Dragons Sphere Recreation Park

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Unknown; see directions
Camel Lot Productions (see site website)
Google Maps satellite view (approximate)



Located in Randle, Washington, this 300 acre site is surrounded by the Cowlitz River, a forest, stunning mountain views, and is five miles from the nearest neighbor.

Directions From Western Washington: From I-5 Northbound or Southbound take the Eastbound Highway 12 exit. (Exit # 68 - Avery Road) and continue Eastbound on Highway 12 approximately 48 miles until you come to the town of Randle, WA.

In Randle you will see a "T" intersection where State route 131 terminates into Highway 12. On the southwest corner of the intersection is the Mt. St. Helens - Mt. Adams Family Restaurant.

Turn onto State Route 131 and continue one mile until you come to a "Y" intersection and stay to the right. Continue another 0.9 miles to the intersection of State Route 131 and Skinner Road. An SCA sign will be posted at the intersection of State Route 131 and Skinner Road for your convenience. Take a hard right onto Skinner Road.

Continue on Skinner Road until both the 1.8 mile paved and 0.8 mile gravel county road end and continue following the SCA signs for another 2.5 miles until you reach the site. It's a total of 7 miles from the Highway 12 Junction to the site.

Directions From Eastern Washington: From I-82 Northbound or Southbound take the Westbound Highway 12 exit. (Exit # 31 - 1st St in Yakima) and continue Westbound on Highway 12 approximately 88 miles until you come to the town of Randle, WA.

Turn onto State Route 131 and continue one mile until you come to a "Y" intersection and stay to the right. Continue another 0.9 miles to the intersection of State Route 131 and Skinner Road. An SCA sign will be posted at the intersection of State Route 131 and Skinner Road for your convenience. Take a hard right onto Skinner Road.

Continue on Skinner Road until both the 1.8 mile paved and 0.8 mile gravel county road end and continue following the SCA signs for another 2.5 miles until you reach the site. It's a total of 7 miles from the Highway 12 Junction to the site.


(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Nov 2005.)

Saturday Morning I took the "direct" route to the site, or shall we say as the crow flies the shortest route. From Des Moines it was 99.3 miles, so figure + 16 from downtown Seattle. The less scenic route via I-5 to hwy 12 to the site is probably 35 more miles. Both ways take about the same amount of time, but there are rest stops on I-5. One turns off the highway onto a rural road that becomes a county gravel road, then a mostly gravel drive way. Eventually one arrives at the site, a hay farm. One wonders instantly, "how did they get the hay out?" The road is being improved and should be 100% better by next May. The site is divided into a number of fields; I believe 4 of 60 acres and perhaps 3 more that are about 40 acres each. Only a small amount of the site is wooded, 40-50 acres, but then again the Orting site is half wooded and is only 55 acres. One of the fields of 60 acres is to be left in production and the rest are to be used for re-enactment activities. The site is surrounded by trees, forest service land, probably 12-15 years from being harvested. It is sort of shaped like a mushroom with the cap pointing north. At the widest point it is slightly more than a mile east to west, and a mile north to south. The Woods that are part of the site are located to the North and to the South East. A picture can be found of the site on Google Maps, type in the "Randle-Kiona Airpark" and look east by south east about 2.5 miles, where there is an un-named air field (a dark line). Then switch from map to Satellite to see the picture. The "river" that runs from east to west on the North of the site is part of the back up of a nearby dam, and as such has no current. During the site tour we saw some people in a boat catch a salmon. The nearest neighbor is a farm to the NE, about half a mile over the river and through the woods. It seemed like a reasonable sound barrier to me. To the south is a mountain, as I said previously, forest service land with logging roads on it. The land is flat with a slight roll to the east, the highest point being at the south end that is on the base of the hill. The woods are typical of low land rain forest that can be found all over western Washington. I saw a bald eagle and a blue heron early in the morning, and evidence of coyotes. Several other people commented on seeing deer. I did not see any deer, but I did see a lot of hunters.

Of the questions that people wanted me to ask,

  1. A ground firing for pottery? "Yes";
  2. A stone or clay oven for baking bread? "Yes"
  3. Ground fires? "No ground fires, raised fires in metal containers only."
  4. Structures? "Willing to consider such on a case by case basis."
  5. Since this is your property are you planning to let people use it for camping/re-enactment throughout the year? "Yes, on a per person per day fee basis."
  6. Could I build and store a full sized trebuchet on the site? (He’ll think about it.) (I believe he was concerned about having small car carcasses hurled about).

The owner indicated that he has a contract with the local sanitation people about porta-potties, and has purchased 40 of them. Small groups would be able to use the site without worrying about having a separate contract for sanitation. He also said he has contracted for dumpsters on the site so there will be no need for groups to haul their trash off the site. Currently there is no potable water on the site, but I would be surprised if the owner did not have a couple of wells put in. The ground water table is quite high in the area.

One of my thoughts is if a small group was going to spend a weekend out in one of the fields, which are mowed with an agricultural mower, they might want to bring in a gas powered lawn mower to get a lower finer cut of the camp area a day or so before the event. If two events were using the site, one in the East field and one in the West field I doubt the two groups would be able to see or hear much of each other.

On the way home I drove the 12 to I-5 to Seattle route; it is longer drive but has rest stops.

Gordon Ellis
SCA: Gordon Redthorn

(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, March 2006.)


So last weekend I did a walk through of the new site being built in Randle Washington for the 40th Year Celebration (and Autumn War at least).

I thought it would help to get an unbiased view and impression of the site from someone who does not have a financial stake in the success of the project. I'm now the MIC for the event so I wanted to see how things looked for myself.

So first off, the drive in.

From the South, I-5 to HWY 12 is your best bet. From the north, I went down to the site on Hwy 7 but came back up to Seattle via I-5. I would say that HWY 7 is the faster (and prettier) drive but if you are pulling a trailer maybe not.

The road into the site proper is paved for the first mile but the last mile or so is dirt. Currently, logging trucks have ruined it from when the site owners graveled and graded it last fall, but a new round of gravel and grading is scheduled the week before the event so that shouldn't be a problem.

Second the location.

The view from the site is breathtaking. It is surround on all sides by gorgeous mountains, but not so tall as to block any sunlight to the site. My Cell phone worked just fine from there (Verizon). There were two bald eagles working their way up the adjacent river and there were a lot of fresh tracks of Deer, Elk and Coyote. the river flows by incredibly slow, the rule is no swimming but I think on a hot day I suspect that rule might be waived in the future. (Ultimately that is the site owners call).


Parking will be expansive and clearly separated from the rest of the site. The owner is VERY serious about no cars in the camping area for more than 3 hours. He is paying to have a tow truck on site and is not screwing around about this. Unlike Orting, there is probably room for about 3000 Cars at least so there will be no excuse not to park away from the main area. (This is a personal bugaboo of mine, and I was happy to hear about it)


The site is huge. Gargantuan. Hathawulf, Kane and I sat down and calculated that the area designated for camping for 40YC could probably support 5000 people with room to spare. That is NOT including the War Field, The Equestrian Area, The huge Archery Range, Erics and Merchants Row.

AND THAT is only with less than half the hayfield converted to camping this year. In the future this site could probably handle 10-20,000 people if the entire site was developed!

The owner dug a well on site, is installing water tanks to build pressure and is running water mains out to the site in about 20 stations so you will never be more than 100 yards from a water station. (probably less). They also have purchased at least 200 or so port-a- potties (or maybe more I didn't catch all that part of the tour) so they will be cutting costs by just having them pumped rather than paying rental fees as well.

There is a permanent building that is being rebuilt in wood with a tile roof on site called the Great Hall with a kitchen and a store on one end and a feast hall throughout most of the building. I would estimate you could sit 300 in the feast hall with no problem.

Fighting Fields and other uses

OK, let's be honest, this is what I came to see, :-) The open field is expansive. It will be about 200yds by 200yds by my estimation. (We will have BAO's castle and are in negotiation to have Stromguard bring theirs up as well).

The WOODS BATTLES WILL BE FANTASTIC! There are HUGE (like 8 feet in diameter) cedar trees with some smaller trees beneath making for open woods with a large gully running up the middle. There are a LOT of fallen cedar Trees, some almost 10' in diameter and 75 feet long scattered about as well. I say this without fear of contradiction, I have never seen a better broken field battle area EVER (and that includes the old Broken field at Estrella before they covered them with baseball diamonds) with skill, 100 men could pass within 50 feet of your position and you may not even notice them, but the forest is open enough that those 100 men could move at a trot!

In the future the owner is going to build permanent castles in the open field as well. Permanent equestrian facilities are also in the works and the permanent archery ranges should will be ready for 40YC.

The negatives

Overall the big *potential* negative here is the owner. People are VERY leery of entering into a long term relationship like this. Watt Kidman's legacy and shadow looms large over this entire project and whether people want to admit it or not, that is at the root of a lot of peoples misgivings.

It is really Emiel's battle to win or lose. So far he has played all his cards right and if he keeps up in this manner, we could be looking at a site for a west coast version of Pennsic in just a few years.

There is a fair bit of construction to go on the site as well and as long as the projects are finished on time (the road, the great hall and the water system) things should be looking excellent.

The last thing to talk about is the site fees. The 6-7 dollars per night camping fee is on par with what it cost to stay in a national park or a state park these days. At 40YC if you are there for 10 days that is 70$. Go to Yellowstone park and try camping that cheaply? It's 25$ just to get in the park and then 17$ PER NIGHT to camp!

Additionally, by using a system where the camping fee per head is charged and the SCA charges an addition 5 or 10 dollars for the entire event, the SCA is actually PROTECTED from losing money. Any autocrat will tell you, that the big expenses for an outdoor event come in three parts. The overall site rental, the toilets, and Garbage removal. Generally 70% of the budget is taken up by those three line items.

No matter how many people show up at this event, the SCA collects either 10$ or 5$ per person depending on when they show up. We don't have to pay for garbage, we don't have to pay for biffies, and we don't have to pay the site rental fee. All the risk is assumed by the site owner, the SCA makes money no matter what.

That is a leap of faith on the owner that we will like using his site enough to come back again. We are taking a leap of faith he's not out to screw us (and seriously, does spending 750K to steal 10K makes sense to you??)

So far my sense of faith is holding firm. All we need to do now is just show up and have fun, that shouldn't be too much to ask? ;-)

In Service,

Sir Daniel MIC 40YC

For information publicized about site owner Emiel, you may click the following link: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013427831_hardmoney14.html