Brittany H.
Solana Beach, CA
Joined May 2018
Camping, dogs, hiking, bikes, dancing...throw in the occasional beer, shine or whiskey and you've pretty much summed me up!
Ranger Review: RōM Pack at Observatory Palomar Mountain

Campground Review:

In full disclosure I booked this site 2 months in advance, which to me would mean my choice of sites. Not the case at all. Summer camping is very different than winter camping, maybe I'll remember that next year. I reserved the very last space available. An ADA compliant space. The recreation website clearly stated that I was able to book it if it was the last space. Honestly, I didn't know what that would mean exactly so when we arrived it was a bit of a surprise.

The entire section around the table and the fire ring is cement (Duh! Use your brain Britt, of course it is!) and the table had an over hang section for a wheel chair to pull up. None of those I was camping were actually in need of an ADA camp sight so we used the extra over hang to protect the coolers from the sun. Turned out to be an unexpected perk. Not to mention being able to walk around barefoot without getting dirt everywhere and not worrying about any sparks that escaped the fire.

The tent and everything else was on flat dirt like what I am used to when going camping at various camp sites so not much to report on that.

The spaces are fairly close together. At the next site over there was what appeared to be a youth group and we could all clearly see and hear the movie they were projecting onto a sheet. Not a bother for us, I'm just giving reference on how close the spaces are to one another.

There is some shade. I would say we were one of the lucky ones. We had shade until about 11:30am and then it was HOT. The weather was around 85 degrees but luckily my handy dandy ezUp protected us while we all hung out. Sites on the other side of the grounds were not so lucky. They got full sun as soon as it came out. Brutal when it's that hot.

There is a hike off of the campground. We took off at 7am to try and beat the heat since we were with our dogs and we wanted to get some exercise with them while it was still cool. About a 1/2-1 mile in our Frenchie was not having it so unfortunately we had to turn around because it was already heating up quite a bit. Our companions continued on the hike. Their advice: bring lots of water, and snack for the top, and good shoes. They reported that the top was totally worth it (you can drive there too) and that the hike itself was pretty rigorous. I'll have to take their word for it, we never did make it up there.

I did find a nice tree to read under for a bit and cool off. There's just something about camping, laying in the grass and reading that all go so well together.

While I am not a bird watcher, this campground is known for there multitude of birds. I saw some blue bird with a mohawk on the top of its head…still haven't looked it up to find out what kind of bird it was, but hey, I already said I'm not a big bird watcher. Just want all the bird people to know -- you'll be in bird heaven!

Update: my fellow ranger Ryan informed me that the bird is called a Stellar's Jay! Such a cool looking bird.

Product Review:

RōM Pack: A 3-in-1 system, the RōM Pack is a backpack you can fully transform into either a wearable poncho with a hood or a blanket that’s soft on one side and water resistant on the other.

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - on this camp trip I tested the RōM Pack.

This was my pack for the trip. Why bring any other luggage for a weekend camping? I packed all my clothes, dog toys, sunscreen and hit the road! The great thing about this bag is that the Inner Pack comes out so I was able to keep my clothes packed away when I went out on my adventures. As you can read from above, I did not have a wet trip…quite the opposite so I did not need the poncho feature for this particular excursion. However, the fact that it turns into a blanket became quite handy when I went to read in the grass. I was able to lay it out and use the outside pouch as my pillow.

There are 2 water bottle holders on the bag which also came in handy on our, I'll be it short, walk. There are also 2 little zippers on the backpack that were very useful for my small, easily lost, items such as ear buds, jewelry etc.

I think this pack makes a great weekend outdoors pack. It's perfect for grabbing some summer hiking clothes, your best fur pal and hitting the trails. You'll be ready for any element and you'll be able to stop for a picnic at a moments notice without having to have all of your belongings strewn about. They will remain tucked away in the Inner Pack while you convert the backpack into a poncho if you get caught in the rain, or a blanket if you feel like you need to take a break and eat your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The great thing is that the side that you sit on is incredibly soft and the other side on the ground doesn't collect all the dirt, leaves, or whatever else might be on a ground in a campground.

I don't know that I'll be back to this campground any time soon - so many campgrounds, so little time to see and camp at all of them!

Worth the drive

This campground I have dreams about! The drive in is very far, I think 14 miles from the main road and there are no reservations so it is definitely a gamble. SO WORTH IT!

spots are great, the beach has good waves and you can definitely feel the calm beach vibe and seclusion from being so far from the main road.

party!

This is the campground me and my friends like to go when we wanna get a large group and just get away. Its close enough to San Diego so it doesn’t have to be a long trip. The spaces are great and pretty private. Also a short drive to the Alpine Beer Co. which is always a must do stop.

Stopover!

this is an amazing campground. Stopped here on my way from San Diego to Portland and was very happy i did. The campground is adorable and it really helped feel like i was definitely out of the city. Lush greenery made it a campground I will definitely go back to.

Something special

This was my first time to Joshua Tree for camping and it was a special trip for me so aside from the weather and other hiccups on this trip - it's getting 5 stars because this was the trip that my boyfriend of 11 years proposed while we were camping.

Now that we're past the mushy stuff --

The campground came as a suggestion from a friend of mine who knew we were not looking for somewhere to rock climb (I know that is a big hobby out in Joshua Tree). Right off of the campground is a cute little 0.3 mile hike called Arch Rock, but just down the road are more dramatic and longer hikes. We chose Ryan Mountain which is 2.7 miles up and down and mildly exhausting depending on how often you hike I imagine. I ride bikes more than I hike mountains so my level of energy is quite low for hikes but once at the top had incredible views! Totally recommend it - just remember to take a ton of water if you're going in the summer time. It can get HOT. Luckily we went just after Thanksgiving so it was still rather nice weather during the day.

The rock formations within White Tank were incredible! Huge huge boulders and tons to explore. There's a ravine that was dry - no idea if this gets water in it but there was no water and we were able to wander down it for miles! Very picturesque for those who like those nature selfies.

The camp spaces are awesome and some are tucked further back where you would have to hike your stuff in just a bit, but then you get more privacy. I didn't get one of those spaces but we saw them as we were wandering around. When we showed up it was during probably 40 mile per hour winds and setting up our tent and cooking with my boyfriend who had a broken hand in a cast…well…those things were not fun but we hunkered down and by morning the wind had died down and we were able to enjoy the rest of our adventure.

I am looking forward to going back when the natural elements and broken bones (or lack thereof) are more in our favor.

El Prado / Laguna Campground

Let me start by saying - I have never been more in love with a campground than this one - okay maybe that's an exaggeration as I camp A LOT and all over the west coast BUT…this one is a short drive from my house and has everything I look for.

The camp sites are huge and you can have 8 people per site with 2 cars. There are 5 loops 2 of which are reservation based and the other 3 are first come first served. We shows up Friday morning early (paranoid about not getting a spot) and we had our pick of the loops but later that day the camp had filled up and was bustling with happy campers.

We stayed in the Sunny Loop which - is sunny for sure, but after walking around - I'm not sure it was more sunny than the Shady Loop (one of the loops that is reservation based).

Dog friendly is an understatement. If you've never been to this campground - it is attached to a GIANT meadow…meadow on meadow on meadow. Don't worry about getting lost (I had wifi the entire time). Although if you don't its good to remember that it makes a giant loop as well so just keep going in a circle, or go back the way you came :).

Mountain bikers everywhere, not so much that they were annoying just meaning that it's such a large space that there are people out enjoying the whole space. Everyone was respectful of sharing the pathways and we were able to let the dogs off leash to sniff the track all the way to the lakes (swamp? - don't think swimming, think - wow thats pretty! I'll stay out of the mud and on this rock).

I don't personally ride a mountain bike, but I did recently get a gravel bike and took that out for its maiden voyage. It was AWESOME! I did have to walk up or around a couple bigger rocks but for the most part it is what is called "flowy singly trek (track?)" or so I was told. I highly recommend it if you ride bikes at all. Speaking of biking - if you're into mountain biking and are fairly good at it Noble Canyon can be reached by forking right in the meadow and following the signs. Although, it is recommended to do what they call "shuttling" which means you leave a car at the parking lot of where you will end since it is a large downhill…don't worry everyone is doing this so you will only look like a bit of a newb if you do not do that. The parking lot is about 25 minutes from the campground so thats annoying but I heard well worth the trip through the canyon.

I went on about 5 hikes through the meadow in addition to looping it on my gravel bike and each time it was just as magical as the last time. Even had the joy of a waxing gibbons moon, or a 98.9% of a full moon, which was AWESOME because I insisted everyone take a night hike through the meadow.

All in all I definitely suggest checking out this campground. Fire pit, bathrooms, showers, table at each site and dog friendly trails.

Dripping Springs in March

Dripping Springs is a great campground for those looking to hike, mountain bike and take your dogs with you. Each site has a fire ring and table - toilets were clean (pit toilets) and the grounds maintained.

The campground itself has rather small spaces that are relatively close together but that doesn't really matter that much to me. It was more about the ability to bring dogs, take them on trails to get their exercise and find some other activities close by.

Right off of the campground is an insane hiking loop. While we were staying all these military looking people with gnarly backpacks (in other words - people who looked like they knew how to be outdoors and survive) kept running past our camp site. I finally figured out that the short walk I had done out and back was just a short bit of a 26 mile (if memory serves correctly) loop that these guys were using for training. Best part - the trail is completely dog friendly! It is rather surprising how many campgrounds that are dog friendly do not allow dogs on the trails…whats the point then? I digress…

Just down the road is the Vail RV park which is a crazy place to go wander around - I know I know, its not technically part of dripping springs BUT the mountain biking there is incredible and its just down the road! I say it gets to be included because if you're looking for a place to camp where you can go mountain biking, gravel riding, even motor biking (I think I even saw some ATV's) then you would still stay in the smaller Dripping Springs rather than head to the giant theme park style Vail RV park (especially if you're tent camping).

All in all the only reason I gave the campground 4/5 stars would be that I literally saw a site that I'm not even sure a tent could set up on…it was that small.