"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

Friday, January 1, 2021

Best Campgrounds of 2020 and 2021 Plans

Rancho Cordova, CA Elks Lodge

When looking for campsites, we prefer privacy, easy access, gorgeous views, on or very near water for fishing and 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.  Since Steve works from the rig, all of these spots have great Verizon cell signal unless otherwise noted. We also love to boondock and love FREE camping.  If we have to pay, anything  in the Twenties is what we shoot for.  Anything above $30 stings a bit but sometimes that's what it is.

Here are our favorite camping spots of 2020 (in no particular order):

1. Anza Borrego Desert, CA
FREE. Easy to get to on BLM land, right off a paved road..  This spot was large and flat and perfect for visiting Borrego Springs area.  Good Verizon as well.  Water and dump at the Red Earth Casino nearby.
 Great boondocking, hiking and sight-seeing.

2.  Alabama Hills - Lone Pine, CA
FREE.  I've been waiting to go here for years!  It can be hard to get one of the awesome spots up against the rocks.  Roads near the rocks can be sandy, rocky and very uneven.  We persevered and got a great spot!  So much hiking!!  The Movie Museum in town and the Manzanar Internment Camp are must dos!
                Life Rocks!                                 Mt. Whitney                          Several Arch Rocks

3. 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 with electric and water ($20 with no utilities).  This is an all-time favorite and is always on our list! An annual stop for us.  If you get lucky being here at the perfect time in March/April , you may hit the peak bloom.  Spectacular!
                                         So much hiking, kayakingand exploring!

4. King Rd, AZ
FREE camping on BLM land between Quartzsite and Yuma.  All the beauty of the KoFa Mountains but none of the crazy crowds.  Fantastic Verizon!  
Plenty of hiking, fun over in Q and lots to do in Yuma.

5. Lake Pleasant Regional Park, AZ 
Less than an hour from Phoenix, but so peaceful.  Plenty of hiking and kayaking on the lake to keep you busy.  $22, no hookups but other loops offer more.

6. Sweetwater Regional Park - San Diego, CA 
This park we heard about from other RVers.  It's a great place to stay for visiting San Diego.  We spent 10 days here.  $30 for FHUs on large, private spots overlooking San Diego.  So much to see in this city.  We biked, went to the Zoo & USS Midway and many other landmark areas.  AWESOME!
   USS Midway Aircraft Carrier                San Diego Zoo                    Sweetwater Campground

7.  Old Rim Rd - Payson, AZ
FREE boondocking on National Forest land.  At this particular spot there are marked sites that are very  spread out and private.  The Mogollon Rim is well over 5000 ft elevation and perfect for summer stays. Lots of hiking, kayaking and watching the Elk.  Just plain relaxing!     
     Kayaking Willow Springs  The Rim is on the other side of the trees.   Sunset on the Rim!

8. Texas Springs Campground - Death Valley, CA
$16 gets you a nice site with water and dump.  So much to do in Death Valley!

Honorable Mention:
We are not big on private parks, Thousand Trails or Elks as a first choice.  This was a quirky year so we made the best of it.  We find Elks to work out when we need to be in a big city or expensive area.

-Elks Lodge, Monterey, CA: Small park, not too level.  Clean, quiet, awesome location, kayaking.
-Elks Lodge Napa, CA: Great location for wine tasting and kayaking.
-Elks Santa Barbara, CA: Great location for exploring the beach and area.
-Thousand Trails Groveland, CA: Great location in Yosemite NP.
-Thousand Trails Idyllwild, CA: Great location for hiking.
-Thousand Trails Ponderosa, CA: Great location near Placerville on the river.

For those that might be interested, here's a breakdown of the places we stayed, and the costs:
StaysNightsTotalAVG (per night cost)
County Park420  $527.00$26.35
Fairgrounds22    $45.00$22.50
State Park17  $140.00$20.00
National Park12    $32.00$16.00    
Thousand Trails*1493  $600.00$6.45
National Forest19$0$0
State Rec00$0$0
National Rec00$0$0
Private Park00$0$0

* We renewed our Thousand Trails membership for $600/yr in September of 2020.
** Boondocking for us is anywhere we stay for free which is not an organized campground.  It can include time at family and friends and other areas. This year we spent one night at a Casino and 1 night at a hotel (which I didn't count the stay or cost at $100). Some of our boondocking will be at BLM, National Forest, etc, but I give them a separate category because we generally spend a lot of time at them and I like to keep track of that.  Sometimes there can be a small fee to camp at them but most of the time it is free.

We traveled 5,845 miles and had 54 stops averaging 6.7 days a stop.
We have 155,000 miles on the truck.

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
2019 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5530.00
            Daily Average: $15.15 
2020 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5075.50
            Daily Average: $13.90

What was different?
Wow, I was surprised to see how much we spent.  Well, California is an expensive state.  Guess it was a good thing we had that Thousand Trails.
We boondocked MUCH less and stayed at more Thousand Trails and  Elks Lodges due to another sons wedding and the birth of our grandson. Covid kept us in place in Monterey, CA for 85 days.
We don't care for memberships or private parks but we needed a back up place to stay since the Placerville, CA Elks Lodge has been full on more occasions so we renewed our Thousand Trails Membership as we are "back home" for 6 weeks.

Plans for 2021:
Our plans have changed already and we haven't even left CA yet!  Steve's eye surgery has us here until we get the doctor's OK to travel. Probably Between the 7th and 14th of Jan.  Quartzsite and King Rd. will probably be out.  We will spend the remainder of Jan, Feb & Mar in Arizona going back to CA for Jaxon's First Birthday.  Then we will spend April - May in the upper gulf states and celebrate our nieces wedding in Florida in May.  After the wedding we will meander through the middle part of the midwest states and pop into Colorado in Sept. 
We will get back to Arizona Oct before returning  to CA for the holidays.

We're really missing the Superstition Mountains in AZ right now.  
This isn't my picture but, yes, it IS this amazing.

Safe Travels where ever you end up!


  1. Looks like some nice places. Most we have not been to but maybe someday. Looks like you are still wrestling with the new blogger format. Good luck with that.

    1. I am a little. Now the video option on Blogger is messing up!

  2. Some great places you found to boondock, we'll be looking at some of them next winter when we're back west. If you're in IL this summer look us up.

    1. We're glad we got to boondock at least a little bit. Loved the spots!

  3. My favorite post of the year...I always get great ideas from your list. Hope we can cross paths as you head back east!

  4. We always enjoy these posts, we have been to a few of your spots but have many more to visit. Keeping scouting out the fishing areas so we can add them to our list!

    1. We didn't get much fishing in last year. Maybe 2021!

  5. Definitely have to add your San Diego park to the list!! Even with the craziness you found your way to some beautiful spots. Isn't it fun to have travel plans into the new year? You're enjoying lots of weddings and grands' birthdays like we've been doing for a few years. Seems like once there's one......... :-) All the best for 2021!!

    1. Loved that park in SD. Surprised you haven't been. Hope to see you later in AZ!

  6. Well maybe we will bump into you in Colorado in Sept.


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