the dyrt
Dan G.
Grand Rapids, MI
Joined April 2015
Outdoor and Wilderness addict. I am also the co-founder of Happy People Hike.
Great Wooded Campground in the Black Hills

Sheridan Lake Campground is a great spot to stay that is centrally located in the Black Hills. The sites are wooded and they are fairly large. You are able to see and hear your neighbors but they are not directly net to you. A few spots over look Sheridan Lake and are great if you can get them. Most of the loops were closed when I was there in Early October so I had a site more to the inner part of the peninsula. The campground host was very nice and helpful and has plenty of wood you can buy yrea round.

Quiet and Secluded

Cottonwood CAmpground in Theordore Roosevelt NP was a nice and welcome surprise. I visited in the beginning of October and the water had already been shutoff, which was a little bit of a hinderance, but it was nice that they reduced the price because of it. Only half of the site were available to use, but I would say they were the best sites anyway. The site were large and spread out. You are able to see the other sites, but they are not right next to you. It is also near the

The Porkies with All the Extra

The Porcupine Mountains are a great place to visit and offers a wide variety of types of camping. I would put Union Bay at the top of this of having the most ammenities of all the options. There are showers, plenty of spots for electrical hook-ups if that is something you are looking for and even a laundry room. The sites are nice and some of the lower numbered sites are situated right along the shores of Lake Superior. The biggest downfall is that the sites are pretty lose together. I saw plenty of tents, but they are really more made for Pop-ups. Overall I would stay here again especially since they do have showers.

Ranger Review: Mountain House Meals at Ludington State Park, MI

CAMPGROUND REVIEW

Ludington State Park has several spots to camp. The Cedars Campground was one of three open this time of year. There is a great tent only section of this campground and if you can't get into the hike in sites at the Jack Pine Campground, Cedars is your next best option.

Sites back up to the woods with large berms which is nice especially if you like to jump right in and explore and for privacy. There are about 12 tent sites at this lcoation. It also has a nice general store close by as well as a nice Bathroom area with large clean restrooms and showers.

It is also a centrally located spot with nice hikes to Lake Michiganto the west and an large network of trails around several lakes and an light house to the east and north. The campground also sits next to the river that connects Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan. A great spot to fish or enjoy an evening hike.

It won't be the most private spot you will ever camp but it is a great spot with lots of options.

PRODUCT REVIEW

As a Ranger for The Dyrt I get products to test and review. At Ludington State Park I tested Mountain House Meals.

The Mountain House Meals are a great and easy way to have a great dinner while camping or backpacking. Easy to make it is a meal that all you have to do is add boiling water to the freeze dried packet of food. I tried the lasagna with meat sauce and Chicken Fajita Bowl and they were both very tasty.

The one thing I would keep in mind is that you need to make sure you notice how many servings are listed on the outside of the bag. When it says 2 servngs feel free to share with a fellow camper. Even after a long day of hiking it was a little too much for one sitting.

It was easy to make!

They taste great!

Lots of different option for meals!

I will be revieiwng other flavors, as I go.

Ranger Review: Xero Z-Trail Shoes at Lake Michigan Rec Area

This camping spot is a little out of the way, especially being so close to Ludington and the popular Ludington State Park. Here are 3 loops you can camp in and you get a decent amount space, but things can get pretty loud with lots of families camping in this location. It also borders Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area that has amazing hiking options. The Xero Z-Trail shoes I used to do 7 miles of hiking during our stay were amazing for this location. With lots of sandy beach hiking along with forest trails the Z-trails were more comfortable than I thought they would be for that distance. I think I may have blister issues too, but these Xero shoes couldn't have been more perfect!

Crowds Galore

Fish Creek Campground has great amenities, but this is a very crowded area of the park. I try and avoid crowds as much as possible, but I planned ahead and wasn't sure what to expect. It seemed like it was further removed from the main activities of the West Entrance to Glacier National Park and it was, but still a very busy area. My campsite was right at the end of Lake McDonald, but was so covered by trees I didn't have much of a view. There is a small area for the general public close to and opening to lake McDonald that you can access from the campground and does open up for some great views, but it takes a little bit to get there. I will say for as crowded as the campground was there was very little noise and I did appreciate that. Overall not a bad campground, but I still prefer the Two Medicine Area of GNP over Fish Creek.

Two Medicine is Great Camping

I normally prefer backcountry sites when I'm in our National Parks to get the best experience possibly, but Two Medicine Campground is as good a campground as you can get. With plenty of woods surrounding each site, you get the feeling of privacy and the views can't be beat. From mountains to lakes the scenes surrounding the campsites are amazing. There is also a general store that is a log cabin and a great spot to get supplies and souvenirs. There was also a wonderful ranger program. One of our favorites that we have ever seen and we have been to a lot. In my opinion this is the best campground in Glacier National Park.

Closest campground to Zion National Park

This campground is located right outside the east entrance to Zion National Park. The campground inside the park were completely booked as they usually are during the summer months. There is a little store across the street for for food and supplies and on site there are showers and game rooms. This campground isn't the best for tents. We bent a couple of our stakes trying to get them into the hard clay ground. But the proximity to the East Entrance to the park makes it a great spot after long days exploring the park. Nothing too special about the campground. There are a couple of decent hiking trails at the campground, but it felt like it was mostly a stop over the day before or after.

Hit and Miss Campground

Miller's landing Campground in Seward, Alaska is a great spot right on the water for everything the Kenai Peninsula has to offer. However, it lacks in spots for tent Camping. We had gotten to Miller's Landing at the end of a long day of hiking and exploring the Kenai Peninsula and the showers that the had were very refreshing. The views from the campground right on the bay are great and you can ever catch a glimpse of seals and otters from the shore. When we arrived at our site however, we were disappointed when we realized there was a single flat spot to put a tent. This was after we had asked for a tent spot in the campground. We tried a few different tries but were unsuccessful with the uneven ground and tree roots sticking our of the ground. The check in desk was closed since we had waited until after our showers to set-up camp and couldn't find anyone to see if we could get another spot, although the campground looked pretty full. We ended up sleeping in our rental van that night. MIller's Landing has a lot to offer, just not a flat ground to tent camp on.

Ridgway State Park Convenient and Central Location

Ridgway State Park was a convenient location for my trip through Colorado to Utah. After a stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison Ridgway was a great spot to stop for an overnight out of any city. At the Dakota Terraces there are only a handful of spots for tents so if you know you are going to camp here make a reservation. This was a last minute stop on our trip and I snagged the last tent spot in the campground. They have full facilities and even a few Yurts you can rent for larger parties that looked like fun. Didn't stay long because we were only looking for a spot for the night. The only downfall is that the site were very close together and this is more of an RV Campground.

Great spot in Michigan's UP!

Twelve Mile Beach was the perfect campsite to set-up our launching point for all of our adventures in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There were not a lot of spots and they are on a first come first serve basis so get there early! Especially if you want a spot right on the beach. We were along the second row of sites that were set back a little from the beach but still very close. The sites right along the beach can get very windy at night on Lake Superior and can cause some damage to tents. Bathrooms and water are easily accessible and you can expect great sunsets on clear nights. The campsite is pretty remote and the only noise you should hear are fellow campers, although ours while we were there were very considerate and we didn't really hear anything except the birds. Pictured Rocks isn't a well know area, but it should be the options for outdoor activities is large during the summer months and it is a beautiful place to visit.

Great Beach Access

Claybanks setting is open and campsites are very close to each other. If you are looking to get away from the noise, this isn't the place for you. However, what Claybanks lacks in privacy makes up for in location. Beach access is just a walk down a wooden staircase and then you are free to choose your plot of sand for the day. You aren't allowed to have fires or camp on the beach, but not many campgrounds give you this close access and wide open space to get to the beach. DUring the summer this is a solid option for campers. Both RV's and tent camping. It's location also lends itself to having sites open most weekends except for the big holidays. There is a small playground for kids to stay busy and electrical hook-ups at most sites.

Centrally Located for Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park has a few options when it comes to camping inside the park. The most centrally located and largest is the North Campground near the Fee Entrance to the park and right across from the visitors center. It is a nice campground with lots of space at each site. It is surrounded by pine trees and it was a little hard to find a tent spot that was really level, but I arrived late and didn't get prime choices for campsites, so I took what I could get at about 2pm. There are restrooms at each loop and showers are available at the nearby North Campground General Store. Great night skies for star gazing, and if you want to wake up early the campground is close to Sunrise Point. Bryce Canyon is know for its hoodoo's so make sure you take a least a short hike to get up close to some of those. When it does rain the trails and surrounding areas get very muddy so make sure to bring some shoes you don't mind getting a little dirty.
On a side note before you get into the park and visitor center there is a little town with some shops and restaurants that might interest you. I ended up heading back and grabbing a sweatshirt because it got a little colder than I was expecting at night.

Orchards in the High Desert

Near the park entrance there are three loops for camping. Sites aren't super private but the setting more than makes up for that. No showers, but bathrooms and water available. All sites were first come, first served. We were there in July and they filled up pretty quick. I would recommend getting there early grabbing a site, then taking off for your day. There are multiple trails near by, a fruit orchard to one side and the river on the other. There was a small stage area with ranger programs, as well. We were next to an apple orchard so it was a pretty relatively quiet spot in the campground. Orchards in the middle of the high desert made for a unique setting for this campground. Sites included a fire pit and picnic table. Wood could be purchased in the park. While at the park I would definitely recommend checking out the Cassidy Arch and Cohab Canyon Trails. Cohab was across from the campground and while it was a steep initial climb, if offered amazing views and slot canyon adventures.

Good Camping, Great Hiking

Exit Glacier Campground is a good spot to set-up if you want to take your time at Exit Glacier. This is a TENT ONLY campground with only a handful of sites (12). They do not take reservations and all of the spots are on a first come first serve. We had no problem getting a spot the day we were there, however, we visited on a Tuesday. I would recommend if you want a spot hit up the campground prior to visiting the Exit Glacier vistors center and doing any of the activities in the area. If you are on the Kenai Pennisula, Exit Glacier is a must visit in my mind, especially if you are looking for great hikes and the ability to get up close to a glacier. The Campground itself is nothing special, but it is the only one close to Exit Glacier. It has a large walk in bear locker, which you have to use in this area, vault toilets and a water pump with drinkable water. The bear lockers are key, because we heard of two cars broken into in the couple of days we were there. The tent spots are fairly spread out and private with a few of the sites closer to the river/glacier runoff which make for the best views. The campground is just down the road from the Exit Glacier parking lot and visitors center. If you have time one of my favorite hikes of all times is the Harding Ice field Trail that runs along the glacier and up to the Harding Ice Field. It is an 8.2 mile round-trip but the elevation gain makes it strenuous (1,000 feet per mile). Plan for about 8 hours to really enjoy the views.

Limited Options in Cuyahoga Valley

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a unique experience. Know going in that there aren't a lot of camping options inside the park boundaries. One of the spots you can camp is next to the Stanford house in the central part of the park. There are only 6 camping spots, but each spot allows two tents. A couple of sites are in the wide open field and on warm days can get very hot in your tent. It is very nice that there is a shed with campfire wood that you are free to use during your stay. There is also a water storage unit that you can get fresh water from and two port-a-potties. The parking lot that you can drive in to also serves as the trailhead for a trail to Brandywine Falls so you can expect to have some foot traffic past the camping area throughout the day. It isn't a bad spot to camp just don't expect to be too far into the woods or have much privacy at these spots. We were lucky enough to be there when the cicadas came out, but they do get loud, don't worry they only come out every 17 years.

Loleta Got the Job Done

Loleta Recreation campground is a good central location for activities in Allegheny National Forest. This campground has everything you look for in a campground, showers, firewood and ice available for purchase and fire pits located at each site. It looked like most of their campsites had electrical hook-ups, if needed, but we are just tent campers and had one of the few sites without electricity. Vault toilets are located throughout the campground and each site has a campfire ring with a cooking grate attached.

There are two main locations in the campground, the upper campground and the lower campground. The lower campground seemed to be taken up by a majority of trailer camping where as the upper campground was a mix of tents and trailers. There are also a couple of group campsites that looked to hold about 25-50 people. The upper campground entrance has a spot to park just for the day and has a few trails to hike or a spot to swim in the river just above a small dam.

We encountered a few loud patrons at the campground, but it did seem that everyone respected the quiet hours and knew when they were 10pm-6am.

While we did some hiking throughout Allegheny we found a few spots that would have been a little more fitting for us to camp, Ministers Creek has some great first come first serve spots along the creek with a short or long hike in, or even a few reserved spots closer to the main road. Loleta did the job for us especially since we were booked last minute for Memorial Day weekend and we had no real complaints. It did the job for us, but don't expect anything great.

Wonder Lake, was wonder-ful

Wonder Lake Campground is one of those campgrounds that you may be surprised by. We were! First Wonder Lake is the last campground on the long and only road in Denali National Park. The bus stops by several campgrounds during the long 5.5 - 6 hours bus ride to wonder lake, but don't be tempted by a shorter bus ride. Wonder Lake is the only campground that you can actually see Denali from and is well worth the extra bumpy few hours on the bus to get there.

Once we arrived we were surprised to see bathrooms with flush toilets, potable water easily accessible and large walk-in bear storage areas along with picnic tables in a common area and at each campsite. All of the campsites face Denali and will have a view of the Alaskan Mountain range as long as it is not clouded in. Unfortunately for campers, we were told the mountain is only visible about 20% of the time. We were lucky enough to be the 20%, but I would recommend reserving a few days to give yourself a better chance of seeing the great views the campground has to offer.

There is a short path behind the common area that leads to Wonder Lake. The lake is also a great spot to view wildlife and if you are into fishing i recommend bringing a fishing pole. The fish in the lake are very active and will bite on anything since there are very few people who actually fish in the lake. The nice thing about fishing in Denali is that you do not need a permit or license to actually fish. There is also a great, and one of the few, hiking trail called the McKinley Bar Trail that is well worth the hike is the mountain is out. It is a pretty flat and well marked trail that is only about a quarter mile from the campground entrance.

The entire area is very buggy and you will want to bring mosquito nets or very strong bug spray at the very least.

One of the other things that we wish we would have known is that with the large bear lockers and picnic tables you don't have to skimp on the food packing. There were a couple of campers that actually brought an entire large yeti cooler with them and they ate like kings the few days they were there We had packed light, but wish we would have known about the ample storage area so we could of had at least one nice dinner instead of a couple of Clif Bars.

All in all I would rate Wonder Lake my favorite non back country campsite that I have visited as long as you can see the mountain. If you can't it is still a great spot just not as awe inspiring.