We had been wanting to attend the Tampa RV Show, one of the largest in the country, for about three years now, ever since we saw a video "Less Junk < More Journey" posted when they were there. We were also excited about the after-hours party scheduled for Thursday night and planned to go, especially with some our favorite RV YouTube celebrities announced to be attending. Alas, we found that over 475 people had also RSVP'd they were going and we decided against the joining the madhouse. This was in a wing joint, albeit a large one, and there was no way this was going to be enjoyable.
We were able to attend the actual RV show today, which is located in the Florida State Fairgrounds, and it was nice and spacious, if not spectacular. There were a few themes that stuck out.
First, manufacturers spared no expense in their Class A offerings. The first one we walked through cost $2.67 million. The second one was under $1 million at $968,000. Overall, there were more Class A's than anyone could possibly peruse in one day, which is probably why the show provided free next-day tickets. Luxury was obviously the the big appeal in this RV class, and prices reflected that. However, we also saw a startling number of smaller, lower-end motorhomes in the $75-140K range. Had we been in the market, we certainly had a wide range of choices.
Second, the majority of 5th wheel trailers were 40' and longer and beautiful. We walked through many that were over $200K, a few over $300K, and even some large rigs less than $50,000. The latter group would not fare well in full-time use. The latest innovation seems to be a front kitchen in the 5th wheel deck.
Along with the abundance of large 5th wheels was a noticeable lack of 30' to 36' models of 5th wheel trailers of any layout. I spoke with several manufacturer reps who agreed that most factories have stopped making them -- they just aren't selling. This is difficult for us to take in, since we currently own a 32' Cruiser and would never want to move a 40' rig every other week. But, that was the point, I was told. RV buyers, for the most part, are either seasonal full-timers, only moving their RV's twice a year to stay in moderate climates, or weekenders, who want the space and toys to haul a half a dozen times each summer. It is assumed the RV full-timers who travel a couple times per month are only interested in Class A motorhomes, and that's what they are building.
In addition to these two RV styles, there were a myriad of Class B's or van conversions, even a line from Airstream, as well as many new models of ultra-small pull trailers, teardrops and campers. There does seem to be a lot of new innovation going into these, including in form, function and style.
RV vendors and accessory suppliers were also well-represented in two warehouse-sized buildings. We both took note of what seems to be a new trend -- time-share-style or full-purchase resort space. We saw at least thirty booths for such parks in the two hours we spent in the vendor buildings, dominated mostly by Georgia, Florida, Texas, Maine and Michigan resorts. We are on a waiting list for a space in an SKP park in Hondo, Texas, so we aren't too interested in spending as much money as most of these parks are charging.
We were surprised that so many of the RV's still had dark wood interiors. The rigs with white of light-colored cabinetry were much more impressive and popular than traditional models.
The bottom line is that we are glad we finally got to attend this very large show, but without any rigs in our sweet spot in length, we probably won't attend another anytime soon.
Address: 2555 US HWY 17S, Wauchula, FL 33873
Phone: (863) 735-8888
# of sites: 460
Full hookup price: From $57 /day (30 amp)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Warnings: High demand park, sewer not available on all sites, alligators (?)
Peace River RV Resort is located in the woods along the Peace River just outside of Wauchula, Florida. It is about 45 minutes from the Gulf coast and just under two hours from Orlando. It is one of only two full Thousand Trails resorts in the Sunshine State and sites here are very much in demand during the tourist season of January through March.
There are 37 Encore (Trails Collection) resorts and only two TT parks in Florida. Along with the Orlando Thousand Trails Resort, this park is part of the "Florida shuffle" for TT members, where they come and go between Encore properties. Following a stay, members must be out of the Encore system for at least seven days before staying at another Encore property, but there is no waiting period if they stay in a full TT park. Thus, the TT campgrounds are a huge convenience and cost savings if you want to spend a considerable time if the state.
Proximity to Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Punta Gorda on the Gulf and Orlando in Central Florida is a big plus for this park's location. Even Vero Beach on the Atlantic coast is only a two-hour drive away. The wildlife is abundant and birding is exceptional in Central Florida, where you'll see many species that are only found here. Fishing is also popular everywhere in the state.
The park itself has the usual resort amenities and it sports a very nice nature trail along the Peace River. Sites are above average in width and we were able to snag an excellent space in which our front door faced the woods.
As I alluded to in the warnings, there are often far fewer sites with sewer drains than there are RV's checking in. To make matters worse, you are left on your own to find them while avoiding the empty sites with sewers that are reserved for seasonal or annual campers. When we return in January, I'm told we will be participating in a lottery system for the sewer sites but need to be waiting at 9am to get into the drawing, which happens around 1pm. If we don't get a sewer site in the lottery, there are always several dozen dry sites or with water and power available we can stay overnight in and get in the next day's lottery. Not ideal. It seems to me that with the popularity of the park they would expand the number of sites with sewer hook-ups.
Like many resorts, the dog park is about a half-mile walk from much of the resort and is very small. There are dog waste baskets scattered around the park but none have bags, so you do have to provide your own. With two dogs, sometimes I will run out while on a walk and I really appreciate it when a resort provides the poop bags around the park. In addition, there are signs around the park warning of alligators and snakes, making for a nervous time walking near the river.
The staff here wasn't always friendly. For example, the office here has a rule that you can’t pick up a package before 2pm and sure enough, they stuck to that rule when we tried to pick up one at 1:53. Okay, that’s the rule. Knowing this and that they close the office at 4:30pm, I was able to get there in time, with 4 minutes to spare, or so I thought. I followed a few paces behind a young woman up the stairs and to the office. When she went in, she closed the door behind her and locked it, pulled the shades down and deadbolt locked. It was still 4 minutes before 4:30 and the gal had seen me behind her. Now I have to wait until 2:00 the next day.
As we were leaving the resort on travel day we heard what sounded like assault rifle gunfire is several short bursts. It sounded like it came from down the aisle next to us and we were a bit taken aback. Was there an active shooter in the park? It turned out that there is hunting in the bordering properties and that's where the gunfire was coming from. It's a bit unnerving to think we'll be returning to a place where hunters are using assault rifles nearby.
All-in-all, the Peace River RV & Camping Resort is adequate and convenient for a stopover between other campgrounds. As an alternative location, I would probably recommend the Orlando Thousand Trails, a much nicer and better run facility, for an interim stay, but if that's not a good option, Peace River will still hold you over.
Address: 38801 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043
Phone: (305) 872-2217
# of sites: 399
Full hookup price: From $774/week
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Oleander on site (poisonous)
Spending time in the Florida Keys was a bucket list item for me and this resort is right in the middle of them. Although the name is Sunshine Key and its address is on Big Pine Key, the park is actually on Ohio Key, adjacent to Big Pine. We went in November, before the high-tourist season, but also still during high temperatures.
We first saw this resort in February of 2018 just after hurricane Michael had devastated the area. The park was closed, and it definitely looked like it had sustained serious damage. Eighteen months later, the RV resort was in nearly full operation, though they are still utilizing temporary quarters for their entrance, check-in desk, mail room and convenience store. Though there are plenty of seasonal or year-round residents, the park was only about a third full in the two off-season weeks we were there.
Sunshine Key is one of the cleanest resorts we have stayed in recently. There was no trash to be seen anywhere except in the trash bins. There are many nice, wide sites, some are pull-through, all with full-hookups and spacious pea-graveled patio areas. Amenities are plentiful as well, including swimming pool, tennis, pickle ball and basketball courts, along with a marina, fishing dock and shoreline right on-site.
Probably the largest plus to this resort is its proximity to Key West, just about a 20-mile drive away, and the rest of the Keys are also within an easy driving distance. Ohio Key is on the west side of the Seven-Mile Bridge, which means that shopping in Marathon is only seven miles from the park.
Numerous tourist activities are available, as one would expect of a popular tourist destination, and the historic town of Key West has an abundance of tram, bus and boat tours and a wide variety of dining options. Fishing charters and party boats are available in almost any of the populated Keys with a myriad of species to be caught. You do not need a fishing license if you join a charter excursion with a licensed captain.
One big downside is the cost of sites at Sunshine Key, with some people paying $1,300 per week for premium waterfront sites. The public can pay as low as $774 per week, a more reasonable rate, and Thousand Trails members with the Trails Collection need only pay $20/day with a 2-week max stay. Usually we do not pay out-of-pocket for Thousand Trails visits, so the $280, plus tax, was a bit of a hit to the pocketbook.
Another huge negative is that no pet fences are allowed and there are no off-leash dog areas. I'm not sure that their reasoning of "liability issues" is valid, since very few resorts have this restriction. Our Chihuahua-mix dogs are not a threat to anyone while corralled behind a fence and not having one set their house training back by weeks. Our 5th wheel has a doggy door and when the puppies have to go potty, they normally just head outside to the yard, leaving us to easily clean up at our convenience. Without the door available to them, they went potty in the doorway in front of the locked doggie door.
Another pet-related complaint is the presence of Oleander plants in the park, including between our site the the one next-door. Ingesting just one Oleander leaf can kill a full-sized horse, and pets have no chance to survive. I used our pet fencing to section off the plant from our puppies, but we were nervous about it our entire stay.
If you are not used to them, almost constant trade winds can be annoying, and the Keys' low elevation and location at the entrance to the Gulf makes them susceptible to storms, mild and severe. We were fortunate to follow the storm season by a few weeks, but another could have developed at any time.
Not knowing any better, Nadyne and I were hoping to enjoy tumbling waves on a sandy beach. However, we found the the region really has no waves or sandy beaches, mostly due to the shallow water surrounding all of the islands in the area. It was very much like being in the Outer Banks or inside a large sheltered harbor. That's nice for boating and fishing but not so much for beach-combing or body surfing.
Even with shopping available in Marathon and Key West, traditional full-sized box stores and supermarkets are back on the mainland, 50+ miles away. Advanced planning may be necessary before hitting Key Largo and the Overseas Highway..
Like I mentioned, visiting the Florida Keys was a bucket list item and overall it didn't disappoint. We loved touring Key West, Big Pine and many other of the Keys. Key deer are abundant (and cute), bird watching is everywhere and there are spectacular sunsets nearly every night.
Overall, the Florida Keys exude a laid-back, relaxed lifestyle into which one can easily be assimilated. However long your visit, it will seem too short.
Address: 8377 State Cabin Rd., Edisto Island, SC 29438
Phone: (866) 345-7275
# of sites: 112 sites with water & electric (some with 50 amp), plus tent sites, dump station available
Full hookup price: From $43/night (varies with season)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: mosquitoes/no-seeums, no sewer at sites
Edisto Beach State Park on Edisto Island is one of four South Carolina State Parks on or near the ocean. It is about an hour from Charleston and West Charleston and the area is rife with historical sites, museums and buildings.
The Live Oak Campground is one of two in the State Park. It is a bit inland from the Atlantic Ocean while the Beach Campground overlooks the beach and the ocean. The forest is lush and its green canopy completely encases the roads and trails throughout the park.
The sites in Live Oak are amazingly large and beautiful. Most have both 30 and 50 amp power and all have water, as well as an extended picnic area and table. All sites have privacy via bushes, vines and trees surrounding them on three sides. There are also large bathroom and shower facilities near the entrance to the campground paths.
Like many of the campgrounds in the Carolinas, a big advantage with this park is its proximity to the ocean and rivers for fishing, boating and other watersports. Also, surrounding towns have extremely low violent crime rates. The trails in the region, including those in the state park, are relatively level and easily accessed, and bird-watchers will find them incredibly rich.
These sites are on sandy ground covered in moist pine needles, leaves and moss from the forest canopy. We wore out a broom trying to keep our floors and mats clean and were often startled at the sound of acorns hitting our roof. Speaking of forest, there is little view of the sky, meaning not much chance for using a satellite dish. We were fortunate in our site to have a partial sky view through the trees, but all signals were lost the moment the rain started.
The Live Oak Campground borders a marsh that incubates huge numbers of mosquitoes, biting gnats, chiggers and no-seeums. Even when covered up, we were bitten several times, bites that severely itched for days. We probably should have had used more repellent, but this hasn't been necessary for several months before now.
There are no sewer hookups in any of the sites, though there is a dumping station just outside the park. We only stayed for five days, so this wasn't an issue for us this trip. The water provided had plenty of pressure but was very salty to the taste, even after going through a filter. We had to use bottled water for anything consumed.
Though pets are allowed, it is not a dog-friendly park. There is no dog park and no poop bags are available anywhere. Though dogs are supposed to be on leashes, we saw several that were not.
Finally, this is not a luxury RV resort, so it's no surprise that there is no laundry room, activity room or other amenities.
The beauty and privacy of the campsites in the Edisto Beach State Park earned it 4 out of 5 stars, We would definitely recommend this park to anyone wanting to enjoy the area, though its downsides probably would limit a stay to just a few days.
Address: 2791 NC-24, Newport, NC 28570
Phone: (252) 726-4902
# of sites: 235
Full hookup price: From $69/night
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Sites are assigned by Thousand Trails and cannot be changed
This was the first time that we have spent any time on the North Carolina coast and it didn't disappoint, at least the parts we could get to. Hurricane Dorian took out a good portion of the Outer Banks, an area we had planned to explore. None of the ferries were running and, even if we chose to make the 5-hour drive around the peninsula, many roads were completely washed out. Whispering Pines RV Park was near the Crystal Coast on the southern end of the Outer Banks, which still had a lot to offer.
The resort's location was the biggest plus for us. Even with Cape Hatteras and much of the Outer Banks unavailable to us, we went on three long drives and saw quite a bit of beautiful scenery. There's plenty of green in the campground and it's rather well-maintained.
Another great amenity was a very nice dog park, better than we've seen in many campgrounds, and well within walking distance from most of the RV sites. There were plenty of poop bags on hand and a nice covered gazebo with seating for both humans and dogs to enjoy some shade.
The pool seemed well-maintained and popular with the seasonal residents, and they had several clean, private showers nearby. The laundry facilities were clean and seemed adequate. Literature mentions a boat ramp and access to the Intercoastal Waterway, but I never saw it.
We were assigned a space without any input from us or regard to our size and slides. The site we were given was very narrow, with our slide on the left side on that edge of the site and our awning on the right side extended over the adjacent site's power post and sewer drain. We couldn't open our mats all the way without intruding into that space either. Even worse was that they refused to accommodate moving us to a wider site, like the one next door that was at least twice as wide, citing a full camp due to a festival our first weekend there. That wasn't exactly a fair excuse, since only two trailers used that adjacent site while we were there -- one was a 20' pull trailer using the space Sunday and Monday nights of that festival weekend and the other a 16' Scamp trailer that was there during the following weekend. They could have easily swapped sites so we could use the wider space and the smaller trailers would have been fine.
The other huge problem we endured was their rule against any dog pens or fences. We could put one up if we took it down the moment the dogs weren't in it, which they know wouldn't be feasible. We have a doggie door in our screen and were training our new dogs to use it, but this put us back two weeks in their training. We also utilize anti-bark collars (they use sound, not shock, to warn the dogs), and we are diligent about not letting our dogs bother anyone, but these facts didn't matter.
Trash bins are quite a distance from most of the camp sites, and the recreation room seemed to be closed for the season, which is strange this far south. It didn't look like it was equipped with any tables (ping pong, pool, foosball, etc.), just sofas, tables and chairs. It was also quite a walk away from any of the campsites.
I can't stress enough how great North Carolina is to visit. People have been friendly everywhere we have gone, and there's so much to see and do that a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months, just can't do it justice. I can see why people like living here, even with the annual threat of tropical weather. It's a boating and fishing paradise and homes with a view or shoreline can be found at almost any price point. We can't wait to return and spend much more time here!
We are currently in our second loop around the country and one thing seems apparent- more and more RV’ers have pets, especially dogs, as traveling companions. We have always had a dog with us everywhere we go, and although some campgrounds try to cater to these canine family members, it seems that the park operators just don’t understand how they can best accommodate pet owners in their facilities. In that light, I’ve put together nine suggestions for a great pet experience in a campground. Actually, some of these have been offered by different resorts we have visited, just not all of them in any one park.
9. A variety of dog food, treats, toys and accessories (i.e. leashes) available in the camp store
Walmarts or large grocery stores are not always nearby nor convenient when a pet owner finds their dogfood didn’t make the trip, their leash breaks or they just want to pamper their dog. Having some of these supplies would be ever so helpful!
8. Multiple dog walk areas with grass, poop bags and trash cans
So often we have to encroach upon other campers’ sites or a vehicle path to clean up our dog’s droppings. That is about the time you realize you forgot to re-stock your leash with poop bags… Having just a short walk to a dog walk would be exceedingly convenient.
7. List and contact info for nearby dog groomers, vet offices and pet hospitals
Seems silly to have to Google this for ourselves when the park operators usually have a handle on who is around them, and difficult when Internet is spotty. They can place a disclaimer on the info sheet if they are worried about referring to a business that doesn’t give a great customer experience and definitely should be asking for feedback.
6. List and directions to local community dog parks
We have been to some awesome community dog parks with room to run and play to their hearts’ content. Yuma comes to mind immediately. However, like local groomers and vets, it would be much more convenient to campers if that information was available at check-in.
5. Pet daycare, walking and pop-in visits available at a reasonable cost
It’s not always feasible to leave your dog in your RV while you explore the region or visit a national park (where dogs are not allowed even on-leash), and a rig can be a dangerous place in extreme summer heat should the resort’s power fail, turning off the A/C. Having a daycare, dog walking or RV pop-in visits available for a fee would be a great relief to those of us who need to leave our dogs behind to sightsee or otherwise partake of a region’s entertainment.
4. Centrally-located and well-maintained off-leash park with grass and shade
Let’s also supply these fenced parks with shaded benches for their owners. A number of times a resort we were staying in had a fenced dog park but it was either a half-mile walk away from our campsite or it was so small that there was no real reason to use it. Once fenced dog “walk” was only 8’ by 4’ in size. Having a fenced dog area is only useful if it’s maintained, not left to be weed- and mud-infested quagmires. No one wants their dog to play in a dirt lot.
3. Separate off-leash sections for small and large dogs
Another issue for small dog owners is when large, sometimes aggressive breeds are made to mingle with smaller dogs. The simple solution is to fence off a section of the park for each.
2. Scheduled community play times for dogs at the camp's dog parks
Ever walk your dog hoping to find other potential playmates for them in the dog park, only to find that it’s empty? This happens all the time to us. One resort created play times and supplied days and times for these social hours for their campers with dogs. This worked very well, giving our pet a lot of social time.
1. Allow use of pet fences and/or pens at campsites
We have a doggie door in our RV screen door and our dogs can come and go into our own fenced-off area, that is, when we are allowed to put it up. Our dogs do not challenge barriers and have never hopped out of our pen and when we can’t use it, it makes camping life more difficult. Parks should allow campers the freedom to use pens and fences and then enforce leash rules as necessary.
Any of these suggestions would help make a resort more dog-owner friendly and make camping more bearable for our cuddly family members. Campgrounds that are dog-friendly are becoming more and more popular as word spreads by campers. This is even integral to some park reviews, including mine, as RV’ers converse within their own social communities. Smart resort operators will pick up on this trend and make plans to offer as many pet services as possible.
While taking some incredible photos in the Grand Tetons last week, it occurred to me just how many National Parks we've had the good fortune to visit. We don't have a bucket list or a specific goal of seeing every National Park, but we have enjoyed more than a few.
The United States has set aside just under 65 protected areas of the country (plus one shared by Canada) known as National Parks. Since Nadyne and I have been together, we have visited 22 of them, with about 10 more that happen to be on the calendar for the coming year. It didn't hurt that we lived in Colorado and in proximity to Utah, but we stopped in about half of those we have visited just since we hit the road last year in our 5th wheel.
Our favorite so far? That's a difficult choice. I loved Zion and Bryce, and camping on the edge of the Badlands was memorable. Acadia was a bucket list item for me that didn't disappoint, as was Campobello for Nadyne, along with Rainier and St. Helens. We were both in awe of the sheer size of the giant redwoods, the splendor of the Rockies and, of course, the sights and sounds of the mighty glaciers in Alaska. And I didn't even mention the Grand Canyon. No, there's just no way to choose.
Here are the National Parks we've toured and a quick gallery of some of my pics of those remarkable places:
Address: 50 SE 123 Street, South Beach, OR 97366
Phone: (541) 867-3100
# of sites: 164 (plus tent-only sites)
Full hookup price: From $65/night
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: The park is split into two sections, and few sites are satellite-friendly,
We were recommended this campground by another Thousand Trails member and were excited about their location, a few miles south of Newport, OR. The resort was split in two, with about 2/3 in the main portion of the park and the other section across a road on the south side. We were in the north side.
The location on the Oregon coast was probably the highlight of this campground. Situated right on Highway 101, we drove the coast in both directions, north to Tillamook to tour the cheese factory and creamery, and south to the Sea Lion Caves near Florence. Both were exquisite drives. There is a pristine beach a long, but easy, walk from most of the resort.
Newport is just about six miles away and has many of the shopping and eating options we wanted. Also in Newport was a "historic bayfront" filled with quaint buildings and piers, old fisheries and shops, and many murals had been painted throughout the district. These included, to my surprise, a Robert Wyland "whaling wall." On the other side of the bay was also the enigmatic Rogue Brewery, a must-visit spot with a great restaurant and tasting room.
The Whaler's Rest campsites themselves, at least on the north side of the resort, had excellent privacy, with lots of trees and large shrubs separating the sites. Our side of the park had laundry facilities, albeit just a few washers and dryers, and we're not sure if the south side's room is being renovated or closed for good. The north side had its own lodge with a pool table, TV, room for a group or large gathering, restrooms and showers, and the aforementioned laundry room.
Like many of the Thousand Trails properties, this is a very old park that needs a face-lift badly. There were many overgrown areas and the buildings were dated. The resort was clean but it just seemed like the staff had been overwhelmed.
Most amenities were on the other side of the park, including an indoor swimming pool and spa that we were not even aware of, a small market with very limited hours and a dog run that was a half-mile walk from our side of the campground.
Most of the Thousand Trails parks are first-come-first served for sites. This makes for slim pickings in parks like Whaler's Rest, with so much of the resort occupied by seasonal or year-round residents. When we checked in we were given a list that showed the supposed availability of satellite accessibility (sky) in each site. According to the list there were only two sites left with satellite access and one was too small for our 5th wheel. We took the other but found no sky view for satellite. I can imagine that this site had open southern sky when the list was created ten years earlier. Unfortunately the trees had grown and closed the sky view. There was no cable TV available.
As expected for this part of the country, we experienced dreary or rainy weather nearly every day of our two-week stay. You must be prepared for this if you travel the coast from Northern California to Washington State.
My first impulse was to rate this park as average with 3 stars. However, it is a very clean resort and the staff is friendly, though shorthanded, and you simply can't discount the nearly spectacular scenery that can be found in this area year-round. Even with its shortcomings, I think we will be staying again and I would recommend this park to anyone wanting the Oregon coast experience.
While neither is better than the other, the east and west cultures are very different. Sometimes clichés are based on truth and that certainly seems to be the case when comparing the two regions of the country. The west tends to be more athletic and health-minded while the east seems to be more interested in its cosmopolitan lifestyle. Art, theater and history can be enjoyed on both coasts, but for sheer quality and numerous opportunities for a metropolitan experience, the east is far superior.
A couple of differences stand out when comparing camping and resorts. In the east, there are many more seasonal vacationers, whether camping or having property, than in the west. Every eastern lake and many coastal roads are lined with summer homes, and the zones of seasonal campers in east coast resorts are many times larger than campgrounds out west. To be fair, there are huge seasonal groupings in Arizona, Southern California and Florida, but the balance of the west coast is mostly devoid of these camping subdivisions. The issue is that seasonal neighborhood residents often view us interlopers as vagabonds or street rats. There are friendly people everywhere, but the large number of seasonal inhabitants makes it much more likely for this view to be shown.
Second, it seems like western campers love dark, serene nights and the abundance of stars, while their eastern counterparts would rather bring the big city with them when they camp. East coast campsites are often adorned with enough lights to compete in a Christmas light contest, with flashing strobe lights, rotating spotlights, electronic lamps shining colorful shapes up into the trees and enough solar lighting to blaze a trail from one end of a resort to the other. These campers are also much more likely to build and man private taverns and public bars, complete with tiki torches and thatched roofs.
Sunrise vs. Sunset
Purely a personal preference, but sunsets seem grander and more vibrant than sunrises over oceans or other bodies of water. I did cross off a bucket list item in the east, however, when I photographed a sunrise from Acadia National Park in Maine.
The takeaway is this: Knowing these differences can help maximize your enjoyment in each region of the country. You can plan on more state-run parks and attractions and extra visits to historical locales in the east and more self-guided tours and longer drives in the west. You can enjoy your solitude in the west and party like rock stars in the east -- savor the differences and revel in the RV lifestyle.
Resort Parks International (RPI)
Address: 700 W. Klamath Beach Rd., Klamath, CA 95548
Phone: (707) 482-2091
# of sites: 91 (plus tent-only sites)
Full hookup price: From $48/night
Open: May through October
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Few amenities, stickers in grass, no 50-amp
Situated just a couple of miles up the Klamath River from the Pacific Ocean, the Klamath River RV Park is centrally located to maximize an abundance of outdoor activities and attractions, including the rugged Northern California coastline, Redwood National Park, and all the hiking you might want. See my 360-degree video in the redwood forest.
This park is just a short drive from much of the Redwood National Park, which includes several California State Parks, Fern Canyon and the Trees of Mystery. The redwood forest is a must-see item on anyone's bucket list, and the iconic coastal scenery should not be missed. From an overlook just two miles from the campground, we were 400 feet above the mouth of the Klamath River and were able to view dozens of sea lions on the river bank and and several whales waiting just outside the delta.
The park itself is clean and comfortable with many spacious pull-through sites, and all sites are on grass. They staggered RV's so that they occupied every other space, making the park very roomy. There are fire rings at seating areas overlooking the river and some of the sites had their own.
The laundry room had five washers and four dryers and was open 24/7, so there was no problem getting laundry done. It was a bit expensive, however, with two loads costing $10 for wash and dry. The bathrooms and showers were always open and clean.
Though open for only a few hours a day, there is a coffee shop/snack bar open on the premises.
Though its proximity to natural wonders and attractions is great, Klamath is a tiny, remote town and the closest grocery stores are 23 miles away in Crescent City. Though a nice drive, it is somewhat inconvenient.
The park itself has few amenities. There is no clubhouse, no pool or spa, no pool tables or game room, no tourist activities, no boats or water activities and no market. It is just your basic campground, and entertainment is clearly your own problem. It would have been nice to have a dock to fish off of or a beach to enjoy, since the park is right on the river's bank, but it is one of the swiftest rivers I have ever camped near. Perhaps any activities around or in the fast water would have been too dangerous.
Although their own park map shows four 50-amp sites, we were led to believe there weren't any at all, just 30-amp throughout the resort. Fortunately we did not need our A/C this early in the season. Parking on the grass was somewhat nice, though I did have to use blocks to level up. However, as the week went by, the tires not on blocks sank a bit, making us unlevel in the other direction. I would recommend placing supports under all wheels while leveling your rig.
You would think a grassy resort would be dog friendly, but Klamath River isn't. The lushest areas all had "No Pets" signs, there is no fenced dog run, and there many parts of the park that had thorns or stickers in the grass. I basically had to walk Lucy while staying on the gravel road the whole week.
The weather on the Northern California coast is cold, wet and dreary a great deal of the time. If you are only in the area for a short time, it will be hit-or-miss for sunshine and sightseeing, though only rain and high winds should keep you from enjoying the various redwood forests nearby. We decided not to visit the Trees of Mystery and its gondolas because of the fog -- often the marine layer simply doesn't burn off. I was hoping to have photos with other than white or gray skies and had to bide my time to get them.
The tourist attractions, as plentiful as they are, will be inundated by visitors starting around memorial Day and continuing through Labor Day. We chose the first week in May to avoid the crowds, but even then you could see the coming torrent beginning.
Even with the downsides and lack of amenities, I would highly recommend Klamath River RV Park for its proximity to some of the best sightseeing you can ever ask for. Words alone are just not adequate to describe the giant redwoods, the tallest and oldest trees on the country and some as tall as 35-story buildings. Come camp here and be prepared to be amazed all around you.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.