Hayley K.
Pro
Denver, CO
Joined July 2016
Former outdoor guide who loves traveling and exploring new and quiet places. Year round camper.
Camping for Nearby Lake Access

We camped here when we had a permit to fish at nearby Christmas Tree Lake. Christmas Tree Lake is a beautiful little lake nestled in the White Mountains of Arizona on Apache land. It boasts some amazing fishing for the native trout species- the Apache trout. The fish are stocked, so it may not be a true experience for some but most of the access to the native fish in their native habitat is restricted or non existent to protect these beautiful creatures. The lake offers paid access on a day to day basis. A total of 25 permits per day are offered to keep fishing pressure in check. But these permits are non refundable so don't reserve too early. 

Permits and information can be found on the website but customer service can be difficult. Camping is available on a first come basis at Hawley Lake which also offers great fishing and beautiful scenery. Be aware that I did experience some free range cattle snooping through the camp at 2am which was a bit unexpected. Also, being in the mountains, it was pretty cold at night. 

The area we camped in was open and the roads were well marked. Campsites were situated near fire rings with only the occasional picnic table. There were four pretty well maintained portable toilets near our camp as well. Be sure to review the rules and regulations on the website as some areas are off limits and to make sure you have all the proper permits for fishing and/or camping.(State and local licenses required for fishing)

First to Review
Serene Solitude...and horse poo

Hiking Through Saguaro National Park in the late Winter is now my favorite past time. You get the feel of Spring but the look of Summer. Between the higher elevation changes in scenery and the lack of people on trails, this is one of the best spots to hit up if you want to get away but don't have the ability to handle super cold weather. 

Douglas Spring is a little over 6 miles from the trailhead and it is super popular usually so reserve your backcountry permit fast! You can have up to 6 people on your permit and there are three sites available at the top. It's only $8 per campsite in the park but there is NO vehicle access, so you will need to hike into any camping you need and ONLY camp in designated areas. 

Bring lots of water, there isn't much water available near you, contrary to the name. The trial is also pretty open and not much shade, so early Spring and Fall are your best bets. 

This trail is pretty heavily populated by horse riders so wear shoes that you don't mind sidestepping manure in.

Hard to find but close to National Monuments

This dispersed camping area was incredibly hard to find. I ended up at Pipe Springs National Monument and got specific directions from the ranger there. Here are his words, "5 miles East of Pipe Spring National monument on 389, Torowepe rd. goes south. It's a dirt road. Check the road and count the cattle guards. You can't camp between the 2nd and 3rd cattle guard because it is state trust land but between the 3rd and 4th cattle guard is BLM. Right after the 3rd cattle guard is a fence and there is a large open area to the right. You will need to get off the main road and gets quieter the farther you get off the road." 

There is cell phone service but it is spotty.  It is a washboard dirt road but passable most of the year. 

Once we got out there we didn't see anyone, which was lovely. The main reason for the low rating is the difficulty of finding it. The ground was also very rocky and not many places to park a large RV, just car camping or small campers. 

There were also a lot of cars driving down that road and a lot of off roading that happens out there so be prepared to hear motors. 

It is really close to Pipe Spring national Monument and Navajo Monument if you want to take some afternoon trips to visit the monuments.

Lava Flow Gallery

We wanted to visit Sunset Crater and we found this campground just across the street from the crater. 

In addition to being able to see this beautiful sunset cone, there are underground lava flows everywhere in this area. We were able to chat with a ranger and explore one (wear layers, it is COLD in them). 

The campsites are large enough for a group of people (8 people) and they have wheelchair accessible camping and picnic tables. 

There is water on site and they have flush toilets in clean bathrooms. We didn't spend much time at the campground itself due to all the exploring we wanted to do, but it worked great and was very quiet for our crew.

Perfect Location to Explore the Canyon

This campground is right next to the Rim walk and village so it is the perfect basecamp for heading into the canyon. 

There are bathrooms, firewood, separated sites, multiple loops, and large sites. We were able to do a group camp here multiple times. Feb, May, and October. 

Be prepared for wildlife and crazy weather though. It snowed in May and was 80 degrees in October. There is always a constant flow of people coming in and out of the park so it was nice to have a bit of quiet in the campground just knowing what was on the other side of the trees. 

The bathrooms are well taken care of and if you are missing anything you can hit up the general store to grab it…including ice cream after a long hike. This campground is perfect for the new camper. It has EVERYTHING you may need. 

The Grand Canyon shuttle is really helpful for traveling to Hermit's gulch quickly bit otherwise they designed this campground great for getting around easily. 

I would advise booking as far in advance as you can get! During Winter months the hiker/biker sites aren't available but normally they are $15. During the Winter months the tent sites are only $18 and are usually available last minute. Summer costs jump up to about $50 per night.

Quiet beauty

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is BLM land so it is all dispersed camping. You will need to make sure you aren't on someone's property or nearby any roads. There are plenty of turn offs. 

This isn't a "get away" more like a stopover spot. I stopped here on my way back North to Colorado to see the bridge over the Rio Grande and so I wasn't so high up in elevation that I would freeze. 

But if you can find a quiet place it is a beautiful dispersed spot where there is civilization nearby and toilets at local businesses  and picnic areas that you can use. See map on review. 

Be careful roaming at night. The drop into the river is quite deep so offroading isn't just ill advised for keeping the flora and fauna safe…but you as well. 

There are picnic ares around the monument too, just not established camping spots.

Pretty views overlooking the ocean(ish) without any luxuries

Easy stop next to Point Arena lighthouse.$28 per night. Has porta potties for bathrooms. Not a lot of privacy but it is overlooking the ocean. 

It was a last minute late night stop and I would use it as a overnight but not an extended trip. We didn’t spend any time there outside of sleeping and visiting the lighthouse.

Friendly campground host and stunning views

We were able to snag this site last minute when we decided to stop for the sunset. The camp host was very accommodating and actually offered to move us to a better site before we even thought to ask when we realized our original site was right next to the road. The camp host and his dog were very friendly and helpful. 

The site we were moved to had a small hazard that we were able to work with(a hanging branch) that he made us hyper aware of in case if fell in the night. 

The sites were far enough apart where we didn't feel like we were on top of each other. 

It is within walking distance of a beautiful ecological area where we watched the sunset. 

The bathrooms were clean and well taken care of and there were water spigots everywhere. 

The fog rolling in for the morning was beautiful and we wanted to stay all day due to the calm and quietness of the campground.

SO MANY BONUS ACTIVITIES!!

BEACH CAMPING!! It is awesome! Bring ear plugs because it is a popular campground. 

The store has everything you might need while out camping and it is literally across the street from a beautiful beach! 

This is a LARGE campground and can accommodate all types of campers. There are even tiny houses and cabins for those less willing to lose the comforts of home. 

The RV sites are right on top of each other in the entrance but they open up in the back field(we weren’t able to get back in there since we were just tent campers). 

They are high on security here. I LOVED the list of activities that were happening around the area. It really helped you get involved with the local ecology. 

There is a big gazebo for fish cleaning. Laundry room and propane for sale.

Incredibly friendly camp hosts and LOTS of space

Talk about secluded. Even though you are so close to town this is off the beaten path and you can’t even get into this campground unless you have a reservation. The front building shows all the sites available and even has maps ready for pick up when you arrive to the campground. 

There is a shower house and Laundry building in the center of the campground. 

Sites are a bit tight together but have adequate privacy utilizing trees and shrubs. 

The loops are well laid out but would be tight for a longer RV to come into. 

Ideal for couples since tent camping is $35 per night for 2 people, and extra adult is $17.50. And $1 per pet per night.

Excellent for Rv campers, cramped for tents

The entrance to this campground is behind a store so it technically is hidden. 

What it lacks in privacy of sites it definitely makes up for in amenities. There are firewood bundles stacked up alongside the store for pick up. There is a pool and shower room open from 10 am to 10 pm. 

The tent sites are right along a fence without much privacy. I would suggest this place for RV camping over tent camping. 

There are showerhouses and bathrooms in the middle of the campground with a fish cleaning station. 

It’s an expensive campground $45-69 per night depending on where you want to be.

Loud and Jam packed with people

At $30 per night for a tent, this campground is a bit intense. 

This is a drive up site. The online source for it is outdated but the site is a good place to stop if you just need a space for the night. 

It is a combo trailer park, RV sites, and Tents sites so the navigation might be a little tricky in parts. There are power sites and water sources placed around the area. 

There is a bath house in the middle of the park but if you are camped in the tent sites, it is pretty far away. 

There are a couple porta potties set up that are closer to the tent sites. 

Cash or check only here. No cards taken. 

Make sure you check the pet rules too, they are very strict on them. We were lucky enough to not have our dogs with us this trip. 

The sites are pretty secluded by shrubs so you do get a sense of privacy in places. The turns driving around might make RV camping a little tricky.

Perfectly secluded and right next to the beach.

Jughandle is a beautiful area between Mendocino and Fort Bragg. It contains excellent hiking, a beautiful beach, and even a Pygmy Redwood Forest. I booked it through Hipcamp and you could tell that was the majority of their campers. 

We were able to score a site that was very secluded at the end of the road before the private property line. It was the perfect spot to set up two(or more) tents. There was a great fire ring and picnic table at the site. 

A short less than a minute walk to the porta potty bathroom that is at the edge of a big field. In the field are two more sites on either side of the road and a large communal cooking area with a water source. 

There is also a large fire ring with stump seats in case you want to have a gathering. The sites were pretty quiet even when they were all full and you were able to get to your site without distracting others too much. 

There is a hiking path that takes you down to Jughandle Beach where you will find all kinds of tourists, animals, and great sand to play in or up to the pygmy redwood forest.

Eclectic mix for just about anyone

This campground is right next to the road and is only 3 miles from Crazy Horse and a few miles from the town of Custer. It makes it easy to hop on and off the highway (which also makes it a bit loud). It is a perfect spot to be able to get to Crazy Horse for Sunrise or if Sylvan State Park is full and you are trying to find a site nearby (our situation). 

Sites include, picnic table, fire pit. Showers are hot and free to campers. However you should wear shower shoes in them. 

There is also a heated pool and a laundry room. 

Tent Sites: 5 People per site,$25 per night 

RV Sites:$50 per site 

There are also cabins and a deck house that fits more people.

Great Stopover for Late Night Drives

We were in and out late night and early morning so we didn't get to see it in the daylight but it fit the bill for an overnight stop. 

Nice grassy spots next to the highway. 

Not a lot of privacy.

$20 a night. 

Pit toilet bathrooms, fire rings and picnics tables.

Ranger Review: Banner and Oak Mug at Sylvan Lake Campground

Campground review: This lake is amazing! It makes the busyness of the road and the cost of the state park. We were staying there for a day and had to pay for a 7 day pass which was$20 just to enter the park. The campground is across the road from the lake and it is the perfect distance to there in about 2-3 mins.

 The sites are well covered but the campground is right next to the road so it is a bit loud on busy weekends. The general store at the lake was basically empty when we were there because it was a busy weekend but typically it is stocked with food and basic essentials. 

Gear review: As a ranger we often get to review fun gear! This trip I was able to bring along the Steel Camping Mug from Banner and Oak. 

https://bannerandoak.com/collections/gear-we-love/products/steel-camper-mug-white 

This mug is perfect for a casual campground mug. It radiates the temperature of the drink so be careful with hot beverages. The design on it is perfect for starting the day with the intention of trying something new! It holds about 8 oz of liquid. 

The one thing I would be aware of is the lip on the mug. It is a bit of a dip on the underside so if you don’t drink out of it just right, it will spill down your chin.

Ranger Review: Eclipse Solstice Cover Up at Cold Brook Lake Campground

Campground Review: This location is great if you are looking to be close to Hot Springs, Wind Cave, and Custer State park. It is located just north of town and just South of Wind Cave’s entrance. The campground itself is very exposed and the spots are lacking of shade. You are in a canyon like area so if you get one of the side spots, you will have shade starting in the early afternoon. 

The sites are spaced far enough apart where you feel a tiny bit of seclusion and there is plenty of space to put multiple tents on flat ground. It is in a red wall canyon so be careful of being too loud because sound travels. The lake has a large and beautiful swim beach and is perfect for a day on the water. 

There are bathrooms down by the swim beach, a boat launch, and picnic tables. It is a great lake for fishing. We were snagging them left and right. And contrary to the name, it was perfect temps to take a dip in. There are two campsites right on the lake but you need to snag them in advance. They apparently book up fast. 

The sites are only $10 a night and there is no camp host. However, the bathrooms do get regularly cleaned and the sites are well maintained. The campground is in really good shape. Nice grass and clean fire rings and picnic tables. There is also a large shaded picnic table area where you can have gatherings. 

Gear Review:

 As a Dyrt Ranger, sometimes we get the honor of being able to review gear! This campground I decided to break out my Eclipse Solstice Sun protection shirt. 

https://eclipseglove.com/collections/frontpage/products/solstice-beach-cover-up

It helped me feel protected by the sun but yet, was a light enough material to be able to move freely while paddleboarding. I like the finger design to cover the back of your hand too. Most shirts only have the thumb hole but this one has elastic around the middle of the hand to put around the middle finger to keep the back of your hands protected too. The downside to this design is the outline. It kind of just drapes over you like a poncho, so there is no real fashion design around it. The pinched sides let air flow in and out easily but also make it a bit complicated to get into. I got caught a lot in the middle gap while just trying to throw it on.

Easy stop over spot in Pierre

We happened upon this while up for a wedding in Pierre. It is a free campground! There are RV and tent sites, a dump station, water fill up, bathrooms, and even a park. The tent sites are right on the river and there is even a beach that you can hang out at. You are right on the Lewis and Clark Trail for riding. 

The tent sites are pretty secluded for it being a city park. It was a little noisy at night but it was perfect for waking up in the morning and watching the clouds flow over the river with a cup of coffee in hand.

Ranger Review: Eclipse Sun Sleeves at Bismarck Lake Campground

Campground Review: 

I chose this campground when I was looking up a quieter campground near Custer State Park. And it turned out to be the perfect spot for what we needed. It was centrally located in the Black Hills. About 10 mins down the road from the town of Custer. We camped in site 4 which was a lovely site literally just up the hill from the lake. It was a 2 min walk to the bathroom in either direction. The site was a bit rocky and hard to find a good place to put a tent but would be perfect for an RV. We were able to place a couple tents and hammocks to sleep in but if we had a larger tent we wouldn’t have found a spot in our site for a tent. The lake was perfect. 

There is a boat ramp to be able to put in kayaks, paddle-boards, or any other non motorized vessels. The lake is the perfect size to paddle away and feel like you have escaped society for a few minutes. The campground was secluded enough to where you didn’t see and hear all the other campers. The bathrooms were well taken care of and the camp hosts were lovely and very accommodating. 

The site was$26 a night with a$2 per pet per night fee. You can buy firewood from the camp hosts for $5 a bundle. 

Gear Review: 

As a Dyrt Ranger, we sometimes get the chance to review gear. This trip we were able to test out Eclipse Sun Sleeves. We do a lot of fishing and we are constantly worried about keeping our arms protected without getting sunscreen into the water supply or being over heated. These sleeves worked out perfectly for both of those reasons! 

https://eclipseglove.com/collections/all-eclipse-sun-products/products/sun-sleeves 

They stayed upright and didn’t roll down while moving around. The material was lightweight and quickdry. The fingers are halfway covered so it made it easy to maneuver with rods in hand. UPF 50+, reliably blocks 98%+ of UVA and UVB rays, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic. We were both able to wear the same size sleeves and they didn’t stretch out the whole weekend.

Easy to get to, not the most secluded

We stayed at this campground in order to help out with the Xterra Race that was taking place the next day. We reserved two walk in sites (30 and 34) and it was easy to find them. The walk in sites are between 20-40 feet form the parking lot and on a slight (and rocky) hill. There was plenty of privacy by way of shrubs so it felt secluded even though the sites are right next to each other. 

You can only set up tents on the tent pads in the sites so that was a little challenging being that we needed to sleep 10 and could only fit 1 tent per site. But we were able to make it work. Also, the ground is very compact, so stakes were hard to get into the ground and we had to tie off our guy-lines to the bushes to keep them in place during the night.  

Keep in mind that you are on a military base area so you will hear TAPS periodically throughout the day and night. Campground is open year-round 

It has:

51 Full Hook-Up sites 

10 Basic Tent sites 

Coin operated showers and laundry (Seasonal; These amenities are for active campers only.)

Overall the sites were great. Bear food lockers and water at each site. The firepits were large and well ventilated. The bathrooms were super clean and accommodating. Lots of trails and ranger led events happening to keep you (and your kids and dogs) entertained.