This was our first foray to an Army Corps of Engineers campground. We’re giving it a thumbs up, though there are some things you’d need to be prepared for if you go. This particular campground is located by Lake Sonoma and there are only two places around the lake where you can take a trailer. The other is privately run and is located above the marina. This place does not have any running water, therefore, the large and seemingly nice bathroom facilities are all closed. Instead, there are port-a-potties placed at the bathroom sites. Obviously, there are no electric hookups either, so some caution would be needed in case the weather is hot (no AC). However, if you’re fine with those things, we found the B loop of the campground to have several nice sites and a couple of them overlook the lake.
For us, this is about a 2.5-3 hour drive, depending on traffic. We got out Friday afternoon and pulled up to the kiosk around 6. You can only book sites based on “single” or “double” designation, and you take what is available when you get there. Not knowing any better, I booked a single. When we drove around looking at the sites though, I noted that the singles were pretty narrow and certainly would not have accommodated the awning. Happily, it was not a crowded weekend and they let us change to a double. In fact, I don’t even think we got charged for that. Dory could have fit into a single, but I liked the view in site 76 anyway. Sites 78 and 80 have great views of the lake, but they were taken.
Saturday we just spent doing reconnaissance of the area. For bike rides, it would be pretty daunting to get out of the campground, as the road out is very steep. For boating info, we headed to the Visitor Center to inquire. That turned out to be worth a trip in and of itself! Part of the operations handled by the Army Corps includes running a fish hatchery. Wow. I swear, I never knew how fish hatcheries worked. They had an impressive display inside with movies showing every step of the process, including fertilization. It was kind of like a whole sex education class right there. I’m not sure how conspicuous I looked to the kids running around the place, with my jaw hanging open, thinking, “Wait. They do WHAT to the fish??” Well, there you go.
The volunteer there gave us some good info on kayaking, plus some recommendations for lunch. We drove into the nearby town of Cloverdale and Richard checked out the coffee place (which was rated a 4.8, so he was optimistic). Plank Coffee gets a nod from him, but he couldn’t leave without having a conversation about why it is better to draw an espresso directly into a cup (hint: it’s about emulsions). After that, we had a bite at the Eagle’s Nest Deli. That too was quite good. In fact, the whole town of Cloverdale turned out to be very cute and we were confused as to why it was not packed on a Saturday.
We then drove out to a place called Yorty Creek to check out the kayak launch. While I would never want to bring Dory down that road, and while Richard would find biking it to be fairly deathy, it is doable in a car. The payoff is finding yourself in a part of the lake where there are few or no motor boats, and a nice launch site for small boats. Blue Waters Kayaking runs a rental operation there and we had a nice chat with the rental guy. It turns out, Lake Sonoma has statistically way more drowning deaths than they should. After a couple of questions, the guy shared his hypothesis that this is due to the fact that the lake was created by damming the river, which then flooded a Native American burial site. “Bad juju” the guy explained, with a completely straight face. But guess what. I looked it up, and it is totally a thing. Kind of glad I read this after we got home.
Last exploration of the day took us to the Marina, where there is a privately run campground up above the lake. I wasn’t too impressed with the campground, and I’d still need to drive down to the water to launch, so I think, all things considered, Liberty Glen, B loop, site 76, is right where I’d go for a return trip. There is no service in the campground, and no reliable service until you get near 101, so we’d need to really plan if we wanted to split up with biking and kayaking on the agenda.
Saturday afternoon was nappy time, followed by Blue Apron Ancho Chile Tacos with Blistered Shishito Peppers and Cabbage Slaw. Oh yes. The stars are fantastic out there and we even caught sight of a bonafide meteor, burning up in the atmosphere. I’m not sure if that adds to, or subtracts from, the bad juju in the area, but I’m pretty sure aliens landed somewhere out there. Just be careful is what I’m saying.
Lovely visit! Definitely a place to return to. Our site had great solar and kept the battery at 100%.
Total miles: 105.9, 3 hours 24 min, 15.9 mpg. Site 76, double. Great site!