Discovering America on a Budget

Nearly 80 years ago the United States buckled under the oppressive Great Depression. Jobs were hard to come by, and families barely survived. But a notable feather in FDR’s cap at the time was the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). This New Deal initiative by Roosevelt provided jobs, food, and housing for young men as they set about planting trees, building parks, roads, and other public works. From 1933 to 1942, more than 3 million strapping young men were employed by this program, providing infrastructure to many of our national parks. Several of those parks still have the original service cabins available for the adventuresome. Rustic cabins and campgrounds offer an authentic outdoors experience for the whole family at a budget-friendly price. Here are seven iconic CCC sites, for you to explore, West of the Mississippi.

timberline-lodge-and.jpgTimberline Lodge

You might recognize Timberline Lodge from the film, The Shining.  This mountain lodge is about 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon, on the south side of Mount Hood. It was constructed in the mid-1930s by the Works Progress Administration. Local artisans built and furnished this historic landmark during the Great Depression. The lodge perches at an elevation of 5,960 feet within the Mount Hood National Forest. Timberline Lodge attracts two million tourists annually. For an epic snowbound experience, bring your skis and snowboards.  Timberline Lodge

Silver Falls Lodge.jpgSilver Falls Lodge

Silver Falls is one of the West’s most scenic parks. During the logging boom in the 1940s, the CCC built the rustic 36 room, Silver Falls Lodge. Take time to hike The Trail of Ten Falls. It boasts of 10 waterfalls, one of which you can walk behind. The main campground has tent sites, RV spots, and cabins. If you have a horse, you can stay in the horse campground. Silver Falls Lodge

mendocino_woodlands_lodge.jpgMendocino Woodlands

Nestled in the redwood forest, this rugged, historic landmark hosts a rustic camping facility. Built in 1934, the 700-acre recreational area is virtually unchanged. For groups of 30 to 200 people, the Mendocino Woodlands is perfect for a retreat or reunion. If you are willing to participate in a volunteer project, you can also take advantage of individual stewardship weekends. There are three self-contained cabin sites with facility features ranging from private balconies and stone fireplaces. They also offer fully equipped kitchens or more primitive campfire circles. Mendocino Woodlands

Monument Lake.jpg

Monument Lake Resort

This little gem is on a quiet 100-acre lake teaming with fish. The Monument Lake Resort was built in the late 1930s. Rent one of the 20 rustic rooms with fireplaces. Or for a little more privacy, go for one of half-dozen low-slung adobe cabins. There are also plenty of spaces to hook up your RV. The property also hosts a general store and restaurant. Paddle and motor boats are available for rental. Monument Lake Resort

Utah_Zion-National-Park_Angels-Landing_iStock_000029019390XXLarge.jpgZion National Park

Spectacular Zion National park dates back to 1919 and was Utah’s first National Park.  In the 1930s, the CCC made a plethora of necessary improvements to the park. Zion is a favorite among hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The beautiful pink Navajo sandstone cliffs jet into the azure sky. Discover the pleasures of glamping in this gorgeous desert. Zion National Park is an amateur ornithologists paradise; It is home to 289 species of birds. Zion National Park hosts over 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat) and 32 kinds of reptiles. Check out Zion Lodge for accommodations. Zion National Park

BadLands2-Copy.jpgTheodore Roosevelt National Park

Set in the Badlands of North Dakota, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the only National Memorial Park. Teddy Roosevelt fell in love with the rugged land. The park, named after our 26th president, spreads over 110 miles and is divided into three sections; TR’s Elkhorn Ranch is located between the North and South units. The Little Missouri Badlands were explored after the death of Roosevelt to determine potential park sites. CCC camps eventually developed in the late 30s. The park is popular with wildlife watchers for the cougars, bison, and wild horses. If you fancy camping out under the stars, there are three campgrounds to choose from.  Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Palo Duro copy.jpgPalo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Second, to the Grand Canyon, the Palo Duro Canyon is the largest canyon in the United States. Palo Duro Canyon State Park opened in 1934 and covers 29,182 acres. Palo Duro Canyon was created by water erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. The CCC of the 1930’s built most of the buildings and roads still in use by the park today. The Canyon offers trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Enjoy geocaching or outdoor musical performances in the Pioneer Amphitheater. Perched on the canyon’s rim are three vintage CCC cabins, offering up some of the most spectacular vistas. If you prefer to be a little more grounded, they also have four limited service cabins on the canyon floor. Palo Duro Canyon

Take your family on a budget-friendly vacation this summer and discover hundreds of other iconic American CC Camps. There is sure to be one in your area!

Have you ever stayed at a CCC? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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