By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Is a pull-through site better than a back-in?
Friends of ours asked us to stop in for a visit as we were migrating between the Pacific Northwest and Arizona. They must really like us a lot, as our thought was to stop and “do lunch” on the way through. Next thing we knew, they’d put a reservation in for us at a nearby state park – stay two nights. We had more than just one meal together, to say the least.
Our reservations were made for us at Battle Ground Lake State Park. The park’s history goes back to the 1920s, when the area around the volcanic crater lake was developed as a resort. The state took over the resort in the 1960s, and from all appearances the design standards of the campground itself probably date from that time. Mind you, this couple are experienced RVers; not only did they reserve us a spot, they also went out and eyeballed the campground, getting us what they considered a favorable pull-through site.
The pull-through sites here are the “side-loop” variety – they more or less parallel the existing roadway. There were other back-in sites through our loop. Ours was nice and level – no leveling blocks required, a real plus. We noted other sites on this loop would have been rated anywhere from “good” to “RVer’s nightmare.” We’re good, right? Well, kinda-sorta.
Our towing rig is an extended cab pickup, which puts our turning radius a bit longer than the average pickup. Hitched up to our 26-foot travel trailer, the navigator obligingly jumped out to spot the rear – the entrance to our site was equipped with the standard, evergreen forest tree stump on the inside corner. Having recently mashed one of my son-in-law’s “getting ready for restoration” pickup trucks in a similar arrival maneuver, the pilot was just a bit anxious about a possible repeat episode. Wisdom dictates a walk-over before parking in some spots but, alas, wisdom sometimes goes out the window after a long day behind the wheel.
Our spotter kept the trailer out of trouble, but some genius in Washington’s campground management system was apparently concerned that RVers might somehow stray off the pavement and into the picnic table area. This resulted in the installation of large boulders along the edge of the pavement. VERY CLOSE to the edge of the pavement. Sure enough, one of these large guardians prevented the truck from straying off the asphalt. Happily the forward momentum of the truck and trailer was slow enough that the only damage that resulted was limited to the pilot’s pride. Rock big enough to stop truck, but short enough not to be visible to the short-in-the-saddle driver whose vision was limited by that stretched out metal hood on the truck.
Stump at curved pull-through, plus plenty of trees, brush and other greenery, plus large monolithic rocks along border of said pull-through equals “sweat and swear” rating for this site. Not having attempted to use any of the back-in sites, it’s probably not fair to conclude that at least in this case a back-in site would’ve beat the pull-through site but, hey, that’s where my money is.