Happy 100, Oregon State Parks!

In celebration of 100 years of Oregon State Parks, I thought I’d put together a post highlighting the Oregon parks we’ve had the pleasure of staying in. The Oregon park system is comprised of 254 parks with more than 100,000 acres. Oregon State Parks offers more than 50 campgrounds across the state, with the majority of them accepting reservations. We’ve had the opportunity to stay in seven of the park campgrounds during our travels, which I’ve briefly reviewed below. I cannot sing the praises of the Oregon park system enough. We’ve found most of them to be gorgeous and well maintained — and a few of these parks rank at the top of our favorite-places-we’ve-ever-stayed list. Check out everything the Oregon State Parks system has to offer, including making reservations, by visiting their website.

From east to west and then south, with regards to the above map, here are the places we’ve stayed:

Emigrant Springs State Park | Meacham, OR

This park gave us very mixed feelings. It’s a beautiful little park along the route of the Oregon Trail, and pays homage to that history with displays and ranger talks (in season). We spent two nights here end of September/beginning of October 2021 as we made our way west from Bozeman to drop the Airstream off at Ultimate Airstreams in the Portland area. We had one of the 16 full hookup sites, 5 of which are open year round. There are also 32 sites with no hookups. Amenities include restrooms with individual shower rooms, firewood for sale, cabins for rent, and horse sites. The campground is small and wooded and VERY pleasing to the eye. The ears, however, not so much. With the convenient access right off I-84 comes a lot of noise. Like A LOT. Of the 122 different overnight locations we stayed with the Airstream, this was probably the loudest. It’s so unfortunate, because it really is a beautiful park, but some of the sites actually back right up to the interstate. Another issue with this park is packrats. We had never heard of packrats being an issue outside of the Southwest, but noticed multiple people with their hoods popped, including the camp host. We asked him if there was a packrat issue and he said yes, they’re terrible. I would rate this park 3.5/5, deducting 1 star for the noise and .5 star for the packrats. To read more about our stay, check out this post.

Ainsworth State Park | Cascade Locks/Corbett, OR

We stayed at Ainsworth State Park for two nights right after our stay at Emigrant Springs. There are 40 full hookup sites here which I believe are all pull throughs. There are also a handful of tent and hiker/bikers sites. Amenities include restrooms with showers, firewood for sale, a dump station, and hiking trails. I’ll be honest — Ainsworth State Park does not compare aesthetically to the other Oregon parks we’ve visited. The campground could use a little love, but it was quiet, the restrooms were clean, and it’s in the perfect location to explore the waterfalls (including Multnomah Falls) of the Columbia River Gorge located along the Historic Columbia River Highway (U.S. 30). FYI, the campground is closed in the winter. I would rate this park 4/5 stars due to having full hookups and a great location despite its shlumpy appearance. To read more about our stay, click here.

Silver Falls State Park | Sublimity, OR

We had the pleasure of spending four nights at Silver Falls State Park in early November of 2021. Silver Falls is known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Park system and it’s easy to see why. Located about 65 miles south of Portland and 20 miles east of Salem, the park, including the campground, is a forested, mossy, waterfall wonderland that is meticulously maintained. It’s the largest state park in Oregon and has more than 24 miles of walking/hiking trails, 14 miles of horse trails, and a 4-mile bike path. Amenities include water & electric sites, a dump station, horse sites, group sites, cabins, a playground, and restrooms with individual shower rooms. The day use area of the park also has a restaurant, a gift shop, an off-leash dog area, and a swim beach. The main attraction in this park is the Trail of Ten Falls, which is a 7.2-mile trail that weaves through the forest to each of the 10 waterfalls in the park. When we stayed in early November, we were able to still enjoy the fall colors, but it was very damp and rained pretty regularly. Regardless, this park definitely finds itself towards the top of our favorite places stayed list and might just be our favorite Oregon State Park! This park definitely gets 5/5 stars, even though there isn’t much around it. To read more about our visit, check out this post.

Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park | Florence, OR

We stayed at Jessie M. Honeyman in mid-August of 2018. We had originally planned to visit Crater Lake, but due to a wildfire, we rerouted and booked 3 nights at this park on short notice. Our site was the only one available at the time. This campground is open year round and offers 47 full hookup sites, 121 sites with electric & water, and 187 tent sites. In addition, there are yurts, group sites, and hiker/biker sites available. So, it’s a pretty big campground, and VERY busy during the summer months. (According to a Campendium review, it’s also quite busy during the winter.) This state park is a few miles south of Florence, one of the nicest little towns you’ll find on the Oregon Coast. The lodge at the park’s Cleawox Lake offers various watercraft rental. But the draw for this particular park is the sand dunes. Access to the adjacently located dunes is available from H Loop of the campground. Guess what loop we were in? That’s right — H Loop! Seeing as we really needed a place to stay when our plans changed fairly last minute, beggars can’t be choosers, but H Loop is loud. Like, really, really loud. For this reason, and because our site was really difficult to back into (it was at the wrong angle), this state park campground may have been our least favorite state park stay ever. At any state park. However, I would like to point out that based on the reviews that this park has received on various platforms, pretty much everyone else loves this park. So, take my opinion with a grain of….sand, I guess. We’d rate this park as a 3.5/5, deducting 1 star for the noise and .5 star for the difficulty in accessing our site. But we loved the location in regards to Florence, which not only offers good food options, but is also home to Heceta Head Lighthouse, one of 11 lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. To read more about our stay and activities in this area, read this post.

Bullards Beach State Park | Bandon, OR

Bandon, home to Bullards Beach State Park, is another fantastic little coastal Oregon town that has everything you might need during a visit. We had a couple of wonderful meals during our stay, but it’s not just the town that’s great — Bullards Beach is another fantastic state park! We spent four lovely nights here in October of 2019. We had a private, level, back-in site with full hookups. The campground also offers yurts, a horse camp, hiker/biker sites, restrooms with showers, a dump station, and a trail to the beach. The 4.5-mile long Bullards Beach is accessed by a 1.25-mile paved trail from the campground. You’ll also find Coquille River Lighthouse about 3 miles from the campground. Our tranquil, quiet stay may have been due in part to the time of year we visited, but we felt so at peace at Bullards Beach and would recommend this campground to anyone. Obvi, 5/5 stars. To read more about our stay, including some great food options in the area, check out this post.

Humbug Mountain State Park | Port Orford, OR

Humbug Mountain is a really nice little campground with 90 sites; two-thirds tent, one-third RV. It also offers hiker/biker sites, restrooms with showers, a dump station, and a short trail to the beach which is basically a private beach for the campground because of how it is accessed. There are a few hiking trails that leave right from the park, including the Old Hwy 101 Scenic Trail, which is 2.6 miles one way and is part of the 425-mile Oregon Coast Trail. Port Orford has some of the prettiest coastal views, including the views from Battle Rock City Park right in town, as well as from Cape Blanco Lighthouse at Cape Blanco State Park. To read more about our time at Humbug Mountain SP, click here. This park gets a 4.75/5 from us, with a slight deduction due to lack of privacy between sites.

Harris Beach State Park | Brookings, OR

Harris Beach State Park is situated directly on the ocean along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline Oregon has to offer. This is a high-demand campground and with a handful of sites with ocean views, it’s easy to see why. The sites are spacious, with some offering full hookups and others water and electric. It’s a short walk down to the wild, sand beach with large rock formations. There’s a paved trail that leads into downtown Brookings from the park or it’s about a 5-minute drive. Brookings has all of the amenities you would need, including some restaurants and breweries. This campground gets a solid 5/5 from us. To read more about our stay at Harris Beach, check out this post. There’s a lot of natural beauty to explore in the area, so just hop in the car and drive! Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park is only about a half hour drive.

While the state of Oregon is home to 254 state parks, coastal Oregon is home to 36. Thanks to the 1962 Beach Bill, the public has free, unrestricted access to all of the state’s beaches. The 36 state parks (averaging one every 10 miles) found driving down the 101 allow for numerous places to pull off to enjoy the view, picnic, use a restroom, or stroll on the beach. The 362 miles of Oregon Coast is really the perfect place for a road trip. We spent four weeks on the Oregon Coast in July/August of 2018. Besides staying at the parks mentioned above, we also explored some of the state parks that don’t offer campground facilities, but do offer access to beautiful sights and recreational opportunities.

Shore Acres State Park | Near Coos Bay, OR

Shore Acres State Park was a delightful and unexpected little park located just south of Coos Bay. It was once the grand estate of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson and features a beautiful botanic garden. There’s a formal garden, a Japanese-style garden with lily pond, and two rose gardens. There are also trails, one of which leads to secluded Simpson Beach. There’s also an observation building, which sits where the Simpson mansion once stood, to protect you from the elements as you view the ocean, looking for whales.

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint | Near Tillamook, OR

Known for its lighthouse, stunning ocean views, and octopus-shaped Sitka spruce, Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is a must-see when driving the Three Capes Scenic Loop. The day we visited was quite overcast, but on a clear day, it’s possible to see sea lions, dolphins, or migrating gray whales. There are a few short trails through the forest, which also double as a National Wildlife Refuge.

Cape Blanco State Park | Near Port Orford, OR

Built in 1870, Cape Blanco Lighthouse is the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon coast, as well as the westernmost point in Oregon. According to the Oregon State Parks website, more than eight miles of hiking trails lead to the beach, viewpoints of ocean vistas, fishing spots along the Sixes River, and the lighthouse. The Historic Hughes House, built in 1889 for ranchers Patrick and Jane Hughes, is also a part of the park and available for tours. Cape Blanco State Park has a 52-site campground that also offers cabins, hiker/biker sites, and a horse camp. But hold on to your hats, because it’s regularly quite windy here.

Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area | Near Newport, OR

A popular surfing area, Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area is a day use park. The naturally carved bowl shape fills with water from crashing waves that then violently swirl, churn, and foam. The park is also a great area to view whales during migration season.

Seal Rock State Recreation Area | Near Newport, OR

While Devils Punch Bowl is located about 15 minutes north of Newport, Seal Rock State Recreation Area is located about 15 minutes south of Newport. The large rock formation in the picture below is actually not named Seal Rock, but Elephant Rock. The smaller rock formations to the left of Elephant Rock  (better seen in the second picture) are the Seal Rocks, where seals and sea lions used to gather regularly. To read more about where to see seals and sea lions in the wild along the Oregon Coast, read this article from the Travel Oregon website. Seal Rock State Recreation Area, however, is still a great place to explore tide pools and see sea birds. Or run along the beach with your dog, because as you can see from the pics below, even in the middle of summer, Oregon beaches are sparsely populated.

Brian Booth State Park | Near Newport, OR

Brian Booth State Park is located just north of Seal Rock State Recreation Area. The park is comprised of two distinct areas: Ona Beach (which is a day-use area with beach access) and Beaver Creek State Natural Area (a marshy area popular for kayaking). We only visited Ona Beach, but as you can see from the picture below, it’s another beautiful, somewhat otherworldly beach on the Oregon Coast.

As you can see, the Oregon State Parks system offers bountiful opportunities for great places to stay, a mix of recreational activities, and amazing views, whether they be forests, waterfalls, or rugged coastlines. Some Oregon State Park campgrounds are first come, first served, but most are on the reservation system (and reservations are highly recommended at those parks). Campsites become available at 6am PST six months in advance, so planning ahead may be required for summer stays at some of the more popular parks.

2021: A Year in Review

The beginning of 2021 found us in Bozeman, Montana, dealing with the first real winter we’ve experienced since we moved from Wisconsin to Southern California in 2011. Thanks to Covid, we decided to spend the winter in our condo that we purchased in July of 2020, instead of heading to warmer climes. Bozeman is as equally as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer, but after almost six months of cold and snow, we were ready to adventure again.

Our very first night back in the Airstream for the year was May 15th. We spent two nights at a nearby campground to get the rig de-winterized and to make sure everything was still functional after its long winter sleep. Besides needing to replace the propane tank hoses, all systems were a go! It was during this first outing that we started a new tradition we refer to as #CampfireSweatshirtSeries. Here’s a sneak peak, but I’ll share more about that later:

Without further ado, our year in numbers:

 

States Visited: 5 | Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and California – We weren’t able to add any new states to our Airstream travel map this year, so our total sits at 20. (And that’s where it will stay, but more on that later.)

Montana | Glacier National Park
Wyoming | Grand Teton National Park
Idaho | Craters of the Moon National Monument
Oregon | Silver Falls State Park – Sublimity, OR
California | Sue-Meg State Park – Trinidad, CA

Miles Traveled: 3,410 | We opted to stay mostly close to home this year and it really made for an enjoyable spring, summer, and fall to not be putting too many miles on.

Gallatin Gateway, MT | May 23

Nights on the Road: 100 | I’m actually pretty happy with this number, seeing as we spent almost the entire first half of the year in our condo.

Anthony Chabot Regional Park – Castro Valley, CA | November 15

Different Overnight Locations: 24 | We had a good mix of site types this year, with a fifth of our nights being spent in national park campgrounds; a healthy blend of city, county, & regional parks; four state parks, all in Oregon; a sprinkle of casino, Harvest Host, & fairgrounds stays; two different KOAs; and the remaining nights being spent in private RV parks/campgrounds.

Millsite Park RV Park – Myrtle Creek, OR | November 5 – 6
Emigrant Springs State Park – Meacham, OR | September 30 – October 2
Azalea Glen RV Park – Trinidad, CA | November 11 – 13

Total Site Fees: $4017.79 | That number is a combination of nightly/weekly/monthly rates, tax, reservation fees, and electricity. It comes out to an average of $42.72/night, which is much higher than we like to spend. However, our not-too-ridiculously-priced place where we usually spend the winter in San Diego County was closed for maintenance and the also-not-too-spendy backup wasn’t available when we first arrived, so we had to settle for one of the holy-crap-this-is-stupid-money RV parks for the last month and a half of the year.

Cheapest Site – $0.00 | Harvest Hosts at Milano Family Winery in Hopland, CA — November 13
Most Expensive Site – $86.15 | West Glacier KOA — July 12 – 15

National Park Service Sites: 6 (Officially) | We revisited a few of our favorite national parks – Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Redwood. We also added a new one in Pinnacles. We visited Crater of the Moon National Monument as well, and minus Redwood, our 20 nights in national parks campgrounds were spread across those 5 parks. We also made it to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but didn’t officially cross the bay to Golden Gate National Recreation Area. And one of our favorite places to visit this year was the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which is actually managed by the U.S. Forest Service as opposed to the National Park Service.

Grand Teton National Park (Stayed at Colter Bay Campground) | May 24 – June 4
Yellowstone National Park (Stayed at Mammoth Campground) | June 29 – July 2
Glacier National Park (Stayed at Fish Creek Campground) | July 8 – 12
Redwood National and State Parks (Stayed at Azalea Glen RV Park) | November 11 – 13
Pinnacles National Park (Stayed at Pinnacles Campground) | November 18 – 19
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (Stayed at Lava Flow Campground) | October 27 – 28
Golden Gate Bridge (Stayed at Anthony Chabot Regional Park) | November 14 – 18
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Stayed at Ainsworth State Park) | October 2 – 4

You can find information about all of the places we’ve stayed and traveled to in previous blog posts.

You can find wrap ups for previous years here: 2018, 2019, and 2020.

As I mentioned earlier, we started a new thing we refer to as the #CampfireSweatshirtSeries. For some reason, we decided to start taking campfire photos at every place we stayed (with a fire pit) while I sported a ‘Campfire Sweatshirt’. Are we weird? Yes. Do these pics bring me joy when I look back at them? Also yes. We have never shared these publicly before, so enjoy!

Cheers to us! at Colter Bay Campground | Grand Teton NP – May 28
Taking in the sights at Mammoth Campground | Yellowstone NP – July 2 (It was too hot for an actual fire.)
Bucks game at Fish Creek Campground | Glacier NP – July 8 (It was still too hot for an actual fire.)
#instahusband at West Glacier KOA | Coram, MT – July 13
Scrabbling at Emigrant Springs State Park | Meacham, OR – September 30
Fireside tea time at Ainsworth State Park | Corbett, OR – October 3
High five for starting a fire in what is essentially a rain forest! at Silver Falls State Park | Sublimity, OR – November 3
“There’s no one else I’d want to live in a 200sqft aluminum can with” at Harris Beach State Park | Brookings, OR – November 7
Caution: Hot at Anthony Chabot Regional Park | Castro Valley, CA – November 15
Our 20th national park at Pinnacles Campground | Pinnacles NP – November 18

We also did a Phase 2 of modifications at Ultimate Airstreams. You can read all about that here, but here are a few pics of what we had done:

We replaced the rounded sink and cabinet with a straight cabinet with new square sink.
This gave us much more room, especially in the area between the sink and the desk.
This of course required a new countertop, so we chose Corian’s rice paper color.
We also replaced the old Atwood stove/oven with a the new Furrion model. We love its look AND functionality!

On the personal front, we got on a plane in July for the first time in a long time to fly to Wisconsin to visit and spend time with family. We explored a lot of things we never got around to while living there, such as:

Lambeau Field Tour and Packers Hall of Fame – Green Bay | We’ve been to plenty of games and we’re even Packers shareholders, but Travis hadn’t done the tour since he was a kid and I had never done it, and neither of us had ever been to the Hall of Fame.

Harley Davidson Museum – Milwaukee | The museum is pretty great and has an onsite restaurant.

Lakeshore State Park – Milwaukee | This is a smaller, urban state park, but is nice for a walk along Lake Michigan.

While in Milwaukee, we were also able to catch the traveling Beyond Van Gogh exhibit…

…and check out Fiserv Forum a few hours before the Bucks won the championship!

Summer in Wisconsin can be pretty great!

We also flew to San Diego in September for our friends’ wedding. This trip actually felt like the kind of vacation we would take pre-Airstream life…

Speaking of pre-Airstream life…

While we didn’t put on a lot of miles this year and most of the places we spent the bulk of our time we had been to before, we really enjoyed our travels this year. However, towards the end of the year we officially decided to do something that we’ve been discussing for a looooong time — we’re selling the Airstream. There are many reasons that go into this decision and I’ll share them at some point, but for now, you can find more information regarding our rig at the blog post here, the RV Trader link here, the Airstream Marketplace link here, or the Airstream Hunter link here. If you are interested, please reach out. If you know someone who may be interested, please pass along our info.

 

Phase 2 at Ultimate Airstreams

We made our trek from Bozeman to Clackamas, Oregon at the end of September for one main purpose — to drop the Airstream off at Ultimate Airstreams. To read about where we stopped along the way, check out this post.

Whenever you tow, the weather is very important to take into consideration. Once we had decided that we were going to do some modifications at Ultimate, we needed to choose a date to start the project. We knew we wouldn’t be spending the winter in Bozeman, but in the San Diego area instead, and we knew that winter weather can start early in the northern Mountain West region, so we took both of those things into consideration. We ultimately decided that we should be safe leaving Bozeman at the end of September, taking the longer, flatter route to avoid mountain passes just in case Mother Nature decided to get winter started early at the higher elevations. We allowed ourselves 8 days to travel and enjoy the sights along the route to Clackamas. We dropped the Airstream off on October 4, a rainy Monday morning, and immediately hopped back in the truck and drove the absolutely gorgeous, shorter (750 miles vs 900 miles) route home. It took exactly 11 hours to get back to Bozeman and exactly one week later, we received our first snow fall. The timing really couldn’t have been better, as not only were we able to avoid snow, but also below freezing temperatures that would’ve required us to winterize the Airstream. Four weeks later, we packed up the truck, drove west once again where we were blessed with fantastic driving weather, spent a night in Spokane, and then continued on to Clackamas where we spent one more night before picking up the freshened up and fixed up Airstream.

By the way, this is our second project with Ultimate Airstreams, or ‘Phase 2’ as they dubbed it. To see what we had done during Phase 1, click here.

So, what did we have done this time? The major project during this phase was to replace the round, bumped out kitchen sink and cabinet with a straight one. Ian at Ultimate suggested this to us the first go round, as it would give us more space to move around, especially with the addition of the desk, but we said no. It didn’t take us long living with it to realize he was right, but we put the idea of another modification session off for a while. Like almost two years. If we were going to go in for a phase 2, we wanted to make sure we had a list of every possible item/issue that needed to be addressed.

We decided that if we were going to change the bumped out kitchen to a straight kitchen, we could change out the round sink for a square one. We also decided to replace the stock Atwood oven/stove combo with the newer Furrion model that now comes in the new Airstreams. Seeing as the Corian countertop was going to need to be replaced, we opted for the ‘rice paper’ color as opposed to the original (which has a yellowish tint), as it is a lighter, brighter color.

We also had two things addressed from phase 1. First, the bottom kind of fell out of one the drawers underneath the couch (our fault, not theirs), so they fixed that and reinforced it. Second, the arms of the couch had sharp edges, so we had them upholster those.

After that, it was just a list of maintenance items: Fix the hinge on the water heater door, replace the blind in one of the vista view windows, and fix the trim along one of the walls.

I did an absolute horrible job at taking before pictures, but was able to scrounge some up to show how some of the items looked pre-phase 2.

Before

After
Before
After

As you can see in the above photos, we now have so much more room between the desk and sink area. The original round design was actually not very good. That bumped out sink took up so much real estate and the round cabinet doors were literally falling off as we drove into Ultimate Airstreams parking lot on the day of drop off. We are so much happier with the straight cabinet design!

The rice paper color of countertop has little flecks in it to make it a little more interesting (and to hide crumbs better).

The previous oven had a metal door, so in order to look inside, it had to be opened. It also didn’t have an oven light, which the new Furrion model does. Besides looking much sexier than the previous, the new oven/stove also has a very functional safety feature. Whenever one of the knobs is turned on, whether it’s for a burner or the oven, the ring around it lights up red. This is a fantastic safety feature as it lets you know that there is propane actively flowing. With our past stove, one of the burners wasn’t shut off completely once and the propane detector ended up going off, so we’re very glad to have this feature.

One would think that replacing that large, round cabinet would mean losing storage space, but I think the storage is actually better now than before. Again, I didn’t take a before picture, but previously there was a small garbage can under the sink that took up a bunch of space. We didn’t use it for garbage seeing as we had a pull-out garbage can installed in the desk in phase 1. That being removed, plus the fact that this sink isn’t as deep as the previous and the builder was able to move the plumbing back further, really freed up a lot of space. They were able to design the little storage notch that you see in the bottom pic, which keeps bottle from moving around while we’re under tow.

Before

After

As you can see, after phase 1, the arms of the couch had sharp edges. I hit my back on that corner more times than I count, and when we decided to do phase 2, getting some padding on there was definitely a must for me. I’m really happy with the way it turned out, and so is my back.

Another successful project with Ultimate Airstreams is complete and they did a great job addressing the issues and maintenance items that needed to be taken care of!

 

Campgrounds/RV Parks near Ultimate Airstreams:

Pheasant Ridge RV Park – Wilsonville, OR

Ainsworth State Park – Corbett, OR

Portland-Woodburn RV Park – Woodburn, OR

Emerson Vineyards (Harvest Hosts) – Monmouth, OR

Silver Falls State Park – Sublimity, OR

All About Harvest Hosts

As we continued to make our way south in California, we stopped at Harvest Hosts site Milano Family Winery in Hopland, California for the night.

If you are unfamiliar with Harvest Hosts, you can visit their website for more information here. That link will also give you 20% off the annual fee for the life of your membership. The gist is that for one low annual membership fee, you get access to over 2,500 locations throughout the country that allow you to spend the night in your RV on their property for free. These locations can include wineries, breweries, farms, museums, golf courses, etc. You are expected to purchase something from the host, whether it be a bottle of wine, cheese, wool socks, admission tickets to the museum, etc. As the Harvest Hosts network continues to expand each month, some hosts are starting to offer amenities not seen in the past, such as longer stays or options for partial or full hookups. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to assume that you need to be a fully self-contained vehicle that does not need access to water, electricity, or sewer, as well as that your stay will consist of just one night. It seems many hosts have signed onto the reservation system available through the Harvest Hosts app or website, but some still prefer to be contacted via phone or email to arrange your stay. It’s important to keep in mind that these hosts are business owners whose first responsibility is their business and customers. They are not campground or RV park managers and these are not campgrounds or RV parks. Make sure to thoroughly read the instructions and rules of each host both on the Harvest Hosts website/app and whatever information the host gives you directly.

The two RV spots at Milano were located right off the highway in a gravel parking lot. There was plenty of room to maneuver, but they were a bit unlevel and had consistent road noise. We knew what to expect, though, as I had read a number of reviews in the Harvest Hosts app. After getting parked, we went in and did a wine tasting and purchased two bottles of wine. We sat at a picnic table while sipping our wine and enjoyed the menagerie of animals that call the winery home.

Back at the Airstream, we chatted with our neighbors for a while, who were also Airstreamers, albeit an Interstate van as opposed to a trailer.

Some of our favorite stays have been at Harvest Hosts, which are such a great option when you just a need a place to park for a night as you travel one place to the next:

Sanders Family Winery – Pahrump, NV – January 2019

Our very first Harvest Hosts stay was on January 1, 2019 at a beautiful and quiet winery located in Pahrump, NV. It was FREEZING, but our gracious hosts let us run our generator as the temp dipped down to 22 degrees that night. It may have been cold, but the views were beautiful!

Emerson Vineyards – Monmouth, OR – October 2019

According to the reviews, this is a popular stop that features live entertainment on Friday nights, though we were the sole RV on the Monday night that we stayed. We didn’t do any wine tasting, but did purchase a bottle of their award-winning Brother Red. Minus the sporadic distant gunshots, this was a peaceful, private stay where we were able to test our newly installed solar and lithium batteries.

Sentinel Ranch Alpacas – Belgrade, MT – August 2020

The alpaca ranch is located just outside Bozeman, Montana and is a very popular Harvest Hosts location. They graciously allowed us to film part of our House Hunters episode there that highlighted our transition from full-time Airstream living to part-time condo living. You can also visit the ranch sans RV, as they have a nice little gift shop and an area to pet and feed the alpacas.

Garvin Heights Vineyard – Winona, MN – September 2020

This was a lovely little winery that set us up in their parking lot. The weather was absolutely perfect, allowing us to leave our windows open all night to listen to the summery midwest sounds and get one of the best nights of sleep both Travis and I had had in a very long time.

Big Snow Resort – Wakefield, MI – September 2020

This was one of our favorite Harvest Hosts stays. The Sky Bar and Grille atop Big Snow’s Indianhead Mountain is open for most of the year, offering food and drink to be enjoyed on their expansive outdoor deck. Once we parked, we grabbed some drinks and a basket of fries and took in the view. We also enjoyed walking up and down the ski runs, enjoying the beautiful fall colors that started to settle in.

4e Winery – Mapleton, ND – September 2020

Another lovely winery setting with the nicest people! This Harvest Hosts is a particularly popular one, and we were thankful they had room for us. Even though the winery was closed on the day of our stay, Lisa allowed us, along with three other RVs, to stay and opened the tasting room for us. We made sure to thank her for her hospitality by purchasing a bottle of wine. They have a large, level open field for RVs to park in, and besides the hundreds (thousands?) of crickets jumping around, it was a very peaceful evening.

That’s a wrap on some of the great places we’ve stayed through Harvest Hosts! It’s a great program that we love to utilize whenever we can.

Harris Beach State Park on the Southern Oregon Coast

Harris Beach State Park is situated directly on the ocean along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. It’s another one of Oregon’s fantastic state parks that’s well kept and in high demand. Our site was a nice blacktopped site with water and electric hookups that just fit our 28′ Airstream and truck. In addition to the tent and water/electric sites, there are 63 full hookup sites, some of them offering pretty great ocean views (site A20 and vicinity). It’s a short walk down to the wild, sand beach with large rock formations. There’s a paved trail that leads into downtown Brookings from the park or it’s about a 5-minute drive. Brookings has all of the amenities you would need including some restaurants and breweries — be sure to check out Black Trumpet Bistro for some delicious food! There’s a lot of natural beauty to explore in the area, so just hop in the car and drive. The coast is absolutely gorgeous here and it’s only about a half hour drive to Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Campground Stats

Name: Harris Beach State Park

Address: 1655 Chetco Ave, Brookings, OR 97415

Website: www.oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com

Dates Stayed: November 6, 2021 – November 11, 2021

Site: B33

Rate: $30.00

Speed Test: AT&T – 68.7 Mbps down/2.82 Mbps up; Verizon – 17.2 Mbps down/7.26 Mbps up

Amenities:

  • Mix of FHU, W&E, and Tent Sites
  • Yurts
  • Hiker/Biker Sites
  • Restrooms with Individual Shower Rooms
  • Dump Station
  • Picnic Table
  • Firepit
  • Firewood for Sale
  • Playground
  • Recycling Center

A Great Spot for a One-Night Stop in Myrtle Creek, Oregon

We expected rain on our travel day from Silver Falls State Park to our one-night stay in Myrtle Creek, Oregon, but we were blessed with a beautiful, dry travel day. So much so that we almost kept driving to at least Grants Pass. No rain this time of year is a gift, and Interstate 5 is a bit curvy with some grades in this area, so we considered driving further, even discussing driving all the way to our next destination of Harris Beach State Park on the coast. However, after about three hours of driving, we decided to pull off at our intended stop and enjoy being able to set up for the night without having to do deal with any rain for a day.

Millsite Park RV Park, aka Myrtle Creek RV Park, is located in a lovely little city park. Even though the location is a short distance off I-5, it’s very quiet. There are only 14 sites, one of them occupied by the camp host, but all are pull throughs with full hookups, which is something we needed after being without a sewer hookup for the previous four nights. Our site was long and level, which made for the easiest set up we’ve had in a while. I believe I called two days before our arrival to secure a reservation, which I’m glad I did. When we showed up, there were a handful of empty sites, but by nightfall, they were all occupied. We actually saw one person turned away, so I’m assuming they showed up without a reservation, but all of the sites were already spoken for.

RV Park Stats

Name: Millsite Park RV Park or Myrtle Creek RV Park

Address: 441 SW Fourth Ave, Myrtle Creek, OR 97457

Website: www.cityofmyrtlecreek.com

Dates Stayed: November 5, 2021 – November 6, 2021

Site: 5

Rate: $25.00

Speed Test: AT&T – 133 Mbps down/11.1 Mbps up; Verizon – 38.2 Mbps down/0.95 Mbps up

Amenities:

  • Pull-Through Sites
  • Full Hookups
  • Picnic Table
  • Yurt
  • Dump Station
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Adjacent to Disc Golf Course

The adjacent city park has a nice trail that circles it and we were able to get a few laps in after getting the Airstream set up. There’s also a coffee shop, Mexican restaurant, and various other businesses within walking distance.

Millsite was a perfect little respite for the night!

We might have a new favorite Oregon State Park!

Silver Falls State Park is known as the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Park system and it’s easy to see why. Located about 65 miles south of Portland and 20 miles east of Salem, the park, including the campground, is a forested, mossy, waterfall wonderland that is meticulously maintained. It’s the largest state park in Oregon and has more than 24 miles of walking/hiking trails, 14 miles of horse trails, and a 4-mile bike path. When we stayed in early November, we were able to still enjoy the fall colors, but it was very damp and rained pretty regularly. Regardless, this park definitely finds itself towards the top of our favorite state parks list.

Campground Stats

Name: Silver Falls State Park

Address: 20024 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, OR 97385

Website: www.oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com

Dates Stayed: November 1, 2021 – November 5, 2021

Site: B30

Rate: $28.00

Speed Test: AT&T – 122 Mbps down/10.3 Mbps up; Verizon – 77 Mbps down/9.95 Mbps up

Amenities:

  • RV Sites with Water & Electric
  • Tent Sites
  • Horse Camp Sites
  • Group Sites
  • Cabins
  • Dump Station
  • Restrooms with Flush Toilets
  • Individual Shower Rooms
  • Firewood for Purchase
  • Picnic Table
  • Fire Pit
  • Playground

Our campsite was an extremely long (83 feet) back-in site with an electric and water hookup. The sites are paved, which is great with all the rain the area receives. We stayed fairly late into the season when the campground wasn’t very busy, so it was peaceful and quiet. A handful of deer seem to call the campground home as we saw a few wandering about every day. I popped into the restrooms to check them out and they were super clean, which is impressive considering all of the rain and pine needles that must get tracked in but there was no trace of. The showers are individual shower rooms and were equally as clean. We used a vault toilet at the North Falls trailhead and even that was super clean – like, the cleanest vault toilet I’ve ever seen.

The main draw to Silver Falls is the abundance of waterfalls, ten of which you can enjoy if you traverse the Trail of Ten Falls. I’ve seen the length of this trail posted as both 7.2 miles and 8.7 miles, and seeing as we only did bits and pieces of the trail, I’m not sure which is more accurate. There are also other multiple shorter loops and out and back trails that lead to some of the falls, so it is definitely not necessary to do the entire Trail of Ten Falls in order to enjoy this park.

This park/trail map is from the Oregon State Parks website:

On our first full day in the park, the rain held off for a while and we were able to visit the South Falls area of the park. This part of the park is home to a café, a store, restrooms with flush toilets, a swimming area, an off-leash dog area, and a starting point for three of the park’s trails: the Rim Trail, the Canyon Trail, and the Maple Ridge Trail. This is also where you will find the park’s most visited waterfall, South Falls. South Falls is the second largest falls in the park at 177’ tall, just one foot shy of the tallest falls, Double Falls. While there is a very short walk to a viewing platform, South Falls is best enjoyed by taking the 1-mile loop that will take you on a path down behind the falls, across a bridge at the base of the falls, and loops back up to where you started.

On our second day of exploring, we drove to the North Falls trailhead. From here we did a short out and back to North Falls, where again you can follow the trail to behind the falls. You can continue along the trail, which is the Canyon Trail and part of the Trail of Ten Falls loop, but we opted to walk back towards the parking area and follow another short out and back to Upper North Falls. My watch measured these two little out-and-backs as 1.37 miles total, but the park lists it as 1.8. I guess it depends how far past North Falls one goes in order to determine the length.

As the names suggest, North Falls is on the north-ish (more east) end of the park and South Falls is on the south-ish (more west) end of the park. As we drove from North Falls back towards the campground on the south end of the park, we stopped at the Winter Falls trailhead. We hiked the short distance to Winter Falls and then, again, returned to the trailhead. This little roundtrip was less than a half mile, so again, another very doable length to view a beautiful waterfall. If you continue past Winter Falls, you’re able to access the most remote falls in the park: Middle North Falls, Drake Falls, Lower North Falls, and Double Falls. From what I can tell from the map, this hike would be around two miles round trip.

We ended up extending our stay one night in order to avoid a travel day consisting of high winds and lots of rain, which is a pretty typical weather situation for this time of the year. Most of the day was spent inside the Airstream, but the rain did let up for a little bit, so we drove back over to the South Falls area so we could walk around and get a little exercise. There were only three other cars in the parking lot, so if you want the trails and waterfalls all to yourself, then visit while it’s raining.

Even though we stayed at Silver Falls State Park during a fairly rainy part of the year and things were quite damp, we really enjoyed our stay. A visit during the latter part of the year allowed us to enjoy the fall colors, as well as a campground and trails without very many people. I think some of the falls dry up during the warmer months, so it was nice to be able to experience them after the area received a decent amount of rain and the falls were flowing at a pretty good clip. I found myself often commenting out loud how beautiful everything was — the fog, the moss, the trees — it all felt somewhat magical!

 

Westward Bound to Oregon We Go!

We left Bozeman on September 26th to drive west towards Ultimate Airstreams in Clackamas, Oregon, where we were having some updates/upgrades and maintenance issues taken care of. We chose to take the longer, flatter route along US-191 south out of Bozeman to West Yellowstone, to US-20/US-26 west to Mountain Home, Idaho, and then northwest along I-84 to the Portland area. Our stops along this trip would include Juniper Campground in Ririe, Idaho; Lava Flow Campground at Craters of the Moon National Monument near Arco, Idaho; Abundant Life RV Park in Caldwell, Idaho; Emigrant Springs State Park in Meacham, Oregon; and Ainsworth State Park in Corbett, Oregon.

After a beautiful drive through Gallatin Gateway and the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park, we arrived at our first stop — Juniper Campground!

We only spent one night at Juniper Campground, which is a county campground located on the Ririe Reservoir (formed by the Ririe Dam). There are three loops, with Loop A being reservable, and Loops B & C being first come, first served. There are 60 RV sites, with most being full hookups, and there’s a good combination of pull throughs and back ins. A10, A12, and A14 have views of the reservoir, but these are three of the few sites without a sewer hookup. Our site was a fairly level pull-through site, though we did need to use levelers on one side. The hookups were well located and our site was surrounded by Juniper trees, giving us privacy from the sites around us. All sites have a picnic table and fire pit. Many of the back-in sites in A loop are fairly unlevel/steep front to back. C Loop has very long, wide pull throughs that will accommodate any size rig. We didn’t check out B Loop. There is a grassy area for tent camping. Each loop has a bathroom with showers. There are a few picnic pavilions throughout as well as a basketball court. There is boat access to the reservoir with the steepest and longest boat ramp I’ve ever seen. This campground was very quiet when we stayed and has a camp host that stopped by to give us his contact info and inform us about the gate, which is locked from 10pm to 5am (it does open from the inside if you need to leave during that time for some reason). This was our first night back in the Airstream in about two months, so we had some housekeeping to attend to in our brief overnight stay and we didn’t venture out anywhere except to get gas.

Campground Stats

Name: Juniper Campground

Address: 226 Meadow Creek Rd, Ririe, ID  83443

Website: www.junipercampground.com

Dates Stayed: September 26, 2021 – September 27, 2021

Site: A20

Rate: $25.00

Amenities:

  • Pull-Through Sites
  • Full Hookups Available
  • Reservation and First Come, First Served Sites
  • Tent Camping
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Picnic Table
  • Fire Pit
  • Basketball Court
  • Boat Ramp
  • Picnic Shelters
View of the reservoir from site A10.
Site A20 – Pull through with full hookups
Site A20 – We had a nice little ‘front yard’ that was private with a fire pit and picnic table.
Site A20 – A brief, but enjoyable stay.

Next, we ventured to Craters of the Moon National Monument for a one-night stay at first come, first served Lava Flow Campground. Lava Flow is the only campground located within Craters of the Moon and it’s a beaut! It’s the most well-maintained and well-manicured NPS campground we’ve ever seen. There are 42 sites, all without hookups. The road throughout the campground is narrow and there aren’t a lot of sites that can accommodate a large rig, or even a medium-sized rig. I would highly recommend stopping at the visitor center on your way in so that you can get a campground map and see what you’re working with. We ended up in Site 2, which is actually across the street from the campground, along with Site 1. Both of these are large pull throughs that can accommodate any size rig and will save you having to drive through the campground looking for a spot. Once you find a site, there is a pay machine at the entrance that accepts credit card only. You are able to pay for one night at a time. Our site had a picnic table and grill, but no fire pit. There are both restrooms with flush toilets and showers (seasonal) and vault toilets, as well as water spigots throughout the campground. There’s also a nice little amphitheater where I assume they do ranger talks and there’s access to the Crater Flow Trail right from the campground. It can get VERY windy, so don’t leave anything outside that could blow away.

Campground Stats

Name: Lava Flow Campground

Address: 1266 Craters Loop Rd, Arco, ID  83213

Website: www.nps.gov

Dates Stayed: September 27, 2021 – September 28, 2021

Site: 2

Rate: $15.00; $7.50 with Access Pass or Golden Age Pass

Amenities:

  • Pull-Through Sites
  • First Come, First Served
  • Water Spigots
  • Restrooms with Showers (Seasonal)
  • Vault Toilets
  • Amphitheater
Site 2 is a long pull through that’s a little steep to get into, but fairly flat and level once in the site.
Due to the side of the road site 2 is on, the door doesn’t open into the ‘yard’ area of the site.
You can see the entrance station in the background with the pay station across from it. Site 2 is directly to the left after passing through the entrance station.
The amphitheater is very well maintained and wheelchair/stroller accessible.

From the Craters of the Moon brochure:

Many lava flows exist on Earth’s actual moon, but astronauts confirmed that most lunar craters resulted from meteorite impacts, not volcanism. The craters of Craters of the Moon, however, are definitely of volcanic origin. But where is the volcano? These vast volumes of lava issued not from one volcano but from a series of deep fissures — known collectively as the Great Rift — that cross the Snake River Plain. Beginning 15,000 years ago, lava welled up from the Great Rift to produce this vast ocean of rock. The most recent eruption occurred a mere 2,000 years ago, and geologists believe that future events are likely.

Loop Road is a 7-mile scenic drive that provides access to trails that take you over, under, and around the various volcanic features of the park. Many of the sites are accessed by fairly short trails from the parking areas, or can even just be viewed from the parking areas themselves. This is definitely a park that can be done in one day, even if you choose to traverse the 3.6-mile (roundtrip) North Crater Trail.

As you can see below, the trailhead signs are very informative, but there are two things that cannot be referenced on the sign that ended up making us turn around at a little over a mile into the hike. 1) It was very dry during our visit. Like really, really dry. The humidity was 18%. That, along with the wind that didn’t ever seem to quit, just sucked all of the moisture right out of us, even giving us cotton mouth. We brought water with us on the trail, but by a mile in, we had already drank half of it, so we decided to turn around. 2) The sign lets you know about the cumulative elevation gain and loss, but does not inform you that this gain and loss continuously repeats along the trail. It’s possible that the continuous up and down of the trail wouldn’t be so noticeable if it was less windy and less dry (and we had more water with us). Regardless, this was a really great trail that had a lot of interesting views along the way and I’d highly recommend it.

You actually walk across lava flow fields while on the trail and the metal poles as seen below guide you.

It’s hard to grasp the size of this area, but there is person in a red shirt at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the inclined trail for scale.

Next, we stopped at Inferno Cone. It looks innocent from a distance, but there’s a pretty steep incline along a trail made of crushed lava rock that’s difficult to walk on, especially when the 30+mph winds are whipping it against any skin that’s uncovered.

The views from the top were pretty nice…

…but very, very windy.

We then continued along the loop to the Spatter Cones area. These are easily accessible along a paved trail.

Our last stop of the day was the cave area of the park. In order to enter the caves, you need to obtain a permit, which consisted of the person in the entrance kiosk stamping our pamphlet when we first entered the park. No one checked it before we entered the caves and it didn’t seem like they give out a limited number of permits, so I’m not really sure what the purpose is. Anyways, we didn’t feel the caves, which are actually lava tubes, were anything to write home about. They’re just caves, some more accessible than the others. I would recommend each person bring a headlamp as they’re, well, caves, and there’s not much for natural light. Seeing as bats live in some of them, you’re not supposed to wear anything into the caves that you’ve worn into any other caves in the last few years in order to prevent white noise syndrome being transferred to the bats.

I think they require a permit so that someone can ask you if anything you’re wearing has been in a cave recently, but there was no one actually checking for a permit at the trailhead.
Maybe because of the wind and dryness, but it felt like a very long walk out to the caves.
Indian Tunnel

We spent one night at Lava Flow Campground and that was enough to see everything. It was a very interesting place! Forewarning: Cell signal drops off basically right when you turn down the road to enter the park. It’s possible you might get a little something, but don’t count on it. Also, the last gas station coming from the east is about 20 minutes outside the park and about 30 minutes outside the park when coming from the west. When we visited, the North Crater Flow Trail, which is accessible right from the campground, was closed. This looked like a very nice, easy little trail with boardwalks that winds through some nice scenery. A ranger was set up outside the visitor center to answer any questions, as the visitor center and gift shop were closed due to “everyone being sick”. We always like to buy some souvenirs as reminders of our travels and to help support the parks, and I was able to do that by calling the Craters of the Moon Natural History Association. Their website is www.cratersofthemoonnha.org.

Probably the best feature of Craters of the Moon is that it has an International Dark Sky designation. It was definitely dark at night and we saw the most stars we’ve ever seen anywhere!

We continued west to Caldwell, Idaho, where we spent two nights at Abundant Life RV Park.

RV Park Stats

Name: Abundant Life RV Park

Address: 4924 Laster St, Caldwell, ID 83607

Website: www.abundantlifervpark.com

Dates Stayed: September 28, 2021 – September 30, 2021

Site: 30

Rate: $55.00; $49.50 with Military Discount

Amenities:

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Through Sites
  • Picnic Table
  • Wifi
  • Laundry
  • Bathrooms with Showers
  • Gym
  • Pond w/ Swim Beach
  • Enclosed Dog Park
  • Small Playground

This was a well-maintained, small park that seemed to consist mainly of full-time residents. Each site was kept nice and tidy, and the residents were very quiet. This RV park is in a commercial area and is surrounded by RV dealerships, car dealerships, a car wash, gas stations, and various other businesses. While the residents are quiet, the overall location isn’t. There’s a decent amount of traffic and train noise, but nothing so disruptive that it’s going to ruin your day or prevent you from getting a good night of sleep. Caldwell is a good-sized city, so has everything you would need, and also is home to a number of wineries, though we didn’t visit any. We actually didn’t leave the RV park except to get gas and pick up a pizza, as we stayed here during the week and had to work.

Site 30 is a pull-through site right across from the office at the front of the park.
Site 30 is an end site, so we didn’t have neighbors on our door side — just a nice little green yard with a picnic table.
Site 30 was level and the hookups were conveniently placed.

From Caldwell, we continued west (but mostly north) into Oregon, where we spent two night at Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area, aka Emigrant Springs State Park. This park is along the route of the Oregon Trail and pays homage to it’s location with some information displays throughout as well as ranger talks during the busier season.

Campground Stats

Name: Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area

Address: 65068 Old Oregon Trail Rd, Meacham, OR 97859

Website: www.reserveamerica.com

Dates Stayed: September 30, 2021 – October 2, 2021

Site: B25

Rate: $26.00

Amenities:

  • 16 Full Hookup Sites Available (5 Available Year Round)
  • Restrooms with Individual Showers
  • Fire Pit
  • Picnic Table
  • Firewood for Sale
  • Tent Sites
  • Group Tent Site
  • Horse Sites
  • Cabins
  • Community Building for Rent
  • Basketball Court

This is a beautiful, wooded campground that is extremely convenient when traveling along I-84. The sites are a decent length and fairly level. There are 16 full hookup sites, while the rest are without hookups. As most of the sites are pretty shady throughout, I’m not sure how well solar panels would help in the non-hookup sites. Five full hookup sites are available year round, though the water gets shut off in the winter. There is water available year round at the restrooms/shower house. The showers are accessed individually, which is always nice from a safety standpoint. There was a camp host on site and it appears there are usually two during the busier season. Wood is available for purchase for $5 for a cart load. This is a smaller park without a check-in kiosk, so it’s important to know your site number if you have a reservation.

Site B25 is a beautiful back-in site next to the bathroom.
Each site has a fire pit and picnic table.
Firewood is available for purchase.
Each cart load is $5.
The campground really is a beautiful little place.

While this campground is visually pleasing, it has two issues that make it less than optimal: 1) Interstate noise, and 2) Packrats. That semi in the picture below? Yeah, it’s on Interstate 84, which is a major thoroughfare. As you can see, the entrance to the park is literally yards away from the interstate. Some of the sites even have views of the interstate. One would think that all of the beautiful trees throughout the campground would help to buffer the interstate noise, but one would be wrong. The traffic noise is the loudest we’ve ever experienced anywhere we’ve stayed. It was not very enjoyable to sit outside, so while we spent night one outside for a few hours by the fire, we spent night two inside watching TV. Inside the Airstream, the noise was okay — it wasn’t too loud and didn’t keep us up at night. But outside — no bueno.

The second issue this campground has is packrats. Apparently. We’ve never known them to be an issue outside of the Southwest and none of the reviews on Campendium, The Dyrt, or Google mentioned them, but when we started noticing a few vehicles throughout the campground with the hoods propped open, we asked the camp host. According to him, the packrats are terrible. He’s been working at the campground a long time and has had multiple issues. While his most current truck has been untouched, he did have one making itself at home in his trailer somewhere. So, we propped open our hood at night and crossed our fingers. Thankfully, we had no issues, but because of the packrats and the traffic noise, we would never stay at this campground again. It’s a shame, because it really is a beautiful little campground that apparently existed for decades before the interstate came through. Now, it’s just not very peaceful.

The last stop on our trip to drop the Airstream off was the one I was looking forward to most — Ainsworth State Park. Ainsworth is located in the Columbia River Gorge. Our drive from Emigrant to Ainsworth was almost completely along the Columbia River and incredibly enjoyable. The weather was absolutely perfect and we had a very clear view of Mount Hood as we drove.

Campground Stats

Name: Ainsworth State Park

Address: E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett OR 97019

Website: www.reserveamerica.com

Dates Stayed: October 2, 2021 – October 4, 2021

Site: B7

Rate: $26.00

Amenities:

  • Full Hookup Sites
  • Pull-Through Sites
  • Fire Pit
  • Picnic Table
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Hiker/Biker Sites
  • Dump Station
  • Firewood for Sale
  • Hiking Trails

Our site was a pull-through with full hookups, a picnic table, and a fire pit. There’s really not too much else to say about it. The campground as a whole seems like it could use a little love, but it was a decent place to stay for two nights to explore the area, and we would definitely stay here again. While we were in B7, I would say that the best sites are probably A9 – A13, as they have nice views and a little more distance between sites than some of the others. They’re also set up a little further away from the highway. As with any campground in the Columbia River Gorge, there is both train noise and traffic noise, though nothing too bad. From the campground, there is a connector trail to the Gorge Trail #400, which runs for many miles throughout the Gorge area.

I poked my head into the bathrooms and showers to check them out and they both seemed very clean.

While Ainsworth State Park isn’t the most aesthetically desirable Oregon state park we’ve stayed at, its location makes up for what it lacks in beauty. This smaller state park is in the perfect location from which to explore the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge located along the Historic Columbia River Highway (U.S. 30).

This map is from the Waterfall Tour Loop pamphlet I found on the State of Washington’s DNR website.

At 620 feet, the two-tiered Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. It’s also the #1 natural tourist attraction in the Pacific Northwest. A short trail leads from the base of the falls up to Benson Bridge, which traverses the creek between the two cascades of the falls and gives a closer view of the upper, taller cascade. The Multnomah Falls Lodge, found at the base of the falls, offers a restaurant with a view of the falls, a snack bar, an espresso bar and a gift shop. The trails around the falls connect to several other Gorge trails that will take you to several other waterfalls. We visited on October 2nd and parking was still fairly limited at this time. There’s a bus called the Columbia Gorge Express that offers roundtrip transport between Portland and Multnomah Falls.

Some of the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway are visible right from the road while some require a little bit of a hike to get to them. We checked out two other falls while in the area, Wahkeena Falls and Horsetail Falls.

We actually parked at the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead when we visited Multnomah Falls, as we had driven to Multnomah Falls initially, but found parking to be nonexistent. We took the half-mile trail to Multnomah first and then returned on the same trail to then take the short trail up to the 242-foot Wahkeena Falls.

Like Multnomah Falls, the 176-foot Horsetail Falls is visible from the parking area right along the highway.

It seems as though there’s still a lot to explore in this area, such as hiking trails, more waterfalls, and the view of five mountains (Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Jefferson) from Sherrard Viewpoint on Larch Mountain — really don’t know how I missed that one when planning for this stop. I guess we’ll just have to make a return trip!

From Ainsworth State Park it was a short, albeit stressful (not a fan of driving through Portland), drive to drop the Airstream off at Ultimate Airstreams. We dropped it off early in the morning, were back on the road by 8:15am, and drove the 11 hours (we took the most direct route) back to Bozeman where we’re getting our condo prepped for our renters and packing up what we didn’t already pack into the Airstream. We’ll be spending this winter in warmer climes in the San Diego area and can’t wait! We’re also looking forward to seeing and experiencing the updates and modifications by Ultimate Airstreams that will make our Airstream life a little more comfortable.

 

A Synopsis of Our Second Year on the Road

Our second year as full-time Airstream dwellers/digital nomads/travelers has come and gone. We added a few new states to our travel map (North Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho), crossed the northern border for the first time (it won’t be the last time), and traveled 7,607 miles (just 61 miles less than last year). Our longest drive day was 377 miles and our shortest was 6.5 miles. We averaged $46.63/night in lodging costs, thanks to spending 45 days in a condo/hotels at various times throughout the year while our converter was fixed, solar panels were installed, and modifications were done to the interior.

We continued to learn more about ourselves, our Airstream, our country, and the nomadic lifestyle. Here’s a look back at our second year on the road:

We visited 13 National Park Service sites, with 8 of them being new to us:

Zion National Park
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Petroglyph National Monument
Pompeys Pillar National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument
Mohave National Preserve

We also revisited Death Valley, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, and Mount Rushmore.

With our return visit to South Dakota, we were able to conquer the remaining 3 sites of South Dakota’s Great 8, the other 5 of which we saw last summer:

Crazy Horse Memorial
Deadwood
Jewel Cave National Monument

The other 5 are Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the Missouri River.

We hiked, and hiked, and hiked…

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve | Desert Hot Springs, CA
Mollies Nipple Trail | Hurricane, UT
Hidden Falls Trail | Grand Teton NP
Little Devil’s Tower Trail | Custer SP – Custer, SD
Hidden Lake Trail | Glacier NP

and paddled, and paddled, and paddled…

Sand Hollow SP | Hurricane, UT
Jackson Lake | Grand Teton NP
Lake Louise | Banff NP
Moraine Lake | Banff NP

and soaked, and soaked, and soaked.

Lava Hot Springs | Lava Hot Springs, ID
Bozeman Hot Springs | Bozeman, MT
Catalina Spa RV Resort | Desert Hot Springs, CA

We chased waterfalls…

Kanarra Falls | Kanarraville, UT
Hidden Falls | Grand Teton NP
Bridal Veil Falls | Spearfish, SD
Johnston Canyon Upper Falls | Banff NP
Virginia Falls | Glacier NP

but we also stuck to the rivers…

Firehole River | Yellowstone NP
Colorado River | Moab, UT
Missouri River | Helena, MT

and the lakes that we’re (not) used to.

Utah Lake | Utah Lake SP – Provo, UT
Jackson Lake | Grand Teton NP
Lake Agnes | Banf NP
Avalanche Lake | Glacier NP
Moraine Lake | Banff NP

We drank beer…

Miner Brewing Co. | Hill City, SD
Nordic Brew Works | Bozeman, MT
Deschutes Brewery | Portland, OR
Firestone Walker Brewing Company | Paso Robles, CA

and wine…

Prairie Berry Winery | Hill City, SD
Michael David Winery | Lodi, CA
Glunz Family Winery | Paso Robles, CA

and cocktails…

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise | Banff NP
Sky Bistro | Banff, AB
Glacier Distilling Company | Coram, MT
Jake’s Del Mar | Del Mar, CA

and tea.

Lake Agnes Tea House | Banff NP
Portland Japanese Garden | Portland, OR

We rode a gondola in Palm Springs…

and one in Banff.

(Have I mentioned I don’t like gondolas?)

We saw where Forrest Gump ended his run…

Mexican Hat, UT

and where Thelma and Louise drove off a cliff.

Dead Horse Point SP | Moab, UT

We saw lots of wildlife…

Death Valley NP
Beatty, NV
Grand Teton NP
Grand Teton NP
Yellowstone NP
Glacier NP
Banff NP

and visited the geographic center of the country.

Belle Fourche, SD

We added four new tires,

Discount Tire | Albuquerque, NM

two new batteries,

AM Solar | Springfield, OR

four new solar panels,

AM Solar | Springfield, OR

and a couch and a desk.

Ultimate Airstreams | Clackamas, OR
Ultimate Airstreams | Clackamas, OR
Ultimate Airstreams | Clackamas, OR

We had visitors in Las Vegas; Hurricane, UT; Custer, SD; and Glacier National Park:

 

Our second year on the road was fantastically fun and memorable, even with the issues we encountered. (I’m looking at you flat tire and junk converter.) All of the inconveniences we deal with are by far worth the amazing places we get to experience. Thanks for following along and we hope you stick around for 2020, our third year on the road — although we’re not really sure what’s in store yet!

 

Marashah Arabians – Medford, OR

We spent four nights at Marashah Arabians, an Arabian horse farm in Medford with six full hookup sites. The horses are friendly and happy to say hi to both humans and canines. There’s an apple orchard next door, an organic farm with shop across the street, and a couple of cannabis farms (whose scent hangs in the air) up the road. Even though you’re in a country-like setting, it’s only a 6-8 minute drive to anything you might need.

The sites are back in and close together, but everyone was quiet and respectful.

We know Medford has a lot to offer, but besides a Target run and a trip to In-N-Out, we didn’t go anywhere. We worked a lot. We were tired. And honestly, we just did a bad job of checking things out. Life on the road isn’t always an amazing adventure. I guess it can be, if you force it to be, but sometimes we just want to relax and watch TV and do nothing. And that’s okay. We’ll do better next time, Medford!