By Adam Madison
Triplicate staff writer
What better way to spend Labor Day weekend, than with campfires, family, friends and giant redwoods?
Del Norte County and the Redwoods State Park system offer some of the best campsites around.
"People are pointed to Jedediah Smith campground," said Rick Nolan, chief of interpretation for Redwood National and State Parks.
"It's right in the middle of old-growth redwoods and right along the Smith River, that's the place people seek out," he said.
"It's the classic camping experience. There isn't a better place to camp in the country," said Nolan, who spent 25 years as a ranger at state and national parks all over the United States.
Jed Smith campground fills up quickly during Labor Day weekend, due to early reservations, he said.
The visitors who aren't in time to reserve a spot at Jed Smith camp, usually head to Mill Creek camp, according to Lindsay Ford, park aide for Mill Creek Campground.
"We can usually accommodate people that made last-minute plans," Ford said.
As of Friday, "more than 100 reservations have come in so far," she said. "Usually our campground is busy during the evening." She added that late-arrivals stop at Mill Creek first.
"We also have 145 sites, almost twice as many as any other area," Ford said. "We get a nice mix of people here," Ford said. "We get a lot of people from Canada, this weekend we even have people from Holland."
T.J. Stewart and his family drove over 250 miles from Corning to Mill Creek Campground.
Stewart said he heard about the site by "word of mouth."
The LeVeques, a local family that grew up in Crescent City make Mill Creek an annual Labor Day destination.
The premise of the weekend is daily blackberry picking and then making jelly at night.
"We come here every year for the Verry Berry Weekend," said David LeVeque, adding that the very "has to have two r's."
LeVeque said the family members give the jelly away to friends, family and even passers-by.
The "Verry Berry Weekend" turned into an annual family reunion he explained.
LeVeque said the family, now four generations strong, has been coming out to Mill Creek campgrounds since 1993.
The four generations of families come together at Mill Creek from Newport Beach, Los Angeles and even right here in Crescent City.
"All of our kids had kids," said LeVeque, laughing, "and now they all have to come too."
He said that the family of campers usually ends up with seven to 10 cases of jelly.
"My wife's parents even came one year when they were in their 80s," he said, while handing a berry to one of his grandchildren.
"We pull them out of school a little early for the Verry Berry Weekend," he said about taking the kids along.
For more camping information:
Jedediah Smith Visitor Center: 707-465-2144
Mill Creek Kiosk : 707-465-2144
Where: Mill Creek Campground, off U.S. Hwy. 101 South
Jedediah Smith campground, off U.S. Hwy.199
SOURCE: Redwood State and National Parks