Out for a drive south of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 6, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Purcari Winery, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist! Arrive December 8th.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Campground full? Not really...

Written Tuesday morning, April 5th.

We were headed up to Joshua Tree National Park yesterday morning, and we wanted to get a fairly early start to be able to snag one of the first come, first serve camping sites at Jumbo Rocks Campground. So at 8:00am, Ruth took Helen and Tony back to Walmart for a few last minute items in case we ended up staying up there for three nights.

Meanwhile, I got Sherman all packed up and ready to go.

We had one stop to make along the way. We wanted to see another one of the Peter Toth indian head statues. We had seen one in New Mexico a couple of years ago, and when Dave and Bonnie were here visiting the other day he told us about another one that was nearby.

Dave keeps a website that details all of Peter Toth statues that are distributed around the U.S.. You can find out more at www.dcschumaker.com


This statue is 45 ft tall!

The statue is located on the grounds of a museum, and as luck would have it, we were there on a Monday. Of course, most museums are closed on Mondays! We could get a couple of views of it through the fence and gates though.

We entered the park at the northern entrance. The Visitors Center is actually located in the town of Joshua Tree, and as we drove by we saw the sign that said "Campgrounds Full". This was at around 11:00am, which is right around the time that I figure most people would be leaving.

There's no RV parking at this Visitors Center (which is kinda dumb), so I pulled over further down the road, and Ruth went back with Helen in the car to find out about passes and to ask about this "campground full" stuff.

And sure enough, the girl told them that "based on their last available information, the campgrounds are full".

Well, we learned last year at Zion National Park that when the signs say the campground is full, they are often not telling the truth!

Walking around the campground.

Sherman and our rental red Beetle!

So, we drove on into the park and arrived at Jumbo Rocks Campground where the sign at the entrance also read "Campground Full". Within two minutes, we found an empty site. Ruth parked the car in it while Tony and I carried on with the motorhome to see what else was available. Sure enough, we found an even better site not much further on. We've been using little two way radios between the vehicles and so we called Ruth and told her which site we were at. She came by and went to pay, and on the way to do that she found an even better vacant site!

This is a self serve campground, where you fill out a ticket and drop your $15 USD ($19.50 CAD) in the slot. You tear off the tag, and attach it to the signpost at your site.

Problem is...when people depart they often leave the tag on the post. The tag says when you arrived, and how many nights you've paid for. So, at all of the empty sites that we found (at least a dozen or more) the ticket from the previous occupant was still there, giving the impression that the site was occupied.

Now here's a neat little trailer!

So...when you see a sign in a National Park that says "Campground Full"...don't believe it! What a terrible system. It is unreal that they don't have someone going around and checking which sites have been vacated and removing the tags. On another note, there are quite a few overflowing trash bins, and the toilets don't seem to be checked for cleanliness on a regular basis. In fact, since we have been here we have yet to even catch sight of an employee.


Many of the sites in Jumbo Rocks Campground are made for tenters, not RV's. And most of the RV suitable sites are listed as for 25' or less. Sherman is 28'. We found a site that would fit larger than 30', but they are few and far between.

Our campsite.

We went for a walk around the campground. Lots of fun climbing on the big boulders and it's a nice area of the park.

Today, we'll take off in the Beetle and do some touring of the park.

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24 comments:

  1. Loved staying there but...cold at night!

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    1. It was definitely cool at night but we loved it for sleeping.

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  2. I taught two 3 week courses at the 29 Palms Marine base there in the 70's..

    Was 112 the day I arrived. Rooms were cooled to 55 because in the winter before there was a residential order to save energy by only heating to 55.. I guess it was never cancelled because they were swamp cooling the rooms down to 55 all summer... All temps in F

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    1. Yikes, I'd be cold in 55°F but then again 112°F doesn't sound comfortable either!

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  3. We are thinking about a trip out to the west coast (or maybe just BC) from Winnipeg and I noticed the National Parks are often first come first serve, with some sites available for reservation, made me kind of nervous about planning our trip!

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    1. Not sure how the Canadian National Parks run but we would suggest that you have a contingency plan available as a backup. Another good idea would be at the campground fairly early to get in there when someone leaves.

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  4. The trailer is made by Safari Condo which makes a hard-sided popup van camper with a dinette that unfolds into a wetbath. Incredible unit.

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    1. Sounds cool! I would love to see the inside of one like you have mentioned and like the one we saw.

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  5. The scenery there is amazing, I am sure you will enjoy the whole experience.

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    1. Yes, the scenery is definitely amazing and we did enjoy ourselves there.

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  6. WE ARE TRAVELING HERE THIS MONTH... THE END OF APRIL . WE ARE ATTENDING A WEDDING IN SAN DIEGO AND THIS IS A MUST SINCE IT IS UNLIKELY THAT WE WILL BE BACK OUT THAT WAY...ANY TIME SOON.

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    1. If you are going to be in this area then we highly recommend that you definitely stop by and spend some time in Joshua Tree National Park. It has some amazing scenery.

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  7. We travelled all down the Oregan coast stopping in at all the campgrounds that had a sign up saying campground full. We would arrive at the campground between 11:30 to 12 and we always found a spot. They just didn't get to the roadway to take down the sign. They were busy cleaning toilets and picking up garbage.
    Still in this day and age with computers etc you would think there would be a better system.

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    1. Personally I think that parks should just do away with the "campground full" signs, it is just too hard to keep it up to date. This way people can just drive around themselves to see if a spot is available. I would imagine that it would be impossible to use a computer system at a self serve campground but who knows maybe someone could come up with a perfect program for it.

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  8. Thank you for sharing this post including a great link about Peter Toth's Statues. My spouse is a wood carver and I suspect visiting and seeing Toth's creations might inspire some major road trips. Thank you for sharing your wonderful travels. I stumbled on your blog recently and thoroughly enjoy reading your posts daily. Enjoy Life!

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    1. I am so glad to hear that you have enjoyed this post and the link Kevin included that contains the GPS coordinates to Peter Toth's other carvings. Now that we have seen a couple of them we will also keep our eyes peeled out for more of them.

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  9. I'm surprised they don't have camp hosts to pull tickets! Pretty park tough!

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    1. Unfortunately the campground didn't have any campground hosts. I think it might be an idea to get some camp hosts to help out if more paid help isn't in their budget!

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  10. You're in rattle snake heaven, take care

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    1. Unfortunately we never saw one! We were looking around for them though. :-)

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  11. Funny I was just describing this park to my Mexican colleague who is going to US for the first time. I haven't been there in years, but it made an impression that has stayed with me.

    With all the budget cuts to national parks, you are lucky it was even open. We have to tell our Reps that parks and conservation are important. We need to be louder than the oil, firearms, and banking industries.

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    1. I really hope that your Mexican friend is able to go for a visit there, it really is a beautiful and magical kind of place.

      Totally agree, we need to keep these parks open and available to everyone, hopefully we will have them for a very long time yet.

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