Archive for June, 2007

Find Our Tent!Devoted readers of www.usa-c2c.com often ask us: “What are some of the more amazing places you have camped? You, know, the unique places or the unexpectedly terrific places? What treasures are out there that we don’t know about?” Over the next two weeks we will have your answers.

First stop: San Francisco. Yes, that San Francisco. Camping in one of our nation’s largest and most iconic cities isn’t what you imagined? Would you believe that there’s two astounding, off-the-beaten-path National Park campgrounds located in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge?

Kirby Cove is the most famous of these campgrounds. It’s situated alongside the bay about one-half mile west of the Golden Gate. It’s a mile hike down to the campground. Spots runs $25 a night; make reservations ahead of time. When we arrived at the Site we inquired about Kirby Cove availability. The Ranger responded, “there’s one spot left but I wouldn’t recommended it. The forecast tonight is fog and that campground is located right next to the Bridge’s foghorn. You won’t get any sleep. May I suggest the Bicentennial campground? There’s still spots open there.” Yes, you may.

Truth be told, Bicentennial wasn’t much further from the foghorn than Kirby Cove; it’s still only 2.5 miles west of the Bridge. Our sleep wasn’t perfectly silent but we didn’t care. The views of the Bridge, San Francisco, and the deep blues of the Bay were breathtaking. Two more plusses: the hike down to the campground was less than a quarter-mile and the site was 100% free! We were amazed at our good fortune.

That night we drove within feet of a coyote. We watched the City lights brighten as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Two mule deer fawns hopped in front of us as the Bridge foghorn serenaded us in the background. Before sunset, we had hiked down to an isolated Pacific Ocean cove where we watched surf scoters and cormorants and searched for starfish in tidepools. What a place.

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Middletown, Va.
Visited: Sometime Soon
NPS Site Visited: Not There Yet
NPS Website; Cedar Creek Website; Belle Grove Website

The Cedar Creek Visitor Center and Belle Grove Plantation are easily accessed via U.S. 11, especially if you are planning a visit to Shenandoah National Park anyway. The question you need to ask yourself is, am I willing to pay eight bucks for a house tour and then drive down the road and pay two bucks for a film and exhibit area, none of which are managed by the National Park Service?

Our answer at the time of our visit was “no” because we thought the Park was an Affiliate Site. We now know that Cedar Creek and Belle Grove are indeed considered a National Park Site so we’ve gotta go back. How can a place be a National Historical Park yet have zero Park-operated facilities? Good question. We’ll let you know.

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