Marion Mountain (Idyllwild, CA)

Campsite:  MARION MOUNTAIN

Geographic Location: NEAR IDYLLWILD, CA (SAN JACINTO MOUNTAINS)

Type of Campground: US FOREST SERVICE – PRIVATELY MANAGED

Experience Level: GOOD FOR INTERMEDIATE CAMPERS AND PETS

(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(4) YUP- PETS ARE VERY WELCOME. WE SAW SEVERAL CAMPERS WITH THEIR DOGS. THERE IS DOG-FRIENDLY HIKING NEARBY.

Family Friendly:(3) IT IS AND IT ISN’T. IF YOU ARE A FAMILY THAT CAN ROUGH IT A LITTLE AND LIKES TO HIKE THIS IS GREAT. THIS CAMPGROUND HAS FEWER AMENITIES THAN SOME OF THE OTHERS (BASICALLY JUST PIT TOILETS) BUT THE TOWN OF IDYLLWILD NEARBY HAS MANY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR THE FAMILY.

Cleanliness: (3.5) IT WAS PRETTY CLEAN BUT WE WERE HERE DURING THE OFF-SEASON. OUR CAMPSITE WAS ESPECIALLY CLEAN WITH MARKED WALKWAYS THROUGHOUT THE SITE. THE BATHROOMS, HOWEVER, WERE STINKY. THE TABLE WAS CLEAN AND OUR FIRE PIT HAD A LITTLE TRASH IN IT. THERE WERE 2 BIG DUMPSTERS, BUT NO RECYCLING.

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Noise Level: (4) THIS IS A SMALLER CAMPGROUND WHERE EACH SPOT FEELS SECLUDED AND FAR AWAY FROM THE SPOT NEXT TO IT. IT IS EXTREMELY PEACEFUL, HOWEVER WE COULD HEAR NOISE FROM A LARGE GROUP OF KIDS NEARBY. OVERALL THOUGH, THESE CAMPSITES FELT THE  MOST SECLUDED OF ANY WE HAVE BEEN TOO SO FAR.

Restrooms: (2) THE RESTROOMS WERE….NEEDING IMPROVEMENTS. FIRST OF ALL WE ARRIVED AT NIGHT AND IT WAS PITCH BLACK. NONE OF US COULD FIND THE RESTROOM SO WE USED NATURE THE FIRST NIGHT. THEN, WHEN WE WOKE UP, TO OUR SURPRISE, THE RESTROOM WAS LITERALLY RIGHT NEXT OUR SPOT…I’M TALKING LIKE 30 FEET FROM OUR TENT! NEEDLESS TO SAY, THEY NEED LIGHTS ON THE RESTROOMS! THE BATHROOMS ARE JUST PIT TOILETS. THEY ARE STINKY. THERE IS NO SINK OR MIRROR OR ANY OTHER FANCY AMENITY…JUST A PIT TOILET IN A ROOM….AND THEY STINK! THOUGH, I HAVE TO ADMIT, THEY WERE NOT HORRIBLY DIRTY.

Campsite Space: (4) THESE SPOTS ARE HUGE! THEY FEEL VERY FAR APART AND SOME ARE HIDDEN BEHIND HUGE BOULDERS. IT WAS A PRETTY NEAT CAMPGROUND THAT FELT PRETTY SECLUDED, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT WHEN IT WAS PITCH BLACK AND YOU COULD NOT SEE YOUR NEIGHBORS AT ALL. NOTE THOUGH, MANY OF THE SPOTS HAVE A WALK UP A HILL OR AROUND A BEND FROM THE PARKING SPOT. ALSO, WE STRUGGLED TO FIT 2 CARS IN OUR PARKING.

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The first half of our spot (site 15)
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Up the hill to the left from the previous picture was more of our site
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This cool spot was behind that huge boulder

 

Shade/Sun: (4) TREES TREES TREES. THERE WERE LOTS OF FUN TREES. MANY SPOTS HAD GOOD OPPORTUNITIES FOR USING A HAMMOCK. SUN WAS NEVER AN ISSUE FOR US HERE, BUT IT WAS ALSO LATE OCTOBER.

 

Ground: (2.5) DIRT – WELL CLEANED OF ANY DEBRIS, VERY HILLY. WE HAD A HARD TIME FINDING A COMPLETELY FLAT SPOT FOR OUR TENTS, AND ENDED UP SLEEPING ON STEEPER INCLINES THEN WE WOULD HAVE LIKED. WE JUST HAD TO REMEMBER TO PUT OUR HEADS AT HIGHER ELEVATION.

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Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (3) IT WAS PRETTY VOID OF ANY WILDLIFE, ACTUALLY. THERE ARE NO BEARS  HERE, SO NO NEED FOR BEAR LOCKERS. WE DIDN’T SEE OR HEAR ANY COYOTES EITHER. WE DIDN’T EVEN SEE RACCOONS. IN FACT, THERE WERE VERY FEW BUGS TOO. IT WAS FAIRLY COLD WHEN WE CAME SO MAYBE IN SUMMER THERE ARE MORE BUGS. THE ONLY WILDLIFE WE REALLY SAW WERE LOTS OF BIRDS.

Amenities:

  • PIT TOILETS
  • FIRE PITS WITH GRILL
  • WOOD PICNIC TABLES IN POOR CONDITION
  • WATER SPIGOTS (NOT DRINKABLE!!!!!)
  • BOULDERS TO CLIMB
  • MANY TREES!
  • LOST OF GREAT HIKING NEARBY 

Comments from the “Chix”

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Well this was a special trip. Just getting here is a bit of an adventure, and we wouldn’t recommend doing it after the sun goes down (we did that and had trouble finding the campground). This campground is located down a windy road off of the highway and during the day it offers spectacular views. There are lots of boulders to climb and so much hiking nearby, plus the cute town of Idyllwild has lots of shops and art galleries. We really enjoyed the isolation that this campground offered. Each spot was big and tucked away behind trees or boulders from the spots next to so they felt very private. The biggest downside for us was the lack of flat ground for our tents. Overall though, this was a very fun place to go camping. The hiking nearby is just awesome. In fact, this campground is the trail head for one of the hikes to the peak of Mount San Jacinto (a very strenuous hike though). We opted for the nearby Devil’s Slide trail which requires a special permit from the USFS station in town. Remember to get a wildnerss pass if you plan to park at any of the trail heads not in the campground itself.
 Pros: Come for the hiking, and isolation. You really feel a million miles away from the city here, even though its not that far of a drive. This is the trail head for a full day, rewarding hike to the top of Mt. San Jacinto, and there are many other trails nearby for hikers of all levels. The campground was beautiful and we enjoyed all of the trees and rocks to climb on. The nearby town of Idyllwild is also a cute place to spend an afternoon strolling and would be a fun place to bring kids.
 Cons: As much as we really enjoyed this trip, there were a few drawbacks of this campground. For one, no campfires during fire season. We had to use a permit in order to even use our single-burner camp stove (which has a shut-off valve). The biggest draw back I think was the lack of flat area for our tent. Maybe we just got the wrong spot, I’m sure there were other spots that were flatter. Also, the bathrooms were pretty unappealing and we favored using nature when we could. Lastly, no drinking water. In fact, the water was contaminated and there were signs warning you not to use it. Hope they fix that before next season.
Tips: Bring potable water, as there isn’t any drinking water available at the campground. Also, we’d recommend arriving before sunset. We had trouble finding the campground and it is down a long, windy, mountain road. Lastly, make sure to get a campfire permit for using your stove if its fire season.
Nearby attractions to check out:
– ALL the hikes, including Mt. San Jacinto and Devil’s Slide
– The shops in Idyllwild
– The USFS station for wilderness permits, hiking permits and fun forest related souvenirs.

Mountain Oak (Angeles National Forest)

Campsite:  MOUNTAIN OAK

Geographic Location: NEAR WRIGHTWOOD, CA (ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST)

Type of Campground: US FOREST SERVICE – PRIVATELY MANAGED

Experience Level: GOOD FOR INTERMEDIATE CAMPERS AND PETS

(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(4) YUP- PETS ARE VERY WELCOME. THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO COME WITH YOUR DOG BECAUSE ALL OF THE TRAILS NEARBY IN THE NATIONAL FOREST ARE DOG-FRIENDLY! JUST DON’T LEAVE YOUR SMALL DOGS UNATTENDED, EVEN ON A LEASH BECAUSE WE SAW SEVERAL COYOTES.

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Just one of the coyotes we saw

Family Friendly:(3) IT IS AND IT ISN’T. IF YOU ARE A FAMILY THAT CAN ROUGH IT A LITTLE AND LIKES TO HIKE THIS IS GREAT. ASIDE FROM HIKING THERE ARE NOT TOO MANY NEARBY RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES. THIS CAMPGROUND ALSO HAS FEWER AMENITIES THAN SOME OF THE OTHERS.

Cleanliness: (4) IT WAS PRETTY CLEAN BUT WE WERE HERE DURING THE OFF-SEASON. WE DID NOTICE THAT THEY CLEANED THE BATHROOMS EVERY DAY. FIRE PITS HAD ALSO BEEN CLEANED SINCE THE END OF SEASON, BUT WE COULDN’T USE THEM. TABLES WERE CLEAN, BUT A LITTLE RICKETY. THE CAMP HOST ALSO HAD RECYCLING WHICH WAS NICE.

Noise Level: (4) THIS CAMPGROUND ONLY HAS 17 SPOTS SO IT IS SMALL. WE WERE HERE IN LATE SEPTEMBER, SO ITS HARD TO SAY HOW LOUD IT WOULD BE DURING A SUMMER WEEKEND, BUT WE EXPERIENCED THE TRUE QUIET OF BEING IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS. THERE ARE A FEW SPOTS THAT ARE CLOSE TOGETHER AND WE COULD HEAR OUR NEIGHBOR SNORING. SPOTS 14-17 ARE CLOSER TO THE HIGHWAY AND A YOUTH CAMP AND WE NOTICED SIGNIFICANTLY MORE NOISE OVER THERE.

Restrooms: (3) THE RESTROOMS WERE CLEAN AND THEY HAVE FLUSH TOILETS. THEY WERE WELL LIT ON THE OUTSIDE AND INSIDE, WHICH I FIND IS RARE. HOWEVER THERE ARE 2 MAJOR DRAWBACKS TO THESE RESTROOMS: THEY ARE NOT MARKED WELL. ONE SIDE OF THE BUILDING WAS LOCKED DOORS THAT DIDN’T OPEN AND THE OTHER SIDE WERE THE EXACT SAME LOOKING DOORS, EXCEPT THEY WERE THE RESTROOMS. NO SIGNS. SECOND – NO SINKS OR MIRRORS OR OUTLETS OR ANYTHING BESIDES A TOILET, PAPER, AND A TRASH BIN.

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Well lit, but unmarked restrooms.

Campsite Space: (4) AS PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED, THIS CAMPGROUND ONLY HAS 17 SPOTS. THEY ARE ALL OF DECENT SIZE, THOUGHT A FEW ARE CLOSE TOGETHER. WE HAD ENOUGH ROOM FOR SEVERAL TENTS, BUT SINCE WE ONLY HAD ONE WE USED THE REST OF THE SPACE TO TAKE SILLY JUMPING PICTURES. ONE POTENTIAL DRAWBACK IS THAT THE PARKING SPACE COULD ONLY FIT ONE CAR.

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Shade/Sun: (4) TREES TREES TREES. DID SOMEONE SAY TREES? THERE IS A NICE MIX OF OAKS AND PINES HERE PROVIDING SHADE AND LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR HAMMOCKING IF YOU HAVE ONE. WE ALSO TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE TREES TO HANG OUR LANTERNS SO WE COULD HAVE BETTER LIGHTING TO COOK. YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN A FOREST HERE. JUST ONE NOTE OF CAUTION, THE PINE TREES WERE OOZING SAP. 

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Ground: (4) DIRT – WELL CLEANED OF ANY DEBRIS, SLIGHTLY HILLY. WE HAD A HARD TIME FINDING A COMPLETELY FLAT SPOT FOR OUR TENT. WE JUST HAD TO REMEMBER TO PUT OUR HEADS AT HIGHER ELEVATION. THE SPOTS WERE NOT TOO DRASTICALLY SLOPED THOUGH. WE ALSO FOUND A SECOND USE FOR THE HILLY CAMPGROUND. SEE PHOTOS BELOW.

Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (4) BEWARE OF BEARS! AND COYOTES! THIS AREA IS KNOWN TO HAVE WILDLIFE, ALTHOUGH WE DIDN’T SEE ANY BEARS. WE SAW SEVERAL COYOTES OUT DURING THE DAY, AND COULD HEAR THEM HOWLING AT NIGHT. BUGS WERE MINIMAL BUT THERE WERE A FEW BEES. NO MOSQUITOES, AT LEAST NOT IN LATE SEPTEMBER!!!! OVERALL WE HAD VERY FEW ENCOUNTERS WITH ANY UNPLEASANT CRITTERS. WE DID USE THE BEAR BOXES AS ALWAYS THOUGH.

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Amenities:

  • FLUSH TOILETS
  • FIRE PITS WITH GRILL
  • WOOD/CEMENT PICNIC TABLES IN POOR CONDITION
  • WATER SPIGOTS (RESERVE AMERICA SAYS ITS DRINKABLE WATER, BUT WE AREN’T SURE)
  • BEAR LOCKERS
  • MANY TREES!
  • LOST OF GREAT HIKING NEARBY 

Comments from the “Chix”

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If you are looking for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, and don’t mind a campground that is a little more bare bones, this is the place for you! We had a fantastic time here, and especially loved how much great hiking there is nearby. This is only an hour and half to two hour from Los Angeles and feels a million miles away. Being surrounded by the beautiful oak and pine trees really made this place special. We came the first weekend of fall and loved seeing the changing colors here.
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Its Fall!!!!!!!!!
The campground was pretty empty because it was after school started, so we found the place to be serene and peaceful. There is a youth camp nearby that could be heard from some of the sites. There are also some fun nearby attractions to stop and see on your way in or back home. These include Charlie Brown Farms and Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary.
 Pros: Come for the hiking, stay for the camping. If you like to hike this is the place for you. So much great hiking nearby. We were so excited to go hike Big Horn Mine, but the PCT is nearby with a hike to Baden-Powell peak for those looking to push themselves. Big Horn mine is an abandoned gold mine and it is one of the coolest hikes we have done. The other huge pro was the weather. While it was 100 degrees back home in the San Fernando Valley, it was in the 70s up here, making it perfect hiking weather.
 Cons: As much as we really enjoyed this trip, there were a few drawbacks of this campground. For one, no campfires during fire season. We came just a few weeks after a huge fire in the area so we could not use the fire pit. We also had to get a permit in order to even use our single-burner camp stove (which has a shut-off valve). The other draw back was the camp host. This campground is managed (poorly) by a private company. We found out that our camp host is also responsible for a 170-site campground up the road (and sometime more when the other hosts forget to show up??). So what this meant was she wasn’t there when we needed to ask questions and she was driving in and out of the campsite late at night, shining her headlights in our tent and screeching the breaks on the truck. Maybe I’m being too harsh?
Tips: Be careful of bears! (Can’t stress this one enough… don’t want our fellow campers to be eaten). Use the bear lockers. Bring drinking water since we can’t say for certain if the spigots are potable water. And bring your hiking boots!
Random fun fact: Did you know that Ponderosa Pines smell like Vanilla. There are plenty up here. If you see one, stop and stick your nose in their signature alligator-looking bark and take a whiff, you’ll be surprised by the subtle sweet aroma.
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A Ponderosa Pine wit its signature alligator looking bark
Nearby attractions to check out:
– ALL the hikes, including Big Horn Mine and Mount Baden-Powell!
– Charlie Brown Farms!
– Forever Wild Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary!
More fun photos from this trip!

 

OH RIDGE (JUNE LAKE)

Campsite:  OH RIDGE

Geographic Location: JUNE LAKE, CA (INYO NATIONAL FOREST)

Type of Campground: US FOREST SERVICE

Experience Level: GOOD FOR BEGINNERS AND FAMILIES

 

(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(5) YUP– PETS ARE VERY WELCOME.WE HAD A LABRADOODLE WITH US! AND WE HAD NO ISSUES WITH THEM ON THE LAKES EITHER.

Family Friendly:(4) IT’S A GREAT OUTDOORS SPOT TO HANG OUT, GO FISHING, SWIMMING, HIKING, OFF-ROADING OR JUST ABOUT ANY FUN FAMILY ACTIVITY.

Cleanliness: (5) IT WAS VERY CLEAN. CLEAN FIRE PITS, CLEAN TABLES, CLEAN CAMPSITES. CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING WE HAD “DIRTY” ISSUES WITH.

Noise Level: (3) THIS IS A VERY POPULAR PLACE, AND A VERY BIG CAMPGROUND, SO THERE WILL BE PEOPLE NOISE AND PET NOISE. ASIDE FROM OTHER CAMPERS, THE NOISE LEVEL WAS PRETTY MINIMAL SINCE THE CAMPGROUND IS SET IN FAR ENOUGH FROM THE MAIN ROAD.

Restrooms: (4) THE RESTROOMS WERE CLEAN AND THEY HAVE FLUSH TOILETS AND SINKS INSIDE. THERE WERE ALSO BIG TROUGH LIKE SINKS RIGHT OUTSIDE THE RESTROOMS FOR WASHING DISHES OR HANDS. FOR AN AREA WITH BEARS – THIS WAS A VERY NICE AMENITY.

Campsite Space: (3) THIS IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE “BIGGEST” DOWNSIDES -A LOT OF THE SITE SPACES ARE NOT VERY LARGE. WE BARELY HAD ROOM ENOUGH FOR TWO 4-PERSON TENTS. IF YOU NEED SPACE, PICK A SITE ON THE INNER LOOPS – FACING INWARD.

Shade/Sun: (3.5) THERE ARE A LOT OF TREES, BUT THEY DON’T GIVE AS MUCH SPOT SHADE AS EXPECTED. WE BROUGHT AN EZ-UP FOR SHADE AND PROTECTION FROM THE RAIN.

Ground: (4) DIRT – PRETTY FLAT – WITH TREE DEBRIS. NO ISSUE FINDING GOOD FLAT GROUND FOR TENTS.

Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (4) BEWARE OF BEARS! AND DEER! THIS AREA IS KNOWN FOR LOTS OF WILDLIFE – SOME DANGEROUS, LIKE BEARS (USE YOUR BEAR LOCKERS AND KNOW BEAR SAFETY!) YOU GET TO SEE LOTS OF DEER THOUGH WHICH IS  A BONUS, AS THEY’RE NOT USUALLY DANGEROUS. BUGS IN THIS AREA WERE VERY MINIMAL EXCEPT FOR SMALL WOODSY BUGS (ANTS, MITES, SPIDERS, ETC). SEE THE COOL RED MITE WE FOUND BELOW!

Amenities:

  • FLUSH TOILETS
  • FIRE PITS WITH GRILL
  • WOOD PICNIC TABLES
  • WATER SPIGOTS AND SINKS
  • BEAR LOCKERS
  • MOST GORGEOUS MOUNTAIN VIEWS!
  • FISHING & SWIMMING NEARBY

Comments from the “Chix”

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If you don’t mind the drive (at least for those coming in from the LA area) – this is one of our favorite areas in California to camp! You are right outside Yosemite, right next to more lakes than we can count (including June Lake), there is often snow late in the season nearby, and the views are just amazing. You can’t go wrong, no matter what direction you go in from the campground. OH RIDGE is one of the first campgrounds you come to when you enter into the June Lake area – but there are plenty more if this one is booked. There also great RV Only places very close by that are privately owned – with full hook ups!
We highly recommend to take the short drive into Yosemite National Park, as well as visiting some of the nearby lakes. You can fish with a permit, or just enjoy the view and walk in the streams. Check out Crowley Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, Grant Lake, Tioga Pass (waterfall photo below) and of course, June Lake!
 Pros: If you’re a camper who can just fall in love with gorgeous mountain views, serene lakes and driving/walking through Yosemite – then this is your place. Everywhere you go just makes you want to go “oooohh… aahhhh.” There is no bad view. There is no direction you can head in that won’t make you never want to leave. On top of that, you get snow in cold weather and clear water creeks, lakes, streams and beaches for when it’s warm. You can’t go wrong here!
 Cons: Bears & rain. You have to be very careful in these woodsy areas in the mountains, because wildlife really is a threat. This is why they give you bear lockers and warn you about not keeping food or anything with a human scent in your tent (besides yourself obviously). Only other con is that it’s known to suddenly rain – all times of year – but usually only for brief amounts of time.  If you follow these rules and stay prepared, there really aren’t many cons to anywhere in the June Lake area.
Tips: Be careful of bears! (Can’t stress this one enough… don’t want our fellow campers to be eaten). Use the bear lockers. Use designated sinks and wash areas. In May it was still cold and rainy – and there was still snow in Yosemite – so check the temp before you come! You’ll either need to bring your cold weather / waterproof gear or your summer gear. And bring your fishing equipment if you’re into that!
Nearby attractions to check out:
– ALL the lakes!
– Yosemite!
– Off Roading areas if you own ATVs!

 More fun photos from this trip!

Los Prietos Campground – Mountains Near Santa Barbara

Campsite:  LOS PRIETOS CAMPGROUND

Geographic Location:  SANTA BARBARA MOUNTAINS

Type of Campground: US FOREST SERVICE

Experience Level: GOOD FOR BEGINNERS AND FAMILIES

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(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(4) SURE – PETS ARE WELCOME AND THERE WERE LOTS OF DOGS WHILE WE STAYED HERE. THERE ARE NEARBY POOLS IN THE RIVER THAT YOUR DOG CAN PLAY IN, JUST BE CAREFUL ABOUT THEM RUNNING THROUGH POISON OAK.

Family Friendly:(4) THIS PART OF THE SANTA YNEZ MOUNTAINS IS SORT OF PLAYGROUND FOR KIDS AND KIDS AT HEART. THE CAMPGROUND DIDN’T HAVE ANY ACTIVITIES BUT IT IS NEARBY A RIVER TO SWIM IN, LAKE CACHUMA ISN’T FAR, AND WE DISCOVERED SOME ROCK CLIMBING SPOTS THAT ARE AWESOME FOR EXPERIENCED CLIMBERS AND FOR THOSE JUST WANTING TO SCRAMBLE OVER SOME BOULDERS.

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Lots of fun boulders to climb at nearby Lizard’s Mouth (made famous by the movie ‘Alpha Dog’)

Cleanliness: (4) IT WAS STILL EARLY IN THE SEASON, SO WE CAN’T SAY IF ITS ALWAYS LIKE THIS, BUT IT WAS IMPRESSIVELY CLEAN. OUR FIRE PIT HAD BEEN FRESHLY CLEANED OUT AND OUR PICNIC TABLE WAS CLEAN.

Noise Level: (4) ASIDE FROM ALL OF THE DOGS BARKING AT EACH OTHER, WE FOUND THIS CAMPGROUND TO BE PEACEFUL. I THINK SOME OTHER LOCAL CAMPGROUNDS DRAW MORE OF THE COLLEGE PARTY CROWD THAN THIS ONE (I’M LOOKING AT YOU EL CAPITAN).

Restrooms: (3.5) THE RESTROOMS WERE CLEAN AND THEY HAVE FLUSH TOILETS, BUT THERE ARE NO EXTRA AMENITIES HERE. NO SINKS OR MIRRORS IN THE RESTROOMS. THESE LOOK LIKE THEY WERE ONCE VAULT TOILETS THAT WERE UPGRADED TO FLUSH TOILETS.

Campsite Space: (4.5) WE WERE IMPRESSED WITH HOW NICE AND BIG OUR SITE WAS, ESPECIALLY FOR BEING ON THE INSIDE OF THE LOOP. WE NOTICED MANY OF THE SITES HERE WERE SPACIOUS AND FELT MORE SECLUDED THAN OTHER CAMPGROUNDS. WE EVEN HAD A FUN BOULDER IN OUR SITE TO CLIMB ON.

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The view from our car. We had so much space!

Shade/Sun: (4.5) AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE PICTURE ABOVE, THIS CAMPGROUND HAS TONS OF SHADE FROM ALL OF THE BEAUTIFUL OAK TREES. THAT BEING SAID, WE WERE ALSO HERE IN SPRING, AND BY SUMMER THIS CAMPGROUND MAY STILL BE HOT.

Ground: (4) DIRT – PRETTY FLAT. WE DID NOT HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING A PLACE FOR OUR TENT.

Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (4) IT WASN’T OVERWHELMING. THERE WERE SOME BUGS, MOSTLY FOUND UNDER OUR TENT WHEN WE WENT TO PACK UP. THERE WERE A FEW MOSQUITOES BUT IT WASN’T TOO BAD. IF YOU COME IN SPRING BE AWARE THAT THERE ARE LOTS OF BEES ON NEARBY HIKES WITH WILDFLOWERS.ALSO FUN, THERE ARE WILD TURKEYS ROAMING THROUGH THE CAMPGROUND!!!!!! ALSO BE WARNED, THERE ARE COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF POISON OAK ON THE TRAILS NEARBY.

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Leaves of 3 – let it be

Amenities:

  • FLUSH TOILETS
  • BBQ AT EACH SITE
  • FIRE PITS WITH GRILL
  • CONCRETE PICNIC TABLES
  • WATER SPIGOT
  • WILDFLOWERS GALORE NEARBY IN SPRING!
  • GREAT NEARBY HIKING INCLUDING SWIM AREAS

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Comments from the “Chix”

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OK so I have to admit, we have been avoiding camping in the Santa Ynez mountains for as long as we have been camping. Why? Um…we don’t know, the beach just always sounded more appealing on hot summer weekends. BUT OUR MINDS WERE BLOWN! This campground was probably one of our all time favorites! We went in Spring before it got hot and crowded, and while the wildflowers were in bloom. The campground had so much space and nice shade and the surrounds were just breathtakingly beautiful! This made for the perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of LA.
Pros: The beauty, I can’t say enough about it. We really enjoyed how much there was to do out here. The campground was clean and nice and shady, but the nearby hiking is what had us hooked, that and the oak trees. In the pictures above you can see the flowers from the incredible Aliso Canyon Loop trail. This was one of the coolest hike we have ever done; there wasn’t a single other person on the trail and we were walking through flowers taller than us. But, there were also about 100,000 bees joining us (no stings though!). Also, Red Rock, further down the road, is gorgeous and you can swim, just wear sandals cuz its rocky. Also, we heard it can be a hot spot for rowdy teens, but we didn’t see any.
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Red Rock swimming area
Cons: I hear it can get hot during summer. The other big con would be that no fires are allowed during fire season, so check before you go. But, this is the best place to go in Spring, really! Oh I guess the other con is no sinks in the bathroom.
Tips: Bring some hiking clothes/shoes because you will want to go exploring! Come in Spring during the wildflower blooms and before the fire season starts.
Nearby attractions to check out:
~Aliso Canyon loop trail: very close to the campground and the best place to see the wildflowers.
~Red Rock: further down the road, and requires crossing water, but beautiful and a nice place to cool off in the water. Watch for poison oak.
~Lizard’s mouth: Rock climbing and boulder hopping. This was so much fun. This is on your way back towards Santa Barbara. Park near the gun range.
~Lake Cachuma: We didn’t go, but the lake offers recreational activities and is about a 20 minutes drive from the campground.
 More fun photos from this trip!

Link to reserve your spot at Los Prietos Campground

Dorst Creek Campground – Sequoia National Park

Campsite:  DORST CREEK CAMPGROUND

Geographic Location:  SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK

Type of Campground: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Experience Level: SOME EXPERIENCE IN BEAR COUNTRY RECOMMENDED- GOOD FOR FAMILIES

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(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(3) SORT OF – WHILE THE CAMPGROUND ITSELF IS PET FRIENDLY, DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED ON TRAILS IN NATIONAL PARKS, SO YOU WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO ENJOY ALL SEQUOIA HAS TO OFFER WITH YOUR POOCH

Family Friendly:(4) SURE IS- KIDS LOVE TO SEE GIANT TREES, RIGHT? THE CAMPGROUND DOESN’T HAVE ANYTHING SPECIAL TO OFFER FOR KIDS, BUT IT IS A NATIONAL PARK WITH LOTS OF FUN SIGHTS TO SEE AND SOME NEARBY CREEKS TO SWIM IN

Cleanliness: (4) IT WAS OKAY. NOT MUCH ELSE TO SAY HERE. NOT THE CLEANEST WE HAVE SEEN BUT VERY ACCEPTABLE.

Noise Level: (4) THERE ARE SOME FAMILIES, BUT OVERALL IT IS NICE AND QUIET AND YOU CAN HEAR NATURE AT NIGHT. THE ONLY REASON IT IS NOT A 5 IS BECAUSE IT IS A PRETTY DENSELY PACKED CAMPGROUND, SO IF YOU HAVE A SPOT CLOSE TO NEIGHBORS YOU CAN PROBABLY  HEAR THEM.

Restrooms: (3.5) RESTROOMS WITH FLUSH TOILETS AND RUNNING WATER. THERE WAS ALSO A SEPARATE ADA ACCESSIBLE RESTROOM. DURING 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND THE RESTROOMS DIDN’T STAY SUPER CLEAN THOUGH…

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Campsite Space: (3) WE GOT LUCKY! WHEN WE BOOKED THERE WERE ONLY 2 SITES LEFT TO PICK FROM, AND I THINK WE GOT ONE OF THE BIGGEST AND MOST PRIVATE SPOTS IN THE CAMPGROUND. THAT BEING SAID, BASED ON SEEING ALL OF THE OTHER HUNDREDS OF SPOTS, MOST SPOTS WERE ON THE SMALLER SIDE AND CLOSE TO NEIGHBORS. IF YOU WANT A GOOD SPOT, LOOK FOR SITE 10.

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CAMPSITE 10 HAD PLENTY OF ROOM FOR OUR 2 TENTS PLUS IT WAS FAR FROM NEIGHBORS

Shade/Sun: (4) CONSIDERING IT IS IN A NATIONAL PARK KNOWN FOR ITS LARGE TREES, THIS CAMPGROUND HAD MORE SHADE TO OFFER THAN MOST CAMPGROUNDS. OF COURSE, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHICH SPOT YOU PICK THOUGH. OVERALL, GOOD SHADE.

Ground: (3) DIRT & WEEDS – SOME SLOPE, BUT FLAT AREAS FOR TENTS

Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (3) TYPICAL SIERRAS – THERE CAN BE SOME MOSQUITOES, AND OTHER CREEPY CRAWLERS. THIS IS ALSO PRIME BEAR COUNTRY SO USE THE LOCKERS!  WE ALSO HAD A DEER WONDER THROUGH OUR SITE.

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Amenities:

  • FLUSH TOILETS
  • ADA ACCESSIBLE RESTROOM
  • FIRE PITS WITH GRILL
  • WOODEN PICNIC BENCHES – A LITTLE ON THE WORN SIDE
  • GREAT HIKING TRAIL FROM CAMPGROUND (MUIR GROVE)
  • INSIDE THE NATIONAL PARK!
  • 2 SHUTTLE STOPS INSIDE THE CAMPGROUND TO PICK YOU UP AND TAKE YOU TO ALL THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS IN THE PARK
  • COLLECT YOUR OWN FREE FIRE WOOD (ANYTHING DEAD ON THE GROUND IS FAIR GAME)
  • BEAR LOCKERS
  • WATER SPIGOT
  • BOTTLE RECYCLING
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MUIR GROVE TRAIL HEAD IS IN THE CAMPGROUND. AN AWESOME, FLAT 5 MILE R/T HIKE WITH ONE OF THE BEST SEQUOIA GROVES TO REWARD YOU

Comments from the “Chix”

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Our overall impression was that this was a beautiful campground with its big draw being that is is actually inside the National Park. There are lots of gorgeous trees and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. There are some nice amenities like the shuttle and flush toilets, however the campground is huge and densely packed. But, a great place to stay in the park. One thing that we really enjoyed was collecting our own firewood. Any dead wood on the ground is allowed to be collected and burned in the fire pits. That meant some great sequoia on pine and it was easy to find. That saved us like $12 and the wood burned nicely.
Pros: The biggest pro is the location, you cannot beat it. Being in the National Park is great and you can leave your car at your campsite and take the shuttle to crowded places like General Sherman. All of the nice amenities were there, like fire pits, picnic tables, bear lockers and flush toilets. The staff were also very friendly and helpful in recommending some great hikes. Speaking of which, the trail head to Muir Grove is in the back of the campground. That was a really nice and rewarding hike. The campground also had nice shade.
Cons: It can get really crowded. We were  here the busiest weekend of the year (4th of July) and the campground was full. It is densely packed and some spots are small or just really close to a lot of neighbors. There are some great spots though, like site 10! Also, the evil mosquitoes got us, so bring bug spray!
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Now that is how you cook an American feast! Celebrating America through campfire food!
Tips: Bring bug spray and use the bear lockers! Seriously, bears are known to go though this campground a lot in late Spring/early Summer. Also, bring a tablecloth for the older wooden bench.
Another fun tip, there are a lot of “walk-up” sites. However, we noticed the parking for them was very close and these spots were mostly pretty nice. Don’t be afraid of these pots as long as you can haul your stuff 100 feet. These sites don’t book as fast, so it might be your opportunity to get to stay here on a  prime weekend.

Link to reserve your spot at Dorst Creek Campground

OH RIDGE CAMPGROUND (JUNE LAKE)

Campsite:  OH RIDGE CAMPGROUND

Geographic Location:  EASTERN SIERRAS – BETWEEN MAMMOTH AND MONO LAKE

Type of Campground: STATE CAMPGROUND

Experience Level: GREAT FOR BEGINNERS AND FAMILIES

(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(5) YES – DOGS CAN SWIM IN THE LAKE!

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Stella taking a potty break
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Stella properly enjoying the lake

Family Friendly:(4) SURE IS- LOTS OF FAMILY ACTIVITIES AS WELL AS STORES AND RESTAURANTS NEAR BY JUST IN CASE

Cleanliness: (4) CAMPGROUND IS CLEAN AND RESTROOMS WERE FINE. FELT LIKE PRESTINE NATURE AT THE LAKE BEACH

Noise Level: (5) THERE ARE SOME FAMILIES, BUT OVERALL IT IS NICE AND QUIET AND YOU CAN HEAR NATURE AT NIGHT

Restrooms: (3.5) RESTROOMS WITH FLUSH TOILETS AND RUNNING WATER. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?

Campsite Space: (4) OFTEN SPACIOUS CAMPSITES WITH ROOM FOR SEVERAL TENTS.

Shade/Sun: (3) NOT A LOT OF TREES FOR SHADE AND CAN GET HOT DURING SUMMER

Ground: (4) DIRT – VERY FLAT

Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (4) TYPICAL SIERRAS – THERE CAN BE SOME MOSQUITOES, WHICH CAN GET BAD AT CERTAIN TIMES OF THE YEAR. THIS IS ALSO BEAR COUNTRY SO USE THE LOCKERS.

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The campground has some serious beauty, but not a lot of shade

Amenities:

  • FLUSH TOILETS
  • WATER SPIGOTS THROUGHOUT CAMPGROUND
  • FIRE PITS 
  • WOODEN PICNIC BENCHES
  • LAKE ACCESS
  • BBQ GRILLS
  • PAVED ROADS  
  • 2 MARINAS WITH BOAT RENTALS AND FISHING NEARBY
  • WALKING DISTANCE TO SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS IN TOWN
  • BEAR LOCKERS
  • A SHORT ROAD TRIP AWAY TO MANY COOL SITES LIKE MONO LAKE AND CAN DAY TRIP TO YOSEMITE AS WELL
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Enjoying a hike at nearby Panum Crater

Comments from the “Chix”

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Our overall impression of this campground was that the big draw to this campground was the pristine lake. It can get hot during summer so having a lake with boating, fishing, swimming and dog-friendly swimming is great. It is also conveniently situated sort of in the middle of the Eastern Sierra attractions with Mammoth to the south and Mono Lake and the entrance to Yosemite to the north. This, combined with the nearby amenities, makes it a great family-friendly and pet-friendly option in the area.
Pros: This campground tends to have more availability than other campgrounds so you can snag a spot on last-minute trips. It also has flush toilets and drinking water, as well as shops and restaurants a walk away for when you need a break from nature. The biggest pro is the lake and the recreation that comes with it. Its beautiful, its dog-friendly and you can swim, fish or boat.
Cons: It can get hot here during summer! Oh and it snows during winter. I think the lack of shade is what makes it less popular than other nearby campgrounds, but at least there is refuge in the water.
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Stella trying to find shade
Tips: Bring some sort of shade with you if you can. Also bring a bathing suit and fishing gear if you have it. And of course, as always, use those bear lockers!
Again thanks to Andy Orr for some of these photos!

Link to reserve your spot at Oh Ridge Campground

Convict Lake (Eastern Sierras) 2011

Campsite: CONVICT LAKE CAMPGROUND

Geographic Location: EASTERN SIERRAS – BETWEEN BISHOP AND MAMMOTH

Type of Campground: STATE CAMPGROUND

Experience Level: GREAT FOR MODERATELY EXPERIENCED CAMPERS LOOKING TO GET BACK TO NATURE

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Beautiful views from the camp site
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Enjoying breakfast

(All ratings are based on a 1-5 system. 1=Horrible 5=Amazing)

Pet Friendly:(5) YES – CHECK OUT THE PICTURES OF OUR DOG ENJOYING THE LAKE

Family Friendly:(3) FAMILY FRIENDLY FOR MODERATELY EXPERIENCED CAMPERS.

Cleanliness: (5) VERY

Noise Level: (5) PEACEFUL AND QUIET, JUST LIKE BEING IN NATURE SHOULD BE. YOU CAN HEAR ANIMALS AT NIGHT SOMETIMES.

Restrooms: (5) FLUSH TOILETS – VERY CLEAN

Campsite Space: (4) SOME SITES ARE BIGGER THAN OTHERS, BUT WE HAD ENOUGH ROOM FOR 2 TENTS

Shade/Sun: (3) NOT A LOT OF SHADE AT MANY SITES

Ground: (4) DIRT- RELATIVELY FLAT, BUT VARIES FROM SITE TO SITE

Bugs/Critters/Wildlife: (3) ITS THE SIERRAS, AND ITS A LAKE…SO THERE WERE SOME MOSQUITOES. ALSO NOT UNCOMMON FOR A BLACK BEAR TO VISIT OR FOR DEER TO WONDER THROUGH YOUR SPOT. USE THOSE BEAR LOCKERS!

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Dogs can go explore the lake!
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A deer saying “hi”

Amenities: 

  •  RESTROOMS WITH FLUSH TOILETS, SINKS,HAND SOAP AND TRASHCAN IN EACH STALL
  • COIN OPERATED SHOWERS
  • BEAR LOCKERS AT EACH SITE
  • WATER SPIGOTS THROUGHOUT CAMPGROUND
  • TALL FIRE PITS WITH GRILLS CHAINED ON
  • WOODEN PICNIC BENCHES
  • FLAT GROUND WITH BRUSH CLEARED
  • BEAUTIFUL LAKE WITH WALKING PATH AT CAMPGROUND
  • AMAZING HIKING TRAIL STARTS NEXT TO CAMPGROUND
  • OMG THE AMAZING VIEWS!!!!!!!!
  • SECRET HOT SPRINGS ARE JUST A SHORT DRIVE AWAY (RIGHT ACROSS THE HIGHWAY)
  • LOTS OF GREAT SIGHTSEEING IN THE AREA
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Convict Lake Trail head
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The beautiful hike around the lake

Comments from the “Chix”

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Our overall impression of this campground was that it is a great campground for nature lovers. This is a personal favorite campground, and we’d camp here all the time if it was closer. The views are out of this world, and the hiking is amazing. They have hiking for all levels. You can stroll around the lake or take a serious like to reach the peak (and see 3 more lakes along the way).

Pros: The real highlight, as mentioned before, is the beauty. But what is great, is you get that rustic, back to nature feel, but still have the conveniences of a nice campground like flush toilets, showers with hot water, a nice spot to pitch a tent, fire pit and picnic table. Dogs will love this place as well as you can get away with letting them explore off-leash.

Cons: It can get hot during summer and there isn’t a lot of shade. Also, if you are a little scared of animals, you may encounter a bear. Another disappointment was that although we reserved our spot online, when we got to the campground our spot had someone else’s name on it. The campground host apologized and was able to find another spot for us.

Tips: Use the bear lockers please! Also, please go hiking, the hiking is great! For a fun bonus check out the hot springs near by. Link about the hot springs

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And many thanks to Andy Orr for some of the great photographs seen on this page.
Link to book your spot at Convict Lake Campground