Idaho by the Numbers

We hiked three trails, swam in three lakes, soaked in three hot springs, stayed in three different campgrounds, got, er, one speeding ticket, and laughed too many times to count. After a busy summer season, I took a GoCamp trip of my own to Idaho with some girlfriends. There were three of us, which resulted in exponential fun. Here’s a recap of our trip by the numbers.

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Miles Driven: 1066 miles

We set off for our adventure from Portland, Ore. and drove to Stanley, Idaho, gateway to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. We stopped for provisions in Boise and then headed out Highway 55 to Banks, where we turned right on the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway to go through Lowman and on to Stanley via Highway 21, all of which had the benefit of jaw dropping scenery.

GoCamp will have camper vans available for pick up in Boise, Idaho during the 2019 season, so if you’d prefer to fly into Boise (as some of our crew did), that’ll be an option for you soon.  

Campgrounds: 3

When we first arrived late Friday afternoon, the campgrounds at Redfish Lake were already taken, so we kept going to Alturas Lake and the North Shore Campground. Best decision we ever made. Next year I’ll suggest we drive another two miles down the main access road to the Alturas Inlet Campground because it seemed to offer a little bit better beach access and was nestled near a charming meadow.  

 Chinook Bay Campground, Alturas Lake.

Chinook Bay Campground, Alturas Lake.

After Alturas Lake we tried our luck at Redfish Lake again and scored a perfect spot (#4 I think) at Chinook Bay Campground. This campground is the first you come to on the right as you enter the Redfish Lake complex. It is quiet, lovely and boasts its own beach on Little Redfish Lake, away from the hustle and bustle of it’s bigger namesake.  

Pine Flats Campground, in the Boise National Forest along the Banks-Lowman Highway (the same scenic byway mentioned above), was our final stop. The trail to a beautiful hot spring starts in this campground, which gave us all the reason we needed to stop here on our last night. Nestled along the South Fork of the Payette, the forest across the river from the campground is recovering from a fire. I found the look of black, charred trees against new growth to be stunning.

Hikes: 3

With over 700 miles of trail in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the biggest problem is choosing which hike you’ll do. We were interested in jumping into alpine lakes, so we let the presence of a lake guide our selection.

 The alpine lake at the end of Cabin Creek Trail.

The alpine lake at the end of Cabin Creek Trail.

We hiked the Cabin Creek Trail, the Bench Lakes Trail, and Saddleback Lake Trail. Of the three, Saddleback was the most strenuous and required really paying attention to cairns and other trail markings, but was well worth all the scrambling over boulders off trail.

Lake Swims: 3

Not counting Alturas Lake, where we camped for two nights, we jumped in three alpine lakes, one during each hike above!

Hot Spring Soaks: 3

That Idaho has so many hot springs, one around every corner it seemed, was a revelation to me. Boat Box Hot Spring made us giddy, with its cauldron off the side of the road along the Salmon River, and the two pools at Pine Flats Campground mentioned above made it hard to leave Idaho. Pro tip: while at Pine Flats Campground head down the trail to the hot springs just before dusk so that the light is just so over the river as you soak. 

 Trail to one of two pools at Pine Flats Hot Springs.

Trail to one of two pools at Pine Flats Hot Springs.

Idaho, we’ll be back for more, much more.  

Photo credit: Shawn Linehan

 

Roofus the SagVan

Roofus’ license plate reads SAG Van – as in support vehicle. And this rig is true to its name. It’ll haul all your gear, your bikes, and your friends or children as it did recently on five nights of fun in Northern California. Here’s a sample itinerary to consider for a trip in Roofus. 

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Day 1

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and Drive 3.5 hours north of San Francisco to Russian Gulch State Park. Just north of Mendocino, Russian Gulch State Park combines a three-mile leafy canyon with windswept headlands and pristine beaches. Along the coast, waves crash into a collapsed sea cave called Devil’s Punchbowl, and the photogenic Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge rises gracefully 100 feet from the bottom of the gulch.

Consider hiking the Fern Canyon Trail. You’ll start out with an enchanting 2-mile stroll along Russian Gulch Creek to a fork in the trail. If you continue on the left fork, you’ll arrive at a 36-foot waterfall in only 0.7 miles. In fact, Fern Canyon is an unforgettable natural wonder that Steven Spielberg chose as a location for Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World!  

Day 2

Continue north, and as you do, check out Glass Beach, popular for glass polished by waves, tidal pools, and scenic views. Tonight you’ll stay at Salt Point State Park where rocky promontories, panoramic views, kelp-dotted coves, and the dramatic sounds of pounding surf will greet you. Pack some warm clothes though, even in summertime it can be cool here as fog hugs the coastline and ocean winds chill the air. And here’s a bit of trivia for you: sandstone from Salt Point was used in the construction of San Francisco's streets and buildings during the mid 1800's. If you look closely at the rocks at Gerstle Cove, you can still see eyebolts where the ships anchored while sandstone slabs were loaded onboard.

Day 3

The King Range National Conservation Area is one of the most spectacular and remote stretches of coastline in the continental U.S. It stretches along 35 miles of the northern California coastline about 60 miles south of Eureka and covers 68,000 acres along an abrupt wall of mountains rising 4,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. 

There are six designated campgrounds in the King Range: Mattole, Honeydew Creek, Horse Mountain, Tolkan, Nadelos and Wailaki. Campsites are first-come, first-served and open year-round. When Roofus’ owner did this trip he stayed at Tolkan, a first come first served campground with easy access to great mountain biking trails and even a small terrain park. 

Day 4

You’ve filled up on beach vistas; it is time to head inland. Located on land donated by former lawyer, entrepreneur and state senator, Arthur W. Way, the A. W. County Park sits on the Mattole River and offers camping and some fantastic swimming spots in the Mattole River. Do this trip in summer time and you’ll want to jump right into the river. Or jump in no matter what time of year, good swimming holes are hard to come by!

Day 5

Either on your way to your next campground, or on your way back to San Francisco tomorrow, you should add the Avenue of the Giants to your itinerary. This famed road, easily the most scenic drive among the redwoods, has been called the finest forest drive in the world. Lined bytitan trees, the 31-mile Avenue parallels Highway 101 and offers an excellent alternate (and slower) route through southern Humboldt County. Mostly flat with gentle curves, it passes secluded forest hamlets, campgrounds, picnic areas, and access points to the Eel River, a federally-designated Wild & Scenic waterway with idyllic swimming, fishing and paddling spots. Numerous trailheads can be found along the Avenue, each leading into the magical redwood forest.

Albee Creek Campground is located 5 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road, in the western portion of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Open mid-May through mid-October, this 40 site family campground adjoins Rockefeller Forest and offers beautiful scenery, wildlife, and an incredible night sky. Situated on an old homestead, the campground has both second growth redwood forest and open meadows. Albee Creek is very popular, and the campground is often full in the summer season. Site-specific reservations are available from just before Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Reservations are recommended. 

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Day 6

Time to head back to San Francisco and go back over that glorious bridge.

To rent Roofus, click here or the Reserve Now button above. 

Photo credit: Via the Van.

 

Vanna Delights

After grabbing the keys and taking a tour of Vanna (she was a beaut and everything we could have asked for), we hit the road to Cannon Beach.... This trip itinerary comes to us from Sarah Valencia and Adam Pellegrino, two happy campers that took Vanna (a Nissan conversion van) out for an adventure in Oregon. Thanks for all the tips Sarah!

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 DAY ONE: Portland, Cannon Beach, Pelican Brewing

We hopped on a late night flight from Denver the day before and crashed at a nearby no frills hotel in Portland. After getting some much needed shut-eye, we woke up to a text from Vanna's owner, Tracy, saying to head on over whenever to pick-up our camper van. To say it simply, we were absolutely stoked. After grabbing the keys and taking a tour of Vanna (she was a beaut and everything we could ask for), we hit the road to Cannon Beach.

There were so many options for places to explore on the Oregon coast but Haystack Rock was at the top of the list. The drive to the coast was incredible. The lush trees and winding roads with Tom Petty on the radio gave me some serious adventure feels. Arriving at Cannon Beach, we walked the small town along the coast, grabbed some beers at Pelican Brewing and made a dinner to take down to the beach and catch the sunset. The wind, the golden light, the massive rock formation with the waves crashing against it... it's something forever imprinted in my memory.

DAY TWO: Lost Creek Campground in Mt. Hood, Burnt Lake Trail

We hit the road early in the morning and headed east towards Mt. Hood National Forest to grab a spot at Lost Creek Campground. Our campsite was perfectly tucked away in the towering trees with other campers scattered far enough away that you felt like no one else was around. We popped the top on Vanna and made some lunch before heading to Burnt Lake Trail for some hiking.

Vanna really has all the things you could need in a camper van. The stove + sink combo pulls out of the van so you can have more room to cook or wash dishes. Attached to that is a table that pops up if you need more cooking space. Inside is a convertible couch + bed so it's perfect for an easy sitting or sleeping option. Not to mention, Vanna is stocked with all your cooking and camping needs. 

Hiking into Burnt Lake Trail makes you feel like you have walked into a different time and place with the huge trees and peaceful forest. A storm lingered overhead with thunder booming through the mountains as we trekked through our hike. It was a total surreal adventure. With tired legs and the sun creeping down the sky to set, we headed back to Vanna to make dinner and relax around the campfire. Lost Creek was honestly one of my favorite campgrounds. It was tucked away right by the creek and you could hear the rushing water right outside the camper van. Best night’s sleep a girl could ask for.

DAY THREE: Mt. Hood Roasters, Trillium Lake, Salmon River Trail

We woke up early to head to Trillium Lake to get our kayak rentals for the morning. With not a ton of time to make coffee (like I said, it was a solid night's sleep) we stopped off at Mt. Hood Roasters to try out the local coffee spot. We rolled up to Trillium Lake just in time to catch Mt. Hood’s reflection on the lake in all her bluebird glory.

After some kayaking, we took Vanna down a windy road to Salmon River Trail. I thought the trees at Lost Creek were massive, but these by far were the biggest I'd seen. As the wind blew through the forest you could hear the creak of the trees swaying and the moss fluttering off them. Of any trail, this one stole my heart. 

It was our last night with Vanna staying at Trillium Lake Campground. We made a feast of a dinner and then made our way down to the amphitheater to check it out. We took Vanna down and around the lake to watch the sunset on Mt. Hood. It was an evening for the books and an epic way to end our road trip.

DAY FOUR: Portland

Our time with Vanna was coming to a close so we made some coffee and hit the road back to Portland to return Vanna. Oregon really is one incredible place. With lush forests, peaceful hikes, beautiful mountains and the most friendly, chill locals... it was more than I expected in every way. I have a feeling that Oregon will be a place I'll be visiting again soon and I will definitely be taking Vanna for another spin. 

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To rent Vanna, click here or the Reserve Now button above.

Photos: Sarah Valencia

Classic California in the Marin Mountaineer

The Marin Mountaineer, a sweet Eurovan Camper, is located in Tiburon, just north of San Francisco. That means you’ll get to cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on your way to pick it up.

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Right after Luke and Willa picked up the Marin Mountaineer they headed for the Marin Headlands, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, so they could watch the sun rise over San Francisco. From there they stopped by a favorite surf spot at Fort Cronkite before meandering up Highway 1. Luke and Willa’s route took them over Mount Tamalpais, through Stinson Beach, and along the coast to Wright's Beach, where they nabbed a campsite right on the beach (even without a reservation!).

Luke reports, “For anyone looking to escape the city or see NorCal within a short drive of San Francisco, the drive up the coast to Wright's Beach is about as laid back and beautiful as it gets!”

The next day, Luke and Willa headed back down the coast to Point Reyes, a protected National Seashore that has amazing views and limitless places to explore.  Pressed for time, they then headed home, but if you can add one more day to your adventure in the Marin Mountaineer, Luke suggests you linger in Point Reyes, explore the lighthouse, and consider stopping in at Nicks Cove, a little seafood restaurant on Tomales Bay that has great lobster rolls.  

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Head here to read more about Luke and Willa's trip in the Marin Mountaineer. Repeat their itinerary (it's a good one!), or plan your own. To reserve Marin Mountaineer, simply click here or the Reserve Now link above. 

Photo credit: ViatheVan

Six Nights in Oregon

Renters on the Road: Jamie and Richie Staggs rented the van called Tilly Jane for a six night adventure in May. They covered the beach, sand dunes, forest, hot springs, waterfalls, hikes, high desert, mountain lakes, and an iconic lodge in an 800 mile sprint around the state. Luckily for you, Jamie shares highlights, and great photos, from their trip below.

 Day One: Nehalem Bay State Park

Day One: Nehalem Bay State Park

DAY ONE: Portland, Stumptown Coffee, Cannon Beach, Nehalem Bay State Park

We flew into PDX the evening before and stayed at an AirBnB. The next morning we headed to Stumptown Coffee Roasters, where the coffee was as good as I'd hoped it would be. From there we picked up our camper van, loaded up with groceries and headed to our first stop, Cannon Beach.

Cannon Beach represented the first time I have ever seen the Pacific Ocean and our campground, Nehalem Bay State Park, blew my mind! I cannot emphasize enough how STUNNING this campground is. I had read lots of good reviews on it, but it even exceeded those. The sunset there was just breathtaking and I'd stay there a million times again. The campground was full but didn't feel full. The bathrooms and grounds were clean, but the real gem is #thatbeach. The combination of grasses and dunes and mountains in the background.... #15starsona5starscale.

DAY TWO: Depoe Bay, Seal Rock, Newport, Beachside State Park, Yachats

We headed down the coast and stopped at Depoe Bay, Seal Rock, and ultimately Newport, where we saw sea lions (which were the best things ever). We ate lunch at Newport Diner, which was good (and inexpensive which was a plus) then stopped at the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Devils Punchbowl.

We camped at Beachside State Park, which was quiet, pretty and had hookups. After setting up camp (which with a campervan is easy), we decided to go to Yachats. First off, it’s pronounced ya-hots. Secondly, oh my wow. So pretty; this is a must stop destination for sunset.  

DAY THREE: ATVs in Winchester Bay, Susan Creek Campground

Day three brought the event Richie had been looking forward to the most: ATVs in the dunes. We picked Ridin Dirty ATVs in Winchester Bay and highly recommend them. You pick out your ATV, then the sweetest lady ever hauls them to the dunes, drops you off and picks you up when you are done. These dunes were way bigger than I thought they'd be! This was definitely a highlight of the trip and another must do if you are in the area!

After the ATV experience we stocked back up on groceries in Reedsport and headed east towards Umpqua National Forest. Our campground choice for that night was a gem of a place: Susan Creek. This gorgeous campground has a catch though. While there are a few sites you can access without a reservation, the prime spots must be reserved at least three days in advance. Reservation or no, we gave this place the best rating for showers! There is lots of hot water and each shower is in its own "room" so it isn’t the typical "stall shower" concept. Again, highly recommend: no hookups, but you get a spa-like shower experience and a killer view out the back of your campsite.

DAY FOUR: Umpqua National Forest, Toketee Falls, Umpqua Hot Springs, Diamond Lake Viewpoint

We headed into the Umpqua National Forest and our first stop was Toketee Falls. It’s a short hike to the falls (after parking in a well-marked parking lot, just look for the gigantic pipe). While the falls were gorgeous from the viewing platform, we decided to rock climb to the bottom with the assistance of ropes already there (very helpful!). Once at the bottom of the falls it was so pretty! 

Next stop: the Umpqua Hot Springs. While en route it is not well marked, once you do find it, the parking lot is very well marked! We made a mistake and tried to make our environment "fit" the directions and we ended up on a nice, but long, hike down the North Umpqua Trail. After three miles in we turned around and hiked back. This threw off our schedule for the day, and gave me a blister, but Richie agreed to keep looking for the springs and we found them!

After leaving the hot springs, we stopped at the Diamond Lake Viewpoint on the way to Crater Lake and saw some gorgeous mountains and some super cute chipmunks. Then long story short, the North Entrance was closed to Crater Lake and we didn't have time to get to the South Entrance and back again to get to Bend by 8pm so we made the sad decision to skip Crater Lake. We headed on to Bend to see my aunt and uncle and had a great night sleep at their house (and got to wash all our stuff and have nice showers!). 

DAY FIVE: Bend

We went to Tumalo Falls, then to Sisters for lunch, then we got to do a tour of Deschutes Brewery (maker of Richie's favorite beer!), then had dinner at a food truck area in Bend. Bend is a gorgeous city!

DAY SIX: Smith Rock State Park, Trillium Lake Campground, Timberline Lodge

After a delicious breakfast at Nancy P's Bakery in Bend, we headed north to Smith Rock State Park. There we hiked the four mile long hike, Misery Ridge Trail, which was described as "very difficult.” We had the most gorgeous views during this hike and even saw a rattlesnake! Hikes are my favorite and this one did not disappoint. Like most things on our trip, I highly recommend this stop.

After hiking at Smith Rock, we continued north towards Mount Hood, stopping in Madras where we found a taco food truck that was delicious. Going through Warm Springs we saw wild horses, running as if they got the memo we would be driving by them at that time! Just north of Warm Springs the landscape changed a lot, going from plains to forest almost instantly. We had a reservation at Trillium Lake Campground, just open for the season. Our campsite was so pretty and the lake was gorgeous, but sadly it was cloudy, cold, and we could only see the very bottom of Mount Hood. However, we got to see several bald eagles at the lake, so that was really cool! After dinner we decided to go to iconic Timberline Lodge for some warmth.  

DAY SEVEN: Back to Portland

After a cold night, we packed up to head to Portland and decided to stop back by Timberline Lodge. This visit was way different than the evening before. It was warm, sunny, and packed with snowboarders! We LOVED Oregon! It’s a state full of varied landscapes, ever-changing weather, and the nicest people. 

Editor's Note: And speaking of nice people,  meet the Staggs. Jamie and Richie were traveling in Oregon with their daughter Brittany and her boyfriend Luke. They covered approximately 800 miles in Tilly Jane, a Eurovan Camper, staying at a different place every night. Back home the Staggs are the duo behind Jagg Photography. All of these great photos are theirs.