Looking for a camp for the eclipse
August 15, 2017
On my way back to the RV park yesterday, I had stopped at Fred Meyer to grocery shop and filled up the gas tank. So this morning I am ready to hit the highway. After breakfast and coffee I drive through Florence and turn east on Hwy 126. This looks to be a nice easy drive through the Willamette Forest. At first I follow along the Siuslaw River, then the McKenzie River. There are lots of wayside stops along the McKenzie and I pull over and take a break at one.
My plan today is to drive to Prineville, OR which is about 210 miles from Florence. This is a town of roughly 12,000. There are a couple grocery stores, gas stations etc. I will stock up there, get gas then on the east side of town stop at the USFS office for the Ochoco National Forest. Prineville is in the path of totality for the eclipse and I want to find a place where I can camp thru Monday the 21st.
The route along the rivers and through the Willamette NF is very peaceful and good driving. As I cross the top of the Cascade Mountains, I see that there are several active fires in the area. I continue on through Sisters and Redmond, arriving in Prineville a little past noon. I do my shopping and get gas, then drive on to the USFS office. There I get a travel map of this area of the Ochoco NF. I ask for any tips on dispersed camping areas, but only get some general information. I hadn’t been able to find too much information online about dispersed camping in this area.
The ranger recommends trying Mill Creek Road where dispersed camping is permitted. There is also a campground up that road that would be an option. So I pull out of the ranger station and head east to Mill Creek Road, where I turn north. Mill Creek leads into Ochoco NF where I take NF 3370. I drive along this forest service road looking for a place to camp. Both sides of the road are steep. There are a couple places a vehicle could pull off but nothing where my rig would fit. About five miles in I come to Dry Creek Horse Camp. I decide to set up camp here. It is an unimproved campground with about five sites with some corrals. No fee to camp here. Two of the campsites are occupied so I pick out the most level site that is available. It is steep enough front to back that I can just get the trailer tongue high enough to be almost level. Not ideal.
I’m not crazy about this location, but it is too late today to try to find something else. So I decide to stay here tonight, then go in the morning to scout for another location.
Misty goes outside for a little bit to check out the campsite. She has this knack for avoiding getting a good picture taken of her.
August 16, 2017
After breakfast, I jump in the truck to go scouting. There is another road off Hwy 26 that I had researched on Google Maps that looked like it would have some campsites along it. So I head over to Ochoco Ranger Station Road. There are several forest service roads that go off to the south. I check out a couple but nothing good. Finally I find a site about 1 1/2 miles off the paved road that is on top of a ridge looking to the west towards Prineville and the Cascades. As I’m driving in, I see this herd of wild horses. I snap this through the windshield and they are in the shade so not the greatest picture. It’s neat seeing them though.
I have two or three bars of Verizon LTE here, the site is very level, and has a view off to the west, although the smoke is obscuring the Cascades. Also it is more open so I will get plenty of sunshine for my solar system. And it is very private, being off a short spur road. So I decide to go get the Nash and move over here. This will be a nice place to hang out until the eclipse. And I’m not too far from town.
I’m back and all set up by noon. The smoke did worsen since I was here this morning.
This part of Oregon is high desert and right now it is a tender box. There is one fire burning in this forest a little to the north. It wouldn’t take much to start another. To the west near Sisters, OR (which is what I am looking at) there are about five active fires.
With all the news reports of tens of thousands of people coming for the eclipse I wasn’t sure how I would do with finding a place to camp. I wanted to get settled somewhere today so I am happy I found this spot. I like it. I’ll be here until next Tuesday after the eclipse.