Angel’s Camp RV Park is a great little place just on the edge of the Sierra Mountain town of, you guessed it, Angel’s Camp, however its proximity to tons of great little towns and sites is the real draw – unless of course you’re really into frog jumping because Angel’s Camp is the home of the jumping frog! An interesting fact despite the fact that I’m against making frogs do anything they don’t want to.
Don’t trust satellite view or the campground map on their website, the campground is pretty hilly and spots can be awkward to get out of – more so than into. We’re 60 feet long when hitched up and we had to plan our escape pretty well to avoid too tight or turns or scraping, but it’s doable if you take a walk first and plan your route (if needed).
The terrain was gorgeous, inside the park and the surrounding area. There are huge beautiful oak trees throughout the park and flower filled bushes. The trees are filled with chattering birds all day long, of all kinds, from song birds to woodpeckers, and the bushes and grassy areas are full of voles and tiny frogs, which kept the cats pretty entertained (without any rodent-icide or frog-icide). Another benefit for the cats, the grass was incredibly tasty apparently, and the first grass the cats have seen since Colorado last fall, even then only sparse grass. They grazed and were very well-behaved outside every day. The yard for the RV spot was non-existent and the fire ring ended up about a foot from out slide-out so unusable (also about a foot from a bush), however there is grass pretty nearby almost any spot you’re in.
One of the best features is their giant dog park, filled with clean, dry, bark pieces and an array of obstacles for Sherlock to leap over and through. Another is a great little trail that goes around a low pond and tall grass. The back of the park is shared with a field with mules and horses – rather rude ones (they hurt my feelings when they wouldn’t come say hi).
The sun in Angel’s Park is surprisingly intense, considering the elevation is under 2k feet I have no ideas why, but I imagine once it’s really summer the park can be quite hot. Unfortunately it’s not close enough to just walk into town and the road is winding and narrow already, which is why we didn’t bother going any closer to Yosemite. You can camp up to 40 minutes closer than we were without much drama but the bigger and longer you are, the more miserable it will be. Our secondary reason for staying here rather than closer was that everyone was booked up already and would continue to be so for the rest of the summer. We were lucky to get 2 weeks here – specifically because the Annual Frog Jumping nonsense was happening soon, but also because of Yosemite really opening up all parts of the park (and kid’s summer vacation).
One of my only complaints about the park was the experience of dealing with the office for mail. I have packages come regularly for my etsy shop and like to get them the same day if possible and send them off to the customer. You have to get your mail sent to their PO box if it’s USPS which they only check every couple of days – I could deal with that, however I could not know their schedule so I’d go in and check if they had gotten the mail… and occasionally be treated like a nagging annoyance. I think they forget that some of live in our RVs and still need to get mail. Sure, one they might not want to deal with, but it’s not a hard service to offer, more than anything, just be nice!
Secondly, they have an Emu. There’s an article in the office about how they ‘rescued’ it, and they technically did and I’m glad but, it’s kept in a rather small space (probably the minimum necessary) and alone. It was eating, seemed healthy, but probably lonely, and just like any zoo animal, it will live but will it be happy? probably not. So I found that depressing. I would go visit him and he eventually let me touch him but he always seemed excited to have visitors.
Other than the girl who didn’t like my asking about mail, everyone else who worked there was amazing and helpful. There are some full-time and/or long-term workers there, most seemed friendly enough.
Angel’s Camp has pretty much everything you need; a grocery store, hardware store, post office, pharmacy and food. It’s a ways from any towns larger than itself, but we managed without anything else. The downtown area is brief but cute and there was a line across the road with clothing hanging from it, something to do with the local theater I imagine. The sidewalk downtown is lined with brass markers like Hollywood Star’s plaques, except for record-breaking or winning frog jumps at their annual event- which I later found out was such a big deal because of Mark Twain’s frog jumping tale.
We found one place with a veggie burger, Burger Bar, which has an unfinished feel, and not because of the cool rusty exterior (back) but does have a pretty good burger. I got one with a giant fresh piece of pineapple on it and fresh jalapenos. Their garlic fried however are so garlicky that I made Ross brush his teeth twice, but they were apparently delicious.
Mark Twain Cabin
It’s not so much his cabin, but one he possibly stayed at for a few months one winter, or one nearby, it was unclear, but interesting anyway. The road to the cabin was called, Jack Ass Hill, an awesome little road, and the cabin sneaks up on you near the end of it. We hung out for only a short time due to mosquitoes but it was cute.
Since it was getting dark so late we started riding our bikes in the evening. Our first ride we sort of headed south in search of well, anything, and found signs to Colombia State Historic Park. We didn’t know what to expect and didn’t see a green area on the map but headed that way. Eventually we just stopped seeing signs and ended up in the center of the town of Columbia, which coincidentally IS the State Historic Park. It was too late to check it out much but the park is a restored downtown set in the 1800s, complete with actors playing authentic rolls. However the local Saloon was still open so we stopped for a beer and chatted with the locals. Near the end of our beers a guy came in to quickly down a beer and leave (he was in the dog house) and told us about a national park road not far away that lead up to a lookout tower. We were excited and planned to do that the next day.
On our way back to camp we found the most amazing little single lane road that lead through cute little farms and orchards, probably one of our favorite random finds. It was very much like a little English country road!
Just a little way east, and easily accessed from Angel’s Camp via Murphy’s Grade Road vs Hwy 4, is the little town of Murphy California. I drove through it on the way to take some photos, browsed around a bit and ran home to tell Ross that we needed to return on our bikes. After he was done working we did just that with the goal being to at least get a beer at Murphy’s Irish Pub, a brand new establishment with a lot of promise. The town is primarily known for an immense amount of wine tours, cheese and wine shops and antiques, but neither of us care for wine (or cheese), but the town itself is full of historic buildings and a lot of charm without it – and a pub is just what it needed in my opinion. We were thoroughly pegged by gnats on the way there and back, but it was worth just getting out on the bikes – even if the pub was out of stuffed pretzels and we had only a beer.
Big Trees State Park – Next Blog!
It’s a beautiful area with a mix of sequoia and sugar pine forests, wineries, historic mining towns and gorgeous farms. Even if it is 2 hours from Yosemite, it was worth it!