Carly E.
CT
Joined May 2017
Outdoor loving New Englander exploring all that our beautiful country has to offer. Blogging about my adventures at www.adventuresneaker.com
Convenient to Sedona hiking

We stayed here for one night, arrived on a weekday in late May and had no problem finding a site. Some sites are very close together, we found one with a level parking pad that was fairly secluded and was perfect.

Toilets are vault toilets (well kept and clean when we stayed), and there is drinking water available Throughout the campground. They even had buckets hanging from these to use for putting out your campfire. There is a small camp store at the entrance for supplies, and firewood is available for purchase. There are also token operated showers.

The campground is right off of 89A, our site was away from the road and was very quiet. There was a nice view of the red rock behind us. It is convenient to many other local parks and hiking, including slide rock and West fork. It is a quick ride into the downtown area of Sedona as well, and less than an hour to Flagstaff.

Spacious sites in the pines

Campground was beautiful, spacious sites with nice level paved parking pad and tent pad. Our site was among the pines bordering a meadow. Each site had a fire pit and picnic table. Campground had wood for sale, clean bathrooms, and pay showers located near the host sites. Sites aren’t private, but we didn’t feel on top of our neighbors either. The Arizona trail passes through near the entrance of the campground, so there is trail access for hiking/biking nearby.

Ranger Review: Liquid IV hydration at Havasu Falls/Havasupai Reservation

Campground Review

Backpacking into and camping in the Havasupai reservation was a bucket list camping trip for me and my friends, and we loved it!  Getting the permit is tricky - it is all online now, and they go on sale on February 1.  It sells out in minutes (there were issues with the website this year, so it took an hour of refreshing as the site crashed, but I was lucky enough to get a permit).  If you don't have luck on the initial sale, check back at the havasupaireservations.com site;  there is now an area where you can buy trips that other people have cancelled, so there's still hope to get a trip in if you miss the initial sale.  It is not a cheap trip either, costing at least $100 per person per night.  

We slept at the trailhead (in a campervan).  In warm weather, start the hike in EARLY - the majority of the hike is a very gradual grade through the canyon, but there is little to no shade once the sun is up over the canyon wall, and no water along the route.  There are pack mules that you can use to transport gear, but the welfare of these animals has been called into question in the past.  I would recommend training, preparing, and backpacking your gear in/out.  Bring some cash;  in case of an emergency, you can arrange for a mule while you are at the campground, to carry things out for you if for some reason you are physically unable to do it.    You'll also want to spring for a fry bread (basically a fried dough-like delight) at the little hut at the top of the hill at Havasu Falls. 

The campground is 2 miles from the small village of Supai.  The campground itself runs about a mile from the beginning (near the base of Havasu falls) to the top of Mooney falls.  There are no reserved sites, choose one when you get there.   There are sites along the edge of the creek on each side (cross the small wooden bridges), and then sites behind these on each side further from the water.  The sites along the creek are definitely more shaded and cooler.  There are plenty of spots for hammocks.  No campfires, but camp stoves are allowed (we used a jetboil).    Be mindful of other campers - we saw a large group arrive one evening and completely overtake a couple's small campsite, basically just setting up all of their tents all around them and pushing them out.  Not a very nice way to make friends with fellow campers.  

The hike down the cliff/ladders to Mooney Falls and on to Beaver falls was awesome!  There are no marked trails but it is pretty easy to follow, and you are in a canyon so you really can't get lost.  We didn't have the best of weather for our first and second day, so we decided not to hike to the confluence.  Looking back on it, I wish we had!  If you are a strong hiker, go for it.

Store your food in a critter-proof container;  we put ours in a ratsack and suspended it from paracord, and it stayed safe and untouched.   We saw lots of squirrels hanging from people's bags, they are relentless!

If you crave peace and solitude - you won't find it in the campground here.  Sites are close together, and the way to get to the trails, bridges, water spring, and bathrooms is often by cutting through a campsite;  don't be surprised to have people walking through your site to get from point A to point B.  

The water source is a spring.  We rolled the dice and didn't filter our water and it was fine.  If you are worried about it at all, bring some type of gravity filter to set up at your site after filling up with water!  We brought two 4L hydrapak collapsible jugs (for 4 people) and filled these a few times, in addition to our backpack hydration bladders.  This worked out very well and the jugs were easy to store hiking in and out.  

Product Review

As a ranger for the Dyrt, I get to test out some products from time to time.  For this trip I was able to try out some Liquid IV hydration multiplier drink mix.  This is a powder electrolyte mix that helps increase your body's ability to hydrate better than taking plain water.   In hot conditions, replacing lost electrolytes is key to avoiding dehydration (and conversely, hyponatremia if you are taking in too much plain water).  Essentially, it uses the way our body transports electrolytes/nutrients and water across our cells to help enhance hydration.  From their website - "Liquid I.V.’s Hydration Multiplier is a great-tasting, Non-GMO electrolyte drink mix that utilizes the breakthrough science of Cellular Transport Technology (CTT)™ to deliver hydration to your bloodstream faster and more efficiently than water alone. 1 Liquid I.V. can provide the same hydration as drinking 2-3 bottles of water."  

I ordered a variety pack of single serving "sticks" to try out, in Lemon-Lime, passion fruit, and acai berry.   The single packets were convenient, but if traveling with them be sure to double bag them - a couple of mine broke open in transit, luckily I had them in plastic bags so nothing ended up coated in sticky powder.   It looks as though all of their packaging is in individual portions, which also increases the amount of trash you will produce;  something to keep in mind if hiking or camping. 

I found the recommended dilution to be way too strong, flavor-wise.  I diluted it significantly, and it was drinkable, but not my favorite.  The mix is flavored with stevia, which I just don't happen to care for.  If you don't mind stevia, these are a great option for hydration in hot weather, or to replace lost fluids after a GI illness (traveler's diarrhea, anyone?).   All of the flavors were decent, didn't love or hate them (again - just not a big stevia fan, so I wasn't going to love any of them).  I was happy to have some of this mix on our hike out of the canyon though, the last mile up the switchbacks was very steep and hot.    

I think this mix is great for replacing fluid losses if you are sweating a lot, or with an illness.  It has a pretty high sodium and potassium content, on par with drink mixes used for oral rehydration in the setting of dehydration, not necessarily with light exercise or routine hydration use.    For most people, nutrition and electrolyte mixes are a trial and error, so I would recommend giving these a try if you 1.  Need something for fluid replacement in the setting of dehydration or excessive sweat/fluid losses and 2.  Don't mind the taste of stevia as a sweetener.

Ranger Review: Aftershokz Trekz Air Headphones at South Campground Zion

Campground Review

South campground is located within Zion National Park.  The campground used to be first come, first serve but is now reservable, with sites opening on a rolling basis two weeks in advance.  This is great for a semi-spontaneous trip at a busy time of year - a little advance planning, but your site doesn't  have to be booked months in advance.

The campground is best suited for tents and smaller trailers/RVs/van setups… larger rigs should seek out Watchman campground next door.   

This is a National Park campground.  The sites are pretty close together, amenities are minimal, and it is busy.  The convenience of staying in the park and walking to the shuttle is worth it;  at least you eliminate parking and waiting to get into the park.

The campground has bathrooms (reasonably clean), drinking water, and dumpsters for trash.  Each site has a picnic table and fire ring.  Some sites are tent only, and you have to walk your tent and gear into the site.  I highly recommend checking out the campsite photos online to see which sites would work best for your equipment, especially if you have a camper or van.  Not all of the parking pads for the sites are level.   

We stayed at site 13 on our first night (close to the road) and site 82 for two nights.  Site 82 is a great site, level parking area and right off the Pa'rus trail (paved walking trail that leads to a shuttle stop and the visitor's center).  If you don't like the thought of people walking or biking by your site frequently, sites along the path might not be for you - it didn't bother us at all.  There was a path to the river right across from our site as well, which was a nice place to relax.   The views were outstanding!  We walked to Zion Brewery for a beer and to Zion Outfitters for a shower before flying home.  Showers were $4 for 5 minutes and were pretty nice.  It is a decent walk over there (past the visitor center and over the bridge into Springdale - I think it was close to a mile from our site).   

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Product Review

As a ranger for the Dyrt, I am lucky to get to test products from time to time.  At this campground I tested the Trekz Air Headphones by Aftershokz.  

I LOVE these headphones.  I had been in the market for a wireless pair after upgrading my phone and gps watch.  I rarely use headphones, mostly because in-ear headphones tend to irritate my ears, and I find them distracting when I'm running, etc.  I had been looking at these when I was offered the chance to test them out, what great luck!

These headphones work by using bone conduction technology.  Instead of ear buds obstructing your ear canal, the headphones rest in front of your ears and the sound is conducted through the bone.  The result is good sound quality without losing sense of your surroundings.   There is a pair of soft earplugs included;  using these eliminates the ambient surrounding noise and makes the headphone sound louder and more isolated.

The headphones are very lightweight and fit comfortably.  I didn't feel them at all when running, and was able to wear them with a hat and sunglasses.  I have long hair, and I was able to loop the back both over and under my braid/ponytail and it stayed put securely both ways.   I used them for some running and hiking;  the sound quality was excellent and I could easily hear and interact with people when I ran on the busy Pa'rus path in Zion;  no getting startled by cyclists or faking a weird smile when someone says something to me as I run by… I could hear everything!    I have not yet tested the limits of the battery life, but they stayed charged through a few hours of use on the trip and during a 2 hour movie on the flight home.   The pairing instructions were easy to follow and I had them paired to my phone and my garmin in seconds.  I can't recommend these enough!!

Great camping, close to Asheville with awesome mountain biking trails

We stayed here on a road trip for a trail race in Brevard in early December. Campground was fairly empty. Site was spacious, with a fire ring and picnic table. Bathroom facilities were great, with free hot showers. Close proximity to Asheville, with its many restaurants and breweries, and very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway as well. We used this as a jumping off point to do some hiking along the blue ridge, with some local beers afterward.

The campground is in the Bent Creek experimental forest, which has some really great trails for mountain biking, hiking, and trail running. We have mountain biked here before and loved it. We didn't check out much of the lake, as it was cold when we were there. Really liked this campground!

Smokemont Campground - National Park in the off season

We stayed for one night, on a weeknight in early December. The campground was completely deserted (one other camper came in the evening, there were only two of us there!). Most of the campground is shut down during that time. Bathroom was open, with cold water. Water was available at the spouts. Sites are very close together for the most part, typical of most National Park Service car camping campgrounds.

Campground is along a creek, and there were some sites right along the water. Nice little trail across from our site that we explored. You must buy heat treated wood locally (we found some easily in nearby Cherokee).

Campground is close to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and we had the luck of seeing a heard of Elk in the field at the center on our way in! The road through the park shut down the night we were there due to snow and ice in the higher elevations, so keep weather in mind when visiting in the colder months; if you are planning to drive all the way through the park, you might not be able to. Same goes for the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, which was still shut down in many areas for clearing after an ice storm a week or two before we got there.

Ranger Review: Escape Campervans at Davidson River Campground

Campground Review

Davidson River is a really nice campground located in the Pisgah National Forest in Brevard. There are several sites that are right along the river. There is a short walking trail within the camgpground, and the Art Loeb trail starts right at the beginning of the campground as well. There are miles and miles of hiking/running and mountain biking trails in the surrounding area, as well as numerous waterfalls. The campground is less than a mile from The Hub bike shop/Pisgah Tavern, a great bike shop offering rentals also, and several breweries are nearby - check out Ecusta and Oskar Blues!

Our site was very spacious. We stayed in Late November/ early December, so there weren't leaves on the trees but the site was still pretty private. There are only 3 loops of the campground open in the off season. The bathroom facility for the loop was open and there were showers (free and hot) and the camp host was very friendly and helpful and had firewood for sale. Campground was very quiet. Very convenient starting point for trail adventures in the area! Campground was quiet in the off season, but definitely not empty.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - I was lucky enough to be able to take an Escape Campervan out on a camping road trip for a trail race that started at this campground.

Escape Campervans have become my favorite way to travel! The vans are small enough to maneuver in cities and to trailheads, and can be parked in a normal parking spot. Click here to see the different models they offer. There is something for everyone! The vans include….

  • A kitchen area in the back, with a 2 burner propane stove, sink (5 gallon fresh water tank), and a drawer fridge. Dishes, pots, pans included. Just pull up, hop out, and get cooking! The dometic drawer fridge is fantastic, keeps things super cold and can fit a TON! (way more than it looks).
  • Seats inside fold down to a bed. Add a rooftop tent to the top and bring your friends! (or just sleep up top, and don't worry about converting the seats to a bed. Both beds are really comfortable, and the ladder up to the rooftop sleeper is super easy to use. Bedding included (sheets, pillows, and duvet with cover).
  • Plenty of extras. You can add on (for additional cost) and e-z up tent/awning, small picnic table, bike rack, rooftop tent, and more.

We have traveled as a couple and a group of four adults, and had an awesome time. The vans fit in anywhere. From boondocking in the wilderness to established campgrounds or RV parks, pull up, park, and have fun!

I really can't recommend Escape Campervans enough. From adventurous singles/couples to small families, they are the BEST way to explore.

For more pictures and a more in-depth tour of the Mavericks version of the van, check out one of my blog posts here: http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/01/04/escape-campervan-review/

Ranger Review: Wild Zora Foods at Camden Hills State Park

Campground Review

We have been coming to Camden Hills and the midcoast Maine area for years, and we love this park. We have camped, hiked, and mountain biked here many times.

The camping area has different loops. Sites 1-50(ish) are more wooded, sites in the upper loop for the most part are more open and field-like. Some sites are reservable, some are first come first serve. Be aware of events in the area (lobster fest, etc) as well as holiday weekends - the park books up quickly in nice weather.

The park itself has some great hiking/running trails, including Mount Battie (accessible by auto road also) and Mount Megunticook. Not huge peaks by any means, but the trails up (especially Megunticook) are challenging rocky/rooty New England trails. Both offer beautiful views over Camden Harbor and Megunticook Lake. Mount Battie also has a tower at the top which is fun to check out!

The campground was very clean, and the staff very accommodating (on one of our stays we ended up in a more open site in hot summer weather. We were able to easily switch the next day when some campers moved out of the first come first serve sites in the more wooded loop.

The area is beautiful and full of great things to do. Across the street from the camping area are some trails and and picnic areas along the ocean. Downtown Camden is a fun town with great restaurants, coffee shops, and a beautiful harbor with boat tours and kayak rentals. Head south to Rockland and Owls Head for the transportation museum, or head north to Belfast (don't miss Marshall Wharf Brewing). There is some amazing mountain biking at the nearby Camden Snow Bowl and adjacent Ragged Mountain Preserve.

Product Review

As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. On this trip I tested some bars and a backpacking meal from Wild Zora. Wild Zora is a line of paleo bars (meats and veggies) and dehydrated meals - see their website FAQ here for more info on the company and their products!

I had a variety pack of their meat and veggie bars as well as some paleo meals to try out. I have been snacking on the bars during hikes, as well as after a run and for a quick snack during busy times at work when I don't have time to get a full meal. The consistency of the bars is great - just chewy enough, and very satisfying. The flavors are interesting combinations and I haven't had any that I didn't like (parmesan beef was probably my least favorite, I really enjoyed all the others). We also tried out the Palisade Pineapple Mango meal to go for breakfast. The meals and bars have a good amount of calories in them - perfect for fueling before/during/after hiking, biking, etc. while camping. They also pack and travel well - stuff into a pack easily while hiking, but can also be thrown into a carry on for plane travel, etc - just add some water or open your bar and you have a healthy alternative during a long flight to your adventure destination.

My husband and I shared the Pineapple Mango meal as a snack with our coffee - it was tasty and filling. I liked the nutty taste and there was a lot of fruit in it (we had the older version, slightly bigger pouch with more calories). If I was fueling for backpacking or a long run/hike/bike the whole pouch would be perfect, over 600 calories in the older version, and 520 in the new pouches.

I would highly recommend Wild Zora as a fueling option for an active camping adventure. Interesting flavors and quality foods that are paleo friendly. My only improvement would be to see a couple of vegetarian meals to go incorporated into the lineup. I eat vegetarian most of the time and my husband is a vegetarian, so there weren't a whole lot of options to share with him that I could choose.

Ranger Review: RoM Pack at Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Campground Review

We stopped at Pine Grove Furnace State Park for a little camping break on a drive to Virginia for a family vacation. What a great spot! We got the last available campsite for the night we stayed - I booked ahead of time by calling the campground office and they were very nice and helpful.

We stayed in site 29. It was nice and level with a large parking pad that could accommodate a camper or trailer. There's also a level tent pad if you are tenting, it, and a picnic table and fire pit. We were right at the intersection near the campground entrance and one of the other loops, but it wasn't noisy at all. The drinking water was right next to our site, which was handy. Bathrooms were close by and were fairly clean, and showers were free. There was firewood for sale at the host site, and the camp host was very friendly.

The park has two lakes for swimming, with a rail trail that separates them, so they are easily bikeable. There are some great trails for running/hiking - the park is the halfway point on the Appalachian Trail! We did a very nice run from our campsite out to the scenic viewpoint on top of Pole Steeple (about 7ish miles). The lake is great to jump in and cool off after a summer run. The park is also just north of the expansive Michaux State Forest, which has miles of trails for ATVs, biking, hiking/running.

The Park also has an old iron furnace (hence the name) with historical information about it. There is an Appalachian trail museum, which was very neat to check out, and the old Ironmaster's Mansion serves as a hostel and event venue. There is a well stocked camp/park store at the entrance.

Cell service is pretty much nonexistent in the campground, so keep this in mind if you can't be out of touch (we had Verizon). We loved our stay here, and would definitely go back.


Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the RoM Pack by RoM Outdoors. This is a pack that unfolds completely to serve as a blanket, and can also be used as an emergency poncho in inclement weather.

What I liked about the pack:

  1. It seems like it would be difficult to unfold and then re-fold back into the pack, but it is actually very easy. I did it once with the instructions, and then was able to do it multiple times after that without them. The instructions were easy to follow.
  2. there is a drawstring bag that comes with the pack, and the two outer pouches are removable as well, so you have a place to put your stuff if you're unfolding the pack.
  3. The material is very thick and durable, and weather resistant. In a prolonged downpour I think it would eventually soak through, but it would offer pretty good protection for a quick shower (or a little snow!)

What I think could be better

  1. The sizing - I have a small build, and with the straps tightened all the way it was still very big/loose on me. The material is pretty heavy, so even empty it sagged down some. With anything of substance in the pack it wasn't very comfortable because it pulled away from my back.
  2. When opened as a blanket, the plastic buckles are underneath the material. You have to be careful about what kind of surface you are putting it down on, and I wouldn't walk on it, etc - these definitely have the potential to break.

These packs are a very interesting concept, and I can see a variety of uses, particularly for people who may be out in the woods in one place for an extended period of time and don't need to carry a lot of gear in the bag (hunters come to mind for sure). I don't think this would be comfortable to do any real hiking with, but would make a great picnic bag or bag for festivals or sporting events where you can take your stuff out of it and spread out for the day.

Redwoods Camping near Anderson Valley Wine

We stayed at Hendy Woods for one night in early October. What a beautiful campground! Nestled under a redwood forest with great running/hiking trails in the park. Very close to multiple wineries (we visited 3) as well as Anderson Valley Brewing Company (fun local craft brewery, beer was good and a fun outdoor seating area.

Campground was clean, not busy at the time we were there so plenty of privacy and peace and quiet. Bathrooms were clean, water close to our site, and there were showers available which was nice. We did a trail run on the trails right in the park and it was so much fun! So cool to run around all of those big trees. Found the tree home of the "Hendy Hermit", a man who had lived inside a tree "fort" in the hendy woods many years ago and was somewhat of a local legend. Highly recommend this campground. This was a perfect stop as we headed down the coast from Mendocino. The drive there is beautiful, past a whole bunch of wineries.

Secluded Camping near Mendocino

We stayed one night here in early October, after exploring the Mendocino area on a campervan road trip. Campsite was quiet and secluded, lots of trees so was pretty quiet and private. Clean bathrooms, drinking water was right next to our site. There were hiking trails right nearby, but sadly we arrived fairly late and were leaving the next morning so we didn't get to do much exploring. Area was pretty damp so a little chilly because of that. there were giant yellow banana slugs all over, which was pretty neat to see. Site had a picnic table and fire ring. Lots of open sites when we arrived (mid week in early Fall), no reservation needed. Convenient to explore Mendocino/Fort Bragg area, we took a walk around Mendocino and visited the glass beach. I would like to go back and explore the hiking there!

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/03/23/california-road-trip-days-7-8-9-bodie-historic-ghost-town-lake-tahoe-russian-gulch-state-park/

Gorgeous Views of Lake Tahoe, Rubicon Trail

We stayed here for 2 nights in October, just before they shut down for the season. I can imagine this place must be HOPPING in the Summer, but when we stayed it was peace and quiet and deserted!! So fantastic. We got a site right along the lake (stairs to the beach were just adjacent to our site) and there were only 2 other people in the entire campground.

Site was large, with picnic table, fire pit, and bear box to store and protect food. Bathrooms were clean, flush toilets, and hot showers that were token operated (buy tokens at check in area). The showers were only open every other day to conserve water when we were there as it wasn't busy. Firewood for sale, and drinking water easily accessible. We were told a bear had been seen in the campground just the day before, we didn't see any though. Plenty of trees for our hammock. Sunset over the lake was beautiful!

We did a trail run on the Rubicon trail (right from the campground) out to Vikingsholm and back. Very cool! Vikingsholm had closed just before we arrived so we couldn't tour the building itself, wish we could have done that.

Plenty of peace and quiet around the area since it was off season and pretty chilly (20s-30s at night). We loved Lake Tahoe and this campground, and can't wait to go back and properly explore the area more!

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/03/23/california-road-trip-days-7-8-9-bodie-historic-ghost-town-lake-tahoe-russian-gulch-state-park/

Peaceful lakeside camping walking distance to town

We really enjoyed June Lake Campground! Stayed there for one night on our way out of Yosemite. The drive around the lake is beautiful and there are multiple camping areas. We stayed on a weeknight in October, so had no trouble getting an open spot without needing a reservation. The fall foliage was very pretty. Campsite was nice, large and level and tucked into the trees, so felt private and secluded. Some spots were right adjacent to the water as well. No showers, bathrooms with flush toilets. Drinking water and wash station were available.

Short walk into town with a couple of restaurants and shops. We had some beers at June Lake Brewing company which was just a short walk away -highly recommend stopping in there. Dog friendly, very nice place with good beer! I would definitely stay at June Lake again.

Quiet, close to Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Grove and start of Tioga Road

We stayed one night here in early October after spending 4 nights camping right in Yosemite Valley. This campground is about 40 minutes from the valley and at a higher elevation (6200 feet). It was fairly quiet and wooded (some sites were more private than others). Toilets were clean, drinking water easily accessible. Our site was pretty big, but the parking area wasn't super level (we were in a campervan). This was a very convenient site for a stopover on our way out of Yosemite, we explored the Valley some more before settling in here for the night, and then in the morning headed out Tioga Road with a stop at the Tuolumne sequioia grove. Sites have bear boxes (use them to secure all of your food!!), fire rings (it was very chilly, we made good use of this at night and again in the morning over breakfast), and picnic tables. Crane Flat doesn't have the dramatic scenery of Yosemite Valley, and no hiking directly from the camping area, but it was a nice spot to camp for the night. Not a bad place to stay if you are exploring different areas of Yosemite, it is easy to drive out toward Tuolumne Meadows or head south to other areas of the park. Site was $26 for the night.

Convenient Location In Yosemite Valley

We stayed here for a night after hiking Half Dome (stayed the previous 3 nights at Lower Pines and were lucky enough to get a spot here for a 4th night after our hike). Busy campground - don't expect privacy and solitude. Stay here for the location and use it as a base camp to explore the Valley; it doesn't get any easier to get around and still have a camping experience!

No showers, showers are available at nearby Half Dome Village. Convenient access to water. Bathrooms were clean. Sites were decent size and had fire pits and bear boxes for food (be sure to use them!). Open sites, little to no privacy, you will see and hear your neighbors. Expect and embrace that.

Easy access to trailheads for hiking and exploring. Rent or bring your bike if you are able - that is by far the best way to get around Yosemite Valley. I would stay here again, simply for the convenience of not having to drive/shuttle in to the Valley to hike, etc.

Perfect Home Base for Exploring Yosemite Valley

The Yosemite Valley campgrounds are large and busy - it's an extremely popular park, and Lower Pines is right in the heart of things. Don't expect silence and solitude if you are staying here. That being said, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Lower Pines. We camped for 3 nights in a camper van (switched to Upper Pines for a 4th night). Reservations are hard to come by; we got very lucky and reserved our spot only a couple of weeks before our trip (traveling in the Fall helped some).

Site was large with a bear box to store food - be sure to use this and store food safely! The rangers will warn you about the destruction bears can cause, and there are pictures posted all over to prove it. Our site had a large level parking pad (perfect for the campervan), picnic table, and fire ring. Awesome views of El Cap towering above us, at night you could see the lights from climbers up on the wall.

Bathrooms were clean, access to drinking water was easy. Park shuttle is nearby and easy to get around. Half Dome Village was a short walk/shuttle ride with access to food, stores (got some tenacious tape to repair a hole in a hydration bladder, saving our hiking!) and showers (for a fee). They had rental bikes which we used for a day to explore the path around the Valley. Trails were very close, we did a lot of hiking/trail running and were able to get a permit for Half Dome as well which was awesome! We were there in late September/early October - Yosemite Falls was dry and the other waterfalls are much lower that time of year, something to keep in mind if seeing the waterfalls roaring is in your itinerary.

All of our nearby campers were very polite and friendly. Yes, this is a "tourist" type campground, not a backcountry or dispersed site in the middle of nowhere. Everyone is there to experience Yosemite Valley in their own way. We found it to be fairly quiet and enjoyed checking out other people's camping setups and chatting with them while walking around, etc. We didn't find that to be a negative experience at all.

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/01/23/california-road-trip-days-1-2-san-francisco-to-yosemite/

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/01/25/california-road-trip-day-3-yosemite-hiking-4-mile-trail-panorama-trail-mist-trail/

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/02/06/california-road-trip-day-4-half-dome/

VIEWS! Close to Dillon, Frisco, and Breckenridge

Prospector is one my favorite camping experiences I have ever had! We were headed from Moab to Denver and had a few camping areas on our radar. We chose this at random and were lucky enough to get a site for a Friday and Saturday night overlooking the reservoir. Some wildflowers were blooming and the views of the mountains and water were out of this world! We were in site 54; the site across from us (53) is the best site in the whole place; very large site up above the water with unobstructed views. Sites 51, 53, 55, and 58 are all set up above the water and were really nice sites. All of the sites were pretty large and spread out so they weren't on top of each other. A beetle infestation had led to deforesting of the area apparently, so there weren't many mature trees. The upside was being able to take advantage of the views. Sites had a picnic table and fire pit. Vault toilets, no showers. Potable water spouts were spread around (our site happened to be right next to one, which was convenient). The sites in our loop were set high above the water, with a trail that led down to and along the reservoir. Firewood available for purchase there, and the camp hosts were very nice! It is a bear area, so be sure to secure food. We were told some moose were around down by the water as well, but we didn't see any wildlife.

We went into Frisco (what a great town!! - if you like craft beer don't miss Outer Range Brewing co), and hiked in Breckenridge (Mohawk Lakes Trail), stopped in to walk around Breckenridge and had beers there after our hike.

Prospector sits at 9,000 feet elevation, so be prepared for that! Nights and mornings were chilly but not bad (mid June).

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/11/14/las-vegas-to-denver-road-trip-fruita-frisco-and-breckenridge-colorado/

Amazing Views, great state park camping close to Moab, Arches, Canyonlands

We LOVED Dead Horse Point State Park. Reserved a site here for two nights to explore the park itself, as well as nearby Moab. We were lucky to get a reservation!! The sites were fairly private given the lack of trees, etc. Each site had a covered picnic table area and a pantry that locked shut. We made the mistake of leaving a styrofoam cooler out when we went hiking - the Ravens pecked it to shreds!!! Warning - don't leave ANYTHING out. We didn't see the signs warning of this until afterward, oops!

The sites have a level tent pad area, as well as a fire pit. Access to the rim trail around the canyon is right off the campground and is well worth the hike - beautiful views!! Bathrooms were clean and there was a dishwashing sink station at it as well which was handy. Each campsite had an electrical hookup. Seemed a mix of some RV's, campervans, and tents. Very quiet at night. The sunset was spectacular, and the night sky there was the most beautiful I have ever seen!! The dark desert skies and elevation on a clear night was just amazing. We sat out for hours around our campfire stargazing. Canyonlands is very close, and Moab/Arches is a pretty short drive. We were on a tight timeframe, so we only had time to explore Dead Horse Point itself after arriving from Bryce Canyon, and Moab/Arches the next day. I definitely want to come back out to explore Canyonlands, and will probably include a stop back at this park/campground!

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/11/11/two-days-in-moab-day-one-dead-horse-point-state-park/

Nice Camping in Bryce Canyon

We stayed here for one night in mid June. We had a reservation ahead of time, but I don't think the campground was completely full. We stayed in a campervan in B loop (B267). It was very chilly when we were there, temps got down to the 30s at night! Our site was nice, basic campsite. Parking pad wasn't completely level so it was a little tough with the campervan. We made good use of the fire pit with the cold weather. Easy walk across the street to get onto the trails leading around the rim of the canyon as well as in the canyon. We did a trail run/hike on the Navajo, Peekaboo, and Queens Garden loop which was really beautiful. What a unique place!! We didn't need to use park shuttles, etc. as we were only there for a day and spent most of it hiking. Bryce is at around 8,000 feet in elevation, something to keep in mind as it will affect the temperatures as well as breathing! We are from Connecticut and I was huffing and puffing a bit to acclimate. Bathrooms were basic, clean. No showers. I would recommend staying here to explore Bryce, it was conveniently situated and met our needs well!

http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/10/29/24-hours-in-bryce-canyon/

Scenic Campground steps from Zion Shuttles

We stayed at Watchman Campground for 2 nights in early June at the beginning of a campervan road trip, sites C022 and C004. The campground was spotless and beautiful, flanked by rock formations. Our loop was tent sites. Both sites were large with nice level parking pads and level areas for pitching a tent if you are tenting it. Fire pits and picnic tables at each site. The views were stunning, especially at sunset. Campground was very open with a lot of sites (typical of most National Park campground from what I've found). Not a lot of privacy but campground was pretty quiet. Quick walk to the visitor's center to get the shuttle into the park, and walking distance to Zion Brewery as well! Sites were $20 per night and fill up quickly, we reserved ahead of time. Bathrooms were clean, water access was convenient. Not the campground to choose if you want solitude and to get away from it all - but if you want a fun camping experience with easy park access, Watchman is perfect!! We drove out and day hiked the Subway on our first day, and on the second day took the shuttle out to hike Angel's Landing and the Narrows.