Camping

Our Camping Adventures

I’ve been camping all my adult life. Mostly car camping with a tent, but also horsepacking into the backcountry. I’ve camped from California to Canada. My longest trip was three months with my young son, Karsten in 1974.

This past year Mark and I decided to try van camping. We bought a late model Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan and converted it to a camper van with lots of drawers, and a bed which also can be made into seats and table. It has a refrigerator as well as a toilet. We had special foam cushions made which I covered. Special sheets and blankets too. Our dog, Penny, absolutely loves riding in the van and going camping and hiking with us now.

Mark has made a short YouTube video showing all the details of the van. For anyone interested in the whole “conversion process” there’s a second video you can watch. Detailed Minivan Conversion Video

Here are some of the wonderful places we’ve camped so far. We’re having so much fun camping!

Green Canyon Campground

June 18 – 20, 2024 – Green Canyon Campground, located in the Mt. Hood National Forest, is one of our favorite places to camp. Our favorite campsite #15 sits beside the beautiful Salmon River with plenty of space and privacy. No mosquitos and only a few chipmunks so it was very peaceful. We had a great hike with no poison oak and Penny enjoyed a splash in the river. On our way home we visited our favorite Little Zigzag Falls trail and had a picnic lunch. We celebrated our 25th anniversary at this campout.

Carolyn & Penny by the Salmon River
Mark & Penny hiking the Salmon River trail
Mark & Carolyn at the Little Zigzag Falls

Salmon Creek Falls Campground

June 4 – 6, 2024 – Salmon Creek Falls Campground is a small camp located in the Willamette National Forest near Oakridge in a beautiful, lush, old growth forest along Salmon Creek. The camp is all “first come” and seems to be most popular with bicyclers. We enjoyed the many trails in the area, but had to watch out for abundant poison oak here. Also, there were lots of little mosquitos, but they weren’t biting…just annoying. On the way there we visited a couple covered bridges that were very interesting.

Mark & Penny by the Salmon Creek Falls
Carolyn & Penny relaxing in camp
Mark & Penny hiking the trails

Hoover Campground

May 14 – 16, 2024 – Hoover Campground is located in the Willamette National Forest by Detroit Lake. The campground sits among Douglas fir and maple trees and large ferns at an elevation of 1,600 feet.  Fortunately this area was not too badly affected by wildfires of 2020. We were the only campers in the campground and it was very quiet and peaceful. We were in site #4. Hiking trails were minimal, but we enjoyed a lovely get-away.

Mark & Penny on hike at Hoover Campground
Carolyn & Penny on hike at Hoover Campground
Carolyn & Penny at Detroit Lake

Green Canyon Campground

August 1 – 3- 2023 – Green Canyon Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near the town of Welches, OR. This is one of our favorite campgrounds. It’s small and quiet and nearly empty mid-week. We lucked out and got the best campsite #10. This canyon was carved out by the scenic Salmon River. The campground is nestled among old-growth trees. There are several hiking trails nearby including those that take you to the surrounding Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

Hiking the Salmon River Trail
The Salmon River adjacent to our campsite
The Salmon River looking upstream from our campsite

Lost Creek Campground

July 18 – 20, 2023 – Lost Creek Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near the town of Zigzag, OR. We were joined by my son Karsten and his wife Christine and their dog, Lucy. We had a very large double site (#2) which had ample shade and was close to the Lost Creek where Penny enjoyed cooling off in the water. We hiked the Ramona Falls Trail for 1.5 miles along the Sandy River. The campground was very quiet mid-week and without any road noise.

Mark and Penny relaxing in camp
Hiking the Ramona Falls Trail along the Sandy River
Enjoying our large campsite

Camp Creek Campground

July 4 – 6, 2023 – Camp Creek Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near Rhod0dendron, OR. This is one of our favorite campgrounds. We were in site #7 this time. The best site would be #10. It was very quiet here for the 4th of July and quite warm this year (90’s), but the site had plenty of shade and Penny loved cooling off in the river. We took a 3 mi. hike along the Pioneer Bridle Trail but mostly enjoyed reading and relaxing in camp.

Our Campsite
Penny & me
Penny swimming in the creek

Silver Falls State Park

June 6 – 8, 2023 – Silver Falls State Park is located near Silverton, Oregon. It is the largest state park in Oregon with an area of more than 9,000 acres, and it includes more than 24 miles of walking trails and 10 waterfalls. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the trails to see the waterfalls. We enjoyed our stay here (site #72) and hiked the Rim Trail with Penny. Our last night Penny had her own adventure meeting a skunk in our campsite. Luckily we were heading home in the morning so we only had to sleep with a stinky dog in the van one night.

Silver Falls Lodge
Silver Falls Rim Trail Hike
South Silver Falls

Gone Creek Campground

Sept. 6 – 8, 2022 – Gone Creek Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest and sits on the edge of Timothy Lake, in the shadows of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s highest peak.  The campground was built and is run by PGE who manage the Timothy Lake Dam which created the lake on the Clackamas River. There is a wonderful trail circling the lake and a number of campgrounds along the lake’s edge. We hiked 7 miles of the trail! This is a very popular camping area for fishing and boating. We visited here mid-week, right after Labor Day when there were fewer people. Unfortunately there was a bit of smoke from the nearby forest fires blocking the spectacular views of Mt. Hood.

Kilchis River Campground

Aug 29 – 31, 2022 – Kilchis River County Campground is located along the Kilchis River, 8 miles northeast of Tillamook. I went camping with my friend Lori. She had her camper to stay in. Mostly we spent our time talking and had a wonderful campfire and shared meals. The river is pretty with plenty of swimming holes, but no trails to speak of.

Kilchis River Campground
Lori and Bentley by their trailer at the 
Kilchis River Campground

Jones Creek Campground

Aug. 16-18, 2022 – Jones Creek Campground is located in the Tillamook National Forest and is located along the Wilson River off Hwy 6 near the Smith Homestead. The weather heated up so we headed towards the coast where the temps were comfortably in the 80’s. Our campsite (A5) was very private and spacious, but a little too close to the Hwy 6, so not as quiet as we would like. We enjoyed a wonderful hike on the Wilson River Trail.

Large campsite (A5) set back away from the park road.
Spacious shady campsite at Jones Creek Campground
Mark and Penny hiking the Wilson River Trail

Green Canyon Campground

Aug. 2 – 4, 2022 – Green Canyon Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near the town of Welches, OR. This is one of our favorite campgrounds. It’s small and quiet and nearly empty mid-week. Great hiking trails too. Very relaxing place for a get-away. We camped in site #11.

Site #11 at Green Canyon Campground
The Green River by our campsite
Penny wading in the Green River

Trout Creek Campground

July 19 – 21, 2022 – Trout Creek Campground is located in the Willamette National Forest on the South Santiam River. Our campsite (#2) had great privacy and access to the river. Penny was able to be off leash quite a bit.

Mark and Penny heading out on the trail
Campsite #2 - Very secluded and quiet
Penny cooling off in the Santiam River

Camp Creek Campground

July 5 – 7, 2022 – Camp Creek Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near Rhod0dendron, OR. The weather was rainy, so we cut our stay short. Our campsite (#14) right by the river was great. We took a 5 1/2 mi. hike along the Pioneer Bridle Trail. This is an interesting historical area.

Mark and Penny at our campsite #14
Hiking the Still Creek Trail
Hiking the Barlow Road - Pioneer Bridle Trail

Blue Bay Campground

June 27 – 29, 2022 – Blue Bay Campground is located in the Deschuttes National Forest on Suttle Lake. Our favorite site is #8. It’s a small campground with only 24 sites. The lake is really beautiful and has a wonderful surround trail that we hiked. Plenty of swimming spots for Penny. A great place to camp and the pine scented air smells heavenly.

Carolyn relaxing in camp
A bit of history
A lovely hike around Suttle Lake

Hyatt Lake Campground

June 11 – 12, 2022 – Hyatt Lake Campground is located in the Cascade-Siskiyou Mountains near Ashland. We attended Tyler’s graduation at SOU in Ashland and then headed up the mountain to camp with Dena and Tyler. Unfortunately it was rainy, but we had a fun overnight campout. We were sorry that Karsten and Christine couldn’t join us.

Camping with Tyler and Dena at Hyatt Lake Campground
Acting silly on the dried up shore of Hyatt Lake
Getting a botany lesson from Dena

Coho Campground

May 24 – 26, 2022 – Coho Campground is located in the Olympic National Rain Forest. This was our first camping of the year and it was still chilly and drizzling rain. Not too many people here. The best campsite was #31. We enjoyed a good hike around the lake and the dam.

Coho Campground sign
Mark and Penny by Lake Wynoochee
The dam spillway at Lake Wynoochee

Gone Creek Campground

Sept 7 – 9, 2021 – Gone Creek Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest and sits on the edge of Timothy Lake, in the shadows of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s highest peak.  The campground was built and is run by PGE who manage the Timothy Lake Dam which created the lake on the Clackamas River. There is a wonderful trail circling the lake and a number of campgrounds along the lake’s edge. We hiked 7 miles of the trail! This is a very popular camping area for fishing and boating. We visited here mid-week, right after Labor Day when there were fewer people. Unfortunately there was a bit of smoke from the nearby forest fires blocking the spectacular views of Mt. Hood.

Camp Creek Campground

Aug – 18 – 20, 2021 – Camp Creek Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near Rhod0dendren, OR. The campground was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. Some features from the era remain, such as several charming stone fireplaces.  The camp is situated beside Camp Creek which was running well, even in August. We hiked a loop trail by joining the Still Creek Trail and the Pioneer Bridle Trail. The campground was beautiful, with a lot of old growth trees for shade during the heat of summer. Mark was able to try out the new solar panel to keep the refrigerator running. It worked!

Trillium Lake Campground

Aug. 3 – 5, 2021 – Trillium Lake Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near the town of Government Camp. It is situated on the shore of Trillium lake which offers fishing, boating and swimming. The campground has a loop trail around its perimeter, however when we were there in early August is was partially closed. We still enjoyed a lovely hike.  We especially liked hiking the nearby Little Zigzag Falls Trail.  It has become our favorite hike so far.  The campground was very full, but our campsite wasn’t on the water, so it remained quiet and peaceful.  This was our hottest camping experience yet, as the tree cover wasn’t as dense and the weather was very warm.

Sutton Creek Campground

July 24 – 25, 2021 – Sutton Creek Campground is located in the Siuslaw National Forest off the Southern Oregon coast just north of Florence, Oregon. We were invited here to join my son and his friends in a group camp. This was a different camping experience for us since we usually camp alone, but we had a really good time. The campground was set back from the ocean amid plenty of trees which blocked the coastal winds. We hiked the 2 miles to Sutton Lake and also the Darlingtonia Trail.

Green Canyon Campground

July 20 – 22, 2021 – Green Canyon Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest near the town of Welches, OR. It is a small campground situated along the beautiful Salmon River nestled in old growth trees. There are several hiking trails nearby including those that take you to the surrounding Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. Except for the lack of potable water, it was a very lovely camping spot.

Jones Creek Campground

July 11, 2021 – Jones Creek Campground is located in the Tillamook National Forest and is located along the Wilson River off Hwy 6 near the Smith Homestead. It is a “first come first serve” campground which was not full thankfully and gave us a sunny break from the wind and heavy coastal fog at Nehalem. We really appreciated how easy it was to set up camp with our minivan. We enjoyed a lovely respite of peace and serenity here.

Nehalem Bay State Park Campground

July 10, 2021 – Nehalem Bay State Park is located in Tillamook County on the sand spit just south of Manzanita, OR. The campground has over 265 campsites with full hookups and is just a sand dune away from the beach. Mark got someone’s reservation from the Next-door app. He thought camping at the beach would be a lot of fun. I couldn’t convince him otherwise. The campsites were tiny, with no privacy. The wind was blowing the whole time and kids were cycling all around us. We tried to hike on the beach and Penny hated it. She kept trying to lie down under cover away from the wind. Smart dog. We stayed one night and woke to heavy fog/mist and more wind. We packed up quickly and left to find better camping in the Tillamook Forest.

Tollgate Campground

June 22 – 24 – 2021 – Tollgate Campground is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest just off of Hwy 26. The campsite is situated along the Zigzag River which helps to block most of the traffic noise from the highway. This was our first camping adventure in our newly converted minivan. We had a great time and learned a lot about what to take and what to leave home. Mostly we enjoy hiking, reading, eating, playing games, and napping. It was very relaxing and we left eager to camp again soon.

Dosewallips State Park

May 4 – 6, 2021 – Dosewallips State Park in the Olympic Forest of Washington was our first trial of minivan camping. We rented a minivan similar to the one we thought of buying and outfitted it with an air mattress, sleeping bags, and a miscellaneous gathering of my old camping gear. We wanted to try out the idea of camping in a minivan with Penny to see if we’d really like it enough to pursue the idea of camping. As we drove into the campground we were met by a herd of free roaming elk! They wandered all around the area the two days we were there. Penny didn’t seem bothered by them. Chipmunks were much more interesting to her. We enjoyed the hike along the Hood Canal, seeing a lot of wildlife there. I have to say the highlight for me was sleeping in the van. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. We spent the night “slip sliding” into Penny’s sleeping area. She must have thought we were nuts, but she didn’t complain. The trial was a success and we came home eager to get our own minivan and convert it for camping. No more air mattress for us. Next trip will include a comfortable mattress!