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Old 02-18-2019, 02:16 PM   #1
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2013 25' Flying Cloud
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Utah Bound

We are heading to see the Mighty 5 in May and are looking for campground suggestions. Are there plenty of private campgrounds close to these parks? Thanks for your feedback!


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Old 02-18-2019, 04:52 PM   #2
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Sorry, don't want to highjack, but if u could also add in places other than rv parks where u can park it for the night or two?

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Old 02-18-2019, 04:59 PM   #3
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That was part of our trip last summer, and I would recommend you try to get into the campgrounds in the parks if possible. You can make your reservations 6 months in advance, so if you know when you'd be there, you could try to get into places like Arches. That was one of our favorite stops, and it was nice being in the park so that we could explore early and beat the crowds and heat.
"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:09 AM   #4
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Thank you for your feedback.
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:13 AM   #5
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Dead Horse Point State Park outside of Moab and next to Canyonlands is a good one, small so make a reservation ASAP. In Moab there are several private parks.
In the Capital Reef area just outside of Torrey is Thousand Lakes RV Park, a good one if you can't get into the NP campground.
Escalante, on Hwy 12 between Capital Reef and Bryce has Shooting Star RV Park, an Airstream themed park. A good stop to explore the area.
Further south, Kodachrome Basin State Park is good for exploring that area.
At the entrance to Bryce NP is Ruby's Inn RV Park, a large park with spacious sites.
In Springdale, Zion Canyon Campground and Quality Inn is a great location, but very densely sited sites and a bit pricey.
Kanab, near Zion, has Kanab RV Corral if the Zion NP or private parks in Springdale are full.
I've stated in all of these, several a couple of times, and would return.

Your in for a great trip.
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:30 AM   #6
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We did this trip in 2012 and it was one our most favorite trips to date.
For Canyonlands and Arches we stayed at the Spanish Trail RV park. It had some shade and had decent facilities. Don't miss Mesa Verde! Mesa Verde RV resort is just outside the main gate. Visit Durango and take a ride on the narrow gauge railroad. You won't be disappointed. Along the way to Bryce you should stop at Monument Valley. We stayed at Gouldings which was the only place at the time. My wife wasn't too happy there. (red dust in the stream) I understand there is a new KOA close by. In Bryce Canyon you can try Ruby's which is just outside the gate and a bus can take you into the park. They advertise that it is close to Zion as well but i guess you would have to define what "close" is. On the way to Capital Reef, highway 12 was spectacular. We stayed at Thousand Lakes RV in Torrey. Nothing great but was clean and the staff was nice.
When we did this trip we went mostly on reviews in A lot of things could have changed in the last seven years. If I was doing it again I would try and stay more in the national parks and try more of the Utah state parks. Kodachrome and Dead Horse come to mind.
We are going back this fall to Bryce (Ruby's again), Zion (Watchman), and the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
Enjoy your trip. You won't be disappointed.
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:48 AM   #7
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If you find you already cannot find a reservation in the National Park campgrounds, and are not opposed to some boondocking, I suggest the following. We have both boondocked and stayed in campgrounds in and near Bryce Canyon National Park and The Grand Staircase National Monument. All the boondocking spots are within 5-10 miles of supplies.

Bryce Canyon has decent but crowded campgrounds. If you're open to boondocking, there are multiple great spots off Tom Best Spring Road (FR117). Tom Best Spring Road is off Highway 12, which comes off Highway 89 while heading east. When heading east and coming out of Red Canyon, Highway 12 opens way up on both sides; you will keep an eye open for a wooden sign on your left that indicates Tom Best Spring Road. You can find the road on Google Maps and the coordinates at the intersection of 12 and Tom Best Spring Road are N 37.71973, W 112.25539, roughly. The gravel road is good and the spots are spread out for privacy and plenty big enough to turn around easily; each dry camping site has great views. You will be less than 90 minutes away from Zion and 10 minutes from Bryce. You can find drinking water, propane, and a dump at the Sinclair gas station just outside of the Bryce Canyon NP entrance.

There are many other boondocking spots on BLM roads west of the town of Bryce and around Tropic Reservoir (BLM 087). All supplies will be within a 5-10 minute drive in Bryce.

From there it's about an hour to the small town of Escalante, which lies in the heart of the Grand Staircase NM. Most people visit the Big 5 but my favorite is the GSNM - it's wide open terrain with magnificent cracks in the surface. May will be cool enough to get in some great hiking. Zion and Bryce are magnificent in their grandeur - all the Big 5 are different with amazing geology and examples of erosion. But the Grand Staircase is the one place where you can easily get out there all by yourself, if you choose to. There are three really nice RV campgrounds in Escalante: the Shooting Star RV Resort two miles west of town, and two RV campgrounds in town (Escalante Cabins and RV Park, and Canyons of Escalante RV Park). You can get groceries at Griffin's Grocery and for more expensive tastes, there's a high end Mercantile grocer in the middle of town; propane at the Phillips 66. The Outfitter's Cafe is great food, along with Circle D Eatery; you can relax at the 4th West Pub. Right across the street from Outfitter's Cafe is Utah Canyon Outdoors gear and coffee shop. It's a fantastic little shop with a ton of useful gear and the owners, Caitie and Jim Clery, can give you free advice on hikes and the local conditions; if you want to go deeper in, they offer guided trips that really are beyond the typical tourist visits. The Staircase has hidden secrets that really make you feel like you're on a different planet, where you literally see and hear no one you have to be prepared for the elements.

The easiest boondocking spots to access near Escalante are about 3.5 miles east of town and just off the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. There are other BLM dirt roads between Escalante and Boulder but they should be scouted out first by your tow vehicle alone.

We've only been to Capitol Reef NP once and stayed in the park's beautiful campground. If you have the time, you can explore Burr Trail Road outside of Boulder, which is between Escalante and Capitol Reef; it's an amazing dirt road with a spectacular switchback section for your tow vehicle only. The tiny town of Boulder has a couple great eateries: Burr Trail Grill and a Michelin-rated restaurant in Hell's Backbone Grill.

We've been to Arches once and stayed in Horsethief Campground. As you know, you'll have to get reservations early. There are several dry camping spots just off Highway 191 but they, too, can be taken up early. If you're desperate, I found the back door to Arches: about 4.5 miles from the junction of Hwy 70 and 191 and towards Moab, you'll see a dirt road off to your left; that's BLM144. Drive NE for about 1.3 miles and turn right on BLM145. You'll soon hit a fork, stay to the right on BLM145. BLM145 turns into Salt Valley Road and eventually enters into Arches from the NW end. It's an incredible, isolated dirt road back there - plenty good enough for towing a trailer with a few spots for boondocking. (You can see these roads on GoogleMaps.) Don't forget to visit Dead Horse Point State Park - it's worth the drive. You can fill your water jugs for free at Gearheads Outdoor Store in Moab.

We've been to the Needles section of Canyonlands and boondocked in the Indian Creek Recreational Area. I would scout these dirt roads before taking in your trailer but you can find plenty of secluded spots where the only folks you'll see will be the occasional cowpuncher looking for his cows.

I hope you have left yourself at least two weeks to explore the Big 5. If not, you can take notes for the next visit; there's so much to explore out there. It's good medicine.

Photo #1: Boondocking spot off Tropic Reservoir
Photo #2: Highway 12 Overlook 10 miles east of Escalante, Utah
Photo #3-5: Boondocking in the Grand Staircase National Monument
Photo #6: Horsethief Campground outside Dead Horse Point
Photo #7: Salt Valley Road outside Arches NP
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Old 02-19-2019, 12:08 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=westcoastas;2211488]If you find you already cannot find a reservation in the National Park campgrounds, and are not opposed to some boondocking, I suggest the following.

I am following along with great interest! @westcoastas - thanks for all this great information. It’s going to be useful for our journey, so I appreciate the detail!
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Old 02-19-2019, 01:16 PM   #9
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If you come through Four Corners and go up 191 from the south on your way to Moab , I recommend Devil's Canyon Nat'l Forest Campground. However, you may want to take 491 instead which intersects 191 at Monticello. At that point you are north of Devil's Campground, which would mean a 30 mile backtrack.

The campground was nice and a mere $5/night with Senior Pass. No hookups, of course. Our poodle was not used to seeing deer.

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Old 02-19-2019, 03:51 PM   #10
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We did alot of this trip last year with the Grandkids so were looking for places to stay that had swimming pools.
We stayed in Moab at the Moab Valley Rv Resort and covered Arches and Canyonlands from there. Full hookups and pool.
In Monument Valley we stayed at Goulding's Monument Valley Campground and Rv Park. Full hookups and an indoor pool.
At the Grand Canyon we stayed at a little Rv park in Cameron, AZ. Not much, it had hookups and was across the street from a lodge and restaurant. It is first come/served and you pay at the Cameron lodge. The drive into Grand Canyon was pretty far but was fine for us.
On the way north from there we stopped at Lake Powell for some down time. Stayed at Wahweap Lodge & Marina/Rv park. Nice large park with lots of room and full hookups. You can rent boats there.
Stayed at the Panguitch Bryce Canyon KOA when we went into Bryce. Full Hookups and a pool. The drive into Bryce wasn't very far.
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Old 02-20-2019, 10:36 AM   #11
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A couple of other small things...
If you are a AAA member, get the "Indian Country" map. Lots of good information.
On the main street outside of park entrance to Bryce Canyon is a do it yourself RV/truck wash.
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Old 02-21-2019, 04:12 PM   #12
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Thanks for all your replies and Photos! Looks like we are in for a great trip. Definitely realize you can’t cut this trip short, so much to see and do in Utah.
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Old 02-21-2019, 04:18 PM   #13
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Rowiebowie I loved the picture of your poodle! We have one just like yours, only a smaller version. Great traveling companions.

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