Wildflowers

Scents of Spring

WildflowersThe long winter is over, and although the first official day of Spring was March 20th, it wasn’t until recently that I can look outside and both think and feel that spring has sprung.  Melting snow, longer days, chirping birds and warming sun all help, but today I could smell it…….that smell….. oh that smell!  Do you know what I am talking about?  Depending on where you live your “spring smell” may be different then the scent that’s floating through the air here in the Nile Valley.  It’s not a flowery perfume from wildflowers or the fresh fragrance that comes from a shower of rain.  It’s that smell that comes from those sticky yellow pods; the ones that fall from trees before they get their leaves.  Yes, they stick to everything (including our poor dogs’ paws) and carry with them the sweet aroma of “things are changing”.

WildflowerA quick drive to Yakima today and I could see change all around me; leaves coming back, the green hills that will turn to brown in the summer heat, splashes of color from flowers where we saw white from snow a month ago.  Growth, renewal, warmth….. it just makes you want to breathe it all in, doesn’t it?  Especially that smell 😊 (Tim thinks I’m crazy!)

Before moving to Naches we lived in Tacoma, where the scent of spring came from a lilac tree in our backyard.  And, Just a few weeks ago while visiting my mother in Arizona, I discovered a new spring scent; one that comes from a desert bush with beautiful white blossoms. I am sure you have a favorite smell of the season, don’t you?  Wherever you are, I hope you can stop to smell the scents of spring all over this country, and breathe it all in while it lasts.       

Happy Trails to you,

Julie

Road

glamping-blog

Glamping

Glamping. Defined:

“Shorthand for glamorous camping; luxury camping.” (Urban Dictionary)

“Glamping is a portmanteau of glamour and camping and describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping.” (Wikipedia)

“Informal. the activity of camping with some of the comforts and luxuries of home” (Urban Dictionary)

Recently we had a camper stay with us that suggested we get shirts with the phrase “I went glamping at Elk Ridge”.  We had been considering getting shirts made to sell in our little convenience store, but never had it occurred to us before that we might be considered a place to “glamp” at.  After all, we are a campground;  we have RV hookups and humble cabins many would consider rustic.

If you talk to someone who grew up camping in a tent, they often share the opinion that anything else is not real camping.  It’s the idea that you have to pitch your own tent, sleep between rocks and cook your food on an open fire.  “Roughing it” is was makes the experience of camping so special.

But, if you talk to someone who grew up camping in an RV, their story is a little different.  My family had a truck and camper when I was little.  I remember going across several state lines playing games with my sister while sitting at the table, swaying with every turn in the road.  Riding in the camper was part of the experience.  And, I am sure having a warm place with running water and electricity was easier on my parents with two girls to take care of.  Even still, we weren’t quite an “un-plugged” as the tenter.

What about the people who now have such luxurious motor homes and 5th wheels they can live in them for part or all of the year?  We’ve seen travelers that have enough room in their rigs that they had a nanny travel with them for their kids while they toured the country.  We’ve also seen electric fireplaces, kitchens with islands and even king sized beds!  Is this still considered camping??!!  Well, I personally think so, but I bet many of our readers don’t.

Enter the term “glamping”.  Glamorous camping.

We hadn’t thought much about making Elk Ridge a glamping destination.  We’ve just always striven to make the experience for our customers better and better.  The idea that a camper has suggested that we are that kind of place makes me smile :)

gathering-place

Tim’s recent project was to complete the transformation of our Gathering Place.  Formerly known as the Karltown Garage, Tim (with a little help) insulated, sided, floored and made a cozy place for watching football on the big screen.  We also play movies for the kiddos during the summer and the Gathering Place has already been rented out as a special event venue.  Thank you to our loyal campers whose support has given us the strength, determination and resources to to make it happen!

Many of you also know that we have a spa on site here at Elk Ridge.  The intention of our business model was not to create a campground and spa (but what a great idea, right??).  I have just been incredibly blessed to continue on with my sixteen year career as a massage therapist, here at my home…. on a mountain…. by the river…. with the awesome support of our community.

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So yes, you can camp here at Elk Ridge by way of tent, RV or cabin.  You can also relax in the gathering place with your beverage of choice, watch the game or movie on a 106 inch screen.  You can schedule a massage in the Spa at Elk Ridge to get that kink out of your neck or just relax on your vacation a little bit more.  We aren’t sure if this is glamping, but if it is, we hope you like it.

Happy Trails,

Julie

fall-pic2

Why do you Fall for Fall?

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Whether or not you’ve jumped on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, there’s no denying that Fall is in the air this week.  As we scroll through Facebook seeing pictures of fallen leaves and rainy days, reading posts declaring this to be the favorite season of many people, it’s not hard to see why people fall in love with this time of year.   While it doesn’t come with the blooms of Spring or the long days of Summer, fall arrives with its own splendor, and its vibrant colors can already be seen at Elk Ridge and throughout the Nile Valley. 

The sun worshipper may wonder why people have an affinity for cooler, cloudier days.  It’s got to go deeper than a chance to break in those new sweaters and boots doesn’t it? Here is a quick list of five reasons I came up with to fall in love with this transition time we call both autumn and fall.

1.       Leaves turning color- red, yellow, orange and everything in between.  Fall colors are like a strokes of a paintbrush through the sky and on the ground.

2.       Fresh Air- it’s always fresh in the mountains, but the occasional rain showers that come this season make taking a deep breath so much more refreshing.

3.       Fires!  There’s nothing like being in a warm, quiet house and listening to the crackle a fire. 

4.       Football- It’s a great reason to do absolutely nothing else with your day!

5.       Hunting Season- Some of our favorite customers come back to see us this time of year and hopefully fill those tags!

Honorable mention…. The return of fall t.v. shows, hot apple cider, pumpkins, rain-boots and Thanksgiving Dinner!

Why do you like this time of year?  Feel free to comment with your own reasons to crush on fall. 

Blessings to all of you this season- enjoy your families, happy hunting, go Seahawks (woot woot) and don’t fret about those extra pounds.

Until next time,

Julie

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waterfall

Spring Break

10 Reasons to Spring Break at Elk Ridge

As winter melts away and spring begins to push through, we understand that camping might not quite be on your radar yet.  After all, you’ve got cleaning to do, right?? :)  It’s true, nights are still cool, and sometimes even frigid in the mountains, and yet the season for winter snow-sports like snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing has come and gone.  So, why should you consider spending spring break at Elk Ridge?  Here’s ten out-of-the-box reasons to head for the hills this spring:

  1. Shed Hunting  shedSpring is the season to search for antlers dropped by dear and elk in the hills.  You don’t need any special license to search for these beauties, and they can be taken home to and used to make furniture or home decor
  2. Mushroom Picking  ChanterelleSnow-melt provides the perfect environment for mushrooms to grow, and the U.S. Forest Service lands that surround Elk Ridge allow you to harvest up to 3 gallons of mushrooms per day for personal use without obtaining a permit.  Stop in at the Naches Ranger Station to get maps and information about local mushrooms (and be sure to avoid the poisonous ones!)
  3. Campfires  fireIf your idea of camping includes making smores around a fire then spring might be a great season for you.  Our warm, dry summer season usually includes a burn ban to protect our area from wildfires.  Camping when the fire danger is low means you’ll get to have the burnt marshmallows and smoke in your eyes you remember from your childhood.
  4. Unplug from technology  connectThere is no cell service at Elk Ridge, and no T.V. or wifi available throughout the cabins and grounds.  If you’re looking to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature, family, friends or spirit, then head to the hills where unplugging is a little easier.
  5. Off-season means less people  less peopleMany travel publications suggest traveling abroad in off-season to beat the crowds and experience the life of the locals.  Camping at Elk Ridge is no different!  We strive to help you enjoy your camping experience no matter the season, but if you’re looking for the ultimate in R&R, spring is your season to get a little extra elbow room.
  6. Bird-watching  stellers-jay-2a            The birds are already beginning to chirp this year!  Spring is the season for birds to nest and have their young, so when they aren’t mating, they are searching for food to bring back to their nests.  In addition to hearing the songbirds sing, you can spot and try to identify the several types of birds by their vibrant colors.
  7. Elk and Sheep Spotting  sheepDuring the winter months, local elk and big horned sheep are fed at feeding stations to protect the orchards.  Spring is a time when they have to begin searching for their own food again and the weather is cool enough to keep them visible in the mountain low-lands.  Bring your camera and go for a drive to spot the impressive animals in their natural habitat.
  8. “Off-roading” on roads  4x4Bring your 4×4 to the mountains and put a little mud on the tires.  Off-road vehicle trails will remain closed until the middle of June, but there’s plenty of forest service roads to explore.
  9. Chase Waterfalls  waterfallSpring is the best season to see waterfalls.  Snow-melt and warmer temperatures cause rivers to run higher and waterfalls to flow more heavily.  The Naches Ranger District lists 9 official waterfalls to find in our area while you’re camping with us.
  10. Sun-worshiping  sunshineOn average, our area gets over 200 days of sun per year and only 26 inches of rain.  While we can’t guarantee a perfectly sunny day, your chances of waking up to sunshine instead of rain are significantly higher here, especially when compared to western Washington and the Seattle metro area.  So, get that camping gear down from the attic, the RV out of storage and your camera ready to shoot your adventures at Elk Ridge this spring.
tim and karl 2

oneyearlater

ONE-YEAR

One year down!  It’s hard to believe we are already celebrating our first anniversary as the new owners of Elk Ridge Campground.  Its been a fabulous year of growth, change, learning new skills and making new friends! Many of you (our faithful followers) have been watching our progress since the beginning, so to celebrate this milestone, rather then recap the last year, I have decided answer one of our most frequently asked questions: our story; how it all began.  More specifically, “how did YOU end up HERE?

So, here we go…….

It all started with Tim’s father (Rich).  He loved the Nile Valley and brought Tim (and his siblings) hunting and camping in the area throughout their childhood.  Residing in this pass today brings back those childhood memories for Tim, but it also serves as a way we honor my late father-in-law.  We lost dad to a heart attack on Jan 1st, 2014, just before our dreams of moving here became a reality.

Rich

RIP Dad Hoefer; we miss you!

Ever since I met Tim he talked about wanting to own property on Chinook pass.  And after we started dating (in 2007) we began taking many day trips and weekend getaways to the area.  Tim brought his son on a yearly camping tradition, and some weekends we’d head over the pass for the weekend and bring Tim’s parents with us.

(You might be wondering where we are from….   Yes, we are originally “west-siders”; we come from Tacoma.)

On one of those weekends in fall  of 2013, we were celebrating my birthday and enjoying the local talent of Don Forgey.  That’s the night we met the infamous “Krazy Karl”.  As Karl would say, he and Tim are both “shy” so they hit it off right away.  Karl mentioned he owned Elk Ridge, suggesting we come check his place out.  So we did.

Thereafter, whenever we traveled to the Nile, we stopped in to visit Krazy Karl.  And, once Karl heard about the passing of Tim’s dad in 2014, he invited us to come to Elk Ridge and stay for the weekend.

One weekend turned into another and soon I couldn’t keep Tim away from Elk Ridge!  He spent nearly every weekend throughout the summer and fall with Karl, raking pine needles, talking to campers and helping out, but mostly just getting to know Krazy Karl.

There’s no other way to describe the relationship between Tim and Karl but to say that they’ve adopted one another as father and son.  Certainly no one could replace Dad Hoefer, but Elk Ridge gave Tim a place to grieve, and Karl filled an incredible void.

tim and karl

So, how did we become the new owners of Elk Ridge?  Well that’s a story that only Tim, Karl and the squirrels could tell you.  This picture was taken November 29th, 2014, directly after they signed the paperwork that sealed the deal, and the rest, as they say, is history.

We took over as new owners of Elk Ridge on January 2nd, 2015 and our hope is that, “one year later”, with the help of my dad, Bob, we’ve made:

children smile, parents laugh, couples bond, family memories

and most importantly……

we hope that we’ve made Rich and Karl proud.

 

Thanks to all of you who help make 2015 so special for us. :)

 

Julie

Oh…… and as for Krazy Karl…… he’s enjoying the freedom of retirement!  He’s still around Elk Ridge every now and then so come for a visit in Spring if you want to have a “pork chop” with the Krazy troubadour we call Karl.

 

sno park pic

Snow!

Elk Ridge Snow

Just a few days left until Christmas and Elk Ridge is beginning to look like a winter wonderland!  With a little more then 2 new FEET of snow on the ground, it would be hard not to get in the spirit of the season.  Lights hung, presents wrapped and a perfect little trail leading to an untouched meadow is just waiting for kids to arrive this weekend!

A few people have reached out via phone or Facebook to inquire what kinds of activities there are here in the winter.  So, besides the obvious “play in the snow”, here are a little more specifics for those interested in visiting our area this season.

sno park pic

Elk Ridge is surrounded by several Washington State snowmobile sno-parks and is literally right across the street from the Nile sno-park, commonly known as Bald Mountain.  For information about snowmobiling in our area, please see the link below:

http://parks.state.wa.us/439/Greenwater-Yakima#

Earlier this week we took a 15 minute drive into the town of Naches and stopped at the Little Red Schoolhouse, a produce stand turned sporting goods shop this time of year.  In addition to renting skis to be used on the slopes of White Pass (a 50 minute drive from Elk Ridge), you can also rent snow shoes by the day for just $12 and explore countless trails nearby.

sheep pic

If your idea of “fun” is a little less sporty you can hang back at camp, roast marshmallows by the fire and just take in the stillness of the mountain.  Or, schedule an appointment for a therapeutic massage in the Spa at Elk Ridge.  Short day-trips can be taken to the local feeding stations where big-horn sheep are fed in the late morning, as are Elk in the early afternoon.  Afterward take a stroll through town and stop for cinnamon rolls at the bakery or take the family out to pizza.  And, don’t forget, the Yakima valley is home to over 100 wineries (and several breweries), many of which host tastings in the winter months.

The list could go on, but we firmly believe that:

  1. Doing nothing IS doing something
  2. Your imagination will point you in right direction
  3. Once you get here, you may not want to leave!

We wish many blessings to each and every one of you this Christmas and New Year.  Whether your travels lead you to sunny destinations like Hawaii or Mexico this winter, or you consider a mountain getaway to play in the snow with us, we pray that peace, love and light will follow you.

 

Happiest of Holidays from all of us at Elk Ridge!

 

Julie, Tim, Bob and Chloe

chinook closed

We are open!

chinook closed

With an amazing Thanksgiving weekend behind us and the end of hunting season around the corner, I thought it would be a great time to sit down by the fire with a cup of coffee and express a few words of gratitude.  With the help and support from our friends and members of the community, we successfully served a hot turkey dinner with all the trimmings to 35 people and kicked off an unforgettable weekend for our campers of football, snow and bow-hunting.  We could not have accomplished it without the help of all the potato peelers, dish washers, turkey fryers, roll bakers and empty tummies.  So, from our home to yours, THANK YOU for being a part of the memories made this season!

Traditionally, at this time of year, Elk Ridge would be getting ready to go into hibernation for the rest of winter.  Chinook Pass has closed for the season and the Nile Valley will be changing from a bustling headquarters for hunting into a dormant winter refuge.  This year, however, will be different.  As new, full-time residents of Elk Ridge Campground, we are excited to spread the news that we will be staying open all year; We are open!

We are already booking reservations for Christmas and New Years, and are hoping for continued snow to fall to provide play space for outdoor adventurers and snow sport enthusiasts.

Additionally, we are “open” for scheduling massage appointments at our campground!  We have transformed one of our cabins (“Mom’s Place”) into a tranquil space for me to do what I do best :) and Saturday marked the grand opening of the Spa at Elk Ridge.  As a massage practitioner of 15 years, I am excited to bring my practice to our home and provide massage therapy to our campground guests and residents of Nile Valley.  Currently, I am working with other talented professionals to create spa weekend getaways, bridal packages, health retreats and more.  So…… please be looking for updates and announcements on on our Facebook page (facebook.com/spaatelkridge) and website (elkridgecampground.com).

“We are open” is a phrase with great significance this year.  We are open this winter when Elk Ridge is normally closed.  Our spa is now open and available for appointments.  And lastly, we are open to your ideas and suggestions.  Please let us know the winter activities you like to do so we can provide a getaway for you and your family to come to Elk Ridge and play.

Happy Trails (and holidays),

Julie

Deer's Head ca. 2002

Deer, Dogs and Deep Thoughts

Last evening, around dusk, I was walking with a few of our campers out back (mountain-term for just about anywhere that’s not where you currently are; in this case, the meadow).  I was showing them a hoof print of what is presumably a very large elk, explaining how they follow a trail down Bald Mountain, through our neighbor’s property, then on to our meadow and out to the beach for water.

Elk

Well, just as we bent down to put our Sherlock Holmes investigating skills to the test, along came a deer.  We thought it was a cute little thing so we stood to watch it, and there she stood, staring back at us.  It seemed we could have gone on for hours just staring at each other, when I realized we were going to have to make the first move.  I thought to myself, the deer must think she’s protecting herself by standing still.  Not so if I had been a hunter!

I went about my evening and, after nightfall, our faithful “guard” dog, Chloe decided to bark at some unassuming campers resting on our porch, checking emails, etc. It occurred to me, first, that a dog must be talented to both bark and wag their tails at people simultaneously.  And, second, I realized how species of animals react entirely different to people when startled by them.  A deer stands still, staring, and hoping not to be noticed.  While a dog is jumping, leaping, barking and wagging, begging to be paid attention to.

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I know people (humans….) who exhibit some of the same social skills, don’t you?

Fortunately, I have never come face to face with a Cougar but am told they will stalk you, wait until you are alone and then pounce.  Yikes! (Also similar to behavior of some people LOL).

So, who are you most like?  Introverted deer, extroverted dog or some other animal in the wild?

 

Happy Trails, whoever you are… :)

Julie

Yakima Beer Blog - Hops!

Ode to Beer!

Most people in and around Washington know that the Yakima Valley is recognized for it’s wine.  With nearly 100 local wineries and tasting rooms there’s nothing that wont satisfy even the most discerning of tastes.

But, did you know that 78% of the entire nation’s hops are grown here in the Yakima Valley as well??

While most hops get sent across state line to become something delicious, craft beverage companies are beginning to take their stance locally as well.  That’s right…. you don’t have to drive to Portland to get a decent micro-brew anymore.  Yakima offers several varieties, it’s almost always sunny and only 30 minutes drive from camping at Elk Ridge Campground.  So, why not sample a few, pic your fave and bring it on up to enjoy at your little cabin on the Naches River?

Yakima Beer Blog

Better yet…..

How would you like to attend a special event weekend and have the local beer, wine, and cider (or moonshine… )brought directly to you while your camping with us?  We’re talking food, brew, music, fire and a comfy place to lay your head.  Well, that’s in the works too so stay tuned!

How many of YOU would like to be a part of a weekend of tasting what the Yakima Valley has to offer?

 

Julie

 

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

Our first two weeks of Fall have come and gone and new campground projects are already underway. Leaves are turning color, the nights are becoming crisp and cool and days are still sunny and warm. With the end of an amazing and busy summer behind us I thought it fitting to do a summer recap blog for those that have been following us since the beginning. We have been blessed by so many of you who have been kind enough to stop in and give us compliments on our progress so far. It’s humbling to have so many friends, new and old, who have captured our vision for Elk Ridge and want to see her shine in the Nile Valley like she did back in her hay-day.

Looking back is sometimes challenging for us since we are always excited about “what’s next” but I will give it a try :) Here are just a few highlights from our first summer at Elk Ridge Campground:

 

We hosted three outdoor weddings in our meadow on the Naches River. They were unique, beautiful and unforgettable as much to us as to the Bride and Groom on their special day.

 

We also hosted several family reunions that booked part or all of the entire campground. Sorry folks, we now consider ourselves part of your families and you are STUCK with us!

 

 

New Sign!

Our website was launched and now has online booking capabilities. In the offline world,  we brought in over 300 tons of new gravel. Meanwhile, our vintage neon sign was restored to it’s original Union 76 colors, blue and orange.

 

 

Several international travelers chose us for impromptu stays on their journeys. We hosted campers from Spain, Switzerland, France, Holland, Germany and Sweden.

 

Our location next to Jim Sprick Community Park enabled us to offer accommodations during events like Nile Valley Days in July and Chinook Fest in September.

 

 

 

tvMore recently, we installed a 106 inch HD projector screen in our multipurpose room so our hunters (
and other 12’s) can watch the Seahawks this Fall.
We plan to use this in the future for movies as well!

 

 

 

 

 

And MOST importantly……..

 

Elk Ridge Campground gained Tim Hoefer as a full time resident, owner, operator, visionary and one of a kind campground host. :)

fire pic

 

 

It was a busy summer, but are so very excited for the days, months and seasons ahead! Thank you, thank you, thank you to each and every one of you who have made our first summer as hosts of Elk Ridge Campground a success and beautiful memory!!  Tim and I appreciate your encouragement and support!

 

 

Happy Trails,

 

Julie