Lisa C.
Albuquerque, NM
Joined April 2019
Remote, Underdeveloped and Quiet

In the middle of the desert, there is an excellent oasis of lush trees and a cold creek. The hike to the creek can be long and hot, so plan accordingly. (It's Arizona. Please always have water with you.) There are parking lots giving better access, but they fill up quickly.

The campsites contain little more than a fire ring; our site did not have a table or any kind. I personally prefer this, but realize many people don't know proper waste disposal. Speaking of waste… no trash service is available and there are few toilets. Basically: Pack it in, pack it out.

Our kids had an awesome time, especially when they found the rope-swing… total freedom.

We took SR 260 from Camp Verde and had no trouble navigating the dirt road in my Subaru, but it hadn't rained recently. I imagine the dirt road becomes quite a bit rougher after rains.

You must have a permit now to camp: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=75356

Beautiful, Clean, Beach Access

We hoped to camp near Oso Flaco Lake and Creek, but this was as close as it gets.

When we arrived at Pismo State Beach, we were pleasantly surprised by how neat and tidy the campground was and how friendly and organized the rangers were. While not very private, the campground was really quiet. I think the imposed Quiet Hours facilitated this. We will definitely stay again.

Prepare for windy, chilly nights even in July.

This is NOT camping.

Seriously, I felt like I was in the dirtier, cheaper version of Kellerman's…

If you're looking for a place to park an RV and you like being surrounded by hundreds of people, then you may like this. They offer a skateboard park, surf lessons, a swimming pool, basketball, dodgeball, a fitness center, ping pong, an arcade, bike rental and even supervised kids' activities. Prices start at $60/night for a "primitive/dry" site. Not a bad deal if all you want to do is drink heavily, get sunburned and tell people you went to San Diego.

OMG Prepare to be Blown Away

Trying not to be too negative, because this is one gorgrous area of the world, but…

The noise: crowded campsite with too many people crammed into a small space; the regular trains passing by all hours of the day/night; and, HWY 5.

The view: our campsite's view was blocked by a mound of dirt. (We thought we were so lucky to score a campsite on the bluff near the edge…)

The wind: holy bananas! The wind picked up and (despite being staked in the ground) our tent nearly blew away. With the total weight of three adults and two kids, we managed to keep the tent, but this wind lasted all night. Wind = No Fire = No Dinner. Grandpa ran into town and grabbed burgers while Grandma secured her sleeping spot in the back of the remaining pickup with camper shell.

The upside: we can all laugh about it now.

Beautiful, but not my thing...

Disclaimer: When I camp, it's to get away from people.

That being said, this park is clean, there was a small store offering treats, plentiful bathrooms and places to park and camp (with reservations made well in advance). We met friends in Carlsbad who managed to secure a lovely spot with close proximity to the beach. We woke up early each morning to enjoy the few quiet hours (before our late-nate neighbors woke up) to drink our coffee and watch the dolphins swim by.

Plenty of activities to keep kids busy until they drop… if you plan ahead. The breeze can be quite chilly, but there are plenty of sun-covered rocks to warm yourself on.

Downside: people, people, people.

Spruce Campground near Salmon Creek

My girls and I love a good, remote campground… This is (almost) it. We only hiked in/out without camping this time. We're making plans to return.

Only a two-mile hike from HWY 1 and about the same to Salmon Creek Falls. The entire area is lovely, but we had hoped for more sweeping ocean views. That isn't meant as a complaint though or this place would be packed all of the time. The trees were thick and many were down on the trail itself. Luckily, the girls don't mind mud as the trail to/from Spruce was muddy most of the way. Expect a steep climb as the first two miles of Salmon Creek Trail increases in elevation by approximately 1,000 feet.

Great "Adventure Cabin" aka Yurt

Traveling alone with two little girls, I opted for more populated campgrounds with nearby amenities. Granted, it was spring and the weather still too cold for most, so the Fernwood Campground was all but deserted. (If there were more people, it would likely have been loud in the campground as the spots are really close together.)

We rented a yurt for two nights right on the Big Sur River. My girls had a blast playing in the mud, traversing the meadow and climbing readwoods. Really, this place lacks nothing.

One major stair climb and you are in the hotel on HWY 101. My youngest has a knack for falling in rivers, so we took advantage of the laundry facilities in a nearby hotel while sipping cocoa and eating a hearty breakfast.

Only 4 stars because the spots are too close together to achieve that "remote" feel I like.

LOVE the Cinnamon!

My friends, my girls and I have stayed here on multiple occasions and "The Cinnamon" never disappoints! With awesome hosts and a great restaurant, we didn't need to leave to have fun. They have several cabins that are on the Gallatin River, so serene and peaceful… They offer a zipline for the kids and often have "wildlife" on the premises (goats, horses, musicians).

Yellowstone's West Entrance is 37 miles south; Big Sky is 6 miles north. The Bozeman Airport is the nearest airport.

Diamond Creek Guard Station

We cheated. It was too cold to sleep outdoors the month we arrived at the Diamond Creek Campground… give us a break, we're from Arizona!

The guard station can be rented cheaply through Recreation.gov and it was worth every penny! With a wood-burning stove, we stayed nice and toasty. There were plenty of cots to move close to the wood-burning stove for a cozy night sleep.

TeePee Experience

I thought it would be funny to camp in a teepee one night while passing through Bryce Canyon National Park…

The upside: It was humorous to the three teens/preteens with me; it was a unique experience they won't forget. The warm shower was divine.

The downside: We froze our butts off! There were so many bugs (and no way to close the seams of the teepee). It was in a high-traffic area. People were constantly coming to our teepee and looking in…

It was fun, but next time we'll return to our style of camping: dispersed, remote, quiet.

Hike-In Only - Stunning Area

My first backpacking adventure in Northern New Mexico took me from Iron Gate Campground to Mora Flats. BEAUTIFUL!

A quick 4-5 mile hike in, we crossed the Pecos River and found a nice, shady spot in valley. It was peaceful, quiet and surprisingly cool for late-July. It rained each afternoon, but we had everything we needed to stay dry and cozy.

The river provided plenty of trout for a nice rice and fish dinner. The sky provided plenty of stars for gazing.

Crowded Campground, Beautiful Lake

We took four teenage girls for a weekend of camping and fishing. We pulled right in and grabbed the last spot in the area; the challenge was finding enough flat land for three tents. We managed and created quite a nice little spot.

We spent most of our time on the water in kayaks, canoes and floating on inflatable flamingos. There were a lot of people fishing, so we tried to maintain a low noise level.

The area was absolutely gorgeous. The water was so clear, you could see to the bottom in most parts of the tiny lake. The marsh on the east end provided plenty of bugs and worms for bait. The lake provided enough trout for a dinner.

Great Base Camp for Backpacking Trips

We spent one night in Iron Gate before embarking on a three-day backpacking/camping adventure. Campground was well maintained, had plenty of clean restrooms and parking. Agree with the other reviewer… a low-profile vehicle will have a tough time making it up the hill to the campground, especially in rainy/snowy weather.