This journey, as we head into our final week, has been sublime. Intense, captivating, spectacular, peaceful, raucous, challenging and easeful - sometimes all in the same day! I look forward to home but I'm still really enjoying our time away.
We've learned a lot of things about our own family travel dynamic and we've learned a few things about camping in State & National parks with kids. I'm happy to share these practical tips here; if not just for you, then for our future selves too.
In midsummer, it really is helpful to reserve early, especially if there isn't another nearby public campground. Private sites can be plentiful but the quality of space and nature is super variable. The public sites are so well maintained here and most have showers and all so far have had flush toilets - luxury!
When booking ahead, try for a site on the outside of a loop. 80% of the time these offer more natural play & wandering spaces. Definitely avoid camping beside or within sight of a playground! This probably would be true if you have young kids or not. Unless your kids can be parent free in the park and are immune to other children's adventure noises when they need some down time.
Towards the end of summer, things have been a little more roomy - so it's worth it to ask for a better site if you find one!
In the Redwoods, we spent most of our day trips within the Prairie Creek State campground. If we were to go back, or make a recommendation it would be to stay there. I think we've been spoiled by our Provincial Campgrounds usually offering plentiful walkable activities (hikes, walks, beaches). Not all campgrounds are arranged like this! We spent quite a lot of time driving to hikes in the Redwoods while based in the otherwise central Mill Creek State Park.
Which brings me to the importance of paying attention to the recreation options offered at sites. Jessie B Honeyman Park in Oregon was so family friendly and wonderful in many ways AND it was an ATV friendly dune. From sunrise to dusk, we heard the high whine of these motors. Fun for some, just not for us.
These are the main things we'd take into consideration next time we're planning ahead. It's just so tricky for me to know in advance if it's better to just move on, or if the current setup is the better one. We're currently in Nehalem State Park and it is ideal! The sound of crashing waves, a playground a little distance away, a loooong non-motorized beach to walk to and a 5 minute drive into a small, charming town with a grocery store and a couple sweet looking restaurants.
I'm also adding some photos of our setup for those of you who are curious. We met another Boler family and they invited us in to check out their systems (their son is in his teens and still sleeping on the single bed. I asked him if he fits and he replied emphatically 'no'!).