Casini Ranch Family Campground

IMG_2349We got an early start in the camping season and reserved a last minute spot at Casini Ranch Family Campground. We hit some traffic and burned our bin full of food but that didn’t stop us from having a great time in the woods!

Casini Ranch Family Campground – May 2013

Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: Located amongst rolling hills along the Russian River about 7 miles from the coast and 7 miles southwest of Guerneville.

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers

Pets: Allowed at an additional charge of $1/day

Site: 56

Pros:  The campground is centrally located to use as a base to travel to the coast or to major cities in Sonoma County. Most campsites were large so multiple tents/people can share one site. The campground hosts Civil War Days near the end of July each year, Saturday night bonfires (they supply the marshmallows), movie nights, and they even have free hay rides. The Moscow Mill Pond is nearby where you can feed ducks and geese.  The Russian River meanders around the park so you should bring your kayak/canoe or just enjoy the views of the river from the shore.

Cons:  Sites are very expensive (about twice the amount of a site at a State Park).  There aren’t enough restroom facilities so there’s often a wait for the showers.

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Boethe-Napa Valley SP

The Ichikawa cousins fell in love with our camping style and decided they wanted to go on one more camping trip for the year.  This time, we found our way to Napa for camping, wine tasting, and brewery tours.  It’s the perfect combination of civilization and nature!!!

Boethe-Napa Valley SP – August 2012

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Location: Located at the edge of Napa Valley, 5 miles north of St. Helena and 4 miles south of Calistoga.

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers. Sink with warm water for washing dishes!

Cell Service: No

Pets: Allowed at no additional charge

Site: 12 (23 and 25 are nice for a small group), Yurt 22

Pros:  Boethe-Napa gives visitors an inexpensive alternative to expensive bed & breakfast/hotels.  Limos are allowed in and out of the park if you want to visit nearby wineries.  The location is very convenient and is right off the highway.  It’s quite easy to get to Castello di Amorosa and the Culinary Institute of America, etc.  With the savings from staying at the park, you can spend more money visiting wineries!  The park is also a short drive to Sonoma County.  You can add a few brewery tours to the itinerary and spend some time in Santa Rosa.  We also didn’t have to worry about furry critters visiting us. 

Cons:  Tent sites are very close to each other without much privacy to separate the sites.  The bathrooms aren’t the cleanest and the showers were hit or miss.  Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t.  Meat bees were everywhere.  Make em a plate of raw meat and place it away from the common areas.  Thank goodness we also have a canopy to place over the picnic table.

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MacKerricher SP

Ever since we started camping, we’ve been talking about making a trip to MacKerricher SP!  We finally pulled our act together and booked the trip as soon as the season began!  Who needs fireworks on the Fourth of July when you have the Pacific Ocean at your feet!




MacKerricher SP – July 2012

Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: Located in the heart of Mendocino County a few miles north of Fort Bragg

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers

Pets: Allowed at no additional charge

Sites: 132 and 133 (138 and 139 are also great spots), 113 (adjoining site 114 is very small but perfect with 113), 116, 124 (but rather far from bathroom)

Pros:  There are many campgrounds within the park.  Surfwood is the closest to the ocean and is where we enjoyed our stay.  A short walk from the campsite and you arrive at the beach.  A wooden boardwalk begins at the cliff and meanders along the side of the cliff to provide breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.  If you’re the adventurous type, you can ditch the boardwalk and walk down to the water’s edge to experience the many tide pools.   The boardwalk leads you to Laguna Point, which is where you can spot harbor seals sunbathing on an island and spot pelicans soaring in the air.  Squirrels are also scampering around the boardwalk and are quite entertaining to watch.  The campground is located within the heart of Mendocino County, so if you get bored with the ocean, you can visit the nearby cities of Fort Bragg and Mendocino.  Noyo Harbor is another fun place to visit.  You can watch fisherman unloading their catch, rent kayaks, go fishing, and grab some fresh oysters.

Cons:  Sites are quite small and are pretty open from the street.  We were lucky and had some blackberry bushes to hide us while other sites were fully exposed.  Bathrooms weren’t the greatest nor cleanest.   Don’t be alarmed by the brown water…it is recommended that you bring plenty of drinking water!  Even though there we had some cons…the pros definitely outweigh the cons!  We will definitely be back!!!

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Scotts Flat Lake Resort

Our annual camping trip with the youngin’s led us to Scotts Flat Lake Resort.  If you have a boat, the lake offers hours of fun and the water is warm!!!  If you don’t have a boat, you can rent paddle boats and kayaks by the hour.  The resort is definitely on our radar for fun on at a lake!

Scotts Flat Lake Resort – June 2012

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Location: Located in Nevada City, about an hour away from Sacramento.

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers

Pets: Allowed for an additional charge

Pros:  The resort is a perfect location if you have a boat!  There are a few sites located along the water’s edge that allows you to dock your boat right at your site!  The water is quite warm so you can spend many hours on a boat, in a kayak, floating, and/or swimming.  The lake is also a great spot to throw a line and catch a few fish.

Cons:  Campsites are quite close to each other and don’t offer any barriers in between.  Although the sites along the lake are ideal if you have a boat, be prepared the sleep downhill.  The bathrooms are not the best in the world.  The bathroom that was closest to us was old and 2 out of the 3 stalls had missing locks.  We noticed that other bathrooms had newer stalls so hopefully all of the buildings will get remodeled.  The resort is located in bear country, so be mindful of leaving goodies out while you’re sleeping.  Although we did not see any bears ourselves, we overheard people talking about sightings near our site.  Yikes!!!

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Return to Henry Cowell SP

On June 22, 2012, we returned to Henry Cowell for our first annual Ichikawa Cousins Camping Trip!  Henry Cowell is an ideal spot for touring Santa Cruz and is a short drive to the boardwalk.  We decided to leave the dogs behind so we could actually visit the boardwalk this time.  We had an amazing adventure and are excited to begin our annual cousins camping trip!!

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Richardson Grove SP

Our first camping trip of the season took us to Richardson Grove SP.  You never know what the campground is actually going to look like until you arrive.  We were pleasantly surprised to find an awesome campground AND an awesome restroom.  The restrooms were constantly getting cleaned and were the cleanest bathrooms we have used since our camping adventures began!  Richardson Grove is definitely one of our favorites and we will most likely return in the future!!

Richardson Grove SP – May 2012

Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: Located 7 miles south of Garberville on Hwy 101.

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers (best we’ve seen yet)

Pets: Allowed at no additional charge

Site: 50

Pros:  Richardson Grove is located in the heart of the redwoods.  The campground is an ideal spot to begin the Avenue of the Giants and visit the drive-thru tree.  Sites at the campground are quite large (we had three 6-10 man tents on one site) and are nestled amongst giant redwoods.  The campground also has a visitors center and access to the Eel River, which is a great spot for floating and swimming. Trails meander around the campground into the lush forest where you can spot lots of banana slugs!

Cons:  None

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Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP

For Labor Day weekend, we decided to add a few miles on the truck and traveled approximately 5 hours to Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP.  Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP is a small park, only covering a few acres.  Along the campground lies the Van Duzen River, which provides a home to fish and a lot of frogs.  Word on the street is the park is scheduled to close soon due to budgetary cuts.  After spending one night at the park…we quickly understood why.


Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP – September 2011

Rating: 1 out of 5

Location: Located 20 miles southeast of Eureka off of Hwy 36.

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers

Pets: Allowed at no additional charge

Sites: 22 and 23

Pros:  The campground is small so there are only a few sites available for campers.  The campground is located off of Hwy 36, which is is fairly close to Hwy 101.  From 101, you can easily drive to Fortuna, Ferndale, and beyond.  Ferndale is a quaint Victorian town with a few antique stores.  Fun way to spend an hour.  Further north is Eureka and Patrick’s Point.  We didn’t make it all the way to Patrick’s Point but we stopped at the Trinidad State Beach where dogs are allowed.  After a small hike down steep steps, an amazing secluded beach can be found.

Cons:  Campsites are extremely close together and there are no barriers (trees, bushes, etc) between the sites.   The park is literally right off Hwy 36 so throughout the night, streaming cars can be heard.  The locals love to honk their horns while passing the campground too, which is quite annoying.  The restrooms were quaint so don’t bother blow-drying your hair.  Expect the “plumbing” to be backed up because there isn’t much privacy.  The stall doors are so short…even I can see over the top!  The “river” is more like a murky pond of moss and algae.  Save your money and go further north to Patrick’s Point!

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Hendy Woods

In honor of the August birthday girls (Mom and Lauren), we decided to take them camping at Hendy Woods.  Hendy Woods is located in Philo, Ca about eight miles northwest of Boonville.  You got that right…out in the “Boonies!”  The girls had a great birthday vacation and Jeff got to visit the Anderson Brewing Company in Boonville.

Hendy Woods SP – August 2011

Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: Located on Philo-Greenwood Road eight miles northwest of Boonville.

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers

Pets: Allowed at no additional charge

Site: 6

Pros:  Hendy Woods is located about 45 minutes from the Mendocino coast.  Although we didn’t visit the coast this trip, we have visited the coast before.  Mendocino offers visitors a nice botanical garden and magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean.  Definitely a worthwhile visit.  The park is also a short drive to the Anderson Valley Brewing Company, which is probably the only thing to visit within a few miles.  The restroom facilities at Hendy Woods was one of the better facilities we have ever used but we noticed that other facilities within the park were old and outdated (visualize rust stains in the toilet, etc).

Cons:  Campsites are rather close to each other and close to the road.  Our kitchen was practically on the road for all to see.  We do eat like kings so we know we were making everyone jealous. 🙂   If you like to reserve adjourning campsites, this might be difficult since there aren’t many pathways that lead to one campsite from the next.

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Bodega Dunes

We have always heard great things about Bodega Dunes so we finally decided to make a reservation!  For our second camping trip in July, we packed up the camp gear and headed to the coast for some beach camping.   Thanks to traffic, it took about three hours to reach the campsite.  Luckily, the Esquibel Family made it shortly after check-in to snag one of the better sites (site 20).  Check out our complete review below!

Bodega Dunes (Sonoma Coast State Beach) – July 2011

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Location: Located off Highway 1 in between Jenner and Bodega Bay.

Amenities: Flushing toilets and showers

Pets: Allowed at no additional charge

Site: 2

Pros:  Bodega Dunes Campground is located within the heart of Bodega and is central to many beaches off the coast.  A quick drive will lead you to the town of Bodega where you can pick up some local salt water taffy and a kite.  Along Highway 1 are many beaches…many of which have tide pools that you can explore.  We recommend a stop at Miwok Beach during low-tide but be careful for the “sleeper waves”, as Miss Anna would call them.  Never turn your back to the ocean!  The campground is approximately 30 minutes away from Santa Rosa and many Sonoma County breweries.  Jeff recommends Russian River Brewing Company and Lagunitas Brewing Company.  Further out is Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg.  Aside from being a great central spot for traveling outside the campground, the campground has it’s own beach access.  A one mile walk from the campgrounds will lead you to the beach, which is very private and worth visiting.  A big PRO…no bugs! Bathrooms and shower facilities were adequate and we did not have to wait long for showers (PS: showers are FREE).

Cons:  Campsites are first come first serve…so it is highly recommended that you arrive at check-in time (2 pm).  There are a lot of campsites that cannot accommodate large tents so you might want to ditch the large tent and bring a pup tent.   Since the campground is located off the coast, the morning fog will bring moisture.  Remember to pack up anything that you do not want to get wet (e.g. bring your folding chairs in every night so you have a dry seat to sit on in the morning).   Campsites aren’t private and you might be fully exposed to the elements and your neighbors.  Bring a canopy or two just in case.

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Long Ravine (Rollins Lake)

We usually like to camp for at least two days but we got an invite to head to Rollins Lake with friends to camp and go on a boat ride.  Of course we couldn’t say, “No”.  We packed up some of the camp gear and headed to Long Ravine Campgrounds (Rollins Lake).  Check out review below!

Long Ravine (Rollins Lake) – July 2011

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (with boat 4 out of 5)

Location: Colfax (about 45 minutes from Sacramento)

Amenities: Flushing toilets, showers, and a general store

Pets: Allowed at an additional charge

Pros:  Located just 45 minutes away from Sacramento, the campgrounds are far enough to forget about the daily grind but close enough to pack up the camp gear for a last minute trip.  The campsites are huge so multiple tents can be pitched on one site!  There didn’t seem to be any bugs around so we were able to ditch the bug spray and the weather was nice throughout the night (be warned…the mornings can be cold but it will quickly heat up at sunrise).   Long Ravine is situated right off Rollins Lake so a short walk or a quick drive will take you to the lake.   If you have a boat, Rollins Lake is perfect for boating and water sports.  The calmness of the lake is ideal for swimming if you can tolerate the cold water.   After we dropped anchor in a cove, we had lunch, swam, and even took a nap.  We definitely were able to lose track of time and enjoy the simple things in life!!  The nightlife at Long Ravine is also perfect for adults. With a live band playing until 11pm, the party definitely doesn’t stop after the sun sets.

Cons:  Bathrooms were clean; however, there weren’t a lot of shower facilities (one out of the closest two restrooms) so a long wait to shower is expected.  If you do not have a boat, there is only one area you can go to that actually has sand.  We noticed a couple of beaches along the lake during our boat ride; however, they were not accessible from the campground.  While the nightlife can be appreciated by young adults, this is definitely not ideal for the families with kids or adults who are light sleepers.  The band played until 11pm and the echoes could be heard throughout the surrounding sites.  We couldn’t imagine having a site closer to the action.   The nightlife also brings out the party crowds.  Even though there is a curfew, expect some noise from individual campsites.  People also tend to drive really fast within the campground.  Be careful on the paved areas and keep a close eye on kids and pets.

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