For our May Best Campgrounds Series, we asked Dave from AdvoDNA, Beth from Wandering Dawgs and Russ from Wandertopia to share with us their favorite State Park campgrounds. Be sure to check out their blogs and Instagram accounts!
Humboldt Redwoods State Park – Burlington, CA
Our choice for favorite state park campground is Burlington Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. While the campground itself is just a basic winding loop set beside the Avenue of the Giants road, it’s that very location that makes it so perfect. Not only is the campground filled with “goosepens,” the hollowed out stumps of giant redwoods left behind after fire, old age or – gasp! – the woodsman’s axe (and endless source of adventure and exploration for kids) and some impressive second growth redwoods, but just across the road are trails that meander through peaceful groves along the Eel River for as far as you’d want to walk. If those groves or the drive along the Avenue of the Giants itself isn’t impressive enough, take a detour out to the Rockefeller Loop for a short 1/2 mile hike through our favorite grove filled with trees that may have been saplings around the time the Vikings discovered North America 1,000 years ago. In the afternoon, wander down to the Eel River to skip rocks or skip that altogether and head right for the Eel River Brewing Company about 30 minutes north! – Adv-O-dna Dave
Palo Duro Canyon State Park- Canyon, TX
As we traveled through Texas in the spring of 2015 camping in Palo Duro Canyon was on our list of “do not miss” places. Just the idea of looking up at the canyon walls from our campsite was enough to plan our trip around a stay in the park. It was worth the two mile drive into Palo Duro Canyon down several switchbacks and a 10% grade to get to one of our most memorable campsites in all of our camping years.
The ranger that checked us in and assigned us our site showed us the map and pointed out the campsites available for our size rig. She was really friendly and helpful and after showing us one that was “too windy” and another one that was “yukky” she assigned us a beautiful site in the Sagebrush campground. We had great views of the canyon but the best part was a private little sitting area behind our RV. Surrounded by mesquite and juniper was a grassy area with a covered shelter over the picnic table and a fire ring. While sitting there the first afternoon we saw a Texas Horned Lizard walk through the site. Another day a flock of wild turkeys wandered through the campground.
Just the campsite alone was enough to make this our favorite state park but there was so much more. There are 16 miles of paved roads through the canyon and miles of hiking, cycling, equestrian, and multi-use trails to explore. One of the highlights of our stay was hiking through the canyon on the popular Lighthouse trail. Another day we took a short hike to the Hole in the Wall. There was enough to keep us busy for weeks. We hated to leave. – Beth Smith
Ridgway State Park – Ridgway, CO
If you are planning a trip to Colorado’s western slope, we could not recommend a better state park option than Ridgway. Close to the super cute town of Ridgway with its locally owned shops and restaurants and music festivals in its downtown park every summer weekend, the park is also within easy roundtrip day drives in the warmer months to Montrose, Ouray, Silverton and even Telluride. The location alone is worth the reasonable daily fee but we found the park itself a worthy destination. Situated along a beautiful reservoir, the park offers two campgrounds. The upper one named Dutch Charlie is situated adjacent the reservoir’s beach and marina. The lower, Pu-Co-Chu-Puk, sits beneath the dam and along a crystal clear stream separating the RV sites from tent camping options tucked within mature trees with plenty of shade and privacy.
The hike between the two campgrounds should not be missed. A well-worn trail traverses a stunning grassy plateau with vistas across the reservoir framing the dramatic peaks of the San Juan Mountains. The path snakes high above the water below and accommodates serious work-outs or casual sunset strolls. The Pu-Co-Chu-Puk sites have access to a lovely nature path that meanders through tall grass and along the rocky banks of the stream. Popular for fly fishing, the babbling sounds of the stream mingle with the crackle of campfires at night.
The park’s facilities were very up-to-date and well-maintained. Playgrounds are adjacent the camping sites as are ample laundry and restroom/ shower facilities. The RV campsites are dispersed among native grasses, are level and private. But again, this park’s appeal for us was its proximity to all that southwestern Colorado has to offer. As a hub for getting out to explore the natural beauty and cute western towns around it, Ridgway earns our pick for best state park. – Russ