"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Best Campgrounds of 2018 and 2019 Plans

Placerville, CA
Elks Lodge

When looking for campsites, we look for privacy, easy access, gorgeous views, on or very near water for fishing or kayaking, nearby hiking and biking trails, not too far from towns for amenities, entertainment, good food and water/dump.  We also love areas with history, breweries and other fun things.

Here are our favorite camping spots of 2018 (in no particular order):

1. King Rd, Kofa Mountains NWR, AZ   
The nice thing about this boondocking site is that it is in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge bordering the BLM.  You can go back about 1 1/2 miles and still get super fast, 5 bars of Verizon LTE.  It's free to camp here but there are no facilities.  It is fairly close to the border inspection. station.  I like it better than the LaPosa South area of Quartzsite because it is so quiet and much prettier as it sits at the base of the Kofa's.  Plenty to do.  You're fairly close to Quartzsite, Yuma, Palm Canyon, the Yuma Proving Grounds, old mining towns, etc.  We always spend time in Q with friends, but this is a nice spot to be in for a week for the peace and quiet.

2. Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ   
Beautiful, sparkling clean campsites, nicely spaced with a spectacular view of the Superstition Mountains and great hiking!  $30 to camp, some spots have electric and water.  This is an all-time favorite and is once again on our list! An annual stop for us.
                                                           So much hiking!

3. Big Bend of the Colorado SRA, NV
This State Rec Area is right next to the Colorado River and very close to Laughlin with Bullhead City across the river and the fun mining town of Oatman where the donkeys run free.  Plenty to do in town.  Since we stayed here in early March we decided to buy the Nevada Parks Pass which gets you free camping for a year (although if you want electric it's $10).  Great Verizon.  There is some fantastic hiking here where you'll see slot canyons and hieroglyphics in Grapevine Canyon.  The sites are nicely spaced and have water and electric with shaded patio covers and firepits.
                                              Great views of Laughlin at Night.

4. Buckhorn SRA, Black Butte Lake, CA 
A nice campground, some with water and electric but mostly small sites with tight roads.  It's very hot in summer but spring is great!  If you're coming here it's most likely for the fishing and boating.  Our site was right on the water and we caught tons of Bass!  Otherwise, not much out here.
                            We had so much fun with friends and the fishing was fantastic!

5. Salmon Harbor Marina, Winchester Bay OR   
What a fun surprise, camping on a wharf!  $14, no hookups, but there is a fresh fill and a dump station.  Great Verizon. You can pick a spot at the end of the wharf surrounded by Winchester Bay.  Again, another winner if you like to fish, crab, etc.  Or you can walk the area and buy fresh seafood, check out the local restaurants and breweries.  There is a lighthouse and plenty of beaches.  Coos Bay is nearby.
     Such beautiful views of the boats outside our windows and wonderful walks and fishing.

6. Bull Bend National Forest, LaPine, OR
Our Favorite of the year!  $10.  Only 10 miles outside of LaPine and you are in a very small, well kept campground.  Less than 15 sites but most are very large and very private, directly on the Deschutes River.  Perfect for fishing and floating.  The campground is a small horseshoe shape, most with riverside sites.  No facilities but an outhouse.  Water and dump in nearby LaPine.  Almost the only place you can get internet except in town and it was 5 bars of fast Verizon LTE.   Much to do.  It sits south of Bend and there are numerous lakes, rivers, museums, breweries, volcanic areas and hiking here.  We stayed 2 weeks and loved it!
                                                   Love the pines, river access and fishing!

7. Webb County Park, Pacific City, OR   
The county parks in Oregon have really surprised us.  While most campgrounds are very expensive and booked way in advance (especially on the coast), most of the county campgrounds had plenty of openings.  This one is very close to the large beach, cute town.  $31 for W/E, dump and showers and lots of friendly bunnies.  So-so Verizon.  We used the library mostly.

8. Fort Stephens, Hammond, OR   
This is a HUGE campground, but sites are very private, lush and green.  $32, W/E.  Poor Verizon.  We used nearby library.  There is SO much to do here.  Tour the fort, the beach with a shipwreck, lighthouse nearby, many fun things! Plenty of trails to walk or ride bikes for miles within the state park.

9. Scotts Lake NF, Hope Valley, CA   
This is a free boondocking area along Highways 88/89 in Hope Valley outside of South Lake Tahoe.  This is one of the most gorgeous areas.  So much hiking in the Sierra Nevada, many lakes to fish and kayak, near South Lake Tahoe and you now get 5 bars of very fast Verizon LTE thanks to a new, nearby cell tower.  There is only a central outhouse but you can get water at nearby campgrounds.  There is light, distant highway noise during the day.  It's one of our favorites and we always camp here when we can.  There are limited areas and it gets busy on holidays.

10. Wallowa State Park, Joseph, OR    
A state park in one of the most beautiful surroundings!  $30 W/E. Poor cell coverage.  We drove to the library in town when we needed internet. Quaint town for shopping. Lake and streams for fishing and paddling, plenty of hiking and nearby road trips.  Very quiet surroundings.

11. Stewarts Point BLM Overton, NV
Best part of this free boondocking area is how close it is to the spectacular colors of Valley of Fire State Park.  You can park as close to Lake Mead as is possible for your rig size or sit up high overlooking the water.  It can be a little dusty when it gets real windy.  Good Verizon signal.

12. Sockeye National Forest, Stanley, ID
$20 for this beautiful newer campground on Redfish Lake.  Some sites have water and electric for a bit more money but they go quickly.  Hiking, kayaking, Redfish Lake Lodge with gorgeous mountain scenery.  Crystal clear water.

Honorable Mention:
-Scappoose County Park & Airport, OR: Tiny park on a tiny airport.  Really neat. And quiet.
-Lake Creek NF Ketchum, ID: All along Hwy 75, endless jaw dropping scenery and boondocking!
-Redmond Fairgrounds, Redmond, OR: One of the best fairground camping we've seen. Great layout!

 For those that might be interested, here's a breakdown of the places we stayed, and the costs:

Stays Nights Total AVG (per night cost)
Private Parks 5 25   $800.00 $32.00
Elks* 2 45  $1125.00  $25.00
County Parks 24    $546.00 $22.75
Fairgrounds 13    $275.00 $21.15
State Rec Area   $140.00 $20.00
COE     $60.00 $20.00
State Parks 41    $642.00 $15.65
Marina     $70.00 $14.00
National Forests 28    $230.00   $8.21
BLM 37    $150.00   $4.05
Casino 3 5 $0 $0
WalMart 2 $0 $0
Boondocking** 14 130  $0 $0
*Normally we'd be at my brothers, but now we'll be at the Elks.  This usually would've been free but now it will always be a $1000+ cost we wouldn't have.  Bummer, but that's how it goes.
** Boondocking also includes time at family, friends and a repair shop.

Yearly Comparison
2014 - (need to add)
2015 - (need to add)
2016 - Yearly Campsite Total: $3494.50
             Daily Average: $9.57
2017 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5090.50
             Daily Average: $13.94
2018 - Yearly Campsite Total: $4038.00
             Daily Average: $11.06

What was different?
We boondocked less and had to pay more for the time that we usually stayed at my brothers for free.

Plans for 2019:
We will spend our usual January through March in Arizona.  Some favorites and some new spots.  April we'll be in Utah with some RV friends.  May through August we'll wind our way through Wyoming and Montana for some fishing, South Dakota and we'll travel a bit in the last state we've yet to be in, North Dakota.  Of course this will be weather permitting as we know there will likely be snow to deal with.  We also have to be back in California for our son's wedding, so our plans can change at any point.  Who knows, we may not get any further north than Utah!


  1. Great review of the campgrounds this last year. Definitely on our list for the future. You find the best pkacpl. We'll need to talk more at Q next week. We're starting to keep track of our expenses this year. Should be interesting. Thanks

    1. Thanks Curt! See you and Glenda in a few days!

  2. You always seem to find the best spots! I did notice you forgot to amend the year at the beginning, as it still says 2017 :-) We're hoping to working in the Phoenix area. Perhaps another meetup is in order if we're nearby?!

    1. Dang it! My editor friend already pointed that out! Ha Ha. Fixed. Definitely gotta meet up then!!

  3. Thanks for the La Pine tip, we want to stop in 2019 in Sept for a couple of weeks but the SP seems to be weak for Internet. Hope we get to connect again this year, but a hike might be a better plan than a bike ride with Patches!!

    1. You'd love Bull Bend. Truly one of our all time favorites! You can't get a prettier site right ON the water with that spacing and 5 bars of LTE! It is outside of town, but great for kicking back and still getting work done!

  4. So excited for you guys about the wedding. What is the date? My son Alex also getting married, Sept 1....this means that we might be on the Grandma train in a few years too!!!

    1. Wedding is end of August. I'm sure looking forward to that train ride!

  5. You two do seem to find some great spots! Of those you listed we have only been to Stewarts Point or Hobo Hill as the locals call it.

    You better not roll one tire into SD unless you are planning on stopping to visit us!

    1. You would LOVE Bull Bend in OR. Too bad the bite wasn't full on when we were there but we sure did pretty good! We would love to visit and see your place and lend a hand too!

  6. Some nice camping spots. I guess we will stay out of North Dakota this summer. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. Great list which I'm hoping I remember about when we can make our forays into the northwest. Have fun in Q.

    1. Thanks. We hope to winter your way in TX next year. Maybe we'll meet Steal a Fish.

  8. I’m not sure when we will make it out west again, but will definitely save this for when we do! Love the spots you find! Can’t wait to see wedding pics! Not sure when our paths will cross again, but safe travels til we see you again!

    1. Well we plan to go east next year. So maybe we'll see ya after all.

    2. That would be awesome! Reach out when you have dates and places!

  9. Love this! We’re going to Oregon for the summer, we’ll check out your favorites!

    1. Thanks. Had to re-do my math. SO far off on my averaging! Bull Bend is a true winner!

  10. We fulltimed for 7 years. I loved keeping such records. It was always interesting to look back.

    1. 7 years, nice! I also like looking back and comparing!

  11. Thanks for sharing; will refer to your list for future spots. Maybe we will make a connection in Arizona this winter. Be safe.

    1. We'll keep tabs. It would be nice to meet up.

  12. Nice recap of the year with some real pretty spots. Being included in the pre-wedding functions can be fun. Thus, you might find yourself heading back to CA sooner than you think.

    1. Yes, we figured, that's why we have no resos! We'll see if we make it that far north. The plan was to get my SD Drivers license finally.

  13. Great recap of some of your favs. We’ll definitely keep these in mind.
    See ya soon and safe travels!

  14. This is a great review - looks like you found some real beauties! We're staying west this year so hopefully we'll get an opportunity to meet up. Safe travels always.

    1. We'd love to meet up again! We will be staying longer in CA this year and won't have plans for September on for a while.

  15. Thanks for the great list. We will keep it handy the next time we are out west.

  16. Deb I wait for this post every year and really appreciate the time and effort you put into it. I always add these campgrounds to my running list��. Thanks again for doing this.


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