full, then there were some sites away from the lake in the trees. I chose to stay in the trees, because it had pull through sites, was shaded, and it was more secluded.
At first, it was hard to find the bathroom and fee drop off point: they are located at the campsites to the right that the ATV riders use. The showers are NICE! They even have hot water. It was really nice to get a warm shower.
I was camping in my SylvanSport GO and discovered that right next to the wheels is an excellent sport to place gear. The beds overhang there and keeps tubs mostly dry! Also, I found out that it is pretty nice to turn the trailer around before setting up, that way the door is facing the car. It makes it more convenient for short trips back and forth.
Check out SylvanSport at https://www.sylvansport.com/
On my cross country road trip I arrived later in the afternoon, I think it was around 4pm… I asked the lady at the front if they had any sites and if rain was in the forecast. She responded with, "Your guess is as good as mine, but if it does rain, the only campsite I have will flood." It did rain. It did flood my campsite. But luckily I had my SylvanSport GO and it was high and dry all through the night. It was also very windy, mainly due to the storm.
The campground was completely full, mostly of pull behind and in bed campers. If I'm not mistaken all sites have water and electricity, and for $19 a night, it's hard to beat. There's a playground at the entrance to the camping spots which was used by the families with smaller children. The only issue I can see, is there is only one shower at the campground, and it is at the end of the campsites.
If you want to see more of the SylvanSport GO, check out their website at: https://www.sylvansport.com/
The campground was alright. The majority of the sights were right on the riverside, but the neighboring road has heavy traffic. The camp host was also not at the campground when I "checked in" either…
Picked up a SylvanSport GO just around the corner and they suggested this spot. And what a good spot! Just walking around the campground is nice, but there's tons to do nearby too!