Sonoma County Camping: A Place Close To Our Hearts
Is it Summer yet? If you’re a parent your kids are crossing the days off their calendar until Summer is finally here. For our family, this also means “How many days until we go camping?”
I just got a call from our favorite campground to book our reservations. (YES!) This means we don’t have to fight for the days we want and we get to show up all leisurely like and ready to dive into the river. Schoolhouse Campground is a family owned campground in Sonoma County right on the Russian River–Chris, his wife Corina and son Colton have been managing the site for years, plugging into the needs of their campers by keeping immaculate campsites, the most friendly of friendly attitudes ever, and even providing working outlets in the bathrooms (which are super clean, btw) for anyone needing a fast charge while showering. The campsite is family run and has been for over 150 years. Chris refuses to let his campsite get swept up in mainstream popularity by advertising, keeping pricing affordable for all.
We could definitely be taking a trip to a National Park, or State Park within a few hours of where we live, but we opt for coming here every year for several reasons. The first one is location. While there are many campsites in the area (we’ve seen at least 3 other sites on the way there), Schoolhouse is central to everything you’d want on a camping trip with 4 kids and 2 dogs. Schoolhouse is in a town called Forestville which sits right below Guerneville, basically its bustling little brother. It has gift shops, coffee shops, a legit book shop, and a few delicious eateries for nights we don’t want campfire grub and want to venture out into town. Our last trip, we discovered Rio Nido Roadhouse–a restaurant-bar-swimming pool (I know, so random!) that has THE best steamed clams and super nachos. There’s also Johnson’s Beach which is a kids’ Summer dream: A beach that has pedal boating, a snack bar, canoe rentals, and seasonal events. Then there’s Armstrong Redwoods State Park which is basically a getaway within a getaway–hiking under the redwoods.
Once we pull into the campsite, we go check in with Chris (taking notice the to awesome restored vintage truck that I’m sure was a family heirloom). You’ll get a map where your site is, a breakdown on what the cost is, and what is in the area. It is cash only and you can buy firewood on site near the office. The showers which have hot water flowing, take quarters and work by the minute. There are usually tubes you can rent by the day for some floating on the river.
Speaking of which–the only thing I’d say is a challenge is crossing the highway to get to the River. You have to do a mad dash, family in tow to get to the other side, but traffic slows down often, giving you enough time to make it over. The campsite has a chunk of the river beach so Schoolhouse campers have access to it all the time. The stretch of beach is pretty big and there’s enough space to lounge and set up away from anyone else. Anytime we’ve gone, there was maybe two other families at most that have come out at the same time. You can find tadpoles, swim over to island tree stumps, and watch canoes pass by through the evening.
This campsite makes us feel like Summer has started and that we are away from home, but not so far that the trek back seems like forever to get back home. It is also close to my heart because this is the area I remember coming to as a child, camping and playing by the river. Being here, allows me to give my kids the same experience under the trees I grew up under, spending time with my cousins, my aunts, and uncles in the outdoors and just being free. I can tell they love coming here every year!
Be sure to check out Chris’ blog for some unique adventuring in the area and any updates to the campsite. Do you have a favorite campsite you just can’t pull away from or that you keep going back to year after year? We’d love to hear where in the comments below.