Chanel C.

The Dyrt Pro

Los Angeles, CA

Joined October 2017

LA girl living in the city, but making time to get out!

Hidden gem
  • No cell service so it’s the perfect place to go off the grid and disconnect
  • While it feels very remote and removed from civilization, it’s just a few miles from town if you need to pick any supplies or food up
  • We got to see deer every day! They stopped by our campsite multiple times a day and it was so cool to see
  • The river is easy to get to and there are so many activities to do around the river — birding, rafting, swimming, fishing, etc
  • There is so much shade that even during the summer, we were never hot
  • Restrooms are decent here. The showers are small, there are not enough hooks or space to put all your stuff so bring a large bag for keeping things off the wet ground. And hope you’re not afraid of spiders! The showers had dozens of large daddy long legs crawling around
  • Great playgrounds for children
  • Fantastic hiking trails. This campground is huge so there is a lot of exploring and walking to be done
Sweater weather camping

We loved camping here during the summer! It was cloudy and the air was crisp. Perfect getaway from the heat.

  • Sites are very close together with very little privacy. Hope you love being stacked up against your neighbors
  • Sites are also pretty small and narrow
  • Crowded campsite with lots of children
  • Great for family fun — ride bikes, go for mini hikes on the trails, head to the beach, go to the downtown area snd explore
  • Restrooms are clean and well maintained
  • Definitely do the Traveling Dunes Nature trail. It had a cute story to follow along the way!
The Art of Pause
  • Sites come with picnic tables, fire ring, and enough parking for two cars
  • Sites are pretty private and covered. You can’t see your neighbors easily between all the trees and brush
  • Mosquitoes are rough here. There are swarms near the lake.
  • The lake isn’t the most beautiful and clean, but it’s a nice water feature in the area
  • Pit toilets only. They are relatively clean. The evenings there are less flies.
  • Easy small trails that go around the lake. They are very short, but good for walking kids and dogs
  • It was crowded and loud when we visited, tons of kids and people cranking music.
BRB sleeping in the trees
  • Sites are well spaced apart and have great privacy

  • The Stellar Jays are so fun to watch here — they are very confident and brave birds, they come into your camp and squawk all day

  • It’s so lush and green here. Plenty of shade under the bug trees, and lots of nature to see

  • Restrooms and showers are clean and big

  • Each site has a bear box, picnic table, and fire ring

  • Not great for parking trailers

  • TONS of mosquitoes. The children and I were eaten alive

  • Be careful of the poison oak everywhere! Watch your kids. They are all around the campsite.

  • While sites are private and secluded, they are a little small. You can probably fit 2 small tents

Great camping for beginners

+ Great amenities— large restrooms with multiple stalls, hand soap, plenty of toilet paper, and clean showers. Each site has a fire pit with grill, picnic table, and parking for 2 cars

+ Beautiful California Oak trees surround the campgrounds and you get the most amazing variety of birds visiting.

+ Some sites have lake views! Our site#290 had a great view but the site itself was not the best. The grounds were every rocky and uneven. It was hard to find ground to set up a tent and most spots had rocks embedded into the floor so you would be sleeping on bumps.

+ FANTASTIC camp store. One of the best I’ve seen. They have everything you could need. It’s a gift store, mini mart, and a liquor store. You can buy eggs, milk, butter, and tons of shelf and can items. You can also buy a variety of beverages including wine and beer. The store carries plenty of snacks and candy, and you can get hot food items like hot dogs. They also carry camp gear in case you need— tents, chairs, sleeping bags, flash lights, cooking gear(stove, camp mugs/plates, fuel. Etc. Firewood is a little pricey at$8/bundle but when you need it, you need it! The store is SO CLUTCH because having to leave to purchase anything would be a longggg drive.

+ Lots if lake activities. You can bring your own boat and they have a small gas station for boat fuel. The camp shop also carry bait and other fishing gear. There are boat, kayak rentals, and you could also sign up for a lake boat tour. Only downside is no swimming or SUP boarding.

+ Lovely lake cafe with good hot food, beer/wine, and even cocktails. There is outdoor dining and even a fire pit for colder months. Careful during hot climate, there are yellow jackets everywhere. It makes sitting at the cafe unbearable. Service is friendly and the food is good. We tried their burger and fries and were not disappointed. Prices are a little high but it’s nice if you want to skip preparing and cleaning up a camp meal.

+ Quiet Time begins at 10pm which is great because I find this campground louder and more rowdy than others. It’s packed and people love running their music speakers super loud. They wait until the park rangers come around at 10pm to tell them to turn off their music. It’s definitely a fun crowd that comes here so heads up if you’re looking for a more serene camping experience.

+ There are yurts and cabins for rental that are a little more removed from the loud crowd. I definitely would love to try renting a yurt with a lake view next time I visit.

Overall, this is a really fun campground with tons of convenience. Run out of booze? No problem. Head to the cafe or the camp store. Too lazy to cook? No problem, Lake Cachuma has options for you. Bored? Head to the lake or play some air frisbee. It’s also a great place for first time campers. You get a good introduction to nature, run activities, and camping while still having comfort and convenience just a few steps from your tent.

SPECTACULAR wildlife all around

[ PROS ]

  • We came during offseason (November) and camped at this State Park for 3 nights. Man, it was so amazing. It was super quiet and empty so we felt like we had the entire park to ourselves.

  • A family of deer visited us every single morning/night during our stay. We definitely didn't try to interact with them, but they were comfortable to roam right around our site which was a really magical experience

  • Nehalem Bay is such a beautiful area and the State Park is nestled in lots of beautiful, lush greenery. There are lots of birds, plants, and other wildlife to observe. We loved hearing coyotes yapping in evenings from the campground.

  • It's very peaceful and serene here. It's right by the beach and an easy walk to the coast. We also got to visit Manzanita for a little day trip and had lunch out there. Such a cute little coastal town worth checking out.

  • Free hot showers and really nice restrooms. I'm starting to realize that Oregon State Parks are SOOO much superior to California State Parks. The amenities at all the Oregon campgrounds I've visited are wonderful. We definitely got spoiled by camping in Oregon that it will be hard going back home to California

  • Very close to stores, restaurants, and gas stations if you need to pick up supplies.

[ CONS ]

  • While it was a beautiful campground, the sites are rather small and close together. We obviously didn't experience this campground when it's crowded, but I can imagine how packed it would feel.
Nice camping near Yaquina Bay

[ PROS ]

  • Big interpretive/visitor center. It was closed during offseason but I hear the Rangers host lots of fun activities for kids
  • There is a hospitality center where you can purchase firewood ($5), bags of ice, along with other fun gift items. You can also pick up brochures, maps, and other helpful information about the park's activities
  • Lots of hiking and equestrian trails around
  • Beach trail access that takes you right to the coast
  • FREE HOT SHOWERS!! Woot woot! I'm from CA so most CA State Parks have pretty sad showers that you have to pay for. This was such a treat for us.
  • Clean restrooms, plenty of stalls, ample toilet paper, soap dispenser. The restroom facilities are really nice!
  • Close to Rogue Brewery. We went on a day trip to visit the brewery, enjoy some local brews, and have lunch. The place has so much fun merchandise and beer for souvenirs. 

[ CONS ]

  • Really crowded campground. We came during offseason (mid-November) and the place was still mobbed. We were on a 2-week camping road trip and all the other campgrounds we visited along the way were really empty, this place looked fully occupied as far as the eye can see.
  • Individual sites are pretty small and close together. Not the worst I've experienced, but I was definitely wishing for a little more space
  • Not many tent sites. Only 60 tent sites and 227 electrical sites. We ended up getting an electrical site (based on availability) so we were surrounded by large RVS all around.
Super small sites

[ PROS ]

  • The campground is super close to the beach! You can just walk over the tiny dunes and the waves are right there.
  • Nothing like falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves. So soothing and will knock you right out!
  • The beach itself is very calm and not very crowded/busy.
  • Driving distance to stores, restaurants, markets, and The Embarcadero (for a day trip)
  • Stunning view of Morro Rock 

[ CONS]

  • This campground is basically like one giant parking lot which mostly caters to RVS and trailers.

  • Not ideal for tent camping. There is very little space to pitch a tent, don't even think about 2 tents.

  • Sites are very, very close together with very little privacy. I could hear my neighbor's whole conversations even with the sound of the surf.

  • It was super windy here at night. We were camping in our tent trailer and our entire tent was rattling for hours. The tent next to us packed up in the middle of the night and left.

  • No shade at this campground so it's pretty awful when it's sunny. I wouldn't suggest bringing a canopy because it gets super windy here.

Overall, this campground was very disappointing. Especially for the price! The only redeeming quality is the beach. It was super hard to get a reservation and is normally completely booked.

10/10 Would stay again!

[ PROS]

  • Super lush and foresty campground right by the Pacific Ocean. There is so much to see all around the campgrounds. You can go for a hike and the Rim Trail which perimeters the park, you can go down to the beach and hunt for agates, explore tidepools, look at birds and other wildlife, and go to the visitor center.

  • Each site came with a picnic table, bear box, fire ring, and two parking spots.

  • Sites were surprisingly large! We stayed at Site#99 and it was super spacious. It even had a hidden area that was under large trees that was perfect for setting up tents.

  • I love how the sites were also very private. Each site seemed to be carved out of the brush so you’re just enclosed in trees and bushes. Everything was so green!

  • The restrooms were really clean. Site#99 was a little far from the showers, but we had nice toilets right by us.

  • VIEWS VIEWS VIEWS! My gosh. We stated at Agate Campground (1 of 3 campgrounds at this park) and it was really close to the beach access. We did the Rim Trail hike and it was unbelievable.

[CONS]

  • NONE! Perfect campground:)

Overall, I would come back here in a heartbeat! I know we came during off season so the campground wasn’t as full, but i’d imagine when this place is fully booked it would still be very tranquil and peaceful. Each site was like a little oasis removed from everyone else.

Ranger Review: Morsel Sporks XL at Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground

[ PROS]

  • Super close to the beach! There are a couple beach trails that lead you right to the ocean.

  • Love that you can walk to the dunes and spend the entire day there.People bring the craziest beach set ups and have bonfires and cookouts here. Souped up trucks with ATVs roll through and drive right along the beach. It’s quite the sight to see.

  • Very convenient location to ATV rentals, beach/convenient stores, and a few eateries.

  • Fantastic park rangers serveiling the campgrounds every hour. The ranger presence definitely keeps the rowdy crowd here in check.

  • There looked to be a very nice Visitor Center. For some unknown reason, they were closed both days that we were there.

  • Really big and clean showers and restroom facilities. They were very well maintained considering how packed and heavily used they were. Toilets ran out of toilet paper so make sure you come prepared.

  • We saw tons of cool birds around the campsite. My favorite of the weekend were the swallows that flew around dusk. They fly like bats! We also enjoyed seeing a couple ospreys by the beach. We even saw one catch a fish!

  • Campfire is sold here for$8/bundle at the camp host.

  • Each site comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and 2 parking spot. Our neighbors had 3 cars so we let them use one of our parking spots since it was a madhouse here.

**[ CONS]
**

  • Hard to find availability. This place is usually pretty booked up.

  • Very, very crowded campsite. Sites are extremely close together so there is very little privacy. It feels like a giant parking lot

  • Sites are small so setting up two tents feels very cramped already. Luckily we just stayed in our tent trailer on a parking spot so we felt like we had a little more space.

  • Loud campground! This place attracts a party crowd so be prepared to listen to people roll in with their loud souped up trucks and blast music on speakers throughout the day. Hope you like listening to hip hop from 10am-9pm!

  • It doesn’t seem like the 8 person max/site rule was regulated. People had upwards of 12 people at a single campsite so you can imagine how crowded the place was.

  • There was constantly a long line for the showers throughout the day.

Overall, this is not my favorite place to camp by far. It feels more like a giant tailgate party than it does camping. We were looking for a nice relaxing weekend by the beach so had an unexpected weekend. This is one of the few places left in California that allow cars, trucks, RVs, and ATVs to drive right on the beach. It’s pretty weird to see. They also allow people to have bonfires right on the sand so be careful where you walk. There’s ash and coal everywhere. And sadly, also lots of trash left behind from people.

Convenient location for boondocking

PROS:

+ FREE overnight parking for RVs, trailers, and camper vehicles.

+ Very safe and heavily traffic location. Lots of travelers here spending the evening! Signs say for Olive Pit Customers Only but we spent 2 nights here (along with a few other campers) and no one ever disturbed us.

+ Very flat, leveled, and long paved spots (great for up to 35-foot long fifth wheelers and even 50-foot rigs).

+ Huge lot with lots of available spots. Around 10 spots for larger trailers and RVs, and lots of small spots for campervans and car rooftop tent campers. We saw 4-5 other campers around us who mostly were very private and to themselves

+ Super convenient location near lots of fast food joints, a Starbucks, Rite Aid, and supermarket. The lot shares the same entrance as the Shell Station and Olive Pit Cafe & Store where you can conveniently pick up food/beer/supplies.

+ The Olive Pit has a great cafe and wine tasting room. They sell specialty items such as olives, balsamic vinegar, etc. And they have a great breakfast!

+ There is a giant dumpster for trash disposal behind the Olive Pit

+ There is also a pet area that has a small white fence around a dirted area for pets to relieve themselves.

+ Lots of palm trees in the backdrop giving the place a very California vibe.

CONS:

+ No tent camping, unless it's a car rooftop tent or a pop-up tent trailer

+ No fires/no showers/ no toilets (Although you can walk to the Shell Station to use their toilets which were super clean and well-maintained.)

+ Loud 24 hour carwash at the Shell station. Usually quiets down around 9 pm

+ Bright security lights in the parking lot. Just don't park directly under one. There are a few darker and less lit spots

Ranger Review: RovR RollR 60-quart cooler at Cerro Alto Campground

[ PROS ]

  • Plenty of walk-in sites available. Easy to reserve online! $25/night (this is cheap for the area!)
  • One of the few campsites near Morro Bay that ever have availability for last minute campers
  • Close to avocado groves! We went to Morro Creek Ranch (about 3.5 miles from campground) to pick up fresh avocados to make breakfast with
  • Easy drive to Morro Bay Rock where you can see otters, sea lions, and lots of marine life. Morro Bay is a bird sanctuary so you can always see Great Blue Herons, White Herons, Ospreys, Pelicans, Cormorants, Turkey Vultures, and more!
  • Beautiful primitive campground with lots of lush greenery all around and lots of wildlife. Most of the sites have plenty of shade from the canopies of trees. There are so many different birds here as well. We fell asleep to the sound of a resident Pygmy Owl hooting and woke up to Acorn Woodpeckers, Toweys, Robins, Steller Jays, and Warblers singing.
  • Cerro Alto Trail is located right inside the campground. Day Use parking is $10. The hike is really beautiful and on a clear day you can see the ocean at peak!
  • Campsites are spread pretty far apart, are fairly large, and have most have pretty good privacy. I think Campsite #18 is one of the best! It’s HUGE, tucked in the far corner, close to the hiking trail, fairly close to toilets, and has its own water spigot. If you have a large group, I would suggest booking Sites #18 & 19. They are side by side and would be perfect for accommodating a larger party.
  • Each site comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and 1 parking spot. Additional cars need to park in the day use area.
  • Very popular campground and it feels very safe. People are very respectful of quite hours and other campground rules. There is a camp host on site who is present and you can buy firewood from.

[ CONS ]

  • No showers and only pit (long drop) toilets. They provide toilet paper, but it is superrrrr thin. Bring your own.
  • The actual campground is pretty deep-in from the main road, but it’s a very narrow and winding one car lane that goes for about a mile. Drive slow!
  • Not close to any gas station or store so come prepared.
  • There is poison oak EVERYWHERE so do not go wandering off into the brush.
  • TICKS TICKS TICKS. Make sure you read the warnings and stay on the trails. We actually saw ticks during our hike
  • Lots of hikers come in and out of the campgrounds to access the Cerro Alto trailhead. Although it felt very safe, just make sure you pack away valuables when you leave your site. The hiking trail is very popular so there is a lot of activity and strangers walking around and exploring.
  • We heard a lot of people complaining about the smell of the toilets, but we didn’t experience that problem from our campsite. After a while, we started noticing a smell and realized it was the fragrance coming off the flowering Eucalyptus trees -- they have a funny smell that can smell like urine.

Note: No reception at campgrounds (0 bars with AT&T)

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This weekend I had the opportunity to test out RovR RollR 60-quart cooler on a camping trip to Cerro Alto. I recently just purchased a Yeti Cooler which I am in love with so I was skeptical about the RovR. It has a lot of really cool features that I felt were just extraneous when I was shopping around, but now I’m a total believer. I can actually say that I prefer the RovR cooler over my Yeti cooler now!

  • As far as cooling, it does just as good a job as other equivalent coolers. It’s very sturdy and the walls of the cooler are thick and insulates like a boss.
  • Transporting this cooler is CAKE! The tires are amazing. We tested it on different terrains and were very impressed with how easy the cooler was to maneuver. Even when we rolled it on very loose dirt trails that sinks a little, it performed beyond our expectations. The wheels are large enough to roll over bumpy roads and rocks, they turn well, and are extremely sturdy.
  • The handle on the cooler is the perfect length and folds flush to the side of the cooler and out of the way. My husband typically find wagons, cooler, and luggage handles a little on the short side which make it awkward for him to pull, but he was very pleased with the height of the handle.
  • The dry bin is soooo clutch! It’s very deep and you can fit a wine bottle standing up. You can even uncork the bottle and stick it back in the dry box without worry about wine spilling. We used it to keep things dry and it worked like a charm. We had small tupperware in there that we never had to worry about water seeping into. It also makes organization really nice. I don’t know how I survived this long without this feature in a cooler!
  • I love the wagon bin!! The way it straps to the top of the cooler is extremely secure. That box is staying put and not going anywhere! It’s also very sturdy and thick. It’s so nice to have extra storage to store items when you’re towing the storage. It really frees up your hands and overall, it’s just a freakin’ nice bin to have when camping. We used it for stashing away our tent bags, blanket stuff sacks, and other miscellaneous items. It folds away really nice and attaches back to the top of the cooler which makes storing it really nice.
  • We purchased the prep board (table/cutting board) attachment and we are so happy we did. It works great as an extra table so you can still open and close your cooler. It has a really smooth surface that’s easy to clean after using as a cutting board. It attaches really easily and can be removed really easily.
  • We also purchased the bike kit to attach the cooler to our bike. We live close to the beach and bringing a cooler is always something we’ve been restricted on when we bike, but now our day trips to the beach just got A WHOLE LOT BETTER!
  • We also registered our cooler and got a free stash bag that attaches to the cooler. We’re so excited to use it on our next trip. It’s perfect for storing lighters, beer openers, multi-tools, headlamps, and other small gear items in.

There are SOOO many different attachments you can add to the cooler to make it more functional. You can’t do this with any other cooler on the market which really sets it apart from everyone else. My husband and I just placed an order for the Umbrella/Rod Holder which will come in handy for the beach and future camping trips. We cannot say enough good things about the Rovr cooler.

Hilltop camping on a farm

As a Ranger on The Dyrt, I sometimes receive compensation for reviews like this one. I was given the amazing opportunity to spend an evening camping on Bierbaum Pepper Farm this past weekend and I cannot say enough great things about the property and our camping experience.

  • Marcella is a SUPER HOST who has thought through every detail to make sure her guest has an amazing experience. Her property is so serene and peaceful and gave us a taste of what it's like living on a farm. She was so hospitable and welcoming, gave us a thorough walk-through of all the amenities, and communication was easy peasy!
  • Campsites are a good distance from the main house on the property so campers have a lot of privacy and open space. The main amenities are located right around the house -- BBQ grill plus patio, hot tub, outdoor shower, toilets/sink, dumpster for trash disposal, etc.
  • The outdoor shower is wonderful! It's spacious and bright, and has lots of privacy. The shelf/towel rack is super convenient and makes reaching for soap and shampoo easy. It's a solar shower so hot water lasts about 5 mins -- make it quick! (Tip: Bring sandals so your feet/shoes don't get muddy when you step off the wooden platform.)
  • There is a private compost toilet in a little shack that works great. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer were provided. The location is a bit of a walk from where the campsites are which can be a little inconvenient if you have an active bladder like myself, but I can't complain! It's still better than no toilet.
  • You can purchase farm fresh eggs ($2/half dozen, $4/full dozen), firewood ($8/bundle), ice ($5/10 lb bag) and water bottles ($1) from the host which makes it super convenient if you forget any of these items.
  • You can feed and pet goats! How amazing is that?! Marcella leaves goat feed right outside the gated area and campers can head over to feed the goats whenever they want. It was such an amazing and novel experience to have while camping. Such a fun treat.
  • Camping on the farm was so peaceful and relaxing. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset with amazing views of the Temecula Valley. We listened to birds and goats during the day and woke up to the sound of roosters in the morning. Pure magic! In the mornings around 7am you can see hot air balloons take off in the valley.
  • Campfires are allowed, just make sure you pick up a portable fire pit and a fire extinguisher from the host! We picked up 2 bundles which was way more than enough to keep a nice, hot fire in the evening.
  • The farm is great for small and large groups. There is plenty of space on the property to set up multiple tents. Just beware of ant holes! The ants are pretty harmless but you don't them crawling all over your gear. We brought our large tent with our most luxurious sleeping pads for a nice glamping experience. 
  • FREE WIFI!! It's only accessible if you're near the main house. You can sit by the outdoor patio and get some work done during the day and enjoy the views of the mountain ranges in the distance. Talk about an office with a view! This is perfect for digital nomads or anyone who telecommutes.
  • Cell service was good -- 4 bars (AT&T)
  • Farm was very easy to find with the directions provided. There was large signs from the main road, you cant miss it! The drive in was beautiful. We passed lots of ranches, wineries, farms, and orchards.
Camp under Oak trees near the Arroyo Seco River
  • A primitive campground that has about 8 campsites. Some campsites are pretty big and have privacy. Some are closer together than others. We stayed at site 8 and it was really nice. Tucked in the back with lots of privacy and space.
  • First-come, first-serve walk-in campground ($20/day) but I was able to make reservations online as well.
  • No running water, but there is are vault toilets (long drop) near the entrance of the campground
  • Lots of fantastic hiking nearby including Junipero Serro Peak. Trails are a little difficult to see because there are so many going in different directions, so a map can help. You can also see LOTS of animal scat so there are animals using hiking paths as game trail. Stay alert and be careful. Otherwise, it's so beautiful here and you can get AMAZING VIEWS!
  • This campground is in the valley of a few peaks so it was freezing at night (especially without a campfire)
  • Each campsite has a picnic table, firepit, and trashcans (with lids). The campground floors were covered with leaves but for the most part very flat and easy to find good spots for pitching a tent.
  • There was a fire ban during the time we stayed so no fires were allowed
  • Lots of wildlife and animal activity nearby. Loved camping underneath the canopies of Live Oak trees and listening to Acorn Woodpeckers in the morning. They are loud but still pleasant
  • The 18-mile drive getting here off the main highway was also beautiful and windy. We saw lots of deer and rabbits. This campground is far from shops or stores so make sure you come with plenty of supplies and water.
  • Very secluded and rustic campground. We only saw one other group in the evening, and they ended up leaving. During the day time there were more people coming for day hikes and parked at the visitor parking lot.
  • No cell reception AT ALL so you feel like you're off the grid (AT&T)
Right outside the gates of Grand Canyon National Park!
  • Great boondocking campground 5 miles from the entrance of Grand Canyon National Park! First come first serve.
  • Super convenient to the town of Tasayan for supplies and food.
  • A great alternative if you couldn't get reservations for campgrounds in the area. It's hard to believe this place is FREE!
  • North of the Tusayan Ranger District and under a mile from the South Entrance Ranger Station. Walking distance from lots of things
  • You can see the campgrounds from the main highway so it can get a little noisy and headlights can be a little distracting in the evenings
  • It's a dirt road getting in and can be super muddy during wetter seasons. A lot of people have gotten stuck in the mud. 4 wheel drive is highly recommended.
  • Because it was so muddy when we were here, it was a little difficult finding a flat/dry/level spot to pitch a tent. This place is ideal for RV/trailer camping
  • Warning: Lots of generators running throughout the evening. Bring earbuds
  • Fires are allowed and some sites have firepits. Lots of found wood lying around that can be used as well.
  • There are plenty of areas to camp (definitely can accommodate at least 20 different groups) and you'll even have space to spread your legs. 
  • There are lots of trees in the area so I'd imagine there'd be nice shade during hotter weather.
  • Not as secluded as other boondock sites we've been to, but you can't beat the close proximity to the Park.
  • No showers, toilets, running water.
  • Practice LNT and pack in pack out. This place had some trash lying around and you can definitely tell it's heavily used. Help pick up trash if you see any and leave the place better than you found it.
  • Great cell service with AT&T

We absolutely LOVED camping here. We were able to enter Grand Canyon National Park super early before the crowds and enjoy the views uninterrrupted. This is such a great spot to camp for anyone on a budget who is just looking for a place to rest their head. We couldn't believe how close this was to the Park and that it was completely free. It's also quite beautiful if you can get past the mud and loud humming of generators. If you're in an RV, this place is the dream. We woke up the next morning to the entire campground covered in snow. It was absolutely stunning! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Nice clearing in the wilderness
  • Very primitive campground for backpackers to set up for the evening
  • Hike in campsite only
  • Beautiful wilderness area that is a very dense forest. Lots of nature, wildlife, and animal activity all around.
  • There are pretty reliable water sources around (streams, creeks, and waterfalls) but it's still safer to bring plenty of your own drinking water and/or water filter.
  • The hike in is pretty difficult -- narrow trails, fallen trees, steep cliffs. poison oak, mosquitos, and a couple shallow creek crossings. There were times when trees fallen and completely blocked trails so we were required to bushwack around. I got lots of scratches and snagged clothing.
  • No fires are allowed, including coal fires. Read the signs before entering, especially during high risk fire season/
  • The campsite is very easy to find along the trail -- it's a large open clearing that you can't miss surrounded by lots of beautiful oak trees! Especially because the rest of the wilderness is so dense
  • We came across coyote and mountain lion scat at the campgrounds so just becareful about storing food/snacks in a bear box a couple yards away from where you're sleeping
  • The campground is pretty large and can accommodate many backpackers. The ground is very flat compared to the rest of the wilderness so finding a place to pitch a tent is failry easy.
  • This campsite is in the valley of the canyons so it gets extremely cold and dark as soon as the sun sets. Be prepared for cold camping
  • Very secluded camping and we didn't come across any backpackers or hikers the entire trip. We found it very peaceful and quiet in the evenings. We barely heard anything!
  • Poor cell service so make sure you have a printed map or a trail map downloaded ahead of time.
Camp under the stars in a Joshua Tree forest
  • Free primitive campground great for boondocking! First come first serve.
  • Right across from the Teutonia Peak trailhead. Perfect for going on a day hike and explore the landscape surrounded by Joshua Trees
  • Shell gas station about 11 miles up Interstate 15 if you need to pick up water and supplies
  • Dirt roads with gravel with some small rocks when approaching campground.
  • Fires are allowed and some sites have firepits. You can always make your own with the rocks in the area.
  • The land is owned by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and dedicated to the fallen soldiers of all wars
  • The best sites are the two right around the White Cross Memorial boulders. The one near the front of the cross (entrance) is great for group camping. It has two picnic tables and is right next to a large Juniper tree. The one in the rear of the White Cross is very spacious and has large rocks that protect from the wind.
  • Amazing star gazing in the dessert with very little light polution
  • Some spots may be difficult for vehicles without high clearance. Beware of scraping the underbelly your cars or trailers on rocks in the road.
  • Pretty secluded and remote camping. There were about 6 other campers near us -- mostly RVs and a few tent sites
  • No showers, toilets, running water. Practice LNT and pack in pack out.
  • Wifi is okay -- 2 out of 4 bars (AT&T)
Ranger Review: Mountain House Beef Stew at Pinnacles Campground

[ PROS ]

  • Camping in a National Park! This is the only campground in Pinnacles National Park so you’re options are limited, but this campground is centrally located.
  • Wonderful Camp Store with gear, supplies, and anything you might need for camping. They even have snacks, ice cream, and candy.
  • Visitor Center where you can get lots of helpful information about the park and souvenirs to take home.
  • Each sites comes with a picnic table, fire ring + grill, 2 parking spots, and bear box.
  • Clean restrooms but it is shared with a lot of campers. I wish they had a few more.
  • So close to wildlife! We saw 6-8 deers both days just grazing inside the campground. Site #20 is where they hung out the entire weekend. Also, lots of rabbits, owls, magpies, quail, and turkey vultures.
  • Great night sky with lots of stars!
  • Lot’s of hiking trails at Pinnacles National Park. We started on the East Entrance and took the Bear Gulch Cave Trail to Moses Spring Trail, to the High Peaks Trail. It was spectacular and pure magic! One of my favorite day hikes that I’ve done. The caves were so cool to see and the Bear Gulch Reservoir is gorgeous.
  • Really clean and well maintained park. I normally carry a bag to pick up trash on hikes, but this time I barely saw litter.

[ CONS ]

  • The only showers are by the Visitor Center which is a long walk or drive from the main camping area.
  • Sites are super close together and very small. Some sites barely looked like you could put 2 small tents. Be prepared to be close to neighbors.
  • Very touristy and crowded, it is a National Park afterall so that is to be expected.
  • No fires were allowed when I was there.

Note: Site #45 where we stayed was great! It had a water spigot right next to us which was really convenient, and it was a perfect distance from the restroom. Not directly next to it, but one site away.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This weekend I had the opportunity to test out Beef Stew by Mountain House on a camping trip to Pinnacles Campground. As far as the product goes, I can eat this ALL DAY. It’s so good, filling, and hearty just as it is. This is as good as it gets for a quick, hot meal at the drop of a dime. It tastes just as good as a home cooked meal. Overall, just perfect comfort food -- chunky pieces of potato, peas, and carrots, the beef has great texture and generous portions, and the sauce is savory, flavorful and thick. I decided to elevate this meal and make Mountain House Campfire Beef Hand Pies! All you need is ready-to-bake biscuits and a Mountain House #10 Beef Stew Can and you have the best campfire hand pies ever! One package of Mountain House can make 16-20 hand pies. That’s 2.5 cans of ready-to-bake biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of ready-to-bake biscuits
  • 1 Mountain House #10 Beef Stew Can
  • Also needed: cast iron pan vegetable oil and paper towels

Instructions

  1. Follow instructions for making Mountain House #10 Beef Stew and set aside.
  2. Open the can of ready-to-bake biscuits and roll out each biscuit until they are about 4 inches in width. Make sure to work fast with the dough so that it still stays cool.
  3. Place 1 tbsp of Mountain House Beef Stew  into the center of each circle, fold them over (like a taco) and seal the edges by using the tines of a fork, press the edges together all the way around. Try to avoid getting any of the stew sauce around the edges or else it will be more difficult to seal.
  4. Place 1-2 inches of oil in a cast iron pan and place on the fire over coals (or camp stove), not direct flames. Test to see if the oil is ready by dropping a couple droplets of water into the pan. If it sizzles, it’s ready to go!
  5. Cook the pies until the first side is well browned then flip over and repeat.
  6. Let the pies set on paper towels for 1 minute to drain out any excess oil.

Optional: Enjoy with salsa, sour cream, and cilantros

Considerations: If you want to prevent leaks in your hand pie, take an additional step when sealing your pies by flipping the pie over to the other side, and sealing it again with your fork. It’s a little more work, but the payoff is worth it!

Beautiful, remote grassland

Carrizo Plains National Monument is the largest single native grassland remaining in California in SE San Luis Obispo, and my husband and I have been wanting to visit. We found Kern Cattle & Land Ranch which has now been turned into a campground for people to enjoy.

[ PROS ]

  • FREE camping is the best camping! It’s first come first serve, but there was only one other camper there the weekend we visited.
  • There are about 12 dispersed sites and all of them are under or near eucalyptus trees that offer really lovely shade from the harsh sun.
  • Each sites comes with a picnic table, fire ring + grill, 1 parking spot, and gear pole with hook (for hanging lanterns/trash bags/food/etc.)
  • There are 2 gender neutral vault toilets that are clean. The restroom is stocked with toilet paper and there is hand sanitizer available. No sink.
  • So much nature to see around! We saw kangaroo rats, bats, hawks, rabbits, ground squirrels (that are going extinct), and lots of fun insects. In the evening we heard lots of coyotes in the distance.
  • The evenings here are spectacular -- very little light pollution so you get a clear view of the night sky and all of the stars. The Milky Way was so vivid and we saw shooting stars the entire evening.
  • I’ve been wanting to see an owl in nature for so long, and I was able to see one in broad daylight. It was so insane and magical. We heard the owls all night (they are very loud) but I love falling asleep to the sound of nature. The owl sighting was the highlight of my trip!
  • There are tons of trails and places to explore. We even got to explore the last standing structure of the original ranch. You can visit the San Andreas Fault Line, Soda Lake, and Painted Rock which are all driving distance.

[ CONS ]

  • The drive to and from KCL campground is a little rough. At some point you get on a dirt road that is quite bumpy and has potholes.
  • It’s super hot in this part of California during the summer so make sure you pack LOTS of water. There is no water available on the campgrounds or for miles.
  • No showers, obviously since there isn’t any water available.
  • TONS. OF. FLIES. EVERYWHERE. It’s a little unbearable during the day having to spend the majority of your energy swatting flies. It is so arid out there that flies are constantly landing on every part of your body to lick the sweat off of you. The toilets are clean, but TONS OF FLIES. Not little house flies, but super juicy big fat flies. Luckily they go away when the sun sets.
  • No fires allowed! They have fire pits, but you’re not allowed to burn wood. I believe you can use the fire pit with coals since there is a grill provided.
  • No gas stations, stores, shops around for miles. Make sure you come prepared with everything you need unless you’re prepared for a long drive on the dirt roads.

Note: Pack in. Pack out. Please folks, remember to take your trash with you and leave the place better than you found it. It was sad seeing beer bottles and bullet shells littering the area. We did our  best to pick up what we could and take it with us, but LNT!!

Ranger Review: Escape Campervan at TV Tower Road

My husband and I decided to do a road trip along the PCH up the coast (with Big Sur as the final destination). Along the way, we made multiple stops and camped at TV Tower Road since we heard so many phenomenal things about the view.

[ PROS ]

  • VIEWS VIEWS VIEWS!! The view is spectacular up this mountain. You can see Morro Bay, Los Osos, and San Luis Obispo. And to top it all off, you also get an ocean view in the distance. You can even see the infamous Morro Bay Rock and the 3 smokestacks in the horizon.
  • It’s FREE! When you’re doing a road trip along HWY 1 during the summer, you’ll notice that almost all campsites are full if you haven’t made a reservation months in advance. This place is perfect for last minute campers who need a place to park for the evening.
  • Stargazing is out of this world. We had the clearest night sky with very little light pollution, and we were able to see the Milky Way so vividly. We also saw multiple shooting stars.
  • This campsite is off the beaten road, so it’s very remote. We saw two other campers nearby but other than that, we had the entire place to ourselves.
  • Great hiking spot! It’s only a 1.5 mile hike up to the campsite, but it’s steep. You can find the entrance to TV Tower Road at the West Cuesta RIdge Trailhead. Lots of cyclist and morning hikers come through at dawn.

[ CONS ]

  • Really terrifying drive up the mountain with a few sharp turns and a narrow one-car dirt road. We were able to take our Escape Camervan up the mountain with no problem, but this road is for confident drivers. There are some parts of the road where two cars can fit, but just make sure you drive slow and check weather conditions.
  • No toilets, no showers, no water, no hook ups, no amenities. Make sure you bring your own food/water/supplies, practice LNT, and be safe.
  • There is practically no shade on this mountain ridge so it can get hot during the day with the sun beaming down on you. Just prepare for that.

Pro Tip: Drive up TV Tower Road before sunset. 1) Sunsets are magical here 2) Better visibility of the road while the sun is still out. There are no road or street lights to guide you.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I was incredibly BLESSED with the opportunity to test out the Maverick Camper by Escape Campervans. This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time since my cat recently just passed away, and I do not take a second of this for granted. So where did we decide to go? First on the list, Morro Bay! My (now) husband and I fell in love in Morro Bay 6 years ago, and then he proposed to me at the Morro Bay Rock 2 years later. We figured we would bring our cat’s ashes to “The Rock” as a final resting place so we can make an effort to return as often as possible. After our day in Morro Bay, we continued on along the majestic Pacific Coast Highway until we reached Big Sur on Hwy 1.

I’ve done this road trip many times since childhood, but it felt like an entirely new experience doing the trip in a campervan. I am, now, totally convinced that the #vanlife is for me. Here are my thoughts on the Maverick #JetsonVan.

  • TRAVELING IN STYLE - I just LOVE LOVE LOVED the custom painted design on our campervan. Just seeing the beautiful colors and design put a smile on my face and made me happy. It brought out my inner-child and a reignited a new sense of adventure and curiosity that I haven’t felt since I was in grade-school. We need more of this in our everyday lives. Thank you Escape Campervans for reminding me of this.
  • ROAD TRIP READY - I’ve done road trips, but never like THIS! The Maverick has everything you need to have the most relaxing, easy, and hassle-free experience ever. The campervan is so well-designed and packed with handy and useful features that really make your trip a breeze. I was able to spend less time packing and setting up, and more time to play. Escape Campervans also came with everything you can think of -- chairs, bedding, pots/pans, bowls/cups/utensils, you name it! There was very little that we needed to pack from home. Below are a few of our favorite features
  • Rooftop sleeper - This is a MUST! It was so fun sleeping on the roof of the van. It’s a little tricky at first to get up and down, but we were able to get the hang of it in no time.
  • Solar powered refrigerator - I don’t know how I lived without this. It was so nice having our food and drinks chilled without having to worry about a cooler of melting ice sloshing around.
  • Storage - there is so much storage for all your gear so it’s so easy to stay organized.
  • Trunk Kitchen - The kitchen is so convenient and it facilitates spur-of-the-moment cooking with very little set up or clean up required. The counter space was really nice for prepping and easy to clean.
  • THE ROAD TO FREEDOM - Our Maverick became our home away from home, and the best part? We were able to bring it with us everywhere. It’s super easy and smooth to drive, and we had the freedom of the open road ahead of us. I loved being able to just pull over during lunch time and enjoy a meal wherever we decided to park. While we did our day trip to Big Sur, we picked a quiet, shady spot to park with an EPIC VIEW of the Pacific Ocean. And if you’ve ever driven along the PCH past Hearst Castle to Big Sur, you’ll know there are so many lookout points to stop for sightseeing.

Tips for maximizing your campervan experience!

  1. Make it your own! Bring some stuff from your house to really make your campervan feel cozy and homey. Be careful not to overpack, but a couple throw pillows, blankets, and even a houseplant can make all the difference. You don’t normally get this opportunity in a regular car, so take advantage of the space.
  2. Bring a partner in crime or 2! Road Trips are more fun with people who you know are going to be flexible, spontaneous, and up for the unknown. Every trip can have unexpected obstacles and can be exhausting so bring a playmate who will be up for the challenge and up for an adventure.
  3. A little planning goes a long way. While my favorite part about road trips are the random little stops along the way, but it makes a huge difference when you do a little research on the route, conditions, and place to stay for the evening ahead of time.
  4. Split the load! Whether it’s taking turns driving, or alternating who cleans the dishes, make sure everyone throws in a helping hand.
  5. Make a playlist. Having music ready for those long drives can be super helpful when your car stereo loses goes out of range. While I prefer having conversations on road trips over music, sometimes some tunes really help break up the drive.
  6. TREAT YO’SELF. Don’t forget to allow yourself to splurge a litttllleee even if you’re on a tight budget. It’s nice to be able to cook your own food on the road, but it’s also totally okay to eat out a few meals or unwind with a nice bottle of wine after hours of driving or after a stressful day of navigating the road. Just make sure you’re parked for the evening when you uncork!