PJ F.

The Dyrt Pro

Arden hills, MN

Joined June 2019

Cali girl trying make it in the Midwest. Mother of fur babes, wife to my hero , fixer of animals. Adventure is always calling but we can’t always answer. Hustling daily to change that . Coffee tastes so much better in the middle of nowhere...

Under a zillion stars..

First of all , being able to camp free on BLM land has been a huge blessing for us & we’ve lucked out so far! Please continue to take care of these places so we can continue to enjoy the solitude! This site is about 15 miles outside of the main entrance to Zion. It’s great when you want to get away & out of the people/tourist filled hustle & bustle going on around the restaurants, hotels & resorts right outside the park. While the shops & eateries looked lovely, it wasn’t doable for us with 4 pups! It was a beautiful night & a perfect night for a stroll. After hiking the park with the pups , we just wanted to settle in to some peace . Based on other reviews , we took advice on how to maneuver in & find a site. Boy oh boy was it a bumpy ride! If you have a travel trailer like us , make sure your cupboards are nice & secured shut or your stuff will go flying out! We have a plenty big truck & a 19ft trailer . The ride will likely feel more like sailing on very choppy water . More bouncy than anything. We drove in about a mile & found an empty site. It wasn’t level but we made due. It had a neat Little Rock built fire ring someone left . It was clean & completely waste free. The sites are not marked ! Just drive until you see a clearing & make it home for the night or two… It was pitch black out , others around us but also nowhere near us. Dead silence & a sky packed full of visible stars. It was a nice little layover after a day at the park & before our next destination!

The Zion Hub

This campground is located smack dab inside the parks main entrance, right after the visitor center. It’s open & mostly tents. There is very little privacy but the sites weren’t terribly close. The Pa’rus trail runs right along it. It’s the only dog friendly trail in the park , so 5 stars for that alone . It also sits on the beautiful Virgin River. I mean right on it. There were a few deer roaming the grounds too. It was cool but they looked almost too comfortable thanks to us humans & our food. Lol. There was a beautiful set of cliffs & mountains on each side of the grounds. The night was gorgeous & there was just this beautiful buzz in the air amongst everyone co-existing in the park that particular evening. Even had a few beers tossed to us from random friendly folks at campsites along the trail while we walked the pups!! Met some lovely gals from New York who gave the pups treats & love too. It was all so very perfect! The pups splashed around in the river to cool off right off the trail. Access to the water was mere steps down a path. No hook ups but we came prepared for that! Overall 100% recommend.

Another great stay!

Whenever we do our slice of Americana road trips , we make sure to make this a pit stop. This is our first time out of our state of MN for a Vacay since the big shutdown & this stop is always near & dear to our hearts. Nothing has changed. It still is! Quiet, the very few people that are there are always friendly! Completely unmanned so you feel like a grown up not being babysat constantly. The people that do dare to venture here know how to police themselves from what we’ve experienced so far. It’s a place to rest, recharge & take in natures beauty. It is not a loud music , drunken idiots kinda place that ruins it every time. If you’re on the lonely stretch & feeling sleepy or just want to have something beyond quiet.. just stop here. You won’t regret it! FYI- it still snows in April! Lol. But it was mild & it was gorgeous.

Ps: please take care of this place! It is precious & can stay open if we’re responsible towards it. Thank the BLM for maintenance!

Old faithful

Just had our annual stay and it did not disappoint. In fact , it was better the 2nd time around. I won’t bore you with specifics , as I pretty much covered it all in my last review. The place is still rad. But! I mostly wanted to cover how COVID is being handled this time around . I’m sure some of you are a little curious .., All I can say is I was blown away! We were ,quite frankly , very worried this year to make our trip. Not only for us, but we also experienced a little city-folk guilt invading & possibly contaminating a zero COVID case county. Well, rest assured. They are doing an amazing job at social distancing, having protocols in place, yet still not taking away from the integrity & charm of this magical place . It didn’t feel overly sterile , stuffy & mechanical. It still felt relaxed & most everyone appeared to be doing what they’re supposed to do. I’ve always appreciated that Grand Marais just seems to have a different, more diverse crowd & I love that. It feels like everyone knows to respect this lovely place & that is why we continue to return. I’ve not experienced too many hillbilly yahoos up here.. thank god.

So, The COVID 411: if you want to go into a business - put on a damn mask, slather on some antibacterial at their nifty little stations , conveniently set up when you first walk in ( it’s mando FYI) & stay the hell off each other. I’d shop like this everyday if it meant not having someone all up on me all the time! Seriously, just back the eff up people!

The restaurants all appeared to be open & had taken over sidewalk space for outdoor dining. Our beloved Hippie Tacos had adapted to new safety protocols & seemed to be having fun with it! They have some pretty cool carry out specials too if you check out their Facebook page. I was relieved to see that the same business were still there & nothing appeared to be closed down due to COVID & lost business. Be warned though, there are reduced hours in place at most businesses . Also be aware that many restaurants require reservations to control crowd flow . Plan accordingly. And if you’re wondering, Worlds Best Doughnuts was chugging right along! We had our usuals every morning with zero issues. 2 people in at a time, or a family. Call ahead orders at the side window. Workers had on masks AND face shields, as did everyone at every business we went into. Long story short- they are NOT messing around! And I’m relieved to know they aren’t! It didn’t hinder our daily activities in the slightest & shouldn’t anyone else’s. Guys.. Grand Marais takes pride in their village . They work hard & It shows ! They have have come together as a community to ensure their wellbeing & OURS. Don’t be a selfish jerk & just be a good abiding guest!! You will still have all the fun you’ve ever had there & feel safe too!

Simple solace

We stopped here for a quick overnight pit stop on our way from Minneapolis to our final destination camp site in Rowleys bay , Door county, Wisconsin. We were in a bind & needed something last minute but we still had specific wants…..like privacy! Their online reservations were easy. Pics of the sites were clear. Electric hook up & a great rate!
This camp is well off the beaten path , narrow windy roads abound. But all paved & no traffic. In fact, we never saw a soul. The drive is lovely thru the Nicollet State forest. Although, you will lose service & it your relying on GPS directions, you’ll find yourself in a bind like us. But we got out our trusty map & winged it. Cell service kicked in just in time & we made it!

Check in was a breeze. The gal was lovely & helpful. You will need a Wisconsin park’s admission sticker. The drive is still a 2.2 mile trek beyond the check in building. Our site was perfect. It was lush, green, & private . Well sized, easy to find, part grass, part gravel. Picnic table & fire ring. If you need it , they have a few bathroom buildings peppered around the loop & a very well kept shower & bathroom building upon entering the campground. I’m telling you, this place is PRIVATE. It is out there.. but still very well maintained. We were impressed by that.

If anyone one else was camping , we didn’t know until we walked the dogs around the loop. Our site was surrounded by forest & the dogs were able to roam our site freely. There were mosquitoes, as it was slightly humid & rained a bit. But nothing mosquito spray couldn’t handle. FYI- if you have kids they will be bored. There is no playground that we saw. But if you just want some peace & quiet - this is the place for you! Most of the campers were older retirees. It looked like there were trails to explore but since it was a quick stay, we didn’t get a chance. We plan on coming back for sure & checking it out. For reference: We have a 19ft travel trailer & a ford truck. We stayed at site 19 , it is pull in & it was perfect,with plenty of room for everything. We took a walk to be nosy &also liked site 20, it was even bigger! Site 14 looked great for a pull thru site. There were also some much larger sites for bigger rigs. There also plenty of tent sites that looked great too. Dogs are welcome. As an added bonus- there were raspberry bushes everywhere! They were just coming in , but if you catch it right. You’ll be up to your eyeballs in fresh raspberries.. yum!

No frills getaway

I had a love/hate with this campground. They have a great website with pics & details of each . It was super easy to use & reservations were a breeze. The site looked absolutely nothing like the pics ! They also mention water but this site had none. We found that out AFTER booking. But whatever, we had electricity & a full water tank. No sewer either. Price was reasonable. Well cared for site. Roomy. Clean picnic table. Fire ring, no grill grate. Garbage in the pit though, people suck. Not much for privacy between sites. We had site 28, it wasn’t bad . Much better than most ! We were kind of up on a hill above a very overpopulated part of the campground. We scoped our site 30 & would probably dig that if we were to return. We lucked out & had quiet neighbors next to us. Everyone else was out of control noisy. I won’t judge too harshly based of Labor Day weekend, but the crowd here lacked any common courtesy this time around. It was a bummer. Nice paved paths to Redwood Falls. Not much to see once you get there. Too many people. The river was nice but had murky grey water that had a very odd smell. The dogs couldn’t enjoy it. There was a bridge you cross to get to the paths but nowhere designated for pedestrians so you contend with cars. Cute swing bridge along the way though. There was a “zoo” - enclosures containing birds, bison, prairie dogs, goats etc. Maybe it would’ve been ok had parents not stood idly by whilst their children threw apples, over hand, at the poor animals & laughed. It all seemed far too stressful for these poor creatures. There was no one to be found in regards to any keeper. It was all pretty disturbing. People at the campground set off fireworks all day & night causing the peacocks to scream out. Yes you can hear it at the sites. I get this was a municipal park. And actually it was quite nice when everyone left and we were literally the only ones for 2 days. Camping in southwest MN was a new experience. I’d venture to say it would be nice to camp during a weekday. Be warned- there is NOTHING to do & the flies ( non biting houseflies) were abundant!! We had to buy fly strips!! All in all, we’d go back if we were just looking for a quick, closer getaway.

Donuts & the bay.. yes please!!

Me & hubbs had a weeklong stay here at the marina campground for our anniversary. Upon arrival, we noticed how crammed together the sites were. Yikes! One of our pet peeves . We have 3 dogs, no kids & enjoy a little space & at least the slightest privacy. No such luck. We had a back in site - hook ups on the wrong side!! First annoyance. Kids galore. Everywhere. And Uber noisy & running amok! Second annoyance. Don’t get me wrong- I love kids enjoying the outdoors & just being kids! But holy cow- could’ve done without the non stop wailing & firecrackers day & night. If we had to have stayed at our site any longer I’d never relax. But I digress. We weren’t there to stay at our site. We were the for the surroundings & they did not disappoint!! It is absolutely gorgeous! Adventures abound! Tons of beaches ( water was un-swimmable though , super freezing still!) Clear beautiful water, the scenery was breathtaking! An abundance of dog friendly restaurants & businesses. You could walk nearly everywhere you needed to see & be in town . Incredibly friendly people ! We never felt like silly tourists. Made new friends from Canada, took many hikes to waterfalls, found lots of secret beaches along 61 where the dogs ran leash free & took in allllll the sights ! The weather at the end of August was incredible! 65 degrees , no humidity, no wind or rain & very minimal bugs.

We spent every early morning drinking fresh local coffee , eating World’s Best Donuts & watching the sun rise on a nearly deserted shoreline in town. It was heaven.

There is tons to do if you just go exploring. Even with people everywhere, it never felt crowded & anxiety inducing. Somehow it all went perfectly! Reminded me of Tahoe or Bodega. Can’t wait to get back!

FYI- rv sites are hard to get ! Get a jump on a rez in January. Clarify if it has sewer- ours didn’t . We had site 77 . Not right on the water but a literal 2 min walk. I preferred this site to many others. More privacy for the pups.

Worlds away..

Driving cross country from California, we were looking to pull off in the middle of nowhere Nevada. Every place we came across was packed to the gills. No vacancies in sight. Actually, there wasn’t much in sight really. We were smack dab in the middle of nowhere, slightly desert/ plain like surroundings on America’s loneliest highway - Nevada’s Highway 50. We stumbled upon the petroglyphs. We pulled into the unmanned site , placed a bit off the main drag. It somehow managed to be in the middle of nowhere but tucked away all at the same time. Its bare bones , people. No fees, not much in the way of other people & no amenities that we knew of., except a picnic table & a fire pit/ring. That was fine by us. We had our minivan & our dogs & that’s all we needed. This was a totally fly by night camping adventure but that’s what made it so great! There are designated spots that actually had quite a bit of privacy from our fellow camper- not that we needed it but it’s what we look for most. It was sheer luck. We weren’t fully prepared for our detour so we had no wood. No problemo! We took to the plain , scouting the landscape for sagebrush & pinecones. It added to the charm. We burned that all night & it smelled like heaven. The night was warm, peaceful & void of any biting insects. We slept crammed in the minivan van with all our windows open , sweet fresh night air flowing thru. It was dark & desolate but somehow felt perfectly safe & we slept like logs. We woke just in time for the most spectacular sunrise & jack rabbits abound. It was glorious. The petroglyphs themselves were kind of an afterthought. We didn’t really see many & were slightly underwhelmed. But the cliffs & Rocks were pretty beautiful & colorful. The dogs enjoyed climbing & exploring. It was seemingly completely empty in the morning too. Not a soul around. It was kind of neat to feel like you had an entire campsite to yourself!

Btw- bathrooms are disgusting. I imagine no one gets out there too often for maintenance. But it was no bother. Just suck it up & pull up a nice piece of brush to squat in . You’ll live.

We’d definitely find ourselves back here again. The peace & sense of adventure was immeasurable. It’s a different kind of camping . Perfect for keeping things interesting!

A lovely little retreat

After an unfortunate start to a holiday weekend at a KOA site we blindly booked, were left with our camper, 3 anxious dogs & nowhere to go . The KOA was kid central, noisy, overly crowded, & the campers & RVs packed on top of each other like sardines. My worst RV Park nightmare! I panicked & randomly called Treeland RV Resort , blindly once again. The phone # listed rings the maim resort . The RV Park is located right across the street. They kindly transferred me & I was greeted with the very lovely Susan. She was phenomenal from the beginning. I asked if they happened to have any openings for a pull thru or back in site. It was a Saturday on Memorial Day weekend..& she didn’t laugh at me! She was happy to announce that they did indeed happen to have a cancellation & she’d gladly hold the spot for us !! Hallelujah! About 45 minutes later we pulled in to the park.. we knew instantly this was going to be amazing. We just knew.. ya know? It had a cute red barn office & we immediately noticed how immaculate & thoughtful the landscape & aesthetic is. Susan was just as lovely in person. She gave us our site info , calmed our nerves & told us to get situated at our site & then we could come back to the office at our leisure & finish the paperwork. Wowza! We found our site & we were not disappointed at all. In fact just blown away! Tucked away from our neighbor just enough to have plenty of space for us & the pups but without being completely segregated. There is a playground & heated pool , but it’s just far enough away to not be heard at all but a quick walk to get to if you so desire. Nooks of trees for privacy & a hammock, lots of green grass & a cement area & a well cared for picnic table & bonfire pit & grill. The pull thru gravel driveway at our site was ample & level. All the hook ups were neatly & conveniently ready for lift off. No fuss no muss.

This place goes on & on with quaint little touches. It was welcoming from the very beginning phone call & the people who run this place are incredible, helpful, thoughtful & just plain kind. Susan & her hubby Mike are fantastic.. we can’t say enough about them. Everyone & everything was quite literally perfect. I don’t get to say that often . The dogs were welcomed with open arms too! There were plenty of trails & things for them to see & do.

We were there 3 full days & just barely began to scratch the surface!

So looking forward to going back!!