Sarah S.


Portland, OR

Joined September 2014

Live in Portland with my husband, Kevin & the original DyrtDog, Brandy. My favorite camping spots are along the Clackamas River in Oregon.

Cool Place but not the Greatest Camping

Crystal Crane Hot Springs has a lot to offer but I'm not sure camping is one them. They have hot springs (which we didn't actually try because it was during the middle of the pandemic) which looked great and I will definitely try if I'm back. They have cabins, glamping, RV sites, tent camping, a small shop, firewood for sale, showers…a little bit of everything.

We stayed twice in December, once in site 5 and once in the overflow area. The camping area feels more like an open field than an actual campground, especially in the overflow area, which I think is just kind of an open area. At site 5 there was picnic tables and a fire ring. Site 5 was good because it was a pull in, at the end of area so it was quiet, and it overlooked the hot springs.

On the plus side, the staff were super nice and the hot springs seemed great and I think that's the main appeal.

Great Campground Near Vegas

Great Campground in the Red Rock National Conservation Area. There really isn't much privacy between the campsites but the view and the feel of it makes it worth it. We stayed at site 50 just by chance and I think it's one of the best sites of the campground because it backs up on a hill. 

Make sure to make a reservation before coming to the campground.

The campground was really clean and had fire pits, tent pads, picnic tables, and several toilets. 

There is a ton of great hiking nearby in the Red Rock National Conservation Area. Even though you are only 20 minutes from the Vegas strip, it didn't feel like it. All in all, great campground that I would return to if I'm ever in the area again.

Quiet, Pretty Campground

 We stayed here in December and it was completely empty which made it a little eerie. There was snow on the ground so we stayed at a site closest to the entrance/exit in case it snowed more and we had trouble getting the Cricket out.(It didn't snow and we were fine.) 

It is a pretty campground in a little valley. Super easy to get to from the main road and from what I could tell, lots of sites along a little creek. There were 2 or 3 toilets throughout the campground. 

Because we were there in December and the campground is in a valley, it did get dark super early. Because of that, we went up to the main road coming into the campground to go for a walk so we could get some of the last sun of the day. As others have noted, the stars at night were absolutely amazing.

A great stop when you are on the road

We were looking for a dispersed area to camp after going to Valley of Fire State Park and finding it full. This area was just off to the right on highway 169 a mile or two north of Logandale. We turned right onto Waterline Road and then right again- drove for about 30 second and then set up right underneath a small bluff. There were plenty of areas that would have been fine to set up camp. The stars at night were beautiful and even though this area is just minutes from a highway it felt very peaceful and private. 

One thing to be aware of is that this is an area where people come to shoot guns and ride 4-wheelers. That doesn't make it sound super peaceful and private but it was such a large area, everything was spread out. This was a great spot for us as we were on the road, needing to get from point A to point B. Maybe not destination type camping but convenient when you are on the road.

Beautiful Views, Busy Campground - Loved our Off Season Stay

Loved going here in the off season. 

We camped here one night in November(Monday before Thanksgiving) and there is no way we would have ever snagged the waterfront site we ended up with any other time of the year! We were in site D-31 which I think is probably the best site in the whole campground. It was perfect for us to park our Cricket on the little pull out off the campground road and face our site and then the ocean beyond. 

I would imagine I would like this campground a lot less during the busy summer season but it was perfect in November. Still quite a few campers there but not full by any means. 

The path down to the beach was just a few steps from our site. From there you can take long walks on the beach.

Beautiful, Peaceful Campground

Wow! What a find this was. We had planned to go to Willaby Campground down the road but discovered it was closed. We saw that Graves Creek was at the end of the road (about 20 miles down) so decided to go for it even though it might be closed. 

The road getting there is a bit narrow and bumpy which was made even more exciting by the fact that it was dark and rainy. We got there and it was totally empty and wide open. 

We took site 2 which is right on the river and beautiful. Sites 1-5 are on the river and there is a whole section of the campground we didn't even notice until the next day and there, sites 17-20 are on the river. 

Really beautiful, very plush place to camp. During the off season, the whole campground becomes first come first serve which is pretty great for those of us who don't like to plan ahead very much. 

There is a trailhead about.5 mile down the road with some great hikes through the rainforest.

Our Go To Campground on the Oregon Coast

I have mixed emotions about this campground. It can be busy and it's not exactly off the beaten path, but we have never had a reservation and we always get a spot, even on a Friday night. That is pretty impressive for the Oregon coast, right on the 101. The sites are mixed. There are some parking lot-like RV spots but there are also some good spots that are surrounded by bushes and fairly private. It is a 10 minute walk to the beach where you can walk for miles which can't be beat.

We were at site D1. Not a bad site except that the lights from the nearby bathroom and a streetlight both lit up our site a bit.

There are bathrooms with hot water and showers (showers are closed currently because of COVID).  A good portion of the campground is currently closed because of COVID so I would probably recommend trying to make a reservation just in case, even though there are hundreds of sites.

The real draw of this campground for me is that it is open year round, it's fairly easy to get a site, some which are pretty good, and you are minutes from the ocean. There's nothing better than falling asleep to the sound of the ocean waves.

What a gem!

We were so glad we kept driving down this road until the very end. Along this road (Lower Deschutes Access Road- which is pretty bumpy but we did fine with our camper) you will pass several other campgrounds- Twin Springs, Jones Canyon, Beavertail Recreation Site, Rattlesnake Canyon- and then at the very end of the road, you will find Macks Canyon Recreation Site. 

It was fairly empty when we arrived and we got an awesome site along the river, site 11. The view of the river was amazing and we watched lots of fishing boats and rafting boats go by. There is also a railroad track across the river and it was fun to watch the trains go by. No AT&T phone service here. 

The only negative is that it can get super windy. At one point we were frantically trying to get our awning down from the Cricket and things were flying everywhere. The wind lasted about an hour and then things calmed down again. 

From the end of the Lower Deschutes Access Road just above the campground, you can hike along the old railway line. Again, amazing views of the Deschutes and the canyon. We did about 5 miles road trip but you could go further.

One of my new favorite places to camp in Oregon!

OK in a pinch but would not seek it out

We ended up here after the campground we intended to go to (Cottonwood Canyon State Park) was full and we realized we needed to go back near civilization to get gas. Since it was then 9pm at night we decided to just find the closest available place and this was it. 

I am actually surprised that this campground gets such good reviews. It was a handy place to stay in our circumstance but I don't think I would seek it out. The entrance is at the far end of a rest area and it kind of felt like an extension of the rest area. You are right off of highway 84 and no matter which site you are at, you can clearly hear the highway noise. From our site you could also see all the headlights from the highway. The sites down by the river did have beautiful views of the Columbia which is nice. There is a railway track between the campground and the river and occasionally trains go by, which I like. The sites are pretty open so you're not getting a ton of privacy. 

All and all, fine place if you have no other options but I personally prefer to be a little more off that beaten track.

Beautiful Spot, OK Campground

This is a beautiful spot but it's fairly open without a lot of privacy. It can be pretty windy, too. We weren't lucky enough to get a spot right on the water, which was OK because it was less windy away from the water. The campground is basically one long strip with sites on the left (as you drive in) being on the water and campsites on the right being up against a hill. You can still see the water from the sites on the right and you have the added benefit of a bit of privacy because of the hill behind the sites. Our site, site 30, was right next to the toilet which is not my favorite thing in the world but other than that it was a fine site. The camphosts were extremely nice and helpful. 

There is a lot to do in this area. We did the 8 mile hike around the lake which was absolutely stunning. We passed the hot springs but didn't go in…kind of looked like sad mud puddles when we saw them. We rented a canoe from the lodge and canoed across the lake- found a great, private little beach to swim at. 

All in all, maybe not my favorite campground in the world, but the sheer beauty and things to do make up for it.

A Nice Surprise

We just happened to stop at this campground and I'm so glad we discovered it! Because we arrived on a Sunday we had almost the entire campground to choose from. I believe sites 24-30, 33, 35-39 are all on the river side which are great. 

We ended up at site 26 which I think may have technically been a walk in site. We were able to get the Cricket parked at a good angle and then could just walk the 10 feet into the site which was totally private. Lots of space, with bushes all around and an area that is clearly made for a tent. The best part is that beyond the fence is a short private walk from the site down to the river. Absolutely beautiful spot to park our chairs and drink some wine. 

The campground seemed pretty big but I think the sites near the river are the best, not only because of the river views but because you can't hear the road noise, which you can hear from other parts of the campground. 

Another thing about the campground…there is a train track directly across from the river. The train went by around 4 or 5 times in the 24 hours that we were there, at least once in the middle of the night. I personally LOVED that. I love the sound of trains and I loved sitting at the river watching them go by.

Private Dispersed Camping in Siuslaw National Forest

We found this dispersed site by driving on Mt. Hebo Road about 20 minutes past Hebo Lake Campground. We noticed what looked like a logging road off to the right and followed it down for about 2 minutes. The road comes to an end and it was a perfect place to park our Cricket camper with plenty of room to turn around. 

This site sits kind of high up in the forest with super tall trees all around. We didn’t realize it at first but we were about 100 yards up from a hiking trail, The Pioneer-Indian Tr#1300. We only realized it when we saw hikers go by, some of whom didn’t even notice we were up above them. 

Going up the hike about 30 minutes will bring you to the top of Mt. Hebo with beautiful open views all the way to the coast. The hike goes all the way to South Lake. We gave up before we got there but as it was, that was a 10 mile round trip hike. Hiking the other way takes you to Hebo Lake Campground which we didn’t do. This was perfect spot to sit and relax and watch the forest and the sunset. Super peaceful and quiet. 

The only negative is that there is no way to know if someone is in this spot from the road so we had a few people drive down to check it out and then turn around. Also, there were a ton of flies both at the site and on the hike. 

To leave this site you have to drive up a pretty steep, pebbly road. We made it in our Subaru towing the Cricket but it was slightly nerve-racking and I would not try that in the snow or rain. Don’t think I would want to bring an RV down there either. 

Overall, this was such a great spot to get away from crowds and get some R&R.

Small, peaceful campground near Hood River

Really enjoyed the peaceful feeling of this campground. It is tiny - only 4 spots. Sites 1-3 are on the right side as you pull up and 4 is on the left. We stayed in 3, which was great, but I think 4 is the most private of the sites. The only slight issue with 4 is that the outhouse is on the edge of the site which means a bit of traffic (not too much since it's such a tiny campground) and being nearer the outhouse, which I'm not a big fan of.  2 is the least private site because it's in  between 1 and 3. Site 1 was a little more blocked by 2 and 3 by a large log.  3 was a good site with enough level ground for 2 tents. Behind sites 2 and 3 is the trailhead that will take you up to Rainy Like  - less than a 10 minute walk to the lake. The lake is beautiful, small and remote feeling. You can hike beyond the lake which was very pretty but I preferred the hike going the other way toward Wahtum Lake. We hiked for about 3 hours (didn't make it all to Wahtum Lake because it would have been a 10 mile hike which we weren't up for.) The hike was gorgeous with beautiful views of Mt. Hood.  

The campground doesn't take reservations.

The road getting up to Rainy Lake wasn't the greatest (but totally fine with a Subaru) so you have to drive a bit slow and look for potholes.

Loved this campground and can't wait to go again!

Pretty campground but a bit tight

We met some friends at Cougar Rock Campground on Mt Rainier at the end of September thinking we would have no problem getting a site. We ended up getting the very last site in the entire campground. So even if you're going a little later in the season, I would recommend getting a reservation. (And the campground closes in October for the season.) Of course, we ended up at a site right next to the bathroom, which is not my favorite. But once again, lucky to even get a site. The site (C-22) was actually kind of interesting because there is a big rock right behind the fire pit so you can sit on the rock and be a little higher over the campfire. The bathrooms were clean and fine. You really can't go wrong looking at the stars on a clear, September evening on Mt. Rainier.

On Sunday before heading back to Portland, we took the short drive up to Jackson Visitors Center at the top of Rainier where we took some easy walks (can't even call the hikes) around the absolutely gorgeous area. The colors were stunning! Then had some awesome chili at Paradise Inn right next to the visitors center before heading home. Perfect fall weekend.

Beautiful campground that is super fun to get to

Moran State Park has several campgrounds - we had a reservation at site 17 at the Southend Campground. The other campgrounds looked great but I was really happy we ended up here, which felt like a small campground and all of the sites are right on the lake. I like site 17 because we had a neighbor on one side of us but a lake and hilly woods area on the other side so it felt more private. I would definitely recommend it and thought it was the best site in the campground. The campsite leads right down to the lake where there is a big slab of rock to sit on. Nice fire pit and grate, private flush bathrooms and showers all available.

To get to Moran State Park or anywhere on Orcas Island, you need to take a ferry. I had read that you should get a reservation but I ignored it, thinking it would be no problem. Luckily we were the second to last car to get on the ferry but we were really close to not making it. So, I did make a reservation for the return trip which was good because they were filling up and not making any of them on Sunday would have make it hard to get to work on Monday. The ferry took about 40 minutes and they have coffee, snacks and drinks, and of course, beautiful views.

Orcas Island is beautiful and more populated than I had realized. There are a handful of small hamlets around and a nice grocery store (pretty expensive though) right as you exit the ferry. Lots to do on the island, including beautiful hikes and cute restaurants and bars.

Totally worth a camping trip here and a looking forward to going back.

p.s. I have AT&T and did not get reception at the campground, but could get it by driving a few miles.

Nice Campground near the Redwoods

We met some friends at Panther Flat as it was approximately halfway between San Francisco and Portland. All in all, it is a nice, pretty busy campground. There is a river nearby that you can hear from some of the sites but have to walk down a hill and across the day use area to actually get to it. I was able to reserve the last campsite available (site 32) and it would not be my first choice. It is the closest I've ever camped to a bathroom which isn't my favorite place to camp, although I have to admit it was pretty convenient. The bathrooms were all private and clean and they usually have showers but didn't have potable water available while we were there. We were also near the camp hosts and they were really sweet. One night they set up a sheet on the side of a shed to show a movie to the kids there. Unfortunately, they couldn't get the projector to work but it was a really nice idea.

The site I would recommend is site 33 which sounds like it would be right next to site 32 but wasn't. It looked like a very private site and you could hear the water from there.

Panther Flat is on US199 and there are other campgrounds along that road. It was about a 10 minute drive to the tiny town of Gasquet where you could buy some basic supplies. We drove into the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park which wasn't far at all and tried to do a hike but had to take short turns so one of us could hang out with Brandy by the car while the rest of us checked it out as they didn't allow dogs. We also drove into Crescent City on the coast to get some oysters to grill over our campfire.

Would totally recommend this campground and it was a great area to explore.

Ranger Review: Matador DL Backpack at Cove Palisades State Park

Campground Review

Good for a very busy campground.

There are actually 2 campgrounds here. One is where we stayed, Deschutes Campground, and the other is Crooked River Campground which is just for RVs. If I was in an RV and had to choose, I would choose Deschutes because it seemed like a prettier area.

This is a good campground but it is very busy and crowded. If you are camping with kids, I think this would be a great campground with easy access to the bathroom, a playground, and a amphitheater where they offer educational talks. Snakes the night we were there! There is little privacy between the sites but it is a really beautiful area. Our site (B62) and the sites nearby back up to rocky hill which was beautiful and we saw quite a few deer. There is a hike you can do right from the campground called Tam-a-lau Trail. It's a mile to the top of the ridge and then another 6 mile loop or so once you get to the top. Nice view of the mountains the and the lake from the hike. You can also rent kayaks which we didn't do.

Overall, I prefer quieter campgrounds but it was a pretty area and nice to have a trailhead right from the campground.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. On this trip I tested the Matador DL Backpack. I’ve had this ultralight, waterproof backpack for awhile now and I love it! It is extremely light (4.2oz) and scrunches up to the size of your hand. It's a totally packable backpack so I can just throw it in my gear and it takes up no space. (It’s actually really great for traveling, too) It’s waterproof which is great for Oregon but not needed on the hot day I used it.

There are 2 side pockets for water bottle and a smaller, zipper pocket on the outside which was perfect for my car keys. This is a perfect little, light daypack that I keep in my car (when I'm not using it) at all times because it so handy.

Great Glamping!

Kevin and I stayed at the Vintages to celebrate our 11th anniversary and it was even better than I had hoped! It's located in Dayton, OR right in the middle of wine country. The park/resort is made up of 2 parts. One part is the RV section where people with RVs can park (like a regular RV park). We stayed in the section where you rent out a RV which is there permanently. There are all super cute, vintage trailers. We chose #30 (The Neutron Couples 1) mainly because it had this amazing bathtub and it was on the end so had a bit more privacy. All the trailers are super cute and have a toilet, bathtub/shower, kitchen, 2 bikes, small patio with chairs outside. Even had plush bathrobes and pour over coffee so not a typical camping experience by any stretch of the imagination. There was also a pool, clubhouse, shower room (which was nice because it gets pretty tight in the trailer…).

From the park, you can take a short, very pretty walk to the town of Dayton where there are a few restaurants. There is also a grill at the trailer. Definitely glamping at it's finest but what else would you expect from a vintage airstream in wine country.

Incredible, Rustic Place to Stay at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

We spent 2 nights down in Phantom Ranch at the beginning of Feb. I had never hiked the Grand Canyon before and didn't know what to expect. We hiked from the south rim down Kaibab and were really lucky to have amazing weather. It was pretty amazing to hike for hours and then end up at this tiny community (Phantom Ranch) down at the bottom of the Canyon. Phantom Ranch consists of several small buildings, including a canteen which serves as a store, mess hall, and from 8-10pm, bar. There are also small cabins you can rent but we stayed in one of the shared bunk houses with 10 beds, toilet, shower and sink. You will have a set meal time for breakfast and dinner (no lunch) and it is family style dining. Breakfast is at 5:30a.m. or 7:00a.m. and dinner also has 2 seatings, I think at 5:30 and 6:30. You have to have all of these meals reserved in advance. It was super fun to get to know fellow hikers and share a meal of stew and chocolate cake (which I guess is the standard meal there) and then play games and drink beer for a few hours. We were lucky enough to be there during a full moon so one night we walked about 10 minutes down the path to get to a sandy beach right on the Colorado River - didn't even need our headlamps because the moon was so bright. During our day down at Phantom Ranch we lounged around the picnic tables in front of the canteen, reading, and also hiked up to a ridge that overlooked the Colorado and part of the Kaibab trail that we had hiked down the day before.

There is plenty of potable water at Phantom Ranch so you can fill up your water bottles before you start your hike out. You also need to carry your trash back out with you. Trash from things you buy at Phantom Ranch can be left there.

We hiked out via Bright Angel trail which I loved! not as steep as Kaibab with beautiful turns and beautiful pockets.

Non-Reservable, Walk-in Tent Sites. Great Spot to Camp!

I really like this campground. First of all, it is an easy enough drive from Portland, about an hour or so. Secondly, you can't reserve sites which is perfect for those of us who never reserve sites and just show up hoping to find something. And because it is the 3rd campground along this road from Portland, seems likely that people may have checked out the other 2 first. All of the sites are walk in and super private. From the site we were in (K6) we could see no other campsites and could barely hear anyone else. Loved the cozy feel of our site.

The campground is on the beautiful Wilson River so we took our chairs down there and enjoyed the views and the sound of the water.

There is also a 6 mile trail (12 miles roundtrip) that leaves right from the campground and goes to Footbridge. We did most of it and it's nice and moderate.

The only negative is that it is close to highway 6 and you can hear the traffic. But at night when the traffic dies down you can hear the river.

Other notes: No wifi (at least with AT&T), close to Tillamook and the coast.