Stephanie Z.
Portland, OR
Joined August 2016
I love to camp all around the world, and always with my hammock.
Milkshakes, Pancakes and Cougar Camping

The best things about Lone Fir Resort are the location and the restaurant.  I first discovered Lone Fir when looking for a place to stay the night before a Mt St Helens Summit, and I've been back a number of times - usually for breakfast before a big hike or lunch/dinner/icecream after an adventure.

There is also wifi here- it's not free, but it's worth paying when your phone doesn't work and you really want to upload those pictures of your Mt St Helens Summit!

There's also a small pool

Camp Right at the Falls

Lewis River Campground is right at the trail head and adjacent to the lower falls, so there's plenty to see and do right around the camping area. 

In May the campground had just opened and there was still a bit of clean up from winter that hadn't been done-- but the area was still beautiful.

It's just a few miles up the trail to the middle and upper falls, and if you want a longer hike, there is plenty more trail beyond.

Sites are equipped with Picnic tables and a fire pit. Plenty of hammocking trees around. It's the kind of campsite that's worth staying at for more than one night.

A Pretty Boring Campsite at a Great Park

The Dairy Creek Campground at Stub Stewart is a two loop campground. The sites are spacious, but there isn't much character.  The East loop is pretty much an open field. The west loop has a few more trees but still not much privacy or space between sites. 

Dairy Creek is clean and well maintained, and has great access to the trails and disc golf around the park. If you're in an RV this is a good set up. If you're camping with kids, there's a play area here.

There are a few "walk in" sites where you don't park your car next to your tent, but rather in the parking lot next to the grassy area where the open tent sites are. If you're looking for a better tent camping experience that actually feels like it's in the woods, you're better off going to the hike in campground in the park.

The loops are big and there is parking near the bathroom. This is great if you don't want to walk a long way, but it's bad if you've got the campsite near the bathroom with all the cars coming and going.

Great Midway point between Opal Creek and Sisters

Whispering Falls is a small campground right off of OR22, near Mt Jefferson. We stopped here for to camp just one night on a hiking road trip between Opal Creek Wilderness and Sisters. 

There was a small store down the road for supplies, and a creak nearby for hammocking. Sites were basic with fire pits and picnic tables. Great for one night or even a couple if you're out exploring the area during the day-- otherwise not much to do at the site.

Large Campground with Reservoir Access

Swift Forest is a huge 92 site campground at the Junction of Mt St Helens and Gifford Pinchot Forest. We thought we might have luck here as a Father's Day weekend walk in since the campground is so huge, but it was completely booked on Saturday. Went back on Sunday and the campground was nearly empty by afternoon. 

Sites here are $21 with an extra $5 fee per night for booking online (ouch).

The gated campground is very clean and the hosts are very attentive. No alcohol.

There is a large covered picnic area near the lake, a marked swimming area (f you like freezing cold water) and a boat ramp. Life jackets are available.

Dispersed Camping with a great view at the Foot of Mt St Helens

Pumice Butte is a dispersed camping area along the Loowit trail that circles Mt St Helens. If you're starting from Ape Canyon or June lake Pumice Butte is a great place to camp for your first night (about 5-6 miles in respectively) There is some tree cover here before you enter the Plains of Abraham that works for shade or a wind break - you mind need both.

There is not much water along the trail, but we found a small spring about 1 mile past Pumice Butte

Mt St Helens Campground Oasis

Lucked out with a last minute Father's Day weekend reservation at this great little campground located just at the junction of Mt St Helens and Gifford Pinchot. The campground is bookable online for only $15 a night which felt like a bargain for a private campground in the area. 

There are only 10 camping sites - some are suitable for RVs. There are also very small cabins that can be rented. There is a well stocked camp store on the property which is staffed from 7am to 7pm. There is also a pizza place on the property which is visited by a lot of area day hikers, so if you want an all day quiet woodsy feel you might want a different location, but if you've been camping or hiking for days on end without any amenities, this place will feel like an oasis.

The campground was busy over the weekend, but was nearly empty and quiet by the time Sunday night rolled around. We were at campsite #9 which was right next to a basketball hoop which got plenty of use while people were waiting for pizza (and was a bit noisy). The Pizza Place is not open everyday.

Each site had a firepit with grill and a picnic table. The toilet in the camping area had cold running water and a flush toilet. The toilets closer to the camp store had hot water and an outlet. Showers are available for an additional $3 charge, and laundry facilities are available for $5 a load on certain days.

The Camp Store had lots of knowledge about local hikes and what roads were open around MSH.  We used this campground as a base to hike Ape Caves, June Lake and Ape Canyon. It was about 30 minutes of forest road driving to the trail heads.

Riverside Resting Place with Hotsprings Access

We were walk-ins at Toketee Lake, surprised to find not just a campsite on a summer weekend, but an amazing campsite right on the river with lots of hammock hanging options. Slept right between the trees to the sound of the river.

In the evening before sunset we hiked up to the Umpqua Hot Springs - this is the closest legal camping to the hotsprings TH. 

Each site had a table and fire ring. Loved all the trees.

Great Nature - Interesting People Watching

This is a day use only area, but there are quite a lot of long term "campers" in the area who live in the woods nearby and use the hotspring as their bathing facilities. Expect plenty of nudity. 

The hot springs themselves are lovely. Go with a sense of humor and appreciation for the nature and you'll enjoy it.

We camped at the nearby Toketee Lake Campground which allowed us to visit the hotsprings just before sunset when it seemed quieter. It was also a smokey August because of fires, so there were fewer tourists than normal.

Great Base for Trapper Creek Wilderness

This campground is a great base for exploring the Gifford Pinchot Forest and Trapper Creek Wilderness in WA. About 90 minutes from Portland, it's in an easy to get to location, and Trapper Creek has a great 15 mile loop trail that's included in the 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Portland book. It's also great for some other non-maintained Mazama trails for the not-so-faint-at-heart hikers. 

The campground at Paradise Creek is well maintained, with decent sized sites including some double sites, and plenty of trees for hammocking. It feels like you're camping in the forest with all the growth around you.

Sites have picnic tables and fire rings. Bathrooms, water points, and trash and recycling facilities are basic, but clean.

Reservation Cancellation During Fires Felt Unfair

I had a 2 day pre-paid reservation to camp at Mazama Village at Crater Lake and was super excited since it was going to be my first time to the National Park. The trip was in August, which can be an unpredictable time for wild fires in the area, so before we left Portland to make the drive, we checked to make sure that everything was open (cell signals aren't great outside of the I-5 corridor). 

By the time we reached the northern entrance to Crater Lake several hours later, we learned that the entrance had been shut down that afternoon because of smoke and fires in the area. We had to turn around and make our way to the Southern Entrance of the park which is at least 2 more hours of driving away. We were not able to get all the way to the Southern Entrance of the park before sunset, so we had to get another campsite for the night. The entrance to the National Park was not manned because it was closed for fire, and there is no cell signal in any of this area, so we could not call the park.

In the morning, we drove the rest of the way to the southern entrance and to the Mazama Village campsite to check in for our second day of camping. The ranger could see our confirmed paid reservation for both days, but they would not allow us to check into our campsite because we had no-showed on the first night. We explained the situation of the park entrance closure and they know that there is no way to contact them from the area, but they would not make any exception. I would have understood if they had given our site away when we had not showed up, however the campground was not full because of the fire situation and the site we had paid for was vacant. They offered us the campsite we had already paid for, but wanted us to pay again in order to occupy it for the night. I was not willing to pay an additional $25.50 on top of the $56 I had already paid and lost to stay at the campground. We left the park and drove somewhere less smokey to visit. 

The actual campground looked just fine and had good amenities as you'd expect of a national park, but this was a terrible experience.

Equestrians Only

Hares Canyon Horse Camp is one of three campgrounds in Stub Stewart State Park and unlike other horse camps which often allow the overflow of tenters and rv'ers without horses, this horse camp is equestrian only.

The Campground is set up in one loop and offers both single and double sites, ADA facilities, showers, toilets, and trash. Each site has a picnic table, fire pit, and a corral. There is a double corral on the double sites.

You must clean up after your own horse. Manure bin as well as shovels/brooms are provided onsite.

In mid May, the sites were very wide open.

Ranger Review: PRIMUS LITE+ Backpacking Stove at Brooke Creek Hike-in

Campground Review: Brooke Creek Hike-in Camp

Brooke Creek Hike-in Camp is one of 3 campgrounds within Stub Stewart State Park, and the only one that really feels like you’re actually camping out in the woods – because you are.

The tent only hike in camp isn’t a long haul from the parking area at the welcome center – it’s about ¼ mile and the trail into the campground is mostly gravel. There are carts available for hike in campers to use at the campground trailhead if needed. Note that if you’re using a cart, that the walk in is uphill.

The campground area is wooded and each site has a picnic table. There are pit toilets and a water point. There are not fire pits in the sites—the fire pit areas are shared in central places in the campground. Some of the sites have a lot more privacy than others. I was camping in an unusually warm mid-week in May so the campground was mostly empty.

I chose Site 1 because it had a good place for my hammock. If the campground had been full, I’d have picked a site a lot further in since the first few sites are right along the single trail that all campers/hikers would be using.  Some of the sites can be reserved in advance, and some are always open for walk ups.

The self-registration is at the campground, NOT at the trailhead, so you’ll have to hike in, register, and then return your camping receipt to your car. If you’re paying with cash, bring your money on the first hike in. You can also pay with your credit card number.

There are lots of trails directly accessible from the campground including the Banks-Vernonia Bike Trail as well as other hiking, biking and equestrian trails. I had a nice run on the Bumping Knots Loop.

Product Review: The PRIMUS LITE+ Backpacking Stove

As a Ranger for The Dyrt I sometimes get to test and evaluate quality products from amazing sponsors. On this camping trip, I tested out the Primus LITE+ backpacking stove. https://primus.us/products/eta-lite-7?variant=38436885010

I’ve been in the market for a backpacking stove for awhile, looking for a lightweight and simple to setup option, so I was excited to get to test out the Primus LITE+. I opted for the .5L pot because I often camp solo (there is also a PRIMUS LITE XL version with a 1L pot available), Also, you can purchase the XL pot separately as an accessory which will give me more options when camping with a partner.

Here are my opinions on the PRIMUS LITE+ after using it for one camping trip to make dinner and breakfast:

PROS:

Boils Fast: The PRIMUS LITE+ stove is incredible at the most basic things it needs to be good for: boiling water fast! In under 2 minutes start to finish you can assemble the stove and bring your water to a boil. Plus, fast boiling means you aren’t using a lot of fuel.

Size/Weight: The whole stove system packs into itself and is about the size of a large mug including the fuel canister. I can fit the entire thing into the side pocket of my backpack. With the canister it weighs about a pound.

Pot Versatility: The pot that comes with the PRIMUS LITE+ locks to the stove giving it a good wind shield, and allowing you to hang the pot to boil if you don’t have even terrain. The XL pot which is sold separately also attached to the same setup.  If you aren’t backpacking and want to use another pan or pot, there are small pegs which screw into the stove top to allow you to use any cooking set up. The pegs are stored in the handle of the stove so you don’t lose them.

Accessories: I haven’t gotten it yet, but the LITE+ has a coffee press attachment so you can brew a cup straight in the pot. Always a bonus when a simple attachment means one less thing to carry for your perfect camping setup.

CONS:

Fuel Canister:  The smaller canisters needed if you want to pack your fuel into the kit  aren’t as readily available at places like Target or Walmart where I can more easily pick up my camping fuel when I’m on the road to camp. If I want to pack it all in to the pot, I’ll need to shop in advance at REI or a specialty outdoor store that carries the smaller canisters.

Insulation: The insulated sleeve on the pot makes it easy to hold and to drink from, but after just a couple of uses it was already getting pretty dirty with coffee and soup debris. It isn’t as easy to keep clean, and since the handle is actually part of the insulation sleeve, you can’t effectively use the pot without it.

It’s Small: Being small is one of the benefits of the stove, but the .5L mug/pot is smaller than I anticipated. While it’s perfect for a solo trip, you’ll want the 1L pot if you’re cooking for more than one.

Overall, Primus LITE+ is a great stove that’s efficient. I’d opt for the bigger size if I were to buy it again, since it would be more versatile with only a little added weight and easier to fit the more readily available fuel cartridge.

Ranger Review: Rovr RollR 60 Cooler & Sunsets at Fort Desoto Campground

Campground Review: Fort Desoto

I camped with my family Fort Desoto – a Pinellas  County park over memorial day 2019. While I’ve been to the beach at Fort Desoto may times over the years, this was my first time camping at the campground (my family who lives in Florida camps here every year).

I booked the site well in advance of the trip, and must have lucked out with a cancellation because I got a site on the water side in the camping loop over the holiday weekend. When I arrived I learned that some of the water side sites are actually against the mangroves, while others have an open view of the bay and are perfect for watching the sunset form your campground. Unfortunately, our site looked at the mangroves, not the sunset, but It was just a short walk to the open area. We were at site 40. If I were going again, I’d book even further in advance and aim to get a site in the lower 30s for the view. Residents can book further in advance.

All of the sites in the tent area are equipped with a picnic table and grill and an electrical hookup. There is a water point at each site.

When my sister showed up with her camping gear, I was surprised that they’d brought two giant fans to plug in – they are very experienced Florida campers. It kept the site cool, mosquitos away, and most importantly it blocked out the noise from the very large group celebrating at the site next to us.

There are lots of trees in each site, and we were easily able to hang up 3 hammocks. The view of the neighbors on each side was blocked about 80% which is great for a FL campground in my experience.

Fires are permitted, but you have to bring your own firepit if you want to build one. There is a small campstore on site, and a grocery and convenience store in Tierra Verde just a mile or so up the road outside the park (there is a toll bridge that you have to pass going in and out).

The campground is gated and locked after 9pm with a code. There is a limit to 2 cars per campsite. If you park outside of the campsite, there is a 5$ parking fee per car at Fort Desoto. You’ll need your camping pass in your car in order to drive down to the beach to park.

There were bathrooms and showers in the loop as well as a day use “house” with a fireplace and chairs and some books. Trash receptacles were a short walk away and we used them often to keep the trash out of the campground because the campground is notorious for racoons.

We brought out kayaks and fishing poles and spent most of the day in the water near the campsite. This is a no swimming area, however, so if you want to swim you have to head to the beach. There are lots of bike trails here as well if you’re camping with bikes.

Check out is at 11am and check in is at 1pm. This is strictly enforced. The office is at the entrance.

Product Review: The Rovr RollR 60 Quart Cooler

As a Ranger for The Dyrt I sometimes get to test and evaluate quality products from amazing sponsors. On this campgin trip, we put the Rovr Roller 60 cooler to the test. https://rovrproducts.com/product/505229344820/6841244385332

When I read about the Rovr cooler’s claim to keep things cold for up to 11 days, I decided that FL camping in Memorial Day temperatures of 95+ was the perfect place to give this cooler a real test.  Plus my family in Florida runs a brewery, so I had access to an unlimited supply of beverages and ice for the experiment.

Three days before the camping trip I filled up the cooler with 55 cans and ice. The cans were from the warehouse (not cold) and the cooler had been driving around in the 100 degree car – so the cooler had some hard work to do in the beginning. After one day, the ice had melted, but the inside of the cooler and the drinks were cold. I emptied the water and then left in my car for 2 more days until the trip – the drinks were still cold. I added more ice before the camping trip. The cooler won’t keep your ice frozen for 11 days, but I can say for a fact it will keep your drinks cold for at least 5 or 6 (and cool for more beyond that– 7 das was all the time I had to experiment).

PROS:

Capacity: I was able to easily fit 55 cans and 10 pounds of ice in the cooler without even trying to Tetris pack the Rovr.

Racoon Proof: We didn’t have any bears in Fort Desoto to test that it’s bear proof, but we did have raccoons. The cooler my family camped with at Fort Desoto the last time was destroyed by raccoons, but the Rovr wasn’t even bothered.

Durability: The cooler is really incredibly durable, we tested it by standing on it to hang the hammocks as high as possible in the trees.

Smooth: Despite its weight (see cons below), the Rovr is really smooth and easy to roll with it’s big wheels even when it’s full. We rolled it through parking lots, over beach, and through grass down a trail. The double handle is great – but full of cans, it was still easy to roll with just one person.

Responsive: In shipping my box got a bit banged up and the cooler arrived with one of its Velcro straps missing. I sent a quick email to support and they responded immediately with instructions on how to get a replacement through the product warranty. This could have easily been a con for a $400 cooler,  but the customer service was great and fast and conveyed the attitude that they want me to love my Rovr.

Color: the cooler comes in several color choices including orange which is my favorite color. The top bin comes in white or can be upgraded to a printed color I like the way the white looks but it gets dirty pretty quickly)

Keeps things cool:  The Rovr totally  passed my extreme heat test and really did what a cooler is meant to do – keep things really cold.

Cons:

Weight: Because the  Rovr 60 is heavy duty, it’s also HEAVY. Without anything food or drink in it the cooler is heavy -- yet manageable. Full of beer, I could barely get the thing in and out of my car. If you fill it up, the average person will need to have help lifting it up. (Thankfully with the wheels, you don’t have to lift it often – just in and out of the car.)

Until you get used to the size and capacity it’s easy to overstuff – for me, this meant that the ice kept overflowing into the dry area where there is no drainage. This is more operator error than a negative about the product. If you don't need the capacity of the larger cooler, the 45 would be a good choice.

Extra Cost of Accessories: I love that this cooler has a lot of extra accessories that you can add on, but I didn’t opt to get any of them for the test since they’re all around 20-40$ a piece and I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the cooler. If you want the accessories, you can easily add another $100 on top of the $400 the cooler price.  After testing the cooler I think that the cutting board or the bike pull accessories would be fun to have, but with the weight of the cooler already, I think I’ll skip adding anything to it for the future.

Overall, the Rovr is a really impressive cooler. It’s perfect for car camping, a short hike in camping trip, and day trips when you’re on the go – and it looks really fun as a bonus! The Rovr definitely passed the test. The next test for my Rovr is going to be flying back to Oregon with me (although my family in Florida is begging me to leave it here with them—at least until after their next camping trip).

Year Round Camping with Alligators

Midway Campground is half way between Naples and Miami and a great central point if you're planning to explore both Everglades National Park and Big Cypress Preserve.

The campground is both RV and Tent friendly, and unlike the other nearby campgrounds, this one is open all year round -- although you're likely to have it mostly to yourself in the summer. 

The campground is set up wide open as a big loop around a lake. There isn't any privacy between sites which isn't a problem in the winter. In the summer, be prepared to get to know your neighbors.

The site is close to the Big Cypress Nature Trail as well as the Everglades Bird Trail.

There isn't anything available at the campground- so be sure to pack everything in with you-- especially you're mosquito repellant.

National Park Service Campground in Big Cypress

This is campground in Big Cypress National Preserve is the same campground that is managed by that National Park Service. See more reviews and images here ->Burns Lake Campground

Only Open for Overnight Camping August to April

Burns Lake is about midway between Naples and Miami, making it a great location to explore either of both of Big Cypress or Everglades National Park. The campground is open all year long for day use (it's a big area for ATVs), but unfortunately you can't overnight there during the summer season. (The closest campground open year round is Midway a few miles away).

The camp ground is set up to accommodate off-road vehicles, and you've got to drive down a dirt road a little ways to access it.

The Camping area is structured in one loop around the lake with lots of beware of Alligator signs. Like most of the other camping areas in the Everglades, there  are no trees, so the campground is wide open and you're right next to your neighbor.

In addition the the Alligators, you'll notice in this area when driving on US 41 that you are also in a Panther crossing area. Fortunately, the only thing to eat me was mosquitos.  Be sure to pack your repellant. 

You'll also want to make sure you've packed all your supplies, there's not a whole lot in the area besides wilderness! Each site is equipped with grills and tables.

Seasonal Big Cypress Campground - Closed for Summer

I was looking to stay in Monument Lake (located at Mile 60 on Hwy 41 - Alligator Alley) after a fun day of Everglades airboating, but was surprised to find the campground closed for the season upon arrival.

Monument lake is only open during the Florida winter. For alternative options, Midway Campground was the closest option open in Miami direction, and Trail Lakes Campground was the closest option open in Naples Direction.

Monument Lake is a National Forest Service campground and can be reserved at recreation.gov in season.

Great basecamp for Everglades Adventures!

I gave this campground 5 stars because it feels so different than the rest of the Campgrounds available in Big Cypress Reserve and Everglades National Park. 

Trail Lakes is a proper campground which is staffed and gated just off of Hwy 41 (Alligator Alley) on the west side in Ochopee. It's open all year long. 

For me, visiting in the off season, it felt nice to have the structure of the campground. Most of the other campgrounds I visited along 41 between Naples and Miami were completely empty of people, but full of signs warning campers of Panthers and alligators - and even bears. I had no idea Florida had bears. I didn't want to camp alone, so I loved that this campground had staff and a few other guests who might notice f I got eaten.

The campground is open all year long, and has a small store in the camp office. 

The campground is built in several loops around a couple of lakes and has space for RV's and tents. If also offers cabins and some screened in open air huts (which I didn't stay in but they looked really cool). You could buy ice and firewood, as well as rent kayaks if you dared to boat through alligator swamps.

There's not much in Ochopee, so stock up when you leave Miaimi or Naples (depending which way you drive). There are a few things available at the campground store.  There is a mini post office in Ochopee which is worth stopping for a photo opp. The airboat tours which are everywhere along the highway here are definitely worth it. 

You can get their latest pricing for all their sites and cabins at www.evergladescamping.net

RV Only -- No Tents Allowed in this Campground

Unlike the name would lead you to believe, the Seminole Campground and RV park in North Fort Myers, isn't actually a campground at all -- it's just an RV park.

Located just off of I-75 and Hwy 78 (Bayshore) the location of the park is a short drive (in FL terms) to anywhere in the Ft Myers area. There is a Publix not far away, and a new restaurant called the Boat House near the Civic Center.

The "campground" is convenient to Lee County Civic Center and Echo (a global agricultural non profit learning center). 

RV sits are 55$ a day including hookups. The campground has a pool, bath house, and a community area. 

There are trash receptacles onsite and a recycling bin at each site. Each site also has a picnic table and grill.

There are a lot of RVs at the campground that look like they're there to stay awhile. The campground has more the feel of a mobile home park than it does a campground.