Camping at Utah Nat'l Parks and Grand Canyon - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-14-2010, 01:29 AM   #1
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Back in February we asked folks for help with planning our trip to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Link to that thread:
Need advice on visiting Utah Nat'l Parks & Grand Canyon, Going in May


We were thankful for all the suggestions and want to give a special thanks to JenPB, Adrian, Nancy (in MN), and Phill for their great advice and recommendations!

Our final trip plan included:
  • Arches National Park
    Canyonlands National Park
    Lake Powell
    North Rim Grand Canyon Nat'l Park
    Zion National Park
    Bryce National Park
We also made short stops at Goblin State Park and Monument Valley while in transit from one area to another.

It was a great trip! We spent 3 straight weeks in our Scamp fifth wheel and could have easily stayed out longer if work and school obligations did not require us to return home. The extra solar panel and the Wave 3 heater both provided extra comfort on our non-hookup stays.

--Lynne
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Old 06-14-2010, 01:41 AM   #2
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We spend one day at Goblin Valley State Park while in transit to the Moab area. Thanks, Jen, for this great suggestion.

The campground was small so we were glad to have a reserved site waiting for us. Given that we chose it site unseen, we ended up in a nice spot. The wind was howling and we lost our doormat the very first night out. But it was calmer in the valley and we enjoyed a long afternoon spend exploring the goblins. Time to watch Galaxy Quest again!

Peter playing with his fisheye lens:

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Old 06-14-2010, 01:49 AM   #3
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Next stop was Arches National Park. The national park campground, named Devil's Garden, is at the very far end of the park. The park had plenty of pull out spaces so we did some initial exploring with the trailer in tow.

Exploring the Windows area:

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After an afternoon of exploring we finally got to the campground. I selected the site based on the small thumbnails at reserveamerica.gov and we were pretty happy with the site we selected:

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The next days were spent exploring the park. Hiking the entire Devil's Garden Trail, with its primitive return trail, was the highlight of our stay!



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Old 06-14-2010, 02:08 AM   #4
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Arches National Park Campground is very popular in May. The campground has both reservable and nonreservable sites. Even so, the campground was full by 9am each morning.

Though I had made reservations back in February, I could only get a site for a couple of days. So next we moved to Canyonlands Campground in Moab, Utah. Moab is only a few miles from the entrance to Arches National Park. Canyonlands Campground is an unusual choice for us since it is right smack in the middle of town. The entire lot is gravel and pavement, but it is an easy walk to groceries and restaurants (including the Moab Brewery, which is only 1 block away!!) The campground was surprisingly quiet at night given its location and size. Since we were out exploring all day, this worked well for us. If you like to spend a fair bit of time at your campsite, then you should look at the other options in the Moab area.

We didn't snap a picture of this campground but you can look at the sites and layouts at their website: http://www.canyonlandsrv.com/

We used this location as our base for exploring Canyonlands National Park -- both the Islands in the Sky district, and The Needles district -- and to go hunt for dinosaur tracks in the surrounding countryside. All activities were quite enjoyable. The backcountry hike we took in The Needles district was the very best hike of this trip. Simply amazing.

--Lynne



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Old 06-14-2010, 02:21 AM   #5
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From Moab, our next destination was Lake Powell. On the way, we spent a night at Monument Valley.

I wasn't able to figure out where the cheap camping was so we ended up staying at Gouldings Campground. It was quite expensive, even for a non-hookup site, but we did enjoy the free WiFi that was available.

Here is the view from our campsite. You can see the famous monuments a few miles away in the distance.

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The next day we spent a few hours at Monument Valley. The wind was gusting strongly so unfortunately the views were muted. Still, the monuments are very impressive!

By the way, it turned out that the cheap camping is just to the side of the Monument Valley Visitors Center. I had read online that this site was closed now that the hotel was built, but that is not true. Camping is only $10 to pull up for the night on a small plateau overlooking the monuments. No hookups or any amenities available however.
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Old 06-14-2010, 02:29 AM   #6
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Next stop was Lake Powell. We used this as our base for exploring the Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass slot canyon area.

This was the most troublesome reservation for this entire trip. The website was so confusing that I finally picked up the phone to reserve a site. Even that didn't go smoothly, as the clerk associated "trailer' with "hookups" and I wanted a non-hookup site since hookups cost ~$46 a night and non-hookups were $23 a night. And showers cost extra!!! The reservation was finally secured, but no confirmation ever received. Still, we showed up and the site was ready and it turned out to be a quite nice site. Yet again, we were fortunate.

Picture of our campsite At Lake Powell's Wahweap Campground:

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Old 06-14-2010, 02:38 AM   #7
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Our next stop was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. When I made the reservations months ago, there were only a very few (2!) spots still available. I lamented that we couldn't get one of the few sites on the edge of the canyon, and picked a site using the small thumbnails at the reserveamerica.gov reservation site.

Again we got a lovely site. We had one of the 'dreaded' sites right in the middle of the campground, but the other sites were so far away that we really had a good sense of space and privacy. While the sites at the edge of the canyon were nice, they weren't that spectacular and a two minute walk took me to much better viewpoints to view the canyon and watch the sunsets.

The North Rim Campground is a great spot for exploring the North Rim area. The Lodge and Visitors Center are a short distance away. WiFi is available at the well-stocked Campground Store. We spent our days hiking trail after trail, and even took a mule ride down the Bright Angel trail one afternoon. There was still snow tucked under trees and in shaded dells, yet it was warm enough for us to wear shorts in the mid-afternoon.
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Old 06-14-2010, 02:44 AM   #8
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Zion National Park was our next destination. I reserved a site at the Watchman Campground and again, our luck held out and we had a very nice site. The site was an easy walk to the visitors center and shuttlebus stop. The site had minimal shade but the weather was cool so that worked to our advantage. If it had been July or August, not May, I would have preferred one of the shadier sites.

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Zion is a beautiful place. We did a lot of hiking: Hidden Canyon, Emerald Pools, Riverside Walk, and the 'notorious' Angels Landing trail. The Narrows was closed as the water level was still very high.

This is a place that we will definitely come back to.

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Old 06-14-2010, 02:58 AM   #9
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Our final stop was Bryce Canyon. We did not have reservations for this stop so we made sure to arrive early to select a camp site. We chose a site in the North Campground 'A' Loop which was difficult for other RVs to use as it was extremely sloped -- so much so that even Peter had trouble getting the 5th wheel level enough. The restroom was in the process of a major renovation. Future visitors will be sure to enjoy the upgrades, including heated floors, but we had to rely on our own self-contained facilities as the renovation was not yet completed.

During our stay at Bryce I saw pronghorn antelope for the first time! We enjoyed a long hike (Queen's Garden --> Navaho Trail --> Peekaboo Trail), and attended the "Dark Wars" ranger presentation which was a little preachy but also immensely entertaining. After the ranger presentation we had an opportunity to view the planet Saturn as well as the Sombrero Galaxy through the telescopes set up in the parking lot.

Bryce was a great finale to our Utah National Parks vacation and we look forward to returning to southern Utah to see more of these plus all the things we didn't have time for -- Capital Reef, Dixie National Forest, Red Canyon, to name a few.

--Lynne



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Old 06-14-2010, 03:21 AM   #10
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Our cost for this trip was a little higher than the Yellowstone trip we took in 2008, but this appears to be mostly due to increases in cost of living. We traveled thousands of miles so we knew fuel expenses would be a significant portion of our expenses for this trip, and it was. Here is the final breakdown:

AVERAGE PER DAY:
Gas: $43
Lodging: $20
Meals out: $9
Groceries $21
Misc: $25 (park fees, tour fees, books, souvenirs, etc.)

TOTAL: $118/day (average, for two people)

Another collateral travel expense for us is the kenneling costs for our poodle, Lex. Given the length of the trip, we reserved a spot at Susie's Inn as they pamper their patrons with loads of play time in the yard and a good deal of personal care and attention. Lex was sure happy to see us again but was obviously well cared for during our absence.

Kennel costs: $33/day
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:22 AM   #11
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Very nice report. I have a son in Moab who is awaiting our visit, your information will make planning much easier. I was surprised at the need for reservations, is it just because you were selecting some of the most popular campgrounds?
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:07 AM   #12
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Hi Lynne & Peter,

Thanks for a great report. You have us re-living parts of a similar trip we took in April. We agree with you completely and can't wait to go back.

Diane & Des
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:56 AM   #13
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Wonderful report. Only wish you had put campsite numbers on some of those sites. One never knows which site to reserve.

Nancy from MN
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Old 06-14-2010, 02:05 PM   #14
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Me too!!
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