Every year I not only look back at where we’ve been, but also the places we’ve stayed. I choose our campgrounds pretty carefully so we rarely end up somewhere we don’t like, but it’s always fun to tally-up our stops and share the best-of-the-best with my blog readers. This year we completed 38 total stops of which only 7 were private parks. The rest were either free boondocking sites (11 total this past year -> a new record for us) or state/county/BLM parks. This very much reflects the type of camping we like to do….relaxed, green & spacious and the benefits show in price too. It’s sometimes a challenge to fit “the beast” into the types of spots we like to go and it takes alot of research to find the best gems, but the results are always worth it. Here’s our top of the year:
Our 5 Top-Rated Campgrounds
ALL our top-rated campgrounds were State Parks this year and every one of them had the perfect combo of spacious sites, beautiful surroundings & pet-friendly trails.
1/ Nehalem Bay State Park, Manzanita, OR
A new find for us and a new favorite on the northern Oregon coast. Want a gorgeous beach, lovely sites, hiking trails and a cool little town all within walking distance of your site? This is your spot! Link to Review. Rating = 4.75/5
2/ Cape Disappointment State Park, Cape Disappointment, WA
Nothing can quite describe the beauty of the “foulest place in the west”. In this crazy spot on the southernmost tip of the WA coast you can get a site 10 feet from the beach and see TWO lighthouses. Link to Review. Rating = 4.6/5
3/ Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, OR
Right on the southernmost tip of the OR coast it’s a park that has it all…lovely beach (some sites even have direct views), nice sites & great amenities. Link to Review. Rating = 4.6/5
4/ Cape Blanco State Park, Cape Blanco, OR
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know that Cape Blanco inspires pure poetry from me. This park on the southern OR coast is remote, rugged, gorgeous, with a fabulous beach and a stunning lighthouse. We volunteer at this place we love it so much. Link to Review. Rating = 4.5/5
5/ Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ
This State Park just east of Phoenix sits in the shadow of the awesome Superstition Mountains. A lovely spot! Link to Review. Rating = 4.5/5
Our 5 Most Scenic Campgrounds
The most scenic campgrounds are not always the top-rated ones, especially if you include boondocking sites with no amenities. That was certainly the case for us this past year. All but one of our most scenic sites was free and the most scenic was the hardest to get to.
1/ Goosenecks State Park, UT (Free)
In this amazing spot in SE Utah you can park on the edge of a 1000-foot rim with sweeping views of the valley and the curves in the San Juan River. Link to Review. Rating = 4.4/5
2/ Antelope Island State Park, UT ($10/night)
This island in the middle of Salt Lake feels like a totally different & isolated world, yet it’s only a few miles from the big city. 360-degree views from all sites here. Link to Review. Rating = 4.25/5
3/ Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA (Free)
We can never seem to get enough of this boondocking site on the Eastern Side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It combines wacky rocks against the backdrop site of majestic Mount Whitney. Simply stunning! Link to Review. Rating = 4.4/5
4/ Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, AZ (Free)
This isolated spot in SE AZ is not easy to get to, but it…is…stunning!!! Probably the most remote and beautiful spot we visited last year. We ended up staying here twice. Link to Review. Rating = 4.4/5
5/ Rockhouse Canyon Road, Borrego Springs, CA (Free)
We get drawn to this spot every single year. A lovely boondocking area with gorgeous desert and mountain views in SW CA. It’s actually in our very top ratings too. Link to Review. Rating = 4.75/5
There’s a few sites that deserve special mention, not necessarily for their ratings, but because they have some kind of special attraction. These are all very memorable locations for us.
1/ Winchester Bay Harbor, OR
Located on the central OR coast this is nothing but a parking lot really, but it is literally right ON the water and in the harbor. We found this spot incredibly relaxing & it became our #1 secret find of the year. Link to Review. Rating = 3.9/5
2/ Whitewater Draw Wilderness Area, McNeal, AZ
Located in SE AZ this has only a small spot to camp, but it is a birders paradise. We fell asleep to the sound of hundreds of Sandhill Cranes coming to roost…what an amazing experience! Link to Review. Rating = 4.4/5
3/ Sam’s Family Spa, Desert Hot Springs, CA
This is the ONLY private park in our top campgrounds and it’s all because of the hot pools. Located in SW CA, we come here to spa in mineral waters under palm trees and each year the place draws us back. Soooo relaxing! Link to Review. Rating = 4.1/5
P.S. If you want to see my 2010, 2011 and 2012 round-ups of where we went and best places we stayed I keep all the info on my “Journey” page. Enjoy!
Where Are We Today?Sam's Family Spa, Desert Hot Springs, CA
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