I am ashamed to say that we have not been able to do much camping this past year. As a lot of you know, we usually take a 2-3 week long road trip in the pop up camper every summer. Buying that little pop up camper has been the best move ever, as we have really gotten to see and do so much as a family. If we were staying in hotels and eating out, we definitely would not have the money to travel as far and do as much as we can in the PUP.
Last year, we headed out for South Dakota, stopping along the way in New Mexico and Colorado to see the sights. You can read about that trip here. Unfortunately, midway through the trip, we had a family emergency and had to head to Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA. We never made it to Mount Rushmore, and our family medical situation wasn’t resolved until just this past May. That meant we didn’t get to do much camping, so we were absolutely determined to make sure this year’s road trip made up for lost time. 🙂
I was pretty ambitious with this year’s trip. Because Canada has so many great things to offer–and because admission to all the national parks was free for the 150th anniversary–we decided to head up North. That meant LOTS of drive time. Our first stop was scheduled for Lassen National Park. I’ve always wanted to visit, and Manzanita Lake seemed like a perfect place to try our hand at stand up paddleboarding. Because our drive was soooo long, we decided to stay our first night in a hotel.
Staying in a hotel when you are pulling a camper always presents a few problems, but we found a great hotel in Fallon, Nevada–just a few hours from Lassen. We called ahead to make sure they would have a place for us to park the camper, and it worked out beautifully. We binged watched American Pickers and went to bed early. The next morning, we checked the weather, and discovered that Lassen was getting snow… in June. 🙁 And it was scheduled to snow (with highs of 28 F) for our entire visit. We had packed a couple jackets–well, most of us… Mr. TypeTwoFun forgot all his warmer clothing–but we weren’t prepared for snow, so it was time for Plan B.
I’d like to say we knew exactly what Plan B was, but honestly, we just kind of winged it. We quickly cancelled our reservations (and yes, we lost most of the reservation fees) and started towards Oregon. We had stayed in Oregon’s state parks before and just love them. They are the best we’ve come across, and we knew we’d be able to find at least one night in a state park campground. When we stumbled on Collier Memorial State Park, we were tired and ready to find a place to settle down. Collier was calling to us. Luckily, we were able to find a few walk-up sites, and one was just perfect for our needs.
Collier Memorial State Park has an easy, convenient walk-up site system. If there is a green tag on the number post, the site is available for one night. You can pick the site and pay for it at the kiosk. Once the rangers come through the next day, they post the reserved spots on the bulletin board at the pay kiosk. If your site isn’t on there, you can go see a host and reserve it for another night. Trailer sites are on one side and tent sites on the other. We grabbed a site, paid for it, and started setting up camp.
By the time we started setting up camp, it was raining. We to set up in the rain, which was fun with teenagers. Did I mention that Mr. TypeTwoFun forgot his jackets? 😉 He had to wear mine for set up. There were more than a few grumbles, but we got all set up and started making dinner. It was too wet for a campfire, so we set up the camp stove to both cook and keep fingers warm until dinner was finished. We even made smores over the “fire,” and let me tell you, they were not as good as campfire smores, but we made it work. LOL. It was definitely not my idea of a perfect night, but we can laugh about it now.
Things looked considerably brighter the next morning. The sun had come out, and we discovered that Collier Memorial State Park was a great campground. There are two loops, an A Loop and a B Loop. Loop B (where we stayed) has 30 full hookup sites, and Loop A has 16 full hookup sites and 18 tent sites. Full hookup sites are $26/night and tent sites are $19/night. I am always amazed at how affordable full hookup sites in Oregon State Parks are. We paid $26 for the night, got full hookups, and free hot showers were included. Laundry facilities were also available within the campground. That is such a great deal!
The sites are moderately spaced. We definitely weren’t isolated, but we weren’t on top of our neighbor’s site either. There were a few trees and bushes to give a bit of privacy. A few of the sites were pull-thru, but most of the ones we saw were back-in sites. Each site obviously had water, electric, and sewer hookups, but there were also picnic tables and fire pits. The trailer sites were paved, and the camp host asked us at check-in to make sure our vehicles remained on the paved pad. It wasn’t a problem for us at all, as the pads are plenty big for a pop up camper.
We got a great night’s sleep, as the Williamson River was just behind our site, and it provided some awesome white noise. We ate a quick breakfast, and Mr. TypeTwoFun and I walked the campground loop while the kids got ready. We passed the kiosk and discovered that our site had already been reserved for that night, so we didn’t have much time to enjoy the area. We had planned to try to hit Crater Lake, since it is only a 30 minute drive from the campground, but we just didn’t have the time. We had visited it on our last trip through the Pacific Northwest, so we decided to see something new with our time. It is beautiful, though, and if you are in the area, you shouldn’t miss it.
Collier had quite a few hiking trails all around, and it is also a popular fishing spot. We spotted a few kayaks in the campground, and it seems like a good spot for that as well. We discovered a gorgeous hiking trail just behind our site that led to a museum, and since we had a few hours before checkout, we decided to give that a whirl.
The trail to the museum was short, but it ran along one of the most gorgeous little creeks we saw on our entire trip. The water from Spring Creek comes straight up from the ground just a little higher up on the mountain. A ranger told us that most of the water seeps through the ground from Crater Lake, so it is literally crystal clear. We were fascinated with how well we could see the bottom of the river.
The trail actually wound over and under a few bridges and ended up at the Collier Memorial State Park Logging Museum. This is a cute, quaint little outdoor museum full of old logging history. There were old logger’s cabins, antique logging equipment, and some really interesting railroad information as well. You could actually walk back through time to see how logging was done throughout history because the trail was on a timeline.
The museum tour is self-guided, and mostly outdoors. It was a great opportunity for us to stretch our legs and learn a little bit of history before we hit the road again. The rangers were super helpful, and there was even a small gift shop at the end of the tour. I believe the rangers hold programs at the museum during the summer, but we hit it very early in the season, so there wasn’t anything going on. There were only a few other people at the museum, so we got to take it at a leisurely pace and really enjoyed ourselves.
It ended up being a great detour, and we are so glad we didn’t cave in to the fatigue the night before and hit another hotel when Plan A didn’t work out. I’m usually a big planner, and I don’t like to take spontaneous trips. All aspects of our trips are usually pretty scheduled, but I discovered that sometimes, it is nice to deviate from the plan. You never know what little treasures you’ll find off the beaten path.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Collier Memorial State Park, Oregon
- Collier has two campground loops. There are 16 full hookup sites and 18 tent sites in Loop A. Loop B has 30 full hookup sites. Full hookup sites run $26/night and a tent site will set you back $19/night. There are flush toilets, hot showers available to campers (for free!), and laundry facilities on site. There is also a dump station available. The whole campground is fully ADA accessible, too.
- There are picnic tables and fire pits at each site. Firewood is available near the pay station kiosk for $8/bundle, but we didn’t see ice for sale anywhere, so make sure you’ve got plenty. There is not a camp store, but small little convenience stores are located within a 15 minute drive.
- Collier is open from mid-May to the end of September. Campsites are reservable online here from 1 day to 9 months in advance. Reservations are recommended but same day walk-up campers are also accepted. When we were there in early June, the campground was about 75% full, but I can see how it might fill up quickly in the later summer months.
- Collier Memorial State Park is about a 30 minute drive from Crater Lake, and could be a great alternative to camping with the crowds in the National Park. They’ve got some great hiking trails, beautiful streams and rivers, and the logging museum is a 15-minute walk away. There is really something for everyone.
We sure loved Collier and hope to make it back soon. Since our last visit, Oregon has had a special place in our hearts, and we were excited to see a little more of it. Been to Collier yourself? We’d love to hear about it! Feel free to comment below or visit our Facebook page and drop us a message. 🙂
New to The Pop Up Princess? Would you like to catch up on our road trip adventures from the past five years? You can find those links here: