Intro: Wife and mother of one wonderfully silly toddler, Audiology Office Administrator by trade. Humboldt County, California native, but an explorer and citizen of the world through and through! Always looking for new adventures with my family!
While the property itself was beautiful, the experience was incredibly unsatisfactory. Many of the photos shown were not actually photos of the cabin itself, but other permant structures that people live in full time. The grounds were unkept, and there was trash and junk strewn everywhere. But beyond all of that, the thing that made the weekend unbearable was the yellowjackets. Hundreds and hundreds of yellow jackets swarming inside and outside the cabin. Joe, the host, came down the first night and heavily sprayed poison on several nests he located on the cabin itself, however, it didn’t even dent the problem. I left after the first night because I was unable to wash a dish or cook a meal without being swarmed by hundreds of aggressive yellowjackets. Unfortunately I will not be back or be recommending this property to others.
We walked away with such mixed feelings about our stay in the Romantic River Teepee at Otter Space. Let's start with the positives because there were many: This is an absolutely beautiful piece of property. You feel so secluded, because frankly, you are. The Teepee was incredibly unique; a real once in a lifetime sort of experience, and with that we appreciated and enjoyed staying in it. The meadow was stunning and a fantastic place to lay out and stargaze on a clear night. We really enjoyed watching the moon rise over the meadow, and the bats coming out of the forest to feed along with a doe and her two fawns. We also loved picking pluots and bosc pears in the orchard, and were encouraged to pick as many as we liked because the caretakers were not able to keep up on harvesting with all of the other projects going on around the property. Score! The river was beautiful, and though it was too late in the season to swim (algae) we did enjoy a walk down the river bar where we saw, among other things, a river otter and hundreds of baby frogs. Overall it was a very special experience, and we did enjoy it thoroughly.
That beings said, however, we did find some things lacking. Starting with markings on the dirt road to help people find the place; there were several opportunities we saw for landmarks to be listed in directions that could have been very helpful for people once they hit the dirt. It is a long dirt road and some special signage or land markers for hipcampers along the way would be really helpful. When we arrived there was no one to be found (15 minutes before check-in time). We managed after some minor confusion to find our way to the teepee, which we let ourselves in to after waiting around another 15 minutes or so to see if anyone would show up. The bed was folded up and unmade, there was a large plastic bin labeled "bedding" next to it. We unfolded and made the bed, which was okay- but for the price we paid I thought the bedding would at least be on the bed? The other thing we noted right away was the cobwebs, spiders, and other creepy crawlies EVERYWHERE. We knew it would be a "rustic" experience, and are pretty far from squeemy people, but it felt to have just been neglected. A simple brushing off of the inside walls with a broom would have gone a long way. The critters in there had made it their home for some time; all of the funk definitely didn't pop up overnight. Additionally, the wood chip floor was scattered with shards of flint and glass because the property caretaker does flint knapping (super cool!) basically right outside the entrance of the teepee (less cool), so apparently it regularly gets tracked in. This made taking shoes off inside of the teepee impossible, so be advised and prepare with sandals or slippers of some kind. Another thing to note is the difference in how the seclusion of the teepee is portrayed in the listing. Perhaps at one point it was barely visible from the yurt that was directly adjacent, but if that's true, the forest that was there was cleared for a garden which is neglected and directly outside the teepee, separating it from the yurt. There was virtually no privacy between the two sites in that sense, which was a bit disappointing. Also noteworthy, we were pretty dismayed to learn that the bath house was not near the teepee, as suggested, but a good 10 minute walk up the hill. This is fine for trips to the shower, but do not expect to do ANY urgent business there from the teepee, as you will likely not make it, especially in the night. They also do not keep the generator running during the day, so the bathhouse is left without power and quite dark. We stopped on our way out to use it at about 10:30 AM and could barely see, and didn't prepare with flashlights.
After we were at the teepee for a little under an hour the property caretaker arrived and asked if we had seen his wife at the upper house. When we said we had not seen anyone, he told us we had arrived "early" and he didn't think it was ready for us, however by the time we were speaking with him it was almost an hour after check-in time. He let us know they were busily working on building a cabin which had basically left no time to do anything else around the property. Moral of the story, it felt like the caregivers of the property have perhaps a bit too much on their plate to continue to keep the hipcamp sites up to snuff, and run the property while building a home, etc.
All of this considered I would likely still stay here again, but not unless there was a great reduction in price or a great improvement in the facility itself. For nearly $100 we felt that simply keeping the teepee tidy and presentable, and having it ready for guests by the posted check-in isn't a terrible amount to ask. You have to really love spiders to want 20 or more of them lingering over your head and dropping down to say hello throughout the evening and night.