Camp Hosting in Idaho… Lessons “In Progress”

The “Wilson” is set up… and optimized to the greatest extent possible. If you have no idea what a “Wilson” is, thats ok, I didn’t either a few days ago! A Wilson is a phone signal extender/amplifier. In my case it has bridged the gap between zero access to the Verizon network and “minimal” access. 

More about “Wilson” in a moment…

I am writing this on May 23 from Dworshak State Park in Idaho. A remote park with one of the most gnarly access roads I have ever seen! The road has so many switchbacks on a 10% (downhill) grade that they even have signage for RV’s and trucks to take it wide enough so the road becomes a one land road for much of a two mile stretch leading to the park entrance.

Enjoy some sights of Dworshak State Park … (then please DO keep reading!)

The park itself is only at about 1000 ft. elevation, as is the nearest town, Orofino, about 24 miles to the southeast (6 by water – which is how the park employees arrive!), but the road between crosses steep rolling hills that must approach 3000 feet (or better!) I was already thinking that a “once per week” routine for “provisions” would work while I’m out here – and now I KNOW that at best, I only want to leave here once a week!

Within the park there is plenty of space to spread out and relax, hike, bike, canoe, kayak, fish or use a motor boat – the lake stretches for 54 miles from the Dam (about 6 miles from here). 

Camp Hosting in Dworshak State Park
Camp Hosting in Dworshak State Park

Being Here…

Is most definitely different – there is only one way in and one way out. There is no real traffic in the park outside of the few visitors and campers it does attract – I think the road has some to do with acting as a “natural barrier” to visitation. For those who DO venture here, it is a natural and pristine wilderness – deer and moose are common visitors to the park, along with a variety of birds. Bear can be found just north – in fact the road to 3 Meadows (see video) has a barrier to discourage “casual hikers” as it truly IS bear territory.

The lake (reservoir) itself is interesting – it is currently about 65 ft. below its max stage (it WAS 115 ft below max) – but it is rising a few FEET each day! It was quite low because the dam was opened to allow water to drain; it is now filling from snow-melt and runoff. This process will continue until early July when the “Corp” (Army Corp. of Engineers) will start to drain it again – using the water downstream in the Salmon River.

The park maintains a boat – and believe it or not, the main reason is to enable the staff to come to work each day! The park is not too far from Orofino by water – its just the road that winds around to get here.

Ok, back to “Wilson”…

When it comes to phone access allow me to elaborate – you have two “metrics” to assess access to a phone network – the number of “bars” representing signal strength, and the degree of bandwidth – with the best being “4g” throughout much of our nation. Remote areas are still running on “3g” and only the most remote regions run on “1x” – a technology now over 1o years old.

Here, in Dworshak State Park, I have “1x” and 3 “bars” – WITH the Wilson phone extender device – ZERO without it. Good enough to allow for phone calls that are clear and without “dropouts” but when it comes to Internet access – which I use extensively – it is very slow and somewhat intermittent.

To use the Wilson, I had to set an antenna (no drilling) on my roof, run a wire inside, plug in the power unit, and then sit my phone on top of a pad that is the ONLY place it will work and get the 1x, 3 bar signal I now receive. Good enough for phone; NOT good enough for ANY data – internet or internet radio.

When you lose connectivity, you begin to realize how much you really do use it!

“Internet radio” – We most definitely live in an “information overload” age, and there are a few “talk radio” hosts I enjoy listening to on a daily basis – Thanks to smart phone apps like “I-heart-radio” and “tune-in radio”, literally thousands of radio stations are available at your fingertips. This allows you to not only decide WHAT to listen to but WHEN to listen to it as you can find stations that offer your favorite programming (you can search by personality) – and in varying time zones!

Business and Business Communications – I’m an “on the road” kind of guy – that is income from anywhere on the road (have you seen my post on this topic? – it got GREAT reviews from those who have seen it thus far!) A “connection” is necessary to create content (posts like this one), upload videos, and even maintain the site to keep it functioning. Naturally, “doing” email, Facebook, and using other communication tools are part of any business today that wants a presence online as well as for personal use to remain in contact with friends and such.

Information – whether its the latest news, or a “how to” video on YouTube (one was recently instrumental in helping me to fix the navigation on my phone – actually FAR more helpful than Verizon’s own tech support! (And, yes, I’m generally favorable to Verizon as they are the ONLY phone company that (typically) provides service everywhere.

The park DOES have wifi, however ‘bandwidth’ is severely limited. I’m currently going back and forth with the IT folks to see if a long term stay here is going to work for me –  given that I make videos and do lots of work online to support my traveling lifestyle. Along those lines… have you seen my views on Arginine and heart health? Honestly, only time will tell if we can work this out. You know, when you have it all at your finger-tips and then you have severe limits… it forces you to really think.

For the short term visitor – a few days lets say, I highly recommend this park  – but, if you have a large trailer/Class A, be sure to swing the curves WIDE on the final access road (10% grade downhill). 

camp hosting in Dworshak State Park
Camp hosting in Dworshak State Park

While you’re here – feel free to look around the site – there are posts on Camp Hosting; RV Insurance; Great RV beds; Health tips and sites I’ve been that really stand out! 

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6 thoughts on “Camp Hosting in Idaho… Lessons “In Progress””

  1. Hola! I’ve been reading your website for a long time now and finally got the
    bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

  2. Is it difficult to become a camp host? Are people standing in line for every job that’s out there, or is this something that most RVers are not interested in? I also wondered if campgrounds allow you to serve there multiple times? And how far in advance should one be making contact with campgrounds they are interested in? Should one make contact with several campgrounds, or just one? I realize it probably varies from campground to campground, but what have you experienced?

    • Vicki,

      Thanks for asking! This is my 2nd camp hosting arrangement (last summer was my 1st). Contrary to popular view, campgrounds seem to be in need of camp hosts. Now that said, I’m sure there are many campgrounds where a “prime site” is spoken for by someone who does this every year. But… if you’re open to “the possibilities” – you’ll find plenty out there – and even at a late date (due to no-shows or those who had a change in plans.)

      For this summer, I went to the Idaho State Parks website (each state maintains a parks website and in many cases offers a “common app” – look under “volunteers” or “camp hosting”) and applied to several parks I had an interest in (I was looking for NORTH!) Within a day or so, I got a call from a ranger at a park I had not even expressed interest in, but after a brief discussion, I had a good feeling about her and the park and I decided to accept her offer.

      Yes, you can in many cases return to your prior season’s park. In colorado, the ranger told me they prefer NOT to keep the same hosts for too many seasons as it creates a sense of “complacency” on the part of the host. Even so, they did offer me and others the option to return. I opted not to as I wanted new terrain and had to go to wyoming anyway in May to get some repairs done.

      As to when to apply – believe it or not – for Summer… December/January is the time! But again – even now, late opportunities arise.

      Hope this helps,



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