Camp hosts Greg and Laurie are awesome and there are many things at Camp Nauvoo that make this a worthwhile trip.
Camping along the creek provides a number of different tent sites along the creek and a few tucked in other locations on the property. The property itself is very large and is arranged according to its previous use, which was that of a boy scouts camp. That being said, the amenities are great, as there are full bathrooms and shower rooms, plus the main lodge with some creature comforts like ping pong, board games.
Camp Nauvoo is located just on the outskirts of Placerville, which has all the necessities one would need, along with some good eats to boot. Once leaving the town you travel a few miles down a winding road and another mile-plus down a one-lane ravine road into camp. The drive itself sets the tone and upon entering camp you will cross a bridge see the basketball/volleyball and the meadow beyond.
While there are not fire rings at every site (fire hazards are a real thing up in this neck of the woods) but there is a communal fire pit with plenty of firewood and seating. It's a pretty nice central area to take a walk to and have a fire for a bit. Aside from the fire pit, there is a long seasonal creek that runs through the property and can be explored and played in at one's own risk. We had a fun time playing in the creek on a hot day!
Unfortunately, we didn't have time to explore the trail that circles a large portion of the property and spans 2 miles but there is always next time!
Garden by the Sea is tucked away in the rich coastal community of Bolinas. Most of the inhabitants prefer to be off the map and this is a perfect getaway for a small part of low-key individuals looking to experience all of the great things within a stone's throw. Bolinas itself has a couple beach front options and you can hit the local cafe or market for some good eats. The cafe is the only game in town so if it's a busy weekend you best call ahead. We were there on Memorial weekend and were able to get a seat for lunch, but when we tried to come back again for dinner we had no such luck!
The property is a small private garden tucked in the back corner of a large property that has one main house and several other small buildings. The garden has a natural wood table, drinking water, and a wash basin. A compost toilet and full bathroom are available on site, along with potable water via a hose spigot.
Parking along Grove St you will see a discreet, white lattice gate that is covered on top with vegetation. Upon entering the premises there is a small building directly across an open expanse of garden and wildflowers. Behind the small building, which is Judy's art studio, lies the entrance to the Garden by the sea and the campsite.
While there are neighbors, the campsite itself is very private and the garden provides a nice sanctuary to have as your own. Due to the fact that we were so close to so many great things, we didn't spend a whole lot of time at the site, but it was very comfortable when we were there.
If you are looking to check out the surrounding areas you have a ton to choose from; Point Reyes and Tomales Bay directly to the north (killer Oysters!), Mount Tam and Muir Woods to the southeast, and Stinson Beach just to the south. I suggest leaving Bolinas, taking Fairfax-Bolinas road to drop into the back side of Mount Tamalpais. After spending some time atop Mount Tamalpais you can drop into Stinson Beach to hang for a bit and grab a bite to eat.
If you are looking for a nice and relaxing stay tucked away in west Marin County, then this is definitely a great spot to check out!
Apache Ranch is a no-frills, secluded camping area that is a stone's throw away from Yosemite National Park. Located in the rolling hills just outside of Oakhurst off of the 49, Apache Ranch is a nice property that has a couple ponds and lots of hillside vegetation to explore. The property itself has a lot of potential for future renovations/upgrades, but as it currently stands, it is pretty straightforward. You will need to bring in all of your needs for camping (tent, water, trash bags, toilet articles, etc. etc.) as there is a not a ton of infrastructure for camping.
Once you pass the cattle crossings and enter the actual property you will encounter the main house and guest house on the right. Further down on the left there is an old house that has a large paved area for parking. The old house and surrounding buildings (Detached garage, small building by one of the ponds, etc.) have seen better days, but are also a sign of the potential this property holds. I suppose if one wanted to camp near the old house that it would be possible, as the ground is paved and flat and there are plenty of places to park and spread out a bit. We chose to go a bit off of the beaten path and even though it required us to lug some gear from the car to our camping spots, it was a good trade off for the seclusion we found.
I, personally, enjoyed that the property had more of a rural/backcountry feel, as I love the process of exploring a property and choosing a site of my own choosing. There were a number of places that could have been used to set-up, but we chose to camp behind the old horse stalls in the fenced-in, grassy area. We also set-up a second tent (and hammock) behind the old stalls and down the hill a bit, which is a bit more secluded and protected from the wind.
We were lucky enough to be on the property in the spring and everything was lush. There was ample shade and vegetation, and even though the grass was high in many areas, it provided some nice bedding for our tents. This property is very quiet and if you travel to the eastern reaches of the property you can hear the sounds of the river that flow through the ravine below. Apache Ranch was a great one-nighter for us to enjoy some solitude and recharge our batteries.
The Old Tennis Court Yurt was excellent and is definitely somewhere I will be coming back to. The Mare Island Reserve is tucked away on the south end of Mare island and is a historic piece of land, as there are many remnants of what was once the biggest naval shipyard on the west coast. The yurt itself is simple, yet it has more than enough with help feel like you are not quite roughing it. There are three cozy beds in the yurt, which easily fit our family of five.
The Old Tennis Court has several tables, benches, chairs and a long counter-like area next to the barbecue that is equipped with dishes etc to help make your stay a little more comfortable. The Old Tennis Court could easily fit 3 or 4 tents and there is enough room to park a couple more cars as well. We plan on coming back with friends and this would be a perfect spot.
There is a port-a-potty close by, but I will say that it is a larger one, and was definitely the cleanest I have been in. There is no potable water on site so you must bring your own in, which really isn't a big deal. If you don't want to barbecue, there is also a camp stove located under one of the beds, so you pretty much just have to show up with the basics and everything else is there.
The reserve itself is very interesting, beautiful, and also bit creepy in some ways. The old locked bunkers and naval graveyard that are now within a largely unspoiled section of land. The juxtaposition of any of these sites is worth the trip, but the view, seclusion and history make it a place that I can't wait to come back to.
The River campsite is one of many great campsites located on the property and is only seasonally available due to the required river crossing to get to the site (there are times when the water is flowing too fast to safely allow guests to cross the river).
The property itself is in the foothills just outside of Porterville, in the quaint town of Springville. The property is at the very end of private country road and is nestled in a small valley that is surrounded by rolling hills. The lifeblood of the property is the Tule river, which runs through the property and has an abundance of areas to explore and enjoy. The property is a work in progress, but the infrastructure allows all of the amenities that a camper could want. There is a compost toilet along with a portable toilet option, both of which have a small wash area for those who desire. There are solar showers on site, but since we only stayed for a night, we didn't need to access those at all.
The landowners, Mehmet, and Chico, are very welcoming and offer a number of communal spaces to hang during your stay. When I arrived they explained that their intent isn't for campers to have to stay at their campsite during their entire stay and are welcomed to the outdoor kitchen, garden, and outdoor dining area during the stay.
There are many projects that are happening on the land, many of which exhibit the owners' connection and love for mother nature. One of my favorite features is the steam hut that is used for both traditional and recreational purposes and has been said to house nearly 20 people during certain occasions.
The river site itself was a great experience, as there is shade, a suspended bed (with bug netting) and a sandy plateau that allows to pitch a medium sized tent. The site is on the water's edge but has plenty room to spread out and feel comfortable on the land. I don't know if I enjoyed the sounds of the running water or the bright, bright stars more, but both together were simply magnificent.
I would say that this camping experience isn't quite roughing it, but also isn't glamping either. It felt like a true camping experience where we were far enough away to feel in our own world, but I could easily make the 3 minute walk back to the car if we needed something in a pinch. We definitely want to come back to this site and enjoy camping on the river during the summer!
Paradise Shores was a nice place to spend a couple days exploring the Eastern Sierras and the camp-side reservoir.
This isn't what I would call a secluded camping experience, but it is a great place to have as a home base while exploring the surrounding region. There are a few tent sites and a number of RV sites at Paradise Shores, but the tent sites are closest to the water, which is a nice arrangement. The property has clean restrooms that are equipped with showers. I found that since many of the residents are in RVs, not many people used the showers or bathrooms. The owners also offer a small number of necessities in the main office, which is a nice convenience when in a pinch.
The overall vibe and atmosphere of the place is great. A very welcoming community fire on the weekends, and a generally happy and nice crowd. Despite it being a busy weekend with lots of people and pups alike, the noise level was quiet by 10:00PM. A nice addition is the two kayaks and paddleboard that are available for guests to use, which we definitely had to capitalize on.
Nearby is the town of Bridgeport, which has some decent spots to eat, a more comprehensive supply stop and a few other novelties worth checking out. There are also two hot springs (Travertine and Buckeye) that are really close to Paradise Shores. Aside from the reservoir which Paradise Shores inhabits, there are other lakes and rivers that are a stone's throw away.
Even though these were not the most majestic camp sites we have stayed at, the location and some of the amenities (clean water, clean bathrooms, clean shower) made this place a great hub for exploring the region. The property owners and fellow guests made it all that much more welcoming and enjoyable and we hope to come back again!
The ranch is a beautiful, rugged, historically rich stretch of land that is an absolute gem. Nestled in the foothills outside of Coarsegold, Ca, the ranch is a stone's throw away from Yosemite.
I was there in the dead of summer during a pretty serious heat wave, and was still able to enjoy my time. The property offers a river, that runs 10 months out of the year, and is a great place to cool off at. There is also a small pond that is good for morning fishing (catch and release!!) and a midnight row on the boat. If the weather was a bit more mild, I would have experienced more of the endless hiking opportunities on the land. 1000 acres is a lot of space, and there are a number of trails that criss-cross the property.
The camp itself is very new and still early in the evolution of the facilities. What this means is that the camping is primitive, and you will need to bring in everything you need (including water). The landowner, Pat, has been ravenously working to add necessities to the property, as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and rudimentary maps are all available to anyone camping. There are also plans to add some sort of shower/rinsing area, but at this point they are not available (the river was fine for me)!
The Sites - The first set of sites are located shortly after you enter the property are pretty simple and mostly a home base. There is area to set up quite a few tents, but there isn't a ton of shade, so bringing an additional shade isn't a bad idea if there are a group of people coming. Beyond this first site the road gets a bit iffy for anything less than a high-clearance vehicle. I am sure that this dirt road would require 4wd at some points in the year, but was definitely doable in a 2wd vehicle with decent ground clearance during our visit. The dirt road is about a mile or so and can be hiked (mountain bike would be fun) to get to other features of the property that are tucked back. This road is the main way to get down to the river, pond, and other areas of the property.
While there is a section of the road that can probably be handled by most 2wd trucks/suv's there is also parts of the property that are 4wd only. The road back to the pond and up to the big lookout are pretty gnarly and require a vehicle with reliable 4wd. My subaru forester wouldn't have a problem with the grade, but the ground clearance in some sections are questionable (at best)!
We took the 4wd road and camped at the pond (can also be hiked in, like any other area of the property). We wanted to do some early morning fishing so the pond made the most sense. It's not a pond I would swim in, but I liked the sounds of the frogs and bugs when sleeping by the pond. Mosquitoes were kept at bay with a couple applications of bug spray, but it wasn't really an issue for us (I wore shorts the whole time). Going out on the boat at midnight, during the full-moon was pretty awesome and I highly suggest it.
Overall, I really liked my time at the ranch, despite the 100+ temperatures. I could only imagine what this property would like like in spring and late fall, as it was already gorgeous during the summer. The gold mining history was/is an added bonus, and the additions that Pat (landowner) is making, will help adding some of the amenities that some people require. I will definitely be coming back to the ranch!
Wondernut Farm is an absolute gem. Not only is it within striking distance of Yosemite (who doesn't love Yosemite), it is inhabited by a friendly collection of animals and people alike. The landowners are terrific and go out of their way to make you feel welcome and a part of the community.
I was lucky enough to stay in the Guest Cabin, which despite being warm during the hot, summer days, is a wonderful, character-filled place to rest your head at night. The tree-house drove me to some serious site-envy and is the perfect place to spend a romantic night with a special someone. The Dam is a tucked away from most of the other structures, and provides a great escape with temperatures that are a bit lower than some of the other areas of the farm (thats a good thing in the summer months).
I don't think one review can fully sum up the things that Wondernut has to offer, but I can tell you that I had some great conversations, learned a lot about off-the-grid/grassroots farming, and felt completely welcomed on the property. From the open-air kitchen and living room to the bathrooms with a view, this place had all the charm we were looking for and some great company to boot.
If you are someone who is not only looking for a cool place to rest your head, but also for an experience and a chance to learn something new, Wondernut Farm needs to get added to your list!
Wow! I can't say enough about Maple Creek Ranch. The property itself is a nearly 500 acre, working tree farm with a number of unique features that make this a wonderful place to explore and enjoy. The main attraction is probably the spring-fed pond, which is set-up as a community area to be used for swimming, fishing, cooking, or simply just relaxing. The pond has several benches, chairs, shades, an outdoor kitchen, along with a nearby bathroom/storage room complete with a flush toilet and community refrigerator.
While the pond itself is absolute wonder, the sites themselves are the icing on the cake! The campsites are about 1/4 mile removed from the pond and are near the back-end of the property. Equipped with fire-ring, picnic tables, and nearby toilets, the campsites are all private and out of eye-shot from the other sites, which is a huge plus for anyone trying to "get away"! The nearly 500 acres contains a multitude of trails and old service roads that criss-cross the property and provide great opportunities to hike, bike, or simply get lost for a bit.
It is worth noting that the camps are "dry camps" and that water will need to be accounted for. The natural spring on the property helps provide a solution for the need of water, but one should definitely bring a container (probably a few) for transporting water as needed. We stayed when there were no major fire restrictions and we were pleasantly surprised to find that firewood was readily available for us to use.
Overall, I would not hesitate to come back to Maple Creek Ranch! This place provides everything I hope to find when camping in the forest. If you are able to speak to any of the land-hosts while at Maple Creek Ranch be sure to ask about the rich history of the land as there is so much more to learn (The Ox-Road, a natural spring, arrowheads, the railroad, kiwi-farm, and the list goes on...).
Odin's Helm is a wonderful off-the-grid experience tucked in the rolling hills just east of the Mendocino Forest. The Helm does have an outhouse, but not much more in terms of creature comforts (bring water, and a way to pack out trash!). This place is absolutely secluded and a few cars passing by were the only other humans we saw. We came right after the rains and 4wd was necessary for us, so be sure to check the conditions before you drive too deep onto the property. The scenery, solitude, and fishing are all reasons I will be back to Odin's Helm.
The Yuba Yurt is a secluded getaway with all the amenities tucked up on a ridge in the heart of Nevada County. This is a livable space that is great as a getaway or a central hub to explore the surrounding mountains and rivers.
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