Even as they wrestled a large tent into place, Melissa Trubey and friend Andrea Aguilar were all smiles at Skyline Park on Thursday. The two young women had registered as volunteers at BottleRock and driven up the night before from the Los Angeles area. Pitching their tents in what is normally a large meadow at the south end of the park, they prepared to settle in for a long weekend of music and fun.
In March, the nonprofit that runs the east Napa park approved up to 450 temporary tent sites for attendees of the five-day Napa music festival.
Greg Lyons, a technician and facility manager at Riechers Spence, and 17-year old Napa High School student Parker Linn, are managing the BottleRock camping at Skyline.
Lyons said that about 40 tent sites were occupied on Wednesday night. Each site can accommodate up to four people, Lyons said. He expected about 200 sites to be occupied on Thursday night, and on “Friday and Saturday we’re sold out,” he said. Prices for camping and parking ranged from $70 to $105 a night.
On late Thursday morning, the sun had finally burned through the morning fog and a slight breeze blew through the brown, grassy meadow where dozens of tents had already been pitched.
Many were smaller two- or four-person domes, but some were larger, including one that looked two stories tall and wrapped around a SUV with multiple rows of windows and an awning. Cars were permitted to park next to each camp site and many visitors had brought coolers and other supplies for the festival weekend.
Multiple sections of gray portable toilets with hand washing sinks had been installed around the perimeter of the meadow along with a long portable shower trailer.
With the festival having just begun, everyone was in a good mood. Most campers seemed to be in their 20s or early 30s.
“Napa is gorgeous,” gushed Trubey, who lives in Mammoth Lakes.
“It’s classic California,” said Aguilar, looking at the hills behind the open meadow.
Having attended other music festivals such as Coachella, Trubey said they thought that paying more than $70 a night for a campsite “seemed like a lot.” But both liked the mellow vibe of the camping area, they said.
Jessie and Melinda Riley of Eureka arrived at Skyine Park Thursday morning for BottleRock. “We’re really excited about the whole thing,” said Jessie Riley. Setting up their extra-large tent, the couple walked to the gates to catch the next bus to the Expo. They are big festivalgoers and campers, Riley said.
While Melinda Riley said she pictured more of a traditional campground setup at Skyline, the big open field would work. The price for the camping was on the high side, but both said they liked knowing that security would be in place.
“You never know what kind of group you’re going to get at festivals,” said Melinda Riley. “We love the people so far,” said Jessie Riley.
Arriving at Skyline Park on Wednesday night, Travis Colt of Huntington Beach wasted no time in setting up a tent, a covered lounging area and a batch of mimosas. When asked if he was there to work the festival as a volunteer, he said no, then added a caveat: “Volunteer to party,” he said with a laugh.
The open field camping site was “pretty basic, but we’ve got everything we need,” he said. “It’s cool. We’ve got hills and trees, and a 7-Eleven right down the road.”
“I’ve gone to a lot of festivals,” said Daniel Slama, also of Huntington Beach. He said he appreciated that there was plenty of room to both camp and park near the tents at Skyline.
Reclining in a folding chair under Colt’s shade tent, Slama said that if all goes as planned, he expected the camping scene at Skyline to be “one big communal get along.”
Also arriving on Thursday morning from Portland was Mike Whitworth. “It’s very cool,” he said, looking around the Skyline meadow. “We go to a lot of festivals in much larger places and we’re pretty impressed so far,” he said.
He hoped for a relatively tame crowd at Skyline Park. “I’d like a happy medium between no party and too much party,” he said. His other expectations were relatively simple: “I hope for clean bathrooms and enough hot water for the showers.”
Amanda Hunter and friend Shovanna Burcham of Indianapolis packed their camping gear and flew to the Bay Area for BottleRock. Originally they planned to stay at a hotel in Fairfield but decided they’d rather camp closer to the Expo.
Sitting in folding chairs at the campground, the two said they arrived early to get their choice of a camp site. “It looks pretty convenient” to get to the Expo, said Hunter.
Burcham said she estimated she’d spend as much as $100 a day at the festival, including food, drinks and ice. Since they could only bring minimal supplies on the plane, they’d be hitting up local grocery stores for provisions, she said.
“We’re not just here for the music,” she said. “We want to experience Napa.”