By Bill Hanson
The warm weather brings to mind summer activities, which brings us to planning that summer vacation. It is not too early to get started, especially if you are planning to camp at some of the state owned campgrounds. There is a very cool fold-out from the state; California State Parks Activities Guide, also available online: The URL is too long, search for the guide as spelled and select the guide book, your search will also list more links specific to campgrounds and reservations.
The list of campgrounds in California is huge and difficult for the first time camper, consider using a broader state map for campgrounds, issued by the state, available online as a pdf file or web site or you can request a hard copy. In any case, it is time to make those plans, talk to your friends who may go with you and get your spot reserved.
Besides packing for your trip consider your children, my mother always took a friend with us, my pal and I would do all kinds of things in the woods or streams. Mom’s idea was passed on to me then to my children, take a good friend for each kid, they will have more fun and give you some peace and a lot of peace of mind. We had our own ‘boy’ tent and my sister and her pal had a ‘girl’ tent. We were content and mom and dad could relax.
Another important consideration is total drive time, eight hours in the car is too long for most children, a one-night stop at a motel or campground you’ve never been to is good for all parties.
For adult camping consider a mix of camping and motel/hotel stays. Drive times can be longer but don’t miss too much as you sail by at 70 mph.
One of my favorite camping expeditions is in the redwoods and at the top of the list is the Jedediah Redwoods State Park in the far northern portion of the state. Google it for details. The campground is everything you dream about in forest camping and it is set on the beautiful Smith River in Del Norte County. The downside is that it’s a lengthy eight- hour drive. The kick-back approach would be a stop in the Victorian village of Ferndale south of Eureka. There are beautiful B & B’s and restored hotels, it is just four hours from home and worthy of a visit.
Don’t miss breakfast at the pie shop and the old cemetery tour is very interesting. If you want to camp near there, the county has a nice park on the Van Duzen River. Next day you can saddle up and finish the four-hour drive to the campground. This is the stuff of dreams in family vacations.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.