I read recently in the San Francisco Chronicle that a new campground has been opened in San Francisco’s Presidio. Rob Hill Campground, located on 4 acres at the top of the Presidio’s highest hill, is the only campground in the city of San Francisco. Reservations are open to groups and families, and according to the newspaper, the managers hope to create first time experiences in the out-of-doors that will inspire campers to make further exploration beyond the city. Rob Hill has paths that lead to 24 miles of hiking trails, some built to accommodate wheel chairs. Its situation 384 feet above a Pacific beach provides views of ocean and bay, with migrating birds passing overhead. The Presidio of San Francisco has a long history: it was occupied by Ohlone Indians until Spanish explorers in 1776 decided to build their Presidio, their fortified camp, on the site. It was subsequently a military garrison of Mexico and then the United States. Most recently, as the military has turned many of its properties to peaceable uses, the Presidio has been governed by a trust. The newspaper said that reservations for camp sites can be made with the Presidio Trust, 415 561 5444 or at www.presidio.gov.
When I read about this campground in a city, I thought immediately of Seattle’s Camp Long in West Seattle, a 68 acre park that offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy nature, hike in a forest, learn about natural history, and camp overnight in rustic cabins. Camp Long has 10 cabins, each with 6 double bunk beds, to sleep a maximum of 12 persons. Just outside the cabin there is a stone fireplace and a picnic table–what more would you need for a first camping experience? And a bonus for young first-timers: an electric light. Camp Long was a little used corner of the West Seattle Golf Course until 1937 when Seattle Park Board member Archie Phelps, Judge William Long, Ben Evans of the Seattle Park Department, and Clark Schurman, a Scout leader and wilderness camp developer, determined to acquire the land and make it into a place for organized groups to learn camping skills. Dedicated in 1941, Camp Long has continued ever since to bring people close to nature and provide safe and enjoyable outdoor camping and climbing experiences. (The park boasts a man-made climbing opportunity, Schurman Rock, to train climbers, but there are strict rules about its use.) The rental fee for one night in a cabin is $40, and reservations can be made at 206-684-7434 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thinking about these urban campgrounds, I began to wonder about other camping opportunities that may be close to home. I went on line to investigate my county. I typed King County, Washington, camping into my browser, and I found the Tolt/MacDonald Park & Campground, just 40 minutes from downtown Seattle. This 574 acre park at the confluence of two rivers, the Tolt and the Snoqualmie, provides tent and RV sites (which the two urban camps do not have), and in addition to the usual forests and hiking trails, there are bicycle paths. There are also six yurts at Tolt, which come furnished with two double futons, a double/single bunk bed, night stand, heat, electricity, deck, picnic table and fire ring. Two yurts have wheelchair accessibility. Each yurt sleeps up to seven people. All the yurts and many of the tent sites are located on the side of the park across the Snoqualmie River, and require walking across the park’s 500-foot suspension bridge. It’s no big deal. I’ve been hiking at this park–crossing the bridge is part of the adventure. Daily fees depend on your campsite, whether you walk in, drive in, hook up or not. The yurts are more expensive. The camp is open all year round, and reservations can be made by calling 206-205-5434. If you want more information, this is where I went: http://www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/rentals/camping.aspx
Now some of you people reading my blog don’t live in San Francisco or Seattle. What about your city? Does it have opportunities for overnight camping? Find out! Google or call your park department and ask! And if your city doesn’t have a campground, what about your county? Do what I did, tell your browser you want county name, state name, camping. You might be surprised at what you find. And let me know. I would love to hear from you that you had found camping opportunities close to home.