Our Campsite Hall of Fame Criteria (+ One of the Best!)
I know this doesn’t have to be said by now, but we camp a lot. About six out of seven nights a week, rain or shine, you can find us cozied up inside our Alps Zephyr 2. We talked about how this is going a few weeks ago during our seven-month check in. (In summary: it’s going well, but yes, sometimes we miss homey comforts like a bed).
By this point, we have pretty fine-tuned opinions of what makes an individual campsite amazing. We have stayed at our fair share of awful campsites (lookin at you, Death Valley!) but most of the campgrounds we encounter have at least something going for them. But every once in awhile, we find a real gem.
What makes a real campsite gem? Well, in our minds, a few things:
- Cozy & Private
- Basic Amenities
- Uncrowded & Quiet
- Close Proximity to Activities
We have come across some incredible campsites (backcountry and frontcountry) throughout our year, and will absolutely be sharing our favorites when our trip is finished. (So far, you can count on the Dunefield at Great Sand Dunes, Murphy Point at Canyonlands, Johnson Lake at Great Basin, and inside the crater at Haleakala to top out the list).
We stumbled upon a new Hall of Fame campsite during our stay at Redwood National Park: Flint Ridge backcountry campground. It will absolutely be making our all-star list. Here’s why.
(but first, a tour!)
Flint Ridge is free. You do have to snatch a backcountry permit from a visitor center, but that’s very easy.
The ranger told us the parking area for the campground is one of his favorite views in the whole park. And we can see why: the pull off overlooks the vast Pacific Ocean, crashing waves and all. We were hoping to catch a sweet sunset from this spot, but we got unlucky with three nights of much-too-cloudy skies. The site itself is a 1/4-mile stroll from your car up into the woods. The sites are nestled in plenty of greenery, and a few of the sites (including ours!) also have a nice view of the ocean.
From our site, it’d be hard to even tell that other sites are in the area. Our favorite kind of backcountry site! It helped that we had the whole thing to ourselves two out of three nights, but even on that third night, it felt like we were all alone.
4. Basic Amenities
The ranger described the pit toilet here as a “castle” because it very closely resembles one. It also happens to be a composting toilet, the less smelly cousin of the classic NPS pit toilet. Each site included two picnic tables, a bear box, and a fire ring. And, (Cole called it the “miracle of the day,”) we were able to catch some sweet LTE and stream a show on Amazon Prime from the comfort of our tent, which is a majorly unfrequent but luxurious event.
5. Uncrowded & Quiet
See above – we had the place to ourselves! Well, ourselves and the big ol’ black bear we saw rambling around near the road as we drove up. We woke up to the sound of the crashing waves and so many birds every morning. Sometimes we can be old people when it comes to quiet campgrounds. If people are loud far beyond quiet hours, we get really grumpy. So it was nice to know that we’d only be disturbed by the gentleness of nature sounds… or, ya know, a bear.
6. Close Proximity to Activities
Finally, we knew we’d want a campsite that was favorably located within the park. National parks are big and it often takes some advanced planning if you don’t want to have to spend your whole day driving. We were thrilled to discover that Flint Ridge is smack-dab in the middle of the park, with easy, 15-minute access to the north and south sections. This meant we could set up camp and not have to worry about switching halfway through our stay. Accessing trails and beaches to the south and north, Flint Ridge provided the perfect base camp.
Speaking of which, here are a few of our favorite day activities in Redwood (south to north)
- Tall Trees Trail
- Lady Bird Johnson Grove
- Elk Meadow
- Fern Canyon (<– it’s a little like Zion’s narrows but GREEN!)
- Newton B Drury Scenic Drive
- Yurok Loop Trail
- Crescent Beach Overlook
- Enderts Beach
- Howland Hill Scenic Drive
- Stout Grove
Redwood National Park was magical. And, like any park we’ve been to, it was highly affected by our camping experience. Thankfully, our experience was positive.
We’ll definitely be back to Flint Ridge Campground!