This park was closed for a while, following destruction caused by the Tubbs Fire in October of 2017. This was only our second visit to the park and we look forward to many future stays. On this rainy December weekend, it was hard to imagine how such a large expanse of territory could be left in embers. We certainly saw the evidence. Still, nature has been busy reasserting herself and this park was all green in the campground loop. Plus, there is a nice new bathroom.
Saturday we took advantage of the cloudy but rain free forecast and went on the “Planets Hike.” There is an observatory a short walk from the campground and from there you can follow a trail that maps out the relative distances of the solar system planets all the way to Pluto. We didn’t make it to Pluto, but then, Pluto isn’t really a planet, so…
We were struck by two things on the hike: 1) fire damage of this magnitude is scary, 2) Neptune is super far away (and uphill). It’s a very fun idea and kind of like a scavenger hunt, spread out over a couple of miles. To do the loop to Neptune and back was somewhere between 5-6 miles and we were nice and tired by the time we got back to Dory. Then it started raining again in the afternoon, but we got to enjoy being toasty warm as I wrote a report and Richard napped.
The rain continued all night and through all of Sunday. There is no dump at Sugarloaf so we decided to see if we could get over to Calistoga, where we could dump at the fairgrounds, and where we could do a little holiday shopping. Richard was smart and called the fairgrounds to get advice about whether to take Calistoga Road. The answer was an emphatic no, but the kind woman did clue us in to Mark West Springs Road. That is a nice and easy drive up Highway 12, to 101, and then east to connect with 29 in Calistoga. Great info and that’s what we’d do in the future.
All along the way, we saw new construction sites where houses once stood. There was almost always a big trailer or RV parked on the lots, and we assume people have decided to use these as temporary housing while their new homes are under construction. Countless trees still stand in vast blackened forests. In some areas, everything looks normal save pockets of charred trunks. In others, you can almost see the wall of flames that must have engulfed entire hillsides. We made a note to call our insurance provider next week and verify coverage.
The fairgrounds dump is a good one, and only $15, so we were pleased and on our way to Dean and DeLuca for lunch and gifts. We were struck by two things at Dean and DeLuca: 1) trailer parking is not easy in that area, 2) holy cow that store is pricey. We quickly scaled back the scope of the shopping trip and continued on our rainy drive home. It was a wet unhitching process, but Dory is drying out in the garage, getting ready for some holiday traveling. Great weekend and nice park!
Total miles: 67.4, 15.7 mpg (it was higher before the long, steep climb to the campground), 2 hours 10 min. No cell service, but there is wifi at the Visitor Center and LTE on the higher parts of the trails. Water is an icky color but potable. There is one nice, new bathroom with showers, the rest are flush toilets in very small outhouse-like structures. Nice sites: 1, 2, 28, 21, 42, 15 (first come first serve), 9 (by the bathroom). NOT nice (or double) sites: 36/37, 32, 33, 38, 40/41, 44/45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 4/5, 13/14.