Katie O.

San Diego, CA

Joined July 2018

I love finding new places to explore and things to do. backpacking is my passion but I love taking the family on camping adventures with our RTT as well.

very busy

we stayed here because we wanted to do the zipline and they offered a discount to campers. we walked up and got a spot, the campground was very loud and crowded. california is in a drought so the water was very shallow and we couldn't tube in it as planned. we were warned about thefts prior to going so we didnt bring anything of value other than our tents and I'm glad we didnt. we ended up leaving after the zipline adventure because it was just too loud to stay. if you are looking for a party, this is the place but if you want a peaceful adventure in nature, go somewhere else.

Windy and peaceful

Backcountry beach camping is only open during certain days of the year due to breeding seasons so make sure to check prior to going. Because the season isnt open when island packers ferry visits the island we had to boat in ourselves which was an adventure in itself. The hiking isnt difficult but it is long and sandy. The wind is intense so make sure to bring sunglasses and a hat to protect your face as the sand flies at you. The weather can be unpredictable with rain in the morning and sunny hot afternoons. Make sure to bring a low profile tent, you have to collapse them during the day because the wind is so strong, they will either fly away or break.

box canyon

this is a dispersed location on box canyon in Mecca. the road is loose sand and is possible by most vehicles as long as you stay on the road. after driving a few minutes you come into the canyon and there are a few places to pull off and set up camp. there are no amenities and no trash cans so pack in/pack out. the area is pretty quiet but can be extremely hot in the summer so I wouldn't reccomend it other than winter. there is a lot of hiking but make sure to have a map as it's very easy to get lost. my favorite is the ladder canyon hike which has you climb up a series of ladders in the canyon. most of the time they are well maintained and replaced if they are falling apart but beware just in case.

such a cool place

We stopped here instead of staying at Zion and were pleasantly surprised. you can bring paddle boards and boats to relax and enjoy the lake. They even have scuba diving. while we were there is was very hot so we just cooled off in the lake and played in the water. not many people were there so it was very quiet.


we stayed at the round valley campground in March of this year. there was still some snow and it was beautiful. we took the tram up from palm springs and backpacked to the campground before summiting up San Jacinto peak. the views were breathtaking and the elevation was a killer. it took us longer than we expected. the campground is nice but there are no facilities so make sure to bring plenty of water or filtration device to filter the water. permits are required bor both day hikes and overnight.

First to Review

if you like to drive offroad, this is the place for you! even if you dont,its fun to sled down the dunes. small pit toilets that seem to be cleaned often but still smell, no water available and there are always beer cans thrown in the bathrooms. very popular with OHV and is pretty empty in the summer due to the extreme heat.

desert oasis

palm trees in the middle of the desert with water is just a short hike away. the campsites themselves are just on flat sand with cactus so beware. it is the desert so that's to be expected. this site feels more primitave than most others and I've never seen it busy but there are some great hiking trails and the sunset views are amazing. no dogs are allowed. Just a short drive away from the many desert statues in borrego springs.


isolated and peaceful backpacking campsite. make sure to grab a permit before heading up. bring a filter for the water because drinking it is iffy, I wouldn't trust it. we didnt see a single person camping, it was very isolated so make sure to let friends/family know your travel plans and when to expect you to return. the permits have this info but just be safe. it is a well traveled trail year round but weather is unpredictable.

bring bugspray

we adventured out to mittry lake in Arizona and boy was it beautiful. we brought our paddle boards to use on the lake and it was peaceful. not too many people were camping but during the day it was loud with people driving by with their boats. at night… the mosquitos came out and ate us alive. being from southern california, we haven't experienced mosquitos in a very long time. so make sure to be prepared.

beautiful but loud

Catalina is a very beautiful but very popular island. especially in the summer. the campground filled up fast and it was very loud. facilities were great and clean so noise is my only complaint. we were never able to get away from it. I prefer the other channel islands.

interesting area!

we stayed here and visited bombay beach town. such an interesting place with a lot of history. make sure to wear shoes as there are dead animal bodies everywhere as well as nails and splintered wood. it's fun to explore all the abandoned buildings and graffiti art work. facilities are good for the campground, the showers are great after exploring..

such a cool adventure

we went here at the beginning of the summer for a photography project. most of the regulars have moved on to cooler locations but there were some people left. everyone was very friendly and helpful in telling us cool things to see. we found the hot spring pool that was fun to relax in, the library was pretty interesting too. there is a cistern shower too with cold water, it smells though… so be brave.. no restroom facilitiesc

beautiful year round

even in the snow there is a lot to see and do. we stayed here in the winter and it was beautiful. very cold though so make sure to prepare for snow and freezing temps. most of the hikes require a permit that you can pick up at the ranger station. we used the team to ride up to the top before hiking to san jacinto peak. the weather can be unpredictable so make sure to check in with the ranger to see if they have any warnings. on the way back, make sure to grab some food at the restaurant, it's good!


we had a lot of fun climbing the giant boulders and exploring all that joshua tree has to offer. bring plenty of water and sunscreen and stay on trails. the park services now offers buses that will take you to all the popular areas to help with traffic congestion. my favorite things to see are the cholla field, skull rock and of course the arch. make sure to let someone know where you will be and when you plan to come back because people go missing often here.


one of my favorite primitave sites. there is one bathroom at the beginning but we typically go much further to find isolation. it's never busy and you can and will find the perfect spot. the further you go towards the pictograph trails, the more cholla so if you have kids, stay towards the first mile. any vehicle can make it on the dirt roads with no issue.

so much to see

Mesquite spring campground is a great location in middle of everything. there is so much to do and see in death valley so it's nice to be centrally located. I highly suggest visiting the dunes and bringing a sled, especially if you have kids with you. Death Valley wasnt the ideal family trip for young kids but we made the most of it by participating in the junior ranger program. you can pick up the packet at the visitor center.

favorite winter escape

we love coming here to camp in the winter when the heat isnt too bad. the pools are fun for the whole family. the campground can be loud but its family friendly so that's a plus. there is an indoor pool that is adults only and runs on the hotter side. then there are 2 outdoor pools that are kid friendly. one is only about 2ft deep and the other goes to 5. both these pools are comfortable to swim in under any temperature and its refreshing to escape the desert heat. the pools can get busy during school brakes but during the weekdays it's pretty empty and relaxing. restrooms are easily accessible and fire pits are provided at all sites. aqua caliente is very clean so I highly recommend.


the temps were soaring but the lake is beautiful and one of the only ones you can swim in. the campsites are basic but amenities are great and clean. there are some trees to help fend off the sun but if you plan to go in the summer, make sure to get in the water. they no longer have the inflatable water park but it was fun while it lasted. the lake allows boating, kayaks, paddle boarding and fishing but due to the drought the water is pretty low right now.

lots of birds

if you love birds and solitude, this is the island for you! it smells pretty bad and it's very loud but there are only a handful of campsites so you have the island to yourself. I highly recommend hiking the short distance to inspiration point at sunset, the views are breathtaking. this island is not for everyone and it takes some adjusting to the smell and noise before you can enjoy the beauty.

favorite beach campsites

we go here often and it's always a great experience. most of the campsites have a great ocean view from our roof top tent. facilities are always clean and working well. great family spot! the campsites themselves are on top of the bluff so you are overlooking the ocean and there are a few staircases leading down to the water. it's not a sandy beach, there are a lot of soft stones like riverrock. perfect beach for flying kites and surfing.