the dyrt
Melissa K.
Nucla, CO
Joined June 2017
Always exploring, nothing beats sleeping in a tent in the middle of no where.
We revisit every time we drive through

Lake Maloney is on a big lake in North Platte, NE. We have stayed two or three times. Our first time staying put us in a bit of a pickle. We stayed the night at the campground and packed up to head out on our last leg of our trip only to find our truck was broken. We found a great shop only about 6 miles from the park and they let us use a car of theirs for the three days it took them to fix our truck.

The campground was very inexpensive, even for out of staters. It was $5 for the day and $8 for the overnight. This worked well for us. We were traveling cross country and being the last leg, we were nearing broke. The campground wasn't overly tidy. We also didn't see a camp host, at least one never checked on us to ensure we had paid and did what we were supposed to.

When you come in you can take the loop to the right, which is what we did to tent sites. It's all pretty much open and you pitch your tent where you please. If you want a picnic table and firepit, you have to be a bit more selective. If you were to go straight at entry, it loops around to the left where mostly RVers camp. Straight ahead is also the lake, it's a big lake and people get on it early when it's hot out. Everything to the left is a bit more modernized, flush toilets, pay showers, more developed. To the right there are old playground equipment (really old) and pit toilets, big grassy field and open space. There are a few shade trees to the right, more to the left.

Not all firepits have a cooking grate so you may want an alternative if this is how you cook. We use a camp tripod for cooking most frequently and did on this trip. Adding three days on to the end of our trip meant our food needed to be eaten as it was reaching the end of it's life. So we cooked it all up the last night we were there.

Our second trip over we utilized freeze dried food for travel to aid in keeping our food from spoiling. It worked well for us and we just made sure to find a picnic table to camp near. The weather did get really nasty this trip and with the lake, open fields and few trees, the lightening was pretty scary and we retreated to our truck to ride it out in the middle of the night. The sunsets are really nice over the lake.

This is a good spot to stop and we enjoyed our stay even though the length was not planned. It is for sure our go to when traveling east from Denver.

Mountains all around!

We loved antelope island. With one more day we could have accomplished our whole geocaching adventure.

Our start was a little rough, we were using a new tent, a very large 10 man tent to help accommodate our dogs and kids but it rained the first day with crazy winds and while we were in town shopping (it was raining after all) our fly lines pulled out and the tent partially collapsed, getting everything very wet inside. Thankfully, there was a laundromat not far away and we were able to dry everything.

We booked 3 nights at the park. The drive in is long and the bugs were really bad on the drive in but once we got past the marina, the bugs were gone. We didn't notice much for bugs the rest of the time we were there. There was a slew of other wildlife there. We saw bison regularly, we heard and saw coyotes a couple nights. We saw plenty of antelope. Our campsite was pretty good. We saw mountains in almost every direction. We had a couple spots where it was more hills then anything but beyond those were mountains. It was hazy for a lot of the time, with all the rain on the first day and cloudy for a lot of the rest of it but it did warm up a bit and hiking was comfortable. The island is covered in geocaches so we enjoyed that part of the stay for sure. Sight seeing was great too.

We were in camp site 18 in Bridger Bay. The site wasn't overly spacious. It was also very rocky. You could either get your tent stakes in to a very soft spot or you couldn't get them in at all. The restroom was a vault but it lacked a smell, was clean and well stocked. It did flood some when the heavy rains came. We were able to walk to many spots on the island. We took a trail that would have gone to the other side but we only went halfway. We didn't notice much of a smell from the water, just sort of smelled like the ocean. By the marina and the drive in it did smell though. Just not in our camp area or where we were hiking. Bison frequented the area, even came right through camp. All the picnic spots in the sites were concrete slabs. The fire ring was buried in the concrete. That was ok, the provided fire grate was hard to work and our tripod isn't designed for rings under the ground so that was a challenge too. There isn't any shade except the shade shelter. It was far away from the fire ring so make sure you bring chairs to sit around the fire.

There are pay showers available and flush toilets over at ladyfinger, where the beach is, as well as a little restaurant. Those bathrooms were heated and had running water.

Overall, I look forward to returning. Maybe when it's a tad warmer. The nights were super cold.

Not remote but surrounded by scenery

This campground was an interesting little campground. When we looked at the listing to find it, it said there were four sites available and we were taking 10 people total. 7 high school students and 3 adults. We knew based off of the BLM site that we were allowed to have 10 people and two vehicles, we had just one big vehicle. No where on the BLM site does it say there is a tent limit, at least that we found. We did get hollered at by the camp host (another campground away) that we had too many tents. So, although the BLM site does not restrict tents, they say you can only have four. She also told us to use the group site at $25 plus $5 a head but that price is so far off that it's laughable.

Anyway, there are 9 sites in the main campground, priced at $20 a site. There are 4 group sites, they range from $130 a night to $250 a night. They can accommodate anywhere from 30 to 90 people per site and 10 vehicles per site. There are no hookups or electric at any of the sites. There are toilets at each of the campgrounds (individual and group). Our group said they were pretty smelly, I went up to the bathrooms that are at the bottom of Corona Arch and those were very clean, lacked a smell and had hand sanitizer in them. The doors were finicky and our students claimed they didn't lock so apparently they are too complicated for high school students.

We stayed in the individual (ten person capacity sties). The sites were clean, spacious and depending on the site you were in, shaded in spots. Some are right out by the highway and those are less desirable. We had a picnic table and a large fire pit.

This was a field trip for our high school kids so we were happy that there were things to do very close. Corona Arch is just across the street. It's about a mile and a half in, so 3 miles round trip. The beginning is really the roughest part. After the tracks, it flattens out a bit and it's mostly just flat rock. This hike allowed us to do a little geocaching, although we only found one of the two on the trail. The arch is magnificent! It's absolutely huge. There are a couple spots of the hike where you need to escape your comfort zone if you aren't fond of heights. There is a steel rope that you climb with foot holes and also a short ladder, maybe 6 feet tall. The rest is pretty smooth sailing. The kids enjoyed the echo at the arch.

Another spot, just about half a mile from the campground is another hike. It's a bit strange at first, you go through what looks like a drainage tunnel of sorts. You get through and I think we were supposed to take a trail up but we missed it and went the flat route towards our geocache. Saw some really nice water holes, not sure if you can swim in them but they seem pretty deep. The official trail is supposed to be 4 miles round trip, but we did not find that trail.

Of course the campground is right on the Colorado River and there are boat ramps at the group sites. The river seemed a bit low in these spots but we did not get in.

After preparing our food we were able to play some frisbee in the roadway for the campground. There wasn't a lot of vehicles that came through so they rarely had to move out of the way. They did a little ultimate as well. If they had had a football or baseball and glove, they could have enjoyed that too. The space was there. The terrain was a little rough but that didn't stop them. They had a blast.

The road in from Moab had petroglyphs and lots of climbers. Temps were about 70 during the day and cold at night, supposed to be 50 ish but it seemed cold. Day temps were almost too hot for the hiking but still tolerable.

Over all the campground was enjoyable and I would take a group back again.

First to Review
Ranger Review: Inno INH640 Aero Light 2 at Caddis Flats Campground

Campground Review

Caddis flats is located not too far from Placerville, and a short distance farther in the opposite direction from Norwood. It's along a scenic road that runs from Norwood out to Ridgeway with a turnoff at Placerville that heads out to Telluride. This is a small little campground that has 3 developed campsites with picnic tables and grills. One has a shelter of sorts as well. Two of the three sites are right out in the open, on their own little island of sorts between the road with in the campground. We didn't stay in one of these three developed sites though. We parked by the boat ramp and there was a small trail that led back to an area that had about 4 tent sleeping areas and two fire rings. Due to fire restrictions, the fire rings did not get used by us. It was very spacious and had great shade, along with the rumbling of the river, it was quite nice. We were able to mount our hammocks in the trees and sit comfortably, even if the site was without a picnic table. Our car was close enough that we didn't have to carry anything too far and we used most of our storage tubs as small tables. We cooked with our small camp stove and our jetboil and ate a lot of freeze dried meals from Mountain House Foods. We ended up sharing several meals so that everyone could have a little bit of everything.

The area was quiet and the stars were amazing. The pit toilets were very clean, well stocked with toilet paper and had little oder. There was a bit of traffic noise from the highway that runs through the area but it died down sometime after midnight. The river is right there in the campground and it is running pretty low right now, but still moving along quite nicely. The kids were able to play around with minimal risk while supervised. There was a note saying that the river had changed paths up a ways and impassable by a boat. You could hear the river babbling all night long.

We kept our food in our truck but a bear was sighted a few miles down the road so if you are camping without a vehicle, it may be a good idea to hang your food.

The kids enjoyed biking and it was a nice campground to relax at. There were some great spots for photography and if you are in to geocaching, there is a pretty cool one in this campground!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing the INH640 Aero Light 2 (4 bike) made by Inno. This rack boasts a 4 bike capacity, has a foot peddle to drop the rack down for easy access to the back of your vehicle. It has mounts that attach on the top of the rack as well as on the frame coming down below the seat post. The box arrived with everything from locking pins, adjustments for the hitch size, tools, straps and keys for the lock that is included with the rack.

While it says it holds 4 bikes, I just don't see how it is possible. We had three adult bikes on the rack and struggled to get them situated. With some adjusting we did get them on and they definitely were secure. Our older boys' bike did not fit, the distance between the top of his frame and the bottom was too narrow. But even if it had fit, I'm not sure we would have gotten it on, just not enough room. The feature of the lower frame secure point ended up being a little troublesome. We have water bottle carriers on our bike and we had to pull the bike on and off to make sure it situated correctly as we couldn't adjust with the bike on the rack already. It is insanely secure though, seems to be gentle on the bike frames. Once you get moving, it's a pretty easy install, it was a bit cumbersome at first.

I really like how the rack folds down when not in use to maintain a lower profile. With the included locking pin, you don't even have to worry that someone is going to walk off with your rack. I really like the little foot peddle that drops the rack so you can get in the back of your vehicle. It's the difference between completely unloading everything and just dropping, grabbing and continuing on. This rack will definitely make biking more accessible and should get us out on our bikes more often!

Some relief from the heat

So we chose this campground this time around because it has a lake that you can swim in. The temps were 100 degrees during the day and exhausting. With two small children and a week worth of camping planned, we decided the higher price of a state park was worth it for the convenience of the lake. Plus, we were working on a geocaching event and needed to add to our collection, and there are 13 in the park. Granted one you have to have a boat for so we weren't able to find that one but there are boats that you can rent so if you are really interested in grabbing that one, you can without too much trouble.

When we arrived there were 4 sites available. There would have been more (we came in on a Monday) but their irrigation had flooded many of their sites. The camp host said "15 is high and dry" so we took site 15. We camp in a tent so dry is a must. On the upside, 15 has a water spicket in the site. That was nice, cold water available when ever with out walking to another location. The lake was also really near by. Just a short walk across the parking lot, a nice grassy area that had a playground and then the beach is right there. The lake didn't have a ton of boat traffic early in the week. We stayed two nights so we left Wednesday morning. The first night there were looming storms all around but nothing ever hit the park. We did the majority of our geocaching that day. While out walking in the desert (there are parts of the park that seem pretty remote, even though you are still in the park) we came across what we believe to be mountain lion scat. We learned while camping in Wisconsin all about predator scat and that it typically will contain bones and hair, this particular specimen had lots of hair and clearly looked to be feline. It was mentioned that it could also be bobcat. Either way, a larger cat of prey was in the park at some point, granted a good half mile from the campground.

So obviously there is the lake to enjoy but there are also many mountain bike trails. We walked a lot of those while geocaching. Some took us way up to some amazing 360 views. I certainly could not imagine biking up but the trail did indeed go up. There are also a couple different lakes in the park. High Line Lake is the main one but there is also Mack Lake (I think was the name of it). That lake did have people fishing but it is not a swimming lake and I'm not sure boats were allowed. The campground had some perks that we appreciated. There were flush toilets and they were relatively clean. There were also showers, granted you had to pay $1 for four minutes and every quarter after was another minute. They also were pretty clean. I don't think they get used a lot. The park claims that the fee is to help conserve water. There was a change machine on the wall outside the building so that you could change out those dollar bills for usable quarters.

The last night there we saw more looming storms around and while we were eating dinner the wind kicked up real bad, we packed up just in case and then before we knew it it was pouring and thunder and lightening. So that was interesting but it cleared up and we enjoyed a slightly cooler evening.

We also did not plan for a campfire as there have been fire bans all over the state for most of the summer. So when we arrived to find out fires were allowed, we were disappointed that our meals were all freeze dried. But, Mountain House does a good job with their freeze dried meals and we enjoyed spaghetti and chicken and potatoes over the course of the two nights. The Chicken and Mashed Potatoes had some mixed reviews but we prepared it just as the package instructed and it turned out just fine. I was apprehensive but it looked like chicken and it tasted like chicken and the texture was right. There were a few spots that may not have fully rehydrated with the water level in the package but that was user error. It could have used a little seasoning, as we do like our flavors but as is, it was not bad. It was nice to have a full chicken breast instead of just little chunks of meat here and there. The Spaghetti was spot on, it rehydrated amazingly and the textures and flavors were really good. We really enjoyed this one. I will definitely be taking more of this when we know we either need to save space, don't have refrigeration or can't have a fire. It was well worth the purchase. Over the course of the week we ate this one several times. We also had the Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast. This one has been a little hit or miss and because we only had one pouch for three of us we also cooked up some mashed potatoes and paired together were actually quite amazing. It stretched out the biscuits and gravy and added very little cost as small packets of instant potatoes run about 98 cents at walmart. One thing we really appreciated about Mountain House is that their cook times usually run 8-10 minutes. We tried another brand and the cook time on it was 15 to 20 minutes for every 5000 feet of elevation. So the meal we cooked up later in the week was supposed to take 30-40 minutes due to being at nearly 10,000 feet. So Mountain House has the cook times down and they are much more convenient.

Overall, our campsite was spacious, our neighbors were friendly and the lake was refreshing. Definitely will return in the dog days of summer.

Scenery and Peace and Quiet

So we ventured out to Crag Crest as it was not a campground we have stayed at before and we were sent out this way by the camp host at Ward Lake, where we have previously stayed. It is definitely remote. You take the turn at the visitors center on the Mesa and head towards Ward Lake, the road is paved, until you pass Ward Lake, you enter into an area that has a lot of cabins and summer enthusiasts. Signs like "caution, Adults at play" are prevalent. The road turns to gravel and you go through a small little town, if you can call it that. It has a small store and a restaurant. Keep going, at some point you'll hang a left (it's marked with signs) and go a little farther until you reach Crag Crest. The road up is a bit washed out and a smaller car with low clearance might struggle a little here. We drive a big truck so it was no issue for us. The road goes up a bit into a tiny campground. Maybe 8 sites. There are two restrooms for this tiny campground. Their fees were interesting. The campground stay is just $12, one of the lower priced campgrounds up there. But they had fees for parking and for day use. I'm not real sure how they enforce those since there is no camp host and no one really at all out there. But non the less, the fees keep the honest person honest. There is a trail that comes off the campground but it was closed for logging operations. I found that to be interesting. Another camper said he went up there even though it was closed and it was weird, a road had been built and lots of down trees. This did not create any additional noise, however. I wouldn't have even known there was a logging operation up there.

I dropped a star for the bathrooms. They were really quite gross. They weren't very clean and extremely smelly. The lower girls restroom looked as though a bear had tried to break in, the upper screen was pushed in. They were not full and had a trash bag present and plenty of toilet paper but they were just really extra stinky. Another camper mentioned that the lower bathrooms may be less clean due to trail use and 4 wheeler activity along with fishing activity but we didn't see much of any of that activity and did stroll up to the upper restrooms and they were worse then the lower. We had grown accustomed to the smell of the lower and just stuck with those.

We stayed 3 nights with the anticipation of the full lunar eclipse to view from a magnificent viewpoint. We did not see the eclipse, however, we were too tired to stay up but it would have been spectacular. We had a great view of the lake below and the sunsets were lovely. We did bring up some firewood this go around and it was nice to have as it did get quite chilly up there. While it was 100 degrees below it was maybe in the 70's up there. Nice in the sun, cool in the shade.

We were geocaching on this trip and there are a lot up here and many will take you to a pretty spectacular location. Some require a bit of hiking but some are right along the road. Non the less, you will see views like no other.

The campground on Wednesday had four campers including us. It was quiet and you really couldn't even tell that other campers were there. The next day, two left, leaving just the two of us. But by Friday night, the whole place filled up! It still was pretty peaceful but the campground filled with conversation Friday night. Every morning there was a strange buzzing, I was never able to identify the source but I heard it every morning. We also had some squirrels that were less then thrilled to have us there. They did a lot of yelling at us and occasionally ran up above us to throw things at us. Ticked off wildlife, kind of comical. The site was spacious, some had better parking then others, some had almost no parking. There is no running water there, no amenities other then the restrooms. It's also very remote, there is nothing out there. Granted if there was an emergency you probably could knock on any number of cabins a short distance up the road. They all had picnic tables and fire rings. They almost all had views as well. Some were tucked more back in the trees but even those had amazing views of the night sky. I can only imagine what this place looks like with out a moon. The full moon blew out our stars but I can only imagine.

We had planned for the week to eat freeze dried meals, we didn't find out fire bans were lifted until after we made our food decisions. So we ate a bit of Mountain House Turkey Dinner Casserole which has lots of pretty good bits in it, actual turkey and carrots and celery and stuffing, all things could be identified, the texture is appealing. It has a good flavor and isn't short on seasonings and my kids love it! Win Win. We also ate Spaghetti and Lasagna. Both of which were fabulous. Tasted and looked like they should, textures were good. My kids ate a lot of instant potatoes and pasta. Although everything was tasty, it was nice to head home to home cooked meals.

I included in the pictures a homemade oatmeal that we love. Here is the recipe and where we found it.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rolled oats (or use quick oats to cook faster)
  • ½ cup freeze dried bananas
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter powder
  • dash of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except water ahead of time into a sandwich size ziplock bag.
  2. When ready to eat, boil 1 cup water (it's fine to eyeball it), then add oatmeal mixture, reduce heat (if your stove allows), and let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Or if you want to save fuel or can't simmer, just add oatmeal to boiling water, cover, and wait 5-10 minutes.
Convenient and the Showers are much needed!

We were on a five day road trip and this was our last day. So we were four days with out a shower and we needed them. Anyway, it's not far from the Flaming Gorge Dam. There were only two sites still available when we got there. They do take reservations so most sites were reserved. They also have it built to where there are single sites ($25) or double sites, which mean double fee ($50). There was one of each available. Thankfully, we were able to take the lower priced site. They have fire pits, nice ones in fact and picnic tables at every site. The doubles have two of everything (at least picnic tables, I can't remember on the fire pits). There are water spickets scattered around and a lot of vault toilets. You don't have to go far to find one. Up by the showers the toilets may have been flush. I didn't go in, the vaults were sufficient. They smelled from the outside but once inside it wasn't so bad. They were very clean. Plenty of toilet paper, which on a busy weekend can be an issue at most of these campgrounds. There is a host there as well. You can not see the reservoir from the campground but it's not far and it's pretty cool. The dam has a visitors center and if you enjoy geocaching, there is an earth cache there. The river coming out of the reservoir (I think it's the snake) is spectacular with the high walls and really blue water. The visitors center had a fish mount that was a fabulous 150 lb trout pulled out of the reservoir back in '88. It was a massive fish. So I imagine the fishing is good. I know I want to go back with a canoe and a fishing pole!

Back to the site. It was comfortable, the ground was pretty hard and it made it difficult to get tent stakes in, a lot of rock under the surface. Water was directly across from us and the toilets were just a site away. There was firewood available but when we got there it was $6 and when we showered it was $7. So, not even an hour after we arrived the price went up. The part I loved the most was the smells! I don't know what they were, if it was a sage or something different but it was fantastic! I wish I could share the smells with everyone I know.

I think if I went back I might explore other areas a bit but if you need a shower, this is the place to be. If you aren't camping there and still want a shower, it's $4 to take one. If you are camped there it's free.

Scenery, Wildlife and Peace!

I have to start off with, this is my all time favorite camp site, ever! I camped back in this campground years and years ago. The price has doubled since I last stayed there from $8 to $16 and there are many many free sites around but I am more then happy to pay the $16 for this site!

To get here you have to take the highway that goes between Buffalo and Ten Sleep. The turn off is Ten Sleep Drive, there is a resort of sorts there on the corner, you are only about 10 miles from Ten Sleep, so almost on the other side of the mountain from Buffalo. The road is all dirt and a bit wash board but it's in good condition. Slow going though, lots of dust. You'll drive a good 6 miles or so until you come to Deer Park Campground. I have seen big motor homes up here but the campground is really suited for tents, although two motor homes were parked there the night I was there. There are maybe 7 sites in this little campground.

They have made big improvements (maybe the reason for the higher price) to this campground. Years ago the toilets were awful. In fact, I wouldn't even use them, I'd rather drive down to Ten Sleep then set foot in those smelly vault toilets. But now, they are still vault toilets but they are clean, they don't smell, the building has been upgraded as well. There was plenty of toilet paper while we were there. They also have added a water pump that pumps fresh water. This is great, we were on day three of a five day road trip and the water was a welcomed bonus.

So, why do I like this site so much? It backs up to a marsh area and then a giant open meadow. It's a great place to see wildlife and enjoy the sun setting as well as some magnificent star gazing. The site is good sized (too small for a camper but plenty big for a tent). A lot of campgrounds you'll hear lots of traffic noise or people partying but it's quiet here! So quiet that my kids were probably making the most noise and I tried to keep them quiet as well. There is a creek that you can fish just across the road and it's doing quite well. If you know what your doing, I'm sure you can pull out some nice fish. Years ago, the creek was super low and we pulled out barely minnow sized fish (amazing we could even catch them) but now it's much higher and there are lots of eddies and big rocks for hiding places. I can imagine it would be fabulous. There is also a big lake another mile or so past this campground and the trout are eager there. We did catch nice fish there years ago. Didn't make it to the lake this year. There are photo opportunities around every turn. It is absolutely gorgeous!

I have never visited this area with out seeing a moose and this time did not disappoint! I woke up around 6 am and stepped out of my tent to see a nice bull moose out in that very meadow that is so scenic. He walked through and with in about 500 feet of our site and then just kept going. Beautiful creature.

I don't have any downsides, unless of course you get sick or injured. It is a ways back out. Even Ten Sleep is going to take you 30 minutes or so to get to with the slow moving dirt road out. While there we did have a small injury, my 4 year old fell in to a tree branch and cut his head, so make sure you bring a suitable first aid kit in case of small emergencies. I can't say enough about Green Goo products, which is what we put on his head after we cleaned it up. They are extremely reasonably priced and their natural products WORK! Totally worth adding to your first aid kit. This particular product (Green Goo First Aid) also helps with mosquito bites. We camped in many areas with mosquitos (here included) and I put a little First Aid ointment on them and they were gone by morning. Helps relieve the itching too.

I will always return to this site, hands down, my favorite place on earth!

Beautiful campground

We stopped here on our way through south Dakota headed back to Colorado. The staff were really friendly when we pulled in. Got us checked in right away, gave us directions to our site and sent us off. Thry also sell firewood for $5 a bundle. We are in tent site 4. There are only 4 strictly dedicated tent sites. you park across the street and walk a very short distance, maybe 200 feet to the site. The bathroom is in the parking lot along with a water source. The lake is on the other side of the parking lot. There is also a dumpster there in the parking lot.

The camp site is extremely spacious. plenty of room for tents if you have more then one. It's nice and mowed out with the bordering area still long providing an edge to the site. The four sites are clustered fairly close but the way it's landscaped, you won't see your neighbornuntil you step out to the path to your car. They all have fire rings with a grate to cook on. The picnic table has a nice shade canopy over top. The bathroom surprised me a little. most pit toilets are dark at night but this one has a light! it also has a trash can and hand sanitizer! it smells decent and it's very clean. it will quickly become BYTP but we are only here the one night so hopefully it won't run out. The lake is gorgous! it's a huge long lake and seems to be a favorite boat spot. water skis were abundant, which also meant it got pretty loud with boats buzzing, people partying and music blaring. this is why it lost a star. it was pretty loud up until probably 9 pm. The mosquitos are bad, bring bug spray!

Small little park off the highway

This is a small little park off the highway, we had been traveling for two days and needed to stop for the night. We followed the signs that said camping and went through a quant, however pretty vacant, little town. We got to the end of the town and found a city park that allowed camping.

Pros -- it was $10 a night, that's decent! Most places are more along this drive. It also had a magnificent playground. My kids had been cooped up for two days and needed to run off some pent up energy and this was perfect. A few neighborhood kids joined them (it was smack dab in a neighborhood) and they had a blast, all while I rested from my chair at my campsite. Lots of green grass (an improvement from the desert climate we come from) and trees for shade. It had flush toilets and free showers! There was a picnic table, electricity and a grill at every site. It was a pretty restful night.

Cons -- The bathrooms were not the cleanest. The women's bathroom stalls did not function correctly, either the door wouldn't lock or it wouldn't close. There were lots of bugs, in the restroom, in the site, all over. I didn't sit at the picnic table due to the bugs all over it so I sat in my camp chair where I found relief. I'm not one that thinks there should be no bugs in nature but there just was an abundance of them everywhere. You could hear some highway traffic and a little train traffic. The town was all but closed up. There was a gas station and a bar open. The gas station attendant wasn't super friendly.

It was a great place to lay our heads for the night, play some games, run the playground but it probably wouldn't be on my list of first places to stop. Beauty of Iowa is almost every exit shows camping!u 7

Ranger Review: Green Goo Bug Be Gone at Ledges Cottonwood Area

Campground Review

This campground is tucked back a little ways. We had to go through a cattle gate, it's not always closed but this trip it was. Rule of thumb, leave it how you found it, but there are two campgrounds back there so it's ok to open the gate and go through. The road is narrow and a bit bumpy, at times a higher clearance vehicle is nice but I think I've seen cars back there too. The campground is right on the river, there is a boat ramp, however the water has always been pretty low when we've been to this area. This is our first time in this campground, we've stayed farther down the way before. Once you get there, there are plenty of campsites. We have never seen more then 2 campers there (us and one other this trip) but there are a good 12 or so campsites. Maybe more. They have fire pits, most have grills. Plenty of space. A couple were a little tighter but I've never seen it full so you usually have pick of the sites. They aren't numbered but if you head down the first turn to the right and make the loop, we stayed right after the loop on the other side. It was a huge site, had a small trail that went down to the river where my kids and dogs played. They found frogs and snakes and enjoyed cooling off. While there are poisonous snakes possibly around, this was a small rat snake. Looked to be some good fishing spots, a couple eddies and big rocks that fish could be hanging out behind, but we didn't have poles along.

The mosquitos can be quite bad. During the super heat of the day they were there but not overwhelming, but by the time it started to cool slightly, they came out in full force! In fact, they are the reason for the dropped star and for our early turn in for the night.

There is currently a stage one fire restriction, it still allows campfires in established rings and for the grill usage. Just make sure your fire is fully out before you leave it.

There is plenty of shade to be had and hammock use would be possible. You just have to battle the mosquitos. Which leads in to my product review…

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing Green Goo's Bug Be Gone. I am always skeptical of "natural" bug sprays, very few of them work. I was pleasantly surprised that this stuff worked. My husband had nothing on and I had the green goo on and the mosquitos eventually drove him to spray while they did not land on me. Also, being all natural it is safe for people as well as pets. So we sprayed down both our dogs. Our younger, slightly more apprehensive dog wasn't too sure about the sound or the smell but our older dog didn't have a problem with it. It seemed to keep the bugs at bay for the dogs and they weren't itching as the night went on. Definitely would recommend this product.

Ranger Review: Mountain House Turkey Casserole at Hittle Bottom

Campground Review

This campground was the first one we found open all along HWY 128. We started in Moab and drove until we found an open site. We went in a small yellow bus for a field trip and were promptly greeted by the friendly camp host. She walked us around to a couple that she thought would be sufficient for our group size (my family of four, plus 5 high school students), our vehicle size (a small yellow school bus) and our tent requirements (4 tents). She said that they typically allow 4 tents and 10 adults and two vehicles in one spot.

Ultimately we ended up in site 2, which is directly behind the camp host. It had some shade, plenty of space and was more then sufficient. We were able to put up all four tents, although two students slept under the stars.

The critters are abundant, ants were awful, and apparently did bite according to our students that slept under the stars, although it did not deter them from sleeping the whole four days under the stars. We went out for the day and made a rookie mistake and left our chips in sealed bags on the table. The critters ripped open all but one bag and ate most of the jalapeño cheetos! I can't imagine how that felt on the way out. We learned and made sure to lock up all food! They were not able to get in to plastic tubs with lids.

The campground is a launching pad for boaters on the Colorado River so during the day you can hear boats getting pumped up, smell plenty of sunblock and hear conversations taking place. Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am and are strictly enforced! But the stars are abundant and the views are amazing.

There are several bathrooms available and they were incredibly clean and the toilet paper well stocked! There was hand sanitizer in the handicap accessible restrooms but not the others. There is a great trail across the street, it's a bit of a hike but we did it and it ultimately ended up being about 4 miles. We did detour a little as we were geocaching and that took us off path for a little bit.

We enjoyed the campground, it was very clean and we were very happy that we only had to pay for one site instead of two thanks to the friendly camp host.

Our purpose for our trip was actually a geocaching field trip, if you are in to geocaching there are four real close to the campground. Two of them are about 4 miles round trip on a nice trail, one is in the campground and the the fourth is actually just up the road a tiny bit. We traveled the HWY all weekend and found a good number of hikes through geocaching!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing the Mountain House Turkey Dinner Casserole. I had a few guests help me review this as we were on a camping field trip. My students each took a spoonful and told us what they thought in the video below. They all really liked the flavor, one wasn't too sure about the texture. My review is, it has a great flavor, I found the texture to be pleasing, it wasn't mush and it wasn't rubbery, just right. It tasted a lot like something we cook at home after Thanksgiving. It was easy to prepare, boiled up our water in our Jetboil and then followed the instructions. My guests had a hard time waiting for it to cook but they were happy they did! Enjoy the video below (some of them were a little awkward in front of the camera) and know that once the camera was turned off, they ate that bowl clean!

Spruce Grove Campground, Grand Mesa, CO

We had intended to camp on the Mesa because we were headed that way to do senior pictures for our daughter. We had the perfect spot picked out and then decided to head up to one of the closer campgrounds. We got there late in the day, probably 6:30 or so and there were only two other campers there. Both in motor homes of sorts. We are avid tent campers and we knew it would be chilly before we even went. We arrived to a couple inches of snow, whereas the senior picture location did not have snow. We could hear our tires crunching the frozen ground and decided to pick a spot that looked to have been used prior. It was a spot that had a good share of dirt that wasn't covered in snow with a semi long driveway. I believe it was site 3. This is our first real go around with snow and we thought we were prepared but we admittedly do not have four season tents and we really didn't think it would be this cold yet but it was. The fire ring was nice and we quickly made our fire to warm up as we were already getting a chill. The 1000 or so feet below where we were photographing allowed us to be in light clothes, the altitude made a huge difference. We got our pot of chili going and got to work putting our site up. We used a tent we haven't used before and really weren't thinking when we did so, it had elbows of sorts that froze, we were able to warm them up to get it back down but it could have been a moment of death for the tent had we not warmed it up first. Anyway, we huddled the fire for quite some time, it was my husband and I, along with three children and three dogs. All varying in age and size. We finally made our way to the bathroom, the toilets were very very low! But it was clean and there were some toilet paper rolls in there. As the campground was basically empty, the tp supply lasted the duration of our stay. We did have to frequent the potty a couple times in the night and we noticed that there were K9 tracks that circled the bathroom with no human prints to match. We are assuming coyote on that one. It was cold at night but we made it through and woke up to a very frozen campsite. Our tents were covered in ice and frost, although we woke to a smily face on our tent lol. We decided to pack up camp, get the kids and dogs in the car and head down the mountain side and hit up a starbucks. That was about the extent of our first winter camping experience.

Ranger Review: Green Goo Pain Relief at Ward Lake

Campground Review: We stayed at Ward Lake on Colorado's Grand Mesa. Ward Lake sits at about 10,000 feet. So, depending on time of year, it can get a little chilly. We arrived mid morning and the camp hosts were not available. There are two campgrounds, the upper and the lower. We stayed in the lower campground. The upper seemed to house more families and had more wooded sites, the lower seemed more suited to rvs and such but we still put our tent up in the lower section. Our site said that it was a shore line site, but the lake was down something like 40 feet and was supposed to drop another 20 feet. The shoreline was a bit muddy and the rocks made navigating the area difficult for us. Other people went down and fished though and did appear to be catching fish.

Our site was a bit less shaded, which we chose because we were expecting it to be chilly. There were some great shaded spots also but we were looking for sun. It had plenty of room for our two tents (they are small but still), it had a long driveway and a picnic table along with a fire ring. The restrooms were very near by, just across the road. The restrooms were immaculate! Some of the cleanest pit toilets we've seen. No oder and very clean. The whole campground was really clean in fact. The hosts were doing an amazing job.

The chilly weather had us wanting to get moving so we found Ward Lake Trail and hiked all the way to the other side of the lake, which was beautiful! The trail was amazing, the trees were great and it made for a very scenic trail. The hike back was a little less scenic, along the shore line, the rocks were hard to navigate at times, especially with a 3 year old along. When we returned to our site, the rest of the campground had begun to fill up and the host made the rounds to collect our registrations. The fee was $18 for the night. The hosts were very friendly and sociable.

There was a wedding on the other side of the lake and by nightfall the band was in full swing. The music was pleasurable and not over powering. I don't know if weddings are common but we enjoyed listening under the stars.

Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing Green Goo Pain Relief. Our green goo arrived just in time, we hit up the post office, tossed it in our bag and then headed to the mountain. I have chronic knee pain from many years of playing hockey and I was coming off a nasty fall that left my knees swollen, bruised and sore. So while hiking, they definitely started to act up. The green goo pain relief is a bit softer then many of the ointments I've used, making it really easy to rub in. While hiking, I was able to simply pull up my pants leg, rub it on, drop the pants leg and keep right on hiking. To my surprise, it took care of the pain immediately! But, and I hate to have a but, it only lasted 15-20 minutes before my knees got achy again. It didn't really have a cooling/heating effect but it did provide immediate relief. I'll definitely use it again.

Ranger Review: Green Goo Tattoo Care at Miramonte Reservoir

Campground Review: We camped at Miramonte Reservoir over Labor Day weekend. We had been told that it's very busy and highly overused so we went out Thursday to put up a tent for when we could return on Friday for our weekend stay. We got up there late, the wind was blowing, it was raining and the ground was insanely hard! We weren't sure our tent would still be there when we returned so we threw a couple big logs in the tent to ensure it stayed until we got back.

The site was huge, we could see our neighbors but the site was still huge, backed right up to a path that led down to the reservoir. There were two pavilions with two picnic tables at our site, they were connected so it would have been great to have multiple people camping. One fire ring for the site which worked out fine. There would have been parking space for at least two cars, maybe more.

There really aren't any trees, maybe some sage and a couple bushes so the pavilion provided some much needed shade. Day time temps were easily in the 90's despite it being the first of September. Evenings dropped to high 50's to low 60's. The campfire was nice in the evenings and first thing in the morning before the sun came up over the mountains.

The views were great with Lone Cone off to one side, the reservoir was really pretty and the water was nice, the kids swam in it all weekend. We brought our canoe so that we could try and catch lunch for the couple days we were there. Of the three species of trout (rainbow, brown and cutthroat) we caught two rainbow trout and they were lunch both Saturday and Sunday. They were amazing. We were given the heads up that fishing is much better in October, we may return then to see if we can catch a little better.

The campground was the second developed area coming in from Norwood. The first really didn't have much but a bathroom and maybe a couple fire rings. The second though had pavilions and picnic tables and fire rings. There were ample toilets available but it was a BYOTP kind of weekend. Plus by the end of the weekend the main toilet for the campground no longer had a latching or locking door. Also, when you opened the door, lots of buzzing of flies and when you opened the lid to the toilet, even more flew out. Kind of icky but when you gotta go, you gotta go!

There were plenty of boat launches as well. We saw some motor boat activity, mostly in the afternoon when the sun was hottest. Otherwise we saw a lot of paddle boats and other small man powered boats, like our canoe. We put in at a launch site but ended up tucking the canoe under an overpass overnight so that we didn't have to haul it up and down nightly. No one bothered it one bit.

The campground appeared to mostly be used by hunters and crawfish fisherman but there were a few of the rod and reel type as well. Because the campground is unregulated (no host) generators were going all night. The campground is also free.

Coyotes could be heard frequently in the distance along with cows. Hopefully unrelated.

Overall, it was nice and we will return.

Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing Green Goo Tattoo Care. I got my tattoo on Friday and immediately went camping. My artist wouldn't have been happy with me but I knew that I could keep it clean with a little work! I made sure to have along a natural baby wipe, anti-bacterial soap and water (there isn't any at this campground). I applied the Tattoo Care religiously through out my stay at the campground. When ever it felt dry, first thing in the morning and before bed and anytime I washed it if it started to get dirty. Honestly, my arm was probably the cleanest part of me when I returned home. The pic has progression from day zero (day I got it) when it was still red, swollen and bumpy. As time went on the red went away and by day four (the day I went home) it barely looked new anymore. It's still a little bumpy but other then that, it's looking really good! My artist did suggest A & D but said he was curious to know how this stuff would work. So I had A & D on backup but never opened it. In the four days that I was using it I used about half a small .7 oz container. Probably would have used less at home but being out in extreme heat and dryness I applied it frequently. It did a great job of keeping it moist. I will definitely be ordering some more to keep this tat looking great!

Ranger Review: Primus Campfire Cutting Set at Island Acres - James M. Robb - Colorado River State Park, CO

Campground Review: I've stayed at Island Acres a few times, three times in the last months. All three times have been different. I wanted to do a secondary review for this particular trip. We arrived mid day on a Friday and there were plenty tent sites remaining. There are only six in the whole campground that are tent only sites. We originally were assigned to number 38, which is a more desirable site, we were excited. It is shaded and back in a corner along the river. But when we arrived to our site, there was a park ranger that asked us to change to site 36 because he had a sprinkler project he wanted to finish. While we had the right to say no, we disappointedly took site 36, which has little to no shade. It has two small trees that provide minimal shade during the heat of the day. This particular weekend hit high 90's. He also informed us at the move that they forgot to give us our card back when we registered.

So we went about our trip and set up camp late in the day and there were still no other tents there. This weekend, however, was a much busier weekend then most of the others we have stayed. Therefor, more people and more chaos. One site came in and set up around 1:30 am, with air mattresses and lights shining. The site on the other side of us left around 1:30 am. So again, a lot of light shining in our tents. Beyond that, there were also people that set up outside of standard sites, which I've never seen before. They were parked in the grass and in no parking zones, which a ranger came and corrected, early in the morning on Saturday. The swimming pond was refreshing for 5-10 minutes this time of year but then you wanted to come out for a half hour or so to warm up again. We purchased a shade tent, which came in handy at the beach and our site. That evening, the crowd returned and there was a lot of really bright lights again. People coming and going super late and camping in non-designated sites. People camping in their cars with huge tarps over them in the parking lot.

We also could hear a lot of highway traffic, which we hadn't noticed in previous visits. It is a very busy highway so traffic was heard all night long. The tent sites are on the farthest side of the campground from the highway so if the noise is loud for us, it is likely loud throughout the campground.

Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing The Campfire Cutting Set from Primus. The campfire cutting set is so lightweight and compact. It's easily packed along for any trip. It's made out of a nice oak that is appealing to look at and extremely functional. The knife cuts like butter. The video is cutting a raw potato and it does it with ease. Cleanup was a breeze as well. So, out of the box, it contains a chef knife (extremely sharp!) and an oak cutting board, all wrapped up in a nice prep mat that is great for packing your campfire cutting set. We loved the convenience and practicality of this set!

Peaceful and scenic

This place is great. It's out a ways down a dirt road but it's worth the drive back. There is a campground before it but keep going another mile. There are a lot of sites, all free. Some have fire rings, many don't. Most have grills, some don't. We stayed off to the right as you come in. It is more in the open, less trees. It's right on the river. There nice trout to be caught when the river is running clear. Locals said that some pull out catfish too. The mosquitos are bad in the evening and the morning, which is why there is a star off. But locals told us to burn pinion pine to keep them away. It just rained all night so we didn't have a good fire. We met a couple other groups, all together over three sites that were really nice.

The camping sites don't have covered picnic tables but there are two by the boat launch. We cooked dinner there so that we could eat. We weren't getting a fire with all the rain so we used our jetboil and primus stove. By the time we were done it was 8 and since we sleep in tents, we went to bed. It rained all night but morning was nice and toasty.

The locals told us that bear come through at night and so do mountain lions. Both have been seen in the last week. They don't usually bother anything but keep your kids and dogs close.

It's well worth it, the bathrooms were immaculate. I've never seen such clean vault toilets. The toilet paper was very well stocked, which is also unusual in other places we have stayed. Go out, it's a good place to be.

Far enough from Denver for us

We drove up from Texas and this was our last stop before our destination. We wanted to skirt a storm that was hitting Denver so we headed south and found Chatfield State Park. Our site was nice, it had a pull through, which was excessive for our tent but that's ok. There were a lot of people but it didn't really bother us. We enjoyed a fire in their nice fire pits before the rains came in. But we woke up to hot air balloons lifting off the reservoir and that was pretty cool to see. Very picturesque! Stayed just the one night but it was a worthwhile stop and we'd head back if we went back to that side of the state.

Pretty sure this is where we stayed

So we arrived late in the evening after driving the first leg of a road trip. There weren't a ton of spots open, in fact we might have gotten the last one. It was a gravel road leading to the sites but there was a restroom at the beginning of it. Sites were close together but we were just there for a night. The views were nice if you were looking at the river. The other direction was the highway. Obvious noise from the highway. Mostly just sage brush. I don't remember much for trees. There was a picnic table and at least a fire ring. May have also been a grill. We were close enough to our neighbors that it put our dog on high alert in the early AM since they rose early and made some rustling noises.

First to Review
Opted not to stay

It was an hour and fifteen minute drive up. The road was very windy and gravel/dirt. It wasn't too bad until the turn off to the campground. That road was almost all dirt. Wash out in some places. Single width for most of it. We trucked along though. We got to the campground and we could see one site from the trailhead, which is also where the restrooms were. It was occupied but looked nice. Plenty of space to park and a lot of space to set up a big camp. However, the other sites were down a much narrower road, that had water crossing it. We opted to not venture down that road. It is a free campground. About 25 miles from the 141 turnoff. You have to really want to be in the middle of nowhere. It is so secluded that not a soul will find you if they didn't know you went. Side note, we did read that the road gets dangerous when wet, we totally can see that as the case, which is one reason we left. Although it didn't really look like rain when we started, it definitely was going to rain once we got there. I imagine with functioning four wheel drive (ours is broken) it might not be so bad, or a jeep, that would probably work great. Being a single width road, it does get kind of scary on the huge cliffs to have to pass a vehicle, we were fortunate enough to be on the inside and pulled off as much as we could, but the other drive stopped next to us and said his wife was freaking out since she was on the cliff side. It was, however, the only car we saw on that road for our two hour drive.