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Campsite Photo Trip - Summer 2012

Smoke on the Water, Fire in the Sky

Greg encounters some smoke and fire while attempting a visit to Lassen National Park:

What, you thought the trip would keep running smoothly?

I left Klamath Falls Sunday morning after posting to my blog. I decided to take the scenic route through Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Lava Beds National Monument.

Tule-Sign Lava-Beds-Sign

The sky was a little hazy due to the fire in Lakeview, OR, east of Klamath Falls. But it made the Devil’s Homestead look downright devilish.

Devils-Sign Devils-Homestead

I didn’t have time to do any exploring as I had about 250 miles to drive to Lassen National Park. I was really looking forward to spending 4 days there to explore. The sky had cleared up after leaving Lava Beds but when I started to get close to Lassen things took a turn for the worse. Near Old Station, which is 15 miles north, I started seeing lots of fire crews and equipment parked alongside the road. I looked up through the trees and saw some smoke but it was blowing east so it was not too bad.

I entered the park and was confronted by this sign.


Wait, what does that orange one say?


Are you kidding me? Apparently not.


Yep, one mile into the park the road was shut down.


Now I saw the the smoke from the fire as well. Not a good sign. Manzanita campground is one mile into the park and was the only campground not yet closed. A ranger told me that Summit Lake North and South were closed last week and that Crags, which is 5 miles away, was evacuated at 9pm a few days ago with the campers being sent to Manzanita. Well ain’t this a hoot. I can still take photos here and there are a couple of other campgrounds along Hat Creek that I could check out. It was almost 5pm when I set up camp. I was tired after the long drive so I had a few tacos and read my book by a campfire. Yeah, they were still allowing campfires...

I awoke the next morning coughing and with my eyes burning. The wind had switched and the smoke filled the campground.


Everyone was packing up so I did as well.


My eyes are still red as I write this on Wednesday. I was extremely disappointed with this latest development. I had planned on doing laundry here as well before my week at Humboldt with the Camping Fools. (A bunch of nuts from the Honda Element Owners Club) I looked in my handy dandy camping guide and found a place called Old Lewiston Bridge RV Resort. I called them up and found they did have some tent sites open so I headed west for 3 hours past Redding to the town of Lewiston. I had not been following the weather but it seemed rather warm on the drive there.

I set up camp and put my chair in the shade. I figured I would hang out here for 3 nights until I went to Humboldt. They have laundry facilities here so I was good to go. But it kept getting warmer. And warmer. By 4pm there was a hot dry wind blowing through the campground. The sweat immediately evaporated off my bald head and left it covered with salt crystals. This was not going to work for me. The campground itself was fine if you had an RV. There are over 50 sites with full hookups and the place was very well looked after. I’d recommend it if you want to explore the Lewiston/Trinity area and want to be plugged in.

I headed out early the next morning and heard on the radio that Redding had hit 112 degrees. I figured I would keep heading west and stay at either Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park or Van Duzen, a Humboldt County campground. They are 5 miles apart and 15 miles from US101. I stopped at Grizzly first.


Being a few miles from the 101 this campground doesn’t get packed like the ones in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It’s small with only 30 sites but it’s very nice and is alongside the Van Duzen River. The are some groves of giant trees you can stroll through as well.


What I found kind of funny is that this is one of the State Parks that California Governor Brown had put on the closure list. Humboldt County took it over temporarily to keep it open and the first thing they did was drop the fee from $35 to $25. It is generating more money now. I think it’s called the “Law of Diminishing Returns” or something like that. You can’t keep raising prices and think that will increase the revenue. You will lose visitors and end up generating less money. In the last 7 or 8 years the California State Park fees have jumped from $12 to $20 and now they are $35-$45. That has priced me right out of camping at them. But I did hear that Sacramento found a couple of hundred million in the sock drawer so maybe that will stop them from holding campers hostage unless they vote for higher taxes. Sorry for the rant but it just irks me.

Anyway, I headed west to Van Duzen and that is where I will be staying for the next two nights.


They call it Swimmers Delight because of the swimming holes on the Van Duzen River. I found a giant campsite next to the river. I mean HUGE! You could fit 10 tents in it.


You can barely see my tent in the back. I put it in the shade but I ended up sitting in the sun as the temperature was a nice 75 degrees. I even have my own steps to the river.


And it has trees. Big trees. Can you see my car? Look hard.


Really big trees.


This morning (Wednesday) I wandered down to the river to take some photos. There was a nice sunrise.

Van-Duzen-Sunrise-3 Van-Duzen-Sunrise-8

Then I took some shots of the river and walls on the sides.

Van-Duzen-River-1 Van-Duzen-River-2

I like the colors and textures on this one:


OK, that’s it for now. I am going to drive 15 miles to Fortuna, CA and do some laundry and find a place to post this.

If anyone is planning a trip to Lassen National Park in the near future make sure you call or check out the NPS website to verify that it is all open. I will definitely be heading back that way again as there are lots of great campgrounds in the area including Eagle Lake and Lake Almanor, both within 50 miles or so.

Regards, Park Ranger


Sad to hear about Lassen - we really liked it there. Our banner photo on our blog is from Lassen.

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