Judy T.


Bellingham, WA

Joined November 2018

Camper, explorer, photographer, illustrator, rockhounder,

A site with a view

This is a free campground on public lands (BLM) in Utah’s San Rafael Swell. There is one vault toilet and a few campsites along the edge of a beautiful canyon carved by the San Rafael River. We have camped here twice, the most recent being last October, 2019. We managed to snag the one at the end by the toilet. We could sit on one of the large rocks just steps from our truck camper and watch the canyon change colors as the sun went down.

Access is via graded gravel road. We haven’t seen any larger RVs but there may a few places they could fit. There are mountain bike trails nearby including one that traverses the rim. There were some campsites along the rim on the opposite site of the road. There were a few sites in the junipers near us where a group camped.

A different experience

We have camped here a number of times, usually during the winter months. It has been almost 3 years since we were here and a few changes have been made. You used to be able to snag one of the standard campsites (no hookups) by driving in, selecting one then paying. Now, they all all registration year round.

There is some noise here from the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry that docks here but it is only every 1.5 hours during the low season. We like to watch the ferries and they don’t make that much noise. But, this is near a major Naval Air Force base in Oak Harbor. Apparently a few new squadrons were brought in a few years ago. For over two hours, we were treated to intermittent but frequent LOUD jets flying close to the ground. We both had headaches and our dogs were upset.

We have a pop up truck camper so, yes, of course, we can hear more noise. We do not have a TV so can’t drown it out. I am just hoping this was where they fly Wednesday. If you have a larger solid RV, you may not experience that loud dull roar. At least they don’t break the sound barrier.

We paid $20 for site 6. This is a standard site, meaning no hookups. Full hook up sites are available for more. There are flush toilets and potable water. The only faucet operating currently is the pump spigot as others were shut off due to frost. Each site has a fire pit and picnic table. The sites are level with gravel surface. There is a grassy area for tents and to play games. There is no privacy but there are beaches to walk on and views of several Cascades peaks and the Olympic Range. This is a good spot to camp awaiting the ferry for the next day or you could walk on to explore Port Townsend which has a historical town center.

Montana FAS by Yellowstone River

This is a free Montana Fishing Access Site next to the Yellowstone River north of Big Timber. There was one clean single vault toilet for about 5 sites. No water or garbage available but each site has a picnic table and fire ring. There is a boat launch for fishing. It snowed when we were there in very late September 2019. We were the only ones there the two days we waited out the snow. This is a campground where there are few public campgrounds.

I added another star as this is a quiet campground in an area with few public ones available. And, it was free.

Hobbit trail to the beach

This Oregon state park is one of the few Oregon state parks who don’t have reservations. It is a first come first come facility. We usually choose a standard site with no hookups although the park has those, too. Of course, there are flush toilets and showers. And, a central garbage collection dumpster plus recycling bins (good on you Oregon). There are water spigots available at each standard site and of course, a picnic table and fire ring. There is at least one dog waste bag dispenser on site plus a waste bucket.

There is a cool hobbit trail to the beach (the campground is on the opposite side of the Pacific). There is usually at least one and sometimes two camp hosts on site. China Creek wanders its way through the woodsy campground. The restrooms could use an update but they are always clean.

Lewis and Clark were here

This is a large campground in a large 2000+ acre state park on Cape Disappointment. We usually stay at the standard no hook up sites by O’Neil Lake. There are usually fewer people there, especially in the shoulder seasons. Also, because we have a pop up truck camper, the roar of the ocean waves in the sites by the Pacific Ocean.

There are many trails here to explore. There is a lighthouse at Waikiki Beach close to where we camp. Also, there is a brand new restroom building near the short trail to Waikiki Beach with individual locking bathrooms plus coin operated showers. The facility is alway clean. There are also restrooms closer to the O’Neil Lake sites but they are more rustic. The last time we were there was in October 2018 so they may have been remodeled.

There are also water spigots scattered about. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring. There is a central garbage station by the checkin office rather than individual cans at each site or dispersed throughout the campground.

Small quiet USFS campground

We stayed here mid-September 2020. This is a smaller facility with just 8 sites. We picked site #17 on a rise at the end of the loop. We chose it as it was close to the clean vault toilet and it had a separate picnic table nearby on a hill. The fee is $24 which is a bit steep but there was no extra fee for a second vehicle in one spot. There were several trails leading down to the lake from our site. The sites were far enough apart to give a sense of privacy. Lake Leo is the last campground in a chain of lakes going east on highway 20. The first two were either closed due to COVID or busy so we were glad Lake Leo was open and uncrowded. There was fresh water, garbage dumpster and a fire ring in addition to the hilltop picnic table. There was no campground host while we were there.

Free campsites along the Yellowstone River

This BLM recreation area on the Yellowstone River was a port in a storm. Yellowstone was crowded, as usual, and we needed a place to stay for the night. We were trying to outrun an impending snow dump so headed north toward Livingston. We stayed here September 9, 2019 for free.

A waterfall for a neighbor

Lost Creek State Park has a beautiful canyon setting and a pretty waterfall just a very short hike from your campsite. We stayed in site #14 where was the closest site. We could hear the waterfall from there. Our stay was on September 9, 2019. We paid $28 as a non-resident. Potable water was from a large pump spigot. The vault toilets were very clean and we saw the ranger several times. There are some trails nearby and a beaver pond along the road in. The road in is narrow but paved and you will be gawking at the scenery.

This has been one of our favorite campgrounds and we plan to return.

Best tasting fresh water

This campground sits on the Bull River as it enters the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir. We were there in mid-September 2019. The fresh water spigot was still on and no one else camped there. We were in site #17 with a water view near the loop turn around. It is, iirc, a short loop so a truck/trailer may not make it. The campground also has at least one vault toilet and is standard issue USFS. It also provided bear proof garbage and aluminum can recycling. We could hear the truck traffic on 200 and also the trains on the Montana Rail Line train tracks nearby so Bad Medicine up highway 56 on Bull Lake may be a better choice.

Stuart Mill Bay FAS

This is a Montana State Fishing Access Site. The cost to camp here is maximum $18 for non-resident non fishing license camping. We had just finished the Skalkaho Highway from Hamilton and just needed a place to camp for the night. It was raining and we didn’t feel like driving further. There was at least one vault toilet, clean with tp. The drive in was paved as were the sites. Our campsite was right by Georgetown Lake, a popular fishing spot although we were the only ones there in mid-September 2019 to camp. There were those who were there during the day to fish.

City camping in Lincoln City

We stay here because we can do some Rockhounding on the Lincoln City beaches. Despite being located in a busy Oregon Coast tourist town, it isn’t that noisy. It can flood in the fall and spring months, their rainy seasons. There is usually a camp host or two where you can get help or firewood. The sites aren’t that private although native Rhododendrons and others often divide the sites. What I like the best are the free hot showers and an outside sink to wash your dishes. There are standard (no hookups) and hookup sites with water, wastes water and power. There off season rates available for less cost. We paid $21 for a standard no hookup site the last time we were there in April, 2018.

An oasis near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

This is one of our favorite campgrounds. The location is near the refuge and Steen Mountain recreation area. The sites are spacious and far apart for privacy. Most sites have trees usually willow for shade. There are several vault toilets, fresh potable water from pump spigots, garbage cans, and recycling cans for glass and aluminum. There is usually a camp host to provide firewood and assistance. It is usually full on weekends when the refuge has bird migrations. Deer can be pests as they wander the campground at will. The graded gravel road in can be rough washboard at times. Sites are large enough for the bigger RVs. If you have a tents, you can stay right next to wetlands or the Blitzen River.

Scenic campground along 395

This state park campground has 27 sites without hook ups. It is situated between Highway 395 and scenic Camas Creek. There are flush toilets and water is available. If there is a camp host, there should be firewood for sale. We have camped there in the fall just before it closed for the season mid-October and again in mid-May. Both times we were able to get a site along the creek. Because it is laid out along the highway, do expect some road noise especially when logging operations are happening. There is shade from the large Ponderosa pine trees. The sites are paved and large enough for our pop up truck camper. There are few places to camp along Highway 395 unless you drive into the national forests to disperse camp.

Free campground on Columbia River

This is a Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife fishing access site. It is free with a Washington State Discovery Pass for $30/year. This annual pass will also gain you admission to state parks. There are several boat launch sites here and a number of those Sani Cans. The area is spread out over open land with smooth rocks. It can be a bit bumpy if hauling a trailer unless you stick to the smooth rock roads. No shade except along the shore.

For a free site, it has its good points: easy access to highway 24/243 which will bring you to I-90, quiet, wide open space, near the Vernita Bridge Rest Area for free tank dump site. If you arrive on the last weekend of October, there is a huge king salmon fishing derby with about 100 entrants so you will have company. But, it is usually quiet midweek in the spring and fall. It may be busier in the summer midweek as there are lots of fishing enthusiast ps and boaters who live close by in the Tri Cities area.

If you need a quiet place for one night or are hauling a river fishing boat, this is a good place to stay.

Near the I-82 Bridge Oregon side

There are few campgrounds near Umatilla, OR and when we were there several public facilities were closed. We very rarely ever stay at RV parks but it was getting late and we had just driven on 395 through the snow and fog. There were tent sites available for $20 so we checked in at the office to be assigned our spot. Unfortunately, someone was there who hadn’t paid so we were told to choose another. They had the better spot but we just took another as they were in a tent and probably freezing to death.

During the night, some people camping in their truck would start the engine every hour to keep warm plus the truck traffic over the I-82 bridge was noisy. This was in late October 2020 during a cold snap.

The only good thing is that the flush toilets were clean and you could take showers using coins. There was a key code for the bathrooms and free WiFi. There were shade trees and a nice lawn area, but the area with hookups was further from the traffic.

We would probably not stay here again.

USGS campground off highway 395

This campground is located off highway 395 in the Malheur National Forest. We camped in space 11 near the entrance after driving the loop almost back to the beginning near the single rustic vault toilet. We stayed there in late October and paid $5, ½ of the $10 camping fee. The water was shut off but the toilet was open and clean with tp. We were the only ones who stayed there that night. Several people came in during the night to use the toilets as there is another one further back, the first as you drive in.

The sites aren’t spaced too close together and the large pines create shade. Since we were there in October, we didn’t need the shade. We couldn’t hear the highway traffic as 395 isn’t that busy but during logging operations, yes, the log trucks can be heard. There is also a large timber day use structure. There are mountain bike trails nearby. If you need supplies, Burns Safeway is a good store for a small town.

Free site off Highway 50

To get to Illipah Reservoir Recreation Area and Campground, you need to drive a graded gravel road. We saw people in fifth wheels and trailers so they must have been okay with the washboards. The sites are spaced far enough apart for privacy as there are no trees for shade. There are shaded picnic tables using those half circle metal shade screens.

There were several single vault toilets which were clean. We had a site which overlooked the reservoir where we saw a small roundup of cattle. It is a beautiful place in a stark barren sort of way. The winds were strong when we stayed there in mid-October 2020. It was also cold getting to 22° in the early morning. But, it was brightly sunny.

This is a free site so there were quite a few people there including some who came in late at night. It is hard to find places to camp in the dark as they are spread out. After they settled in , it was quiet and the sky was filled with stars.

We liked staying here as we wanted to explore Hamilton ghost town 11 miles up a mostly decent gravel road.

One of our favorite discoveries

This was one of the prettiest campgrounds we stayed at during a 7 week camping trip. It is located within the boundaries of Fremont Indian State Park near I-70 up a graded gravel road north of I-70. This is not to be confused with the one for RVs on the north side of I-70.

We were treated to flush toilets, garbage center (you have to throw your garbage bag up into the large container), potable water and jaw dropping scenery and camping sites. Fremont Indian State Park has a visitor center and 697 Native American rock art panels. This campground is also a place to camp for enthusiasts of the Paiute Trail, a large network of ATV trails as it had a trail near the northern end of the campground.

Our 24’ pop up truck camper fit just fine and had enough room for my sister’s SUV. We will return here as it was such a pretty place.

First to Review
Quiet place to camp along Hwy 72

We were there 10/11/2020 during hunting season It was around 20° the night we stayed. This is a free campground for hunters or for the few people traveling on highway 72. There was a clean vault toilet and rock fire rings but no water, garbage, or picnic table. There could be fishing there as we saw lots of fish jump.

It is a scenic quiet place and the night skies are phenomenal. There is mouse infestation there as the first site we stopped at had dead mice everywhere. One got in our camper but we soon chased it out, The USFS person who cleaned the vault toilet confirmed this.

I rated it 3 stars due to mouse problem otherwise it would be 4 stars.

It opens in May but their website didn’t say which date. I am assuming this depends on the snow level at 8000’. It was still open when we camped in October.

Beautiful setting along Tongue River

This is a Wyoming state historical site commemorating the 1865 Battle of Tongue River between General Connor and Chief Black Bear of the Arapaho Village. There is both a campground and a day use area.

The sites are shaded by willows. Our site was near a ranch where we could see their horses in the pasture. The cost for $16 for a nice site, picnic table, fire ring, flush toilets, potable water, garbage cans. The day use area providing children’s playground equipment. It is a short walk to Ranchester across a pedestrian suspension bridge.