We went on an early spring camping trip to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park in Calistoga, CA. We stayed at Ritchey Creek Campground at site 10.
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Our particular spot (#10) fit our 20 foot travel trailer and our truck with no issues. The campsite (like most spots there) was situated behind the parking spot which isn’t ideal for a trailer. It worked, but the lights, speakers, and door are all better situated for spots where the camp is on the side of the trailer, not behind it.
The spot itself was pretty far from neighbors. You could see neighbors on every edge but there was a lot of nature separating each campsite. So, the spaces were spaced out well, but not secluded.
They also were not very large. There was a small well defined campsite area. And you really couldn’t wander outside of your defined camp area because there was a lot of poison oak.
As a plus, most of the campground got a good 5G cell signal.
Another interesting part about this campground is it is in a perfect location for wine tasting. The crowd here was split about 50/50 between campers and wine tasters. Saturday night at this campground was one of the loudest we’ve experienced in a while. The other nights seemed about average though.
Speaking of noise, our dog received his first noise complaint here. He does tend to bark at people walking by or new campers setting up. In this case, there were multiple spots around us getting new campers coming in (with dogs) during the day. This of course caused some barking from our dog. The camp host who talked to us about it couldn’t have been nicer. It really didn’t seem to be a big deal to the park and it didn’t come up again.
We found it ironic that we received a noise complaint in the middle of the day by the same people who then stayed up partying the whole night. But anyways, it is what it is and we aren’t typically bothered by people having a good time.
If we camp here again we will probably try to get a different site that is better positioned for a trailer (such as site #17) and also try and convince some friends to come with us. That way we can get two spots side-by-side. With two spots reserved the kids would have a little more space to explore right within camp.
We had amazing weather. It was February and the evenings were a little cold, but during the day it was around 76 degrees each day. Each day was sunny and beautiful. The nights were closer to 56 and the kids wanted to be bundled up, but since it was February we were prepared for that. We also ran the furnace more in the evenings than normal.
There are a ton of different activities you can do around Bothe-Napa Valley. If you enjoy wine, there are tons of different wine tasting options.
There is also the Bale Grist Mill which is a historic park with tours. We tried to go check it out, unfortunately, you can’t do the tour or even walk near it with a dog. You can see it through the trees as you drive by so we did that. The kids were excited to see it even from a distance.
There is a large day use area. It has a ton of picnic tables and even a swimming pool. The pool is only open between Memorial Day and Labor Day so it was closed for our visit. There is also a nice outdoor theater area setup for a projector.
And there are a few different hikes directly at the State Park. We, however, can not tell you about any of them because none of the trails are dog-friendly. We will get into that more in the next section.
The Dog-Friendly Hiking
This is nothing new for California State Parks, the dog is welcome at the campground but not allowed on the trails. Although that is disappointing, we were aware that was the case before we arrived.
Luckily, there are dog-friendly trails nearby. We choose to go to the Oat Hill Mine Trail. It was an 8-minute drive from the campground. The only parking was street parking but the shoulders were wide and it wasn’t hard to find a good spot.
The Oat Hill Mine Trail allows dogs that are under voice command. We kept our dog leashed and only saw one dog off-leash who was extremely well behaved. We expected the hike to be too difficult for our young kids but they did great. Our plan was to hike as far as we can for an hour, then stop and eat lunch and head back. This trail worked out perfect for our family to get out and get some hiking in.
We always try to get some local beer while we’re camping. This trip was no different. We tried, but we were terribly unsuccessful.
We wanted to get some beer from Lincoln Ave. Brewery in Calistoga. Unfortunately, they don’t have anything to purchase and take back to camp. If we had brought in a growler they would have filled it, but we didn’t have one on us.
We really wanted to get beer to take back to camp. The kids and the dog all have more fun that way and with covid we try not to take the kids into public places more than necessary. So, we decided to keep looking.
Down the street is Napa Valley Brewing. That place was so packed there was nowhere to park nearby and it didn’t look like they were set up to sell anything canned or bottled, so we kept going.
We went to St. Helena. We tried Erosion Brewery. We felt good about this place because their website highlighted their beer in cans. Unfortunately, we were about a month early to get canned beer. If we go back, we’ll have to try this place again.
We tried a few different grocery stores before giving up. We were never able to find any local craft beer to take back to camp. So, we just went back and enjoyed some beer that we brought with us from home.
We had fun spending family time together. But, our favorite campgrounds either have large campsites or dog-friendly trails. That way, there’s enough to keep the kids busy right at camp. This campground had neither. We would camp here again if we had friends who wanted to check it out, otherwise, we’d go somewhere better suited for a dog and our family.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
3801 St. Helena Highway North, Calistoga, CA 94515
Can reserve online at reservecalifornia.com. Reservations open 6 months ahead at 8am PST.