Because we are members of a few vineyards in and around Los Olivos, we usually visit the area a couple of times a year to pick up our wines and visit the tasting rooms. In the past, we've always flown into San Ynez airport with a bunch of friends, rented a car (or Ubered in recent years) and stayed in a hotel, usually in Solvang or Buellton. (To read about flying in to San Ynez, check this article).
This time, we decided to take the Airstream, just the two of us. Novice-level stupidity first led me to check out Flying Flags as an option but seeing the concrete pads, all in matchstick-sized, parallel rows reminded me too much of the free nights I've spent in Walmart parking lots. Considering this, imagine my surprise to find that a night a FF will set you back $89. Not exactly a free night at Walmart. So I expanded the search to other options.
I considered a few hipcamp options (to read about hipcamp, click here), but remembered that the days might be warm, we might need the AC, and I wasn't checked out on our new Honda generator. So I decided to keep up the search for somewhere that didn't look like a Walmart parking lot but also had hookups and amenities. This, I've come to find out, is a pretty tall order in the land of RV camping.
What I found was Cachuma Lake--and it's such a relief to say that we love everything about this campground. Plain and simple, its just an awesome little spot.
Our reservation was for Fri-Sat, but Todd left work early Thursday so we decided to get a head start by driving up that night. I couldn't confirm same-day availability on our reserved spot online, but I had looked earlier in the week and it was open so I figured, what are the chances its rented for just 1 night? Well, turns out to be about 100%.
We arrived well past dark to find the guard shack deserted. Undaunted, we followed the easy-to-read signage to our spot, only to see it occupied by a 9000 foot long motorcoach and several parked cars. Suddenly, a voice called out, "You need some help?" and one of the camp hosts was at the window of the car. We all agreed that the only thing to do was find a walk-up site for the night. He raced back to his trailer, found us a printed map and within 5 minutes we were happily parked in a big, comfy, full-hookup spot for the night (#59).
The next morning, I headed to the now-open gate, which was hosted by two very helpful workers. I was able to pay for the walk-up, have a nice chat, and find out that we were welcome to move to our spot as soon as the giant motorcoach moved on out. Within a couple of hours, we made the short trek to spot 121, which we loved for its views, sunsets & relative privacy.
As the weekend went on, the campground filled just about to capacity, which isn't a surprise since it was one of the first weekends of summer. I had read that noise can be an issue but by 10pm most campers had settled and noise and lights were minimal. There are many hosts in the campground, and that may be one reason that noise isn't a big issue. Also, we were notified by staff several times (and saw signs also) that noise complaints after 10pm are referred directly to 911. I guess no one likes to get arrested on vacation.
Even though we stayed for several nights, we spent our days at the vineyards and weren't able to take advantage of many of the opportunities at the campground. Maybe next time we'll manage to do more exploring, but with all those wineries, I doubt it.
Reservations: (805) 568-2460
Gate (Not for Reservations): (805) 686-5055
Camping & Nature Cruise Reservations: (805) 568-2460