Utah Adventures

deadhorsepointstatepark

Dead Horse Point State Park

We just finished our Utah experience…the Mighty 5 National Parks + 2 Amazing State Parks + a National Forest in two weeks.

Here are some suggestions based on our experience…

Zion ~ Places to Camp Around Zion

Do not miss seeing Kolob Canyons it is part of Zion, but not accessible using the West or East Entrance to the park, it is Exit 40 on Interstate 15, about 40 miles north of Zion Canyon.

Our best meals in the Zion area were at the Whiptail Grill! They had Mexican, BBQ, and other choices. They make their own salad dressings and sauces. Two other notable mentions: Spotted Dog Cafe – good and quick $8.99 breakfast buffet and Cafe Soleil for food made with organic and local ingredients!

The Maverick in La Verkin has the best gas prices in the area. They also have free dump and water for RVs. We purchased groceries in St. George before heading to Zion.

RVs:  If you have a large RV, there is a tunnel in Zion Park, you’ll need to see if you need to pay $15 for an escort through the tunnel. There are also switchbacks. Zion does have RV parking near the West Entrance where you can park your RV (or car) and get on the shuttle for the scenic drive. Go early to get on the shuttle!

Bryce ~ There are several ways to get between Zion and Bryce. We took two different ways in our car (89/12 and on another day the 15 to the 143 to the 89 and 12) and went on a longer route with our RV. In between Bryce and Zion, we found the best gas prices at Panguitch.

We boondocked right near Bryce an it was amazing! This was not our original plan though, we had reservations at a well known RV park near Bryce, but when we got there our space was too small for us, which is saying a lot! Plus, the sites around us were packed with RVs, tents, and lots of people. We got a refund and headed to Campendium.com! We stayed in an area called George’s Gift, which was right near the entrance to Bryce!

RVs: You’ll receive information at the visitors center in Bryce about RV parking, which there is not much. You cannot take your RV most places in Bryce (at least most places you need to park). There is some RV parking and there is a shuttle bus to the main sight areas.

Do not miss exploring the Red Canyon/Dixie National Forest area around Bryce…very pretty red rock whoodoos! There is also some camping in this area, both fee paid and also some free areas.

Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah ~ A little out of the way side trip on your way between Zion and Bryce or Capitol Reef. They have sites for RVs and campers plus other unique places to stay.

Capitol Reef ~ Do not miss!! I know Zion, Bryce, and Arches get a lot of the limelight, but this park is well worth the trip!!

A note about cell reception – there is not much in the Capitol Reef area. We had planned to boondock on some BLM land, but could not do that and get any work done. We ended up finding some good WiFi at two places: Sand Creek Campground in Torrey, Utah and Capitol Reef Inn and Cafe ~ we ate here twice for the affordable yummy food and the WiFi. Sand Creek is a small cozy rustic campground. They are reasonably priced. We saw all size rigs there and tents.

We had been told about the cinnamon rolls and pies at the store near the campground in Capitol Reef. The cinnamon rolls tend to sell out by 10 A.M. We missed them the first day, but went back for them the next. Scott is a cinnamon roll expert and he rates them the second best in Utah. (You’ll find which ones he rated as #1 if you continue reading this long blog post.)

When you are driving down the scenic road (and not in a large RV) and you get to the end of the paved road (there is parking and bathrooms), there is a dirt road on the left, TAKE IT!! Amazing!!

Goblin State Park ~ In between Capitol Reef and Moab is this do not miss state park! It costs $13 to enter, unless you have a Utah State Park pass. There is camping there, both fee paid in the park ($25 a night) and some free BLM land nearby.

Moab ~ The home base for Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point State Park.

We had planned to boondock here, but wow were the BLM places crowded and cell reception was not good in many of them. Of course, we did visit in May, which is a busy month in Moab! We ended up at Portal RV Resort and Campground and had a good experience there. Great WiFi most of the time.

DO NOT MISS Dead Horse Point State Park – it is like the Grand Canyon only less crowded! Canyonlands was also beautiful! And, of course, Arches is Arches.

Best prices on groceries: City Market (owned by Kroger) not to be confused with Village Market. They also will provide a list of placed to shower in the area…laughs. There was a sign in their bathroom that said, “Do not shower. Do not wash dishes.” Then went on to say that at their customer service desk you can pick up a sheet on places to shower in the area…so if you are dry camping, get this list!

We never had a bad meal in Moab and we ate out more than normal. Scott says the best cinnamon roll in Utah is at Sweet Cravings Bakery and Bistro.  We ended up eating here three mornings for breakfast! We also got sandwiches to go for lunch. Amazing customer service!! Other places for good eats: Moab Brewery, Eklecticafe, The Blu Pig (BBQ), Zax, and The Atomic (buffalo burger).

We loved our time in Utah! Some say they cannot believe we did all this in two weeks, but it was just enough time to see and enjoy it all! Of course, there is so much to see and explore you could easily spend a lifetime here!

Places to camp around Zion

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Our campsite on the river at Zion Canyon Campground

We had some different needs this week than we normally do when picking out a place to stay. While we prefer to boondock (or dry camp), this week we stayed in two RV parks. However, we did spend a couple hours driving around checking out boondocking sites for future reference. 😉 These places are all close to the West Entrance to Zion.

Let’s start with the RV Parks. We stayed at Zion River Resort and Zion Canyon Campground. Both were fairly clean and typical of a basic RV park aka the sites are rather close together. Here are the differences:
Zion River Resort has a heated pool, laundry area, and path to walk along the Virgin River. We paid extra for a river site, BUT it had NO view of the river…just a wall of rocks (yes, I was extremely disappointed). It is about 14 miles to the entrance of Zion National Park. We had little or no cell reception with Verizon and T-Mobile. Their WiFi was mostly down while we were there. When it was working, it was decent.
Zion Canyon Campground will not guarantee you a river front site, but you can request one and we got one!! Yay!! The river front sites only have water and electric. The campgrounds are a bit more rustic than Zion River Resort. The entrance to Zion National Park is about a mile away and you can walk to most of Springdale. The one surprise here was when one of those Rotel (Rolling Hotel) buses showed up. They parked the bus next to the bathroom and it was hard to get into the bathrooms or showers without waiting and after they left there was no toilet paper left and the bathrooms needed cleaning. The people from the bus also would walk onto our campsite to look at the river. Thankfully, they were just there one night. As for cell reception, it varied, but overall it was rather good…2 bars of LTE on Verizon and 4G T-Mobile. During the day the Wifi was enough to work, at least most of the time. At nights, like most busy RV parks, you can forgot about trying to use it.
For me, even though I love heated pools, if I came back to stay at an RV park in the area, I’d go with Zion Canyon Campground. It cost less, has river views, better cell reception and Internet, is walking distance to town, and super close to Zion.  Oh, and I forgot to mention the amazing canyon views!
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Zion Canyon Camground

Now for the boondocking…
La Verkin Overlook Road ~ We found this by accident. We were on a mission to take pictures of the sunset and ended up here. Only to discover tents and RVs at various places off the road. Most sites have 180-360 degree views! It was difficult to find very much information about this area online, perhaps you’ll have better luck than I did. I believe it is land trust land. There are at least five areas you could park RVs well and even more places for tents. Two of the areas are large enough a big RV or two or three could park. Did I mention the views?! Good Verizon cell signal, too! The Maverick in La Verkin has free dumping and water. This camping area is about 20 minutes to the entrance of Zion. I plan on coming back here someday!
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Sunset from La Verkin Overlook Road

Some others:
Kolob Terrace Road ~ Lots of tents and smaller RVs.  About 2 miles up the Kolob Terrace Road, you will see a camping area with a sign saying “use by donation.” We also saw people camping other areas off this road.
Disclaimer: This is only based on the few places we have stayed and personally visited. Please check websites like Campendium.com and Freecampsites.net to see if details have changed before you attempt to camp at the “free” sites. Also, always check the weather and road conditions!