TheJim

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Date of Stay:

We were passing through the Brawley area and wanted to check it out, so needed a place to stay. We chose Wiest Lake County Park as there were not many alternatives. It is about 10 miles outside of Brawley and is convenient. The lake is very small. There was no sign at the entrance to the campground. We found it later on the ground with a lot of graffiti. Almost all of the hook-up sites were taken up by what looked to be very long-term stays. Of the few available sites, some had low branches so that we could not get into the site. There are also low branches along the drive coming into the campground. At times, there were very large dogs running around off leash. Right across from the campground is a large cattle feed lot. Right next to the campground is a pasture with sheep. So, you have a lot of opportunity for not very pleasant fragrances. The electrical voltage was low, but not so low as to trip our EMS, so was OK. We had strong Verizon voice and 4G data. There was no listing of rates and no indication of how to pay. One of the residents told us that we were to pay the man that lived in the house on the premises, but we could never locate him despite knocking on the door of the house. As we were getting ready to leave, a truck with Ranger on the side passed by but seemed to ignore us. We tracked him down and he said that we could pay him. For what you get the rate of $30 per night is very high. We stayed only one night, were ready to depart, and would not stay here again.

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This campground is reached by a fairly good, paved county road, S2. Entering from the south and Interstate 8, there is one significant pass with steep upgrade and downgrade but not bad as it is only a couple of miles long. Entering from the north from Highway 78, there are two significant downhill grades, but they are not more than a couple of miles each. The campground is only about five miles north of its better-known and busier sister San Diego county park, Aqua Caliente. This campground is much smaller and has no hook-ups. In addition, generators are not allowed, and there is no dump station. There are fresh water fill taps. For dumping you can drive to Agua Caliente campground and dump for a fee of $7. This campground does not take reservations. We used it to stay during the weekend when Aqua Caliente was full. The campground is divided into a tenting section and an RV section, but, during our visit, the tent campers stayed in the RV area. The sites are very large and well-spaced, and, unlike Agua Caliente, most of the sites are fairly level, although some blocking is required. Even though generators are not allowed, the camp host gave our neighbor the OK to idle his truck to charge his batteries, which he did several times during our visit, even though we complained to the camp host. The campground is fairly close to S2, the main road through the area, so does have some traffic noise, but the road quiets down considerably at night, so was not a major issue for us. You can use this campground as a base to visit Aqua Caliente and soak in the hot waters for $3 per day use fee. For some reason, even though this is a fairly remote campground, we had strong Verizon voice and 4G data. Satellite was not a problem as there are no trees in this desert campground. We enjoyed our stay at this campground, but had to limit our time there because we could not use our generator and it was cloudy so we did not get enough solar generation to sustain us for very long.

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Note that although this campground is listed under Borrego Springs, the address is Julian. The rate is for a full hook-up site with 50 amp service. This campground is reached by a fairly good, paved county road, S2. Entering from the south and Interstate 8, there is one significant pass with steep upgrade and downgrade but not bad as it is only a couple of miles long. Entering from the north from Highway 78, there are two significant downhill grades, but they are not more than a couple of miles each. The major features of this campground are the pools. There are three pools, one cold, one warm (about 85 degrees), and one heated to 100 degrees. The first two are outside and the hot pool is enclosed. They seem to be clean and very well maintained. During the week, they are only open from 9:30 until 5:00; they are open later on the weekend. This is a desert campground, so there is no shade. There is a small amount of brush for some visual separation; the sites are fairly well separated. The interior roads are paved; the parking spaces are sand/gravel. Almost none of the sites are really level and many are very sloped. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell from their web sites how sloped the sites really are. In our motorhome, we had a hard time finding an available site where we could get level, and, even then, we had to use several leveling blocks. There are sites for tents, sites with electric hook-ups and water, and sites with full hook-ups. We chose a full hook-up site because it is in a much quieter section of the campground. The voltage was fairly low but not enough to trip our EMS as dangerously low. It was very quiet at night. There is some noise during the day from the nearby aircraft, primarily from the helicopters, but it wasn't overly objectionable. We arrived during the week without a reservation and there were several sites available. However, on the weekend almost all sites were reserved. If you do not have a reservation, you can only register for one night at a time. During our stay there was never anyone in the office to ask about availability for additional nights. Some of the sites are taken up by long-term campers, this includes park staff and volunteers and a few people that have a note from a doctor saying that the waters are essential to their health. We did not have a usable Verizon signal. If you need cell coverage, it is available about five miles north in front of Vallecito Regional Park. Satellite was not a problem since there are no trees. We enjoyed our stay and would stay here again if in the area.

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The rate is for a 50 amp full-hookup site, of which there are only four. The camping area truly is a parking lot, but the full-hookup sites are set up so that you park parallel and do have views looking out at the Salton Sea. However, the Salton Sea is drying up, so it is quite a ways out. Since the Sea is slowly drying and is comprised primarily of agricultural run-off, it has a powerful stench, particularly when the wind is from the west coming off of the lake. There were very few other campers during our weekend visit, and, with the smell, I can see why. Satellite was not a problem since there are few trees. We had strong Verizon voice and 4G data. We would not stay here again because of the smell off of the Sea.

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We wanted to check out the Salton Sea and visit the Sony Bono Wildlife Refuge, so we chose Red Hill Marina County Park. There are about five miles of fairly rough dirt/gravel road that you use to navigate to the park. We had been told by a Ranger at Wiest Lake County Park, that there would not be anyone around to collect our money until the next day, but that it was OK to move some barricades and go ahead into the campground. When entering the area there is a sign that indicates "camping" to the left and "RV parking" to the right. It turns out that the hook-up campground is to the right. However, we could not make it all of the way to the campground because of low-hanging branches. We did walk down to take a look and found that it was mainly trashed campers. We then went down to the area marked camping and found some old shelters and picnic tables and a flat place to park. We decided to dry camp for the night. The Salton Sea has receded so much that it is now about 200 yards from the boat ramp. Because the Sea is primarily agricultural runoff, it has a powerful stench that is hard to tolerate when the wind is coming off of the lake. The whole area looks pretty trashed with broken up concrete and rebar. It was quiet at night and fairly dark, except for lights from the nearby geothermal power plants. Satellite was not a problem as there are no trees. We had strong Verizon voice and 4G data. It was convenient for visiting the wildlife refuge and it great for birding, but otherwise it is not a very desirable place to stay. I believe the camping rate for dry camping is supposed to be $15 per night, but we never found anyone to pay. We would not stay here again.

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This is not an easy campground to reach; it is not a "stop-for-the-night-as-you-are-passing-through" campground. See my notes below on reaching the campground. However, once you do reach the campground, you are among beautiful old oak trees. The park itself is fairly small, surrounded by farms and homes, with many barking dogs. There is not a lot of vegetation for visual separation between the sites, but the sites are fairly well separated. The interior roads are paved and the sites are paved, but several were fairly unlevel. When we arrived on a holiday weekend, the park was fairly busy, but there were still several spaces available. Once the weekend was over, we were almost alone. The dogs: when we arrived there were barking dogs. As we looked at possible sites, the campers near site 13 said that barking dogs and the smell from the horse corral had been major bad issues, so we chose site 21, further away from the dogs. During our stay we heard dogs during the day, but it was very quiet at night. Just a note on sites, sites 33 through 39 are not as nice, more like parking spaces, and sites 33 and 34 are "buddy" sites, right next to each other. The ranger that checked us in was very nice and helpful; the only other staff we saw were riding an ORV at a high rate through the back roads. It looked like fun but I am not for sure the taxpayers should be paying for it. We had great, strong Verizon phone and data with 4G. We were able to get satellite, but, because of the trees, some sites will not get satellite. There is a nice, short nature trail.

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The rate reflects a 50% Senior Pass discount. You can also purchase an annual permit for $75, then it is free to stay for up to two weeks, then you have to leave for two weeks before you return. This pass is also good for free camping at other BLM recreation sites but not at the long-term stay sites. It is a bit complicated. You will probably want to ask the camp hosts for more information if you are interested in this option. The campground is basically two large parking lots. There is the lake, but only a dozen or so sites will have any view of the lake. The sites are parking spaces. You are allowed to take up two spaces so that you have a "patio" for your awning and for setting outside,but this was not strictly enforced. So you are going to be very close to your neighbor. The boat ramp is just across the way so you may also have noise from that. The roads to the campground are all good and paved. All of the interior roads and sites are also paved. There is no water or dump station at the campground but is available at South Mesa about a mile away. There are restrooms and showers and a gray water dump station. Generator hours are from six in the morning until ten at night, so you may find yourself camping next to someone running a generator for long periods of time. It was very quiet at night, but, unfortunately there are bright lights on the restrooms and at the boat ramp that cause it to be very bright. It is right next to the Yuma Proving Ground and there is some noise of distant explosions, but not bad. It is a good place to stay for visiting the area for a few days, but we would not want to stay longer than a few days. The camp hosts are extremely nice and helpful. We had a very strong Verizon voice and 4G data. Satellite was not a problem since there are no trees.

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The rate reflects a 50% senior discount. Nice, nice, nice. This is an unusually nice campground for a National Park Service campground. The roads in the campground are paved, but the sites are wonderfully level concrete. Nice! There are no hookups. There is fresh water at the dump station and a few water spigots throughout the campground, but it is best and easiest to get water at the dump. The generator hours are very restrictive at 8 util 10 and 4 until 6, either good or bad depending on your point of view. There are solar showers in the restrooms. It is a busy campground, but the sites are well-spaced. They do not take reservations, but the campground was never more than half-full during our almost two-week stay. There is an entrance booth, which was staffed about half of the time during our visit, where they will assign a few site, but they will let you change it if you don't like the assigned site. We were very surprised to find that we got very strong Verizon 4G data and, of course, voice. Satellite was not a problem since there are no trees. The really good news is that the new superintendent has opened the entire park. Previously a large part of the park was closed because of the fear of the illegals coming across the Mexico border. We drove and hiked though out the park with no problems.

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We went to this park just after departing Gilbert Ray Campground, so I am probably too critical, but we had expected much more than we found. The lady that we dealt with was very nice and accommodating, I believe she is one of the owners. The park was fairly full when we arrived, but there were spaces available. The spaces are pretty close together and are gravel with very large gravel, so much so that it was difficult to walk on it. The hookups were a long ways away, so you will need long cords and hoses. The electrical power was strong, but you are requested not to use your electric heaters. Really? The WiFi was so slow as to be essentially nonexistent. Our Verizon phone and data worked very well. We had planned on doing our laundry, but there are only a few washers and driers and they were always full, so we had to go to a nearby commercial laundry. We had expected quiet at night but there was a lot of traffic noise at night. It would have been dark, but many of the residents had put up lights under their RVs which made it bright at night. It is too bad that folks do this, but they had. We were able to get satellite, but some sites would not be able to see the satellite because of some small trees. I guess the rate was right, but we would likely try someplace else next time.

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The only thing not to like about this campground is that you are strictly limited to seven days of camping before you have to leave for seven days. The campground is in a beautiful Sonoran desert setting. Most sites are level and fairly well-separated from your neighbors, with enough vegetation for additional visual separation. There are sites of all lengths, some to accommodate a larger RV. There are only 30 amp electrical hookups, but the power seemed to be nice and strong -- no low voltage situations like you often get at older campgrounds. There is fresh water fill that is very convenient near the dump stations, and there are two dump stations. There are also fresh water fill faucets scattered throughout the campground. It is nice and quiet at night and this is well enforced by the very efficient volunteer camp hosts. Security seems to be very good. It is fairly dark at night; unfortunately, the park has a few bright lights but not bad. There is no problem finding satellite since there are no trees. Our Verizon voice and date (4g) signal were very good. If you are not familiar with the area you will want to take a look at the directions on the park web site. You do not want to bring a large RV over Gates Pass Road, but it is an OK road for accessing Tucson from the park driving a regular vehicle.

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With almost nine years of full-time Rving, this is certainly one of the strangest RV parks that we have stayed in. We stayed here primarily because we wanted to visit the nearby Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, a very neat place. When we pulled into the park, there were only two other occupied spaces, and they were obviously occupied by very long term residents with very trashed-up spaces. It looked as if there was once a bathroom in the middle of the park. It is now a ruins. I think there may be restrooms available in the nearby restaurant, but we did not use them or check them out so not for sure. There are not many trees but the ones that are there need to be trimmed to prevent scratching to RVs. Some of the spaces were well-defined, others were strange and undefined. The hook-ups were good with strong electrical. There was WiFi and it was good at times, not so much at other times. Satellite was not a problem. We had on and off Verizon data, but voice worked well. The sites were grass/gravel. Overall the campground had a very unkempt look. During our 5 day stay, there were three or four other campers that came in and stayed. When checking on the campground, I had called a phone number associated with the campground and reached a woman in another state and she said that she was the owner. She said to just get a spot and "the woman from the restaurant" would come around and take our payment. When we pulled in, there was a sign at the front that said the rate was $20 per day and to pay the residents of the house at the back after five. So, the first day, I went down to the house to pay. The lady there told me that she was not the one and that I should pay the person in site number 9. This was one of the very trashed long-term resident sites. There was no one home, so I decided to wait until someone came by to collect. The bottom line is that no one came by to collect. On our last day, I went up to the restaurant and asked where I should pay. She said that I could pay her and give me a name to make out a check to with a rate of $22 per night. So that is what I did. I have no idea why the rate was different and I do not know if I paid the right person, but I paid. When we arrived there were barking dogs and we were concerned about noise. In the bottom line, it was nice and quiet and relatively dark at night. Unfortunately, the restaurant kept some lights on at night. We were very concerned about the long-term residents and we did hear some rap music during the day, but it was really not a problem. So, the strange campground did work for us and we had a nice visit to the Wildlife Refuge. Even though it was strange, it worked out very well and we would stay here again.

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Obviously, a lot of RVers love this campground, so I will try to provide as much information as I can as to why we did not care for this campground. First, the positives: The campground is very clean, neat, and orderly. All of the fellow campers that we encountered were friendly. There is a restaurant on site that folks seemed to really enjoy. The utilities were strong. There are lots of activities. The location is good for visiting the surrounding attractions and activities. So, why would we not return. The top reason would be the noise from the very close-by interstate. Even though we had a space in the back and it was cold so that we had our windows closed, the freeway was still a roar in the background during the night. During the day, it was not as much of a problem, but at night, it was bad. It was expensive, by our standard, even with the Good Sam discount. The tax brought the cost back up to around $40 per night. If you use the pool, pickle ball court, etc. then this may be OK. We do not use these facilities, so for us it was an expensive place to park. It is so neat, clean and tidy that it felt sterile. There is really no landscaping, just gravel and pavement. The hookups are about as inconvenient as possible; the electrical hookups are in the very back. The water hookup is close to the front and the tap is in a deep enclosure that is very difficult to reach and impossible to hook up to without kinking the water hose. So we would only stay here again if we had to stay for a few days to visit friends in the area. Your views may vary.

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This campground has been significantly upgraded since our last visit several years ago. Now all RV sites have 50 amp electric and water hook-ups. The more popular campground is the east campground as opposed to the west campground. The east is a little more removed from the action. Just a caution, do not go for site 35 or 36. There is no way to tell when making reservations, but these are double (buddy) sites. We booked it not knowing this and changed, with a penalty, otherwise we would have been about 6 feet from someone we did not know, nor want to know. The campgrounds are fairly well spaced, but many are very unlevel, and you cannot really tell when making reservations how level or unlevel the site is. This is a birders paradise, and the reason for many campers visit. There is great hiking just outside the park at Sonoita Creek Natural Area. There is a big problem with cows and their waste since Arizona has an open range policy and the park does little or nothing to keep the cattle out. You do need a free permit that you obtain from the park Visitor Center. We found everyone, volunteers and staff, to be very helpful and friendly. Most of our visit the park was not crowded and we had no problem with our utilities. However, during the Christmas holidays the park was much more crowded and the voltage went down low enough that our electrical management system shut down the power. I suspect that, in the summer, when the park is very busy and everyone is using their air conditioning, that voltage drop could be a big problem. We had no problems with satellite since there are few trees. With Verizon we had poor 3g data and poor voice, even with our booster. We stayed at the park for our two week limit and will definitely visit again.

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The cost is actually zero, as in free camping. This is boondocking, but without fear that someone will come and roust you out during the middle of the night. There is even a sign noting that overnight camping is permitted. There are pit toilets and picnic tables as well as a trash dumpster. There is no water or dump so arrive with full tanks and plan on hauling out your waste. There is a three-day stay limit. The reason for staying here is the birds. It is amazing with thousands of Sandhill Cranes during the winter. It is nicely dark and quiet at night. We had only one other tent camper during our two-night stay. We had very strong Verizon signal for both voice and data. Satellite was not a problem since there are no trees. You will have to travel on about two miles of fairly good dirt/gravel road that is a bit washboard. It was in good shape during our visit, but with lots of rain it might be worse. There is no directional sign on Highway 191, the main highway. The best route is to take W Davis road to the west just south of McNeil. Travel about three miles and turn left (south) on gravel road Coffman. In about two miles you will find the entrance on the right side, drive about a quarter of a mile and you will be there.

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You have to love the owner. She is energetic and and enthusiastic. She will give you a map that will take you on a great trip into the Chiricahua mountains. The campground is spacious. The only issue is that the sites are laid-out so that you will have another RV close to you facing the opposite direction, but, in most cases, it will not be an issue unless you have noisy neighbors. The setting is nice with views of the surrounding mountains. The owner has declared that the park is a dark skies park and that you are requested to keep outdoor lighting off and your shades drawn at night. We think that is great and the way all parks should be; thank you! The laundry is clean and very inexpensive. There are only two washers and driers, so plan accordingly. Apparently there are plans to add more. The WiFi is strong and fast. We had good Verizon voice but no data. Satellite was not a problem since there are no trees. This is a great base for visiting the surrounding mountains. We will likely stay here again.