Although I first signed up for Hipcamp a few years ago, I hadn’t booked any camping trips until this summer. We just went on our first Hipcamp trip last week. I wanted to recap our adventure here as kind of a Hipcamp review.
One of the first camping spots that caught my eye, when I had searched around Oregon and the Mt Hood area, was the Enola Hills listing. The pictures were pretty incredible. Like so good that it seems like maybe they were highly edited or that someone did some serious staging. But after reading reviews it seemed like a legit cool site. Albeit quite a bit more than we have ever paid for camping! The space is often used for group camping. But with just our family, because of the price and it being our first tent camping with our two year old, we decided to spend just one night. And it was a great kick off to camping season!
Hipcamp Review: Booking Pros and Cons
The Hipcamp website is pretty straight forward. It’s like Airbnb for camping. The are definitely some extras that can bump up the price. Like if you add firewood or some kind of activity (not all listings have this). And then taxes, fees etc that even with hotels you’ll have. It’s like “oh, hello extra money but now that I’m kind of invested in this, I guess this is what we’re paying unless we want to start all over in our search.”
And remember, you can get $10 off your first camping trip. Use Hipcamp promo code: FBV (Full disclosure: You get $10 off and I get $10 after your first trip.) Also make sure to search through the Hipcamp reviews on the listing you’re thinking about booking. See what people liked and didn’t like. This is especially helpful for if you have kiddos etc. I found one listing that had a few wild mosquitos reviews. While we can handle a few mosquitos, it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my first camping trip with my toddler. :)
The only thing I would like to see changed about the Hipcamp browsing process is to be able to filter by “total campsites”. Quite a few of the listings have more than one “camp site” on their property. And while Hipcamp makes it seem like you’re booking a private campsite, there are many that are not. Definitely make sure to check that out under “Total campsites”. And make sure it says 1 or at least KNOW that you’ll be sharing space or an outhouse with strangers. And in the time of COVID that’s kind of the benefit to using Hipcamp. Ok on with the review.
Camping at Enola Hill, Mt Hood National Forest
The reviews for our listing said the road was a wild ride. And that you’d need a 4×4 or off-road vehicle. I had found a review that someone mentioned they made it in their CX-5. So I thought well… or CRV will probably make it right? And also we had a pretty rainy May and June this year. So I chocked up the reviews to somewhat exaggerating and somewhat weather. Buuut, that road was no-joke!
The Wild Drive Up Enola Hill
There were huge pond-y potholes filled with water covering the road. With giant trenches and ruts, where you have to balance between on top of two ruts, fallen trees etc. And then, there’s oncoming traffic on this one way road. You can get over in the bushes and ditch, but on the other side of the road is just a cliff. So yes, it was a harrowing road and I didn’t know if we would make it. I honestly had to tell myself ok, we might turn around. Worst case, we get stuck and/or break our car. But we made it!
Oh you thought this was a positive review right?! It is! The crazy drive was worth it. I definitely needed a drink after white knuckling 3 miles of off-roading. And a drink with a view, we had. Hello, Mt Hood!
Day 1: Setting Up Camp
The site had lots of meadow area to set up tents. A pretty amazing fire pit area with huge boulders and a view of Mt Hood. A picnic table and prep table, and an outhouse that was pretty tidy and not too stinky.
There was also a pretty fun old rusty tractor that our toddler wanted to be on non-stop. He also had a lot of fun digging with the shovel and toting firewood around. Suite yourself, as long as you’re occupied, right?!
After getting our camp set up and relaxing for a bit, we decided to check out the creek. It was a bit of a walk back up the road. A fun little adventure to let our two year old splash around. Then we headed back to camp. We cooked some ramen for dinner. One of our favorite camping meals. It’s easy and toddler approved. Even if this time he just ate 2 hard boiled eggs and few bites of noodles.
After dinner we built a campfire and roasted marshmallows and made non-chocolate s’mores because I forgot chocolate. A pretty solid first night of camping.
Since this was our first tent camping trip as a family, we decided to just use the gear we have and not buy much new. So we took our 2 person backpacking tent, and an old 3 person tent. The old tent doesn’t work in the rain, but does fine for clear nights. The one thing I did buy was a new full size double camping mat. So I slept in the backpacking tent with our toddler and my husband got his own tent. Next time, we’re swapping! We waited until about sunset and then got ready for bed. It took about an hour for our toddler to calm down and fall asleep.
Then I got to sneak out of the tent and hang out for a bit and watch the amazing stars. Living in the city in Portland, I don’t get to see the stars like that very often! I sometimes forgot how wild the sky looks at night with no light around. I wish I had a picture of the sky that night.
Camping: Day Two
And what time did our little bird awaken? Well dawn patrol was up at 4:30am with the first light and birds. I used white noise on my phone in the tent, but my phone died at some point in the night. So next trip, we’ll bring the white noise phone that we use at home. One of our standard baby travel gear items! Since our little guy was so excited to be awake, we stalled a little and watched the sunrise over the mountains. Then we just ended up getting up and making coffee and his oatmeal. TIP: Bring instant oatmeal packets for kiddos to give them first thing. We have our coffee and he has his oatmeal and everybody is a little bit happier. Then we could take our time making breakfast tacos later. Win win.
We spent the rest of the morning playing, making another campfire, and packing up. The road back down was not too bad as we knew what to expect. And we passed zero oncoming cars, which really made things a lot easier.
Overall, we had an epic 24 hours in the forest and can’t wait for our next camping trip. I would definitely come back to this site for a group camping trip, but probably not in our car. Another option if you wanted to check out this listing would be to pack for backpacking. You could park closer to Hwy 26 and then hike up.
And that wraps up our first Hipcamp review and first toddler tent camping trip! Have you tried Hipcamp yet?