Corinna B.
Portland, OR
Joined September 2016
Artist and archivist exploring the U.S. during school breaks with my boys.
Full of fun things for kiddos

This is the kind of RV park that I like. Nice spots surrounded by grass, decent space between sites (not much, but enough), and most importantly, lots and lots of things for kiddos to explore. There's random trails, a playground, big green fields, volleyball court, etc. Plenty to keep them busy and felt completely comfortable letting them run around.

Everything is clean and well maintained. I like the central area better (closer to facilities). The camp is right off the freeway, but if you're back off the road there's not as much noise, though there's also a train that runs through on the far side. Overall, would definitely come back.

Clean, Basic, Cheap, Right on Freeway

Not really our style, since we travel with kids and are looking for things to do (trees, playgrounds, pools, etc.), but for what it is, this is a decently priced, clean, basic RV Park. I didn't get the same creepy feeling of long-timers staring at us when pulling up that I get at other parks, but rather it's nice people (mostly full-time RV retirees) who are here to stay for a week or a month and then move on to the next place.

Location is literally right on the freeway (back wall shares a wall with I-5). Plenty of noise, but not as bad as it could have been.

Compared to other places nearby, the price is great (about$35), and you're right in Vancouver and near Portland. I don't think we'd go back again since it's not our thing, but could be fine if cheap, convenient, and clean is what you're looking for.

Convenient Location. Clean, Basic, Nice

Flew in to the Bellingham airport, picked up a vehicle and arrived at Bellingham RV Park at about dusk (if you can't tell from the photos). Registration process was super-easy. Park felt safe and restrooms, area around the RVs were all very clean and homey.

Nothing amazing, but the location for what we needed at the time(close to the airport, close to El Monte RV) and a place to safely lay our heads was perfect. About$50/night, which, again, was what we needed at the time.

Also has a good amount of basic services nearby, including a gas station and 24-hour food. If we were in a similar situation and needed a place to safely sleep, we'd come

Nope nope nope

Too many full-timers for our vacationing/camping lifestyle. Lots of run-down RVs and cars that looked like they haven't moved in years. Satellite dishes, plastic toys, and other evidence of permanent living.

There's a store on-site, which is nice, and a small playground and dog area, but overall, this is not the kind of place I'd like to go to on a vacation. Feels much more like a sad trailer park.

Absolutely Beautiful

I used to go to Lassen as a child, but have re-fallen in love with it as an adult, heading back with my children. About a million times less crowded than Yosemite and just as beautiful, Lassen does not disappoint.

Similarly, the campground at Manzanita Lake is miles above any similar campground in the centrally located parts of Yosemite (though outer campgrounds in Yosemite can be nice).

Plenty of space, good prices, beautiful trees and most of all an absolutely beautiful lake all make this campground a winner. Pretty much all of the campgrounds in Lassen are great, but this one has the benefit of being one of the larger ones, so it's (when we were there) easier to find a good spot without reservations. Can't wait to head back.

Wonderful teardrop gathering in The Gorge

Still one of my favorite camping trips each year, and 2019 didn't disappoint. The Annual Gorge Gathering, hosted by Teardrop Trailers of Oregon and Washington, is held here each Memorial Day weekend. Find out more information here:

http://www.skamaniacounty.org/facilities-rec/homepage/events/tear-drop-trailers/

There's tons of cute trailers to check out, nice people, pot lucks, a large indoor area with a kitchen, and things to do in the area. Definitely worth checking out if you either have a tear drop trailer or are just interested in seeing some.

Seemed to be more kids this year, as well as more vegetarian options in the potluck, both of which made me happy.

The fairgrounds are also available for other group campground gatherings.

Not for Us. More Full Timers than Overnight Camping

I'd give this place about 2.5 stars. On one hand, it's quite cute in a gnome-fairy in the woods kind of way. Absolutely amazing, huge trees in the back half that look like a wonderland.

But really this is a place more for full-timers or at least long-timers, which we are not. They're even set up more for full-timers with things like permanent mail boxes.

It's also not super kid-friendly. Most people were older when we were there, and it's not full of many things for the kids to do other than run around the woods (which is nice and all, but couldn't find a playground, pool, etc.). I could see my parents liking this place though (an older generation).

Pros:

  • Clean enough.
  • Amazing Trees.
  • Quaint.

Cons:

  • Main phone number disconnected (as of when I wrote this review).
  • Pretty much all full-timers, or long-timers.
I Kind of Hate this Campground

My least favorite campgrounds tend to be ones where tents have to be set up on rough rocks due to sprinklers turning on in the middle of the night to water the thick, lush, comfy grass a few feet away. These same campgrounds tend to have very little space in-between the spots, and be near busy roads (see my review of the campground at Silverwood, Idaho, for comparison). 

Yes, this is a nice location more-or-less in Sisters, Oregon, which is a nice town. And it is a pretty good price (about $20), especially since it also includes flush toilets and hot showers (paid with quarters).

But if you do choose to stay here, do what another reviewer did below, and come with a nice enclosed Airstream trailer and bring your bikes so you can ride the couple of blocks to downtown Sisters. Otherwise, if you're in a tent, choose any of the other U.S. Forest campgrounds nearby instead.

To be fair, the rest of my family enjoyed this campground much more than I did. But for me, this is not a great spot for tent campers.

Ranger Review: Outdoor Elements’ Firebiner at Paulina Lake Campground

Campground Review

About 25 miles south of Bend, Oregon, Paulina and East Lakes are twin calderas located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument area of the Deschutes National Forest that have an amazing amount of fun things to do including camping, fishing, paddle boarding, boating, hiking, biking and hot springs.

We pulled into the Paulina Visitor Center just before 5pm on the Fourth of July to scope out our walk-up camping options (we didn’t make reservations) and the rangers let us know that Paulina Lake Campground still had two or three spots open, or we could keep on heading to Cinder Hill on East Lake, which had several spots. The East Lake campground, they said, was pretty much always full, so no need to stop there to check.

We ended up grabbing a great spot at Paulina Lake Campground even though it was a holiday weekend. Large camp sites, lots of trees, flush toilets, and access to Paulina Lake all made this a great spot for camping.

There’s tons to do in the area. My two favorites were the hot springs near East Lake boat ramp (when facing the water, walk left about 8 minutes along the shore line…pass the first couple spots until you get to a good one around two bends) and the trail up Obsidian Butte. There’s also a lodge nearby with delicious food (homemade rum butter apple cobbler…yum) and the beautiful Paulina Falls day use area. We’ll definitely be heading back to spend more time here, next time maybe with some paddle boards.

The main down side to this site is there doesn’t appear to be specific hours for generators, so they can run loudly whenever.

Tips:

Parking. You’ll need a day pass ($5) to park at various day use areas at the lakes, but if you have a National Park Pass it will get you in for free. Ask at the Visitor Center and they can give you a holder to hang your pass from your rear view mirror.

Firewood: Unlike many national and state parks, you can harvest camp firewood for free here, which is pretty awesome. Check with the rangers at the visitor center, but the rules are pretty basic (pick up dead wood instead of chopping it down, etc.).

Other Area Campgrounds. If you’re looking for reservations and Paulina Lake is booked up, they hold many of their sites for “walk-ups” only. There’s also several other campgrounds in the area, both private and public, if for some reason Paulina Lake is full.

From West (at the Visitor Center) to East, campgrounds and cabins on the lakes include:

  • Paulina Lodge (Private I believe. All cabins, some right on the water).

  • Paulina Lake Campground (this campground review. No beach but does have a boat dock and water access)

  • Newberry Group Camp Site. Three group sites. $75-$100. Didn’t stay here but looked fun.

  • Little Crater Campground. Didn’t visit, but listed as one of the“most popular” campgrounds in the entire Deschutes Forest. Books up Thursday for most weekends.

  • East Lake Campground. Great lake views from most spots and flush toilets.

  • East Lake RV Park. Newer, clean but somewhat cramped and dusty.

  • East Lake Resort Cabins. (Homey in a good way).

  • Cinder Hill Campground, East Lake. Some sites are better than others. Amazing beach.

Product Review: Firebiner by Outdoor Element

On our recent trip to Paulina Lake we got to try out several products by Outdoor Element, including their Firebiner, in exchange for our reviews. The firebiner is a carabiner with a "spark wheel" that can start fires and also includes a bottle opener, screwdriver tip, and a very sharp tiny blade for cutting strings and other lines (like fishing lines):

https://www.outdoorelement.com/product/firebiner/

The whole concept is pretty cool, and we had extra fun with the "EverSpark" technology trying to get the fires started. Nearly every time we turned the wheel it sparked, but we quickly learned the power of having a good "tinder" (a dry bit of material used for starting a fire). When we tried starting fires with items such as dry moss, napkins, or small kindling, the sparks didn't catch. But when we used the tiny "Tinder Quicks" from Outdoor element, we normally could start a fire within 2-3 turns. We even tried other options for tinders…from corn chips to cotton balls covered in Vaseline, and as long as the tinder was good, the sparks caught quickly.

Overall, a fun addition to our camping packs. The carabiner itself is handy for keys and hanging on backpacks and probably the element we'll use most, while the Spark Wheel is a fun, handy back-up when we need to light something on fire.

Nice Location, Fun Creek, Big Spots

Camp Creek campground is a pretty sweet little spot not too far out of Mt. Hood/Government Camp. Spots are decent sized, including some doubles (to share with friends), and lots of trees and greenery between spots. The river-side spots are amazing, with several right on the water.

Several nice little hikes around the area, or just wander through the river down by the small bridge. We also saw several people fishing, though no actual fish. Just the right depth to splash around in and cool off. A few deeper holes (four feet?) that may require a life jacket for little ones just to be extra safe.

The only down side is the lack of facilities (ie, only pit toilets and no showers). This is pretty typical for forest campgrounds in the area, though this is also one of the nicer forest campgrounds we've come across. Price around $20-$22, depending on which sites you pick.

Ranger Review of the Grub Stick at Domke Farms

Campground Review: Super Cozy Vintage Airstream Near Portland

The first thing that Danielle, the campground host, told us after we'd checked in: "I think you're going to have a super cozy night." And she was right. If there's one word to describe the vintage 1959 airstream, it's cozy. Every little corner, window, and decoration was incredibly beautiful, sweet, and stylish. At check-in, we found a custom piece of artwork that welcomed us, as well as fresh flowers, s'more fixings, oatmeal toppings, board games, and a guidebook with trailer instructions and local attractions. The pillows and linens were beautiful, and the woodwork (including the folding table) was amazing. Here's a video online I found of the airstream that's very similar to how it looks now:

http://www.housestiny.com/newlyweds-renovate-1959-airstream-into-gorgeous-tiny-home/

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, we were able to stay at the campground at a great discount to be among the first to try it out and create an honest review, so here's my video of the campground:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=METwRJYHCtI

Outside there was not only a fire pit and "unlimited" firewood, but also kindling, paper, and a lighter (which I had completely forgotten to bring). There's also a hammock, strings of lights, and a second vintage trailer (called the tater tot) that had just arrived and was being set up for smaller groups. While there's a toilet and sinks in the trailer, there is also another clean, brand new bathroom set up for use only by the campground as well.

Domke Farms is a large family farm equidistant from Boring and Sandy Oregon. Caretakers Danielle and Hy manage a small campground at the farm that stands under an incredible stand of evergreen trees. In addition to the "Cozy Roller" airstream and the smaller vintage teardrop, there are also several tent sites and Danielle and Hy's small home in the same camp circle. Farm dogs wander, and you're near fields of crops and soaring hawks and other birds. This is the second "intentional community" that Danielle and Hy have created (the first is in the mid-west), and you can definitely tell that they've done this before in how thoughtful everything is and in their vision for such a welcoming spot. They also gave us the perfect amount of privacy, with just enough help at check-in and check-out to make our stay pleasant.

Favorite Parts
The airstream itself was my favorite part of the trip. I absolutely adored all the little details and it is a very happy space.

Good to Know

Other than the fire pit, hammock, and a bit of land, there's not a whole lot to do at the campsite, especially for kids who may be used to playgrounds or junior ranger programs. We ended up heading into Sandy and Boring for parks and biking, of which there are plenty.

As mentioned before, there are several super sweet farm dogs who may wander by, including the hosts' huge great dane/lab mix puppy, who can get pretty excited. This can be good or bad, depending on your comfort level with dogs, but also very flexible since any time the hosts left they made sure "Charlie" was in their home and happy.

Overall

All-in-all, we had a lovely time with lovely hosts. I could definitely see this being perfect for a writing or art retreat, or just a relaxing break away from the city.

Product Review of The Grub Stick Intro Kit

Our family won a Grub Stick Intro Kit from the Dyrt and decided to try it out on our recent camping trip to Domke Farms.

https://grubstick.com/products/intro-kit

One of the best indicators of how we feel about it is that ever since our trial, the Grub Stick has become a standard part of our camping gear. We've even changed the food we bring since cooking over the fire has become so much easier.

Pros

  • Well built

  • Strong handle doesn't feel like it will fall into the fire when extended

  • Love the bag the kit comes in

Good to Know

  • S'mores and other items in the square cage get hot, so can be difficult to remove, especially when sticky like chocolate and marshmallows

  • With only one base, everyone is fighting over who gets to use it, so next time we'd probably get at least two

**Overall
**

The base with the forks has been my favorite addition. The forks are especially solid and useful for larger items such as oversized hot dogs and corn, which would fall off or bend our other cookers. I'm less excited about using the cage for things such as s'mores since they're difficult to remove, but definitely up for trying it out with different items such as Portobello mushrooms in the future, which could work better. Overall, we've been very happy with the Kit and plan to get other accessories and try them out. It's been a fun addition to our camping cook-outs.

Solid Oregon State Park

Very solid, typical Oregon state campground. Has all of the good things that you'd want: clean flush toilets, Junior Ranger programs and activities, decent spots (some better than others), playground, and nice trees and pretty rock walls.

But what sets it apart is it's proximity to Bend, Oregon, as well as the Day Use area across the road with a river and swimming area along with picnic tables.

Very popular in the summer especially; be sure to book early. Between nearby Bend and the other activities on-site and in the area, you could definitely spend several days here and not get bored.

Lovely and Fun

This lovely "RV Resort" feels a bit like Disneyland or an amusement park (in a good way) in that everything is meticulously maintained, beautiful and there's plenty to do. From the put-put golf course near the check-in, to the store and the lovely lake, this is a great place for kids as well as adults.

It's also located near a vast array of wonderful hikes, towns, and things to do in Central Oregon. So not only a fun place to stay, but also a great jumping-off place for other activities.

Great Location, Horrible Location

I have a love/hate relationship with this campground. On the positive side, it's very close to the cute little town of Sisters, Oregon. It's a good size (not too big, not too small). Decent sized sites. Nice trees. And it's a great deal price-wise.

On the other hand, there's pretty much nothing to do at this campground, and it's within Frisbee distance of the major highway that runs through here. So while not right on the highway, it's close enough to hear noise most of the night.

Overall, unless you need a place right next to Sisters or want to use this as a base camp to save money and head elsewhere, you're better off at other spots nearby.

Fun, Small Campground Next to a Fish Hatchery

This was a really fun campground. There's a handful of large campsites on a small loop. Each spot has--and I'm not sure why this is--a split rail fence around it. You can still easily get around the fence to walk down to the creek or whatever, but for some reason this was really fun for our boys to have a "self-contained" site. There's a pit toilet at both the campground and the day use area. Half the sites are on a small creek.

The other fun part of this campground is there's a nice sized fish hatchery right at the entrance (short walking distance) that you can go check out the pools of baby fish. Next to the hatchery is a short, guided paved pathway that's right on the river. It has picnic tables and panels telling about the fish and area.

All-in-all, a nice little campground with just enough to do for a night, but probably not much longer unless you use it as a jumping-off point for other activities in the area.

Basic Forest Campground. River Side Much Better

We've been to a lot of similar campgrounds in Oregon that are managed by the National Forest. These are basic, cheap (normally $10-$15), forested campgrounds right off a highway that offer basic amenities such as water and pit toilets. Sometimes you get lucky and there's an amazing view or lake, or sometimes you're unlucky and it's noisy and too close to the highway.

In the case of Riverside Campground not too far outside Sisters, Oregon, you have both: spots on the upper-hill side are often right off the highway, to the extent that one side of your spot is literally a busy road. On the down-hill side, it's the opposite, with lovely green, forested sites right on the river. Both areas have noise during the nights from the road, but the spots closer to the freeway are obviously louder.

All in all, there's other campgrounds in the area I'd head to first (the Marion Forks fish hatchery campground is pretty cool), but if you're going to stay here, choose your site wisely.

Gem of a Campground

This campground was an unexpected surprise not too far out of Salem, Oregon and just over an hour from Portland. Nice camp sites, clean bathrooms with flush toilets and free showers, good prices, well maintained, and most of all--plenty of fun activities to keep the kiddos busy. There's bike and hiking trains, a large playground, basketball area, a lovely river and plenty of areas to explore.

There's spots for Rvs as well as tents. While most spots are nice, with plenty of trees and some distance between sites,  some are definitely better than others. There's also group areas for eating and group campsites. My favorite spots are a series of tent-only spots by the river. There's also some with lean-to covers over the picnic tables, which are fun. We'd definitely head back soon.

Ranger Review: Wenzel Oversized Quad Chairs at Beacon Rock State Park

Campground Review: Beacon Rock State Park

Beacon Rock State Campground is a very nice, small, looped campground located across the freeway and about a mile or two away from the amazing hike up Beacon Rock. There's trees galore and there's also several very nice hikes of various lengths that leave right from the campground. Camp sites vary greatly, and every time I've gone it's first-come, first-served, so it helps to come early to grab a spot, though even in summer we've had luck on an off-night (like Sunday or Wednesday) grabbing a decent site. This most recent trip was early in the season, so even though the weather was lovely, we had practically the entire campground to ourselves.

In addition to the 28-site campground, there's also two day-use areas that you'll pass on the way to the campground which are very nice and include basic kitchen set-ups built back in the 1930s by the CCC, bathrooms, and picnic tables. The first day use area on the right as you enter also has a playground, while the second area on the left has great views of Beacon Rock.

Pros: Great spot for heading out on hikes. Showers and decently clean bathrooms. Trees.

Cons: Definitely some spots better than others.

Overall, a great spot as a base camp for hikes in the area, but not a ton to do at the actual campground.

Campground video: https://thedyrt.com/member/corinna-b/reviews/44685/media/141684

Ranger Review: Wenzel Oversized Quad Chair

Stats: 22x22x36 inches, about 7.5 pounds. Supports up to 350 lbs.

The Wenzel Oversized Quad Chair is a well made, sturdy chair that works equally well for car camping or outdoor events. As a Dyrt Ranger, I was given a gift certificate to Wenzel in order to choose an item to review. We used it two purchase two of these Quad chairs, and they've quickly become the chairs everyone fights to sit in anytime we're at a kids' soccer game or camping. While they'd definitely be too heavy for walk-in campsites or hiking (about 7.5 pounds on a bathroom scale), the built-in strap makes them perfect for carrying a couple blocks. After almost two months of weekly use, the construction is holding up very well, unlike other chairs we've purchased from other companies in the past.

Pros:

  • Well made, including arm rests and cup holder
  • Very easy to set up and put away
  • Good looking, with blue stripes and pattern
  • Good price

Cons/Improvements:

  • Somewhat heavy. Not made for carrying more than 5-10 blocks.
  • While everyone else in my family loves the comfort of the chair, for me when I'm sitting forward, my thighs hit the hard plastic squares on either side of the seat.

Overall, the Wenzel Oversized Quad Chair is a very solid option at a good price. I've been impressed with how well they've held up so far. These have become a must-have addition to our car camping trips.

Wenzel chair video: https://thedyrt.com/camping/washington/washington-beacon-rock-state-park/review/44685/media/141685

NE Corner of Yellowstone. First Come, First Served

If you're coming from the North/East side of Yellowstone, this is a great campground to grab a last-minute spot. As with most of the first-come-first-served campsites, in the busy months you'll have to get here at 7am or so and wait for them to post any available sites at 7:30am. You can check Yellowstone's website to see what time the campground filled up the day before to get a better idea of how early you have to be here.

The campground itself isn't fantastic. It's small (which is a bonus) and mostly filled with tents and smaller trailers, so fairly quiet. Some sites are better than others. But what is great is the location and the price. For $15 you get to be right off the main "loop" of Yellowstone and it's a great staging area for seeing the rest of the park.

Nice, Clean RV Park with Newer Models, Greenery and a Pool

I'll be honest. I wasn't expecting much from this RV Park. It's not in the most exciting area of Portland (the closet thing is a Walmart down the road). But it's actually quite lovely. Nice and clean. Plenty of green space, trees. Most spots were pull-though with decently wide streets to drive in. Even though it's just off a semi-major street, it's set back enough and surrounded by trees to be more quiet.

The park is set up in two areas, with the one closer to the entrance a bit higher up than the spots toward the back. Pool, clubhouse, etc. are toward the front. The front office was clean and the manager nice.

While there's definitely some long-term and month-to-month spots, most RVs aren't spilling over with "extras" (extensive decorations/sheds etc.) like some places.

To me, the price is a bit much: $57.67 for full hook-ups, and that's after a AAA discount. Otherwise, a decent place to stay with your RV on the edge of Portland.