We spent little time in the USA at the beginning of our road trip down the PanAm. Have camped extensively in Oregon, and traveled quite often to California, we didn’t want the expense of stateside living to destroy our budget going forward. And, hey, the sunny beaches of Baja were beckoning!
Tillicum State Park – Waldport, Oregon
Our first night on the road, we opted for a short drive to a familiar spot. We have camped at Tillicum several times, always appreciating the miles of endless beach and some ocean view campsites, a rarity in Oregon. $27/ night with picnic tables, flushing toilets and water/electric but little else in way of amenities.
Jebediah State Park – Redwoods, California
Sadly, not a favorite. Granted, the rainy weather was the main problem but we were shocked at the sad state of this park, being used to the excellent state park conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Many sites were in bad shape and, in off season, there was just one bathroom / shower block open which we didn’t realize the first night because no outside lights were on and several doors we tried were locked. Combined with our non-working heater at the time, it made for a cranky night. The next morning we did appreciate the statuesque redwoods filling the park and the curiously green colored water in the river, which runs alongside. However, for $35/night for no hook-ups and mostly unfit campsites, not impressed.
Riverwalk RV Park – Fortuna, California
After a wet and cold night in the Redwoods, we headed into Eureka to get our heater serviced. Both sick and done with it all by that point, we decided to barely continue on for the day, and found Riverwalk RV Park in nearby Fortuna. For $39/night, only $4 more than the night before, we got power, water, free internet, hot showers, and a hot tub. With our heater working and no rain, our spirits much improved.
Caspar Beach RV Park ~ Caspar Beach, California
This was nowhere near where we meant to end up. After deciding to get into the woods, we ended up in Anderson Valley, only to find all of the campgrounds in the area were closed due to flooding. It was mid-afternoon and our closest option was to continue on to the coast where we ended up at Caspar Beach, mainly to try to get the dogs some beach time. Another wet, windy night and what we feel was a mostly wasted $40/night but there were bathrooms, showers we didn’t use, and it is on one of only a few beaches on that part of the coast.
Santa Cruz/Monterey KOA, California
We decided to treat ourselves for New Years eve and ended up at the very expensive KOA in Santa Cruz. And I have to say it was absolutely worth every penny. With fantastic facilities, a fenced dog park, laundromat, and by far the VERY BEST staff we have experienced outside of such places as high end hotels in Asia or Sabi Sabi park in South Africa. We had two days of no rain to dry out ourselves and the camper. We just can’t say enough about the staff; every single person whether cleaning out the neighboring firepit, working the front desk, or filling propane was wonderful. They even gave us a discount on our 2nd night without us asking. $60 for the first night and the 2nd was to be $90 but with our $25 discount came to $65. So expensive and yet we can’t say we regretted it for a second.
Cachuma Lake Park ~ near Santa Barbara, California
On odd park to be sure. Three years of drought have reduced the lake to about 10% of full. A huge park, with nearly 500 sites, it was the most badly marked, random campground we have ever been in. Flush toilets and a fenced dog park, but overall not a fantastic stop. $25/night. So under-impressed and there barely 10 hours we didn’t even take a photo.
Mission Bay RV Park ~ San Diego, California
A totally unexpected stop. Heading out of Southern Cali for Tecate, Mexico, we heard a loud thump and upon inspection realized the weight of our backpacking gear had ripped our roofrack out of the camper roof. We knew we weren’t heading anywhere far that night. The Mission Bay RV park was a couple of miles away and had space. Lovely and accommodating staff and views of the gorgeous bay almost made the $65/night price worth it. At the least, we had a nice spot to formulate a plan, enjoy some sun and sand, and get a good nights sleep. No photo here because we spent the evening totally stressed out over the roofrack situation. Be assured, although it’s basically a big cement parking lot, the location is gorgeous.
KOA Chula Vista ~ Chula Vista, California
Yet another totally unexpected stop. Our “plan” to fix the roofrack was proven unsuccessful and, being a Sunday, we needed to wait one more night before shipping some gear home and crossing the border. What a difference staff makes. Like the KOA Santa Cruz, the price was $60/night. Unlike KOA Santa Cruz, a totally unhelpful staff prevented us from doing laundry and left a bad taste in our mouth. The camp is fine with nice facilities and a fenced dog park and, at only 8 miles from the border at Tijuana, a convenient final night in the US. If only the staff had been in any way accommodating.
Sadly, our trip started off with issues, bad weather and expensive camping. Luckily… Mexico was next!