Into the Mystic (Trees)

Patrick's Point is always a favorite stop when cruising my way back down the West Coast. It's eerily beautiful to wake up among the Redwoods, where the morning mist hangs low & thick to mute most other camp noises. Facilities are well maintained & most other campers are quite considerate in the grounds. They even have site storage-boxes for your firewood & food. Each site is wonderfully private, enclosed by mystic trees.

If your stamina permits, the descent (and climb back up!) is worth the shakey-leg syndrome some might encounter at the point to the left of the campground. The tide pools are always magical; vultures and hawks float among the cliff sides in the coastal updrafts, the sea breeze carries echoes of the sea lions that dot the inaccessible offshore crags, anemones & barnacles & starfish (oh, my!) decorate the rocky shores.

The one improvement which could be made is more attentive rangers; there are some groups of folks who unfortunately don't understand, or blatantly disregard the necessity of "leave it better than you found it" (let alone the signs declaring how imperative it is to leave inhabitants of the tide pools where they are). We left early due to some people (adults!) terrorizing the tide pools, after reminding them of the sensitive ecosystem.

Overall, definitely a must-stay. Be sure you have what you need for camp cooking- markets aren't too close! Campground fire pits have a cooking grate to pivot over the fire for some good eats, water spigots easily accessible as well.

Southward-Bound Pt II

On the second leg of a trek down the Oregon Coast (read "Southward-Bound Pt I" at South Beach State Park in Newport, Or), Harris Beach was a coastal gem. About a 1.25mi walk from the town of Brookings (Oxenfrē Public House has a mouthwatering menu; Chetco Brewing has a newly opened tap room with GREAT micro brews & stellar staff!).

Campground was full & noisier than expected with MANY large groups/ families (folks there for, or in the midst of journeying north, for the eclipse). While the bathroom stalls do not exceed three, and the two sinks are close in quarter, the paths leading to the beach are a quick escape for campers seeking a wider berth from others.

There's a beach path for every type of person at this park. Some paths are quite narrow at certain points, some are paved all the way down to the sand; there's even a gravel/ dirt hybrid sunset trail for those just looking to stroll… Let me tell you though, exploring the beach will NOT disappoint! For all the coastal crags offshore, the panorama is breathtaking in every direction.

Overall, good for one or two nights. Decently maintained facilities.

Southward-Bound Pt I

After gallivanting through Central Oregon & Seattle, a coastal camping route along the way home (Sacramento, Ca) was sure to balance the 2,500mi road trip!

Having mapped out the trek in considerable advance, and after researching multiple state parks/ private campgrounds, South Beach State Park stood out for its proximity to the beach, surrounding nature trails, & it's shower facilities.

At first glance, using a reservation website with photos, the campsite view didn't impress much… Immediately upon pulling into the grounds, the park was gorgeous- lush green shrubs, subtle salty sea breeze, generous space between campsites, and the friendliest rangers ever encountered! Our site was flat, which is ideal when one's converted a vehicle into a camper (the Millennium Falcon is a Honda Element outfitted with a homemade, tri-folding loft bed platform).

For two road-weary travelers, access to the beach was just a 1/2 mile mellow nature path away. With the option of following a bark path through the campground- which eventually intersects with the multiple paved avenues to the grassy beach dunes- or merely sticking to the paved trail, the relaxing evening stroll was just right for stretching the legs before cooking dinner.

Overall, great firepits, flat tent sites, roomy between campers, excellently maintained facilities, easy access to dish cleaning/ dishwater disposal stations, beautiful park with miles of trails! Also, the hospitality station offers fat-bike rentals for beach riding, disc rentals for disc golf course, and local firewood for surprisingly reasonable prices.

Remember to always buy your wood on-site to deter the spread of invasive insects!

Watchmen: At the Foot of Ancient Giants

Zion was the second camping stop on an 8-day trip; we arrived after driving through the Mojave Desert from Black Rock Campground in the Yucca Valley of California. Just inside the entrance, to the right, is the historic Watchman Campground. Our site, at the base of the teardrop on C-loop, rested at the base of the awe-inspiring historic rock structures for which the campground gets its moniker.

The Campground itself was full during our stay, but as campers and outdoor-people alike understand etiquette, the environment was tidy & respectful with regard to noise. Walk towards the entrance of the Campground, beyond the shuttle station, to find the Watchman Trail; a 3.1mi round-trip of moderate terrain & about 400ft of elevation gain. Uphill one way, downhill on the return. The hike offers a progression of sweeping views of Zion Canyon accented by a color palate of wildflowers, sandstone, limestone, and the iron rich, striated walls which continue through the park. We were even lucky to share the trail with a large Mule Deer doe on the trail back down.

From evening, through sunset, and as the moon overtook the sky, the light display against the backdrop of stoic giants was mesmerizing! A must for quick campers on a drive-through to further destinations.

Joshua Tree; Sunset & Dawn

To kick off a week-long road trip through 6 states, Black Rock Campground was the first stop. As a native Californian seeing Joshua Tree for the first time, under a crisp Spring sunset, the undulating Yucca Valley did not disappoint! Arriving merely two hours before sunset allowed for enough time to set up "camp" in the Element & hike a mile or so up a nearby mini-mountain for sunset. It's all we had; sunset & the desert moon. Knowing an impending departure time of 0700 for Zion crept closer and closer, time stood still atop our solely inhabited mountain.

Sweeping views of the valley, elder Joshua Trees scattered about, and the sporadic desert cactus flower offered a surreal landscape painting. The trees by moonlight's veil presented Black Rock as a different world than that gilded by glow of the setting sun. A chilly desert wind softly rattled the spindly agave family trees overnight, with intermittent embers flashing about. Black Rock hummed its overnighter's to sleep with a Shamen-esque protection and pristine desert air.