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Old 11-01-2012, 03:21 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Montreat, NC
Posts: 61
Favorite Campground?

For those of you that stay in state parks, federal campgrounds, etc. would you mind listing your favorites and possibly a brief description of what makes them special. I am planning an extended USA tour next fall and would love to hear about the best camping spots.

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Old 11-01-2012, 05:57 PM   #2
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Location: Washington - Ridgefield
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Re: Favorite Campground?

In no particular order:

- Cedar Breaks. Small campground in National Park with free showers
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit). Remote, Quiet, Buffalo in the campground and on the trails!
- Denali National Park, Teklanika Campground. As far in the park as you can take a private vehicle. Get a Tek Pass for the bus when you make a reservation for unlimited rides deeper into the park.
- Ayers Natural Bridge County Park, Wyoming. Really nice little park 3-4 miles off I-25. The only Natural Bridge in the US with water still flowing under it.
- Chaco Culture National Park. Learn about the ancient people that knew and understood the heavens, stars and umpteen year changes in the moon rise. Fascinating.
- Big Bend National Park Texas. Camp down by the Rio Grande, then go and camp up in the mountains in the same park. If you leave food out, the javelinas will get it.
- Toroweap campground, Grand Canyon National Park. Remote (60 or 90 miles of dirt road access) quiet. 3000' straight down to the Colorado River. On a clear night the stars will amaze you.
- North Rim Grand Canyon National Park. The quiet neighbor to the South Rim. More remote. No TV, etc. Some nice forest hiking.
- Kodachrome Basin State Park Utah. Just down the hill from Bryce Canyon. Pretty little park.
- Lee's Ferry. At the beginning of the Grand Canyon. Remote and Quiet.
- Nebraska National Forest out side Chadron, Nebraska. Nice campsites. Very Quiet.
- Craters of the Moon NP in Idaho. Out of this world scenery. Visit nearby EBR-1 the world's first nuclear reactor to produce commercial electricity. Decomissioned with free tours.
- Picacho Peak SP in Arizona. Really like this little campground.

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Old 11-01-2012, 10:37 PM   #3
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Location: Turlock Ca
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Re: Favorite Campground?

That's a hard one cause the only time I really like a CG is when there is nobody close to me. That means off season. But here are a couple:

Jedediah Smith SP nor-cal out of Crescent City.
Fairly good cover from other campers and a great redwood drive nearby 2WD friendly. Showers in camp. Nearby Crescent City has laundry, food and supplies.

On the western slope west of Yosemite, the Merced river Canyon is a nice spot to stay during late fall winter and spring. Big RV's can't get in because of the Briceburg Bridge. This is gold country. I wrote about it here:

Yosemite NP During fall and early summer before it gets too hot, the long winding road into Tamarack CG keeps the really big RV's out but a sprinter sized vehicle should be able to make it with no problems. I like this CG better than any others in Yosemite because it has spots with a little privacy compared to the rest of them in the park.
Porcupine Flat is OK and cooler during the hotter months but is usually packed with people.
These have vaulted heads and water must be packed in.

Saddlebag Lake CG. This one is small, exposed with no cover but is one of the highest CG's in California at 10,000 feet+. It's more or less above tree line. It's hard to find a spot unless you get there during a weekday around 10am. Still, it's kind of nice to camp at these altitudes and very beautiful. There is a small cafe within walking distance at the marina. a water taxi will take you across the lake to explore/hike. ... 2&actid=31

Sonora Pass highway 108 is one of the most scenic routes over the Sierra Nevada's in Ca. Baker and Deadman CG's are fine to stay at during the summer months and offer great trout fishing. But they are busy campgrounds and kind of expensive. The double sites will give you the best privacy. Kennedy meadows has some supplies. ... ecid=15011

Above fresno there are several places to camp. Big RV's with full hookups seem to like the little city-like camp edison. Shaver lake hold record fish. ... efault.htm
But there are others throughout the area open in early fall. Stuff begins to close in late october like most CG's in the Sierra's. One of the forum meets was here:
The drive to Edison is very scenic and nicer than Kings Canyon NP IMO.

Great Basin NP. A very unique spot and great travel stop when moving between other National Parks:

Another State Park I like is Clear Lake SP. I generally bass fish this lake in November and it has always been easy to find a site away from others. Nice bathrooms/showers but the water taste really bad. Clear Lake is one of California's best bass fishing lake but you really need a boat to fish it.

My site has a few others but most are 4x4 areas and not what I call full time spots except McConnell SP which would be more of a pit stop for you...not a destination.

Other tourist areas to see are in Ca:
Big Sur
Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP
Redwood NP
Glass Beach
Chino Cyn Tram
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Old 11-02-2012, 04:16 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Montreat, NC
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Re: Favorite Campground?

Thanks guys for your suggestion, I really appreciate you taking time to write!
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:00 AM   #5
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Location: East Bay CA
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Re: Favorite Campground?

You didn't say if you're bound to stay in the van, so I'll include some walk-ins. And I guess we're talking road trip. So here's some (can't say one fave without more criteria). I'm emphasizing some more out of the way places that you might not otherwise consider.

Gold Bluffs Beach Cmpgrd in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in NorCal. Right on the beach, in the sand. Redwoods at your back; ocean in your front. Lotsa elk.

Gerstle Cove in Salt Pt State Beach. Big sites; close to ocean and good diving. Nice hikes nearby.

Tioga Lake Cmpgrd just east of Tioga Pass. Nice alternative to the rather humdrum Tuolumne Meadows campground; great views but sites rather close. Some nice semi-walk ins.

Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin County, CA. Nice streamside camping with world class mountain biking and hiking right close; good base for exploring both Marin, Pt Reyes, and points south. And if you do get outta the van, there's Sky and Coastal camps in Pt. Reyes. The former is about a mile from the road; you stay there first night. Then head down the trail (all downhill) to Coast camp the next day, then hitchhike back up to your car. Awesome in spring.

Kirby Cove cmpgrd in Golden Gate Nat'l Recreation Area. Five sites, all walk-in. Site one is the best campsite in CA. You have a view of the SF skyline silhouetted beneath the GG Bridge, your own semi-private beach a stone's throw from your tent, and all the history and hiking of the Fort Cronkhite area. Very hard to get into though; reserve ahead.

Arches campgrd in Moab. Wonderful site; like being in a Dr. Seuss village.

Ricardo Cmpgrd in Red Rock Canyon State Park CA. Yeah, there are millions of acres of dispersed camping that's great nearby. But if you need a camp, this is great. Wonderful hiking out into the desert from there, and an exceptional birding, critter hunting spot, maybe cuz it's on the edge of different ecosystems.

Takakkaw Falls walk-in cmpgrd in Yoho Nat'l Park, BC (I think it's on the BC side; close anyway). Unbelievable view of the Falls and up the valley. And super amenitites; those Canadian Nat Parks make the US campgrounds look like refugee camps.

Saline Valley Hot Sprgs. Everyone has to go there at least once. Clothing optional sprgs, odd characters, UGLY washboard getting in. And more flat tires than I've ever seen for some reason.

Catalina State Park, Oro Valley AZ (just north of Tucson). Quiet, well laid out. Great view, hiking and biking, and easy access to the amenities of Tucson.

Lime Kiln State Beach. Choose either campsites right near the water, or back in redwoods. Nice trail up the canyon. Towards the south end of the Big Sur US 1 route.

I could go on like this forever...someone should set up a wiki.

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Old 11-04-2012, 03:48 PM   #6
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Location: TN
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Re: Favorite Campground?

The few that come to mind for me are totally random and very far apart, but my far:

Indian Boundary campground in the Cherokee Nat'l Forest off the Cherohala Skyway on the TN/NC line (kind of between Asheville NC and Knoxville Tn.) - Beautiful wooded sites on a mountain lake. Great place for hiking, biking, kayak/canoeing, etc. No other place like it, it's my go-to for getting away near home.

Topsail Hill Preserve SP, Santa Rosa Beach, Fl (Florida State Parks) - Near Destin Fl. from tents to chromed out class A's, but a beautiful, well kept park with VERY private sites. In no way a parking lot. Tent loop is new and very nice, paved bike trail through the dunes to beach. Great local seafood, etc. but off the beaten path at the same time. Been there for a week in the Fall for 7 or so years now. It never gets old.

Whitney Portal CG - off 395 near Lone Pine, Ca. Perhaps one of the prettiest campgrounds I've ever seen. about halfway up Mt. Whitney. Dizzyingly beautiful, especially to us Easterners, ice-cold rushing creek right through the campground. It's all you can hear.

Princess CG, King's Canyon/Sequoia NP's - at 5900 elevation, on the way in to King's Canyon. Absolutely beautiful place, and kind of spooky because the CG is full of giant Sequoia tree trunks. Neat CG. I will get a site here next visit before I go all the way in to the canyon only to discover full CGs. Don't miss the drive to the end of King's Canyon though. It's highly underrated. Take the hike around Zumwalt meadows at the end of King's Canyon.

Pine Flat, Manzanita, or Cave Spring CGs, Sedona, AZ - just beeeeuuuutiful, and a neat area to discover.

Lizard Creek CG, Grand Teton NP - North of Jackson and the Tetons, just south of Yellowstone. A great spot on the north side of Jackson Lake to stay and explore both parks IMO. Not as busy or big as many of the other Teton CGs.

Fish Creek CG, Glacier NP - ride your bike to Apgar Village and West Glacier. A big CG but nice secluded sites on the lake or creek. Brace for mosquitoes in summer but a stunningly beautiful spot.

If people get fired up about this thread, it could get REALLY lengthy!

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