Giles French Park – A Boondocking Review

If you read the review I wrote on Rufus Landing you know we only traveled a short distance to our next boondocking spot – GIles French Park is another Recreation Area run by the Army Corps of Engineers.


This park is a no fee, 14 day limit, dry camping environment open to RVs and tents located on the Columbia River, just down river of the John Day Dam. You can get to the park by Exit 109 off I-84.

We didn’t realize when we pulled into the Rufus Landing Recreation Area three days prior that Giles French Park was here, even though it was on the same road. Had we gone right instead of left at the fork in the road we probably would have ended up here for the entire time.

Most of the spots in Giles French are paved, although there are some gravel places to set up on as well. We moved our rig on a Saturday so we ended up in a gravel spot. But It was a perfect boondocking location right next to the Columbia River.

We spent four nights in this spot …

Giles French Park, Rufus Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus Oregon

The campsite was fairly flat and only needed a couple leveling blocks to get level.There aren’t any designated parking places, but for the most part campers are parked parallel to the river. This helps a great deal with the wind that usually whips through the area.

The park really emptied out by Monday. Here are a couple pics of more parking options …

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

As you can see in the pic above, there are dumpsters in the park which is convenient. There is also a restroom building with running water at the very easterly end of the park. (Just before the gated off access to the John Day Dam.) It’s not new by any stretch of the imagination, but it was clean, heated and the water was very hot. There’s also an outlet located next to the hand dryer which might come in handy if you don’t have power in your rig or tent.


The Giles French area was much quieter than Rufus Landing. We really couldn’t hear the traffic on I-84 at all. However, you can still hear the trains, so something to keep in mind if you’re a light sleeper.

I-84 above Giles French Park. The train tracks are raised and between the campsites and the highway.

I-84 above Giles French Park. The train tracks are raised and between the campsites and the highway.

One more look …


This part of the river is a fishing mecca for anglers looking to get their quota of salmon and steelhead trout. While the leisure fishing boat traffic is much lower than down by Rufus Landing …


Anglers off the shore at Rufus Landing, Oregon

There are more fisherman casting off from the shore in Giles French Park. There are several fishing platforms along the river’s edge. I believe you have to be a recognized tribal member in the area to use the platforms so check into that if you’re considering throwing in a line. 🙂

Fishing platforms along the Columbia River.

Fishing platforms along the Columbia River.

Seeing as we’re not Native American, or fishermen for that matter, we didn’t do any fishing from the platform in front of our campsite. But it did make for a picturesque view for our Cinco de Mayo celebration 🙂

Enjoying the early May sunshine along the Columbia River in Oregon.

Enjoying the early May sunshine along the Columbia River in Oregon.

The entire area is actually very picturesque. Whether you’re looking toward the dam …

John Day Dam, Rufus, Oregon

John Day Dam, Rufus, Oregon

Or looking toward the interstate and train tracks …


Or watching the sun set on another relaxing day …


If you are in the Rufus, Oregon area (about 48 miles east of Hood River, OR)  and you’re looking for a place to spend one night (or two weeks!), Giles French Park, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers is a great option. Take Exit 109 off I-84, head toward the river and go right at the fork. 🙂

*Side Note* – The park does not have a dump station or water available. However, there is a Shell Gas station/convenience store located at Exit 109 that is set up for dumping and water refilling. The price listed on the sign indicates the fee is $6, but when I went in to pay they charged me $10. Still not a bad price I guess. They refill propane tanks as well.

That’s all for now. 🙂


Rufus Landing Recreation Area – A Boondocking Review


If you’re traveling along Interstate 84, about 48 miles east of Hood River, Oregon, there’s a great boondocking option if you’re looking for one. The Army Corps of Engineers has a nice little Recreation Area just off Exit 109  for stays of up to 14 days.

The scenery was certainly a change from the lush San Juan Islands we had just left, but it beautiful just the same. Not a bad view from my desk …


We set up at the very end of the recreation area, staying to left once the paved road ends. We had intended to only spend one night but ended up staying for three. (We only moved a bit, but I’ll write more about that in a different review.)

20140430_174612There weren’t very many other campers during the week, but a few more rolled in on the weekend. Parking is pretty much haphazard as long as you stay in the designated areas.



And there were rigs of every shape and size …


On a side note, we did encounter a great deal of wind coming out of the west. That would explain why there’s a wind farm on the Washington side! 🙂  One day was really windy and had the camper rocking a bit. (Steady 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph) Since we didn’t have our slide out anyway we just rode it out. We probably would have been a little better off if our rig had been parked parallel to the river as opposed to perpendicular. But it all worked out fine.

There is horseshoe-shaped island called Gerking Canyon not too far off shore. The easterly tip of it seems to be a good spot for fishing as there were always a few boats anchored out there with lines in the water.


In addition to the anglers, there’s a  decent amount of barge traffic on the river as well.



The barge traffic was very quiet. We could just barely hear the hum of the tug engines as they made their way up and down the river.

On the other hand, I-84 does run along Rufus Landing, and yes you can hear the traffic quite clearly. It didn’t bother us at all and seemed to really ease up during the nighttime hours.


That’s I-84 to give you an idea of how far away it was from out spot. We were probably about as close to the highway as you can get in this area. lol No, that wasn’t our intention but it was the most secluded spot we could find that was so close to the water.

That large pile of stones did a great job of buffering the road noise.

This pic may give you a better idea …


That’s the pile of stones in the background working as a buffer … and that’s Mr. G. working as a buffer. (Better a buffer than a fluffer, Ha! I’ll be here all week folks. Don’t forget to tip your server!) Anyhooo … He waxed the entire H.O.W. by hand. He was a little sore that night!

The only negative I think you might find if you’re looking for someplace really quiet is the locomotive noise – and by that I mean T-R-A-I-N-S. I know there are some people out there that really get cranky when they get all settled in and realize there are tracks nearby. Heads up – there are tracks on both sides of the river here and the trains seem to pass about every 30 minutes to an hour.

Trains to the south of us …


Trains to the north of us…


Honestly, we’re used to hearing trains so the tracks didn’t bother us. Truth be told we think a train whistle in the distance is kind of romantic. But, there are no crossings nearby so they aren’t sounding their horns at all here. Like I said though, you can certainly hear them rumbling by – frequently. So if you’re someone who wakes up at the sound coming from the tracks and says “F@%&*ng Trains!” you might want to pass this place over. Just sayin’.;-)

In our opinion, sunsets like these trump the minor transportation noise – hands down.

20140430_19162420140430_202215 Here’s a satellite view via Google maps. The red arrow is the location of our rig and the direction we were facing.

Google Maps image

Google Maps image

The area is open to tent camping as well as RVs and there is a pit toilet building located on the grounds should you need one. They were pretty clean and well maintained.




If you decide to check out this boondocking spot, Rufus Landing Recreation Area is off Exit 109 on I-84. Follow Rockbeach Lane west all the way to the end, then keep going until you reach the water Oh and hey, say “Hello” to the geese for us!



The Historic Columbia River – Route 30 Oregon

20140430_120536 I know I’ve said it before, and bear with me folks I’m sure you’ll hear it from me again and again, but boy …  what a beautiful country we live in!!

We are in a holding pattern of sorts while waiting for the next project to start so we decided to see some of the beautiful scenery we missed the last time we traveled along Interstate 84 East to get to Salt Lake City. Last year we were in a hurry to get to the next gig and we came through here at night. We decided that if we ever had the chance to travel this route again we would make sure it was during the day. I’m so glad we did! 20140430_120235There are several places to stop and take in the amazing vistas along the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway, Route 30 and all of them (the ones where we stopped at least) were free. Seeing as we’re in that “holding pattern” I mentioned, free things to do and  boondocking options  are what life will be about for the next week or two. 🙂 Truth be told, we prefer boondocking whenever we get the chance, so this certainly isn’t a hardship.

Our first stop along the scenic highway was at the Portland Women’s Forum …


Yes, that’s our H.O.W. up there tucked away safely off the road. The parking lot just sort of jumped up on us. LoL  It was worth the walk back to see the view though … 20140430_123020  Next stop the Vista House at Crown Point. We managed to find a spot at this one 😉  …



It was super windy up there the day we stopped. Maybe it’s always windy because there were actually a few windsurfers on the river.

Can you see them down there?

Can you see them down there?

View to the east at Crown Point

View to the east at Crown Point

View to the west at Crown Point

View to the west at Crown Point

The road was just as pretty as the designated viewing areas in many spots. So lush and green, an enchanted forest of sorts  …


There were even a few spots that got the old blood pumping! Yikes 🙂


No worries, plenty of room says Mr. G …


The first falls we stopped at was Latourell Falls …


Just a short little stroll up the hill …


To see this baby-sized fall  …


Now, onward to the mommy-sized fall, Multnomah Falls …



Multnomah Falls April 2014

Multnomah Falls April 2014

Wondering where the Multnomah Falls are located?


It was a beautiful day to take in the scenery along route 30 as well as Interstate 84 heading East. Looking across the Columbia River back to Washington …


A great day for a sail on the river …


We passed a couple of dams along the way. Managed to get a quick pic of The Dalles Dam …


The next one we’ll see will be the John Day Dam, but we didn’t get quite that far yet. We decided to spend a few days boondocking on a spot on Army Corps of Engineers land in Rufus, Oregon.


If you want to check back in a few days I should have a post on how the boondocking went. But in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at our site …


That’s all for now. Have a great weekend everyone!