Ah, the West! So many choices of amazing things to do and beautiful places to visit. With a heavy heart, I opted out of trekking through Colorado and Utah due to lack of time. We will be back! Happily, we are stopping in a couple of fantastic places in Wyoming, Idaho and, of course, on to Washington.
We are visiting state parks on every leg of the trip except Idaho. I want to visit a National Monument I have never seen: Craters of the Moon. I was turned off of it at first because, like a lot of National Parks and Monuments, dogs are not allowed on the trails and in the caves. But dogs are allowed on roads and in the rustic campground. The road is a seven mile loop through the park and that sounds like a perfect hike for us! This campground also doesn't take reservations. So I called them too. A park ranger answered and told me that she has never seen the campground fill up. She confirmed the pet policy I had already read. I was sold. When I printed out the campground map and park brochure I noticed it also says the campground rarely fills up. I guess I didn't need to bother the ranger but it was nice to have a persons voice soothe my worries.
After our stop in Idaho we travel back to Washington. I saw it fitting to spend our last night on the road along the mighty Columbia. That river is such a lovely natural marvel yet finding somewhere to camp on it was more difficult than I expected. One of the reasons for this leads back to my dislike of modern camping reservation systems. Washington and Oregon State Parks reserve camp sites very far in advance (9 months in Washington, 1 year in Oregon or on the first day of the year of the reservation) and most, to my knowledge, allow reservations to be made in the entire campground. They leave no sites as first come first served. While I am always glad to see my homeland state parks make money, I wish their policies were slightly different so as to allow for some good old fashioned spontaneous camping or a lovely place for a weary nomad to rest. I finally found a Washington State Park on the Columbia River with one open campsite and I grabbed it. I am guessing it was a cancellation. This is how I have lucked out with last minute (a month or two in advance) Washington State Park campsites before.
I didn't need to check on Washington State Parks pet policy as I know it well. I do wish they had a more specific listing like so many of the great parks websites I have visited in planning this trip. Their vague "pets are allowed in most state parks" rule has left the dogs and I standing disappointed in front of "no dog" signs on trails in a few Washington State Parks before.
"Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through.