Havasupai was on my radar for a long while, but I'd never managed to land a reservation until this year when I discovered the Havasupai cancellation reservation page. (You can find it by searching on Facebook and they post when new cancellations open and become transferrable).
Everything you've read about how amazing Havasupai is, is true…. Here are a few things I didn't read in advance that I wish I'd known…..
- Take a tarp. The weather can change in a split second in the canyon. I packed one at the last minute and it was THE BEST THING EVER.
- There are raccoons. I'd read so much about the crazy squirrels who would invade your camp and eat all your food… and we took precautions against them- but nobody ever mentioned the RACCOONS who literally ate all of our food one night -- even though it was in a bucket with a lid.
- Even though people are supposed to carry all of their stuff out, they leave ALOT of stuff. We spent our first day (in the rain) scavenging stuff to keep us dry, and our second day after the raccoons ate all our food scavenging stuff to keep us fed. You probably shouldn't rely on stuff, but people bring in a lot extra, and the community in this camp ground is AMAZING.
Because it rained the full 3 days we were there, we chose to camp on the high ground that is at the forward part of the campground rather than the sites lower down because of the potential of flash floods.
The Snow Lake Zone is one of the permitted camping areas in the Enchantments. Permits here are very hard to get via the lottery (but easier to get than a permit for the Core Zone). You can also camp in the Snow Zone if you have a Core permit.
Snow Lakes is amazing. It's about 8 miles backpacking in from the Snow Lake Trailhead. It's at elevation, but not as cold as the Core Zone.
There is a backcountry toilet at Snow Lake (no walls, just a toilet), but no other amenities. There is water everywhere in the Enchantments, if you have a filter, you're never more than steps away from an alpine fresh water bottle refill.
I used my 15 degree sleeping bag end of July (I'm a cold sleeper and the temps were about 30)
There are no fires allowed.
The best camping place we found was a little spit at the far end of the lake (almost all the way to the end that is closest to the core zone)
There is nothing too amazing about this campground except it's location. It's large and busy and full of people. There aren't many trees, and you're pretty much next to your neighbors. If you don't mind this type of camping, you will love the area.
You can practically walk to the alpine tram, you're right on Wallowa lake, there's a great marina and lake access for your boat or SUP, and you're just a few minutes drive to Joseph.
Also, the sunsets are incredible.
This is a busy location. Sites fill up fast.
Moss Springs is a quiet campground on the edge of the Eagle Cap about 9 miles up the a forest service road from Cove, OR (which is about 14 miles past La Grande).
Most people use this campground for parking to hike into the Minam Lodge or to backpack into the Little Minam, or to park their trailer to ride their horses into the area, so there are plenty of people in and out, but not many people staying just for the campground.
The facilities are basic, picnic tables and fire rings at each site. There is also an area for livestock unloading and places for tying up your horses.
There isn't much around, but the road back to cove, while not paved, isn't bad, and there is a great mini mart right on main street where you can buy anything you forgot (including gas).
If your car can make it up the 6 miles of "road" you'll be glad that you found Elk Lake. I made it up the hill in a 2001 Rav4. You'll definitely want some clearance for the trek up.
I used this campground for my base for hiking Battle Axe Mountain. The sites are not well marked and the campground was pretty empty- even leading up to a holiday weekend. There are fire pits and tables.
The campground is pretty primitive, you'll want to bring in everything that you need - including water and some kind of floating device to spend your days on the lake. There are several places where you can put in your boat, kayak or paddle board, and the lake is actually pretty warm in August - warm enough for swimming (and I don't ever swim in Oregon water)
If you do the Battle Axe Hike in the late summer, study up on your edible berries before you come, there are so many huckleberries here I could have filled a bucket.
Breitenbush is a retreat center that offers a variety of different accommodation options including cabins, lodge rooms, dorms, platform tents, and campsites for tents only and tents with cars.
The tent sites (for your own tent or the platform tents) are only available in the summer.
Camping (or staying in any of the accommodation options) at Breitenbush is part of a package deal. For a tent you pay $77 a day for one person, which includes your entrance to the hotspring as well as 3 meals and your participation in any activities that are happening while you are there (like yoga or meditation).
The campground is really basic- basically just a space for your tent in and it's a short walk in from the parking lot. Carts are provided. There are 5 sites you can reserve that have space for a vehicle.
There are lots of rules - no stoves, no alcohol, no food in the camp area, etc. But really everything you need is provided for you at the mealtimes in the lodge, so it's more like you sleep in your tent vs. being around your tent for a camping experience.
The hotsprings are amazing (and clothing optional- and most people are opting out), and there is some decent hiking to do that is accessible from the trailhead at the Breitenbush parking lot.
You can also access the hotsprings by reserving a day pass (call ahead from Detroit - there's no signal past the 46 turnoff). Another option is to camp at one of the nearby campsites and daypass the hotsprings if you aren't into dining at the retreat center option.
It's a great place. It got 4 stars instead of 5 because it isn't really an amazing campground. Also- the nearest campground toilets are port a potties. There is a bathhouse and showers available near the cabins, but you'll have to walk.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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 $400 cooler, but the customer service was great and fast and conveyed the attitude that they want me to love my Rovr.
Color: the cooler comes in several color choices including orange which is my favorite color. The top bin comes in white or can be upgraded to a printed color I like the way the white looks but it gets dirty pretty quickly)
Keeps things cool: The Rovr totally passed my extreme heat test and really did what a cooler is meant to do – keep things really cold.
Weight: Because the Rovr 60 is heavy duty, it’s also HEAVY. Without anything food or drink in it the cooler is heavy -- yet manageable. Full of beer, I could barely get the thing in and out of my car. If you fill it up, the average person will need to have help lifting it up. (Thankfully with the wheels, you don’t have to lift it often – just in and out of the car.)
Until you get used to the size and capacity it’s easy to overstuff – for me, this meant that the ice kept overflowing into the dry area where there is no drainage. This is more operator error than a negative about the product. If you don't need the capacity of the larger cooler, the 45 would be a good choice.
Extra Cost of Accessories: I love that this cooler has a lot of extra accessories that you can add on, but I didn’t opt to get any of them for the test since they’re all around 20-40$ 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).