27 December 2012

The camping post--aka, this is harder than I thought it would be!

**Just a quick note about this post. It took a lot longer to write than I thought it would--holy crap! I am posting without proof-reading, so please forgive that. If you want more information, I will happily give you all I can. Email me or post a comment, and I will respond.

Day one: Denver to Flaming Gorge, UT--323 miles Skull Creek Campground on Hwy 44--$18/single site--paved road, potable water, pit toilets. (We were refunded half of the camping fee because they had not yet turned on the water--call first if going before Memorial Day)

Skull Creek Campground--our first night out.
Day two: Palisades Rervoir, ID--252 miles--I totally can't find the info on this campsite. It was at the north end of the reservoir, just above the dam. Nice site--that's it below with me and my giant Molson. There were mosquitoes, but not too bad. Don't buy tortillas in the nearby town. I don't know how you screw up flour and water, but they managed to.

Yeah...me and my Molson tallboy!
Day three: Darby, MT--308 miles Lake Como Campground--4 miles north of Darby turn left and follow signs to campground. $16 per site (we called and they were not officially open yet, but said we could camp if we wanted to for free--they told us there would be no water so we got it in Darby before leaving the area. We rode around the barrier into the group campground and cooked and put the bikes under the shelter)

Day four: Sagle, ID--255 miles (stayed with a friend's aunt)

My friend Justin built the outdoor shower and waterwheel behind me for his aunt and uncle. I may need one of each in my backyard....
Day five: Banff/Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada--291 miles--There is one campground in Lake Louise. We were too early in the season and only hard sided camping was allowed as they had not put up the electrical fence for tent camping. We stayed with Hostelling International at their Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center. Rates start at $26.50/person.

Day six: Radium Hot Springs--83 miles--Redstreak Campground--I remember thinking it was expensive, and we are in Canadian money now. But, bathrooms with showers, cooking huts, 6k round trip hike to the hot springs pools. Something like 250 sites in this campground.

Many of the provincial park campgrounds have cooking huts like this. Brilliant, I say!
Day seven: Just shy of Grand Cache, AB--Pierre Grey's Lakes Provincial Park--has 4 campgrounds(83 sites). A site is $20--water and pit toilets, firewood $7/bag. (This was the first site after we changed our route to take the one that had the enormous sign saying "Scenic Route to Alaska". Left Radium and rode N. to Jasper, turned E. at 16 then turned N. at 40)

Day eight: Fort St. John, B.C.--274 miles--solid rain the whole time. Stopped at visitors center and talked to an awesome girl who found us a reasonable hotel (about $85/night) and told us how to get to the grocery and a liquor store on the way. Also recommended good B.C. wine.

Please note my gloves on top of the lampshade, trying to dry out. Everything was soaked!
Day nine: Fort Nelson, B.C.--238 miles--another solid day of rain. Historic Fort Nelson Hotel. About $120/night. Good bar next door. Belly up to the bar and chat with the bartender, Debbie--she's a cool chick and will tell you all about the area. She has been there for about 30 years, but is originally from Vancouver.

All the rooms in the "historic" section of the hotel had been renovated. More recently than this decor suggests....
Day ten: Watson Lake, YT--319 miles--Watson Lake Government Campground--55 sites, right on the lake with pit toilets and free firewood. I think it was inexpensive, maybe $12/site. It's about a mile north of town, and then another mile off the road--just follow signs. Stop in and see Button at the visitor's center first, though. It's in the middle of the signpost forest, which is a kick in itself. Take a sign!!!

Look out for the whacko ptarmigan
...and bears....
Day eleven/twelve: Whitehorse, YT--288 miles--Takhini Hot Springs--about ten tent on,y sites, but it looked as if they were expanding while we were there. Hot springs with showers, outhouses, firewood available. Did I mention hot springs? Don't miss the coffee house down the road. They have great coffee, fresh pastries, and wi-if.

Takhini had recently had problems with bears. We hung the bear box about 100 yards from the tent campsites. There were hot springs here, can you tell? I'm so happy!
Day thirteen: Dawson City, YT--312 miles--Klondike River Campground--Another Yukon government campground, so about $12/site. Water, pit toilets, firewood, and places to hang bear bags. When you get to town, drive through to the end of the road and get on the ferry. Cross the ferry and it is on the right side of the road once you're off. Bonus with this campground--there is a resident black fox who quietly checks each campsite for leftover tidbits. Twice. If you're quiet he pays no attention to you and just goes on his way, and he's beautiful. Drawback--you learn how dependent wild animals become on sloppy campers.

I'm guessing I was a little tired.....
The Yukon River--Dawson City is in the background.
Day fourteen: Tok, AK (via Top of the World Hwy if open)--193 miles--Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground--This place was AWESOME!!! Owned by Vanessa (I think that's right...), there are a bunch of tent sites, as well as a teepee, a walled tent, a small bunkhouse, a cabin and an ambulance converted into sleeping quarters. Prices range from $10-40 depending on what you take. She has a full shop available to use for maintenance (you can ship stuff to her if you know you want to change tires, oil, etc and do it there) and a SAUNA!!!

Ovi, not satisfied with his sleeping bag temp rating, slept in the ambulance.
Dog took the walled tent.
Day fifteen: Fairbanks, AK (couch surfing)--236 miles--However, during the summer months when there are no classes at the university, they offer the dorm rooms to rent if you want to visit. I have no idea about the camping situation IN Fairbanks. We liked staying with Tom, Melissa, Elka, Wader, and the chickens!

Elka and Wader--Alaskan Huskies
Day sixteen: Marion Creek campground--264 miles--On the Dalton Highway, 5 miles north of Coldfoot. Water and vault toilets. And mosquitoes. They are free. If you are one of two people camping here, you can well bet that the family in the RV will pull up and camp right next to you. No joke. But, the camp hosts are great people, so chat them up a bit if you get the chance. There is a fee (I swear I kept ALL the info from this trip, but I have NO idea where it is now)

Yeah, that view didn't suck.
Day seventeen: Chena Hot Springs--270 miles--this is a resort, so prices vary depending on accommodations and what you choose to participate in. We camped, which gave us use of the RV water station to clean the mud and calcium chloride off the bikes. We also enjoyed the grown-ups only hot pool, relaxing and watching moose come down to eat the vegetable gardens. This was BRILLIANT after the drive down the haul road in the rain and mud.

Day eighteen: Fairbanks with Tom, Melissa, dogs and the chickens again!

Day nineteen/twenty/twenty-one: Denali National Park, AK--123 miles--Savage River Campground--$10 per person fee to enter park (good for 7 days) unless you have a year long national park pass. The campground itself is $22/night for a site. There are campground hosts, flush toilets and sinks w/running water in the bathrooms, and free-standing bear proof closets for food.

Loved the park! Saw Mt. Denali several times, which is actually somewhat rare from the park.
Day twenty-two/three: Talkeetna, AK (staying w/our friend Robin!)--154 miles

Robin, Dog, and Bailey. It stopped raining!
Day twenty-four: Portage Valley, AK--172 miles--Black Bear Campground--6 miles down the Portage Glacier Highway. Pit toilets, water, bear proof containers, all the firewood you can collect. There ARE bears. Also, great hiking in the area to small glaciers.

Exit Glacier in Seward.
Day twenty-five/six: Seward, AK--89 miles--Exit Glacier Campground--about 9 miles out Exit Glacier Highway in Kenai Fjords National Park. (Although it is a national park, there is no entrance fee) Free 12 site walk-in only. Central food storage/cooking/eating area with water and pit toilets. THERE ARE BEARS HERE! But, it's a really nice campground with an easy hike of just a couple miles to Exit Glacier. There is also a campground downtown on the beach, but I think this one was much better.

The bear chewed my helmet, just missing my Sena wires, and leaving a dirty bear nose print in the padding. He also chewed on my seat a bit.
Day twenty-seven: Gakona, AK--323 miles--The Historic Gakona Roadhouse--There is a sign out front that says camping. We went into the bar, found the owner, had a drink and asked about camping. He said to throw the tent wherever we wanted to. We did, and then went back for more drinks. There is a restaurant, and the owner left the restaurant open all night so we could go in and use the bathrooms.

Day twenty-eight: Tok, AK--100ish miles--Young's Hotel (behind Fast Eddy's Restaurant)--here's the great thing about this place: There was a fan in the room which meant we could blast the baseboard heaters to dry our gear, but keep the room cool enough to sleep in. We meant to ride all the way to Kluane Lake, but the rain was brutal, the temps in the 30s, and I couldn't feel my feet anymore.

The line-up outside Fast Eddy's Restaurant. Loads of GSs and one Wee.
Day twenty-nine: Kluane Lake, British Columbia, Canada--245 miles--Cottonwood Park Campground--$16/site with real bathrooms that have flush toilets, loads of hot running water, showers, laundry, a small store, hot tub, and a mini-golf course. Oh yeah, wi-fi too!

Mini golf and sunshine at Cottonwood Park on Kluane Lake
OMG! Sunshine!
Day thirty: Haines, AK--214 miles--Chilkat State Park--8 miles south of Haines, access is a dirt/gravel road with a short section of 14% grade. $10/night with water and pit toilets. We had to hang the bear box ourselves--nowhere to store that stuff.

Day thirty-one: Juneau, AK--Auke Bay Recreation Area--ok, we got on the Alaska Marine Highway System in Haines and had to get off in Juneau for an 8 hour layover--from about midnight to 8 am. We didn't want to seek out a hotel for a couple hours (we were told to check in at 6 for the leg to Sitka), and as we were untying our bikes, one of the guys on the boat told us about Auke Bay. When leaving the parking lot of the ferry terminal, turn left onto the highway. Go about a mile or so, and take the left fork onto Point Louisa Rd. (Oh yeah, they named that after me too) A little ways down that road will be metal staircases that go down to the beach and lead to picnic tables under pagoda style roofs. This was great because it was 1: free 2: on the beach 3: (shocker) raining. So, we popped the tent up and crawled in to sleep for a couple of hours. No one bothered us and there were no signs saying we couldn't camp there....

Day thirty-two: Sitka, AK--Starrigavan Campground and Ann's Gavan Hill B & B--The campground has about 30 sites, some are walk-in only. $14/night for walk-in site. There is water available--amazing water from an artesian well in the main campground--pit toilets, fire rings, and separate covered picnic tables if its raining. The walk-in sites are the best, and definitely try for one of the three on the bay. Despite the bears knocking over the bikes at that campground, it was gorgeous! A humpback whale was breaching off the coast when we woke up. Amazing. After the bear issues, and the constant downpour, we moved to the bed and breakfast and loved it, also. $75-95 night including laundry/kitchen facilities, hot tub, amazing breakfast, and all the history of the area you want to know.

Stupid bears! Then again, my friend Chas would say the bear thought, "Stupid humans!" I guess it's all relative.
Days thirty-three to thirty-six--Alaska Marine Highway System--for rates and schedule, look them up online. It changes each year. Cabins available--sleeping in lounge chairs or pitching tents on deck costs nothing extra. Showers and laundry also available.

Days thirty-seven to thirty-nine spent with family and friends in Washington and Oregon.

Day forty--Eastern Oregon--Dixie Campground, Malheur National Forest--right off highway 26 with 9 sites. $8/site with pit toilets. NO WATER.

We shared this site with a bicyclist named Ralph from Brighton England.
Day forty-one--Craters of the Moon National Monument--Park entrance fee is $4/person on motorcycle or included if you have an annual national parks pass. Camping is $10/site with 51 available sites. Water, bathrooms with flush toilets and running water in sinks. Cool place to visit. Went spelunking but was disappointed as I didn't get to see any bats.

Don't forget a headlamp. The caves are fun--100 degrees above ground, ice on the floor below. Supposedly, there are bats too....
Day forty-two--Lava Hot Springs, ID--KOA Lava Hot Springs--ridiculously overpriced, and freight trains go by less than 100 yards away at least four times an hour, 24 hours a day. Renting tubes and floating down the river is cheap good fun. That's the best I can say about it.

Day forty-three--Dinosaur National Monument--outside Vernal, UT. About the same rates as Craters of the Moon. There are a number of campgrounds, we stayed at Green River Campground. Water, flush toilets, and running water in bathrooms. $12/site with access to the river to swim and cool down. The site came complete with a four foot long snake that I walked over four times before realizing I had. Then, I screamed. Like a little girl. **plus side of things--my wallet fell off my bike in the middle of a huge street in Vernal UT and I didn't realize it. A SUPER nice family rescued it and returned it to me. Really nice people there.

Day forty-four--Home Sweet Home--and the withdrawal set in almost immediately.

I missed a couple of days in there somewhere, but I don't think I missed any campsites. Please contact me if you want anymore info!



  1. I was informed that I flip-flopped Radium Hot Springs and Lake Louise. The campground/hostel info is correct for each place, it's just that we went to Lake Louise AFTER Radium Hot Springs.

    Also, the coffee place near Tahkini Hot Springs is called Bean North Coffee Roasters and they have wi-fi, not wi-if. One wouldn't think iPad would autocorrect that word....

  2. Camping is a wonderful way to relieve stress and to become emotionally, physically and spiritually stronger. Besides getting away from the city, you are bringing exercise, nature and relaxation into your own world when you begin camping at any level.

    Outdoor Blog