Saturday 24 August 2013

Campground awards

From the top: Silver Creek, Summit Lake North (Lassen), Prairie Creek in Redwoods NP, Gualala River Redwoods, Calico. For some reason I have no picture of the DL Bliss ground; I must have taken it on the big camera instead of my phone. 

Best camp showers:
Prairie Creek. Big and clean, with hot water and soap in the toilets and electric lights. Surprisingly unbusy. Nasty hair clog in the drain but you can't have everything. At least I could adjust the temperature of the water, unlike at DL Bliss, where the handles had been removed. Summit Lake and Silver Creek didn't have showers and we didn't use the showers at Gualala River or Calico.

Best for wood:

Lassen. Loads of downed trees and no rules about gathering. Mr Z picked up his walking stick here, which he spent the rest of the trip honing.

Best bear box:
Silver Creek. Newest, I'd guess - it had a shelf in it so it was double layered. Bear boxes are a godsend for those of us travelling with the kitchen sink - mostly helpful for storing all our stuff while we drive around Doing Things, as well as keeping away bears. The worst was at Prairie Creek, because although it had a door at each end, they both stuck and made a horrendous noise opening and closing, and the whole thing was at an angle so the doors would swing shut on us every time we were putting away/getting out things.

Best fire rings:

Silver Creek, again. A good solid grill for putting over the fire, which is always appreciated. Calico and Gualala River didn't have grills; Prairie Creek and DL Bliss both had rather wide-spaced grills attached by chains, which are difficult to manouevre when they're hot.

Best for wandering:

Probably DL Bliss. There was a good hill nearby and lots of rocks for clambering over. Lassen was also excellent though - we walked all the way around Summit Lake on our second morning and some way up the hill, before fears of poison oak/bear activity sent us back down again.

Best host:
Silver Creek was friendliest. Prairie Creek was the most efficient - there were two pairs. We didn't see the hosts at Lassen or DL Bliss and had only the briefest encounter with those at Calico and Gualala River.

Best climate:

Lassen was the coldest - thermals and I was still cold. Prairie Creek was perpetually damp - everything we owned was damp by the end, including my knitting pattern, just from being outside. Gualala River was similarly damp; Calico was really hot - we slept with no fly sheet and no sleeping bags. That just leaves DL Bliss and Silver Creek. I guess the former has the edge because it wasn't quite so dusty. The ground was pretty uncomfortable though. I think Silver Creek probably wins the most comfortable ground award.

Best privacy:
Calico has to win because there was only us and 2 RVs on a 295 pitch site. I don't know that I'd recommend it, though. Prairie Creek was crowded - it books up months in advance, apparently, so I was really lucky to get a spot - and full of families but the dense undergrowth ensures privacy and dulls the sound somewhat. The Silver Creek and DL Bliss sites were quite private too. Gualala River should have been but a very large party of Mormons and their fridge freezer (I kid you not) were holidaying there so we were awoken by a screaming baby and then again by a small child running down the road screaming "CATCH ME!"

None of these campgrounds had an open shop (we were excited when we read that the Gualala River camp store offered free coffee until 10am for its guests but it remained resolutely closed for our entire stay); we were quite good at taking everything we needed with us each time, which was especially important at Lassen, which was probably the most remote.

I wouldn't go back to Calico - too hot, too uncomfortable - but any of the others might get a return visit from me.

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