Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby KTM_Guy » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:00 pm

When boondocking just know what land you are on. No problems with National Forest and BLM, but like in Arizona there is State Trust land which is public land but you need a permit to recreate there. Also Indian reservations require permits to do anything on their land. I know a few people that avoid reservations at all cost. The basic rule of thumb is if you are driving on a state or federal roads you are good. Stop for any reason you need a permit.

I'm hoping to get up to Utah this year.
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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby RTAMidwest » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:52 am

vttrampers wrote:Arches/Canyonlands - Moab KOA (!) for the 1st night, find a BLM spot for next 2 nights
We clearly underestimated the demand, especially for the Arches/Canyonlands area - nothing open anywhere except the KOA. Not a good sign. But we figure having a reserved spot the 1st night will do and we can find a BLM campground or boondock for the last 2 nights. Should be a good mix of sites, overall.


The campground at Canyonlands/Island in the Sky is on my list of all-time favorites. There are amazing views/overlooks very close to the campsites, and Mesa Arch - a very popular sunrise location - is also nearby. There are only a dozen sites, but they are first-come, first-served and have no water or electric and we were able to get a site mid-afternoon when we were there in July. Around Moab in general, there are a ton of BLM campgrounds, but none of them take reservations and they generally don't have any water on site, so the ones we looked at weren't busy - although I suspect April is probably busier than July.

I also would consider stopping at Natural Bridges if you're heading south towards Monument Valley or Chaco. A nice little park, with a perfectly fine campground.
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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby gregp136 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:32 am

We made the trip in June of 2016. All I can say is make the trip as long as you can. 2 1/2 weeks was not enough. We stayed first at Kodachrome state park, which was amazing, and also explored the Grand Escalate and Bryce Canyon while there. Went to Quail Creek State Park to explore Zion, and that is not good. I would avoid that State Park. Then got a spot at the Grand Canyon right in the park. Super. Ended at Horse Thief campground which is a BLM campsite. Was great and in driving distance to Moab, Arches and Canyonland. It was fabulous, and cheap. BLM campsites generally do not have showers, so be aware of that. You can pay to shower at private campgrounds around Moab.

Enjoy, it is GREAT!
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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby kinto » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:51 am

We've made 2 trips to that area, 3-5 years ago, both in August, so crowds might differ of course.

First trip we parked at Ron's Pack Creek RV in Moab for 5 full days. For 4 of those we pretty much had the campground to ourselves. We did 2 day trips to Arches, 1 to Canyonlands North entrance & 1 to Canyonlands South. (South is a pretty long drive from Moab, but beautiful scenery & you can do it in a day..)
We also spent a day mid-week to take a float trip down the Colorado & visit a winery. Nice thing about having base camp in Moab is there are restaurants, shops, Moab Brewery(!) etc, & we even went swimming in Ken's lake at the end of most days too.

Second trip to UT we actually stayed IN the other 3 parks.
Bryce - Sunset Campgound.. No reservations so we had to loop around a couple times to pick an open spot.
Zion - Watchman Campground.. Had reservations.
Capitol Reef - Fruita Campground.. No reservations but lots of spots to choose from.

Also, at the first come-first serve campgrounds we never waited in line at 6am or anything.. Arrived maybe 9-10am-ish(?)

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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby tony.latham » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:37 pm

Make sure you do Angel's Landing hike in Zion (unless you have a problem with hanging ten toes over the edge).

It's quite the "trail," but the view is unbelievable. :o

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We stayed at the NPS South Campground. A sweet place. :thumbsup: :pictures:

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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby shootr » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:24 pm

tony.latham wrote:Make sure you do Angel's Landing hike in Zion (unless you have a problem with hanging ten toes over the edge).

It's quite the "trail," but the view is unbelievable. :o

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We stayed at the NPS South Campground. A sweet place. :thumbsup: :pictures:

Tony


Sadly, someone fell just this week and died on Angel's Landing. I'd like to try it, we'll see when we get there, but might have to pass. No problem with heights, just decents like these kill my knees. Know your limitations.
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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby kinto » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:41 am

Indeed.. The narrows "hike" is incredible, but this happened a couple weeks after we were there..

http://graphics.latimes.com/zion-flash-flood/
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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby Nobes » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:03 pm

I am planning a trip up there late May 2018. Here is whee I have reservations--hopefully all these places are good:

Grand Canyon: Grand Canyon village
Zion: Zion Ponderosa
Bryce: Bryce Canyon Pines
Arches: ACT campground (in Moab)

We will see all those parks plus Canyonlands. 10 days, 5 parks, about 3000 miles.
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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby Vedette » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:14 pm

Our first month long plus tour took us thru Utah in July!
We had no reservations for anything!
I think we did "All" of the Canyons, but never stayed in a National Park Campground facility.
We avoid them, as they are highly over rated and impossible to book (it is like a lottery system)
We had no problem finding a campground at whatever time we chose to stop for the night.
Don't over thing or over plan this trip, as it will suck all of the fun out of it. :thinking:
Teardrop camping is all about the flexibility these trailers offer. ;)
Sandi vowed never to stay at Walmart when we first put Miss Piggy on the road.
Now we have a trap line of our favourite Walmarts to stay at! :thumbsup:
The Goblins SP is a must see!
Our favourite though was Zion! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: We left mis Piggy at a Good Sams campground somewhere between Bryce and Zion and drove through Zion from east to west...had lunch and then drove back west to east. It was like experiencing two totally different Parks???? ;)
Redrock had a nice campground and a great backdrop for pictures (Miss Piggy Cover Picture in Cool Tears Magazine 2013)
So to recap.......forget Reserve America, avoid NP hype, and go exploring!
And when you decide to explore the PNW and come to B.C. we have free camping and hot showers for you! :thumbsup:
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Re: Utah “Big 5” campground recommendations?

Postby JuneBug » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:48 pm

Took awhile to find this thread, but I wanted to encourage you all to look for less famous parks and national monuments if you want to be away from the crowds at heavily visited parks, but see equally astounding places. Then I found this great article in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Want the beauty of Utah’s Bryce and Zion, without all the people? Try these less-crowded areas — or 20 others across the country.

I worked at Mesa Verde National Park many years ago, and, happily did not deal with the public in any way. However, we were regaled with many stories from park rangers about dealing with hordes of hot, grumpy people; yes, fist fights actually broke out over parking spots. IIRC, he largest number of visitors was consistently the first weekend in August I know the park has worked hard to alleviate the situation, but still. Lots of people. To me that is as much fun as going to the mall the week before Christmas.

I'll give a "for example" about other fun places: Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum is Southwest Colorado's premier archaeological museum, operated by the Bureau of Land Management since 1988. The wonderful museum is just outside of the town of Dolores. It's about 12 miles as the crow flies from the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park, which also has a visitors center worth visiting.

Then, way out there, is Navajo National Monument with two of the most stunning of all cliff dwellings in the southwest: Keet Seel and Betatakin. There is nice camping; I used to stop there and camp on my way to Flagstaff in the summer and the weather was pleasant; at 7,300 ft, it was always cool enough at night to be comfortable. Then you're in the general part of the southwest for small museums about the WWII Navajo Code Talkers - I think there is one in Tuba City and another in Kayenta. Google and Trip Advisor are your friends.

Another place we stumbled across was the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. I think parts of the TV series Longmire were filmed there. Just an amazing place, in a wonderfully subdued way. High elevation, pure air.

Anyway, there are so many places in the southwest that are truly amazing but yet not crowded.

On a sadder note, this is likely to be a big fire season in the west and southwest US. Current information on all wildland fires can be found on InciWeb.
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