Sam Owen Campground is on Lake Pend Oreille; pronounced Pond O’ray.
We workamped as Area Managers here in August and September of 2010. I thought potential visitors might like some photos of the campground.
Sam Owen Campground is in a deer reserve. The deer are used to people being around so they don’t startle easily. However, they are still wild animals and can turn on you in a moment. Deer are known for stomping someone to death with their front legs. So, don’t send your kids out to feed them!
The campground has a nice Day Use area with a sandy beach for swimming without pets. The shoreline on the right side of the boat launch is available for pets with their owners to swim.
Look for Sam Owen Campground about 12 miles east of Sandpoint, Idaho. It is open from May to September. There are both reservable campsites and first-come-first-served sites. There are no hookups but there is drinking water available and a dump station in the campground. The map indicates sites that are reserveable via www.recreation.gov:
I love it when I can get 15 seconds of fame! So, when Kelly Fenley from the Eugene newspaper The Register-Guard called, I jumped on it!
Occasionally, a journalist wants to do a story on ‘what local retirees are doing’. When Kelly called American Land and Leisure, Gary referred him to us. Gary Huntington is the Hiring Manager in the Orem, Utah based company. Don and I are Area Managers for AL&L in the Siuslaw National Forest, Central Coast Ranger District.
Since I’m already talking about myself, I’ll just extend this 15 seconds to 20.
I’m not above laughing at myself. I think Don wanted to document the size of the tree that I actually cut down. Don gets up-close-and-personal with a real chainsaw. But I’ll only use this battery-operated pole saw. I usually just trim off branches. When he showed me the pix, I thought I looked a little nervous. hahaha Like, “I wouldn’t touch that with a 6 foot pole!”
If you can’t make work fun, what’s the point in getting out of bed in the morning? Mind you I was whining, the whole time, that the battery wouldn’t last.
You’ve got to love people to workamp in campgrounds. If you are happy to greet people, between shoveling fire pits and cleaning toilets, they will feel welcome.
Another aspect of workamping for AL&L is fee collection. Most people are good about paying their fees “within 30 minutes of arrival” as the rule goes. But for those who don’t seem to think it is important, Don has a unique way of explaining what the campground and day use fees are used for…and timing can emphasize the point.
What? You say there’s a log in the tent area?
We are ready to tackle anything for you!
We appreciate all the customer feedback.
If the customer gives any negative feedback, it is an opportunity to fix something that is broken. If they give positive feedback, we have a better chance of repeating our good behavior!
Okay, so I’m behind on my blog. The dodge broke down before we got to SLC so it’s a good time to catch up. At least it had the descency (sp?) to break down in a Rest Area. We were able to look up a phone number, of a Dodge dealer in Tooele, from our GPS.
Not sure what’s wrong with the Dodge. It was running fine until we slowed down to park. Then it started running rough. Don kept the rpms up then let off the gas pedal and it choked and sputtered and stopped with a puff of smoke out the tail pipe. We have emergency roadside coverage on our insurance so we’ll be spending tonight Tooele, UT. Guess we’ll rent a car if we need to – gotta see those grandkids!
So, anyway, here’s what we did on Oct 12th:
We left Woodhead Park and continued south on Hwy 95 to Fruitland. Then we hopped on I84 East to Glen’s Ferry. We were headed towards a 50% off Escapees discount RV park but found this Idaho State Park first. We prefer campgrounds to RV parks anyway. The weather is turning cold but this park is still green and lush. Three Island Crossing State Park is open year round but they’ll turn the water off before it freezes.
We asked for a site overlooking the water and they gave us 18. But he said to look at 6 on our way by. We took 6 because we couldn’t see the water from the distance anyway and it wasn’t as crowded around 6. We paid $23 for elec and water hookups.
3 Island Crossing is where pioneers, on the Oregon Trail, crossed the Snake River from the south side to the north side. It was a dangerous crossing, deep and fast moving water. Lives were lost. I read one account from a woman who said after crossing this section of river, she had no fear of crossing anymore streams. The grey wagon was used in a commemorative trail ride to Washington DC in 1975. The yellow and green one was donated in memory of a family’s ancestors who crossed here. (They must be ducks.)
Today we started out at 10am and headed south, again, on Hwy 95. There is some really pretty real estate along the Salmon River. From White Bird to Riggins, along the river, is supposedly pretty temperate and doesn’t get much snow. Hhhmmm – took some notes along the way
As we kept going south we departed the Salmon River, at Riggins, and followed the Little Salmon River. We passed a turn-off to a fish hatchery so maybe the Little Salmon has more trout than salmon? It’s pretty fast moving water. This little waterfall caught our eye.
We climbed back up to around 3,000’ near New Meadows, Idaho. A little south of New Meadows we took 71 west to find Woodhead Park. We climbed up to about 4100’, then back down to 2160’ at the Brownlee Reservoir. Not a bad drive, even pulling our 32’ 5th wheel. Woodhead Park is an Idaho Power campground. Brownlee Dam is on the Snake River and the other side of the river/reservoir is Oregon.
We bought a new toy before we left our last workamping site. It’s a Garmin Nuvi 465T. It’s made for commercial semi-trucks. We can set our length and height. It will tell us about road restrictions and take the truck routes. We can also look for truck stops and rest areas, towing companies and repair shops for trucks. We thought that sounded like useful info for RV travel. It has a traffic receiver (that’s what the ‘T’ stands for) and a lifetime traffic subscription too. So it tells us about road construction and traffic detours. We can set it to auto mode if we don’t want to take the truck routes. So far it’s working well for us when towing the 5th wheel. We took it out of truck mode to come to Woodhead because 71 is restricted from truck use. It’s a length restriction of 65’. We aren’t that long; since we aren’t towing the utility trailer :-). And Don had found the info on Woodhead Park on the internet that said they have RV sites. So we knew we’d be okay.
We travelled about 140 miles today; arriving about 3pm. We paid $3.45 for diesel but we could have gotten it for $3.25 had we waited another mile or so. Woodhead Park cost $16/night with elec and water hookups; dump station and hot showers are free. There are quite a few campers here, mostly hunters, but it’s not near full. We were able to get a water front site with no neighbors. There are at least 4 loops with 30-40 sites each. Water front here doesn’t exactly mean you can easily fish from shore. It’s a pretty steep, 100’, down to the water; although it is possible. There are a couple boat ramps in the campground and they are still being used. Sturgeon can be found in this lake.
No Verizon cell signal out here, so no internet either. There was a wifi that you could pay $5/hour or $10/day but we decided we weren’t that desperate. Some trailers had their TV antennas up but there were higher on the hill than we were. We couldn’t get any signal. I think I’d like to see more of the canyon when we aren’t towing the 5th wheel.
We took off from Sam Owen Campground, near Hope, at about 10:45am. Took Hwy 200 west to Sandpoint, then 95 south. It was raining or overcast all day. Not a bad drive day but no opportunities for pix. It was mostly rolling hills of farmland until we got to Lewiston. Then we started seeing some canyons. Then we hit the 7% grade. We survived that one without hot brakes.
The Snake River carved out Hells Canyon, “North America’s deepest river gorge”. We are camped in Swift Water RV Park on the Salmon River. The Salmon joins the Snake River just north of Hells Canyon. Getting down to the riverfront camping took another 7% grade. Our Escapees membership gets us 15% off at all 3 of these RV parks on the Salmon River near White Bird. We chose Swift Water because it said “real riverfront camping”. It was the last one down the hill. Our brakes were hot by the time we pulled in. The entrance of the park is a sharp turn. It’s a good thing there was a large pull-out area across the road from it so we could get a better angle at it. We pulled in at 4:45pm.
Swift Water RV is a pretty little park; very clean, no extra charge for the dump or showers. $23 for electricity and water. It’s a reasonable rate. However, when we showed them our Escapees membership card, there was no discount. We were tired – our brakes were hot – it was getting dark – it was starting to rain again – we were in no mood to argue. So, he got advertising in Escapees and doesn’t have to pay for it – we did. We travelled 252 miles today. That’s too long for leisurely travel!
The park owner said the salmon season was outstanding this year. But he said the steelhead fishing is non-existent so far. The weather has been too warm so the fish are holding until the water cools. What will likely happen is that it will cool off quickly and all the fish will come up in 3 or 4 days. So there will be a very short steelhead season.
The campground is all buttoned up for the winter. Now we just have to pack our trailer and get ourselves out of here. But I just had a couple more memories to share.
Since Sam Owen mostly has ponderosa pine and cedars, there aren’t a whole lot of fall colors to see. The cedars shed some “leaves” but they just turn brown like the pine needles. We only had about 3 splashes of color like this. So, every once in a while, I’d just have to stop and enjoy it.
This reminds me of when all our northern guests were here. I’m going to nickname the Dancing Shadows Loop “Little Alberta” and Skipping Stone “Little BC” 🙂 I wonder if the Canada Geese winter on Lake Pend Oreille? I’ve heard this little cove is generally warmer than the rest of the lake. And the winters aren’t usually too severe in the whole area.
We learned something about pine trees this week. You can tell a pine tree is going to be dead next year by looking at where the cones are. If they are clustered at the top, instead of spread out all over the tree, that’s a clear indication. A tree dies from the bottom up. And it will produce as many cones, as it possibly can, the fall before it dies.
Now there’s a nice whitetail buck! Would you call him a 3 point or 4 point…or a 7? Maybe it depends on what part of the country you are from. The deer are really loving the mushrooms in the campground. Lack of guests and mild temps are allowing the grass to replenish too. We saw a tiny fawn yesterday though. She could only be a few weeks old! That’s pretty late in the season to be born. We hope it makes it through the winter!
Well, it’s the end of another chapter in our Workamping log. Don and Brian reeled in the last big one yesterday. Sam Owen Campground was a great experience. We’d recommend it to anyone. It’s a beautiful area on Lake Pend Oreille with curteous, friendly campers. We’d do it again, next year, if our feet weren’t itching so bad!
We’ve had off-and-on rain since Labor Day, here, at Sam Owen Campground. It’s too bad that chases a lot of people away from camping. But I understand why when you’ve only got a weekend to squeeze it in. The wind blew the kayakers off the lake one day but it was calm the next. It’s been so quiet that we’ve even heard a loon!
Our osprey have been quieter. We still hear squawking but I don’t think there are as many around the nest. I wonder if the parents have left already and it’s just the kids left to figure out what’s happened? I think the parents have been trying to explain it for a while. They, probably, finally said, ‘Okay, we’re leaving now!’
Swimming in Lake Pend Oreille is allowed but don’t bring the soap or shampoo! How do you think it stays so clear and clean? If people abuse this lake, it will become polluted like anything else. One camper told me that this is the first lake she’s swam in that she felt cleaner coming out of than she did going in (and she never uses soap or shampoo); even her hair felt clean. So please, leave it like you found it so the wildlife can enjoy the lake too.