Opening Camping Season 2015

It’s been a while since we went for a trip. We’ve finally decided to go camping for a weekend. One of our regular challenges is to choose a campground. There are so many of them in California and we’re always afraid to make a wrong choice. This time, I’ve suggested just to chose a direction, not a destination. we’ve packed all gear, food and water and headed north.

The plan was to drive to Lake Shasta and to chose a campground on the way or stay at lake Shasta if decision was not made. We’ve left San Jose, took 680, 505 and 5 and after 2.5-3 hours of driving decided to stop at nearest forest/ranger station, ask for recommendations and get some maps. It happened to be Willows, CA. They have a US Forest Services Supervisor office. Nice lady was working there, she showed us all several campground options in Mendocino forest. We’ve picked up some free maps, bought couple detailed maps of Mendocino forest and Shasta area. Kate also got some ranger stickers and a coloring book. With all that, we’ve decided that it’s time for lunch and map analysis.

Yelp suggested that there are two good places to eat in Willow, CA: Round Table Pizza and Wongs Chinese Restaurant. The choice fell on Chinese. The food was pretty good. We also decided to change the direction of our trip and go to Mendocino National Forest. There seemed to be plenty of campgrounds to chose from.

After lunch, we’ve took Hwy 162 to 306 and to Stonyford, CA. The forest map indicated no shops, stores or ranger stations in the forest, so we’ve decided to get some firewood in Stonyford store. It was definitely a good decision!

After another hour of drive, 14 miles of mountain road and 5 more miles of unpaved road, we’ve finally got to a Letts Lake Campground. It had total of about 16 campsites and only two of them were occupied. We’ve got the site with lake view. We were about 30 feet away from water.

Campsite had paved roads. Each tent site had a fireplace, a picnic table, long parking spot (for 2 cars or RV). Some of the sites had water taps, but there was no water. There are two restrooms on the campground. There’s no electricity or light of any kind. The camping fee is $5/night. There was no cell phone coverage.

Lake is relatively small but is good enough for kayaking or paddle boat. There were fishermen here and there catching trout.

Letts Lake Campground

Letts Lake Campground

We had an amazing time there. Hiking, playing frisbee, shooting bow, playing scavenger hunt, firewood picking, camp cooking, grilling and S’mores eating. I wish I had fishing rod and license with me, so that I could catch some trout for dinner =).

Letts Lake Campground

Letts Lake Campground


Here are couple advises for people willing to visit this campground:

  • Take enough drinking water and food
  • If you’re not ok with using lake water to wash hands and dishes, get some water for it too
  • Bring enough firewood or an axe to chop firewood that can be found around
  • Bring some warm clothes, as it might be chilly at night
  • Bring some games
  • Take your fishing rod

I’m really glad that we’ve done this random campground trip. We’ve discovered a wonderful place. Kate liked it so much that she was asking to stay there for 8 straight days. We had to explain that we don’t have enough water and food to last that long =)