Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wanted: Campground Hosts for National Forests

There are 175 national forests and grasslands across America and, as recreation budgets and staff are being reduced, volunteer host positions are on offer from sea to shining sea. These are wonderful opportunities for RVers who want to establish a base for a month or more and really explore these treasured lands. 

The job is straightforward ... the host is there to provide good information in a friendly manner to campers about the park and area, to monitor the campground for the Forest Service, and to perform light general maintenance duties. As a volunteer host, you’ll receive a free campsite for the duration of your stay. And, since the need for volunteer campground hosts is year-round, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one area. You can host in, say, Washington’s Olympic National Forest, then head to the Southwest when the snow flies!

The excellent website offers a comprehensive guide to the developed campgrounds in national forests and grasslands and specifies the host needs for each one. There are multiple positions listed in the Northwestern States (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana) and those interested in applying for a host position, can do so directly with the Forest Service Employee contact. The email address is included with each listing.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Meet dinosaurs at Oregon’s Prehistoric Gardens

Just off Highway 101, halfway between Port Orchard and Gold    Beach, dinosaurs lurk in the rainforest—well, okay dinosaur replicas. They’re actually scientifically accurate, though; their measurements are based on fossil skeletons, which means they’re life-sized! This classic roadside attraction is a great place to bring the kids (of all ages) if you’re out camping this fall... The dripping mosses, lush foliage, and that rich earthy smell of the season give this unique park a Jurassic feel. 

Oregon sculptor, Ernest Nelson created each of these creatures, combing his love of art and his passion for the prehistoric world. He began the project in 1953 and spent the next 40 years constructing the 23 specimens of the menagerie, which includes a nest of hatching triceratops, a colorful dimetrodon, flying pteranodon, and a very toothy elasmosaurus. 

The park is open year-round (sometimes the owners close up shop in late winter for a couple of weeks), daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. 

RVers can camp nearby at the beautiful Humbug Mountain State Park, which offers some of the “warmest” camping in the state, due to the protective mountains. It’s also open year-round; 32 electrical and hookup sites available. Click here for information or call (800) 551-6949 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cap off summer at Idaho’s Redfish Lake

Photo by Art Hale.

Sitting pretty at 6,547 feet in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, glacier-carved Redfish Lake makes for a perfect September getaway—think cobalt skies during the day, and a starry canopy in the evenings. 

The lake was named for the thousands of sockeye salmon that once came to spawn here. Dozens of hikes, including easy loops such as the Fishhook Creek Trail, offer stunning alpine views and possible glimpses of some of the local wildlife, such as elk, moose, pine martin, and osprey. You can also rent a bike for a trail ride, or experience the natural splendor on horseback. And, for anglers, nearby Salmon River is known for the “big ones” that don’t get away! 

Situated right on the lake is the 1920s Redfish Lodge (open until early October), which offers a rustic dining room and locally famous breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. If you want a break from cooking in the RV and a chance to enjoy Idaho wild game, salmon, and trout, this is a wonderful “on-location” treat. 

Redfish Lake is just five miles south of the friendly town of Stanley. About 15 miles north is the ghost town of Custer, complete with Boot Hill Cemetery. There are several campgrounds close to the lake, run by the Forest Service, which can accommodate RVs. For information and reservations, call: 877-444-6777.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ride on over to Hells Canyon for Mule Days fun!

Remember those amazing mule-team “trains” that once rambled across the Great Plains and through the western mountain states? Well, no, of course you don’t, but here’s your chance to help celebrate the pioneers and cowboys, and their hard-working mules, that created our iconic American West. 

The 31st annual Hells Canyon Mule Days takes place next weekend, Sept 7, 8, 9, in northeastern Oregon, in Enterprise, and it’s totally worth hitching up your RV-wagon and gittin’ yerself over yonder.

Weekend highlights include mule-driving events, comic log pulls, barrel racing, pole-bending, and mule team branding. Don’t miss the non-motorized Grand Parade on Saturday, starting at 11—it’s a hilarious delight, complete with all manner of mule- and miniature-horse-drawn contraptions. Right afterwards, at 1 p.m., The Grand Entry and Mule Show fun and entertainment begins.

Be sure to attend an authentic cowboy poetry reading, and check out the handmade crafts in the exhibit halls, including the gorgeous traditional quilts. We betcha won’t be able to resist some of those mulish “souven-ears!” In-between all the fun, treat yer belly to smoky barbecue and beans and Dutch oven casserole fare—good grub just like on the range! 

Here’s the local campground information... 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Driving the Selkirk Loop—the other Northwest mountains

When you think of Northwest mountains, the Selkirk Range seldom rolls off the tongue first. But for those in search of a unique Northwest road trip, the Selkirk Loop—which winds through northern Idaho, Washington and British Columbia—deserves a special tack on the map. 

The 280-mile road follows rivers and lakeshores once used for regional transportation. It traverses narrow canyons, fertile valleys, and broad meadows back-dropped by snow-capped mountains. This is a take-your-time adventure worthy of a few leisurely days, with recreational opportunities for every age and interest. Swim, canoe or kayak, go rafting, or drop a line along the miles of pristine shorelines. Go horseback riding, hike through virgin forest and past dazzling waterfalls, and go geo-caching in the national forests or provincial parks along the way. With autumn coming up, red and yellow foliage creates a patchwork of color among the stands of pine, and countless numbers of Canada geese stop for breaks here during their southbound journey. 

Farm stands are overflowing this time of year, too; stock up with fresh fruits and veggies and chat with the local growers, and the shopkeepers in the charming towns of Bonners Ferry, Creston, or Nelson, to name just a few. And as a special side trip (we’ve done this and highly recommend it), don’t miss the chance to ride the Kootenay Lake Ferry—the longest free ferry ride in the world. It’s nothing short of spectacular! For an uncrowded, close encounter with the inland Northwest, treat yourself to the Selkirk Loop—a unique and unforgettable RV adventure.  

Here’s the link to The Loop driving map.

Click for a list of Campgrounds and RV Parks along the Selkirk Loop.