Believe it or not we’ve made it to 2012! With 2011 speeding rapidly behind us (at an ever increasing rate, or so it seems) this is the perfect time to review the best of the best of sites that we stayed at last year (just like we did in 2010). In line with our “free-the-beast” camping style most of the spots we chose were public parks. In fact out of 62 total stops in 2011, only 5 were private parks, and all but one of those 5 were big city. It’s the way we like it ->loose and free in the wild with just a rare touch of civilization every now and then. Since SO MUCH of our camping was in the wilds I’m switching around a few of our catagories this year. Hope you enjoy them!
1/ Top 3 Camping Spots with a VIEW
We came across some simply spectacular views in 2011. In fact so many campgrounds made this list that I had to narrow it down to those that gave us true 360-degree views right from our RV site.
- Tuttle Creek, Lone Pine, CA -> Sweeping 360-degree views of Mt.Whitney and the Owens Valley, all for only $5/night. Wow!
- Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, NM -> Nestled in the Sacramento Mountains you have a fully open view of the valley with the mountains behind you. Oh, and sunset out your window too!
- Elephant Butte Lake State Park, NM -> Book a water-front site in the north campground for sweeping views of the lake with the mountains in the background. Gorgeous!
2/ Top 3 BEACH Camping Spots
We managed some great beach stops both in FL, TX and OR. It was hard to chose, but these 3 made the top of our list:
- St Joseph Peninsular State Park, Cape St.Blas, FL -> Remote and gorgeous with paw-friendly beach only ~1 mile away! We simply raved about this spot when we were there and it definitely makes our top list.
- Carl G.Washburne State Park, Florence, OR -> A hidden gem along the OR coast boasting both a dog-friendlly beach and an awesome lighthouse.
- Fort Stevens State Park, Astoria, OR -> Miles of beach, history, lake and trails all in one. And ALL of it paw-friendly too.
3/ Top 3 FOREST Campsites
When we’re in the mountains we LOVE the forest campgrounds and we managed some pretty gems in 2011. Here are my favorites:
- Canyon Rim, Flaming Gorge, UT -> What a spectactular spot! A mini-campground with only 7 RV sites just steps away from outstanding views of Flaming Gorge.
- Cayton, San Juan NF, CO -> We totally fell in love the remote Lizard Head Wilderness here and would come back in a heartbeat. You’re next to river, mountains and days of hiking at 9,400 feet.
- Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes, CA -> It’s the most expensive of our NF choices, but in a simply fabulous location. Lake, mountain and views. You get it all here!
4/ Top 3 Camping DEALS
This may seem like an odd catagory, but I had to mention it. I’m lumping together a few campgrounds into one here just to give you a feel for just how GREAT a deal you can get camping in the wilds.
- New Mexico State Parks -> I’ve mentioned them soooo many times on the blog, but they deserve just one more. New Mexico has the BEST camping deal in the country IMHO. The Annual Camping Pass is $225 and covers a YEAR of primitive camping with only $4/night extra for electric. Add to it that New Mexico has some of the most beautiful State Parks we’ve encounted and I really can’t imagine a better deal.
- BLM Campgrounds -> BLM campgrounds are primitive and often remote, but they’re fabulous deals at only ~$5 a pop. Good examples that we’ve simply loved are Tuttle Creek and Owl Canyon in CA, Datil Well and Orilla Verde in NM.
- Boondocking -> What’s even better than $5/night? That would be FREE!! There are tons of great boondocking sites especially on BLM land out west. We snagged a gorgeous spot on the beach in Sea Rim, TX, a desert beauty in Quartzsite, AZ and a remote lovely just outside of Yuma.
5/ Top 3 Not-Yet-Mentioned Gems
These didn’t fit into the other catagories, but they made our list of top-rated campgrounds for their own individual reasons. So, here we go:
- Davis Mountains State Park, TX -> One of our absolute top-rated campgrounds because it combined the best of everything. Great sites and facilities in a fabulous location with both hiking, star-gazing and hills. Sadly fire swept this area in 2011, so we’re not sure what it all looks like now.
- Mesa Verde RV Resort, CO -> Yes, a private park believe it or not. Great facilities just outside Mesa Verde National Park. It made the very top of our list of private parks visited in 2011 and deserved a mention for that reason alone.
- Markham Park, Sunrise, FL -> We wintered here last year and consider it one of the nicest spots for extended stay in southern FL. Want gigantic sites, oceans of green, trails and lakes? Add-in a full-blown dog-park and biking area to boot. Then, this is your spot!
There are tons of other worthy and beautiful campgrounds that I didn’t manage to mention, but we’ll just have to place them in the archives for the next time. Happy Camping everyone!