Crystal C.
Sunset, TX
Joined July 2018
I’m a travel blogger with a focus on budget travel so I camp a lot!! Check out my ig and YouTube BunnyPlaysHere
Ranger Review: Hoh Oxbow FREE Camping With Banner & Oak Beanie

For FULL VIDEO Review CLICK HERE

When traveling in the PNW, a handy item to consider is the Discover Pass. Not only does it allow access to all of the State Parks, but it also unlocks the limitless possibilities of FREE camping throughout the state of Washington. 

I stumbled upon many campground which could be utilized throughout the state by simply having the pass, something which is somewhat of a secret they don’t share with you when you first visit the state itself. 

Picking up this pass guarantees you unlimited access to these facilities for one calendar year and is only$40. 

For more details about the Discover Pass CLICK HERE 

Campground Review: 

One of the many locations I found along the way was the HOH OxBow Campground, a semi improved campground just a short distance from the entrance to the Olympic National Park’s unique rainforest. When it comes to FREE camping in the area this is one of the more easily accessible sites with a quick turn out right off the 101. 

Staying in this area you can expect larger campsites with picnic tables and fire rings and a single vault toilet for the location. There are around 10 campsites at this location and if you are traveling with friends each of these has plenty of room for 2-3 rigs or cars. 

I found this site does fill however there are also some smaller pull outs over by the fishing area if you are looking to stay in your smaller vehicle. I pulled in later in the evening and needed a location for the evening which was relatively close to the rainforest, the next day’s adventure. It was pouring so camping in a tent was out of the question. I found a single parking/pull off area and discovered that you can stay here as well so it was perfect. 

The next morning I woke to a chilly morning but no rain and decided to walk around and explore and was welcomed into the natural beauty of the area. From where I was parked there was a small walking trail which departed the campground and ran alongside a river and to some spectacular views. A small boat launch was perfect for canoes or kayaks and is a popular area for fishing in this region. 

This site allows up to 7 days at a time, as do many DNR Managed Lands. You can stay here with a Discover Pass but must display it on your front dash at all times. Camping items must be attended to at least once every 24 hours otherwise you will be considered to have abandoned them, so don’t use this as a home base and explore a longer hike without checking in. 

Because this is a limited service site you will be required to pack in and out all of your trash as there are no pick ups or trash cans. You also cannot collect fire wood from the area and must bring your own. 

Something I really did appreciate about this location was the overall peace which came from exploring it. Though it was just off the roadway, I heard absolutely no road noise. I also noticed posted signs prohibiting ATVs from the area to keep the peace and quiet. 

TIPS

  • Bring everything you will need for camping as this is a Primitive Campground and offers no store options. Should you forget something I suggest visiting Forks which is a short distance north along the 101. 
  • Make sure you bring a raincoat. This area is known as a rainforest for a reason, it receives over a hundred inches of rain each year and usually this comes in the form of a constant drizzle. While you might be tempted to bring an umbrella but this can prove to be more cumbersome than helpful. 
  • Download offline maps before coming to this area, especially if you have AT&T, service through this area is very limited and sparse. 

Points Of Interest To Check Out: 

  • Ruby Beach- Also known as Driftwood Beach this location is just south of the campground and offers great views of some unique aspects of the Washington coastline. You will most enjoy seeing the many creations people leave on the beach from the washed up logs from the surrounding forest. 

  • Forks- This community is a unique place to visit in the state as it has been a part of the film industry for several projects, most famously known as the area for which they filmed Twilight. In addition to some familiar locations you can find a few interesting places to stop in town which have a lot of historic value. 

Product Review: 

As a Ranger for the Dyrt I am able to check out some amazing gear and provide feedback from my travels and the practicality of usage. For this trip I was able to check out some very useful items from Banner & Oak

Did you know that you lose the vast majority of your body heat through not covering your head? Studies prove that over half of your body heat is lost through your head when not covered. Reasoning relates to the amount of skin exposed accounting for 7% of your total skin surface area and most of that rarely covered, unlike much of the other portions of your body. 

A quick way to ensure your body stay warmer during cooler conditions or to keep you feeling cozy on a typically rainy day is to wear a hat. 

On the day I visited the HOH OxBow Campground it was especially chilly following a night of excessive rains. Though I had several Banner& Oak hats with me, the one I reached for was the Banner& Oak Range Beanie in the Color Olive. 

The beanie retails for$24, a bit higher than I typically would spend on a beanie, but it was apparent as to why the additional cost once I put it on. Unlike many beanies I have tried over my adventures this one is a bit thicker as it uses a double layered knit. It is resistant to most elements through its construction and quickly became a favorite for cold weather. Despite being a thicker set material I found it to fit snug without being to tight on my head and it allowed me to style it in several ways depending on my need. 

For the cooler day of hiking through the rainforest, where it later began to rain I wore the hat in a more slouchy offset to the back styling. When I was a little further down the road toward Crater Lake and stumbled upon freezing temperatures and light snow, I was able to place the beanie more firmly on my head and lower on the ears for more coverage and warmth. 

All in all between the fit, color and options it provided me for warmth I would rate this as one of my go to items when it comes to cool weather travel. The investment in good headwear is important and often times overlooked when it comes to packing for an adventure, but this one proves that it is a necessary point which should be considered on every travel check list. 

TIPS: 

  • When shopping on Banner & Oak check out the men’s section even if you are a woman. The hats on the site do vary from section to section slightly and in my opinion some of the more fun hats are featured on the men’s listing.
  •  Remember when packing for winter to bring closed back hats and beanies as opposed to snapbacks with open vents this will keep you warmer when you travel during cool weather. 
  • Consider wearing a beanie when you sleep in colder weather, this will keep your body temperature much higher even when in a tent.
Platform Style Camping Pads Ideal For Scenic Views

If a single site could ever embody a feeling of being detached and isolated while also being surrounded by natures warm reception, the Lake Creek Campground would be that location. 

Having checked out Fox Creek only a short distance away from this location I thought it simply could not get better, however having arrived a bit later in the day I had missed out on the riverside location I had desired. I opted to drive upward toward the Chelan Recreation Area and try my luck as the road began to change to a more bumpy terrain. Just before arriving at the area, to which I certainly could not navigate with my small car, 

I found this location and was inspired to stop and see how it could differ from the last. I was elated to discover how the site was near empty in comparison and seemed to offer such a unique experience in comparison to others. 

Each site was distanced at a comfortable spacing from the last and provided a comfortable amount of room to move freely. I really enjoyed the layout of these sites, while they did offer a bit less tree coverage they more than made up for that in views. In the not so distant view there were mountains visible and the escarpment of parking level and camping level made for a beautiful dynamic for camping without interruption. 

A parking pad was located at the top with a few steps downward to the camping area. Though only a few feet higher than the lower pad, the barrier of the height formed a near soundproofing from the roadway or other campers. 

The camping pad was equipped with standard amenities of a fire ring and picnic table but more impressively the view of the river flowing just a short distance below was like a post card. The pad site was even and hard packed but had just enough give thanks to the pine needles which lined its top layer. Camping here is no frills, no water or electricity and only vault toilets. 

But with views like this who even seems to mind. It seemed like a steal for only$10 and though I had no cell service I felt safe as I saw a Forest Ranger pulling though to check on the location and make sure fees had been collected at the honor box. 

If you visit this location I recommend Site 6. After driving through camp there were several very impressive sites but this one had a magical feel to it as the sunset over the treeline and beams of light filtered through well into dusk. It also provided some amazing night sky views. 

Tips: 

  • You will need an America the Beautiful Pass or a National Recreation Pass, Discover Passes are not honored here as this is a national site not a state maintained site. 
  • Check the entry kiosk at the pay station, this will have a full listing of rules and regulations and will additionally have information about any possible burn bans in the area. 
  • If you are wanting to visit the Chelan Recreation Area and do not have a 4 wheel drive or high clearance vehicle I do not advise visiting from the entry point on this side. Instead enter on the Chelan Lake entrance side.
Remote Campground On River

When I was traveling the Cascade Loop I quickly learned that cell signal is something to be desired.  However it was through this common issue that I discovered a happy accident with Fox Creek Campground.    Nestled many miles down a well paved roadway winding through the forests a small sign indicated the turn in for a quaint campground maintained by the Forest Service.

A word of warning before you venture here, if it has been raining a lot you want to be aware that you might experience flooding in some of the campsites due to their proximity to the river.   But should you venture when it is not raining, this campground is one you would fall in love with quickly if you enjoy something a little off the beaten path.

Sites are available for only $10 and the no frills camping offers only vault toilets as amenities.  However each campsite is fairly even and has room to spread out without having to worry to much about your neighbors.  Each site offers the basics of a picnic table and fire ring in addition to lantern hooks.    Sites have clear marked paved parking areas and signage indicates there is no parking in non specified areas.

Much like other campgrounds in the area this location does not accept the Discover Pass however does require a Recreation Pass to be displayed.  This includes the America the Beautiful Pass.

The campsite I decided upon was well cleared for camping however offered the canopy of tall trees to keep the sunshine from beaming down.    The pack of the ground below was even and clear of debris which made for a perfect set up for my tent and with a fine covering of pine needles provided just enough cushion to make for a comfortable evening.

Something I did notice at this location that made it a bit more unique than other camps in the area were the Mosquito Bite Free Zone hangers.     I am not sure if they had been left by other campers or if they were provided by Forest Service but they were a great feature which seemed to really keep the bug away when I visited.

Being a part of the National Forest seeing the nature of the area was quite beautiful as the sunset passed through the trees and the sound of the water flowing quietly put me to sleep at night.

Tips:

* Firewood is not to be gathered at the campsite but can be purchased at the Silver Falls Guard Station nearby.   Otherwise you will want to bring wood with you when you travel this way because you will be quite a ways from town.

* If you are dependent on solar power, there are a few sites which have less tree coverage, however these are near the water and are coveted so arrive early to make sure you secure these.

* This area is considered to be closed waters and does not allow fishing even with license.   If you are looking to recreationally fish, you might check another campground in the area off the river.   Many of the river camps are not accessible for fishing.

A Wonderful Welcome To Washington On the East

Crossing through the dry and rugged terrain of the eastern most portion of Washington, the pleasant surprise of the forest campground of Swauk could not have come at a better time.   Just after the rolling hills met the forested tree line this quaint campground welcomed me to the Washington I had wished to find on my adventures.   It was a first taste of the glory of the Pacific Northwest and a perfect way to find the solitude and beauty of the land during late fall.

Pulling into Swauk you first will find a recreation area where cross country skiing is permitted during the winter months and during summer months families can enjoy horse shoe pits, picnic and barbecue areas.    Parking here is plentiful and invites you to enjoy the land in its entirety.    

I noticed a small trail behind a shelter area and followed it to the gentle moving stream which passed throughout the back of not only the recreation area but also the camp.    Here you could truly get a glimpse of the beauty and wonder of the trees opening up and increasing in size, the ferns growing wild and abundantly and the pine needles lining the forest floor creating a barrier which seems to trap sound and create a hush over the entire area.

The shelter when I had passed housed a large fire place and additional picnic tables making this a perfect location for those chilly nights you find in the forest.

Just beyond the recreation area the campground welcomes campers with large sites and plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a day, a weekend or a week.    A self service pay station is located at the entrance to this portion.    Single sites are $18 while doubles are $36, envelops are available alongside other rules and regulations for the campground.

Once you have secured your campsite at this location you will place your tag on the site itself in a small plastic placard located at the entrance of each site to signify it is taken.   this allows you to navigate away from the campground to explore the forest and the many areas of interest near the Cascade Loop or the Gingko Forest.   

Vault toilets can be found in two locations, one at the mid point of camp and the other at the entrance and provide facilities, however no running water is available at these sites.  Running water can be found in the recreation area however if it is needed.    You will want to make sure you are able to sustain without power however because that is not available at any portion of the campground.

This site overall is a great way to enjoy Washington  and I found that visiting was an unexpected treat.    To visit the facilities make sure you understand that this is not a State facility thus the Discover Pass is not accepted.  Instead you will want to make sure you display a National Park Pass, as this is a site maintained by the Forest Service, though I will say no one was there to check it and there was no clear signage to mark this.

Tips:

* Bring your own firewood.   There are signs posted throughout camp mentioning that you cannot cut trees in the area for any reason.    There is no firewood station at this campground either so if you are planning on having a fire make sure you come prepared.

* Because this site is a part of the Forest Service there are also signs posted about saving the vegetation.   This means you will want to park only in the areas that are marked clearly.   If you have a rig which does not fit within the bounds, consider another site at the campground.

* If you need supplies you will want to find them in the larger cities or towns along the way.   When I was here I noticed there are very few stops which provide basic essentials for many miles.

Ranger Review: Acai Berry Liquid IV At Quartz Flat Campground

CLICK HERE for FULL Ranger Review Video

When traveling through Montana there is a portion of the state which suddenly opens up in such an inviting way as the National Forest and Mountains start to give you the first glimpse of the upcoming PNW environment.   Tall trees welcome you and on a cool fall day the crisp air produces  a beautiful fog over the mountains.

Campground Review:

As I entered into this section of the 2 million acre LOLO National Forest I initially pulled into a rest area to make lunch only to realize that the exit point for the rest area was actually also the shared entry point for the Quartz Flat Campground.

The immediate sense of comfort abounded as large campsites became visible as I drove down the entry and the opening of the 2 loops welcomed me in with open arms.   Sites were well shaded and had ample ground to spread out and get comfortable for a stay from a day to 14 days at only $10 a night or $5 for those with the Senior Access pass.

I was very surprised when I noticed that Loop C was designed for smaller RVs, Vans and Tent campers and Loop A was designed for larger units which required pull through entry.    There was attention to detail for any possible traveler, something which commonly is not considered in design of National Forest campsites.

But far beyond the size this started to reveal to me that it was not your typical campsite on National Forest land for many other reasons.    There were both vault toilets and flush toilets at the location scattered throughout camp and drinking water spigots available at central points.

For tent campers the forest bed offered a lush and soft pad for set up and with sites being quite large there was a tranquility which came from camping here.  All sites were equipped with fire rings and tables but a select few were the location of bear boxes.    After leaving Yellowstone where each site had a bear box this was bit confusing to me as to why there were limited bear boxes but this did not deter me.

Additionally there is a dump station and trash collection at the Loop C entry point, very uncommon for these type of sites.   There also was a trail which began on the C Loop and traversed 1/2 a mile with information available at the main road with free brochures.

Departing this loop, I thought I had seen it all, but boy was I wrong!!  There was an entire other campground on the opposite side of the highway, accessible by a tunnel which passed under the highway itself.  This campground near mirrored that of the A & C Loops however appeared a bit closer to the highway.

TIPS:

  • If you are visiting this campground make sure you bring everything with you, there is no store nearby for a quick stop.
  • Check dates of closure for this campground.   When I arrived there were signs posted at the pay kiosk of closure beginning September 16th.    

For More Information About LOLO National Forest CLICK HERE

Product Review:

Upon occasion I am given the opportunity as a Dyrt Ranger to try out some amazing new products along my adventures.   For this trip I was able to try out the Acai Berry Liquid IV, a unique product which offers hydration multiplication for those who are needing a little pick me up.

How Does It Work?

Hydration multipliers work in a very interesting way.   Through adding a concentrated amount of electrolytes to your regular water they are able to make a single water hydrate your body as much as 3 waters of the same size.     The CTT technology used by Liquid IV is unique to the brand  and allows glucose and sodium to move differently in the body.  

In simple terms, if you don't drink enough water regularly, if you add Liquid IV to your intake, it allows your body to feel like it actually is getting enough water.

How Do I Use It?

Use is simple!! Servings are prepackaged and can be added to water of any temperature.    Simply tear the top, scissors not needed, and pour then shake!  I personally like adding it to hot tea in addition to plain water for a little punch of flavor.

How Does It Taste?

The Acai Berry flavor is a light flavor additive which allows you a subtle punch of flavor,   Unlike many drink additives it does not have a chalky taste and when it is fully dissolved you have no textural discrepancy from a standard water.   It just tastes like something other than water…lol

Does It Really Work?

I have been trying Liquid IV for a few weeks and have noticed a definite difference when using it versos not using it.    The product allows your body to not feel the signs of fatigue on a strenuous hike and allows you to stay hydrated, preventing muscle cramps, profuse sweating and heat related fatigue.

When using on a standard day of light activity your body just feels more energized, despite not being an energy supplement.    

I would recommend using this product for your day to day, especially if you struggle with consuming the recommended amount of water regularly.   For those who participate in strenuous athletic activity this is a game changer much better than Gatorade or Powerade.

Campground Flooded With Limited Site Availability (as of September 2019)

When visiting Milford State Park one of the first camping loops you find is Prairie View Campground which is why many find it so appealing.   It has great cell signal, close proximity to the front office and highway and borders upon the lake.    But with that lake access also comes a very scary reality during rainy season.   This campground is prone to lower sites flooding when rains are abundant.    However no one could have prepared for massive rains which took an already vulnerable large campground and turned it into a very small limited access site.

Of the campgrounds available at Milford Lake this is one of the few which remain open despite waters swelling and swallowing the majority of the camp during the 2019 season.

Campsites offer electricity and picnic tables with a variety of styles of sites including pull through and back in.    However with man of these underwater it is hard to find a site currently that feels safe and high enough to merit camping here.

This campground has a lot of promise with their facility.    There is plenty of shade in the area making for a very comfortable stay when not experiencing rising waters.   There is firewood available from the campground host as you enter the campground and 2 loops for camping offer plenty of options during peak season.

Currently there are less than 10 sites available at this location, road is barricaded and the waters are literally in the backyard of all sites as it has created a peninsula.   

Typically there is shore access for fishing in this campground.

TIPS:

  • Call ahead before visiting this park as a whole to check conditions.  With limited locations for camping currently available you will be happier by checking in advance rather than coming and experiencing being turned away.
  • Book online or pay at the pay station with cash.    No cards are accepted at the pay station and mostly of the time there is no one in the check in booth at the gate.
Easy Highway Access

Nebraska is abounding with recreation areas many within a reasonable distance of the main highway running across the state.   But War Axe, a much smaller area offers immediate access to fishing and fun within only 30 seconds of the highway!!

I visited this area and quickly was surprised by how such a small location could have such a great opportunity for someone like myself to enjoy a quiet day at a small lake.   Despite being so close to the highway, the location is quiet and calm, a perfect way to spend a day or up to 10 days.

There isn't much to say about this site that is negative, the grass is a plush green and backs up to a corn field, so iconically Nebraska!!   The site is small and only caters to a handful of campers at $10 per site.    While primitive there is a flush toilet with running water making it feel not quite as primitive as other sites along the same stretch.     Lush trees shade the camping zones and a small boat launch offers those stopping in. the opportunity to get in the water or enjoy the small shoreline.

One thing to be said for any recreation area in Nebraska is a friendly reminder that you will need an access pass to stay here or even visit.   These cannot be obtained at the site and must be repurchased before visiting either online or at one of the main offices.   This I found to be a big inconvenience throughout the entire state as I passed by on a weekend and was unaware.    

The area is well patrolled and actually a ranger was present when I visited.   He was a great source of information and allowed me to access the area despite my lack of knowledge of the pass requirement.   There is no gate or monitoring when you enter only an honor box near the restrooms.

Campsites are marked with tables and fire rings and any restrictions are posted at the same area as the honor box.   

I loved this location and would gladly stop in again if in the area!!  Very cute and small, not busy and easy to access makes for the perfect place to spend a day or night.

Tips:

  • Make sure to look online and get your pass for any Nebraska parks or rec areas before traveling to.
  • Bring anything you need with you as there are no services.   Since this is along a major highway you are only a short distance from stores if you forget something but better come with everything rather than having to find them after.
Ranger Review: Banner & Oak At Jeffrey Canyon State Park

Campground Review:  

Traveling through Nebraska there are several areas you might be interested in exploring, amongst those Jeffrey Canyon State Wildlife Area, a primitive site with a rich history and a unique location.

As you travel down the road to Jeffrey Canyon the corn fields abound and thrive, the terrain begins to climb then you sharply turn to access the area.    The area is clearly marked, but the areas which you are allowed to camp are not.   As a part of the hydroelectric power area there are many unique features including a large lake with plenty of land around it.   The problem lays in that there are no maps delegating areas which are able to be camped on.    One area beyond the park is privately owned and marked for no entry, but the historic looking outbuildings, while interesting are not marked by any specific markers.

It was not until I left the property that I knew what exactly I had been looking at while there.  The historic buildings are gems to say the least but without marking or description they are mere photographable relics.    It was a bit sad to visit and have little to no knowledge of what was abounding.

The reservoir itself is a fishermen's haven with many coming to the area to fish and enjoy sport.  While visiting I noticed many navigating the lake on various sized boats.

As for camping this is where there was more than a little confusion.    The steep uneven terrain just beyond the road/dam was open for primitive camping, however it would be a bit awkward to access for many vehicles.    With road wash and loose gravel it was not  ideal and I could honestly say I was a little worried about driving down toward the camping area which was not much more than a slurry pit area.

It was very sad to see that such an area with great promise was not better equipped for those coming to the area to appreciate it.   There were no services, which was somewhat expected but the potential of the site and how well manicured the outbuildings were and the vast difference in the actual camping area allocated was very disconnected.   

When approaching town I asked someone and they said many use the woods, however this is hike in only and very limited parking along the major roadway are used for this.   I personally would not recommend this.

The grounds were beautiful and deserving of a much higher rating but the camping itself was limited and deemed the lower rating.   Perhaps visit for fishing or just a good stop in Nebraska but steer toward one of the other locations within 30 miles of this location for actual camping.

Product Review:

I was very excited when I was asked to review some of the items from Banner & Oak on this trip and found that the variety and styles of hats offered was so vast.    I selected the "Freedom To Explore" hat which was very fitting for the adventures I take on while traveling.   I consider myself to be a nomad at heart and go wherever the wind blows me so the theme of this hat was a mirror of myself.

The hat is a snapback with a unique feel to the material used.   The black and grey fabric is a great suit for most looks as it is muted and can appeal to many.   The customizable size is perfect for someone like myself because my head is a bit smaller so this allows me to really fit the hat and keep it secure even in a windy day like the one I visited this location.

The quality of the Banner & Oak brand is very high and I love that the hat is not only versatile but durable.    

I personally prefer hats during summer for sun protection wince I have such short hair and this hat did not disappoint at all in this regard!   I would easily give this hat by Banner & Oak a 5 star rating.   It was just ashamed that the hat completely outshined the location!

Beauty Abounds At This Park

Passing through South Dakota rests a very unique park unlike any other you will find.    The Wind Cave National Park in its own right is emoting of great majesty, a unique preserved ecosystem in the midst of a world which has moved in and managed to destroy so much of the grassy prairie lands through development.    Passing into the park is passing into a piece of history.   

While the cave itself is something of a wonder, the park itself is a ground which should also be noted.     It is a place where wild bison roam free, elk pass through and can be found thriving, prairie dogs bark adamantly and so many more unique native animals and plants can be observed and appreciated.

It is in this area that you will find Elk Mountain Campground.     

When I drove through this area I wasn't sure what to expect.   The rolling prairie plains were beautiful however did not offer much in way of shade and that somewhat concerned me as I drove closer and closer to camp, however the world began to roll as hills turned and transitioned into a forest of wonder and lush green grasses.   

The campground looked like a different world from the world which I had been driving in coming from Hot Springs.     Tall trees shaded sites and provided a soft bed for tent campers, large pull ins offered RVs options for a variety of sizes and styles of camping.    Each site was adorned with the standard fire rings and picnic tables and depending on your desire you could stay in a location which was completely shaded or had sun exposure.

Bathrooms here are flush toilets with running water, including a wash basin room for dishes and though there were not showers it didn't seem to be an inconvenience with all the beauty around.

Group sites offered large grassy knolls and in some cases pavilions for use and with winding paths around camp to differentiate the loops through sites were close together they seemed to have privacy.

Although this campground does have an honor box there is also a campground host which does keep track of campers and park rangers patrol throughout the day and evening to ensure safety.     This makes for a very secure feeling camp in such a unique location.

TIPS:

  • If visiting call ahead to see if the cave is open.   When I visited the elevators were not operating and this limited access to the cave itself.
  • Try hiking in the park, unlike many parks which only allow trail hiking this park encourages you to explore fully.
  • Keep your distance from wildlife.    Wildlife is wild here even if it looks tame they are not!!  Bison can run up to 35 miles per hour and most incidents with the wildlife occur from people trying to encroach upon the animals for photos.
Explore From Right Inside The Park

Devil's Tower can be one of those parks which quickly can have a line just to get in, especially on busy holiday weekends.    I visited on Labor Day and found that the early bird gets the worm when it comes to entry and camping alike.     While there are other camping facilities just outside of the grounds the ability to simply wake up and hit a trail from your campground is something of unique appeal.    

As you enter the park you will wind around the way with spectacular views of the Devil's tower, pass through prairie dog town and then stumble upon the campground just before ascending to the parking area for the tower's popular trails and small information center.     When crowds are large parking in this area is tight, which is why camping inside the parks bounds has even more of an appeal.    I found that the campground had an access trail which allowed you some of the best views of the tower and also the red beds.    

There are two access points, one to the lower area and one to the higher allowing you to completely bypass the majority of the tourism traffic unless you really want to take the paved ADA trail.

Campsite is spacious and has limited number of sites so registration on a busy weekend is best done online.   On a normal day of the week the campground can fill up by noon so keep that in mind if you are wanting to wing it.

Camp offers all the basics of home without showers.    Flushing toilets and running water are centrally located as is potable water.    This makes even camping in a tent feel luxurious as you are nestled under large shade trees with the Devil's Tower right in your backyard view.     Additionally there is abundant cell signal at all points around the park.    

While there is no firewood or a local store located in the park, less than 50 yards from the entrance gate is a general store and restaurant which has everything you need and despite being so close prices are fairly reasonable.   

I greatly enjoyed the area and also the company of the neighboring campers at this location, everyone was generally very friendly!!  I felt like in comparison to other area campgrounds the price was also just right for what was offered at only $20.     

TIPS:  

  • Get the Annual Pass for Parks for only $80 and save big if you are visiting more than one park.   There are several within a stones throw of this area you will want to visit including Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and Rushmore.
  • Try the Red Beds trail for a unique vantage point which seems completely disjointed from the look of Devil's Tower.   For more information about this I suggest doing a little research beforehand.
Hard Sides Only!!

If you are a tent camper, something you quickly realize when traveling in this are of Wyoming is that not all campgrounds are created equally.    There are so many options yet many of them are in high risk areas for bears and because of that you are somewhat limited when it comes to forest sites.    That was the case when entering ThreeMile Campground!

I was very interested in this campground for a variety of reasons including large shaded sites, river access and proximity to Yellowstone's Eastern entrance.    However as excited as I was I was quickly disappointed as I pulled into camp, got out of my car to pay for a site and discovered I would not be able to stay at this location. I am not opposed to car camping in an area, but at this location they do not allow car camping either only hard sided RVs or Vans.   I was so upset!!

I toured the camp despite not being able to stay and just as I had imagined the sites are very nice.   The tables are sturdy and mostly shaded.   there are bear boxes at each site in addition to fire rings and the spacing for most vehicles is decent.   

I spoke to a ranger in the area and he mentioned the threat of moving bears was very high at this campground hence the restrictions and while I understood it was still upsetting.    I went on to explore a bit more and noticed that there are several sites along the shore where you can leave your site and walk right into the water.     Others were on the land side and offered seclusion with trees and bushes.    

Bathrooms here are only vaults and there is no electricity or water provided so you will want to bring everything with you should you stay here.    Prices seemed very reasonable at $15 for standard sites and $30 for double with a discount given to senior access pass holders.   

I noticed a few posted rules for the campground including quiet time hours for not only generators but also music, a point which the ranger reiterated to me because many people come here and blast music during summer months.

Fishing Access To River With Mixed Amenities

When traveling along the riverside from Cody to Yellowstone and looking for a site which provides large spaces and electricity your options are very limited.     This campground is one of the only options available with river access which meet this requirement while also catering to those which desire unimproved camping.     The location offers two loops of camping including one which is designed for the primitive camper and one which caters to those who would like some of the comforts of home.   

Upon entering camp you will find a camping kiosk with an honor box, however unlike many of the campgrounds in this area there are campground host which hold you accountable for your entry.    This makes sense with such offerings.

Each of the camping loops are designed for one way traffic, which allows you to more simplistically move through camp however can be a bit harder for larger rigs when searching for sites as some are not clearly marked.

Each loop has access to vault toilets scattered throughout camp in key locations and there is a common water spigot in several locations around the camp.   I found that this was very convenient for those which are not requiring the electricity to still have some access to water since there are no services located nearby camp.

On the primitive loop and improved loop alike the sites are very evenly sized with some locations being back in or pull in another others being pull through.     There are also double sites available.   All sites have common picnic tables and bear boxes in addition to fire rings.

With such a variety of services and spaces offered prices do range vastly from site to site.     If you are wanting a primitive site they start off at $15 for singles and $30 for doubles or $20 for electric singles and $40 for electric doubles.  They do however offer a discount for those who have a senior access pass.

This particular campground does not welcome or offer sites for those with horses, something I noticed was very common to this area.   

Something which sets this site apart however from other locations is the specific area designed for fishing access.   If you pull through camp there is a parking area and large bank access point for those camping at the grounds or just visiting for day use.

Despite being right on the river, I felt this campground seemed much more dry than other campsites and many of the locations were more exposed to the harsh sunlight.   When vehicles drove through it was very dusty and made things feel very cloudy.

River Access With Mountain Views

Along the route from Cody to Yellowstone a variety of campgrounds abound offering inexpensive options with great views.    Amongst those Big Game Campground, a seasonally open campground with amazing river access and the wooded feel of a remote mountain campground.    

I found this campground when exploring the area and was instantly drawn in by the large shaded sites and how comfortable and secluded they felt.    Each site feels removed from the next as they are all built into little burrows and once you park your vehicle you feel very private.

Toward the front of the campground all sites are heavily wooded and toward the back they are somewhat open to the river.    Absolutely beautiful views of the mountains and the sound of water around you is very relaxing.   The only negative being that some of the river sites also have been barricaded off after recent undercutting of the shoreline by the river ways.

For those who enjoy fishing this is a perfect location as there are miles of shoreline which can be accessed from this point.   

Price point is very reasonable at only $10 and with both hard sided RVs and tents welcome this is a very appealing campground, unlike some a littler further toward Yellowstone which are limited to only hard sides.

Campsites each include standard amenities of picnic tables and fire rings along with mandatory use bear boxes.    There was a nice introduction to bears for those unfamiliar at the pay kiosk (cash only). I suggest reading this and becoming familiar before exploring the area or camping here.

At this location I did have cellular signal on AT&T although it was pretty limited.    

TIPS:

  • Be prepared and bring everything you need.   There are very limited stops from Cody to Yellowstone and prices at this few locations are much higher than in the Cody community.
  • Bring your water shoes if you intend on wading in the water.   Although most of the banks are covered with smooth river rocks some broken limbs are in the water with sharp jagged edges.
Great Park Access & Cell Signal

Just after crossing into Yellowstone at the northern most outlet you will find Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, one of the most convenient and ONLY campground where you will find most of the comforts of home aka cell service.   Sure for those not caring about this service the campground might not be the most appealing as it is harder to get into because of prebooking, but for those who year round are looking for a convenient location with room to enjoy the local Fort Yellowstone area this is where it is at.

So with the added amenity of having coverage you might expect this to be one of the higher priced campgrounds, but the price of only $20 per night is extremely reasonable.   

There are no showers at this campground, however the bathroom facilities are very nice with flushing toilets and cold water in the sinks.     I found this to be one of better campgrounds when it came to bathrooms as they seemed larger than most.

Another unique feature of this campground was that a certain number of sites are set aside for those cycling of hiking the area, a very important feature considering so many visit this area on the Contential Divide Trail.     Also there are a select amount of accessible sites for handicapped featuring raised tent pads and water access which is right in the campsite instead of elevated on the hillside like some.

For those not wanting to book in advance, this campground fills very quickly.  I noticed that on weekdays the few sites reserved for day of use filled before noon, so make this your first stop of the day instead of exploring the park first.

Pull ins seemed large enough for mid to large units and the only thing I could say that might be a negative to those in larger units is that you are right on the roadway in some campsites if you are a big rig.   There are a few sites which have size restrictions so check on these before visiting.

For tent campers like myself the pull ins allow you plenty of room to spread out and enjoy yourself.    Sites include picnic tables, bear boxes and fire rings.     

In this area during the late summer and early fall you are likely to find elk very nearby, they tend to come down and graze in the area of Mammoth Hot Springs.    During these times you want to make sure you are remembering to stay at least 25 yards away from them and if you hear them they are likely protecting young or looking to mate so this is when they are more aggressive.  Being able to see them in person is something majestic however!!

TIPS:

  • Check out the visitor center at the Mammoth community / Fort Yellowstone.   this center in my opinion was one of the more interesting when it comes to the history of the park.
  • Visit the Hot Spring at sunset, it is something spectacular at any time of day but at this time as the clouds paint the skies it is the perfect photo opportunity.
  • If you are visiting the park for only a short time, use the internet access at the camp to plan your time, this will really allow you to find the parts of the park you are interested in rather than having to pull off at each point to determine this.
  • Remember west side of the park is more about the geothermal features, it is also the more crowded portion of the park.
Yellowstone Northern Access At A Lower Price Point

When it comes to Yellowstone camping can be difficult unless you plan far in advance and prices can soar in the summer months.   For those wanting a little better price points and convenient access to the northern most entrance visiting the Gallatin National Forest is a great option for finding that perfect location and still maintaining access.

I visited this area and was very impressed with the campground and the spacing it provided.   But more importantly I was happy to see that unlike the Yellowstone campgrounds which lack cell signal, at this location I was able to utilize my services through AT&T.    Sure that might not be something everyone considers when traveling, but when you work remotely being able to access the internet through my cell phone is very important.  I had been in the park for several days so stopping here was a good catch up opportunity.

The sites were each well spaced and offered a soft grassy pad for my tent when staying, unlike the darkened dry grassy lands around.   It was almost as though this location was an oasis, despite having no services.

Each sight provides a bear box, picnic table and fire ring, overall very standard for this area.    Additionally there were basic vault toilets which were very well maintained.  One person at the campground actually joked about that being a great hiding place should a bear enter camp…lol

Camping at this location has a 16 night limit and sites are only $7 per night, which is $20 less expensive than the closest Yellowstone campground.  Similar rules apply to this campground as others in the area.   There are no trash services so you have to pack in and out all of your trash.   Generators can be use throughout the camp during certain hours and there are fire restrictions during certain conditions and times (posted on the entry kiosk).   This is an honor system campground with a pay box at the entry, however I did notice it was patrolled at least once nightly by area Forest Service, unlike the pull off sites just beyond camp.

TIPS:

  • If you need anything you can stop off just before turning onto the road at any number of stores, shops or restaurants in the low laying community.
  • If you need high speed WIFI Subway in the local community has the best access for free.
  • West Entrance allows you to split to to east which is where you will spot more wildlife versus the Western side of the park where you will find more of the geothermal features.
Beautiful shaded campground located at West Entrance

Yellowstone is quite the hot ticket for camping and depending on what you are wanting to do there are several major campgrounds which might appeal to your needs.    When entering the Western most entrance one of the best locations to stop and unhitch or set up for your adventure is Madison Campground located just a few short miles inside the entrance.   

I stopped in here to check out the area and also enjoy a little rest and was very impressed by how large the campground was but how homey it really felt.   There are several loops in this campground which allow for hundreds of campers, but with all these campers it remained comfortable and not loud.   This campground does allow generators during certain hours, so it is very common to hear the low hum of these around camp, but the trees and placement of sites seems to make this site still very comfortable.   

The loops are all designed for one way traffic, which cuts down on much of the congestion but also on the chaos which could occur from so many options in each loop.    I found that unlike some campgrounds which can become a maze this one was very easy to navigate.

The campground has both a general store, which has some of the things which you might have left at home, and also both an ice machine and soda machine.   In addition there is a RV dump station and an amphitheater where they do nightly programs.

The bathrooms here have flush toilets and running water but no showers, still very convenient and if you do happen to want to shower after paying for entry you can visit some of the other area campgrounds.

The big negative to not only this campground but the park in general is that there is no cellular service or radio, so if you are needing to find out park information which is not listed in the brochure given to you at the gate you will want to do so before coming to the park or stop by one of the information desks located at various park checkpoints.

When settling into the campsites there are both pull through. and pull in sites.    I noticed that many of the larger rigs were easily able to fit into the pull through sites and tent campers were scattered throughout.     Bear boxes are provided alongside fire rings and picnic tables.    Fire warnings are always posted on the kiosk at the opening of the campground so make sure you check in and check this out.

During summer the rate for a single night is $26 which is around the middle of the price points for campgrounds around Yellowstone.    This is higher than the vault only style campgrounds which makes sense.     But because of the amenities offered this site also fills up quickly so I recommend booking online well in advance of your stay.

TIPS:

  • When staying at Madison make sure you take advantage of the river access for which the campground is named.    This area is absolutely beautiful and for those who enjoy fishing, this is an approved fishing area.
  • Make sure to use the dish washing stations located at each of the 14 restrooms, these are great convenient features since no sites have running water.
  • Closest showers are located just outside the park at West Yellowstone or at the Old Faithful Inn within the park.   These are pay showers but you can easily access them without issue.
  • Power Plugs are located in the restroom if you are needing a quick charge or one of the conveniences of home.
Higher ground camping around EarthQuake Lake

When traveling throughout this area of Montana I noticed several campgrounds along the way, however something I really was looking for was a location which allowed me to be off the water a little bit.   Why??   Because of the location's unique history.

This area is known as "Earthquake Lake" an area which in the 50's experienced a vicious earthquake which sent 80 million tons of rock crashing off the side of the mountainside and into what was then a passing river.    In this incident it swallowed up roadways, campgrounds and cabins and completely changed the landscape which once existed.    While normally I wouldn't be concerned with this, the 16 mile distance around the shoreline is lined with several information stops along the way to allow you to hear the story of that tragic day and also how it has changed the area.   Kind of hard to not think of that when you are in the area. 

For this reason Cabin Creek seemed to be the perfect solution, slightly away from the shoreline and across the new highway but still with access to the water should I decide to enjoy a dip or even a scenic hike along one of the many trails of the area.

The campground is quiet and though there were other campers visiting the soft bed of pine needles provided a muffling to any sound which could be present.    I felt like I was the only camper there because of the silence.     It was so peaceful.

Sites are large enough to easily bring an RV if you would like although most campers I noticed were tent camping or visiting in their vans.     The sites are pretty standard for the area with picnic tables and fire rings in addition to bear boxes.

I found a location just beyond the entry and noticed that the area was rather flat and perfect for setting up a tent.    Though there is grass around camp the sites themselves are relatively clear.    There also is an abundance of small wood you can source for your campfire should you choose to indulge a bit.

I thought the price point for primitive camping was pretty fair for the area at $20 per site or doubles for $40.    All sites are on the honor system and while I visited I didn't see a single ranger visiting or checking in which I thought was a little bizarre for this style of campground.

Bathrooms were pretty basic vault toilets, to be expected for this area.  Pretty much no frills camping, but nice location.

Something I did really appreciate about this campsite however is that they are aware of the possibility of future quake activity and have alarms set to sound as warnings for disaster as well as posted plan of action should you experience an issue.     The higher ground indicated on the post is very close and easy to access even if you are not able to do so in your car.

Tips:  

  • Check out the stops along the 16 mile stretch of highway and learn about the area, it is very fascinating.   There is also a visitor center as you get to the western most entrance of the area.
  • Bring everything you need, there are no services and despite a few little shops along the street they are very overpriced.
  • USE the bear boxes!!   If you are camping in this area there are frequent sightings so better safe than sorry.  I also recommend bear spray.
Spacious, Shaded & Even

Traveling to this State Park I didn't know much what to expect.   I did know that a lot of the camping was not accessible because of the recent flooding but they did maintain the self pay station for those wanting to snag the limited sites available.    I can only imagine with the upcoming Labor Day weekend this will still be hot ticket!  

When I checked out this campground the sites seemed larger and more spacious overall.   The upper loop still had that camping neighborhood vibe with sites clumped together a bit more closely but each was shaded and had a nice pull in and included a fire ring and picnic table, in some cases more than one.

There was a nice restroom area which included showers, something many of the campgrounds did not have so this was a hot commodity for sure.   

I can imagine this being a great location for RV campers with relatively even pull ins and for tents alike with lush grassy areas.   This campground did offer connections and water around camp.

On the lower loop it was a Bir more secluded and felt more spacious.    I preferred the short walk to the restroom to keep that privacy.   

Many of these sites were located on shoreline directly or on the cliffside of the area with great views.    Unfortunately these were also the ones which were more effected by the floods so only a portion of the area was able to be accessed.

Tips:

* Book Online or carry cash, there is no fee station currently and self pay is the only option.   This does not allow you to use card.

* Check the weather in advance.   There are many options for camping at the park when the weather has not been terrible but with limited sites available currently you will want to make sure you plan ahead with the weather and seek higher sites.

* Bring your fishing pole or boat, this lake is amazing for fishing and has plenty of places you can launch your water vessel of choice.

Known For Amenities

This area is unique as a part of the overall parks area.   Providing mostly day use they have used this as overflow upon occasion according to the lake office.   It has vault toilets and not much more for campers however.   There are no clearly marked camping locations as this is only used as overflow and for special event camping.

The area is mainly used as day use and does have some really nice features for that. There are several pavilions and covered areas for shaded picnics and functions.    Additionally there are several volley ball areas spread throughout and maintained well.    

There is an older playground near the boat ramp and a much nicer and newer one located closest to the larger parking area and largest pavilion.    

The main draw to this area is the swimming beach which is the best of the parks offerings with sandy bars and well maintained grassy areas for shade.   However, due to recent flooding the are is not currently deemed as safe for swimming and now is more of a collection of water foul enjoying the banks casually.

If you are visiting the area this is a location I would definitely check this part of the lake out and give it a shot for day use.   Also check with the lake information center to see if they are hosting special events which allow you to camp and reserve in advance!!

Not open when I visited in Late Aug

So I was excited after seeing so many great reviews for this campground. Even more so when I arrived and saw how beautiful green and lush the area was. I did however discover the campground was locked and a sign had been placed at the entrance of the camp that it would not be opening again until April 2020.

A little confused because there were RV campers inside I explored inside and around and discovered this is partially due to recent rains flooding a portion of the campground. I completely understood that however the elevated RV spaces were still functional and not at risk.

The location itself is beautiful with lake views on 2 sides of the camp. You are only a short distance from the boat launch and day use area which have many more signs of recent rain with trees nearly completely underwater in this area.

The roads are paved, wide and well maintained. The bathrooms available on site are mainly vault toilets however in the camp there are some improvements.

Tent camping is only $14 well worth it if the campground were open in my opinion!! I will for sure be coming back!