I was lucky enough to spend the weekend before Earth Day at The Aerie, a picturesque campsite on a Wenatchee hostess' private land. With full hookups for smaller rigs (28 ft or under) overlooking the stunning Columbia River Gorge, it's hard to imagine a prettier (or quieter!) spot to soak in the views.
In addition to the RV site, The Aerie also has a beautiful platform with a glamping tent during the warmer months, which you can also rent. Should you want the RV camping experience but don't have your own rig, Maria has partnered with another local female entrepreneur who will rent you an Airstream and park it at The Aerie (or other locations, for that matter) in time for your stay.
The Aerie is just a short drive from downtown Wenatchee, and winds up a volcanic hillside dotted with private homes and apple orchards. Maria welcomed me to her property and let me know how to reach her if I needed anything. Both the RV site and tent site are next to her garden and chicken coop, and Maria was generous enough to leave some of her hens' fresh eggs in the Airstream fridge for my breakfast. There were two chairs and a little rug set up so I could enjoy the view, and a short walk down the hillside is a swing facing west for prime sunset views.
If you're looking for a thoughtful, considerate host, stunning scenery, and a laid back vibe, The Aerie is just right. It's hard to find this blend of convenience, scenery, good conversation, and glamping comfort. A+
Just off the banks of the Columbia River, Ginkgo Petrified Forest is a fascinating testament to the wild geology of the Gorge. An easy 1.5 mile hike will take you past several nicely preserved examples of different types of petrified wood, including some whole logs where you can clearly still see the shape of the bark, rings, etc. There are restrooms and water spigots at both the Ginkgo Petrified Forest check in station/interpretive center, where you can see a saber tooth tiger skull, more samples of petrified wood, and explanations of how this area was formed by lava and other forces millions of years ago.
Just down from the interpretive center, on the river banks, is a nice little campground. It's not very remote or wild, but it is a good place to pop open your tent if you're hoping to do some kayaking. You'll also be close to handicapped parking spaces and have sidewalk access to your campsite, making this a great choice for campers with disabilities or mobility limitations. The restrooms are nice, too. They're pit toilets, but well-maintained and plenty of room to maneuver a walker or wheelchair in side. The landscaping is lovely, and the beach where you can put in your boat is level with the water, no boat launch required.
A few miles down the road from the interpretive center and campground are the hiking trails where you can see the petrified wood and experience the rolling hills and grassland that typify central Washington. You can also admire a CCC constructed ranger residence— a gorgeous example of classic "parkitecture" that is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Stream2Sea Sunscreen Review
As a Dyrt Ranger, I had a chance to test drive Stream2Sea's sunscreen. This reef safe & biodegradable sunscreen is made without oxybenzone. Even though I wasn't camping near a reef or doing any snorkeling, I opted to use this product on my hike since ultimately all oceans are downstream of lakes and rivers somewhere. Not only is the sunscreen itself environmentally safe, even the tube it comes in is made with Leave No Trace principles in mind, so it won't clutter up a landfill one day.
I'm stoked that this product was as good for my skin as it is for the environment. I have had a hard time finding a sunscreen I like in the past, one that doesn't irritate my sensitive skin or cause breakouts, that doesn't have an overly strong scent, that is a physical rather than chemical sunscreen, and blends well with my pale, freckled complexion.
Stream2Sea hit it out of the park. A little goes a long way, so I know I'm getting good value from a tube. The tinted version didn't make me look orange or like I slathered on faux tanner, nor did it look strange over my freckles. Instead, it blended in quite naturally, almost like a BB cream or light foundation. The scent was refreshing but not cloying.
Even though it's shoulder season after a long, cloudy winter in the Pacific Northwest and I haven't seen the sun in months, I didn't get burned despite spending all weekend mountain biking and hiking. Instead, I washed my face at the end of the day and my skin felt moisturized and refreshed, not tight, dried out, or irritated. I would feel comfortable using Stream2Sea sunscreen and lip balm every day as part of my pretty minimalist skincare routine.
Just a few minutes from Chattanooga, Tennessee and the trendy St. Elmo neighborhood, Treetop Hideaways is a lovely little retreat at the foot of Lookout Mountain, where there are many great hiking trails and climbing areas, as well as a few tourist attractions like Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Point Park Civil War Battlefield. Cloudland Canyon State Park is nearby, too.
In addition to the location and the convenience, the Treetop Hideaways crew has gone above and beyond to hand-build two gorgeous, one-of-a-kind spaces. Unlike other treehouses that are glorified cabins on stilts, the Treetop Hideaways really are these romantic little visions tucked away in the branches. They are built with found and salvaged materials that give a romantic, Swiss Family Robinson vibe and kept the project eco-friendly.
Inside, you'll find amenities that are far more luxe than rustic, like velvet sofas, walk-in showers, and fluffy rugs. It's very Instagram worthy and magical, with twinkle lights, comfy beds, and beautiful floor and wall finishes. The bathroom in one treehouse has a floor made of shiny copper pennies! Talk about glamping.
I also really like how the Treetop Hideaways crew is very community oriented. Every year since they opened, they throw a huge bonfire party called the Christmas Tree Burn down in the meadow near the road. Last year, they lit the bonfire with a rocket attached to a zipline! Everyone cooked smores and hot dogs over their old Christmas trees, drank beer, and got to know their neighbors.
Even if you aren't visiting on that particular date, you can enjoy a fire pit area and s'mores thanks to the welcome package for guests. Pop into town for a local growler from Oddstory Brewing Company, Hutton and Smith, or Heaven and Ale, and grab some cheese and charcuterie from Blue Fox and bring it back to your treehouse for a picnic out on your balcony.
A great place to camp along the gorgeous Oregon coast and everything there is to do in Port Orford. If you are hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, this is a great spot to take a break, or to spend a weekend camping and also enjoying nearby activities. I appreciate the campground has recylxing, and a dog-friendly cabin if you want to stay with your pet. Dogs love the beaches nearby! You are just 17 minutes to fun Port Orford stops like the One Lump Or Two coffee shop (which sells model airplane gear in the front of the shop-- small town quirks!) and Redfish Grill.
One of the hilights of our visit was when we went kayaking with South Coast Tours in the waters off Samuel H. Boardman State Park and you can see some amazing things at low tide, like starfish, sea urchins, harbor seals, and lots of mussels. At higher tides they'll take you through sea caves and some of the arches near Nelly's cove. We also did some really nice hikes. My favorite in the area was down to Secret Beach!
GREGIRY JUNO 3D HYDRO PACK REVIEW
As a Dyrt Ranger, sometimes I get to review camping gear. On this trip, I brought along my new Gregory Juno 3D Hydro Pack. It was really roomy, and in addition to three liters of water also held all the clothes I needed for four days, including warmer, bulkier layers. My sneakers fit nicely in the stretchy front mesh pocket and the generous side mesh compartments were plenty big enough for snacks.
I love how comfortable this pack is, with padded breathable straps and the "vapor span" design to the back that keeps you from getting too sweaty while alao providing cushioning. As a 5'6 size 8-10 gal, I was really pleased with the fit. The bag sits nicely on my hips and stops short of my neck.
The hydro pack is sturdy and easy to use. I do wish this bag had a clearer place to put my laptop for when I'm traveling, but thats really my only complaint. I was pleasantly surprised by how many pockets there are, including an interior zipper pocket with key ring. The pockets are all a bright color that contrasts with the exterior, making it extra easy to look for you things. No dark cavernous interior swallowing your stuff!
Very pleased with my first Gregory pack. Its comfortable and thoughtdully designed in a way that far surpasses my big North Face backpacking pack. I definitely want to get more Gregory products in the future as I replace my older camping gear and invest in new pieces.
Now branded as Smoke on the Water, the former Lake Selmac Resort is one of Oregon's first cannabis-friendly campgrounds. The tent camping area is shaded by huge, old pines and firs, keeping your tent fairly pleasant even on a hot day. There are electrical hookups and some limited RV spots, as well as picnic tables and fire rings. Along one side is a fence separating the campground from a neighboring property.
The whole campground is right across the main road from Lake Selmac. There is some traffic noise at night, but very little. This is a small town and the road isn't very busy late. You're more likely to hear the wild turkeys calling or a bullfrog down by the lake. There's a nice dock and plenty of toys to enjoy the water. You can take out a paddleboat, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, or inner tubes. You can also just sit on the shore or fish.
There's also a large lawn area at the campground that is great for larger gatherings, as is the thee sided barn on the property. While basic, the restrooms are clean and accessible with showers. There's also laundry facilities and a general store on site. The signs say no alcohol is allowed, only cannabis, but they do sell beer in the general store along with food and other basic supplies. If there's something you need that the store doesn't have, town isn't far away. Eventually the owners intend to have a dispensary on site, too, though right now you'll have to plan ahead.
Despite those private campground perks, this isn't a hazy party spot, however. Tou don't have to partake to feel welcome or have a positive experience here. Everyone seems nice and respectful, and the campground host makes the rounds and keeps up with chores like taking out the trash on the regular. In addition to the campground host, the owner is sometimes on site as well in the living area behind the general store. The hospitality is genuine and you can tell that management really cares about making Smoke on the Water as inviting, comfortable, and pleasant as possible.
------- Product Review -------
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - on this trip I got to test out the OOFOS Women's OOmg Black and Black Shoe.
This is one of OOFOS's first closed-toe offerings, providing the same support from their proprietary sole design and foam recipe as their sport slide sandals and clogs. The OOmg shoe upper is a breathable mesh sock, not unlike water shoes, but softer. The sole is thick enough that you don't feel the ground beneath you, yet somehow is also soft enough to sink into, all while feeling supported. I appreciate the way the sole encourages a heel-strike gait and takes the pressure off my toes. I have very high arches and experience frequent foot pain after walking and hiking. OOFOS felt like they were realigning my feet and I did feel a lot of relief after trying them all weekend.
While OOFOS are intended as a "recovery shoe" you slip on after you're done working out in your sneakers, I found they work really well as an all around leisure shoe. I wore them all weekend while I was camping, and they remained ultra comfortable even in very hot weather that caused my feet and legs to swell up. They were breathable, provided good traction, and stayed aligned with my feet despite plenty of moving around on my part and experiencing different temperatures throughout the day.
Since this first weekend trying OOFOS at Lake Selmac, I've worn my OOmg around town to run weekend errands, on a hike to the top of Spencer Butte in Eugene (quite the uphill slog), to ease foot pain after a day in heels, during a long day in the car without cruise control. In every setting they've remained comfortable, supportive, and don't seem to wear down even after hours of my weight pressing into the foam. They clean up easily and seem really durable. They lack some of the traction and control sneakers or hiking boots would on steep descents, but are perfectly adequate for casual tromping around.
The only downside I can find with my OOFOS OOmg is that the heel is made of a harder rubber substance than the mesh upper or foam sole. I assume this is to help give the shoe some structure and keep your foot where it needs to be. If you're like me, however, and sometimes put your shoes on in a hurry and step on the heel and sort of slip on your shoes like they're clogs, you might mash down that hard material and either wrinkle it or find it doesn't bounce back. If you smoosh it too much, it could kind of get stuck in a way that rubs uncomfortably or blisters a bit. So always be sure to tug the heel part of your OOmg up all the way and finish putting on your shoes so they stay the right shape.
Overall, I'm really happy to have a pair of OOFOS in my closet and I'm definitely bringing them on all my camping trips. They're so lightweight they go right in my pack and I don't have to worry about my feet getting tired of my one pair of hiking boots or sneakers. These are perfect for when you need to get up and poke the fire real quick and don't want to shove your feet back into a more fitted pair of lace-up shoes that you were already wearing all day.
Bogachiel State Park is poised right between the Olympic Peninsula Coast near Forks, Washington and La Push and the Hoh Rainforest. It's incredibly lush, so even though some campsites are closer together it never feels crowded. Instead, it has a lovely, meandering vibe.
I appreciate that there are a two campsites reserve just for bikepackers or walk-ins, as well as the larger car camping sites. There is also a group campsite and a ADA-accessible campsite for disabled campers. The bathrooms have showers, and are also ADA-accessible. RVs under 40 feet in length can be accommodated, too.
Named for the Bogachiel River that extends out of the Hoh Rainforest towards the Pacific, you can get your feet wet here and even go tubing. The location is pretty ideal— it's a reasonable drive from both Portland and Seattle and equidistant between the beach and the mountains, so it's a great basecamp from which to further explore the Olympic Peninsula over a multi-day camping trip. There are plenty of amenities to make your stay comfortable, but you still feel like you're really in nature, which is nice.
As a Dyrt Ranger, I'm lucky enough to occasionally have the opportunity to test and evaluate products. On this trip, I tested Ethnotek's Padu Dopp Kit Toiletry Bag, the Padu Zipper Pouch, and the Chaalo Pocket Travel Bag.
One of my biggest pet peeves any time I'm living out of a backpack is losing all my small items only to find them rattling around in the bottom of my pack later. Whether I'm camping or traveling, I like knowing exactly where all my charger cables, chapstick, hand sanitizer, pens, sunscreen, makeup, and hairpins are. The Padu Dopp Kit Toiletry Bag and Padu Zipper Pouch were perfect for wrangling all that ephemera within my big backpack.
Both the Padu bags are surprisingly roomy. I was impressed with how much I could fit into them. There are a number of thoughtful details, too. The Toiletry Bag is pretty on the outside, but the inside is made of water-resistant fabric, so I don't have to worry about spilled hand cream ruining my bag. There's also a mesh pocket so you can easily confirm the contents at a glance. The other interior pocket is made of that same water-resistant material, which is nice for keeping things like your toothbrush clean and separate.
The Padu Zipper Pouch is smaller and simpler, with no interior pockets. Still, it was plenty big enough to hold all sorts of things, like a few phone chargers, sunglasses, and my spare battery pack. I like that you can order both products in a variety of different exterior patterns, too. It makes it even easier to stay organized when I don't have to worry about mixing up my bags. It's also wonderful that these are sturdy and practical, but pretty enough that I can carry them as a clutch bag. Perfect for when you're trying to travel light and need your gear to pull double duty!
The Chaalo Pocket Travel Bag can definitely play multiple roles, too. You can use it to keep your essentials in one place within your larger backpack, like your keys, wallet, passport, credit or transit cards, point-and-shoot camera etc. It's long nylon strap, though, lets you use it as a cross-body or shoulder purse, too, just the right size for excursions where a day pack would be too much. No fumbling around looking for the car keys— there's an interior key clip. No looking for a pen, either, with the three pen slots. I was glad to have this when we wanted to leave Bogachiel and grab brunch at the River's Edge Restaurant on the Quileute Indian Reservation thirty minutes away.
Like the two Padu bags, the Chaalo is also a really attractive bag that is as nice-looking as it is sturdy. That's a bonus for me— sometimes I get tired of outdoor gear that is all about performance but leaves something to be desired in the aesthetic department. Bogachiel is in such a beautiful part of the world. It's nice to have bags that are just as attractive.
close to the breweries in art district of St Pete Florida, Fort Desoto Campground has everything you could want for a long weekend or quick getaway. There's a general store if you want to stock up on snacks, fishing tackle, pool floats, or ice cream, or just catch a little air conditioning and Wi-Fi. The General Store also has a nice balcony overlooking the water and some oyster beds.
The campsites are suitable for car camping, hammock camping, tent camping, or RVs. Be sure to bring your rain gear and rain flies, as Florida thunderstorms are brief but no joke. You can rent bicycles down closer to the actual Old Fort where there's also a huge fishing pier and plenty of old military installations to explore. However don't rely on using the bikes to get back to the campground as there's no drop-off on the other side.
It can be a bit of a long walk from the campground itself to the Old Fort, which shouldn't be a problem unless you didn't pack the right clothes or shoes. If, like me, you find yourself a little under-prepared, there is Lyft and Uber in the area and in a pinch you can use that to get back and forth between the campground and the fort.
Our neighbors at the next campsite over we're, unfortunately, a bit of a party crowd, which made for a loud night and very little sleep. That said the restrooms were nice and easy to reach and all of the amenities or what you would expect at a bigger busy or campground.
It seems the new rules that have designated Umpqua Hot Springs Trailhead as "day-use only" aren't quite being listened to by some determined hot springs-loving campers. When I pulled up early on a Friday morning there were several established looking RVs in addition to campers and cars. That took up quite a bit of the parking lot, and what used to be camp sites have clearly been closed up nearby by the forest service.
That rule-breaking aside, the Umpqua Hot Springs Trailhead is easy to reach and the hike, while steep, is fairly easy and definitely short. There are bathrooms both at the trailhead and along the way to the hot springs.
The hot springs themselves were clean and well-maintained and, while nudity is definitely on the menu, all of the other bathers were quiet courteous and respectful.
Large, reservable campground with splendid views of the lake and mountains. Good for RVs, car campers, and boaters. On-site camgpground host is available to answer any questions and help with what you need. Can get buggy.
I was planning on camping here while visiting Crater Lake since Mazamas Campground was sold out. It looked like it would be suitable for hammock camping as it's beautifully wooded. However, I ultimately opted for a free Forest Service site nearby, at Thielson Forest Camp, to save money and aboid the crowds.
It looks like a lot of maintainence work is being done near this and Broken Arrow campgrounds. There are big piles of cut brush and tree parts everywhere and it's not very pretty. This isn't happening in the campground but in the area. I'm glad they're tending the forest and see the necessity of the work but it wasn't the vibe I was looking for.
Diamond Lake, true to it's name, hugs the water with incredible, clear mountain views. There is a lovely lodge that's been part of the resort since it was founded almost a hundred years ago. There is a full service restaurant with breakfast lunch and dinner. Be sure to ask your server if the game meat burgers are in-- whether it's buffalo, boar, or elk depends on the season.
There is also an adorable bar upstairs with fun vintage styling and aquarium. They offer a full selection of craft beer and liquor and a big fire place that they light up in the fall and winter. That's in addition to another small downstairs bar where you can get a different selection of beer and beverages, overlooking a lawn with Adirondack chairs. You can enjoy your drink or a snack while gazing at the lake and the snow-capped peaks in front of you.
Kayak and other boat rentals are available, and the kids will love the bumper car boats near the dock. There is a well stocked general store. All of this is convenient to the cabins and motel-style rooms, which are quite popular. Tent and RV sites are available, too. There are also guided events for the whole family. Lots to do, plenty of creature comforts, and gorgeous views. Plus you are super close to Crater Lake and Umpqua Hotsprings.
Beat the crowds at nearby and better know campgrounds like Thielsonn View and Diamond Lake. This free campground is beautifully appointed thanks to the forest service who has used the spot since the 1930s. This Campground has the nicest compoating bathrooms of any campsite I've ever visited, as well as beautifully built stone fireplaces, some with fire boxes. Massive, ancient trees tower over the campgrounds as a flat, even driveway winds theough the woods and several wpacious, private sites.
Plent of space for tents and car camping, though not suitable for RVS except maybe booneocjing at the front two sites. Plenty of trees for hammock camping. Plentiful firewood to gather. Just off 138, convenient to Umpqua Hot Springs, Diamond Lake, and Crater Lake. No mountain views but you are very close to viewing points.
Some road noise and no water available, but that's a minor concession for the quality of the picnic tables and fireboxes, not to mention the light filtering through the trees. Fewer mosquitos, too, than when you are right on the lake, though you'll still want plenty of bug spray in the summer.
This is a great little campground accessible by public transit or car. It's best for car camping or RVs, but there are plenty of tent campers too. No trees for hammock campers.
The river views make up for this not being a very woodsy campground. So does the adjacent park with a playground and plenty of room for kids to run loose.
For the adults, Thunder Island Brewing is right there with delicious brews and sandwiches.
Just up above the campground is the main road through Cascade Locks. That means you are within walking distance of Bridge of the Gods (and this the PCT) as well as an ice cream shop, the Gorge Express stop if you want to pop down to Multnomah Falls or up to Hood River.
The Pocket Wilderness is one of the best kept secrets in North Georgia. there are hikes for all skill levels including a wonderful Boardwalk leading to a waterfall that hovers over some of the most biodiverse Wildflower specimens in the southeast. the pocket is also near the Stellar Pigeon Mountain Grill which features locally raised beef and local beers that will quench your thirst after a night hike. there are more strenuous trails to enjoy to the go up over and behind the Falls as well as some intriguing dispersed campsites especially my personal favorite in an old barn near a really spectacular Meadow with views of Pigeon Mountain. there are site suitable for hammock or tent campers but this is definitely more of a backpacking scenario than a car camping or RV friendly spot. Be prepared for a slightly rough road on your way in sometimes that involves minor water crossings. I've done it before in a Ford Fiesta, but low riding cars should be cautious.