Riverside Campground, Idaho

On September 6, 2018 we returned to the Riverside Campground in Island Park, Idaho. For this visit we had reserved site B-9, but when we arrived, about dusk, other campers had completely set up their camp and we weren’t willing to uproot them. After talking with the camp host, we quickly settled on site B-14, changed the reservation sign, and moved in. We stayed three nights.

On the 7th I had business in Rexburg, Idaho. My wife and son drove me to work, enjoyed Rexburg for the morning, and then we all returned to the campground around 3pm. On Saturday we drove a few dirt roads looking for boondocking sites for future visits. We found quite a few nice spots in an area marked by Google as Free Use Canyon Number 1. We enjoyed the rest of the weekend relaxing and returned home on Sunday.

Site B-14 was great. We enjoyed the tree cover on both sides of the trailer. There was a nice bunch of trees between the trailer and the campground road which made the site quite private. Our son’s tent spot was close to the trailer, but still felt nicely tucked away in the woods.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
39463610110

Subway in Zion National Park, Utah

 

We were invited to hike the Subway in Zion National Park in southern Utah. We didn’t want to pass up this rare opportunity, so we made plans to head out Monday August 27, 2018, do the hike, and return the evening of Tuesday August 28, 2018. We chose to go boondocking instead of trying to find an organized campground or RV park. The place we chose was just north of the Virgin River. The views were amazing and we were quite literally all alone until other members of the family arrived. Our trailer sat at location 37.2025525,-113.2318394 and can be seen on the Google map image to the left.

We were originally headed to the location just to the south of the one shown, but the dirt road between the two campsites was rutty, rocky, and fairly inclined in places. You may be able to travel east on the road leaving the spot we camped and then come south and back west to the site on the river, but we didn’t bother checking since our site was so nice for our needs.

On Tuesday morning we awoke early, ate breakfast, and headed through Virgin, Utah and up to the trailhead. The trail begins level, wanders through a beautiful forest, and then heads down through slick rock. At the bottom of the canyon you encounter a small stream. In many places the stream is the “trail” and at times it is deep enough that you have to swim and push your gear in dry bags. There are a few places where the drop-offs are significant enough to require rappelling, but this just adds to the fun and charm of the place.

The canyon views are simply amazing on this hike. There is so much to see and experience. There are cacti, water grasses, pines, sandy bottom stretches of the stream, boulder fields, fish, frogs, and much more. If you do this hike, the one thing you will experience, and likely remember for some time to come, is the icy cold water. It is amazing that water can be this cold in the middle of a dessert. At the places where you have to plunge in, it takes your breath away, but it is fun and refreshing.

The hike is named after a small portion of the canyon known as the Subway. Just before you round the corner and enter into the “Subway”, you come across a log that has probably been photographed more than any dead tree anywhere else in the world. I found the lighting so amazing that I was compelled to take my own image, just like everyone else. What puzzles me is that this log has been photographed so many times, but how? How does this log survive the flash floods that sculpt this place. They come frequently and they’re no doubt ferocious. They move trees, carve rock, and push huge boulders.

As much as I loved the color in the canyon, when I looked up and around I was blown away by the beauty of the entire place. There is red rock, green trees, and brilliant blue sky. It was quiet with just the noise of the stream flowing over the rocks.

Coming around this beautiful corner you are met with a view of the Subway. It looks like a huge rock pipe gouged round and smooth by those mysterious floods that do this, but leave that dead stick in place just up stream. What surprised me were the pools in the floor of this part of the canyon. The whole place was quite impressive. If the water temperature would have been 60° or higher we would have spent significant time in these natural hot tubs, but whatever temperature they actually are was too cold for long sessions of relaxing.

Further down the trail the canyon widens, the stream becomes shallow, and  hikers are greeted with views of beautiful waterfalls and scenery. The wider canyon exposes you and the water to more sunlight which in turn warms both significantly, making the water much more inviting.

Beyond these falls the hiking is primarily wading through the river or hiking on a mix of smooth trails and boulder fields. The final mile or so is a very steep ascent up the canyon wall and then across the rim to a parking lot. The climb is approximately 400 vertical feet, but after miles of beautiful hiking it seems like a vertical wall in the desert!

Now that I’ve been home one day my legs are sore and stiff, but I look forward to doing this hike again. It also makes me want to learn more about the area and other amazing hikes.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
1915169474

Riverside Campground, Idaho

On July 21, 2018 we returned to the Riverside Campground in Island Park, Idaho. This is the campground we visited just last month. For this visit my wife and I were alone and chose to stay in site A-5, but had to stay in B-11 for the first evening. Both are pull-through sites, but A-5 is right next to the Henry’s Fork River; it’s a beautiful site. We stayed here for eight nights and returned home July 29, 2018.

This trip was pure vacation with lots of fishing. In fact, we fished every day except Sundays when we attended Church. We fished the Henry’s Fork below the campground, just above the campground, and in Box Canyon.We also enjoyed a day on the Eagle Ridge Ranch fishing their small lake. We’ve had great luck on the lake in October, but the fishing in July was rather slow.

Best Sites

For our best site selection for this campground, see our previous post about Riverside Campground. In short, site 21 is the best and never available.

We keep coming back to this campground because it is spacious, quiet, well maintained, has water, and easy access to the river. It’s a great place. We have driven through every other campground between Riverside and Island Park and are happy returning here.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
8906348958

Trial Lake, Utah

From July 13th to July 20th, 2018 we camped at Trail Lake Campground in the Uinta mountains of Utah. After a winter seeing little snowfall, the lake was quite low. I’d guess the water was 20′ lower than normal. With the gentle slope of the shore near the campground that resulted in the lake being an extra 100′ or more from the campsites.

The campground is at 9800 feet of elevation and has forested and open meadow sites.  We stayed in site 59 which is a pull-through site near the beginning of the campground. The pull-through site was protected from the campground road by several large pine trees and provided ample shade. There were also trees throughout the site making it beautiful and easy to find shade from the afternoon sun. The site also had a nice view of the lake.

The site did not have many good tent spots. There was a small site near the table suitable for a four man tent. Large tents must be placed closer to the lake in the meadow area, but these sites are a bit sloped.

We were worried about two issues getting into Trial Lake with our truck and trailer. The first was the spillway you must cross to get into the campground. There is no water in the spillway, but it is a significant dip and I was a bit worried about bottoming out. We have a 27 foot trailer with about a 3 foot tongue for a total length of about 30′. We had no difficulty with the spillway and had likely a foot to spare before we would have rubbed the hitch or bumper.

The second obstacle was the tight turn near the end of the campground on the main loop. However, taking the turn wide and slow made it easy. I don’t think I would take a trailer the size of ours in the other two loops of the campground, but the main loop is not a problem.

While at Trail Lake we were joined by our daughter and her family. In addition, we had a friend of our son stay with us for several days. The nine of us were also joined for one day by two other sons and two of one son’s children. It was a bit tricky keeping track of who was there and who was coming and going, but it also made it really fun. One of our grandsons caught a fish which repeatedly “slapped him”. He loved telling everyone that he was slapped by a fish.

One night it was beautifully clear until about 11pm when we put out the fire and prepared for bed. We noticed lightening on the horizon and prepared our camp for a thunderstorm and associated wind and rain. The lightning got closer and closer, then we could hear the wind coming through the trees, and finally the rain began. For a couple of hours we enjoyed watching the storm come, linger, and then pass.

Other evenings began with spectacular sunsets over the lake. The clouds were thin and the sun shined through them just before setting. What a beautiful sight from a float tube while fishing.

With our new batch of guests we again hiked to Ruth Lake. It was fun to watch the little kids have fun in and near the water. Our dog jumped right in and swam out to his owner, our son, and his friend. That’s the first time we’ve seen him simply jump in and swim. He usually plays by the shore and doesn’t mind getting wet and muddy, but never before has he voluntarily swam.

We had so much fun hiking Bald Mountain that we sent our daughter and her husband and two of our older sons to try it. They said they enjoyed it, but I don’t think they liked it as much as we did. I guess we have to be careful not overselling things.

On July 17th our family departed and on the 18th the parents of our son’s friend arrived to take him home. The three of us were left alone for the first time in over a week. I was worried our son might be lost without others, but we had fun playing games, watching movies, and fishing at night until dark. One night he out fished both my wife and I and was very proud of himself. We were proud as well and were very happy that he’s learned to enjoy fishing. We had a great time and worked together well on the 20th to return home.

Two straight weeks in the Uintas was great. We added 48 gallons of fresh water to our initial 80 gallons, but we made it. We’ve been wanting to do two weeks in these mountain for decades; we finally did it!

Best Sites

There are 60 sites in Trial Lake Campground. The campground is spacious and is stretched out down the lake shore. While we were camping there was no running potable water in the campground. To acquire drinking water you had to travel a short distance up the highway to Lost Creek Campground.

While we enjoyed site 59, if we were to return we would select site 57 or 58. Site 57 is a back-in site with no privacy from the campground road, but has beautiful views of the lake and an enormous meadow to the east of the site that makes it a great distance from other sites in that direction.

Site 58 is a pull-through site with little privacy from the campground road, but several pines have been planted and in a few years will provide ample seclusion. Obviously this site is between 57 and 59, but not over crowded.

Site 59 was great, but two different large families used sites 60 and 4 as if they were a single group site. These two together are very close to 59 and can get a bit loud. If a set of sites were wanted for such a gathering you couldn’t go wrong acquiring sites 59, 60 and 4. It would be a lot of fun.

Trial Lake Campground was a nice place to spend a week. The lake was fun to play and fish in. Can’t wait to be there again.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
782818324

Sulphur Campground, Utah

From July 6th to July 13th, 2018 we camped at Sulphur Campground on the banks of the Hayden’s Fork of the Bear River. The campground is at 9100 feet of elevation and has forested and open meadow sites.  We stayed in site 20 which is a pull-through site near the end of the campground. There was tall grasses and plants between the site and the river and a small forest on the south. The pull-through was a bit tight for our truck and trailer so we backed it in.

While at Sulphur we had family visit us and we participated in several activities. With our first visitors we went kayaking and fishing in Butterfly Lake. We caught a few fish, taught a few grandchildren to fish, and watched them have fun in and around the water.

Thunderstorms rolled in the next couple of afternoons and dropped lots of rain. The lightning was bright and the thunder was amazingly sharp and loud. We watched from within our home away from home and played board games.

With our next guests we hiked to Ruth Lake. The hike is short, but the lake is quite beautiful and the kids had fun playing in its icy waters. On our way out a thunderstorm rolled in and we quickly got into our rain gear. Fortunately the hike back to the car was only slightly over a mile and the storm was a short one.

The next morning seven of us hiked to the top of Bald Mountain. It’s summit is at 11,943 feet, but is one of the easiest mountains in Utah to summit. We were proud of our children and grandchildren for making the hike in just over an hour. Heck, we were proud of ourselves for making it! We have been enjoying the Uinta Mountains for over 34 years and had never taken the opportunity to climb this mountain, very happy we did.

At the summit there was a jar full of notes. The one I pulled out was from Ryan from Minnesota who asked that I send him a text message. Sure enough I had service, texted him, and received a friendly response. The message my wife pulled from the jar asked for a selfie, so she snapped one and sent it along. The response asked her to put the note back because the young lady is looking for a young and cute hiker guy 🙂

The area surrounding the Uinta Mountains has hundreds of small lakes, ponds, and rivers. From the top of Bald Mountain many are visible. The views were spectacular, but the gathering clouds and hunger drove us back down.

On July 11th our family departed, but we kept one of the grandchildren. In the afternoon we took our son and our grandson and taught them how to fly fish on the river. While we caught numerous fish earlier in the day, our afternoon training was unsuccessful in terms of catching fish. We did have a good time and we were able to pass on a tradition that was started 34 years ago when my wife’s grandfather taught us to fly fish on this very river and from this very campground. Perhaps these young people will remember this day and pass the lessons learned to their children and grandchildren. It was kind of an emotional experience for us as we reflected on our lives and those we miss, but praise for what they passed on to us.

On July 12th we had business down in the hot valley and used the time to shop, return our grandson to his family and pick up a friend of our son’s who will stay with us until the 18th. On the 13th we packed up and moved to Trial Lake for another week.

Best Sites

There are 21 sites in Sulphur Campground. The campground is spacious and is stretched out down the river. While we were camping there was running potable water in the campground.

While we enjoyed site 20, if we were to return we would select site 18. The pull-through of site 18 is far more usable than that of site 20, the fire ring and table are in great locations, and there is plenty of tent space. This site is closer to the river than site 20 and there is far less tall grass obscuring the river view.

Sites 19 and 21 are on the opposite side of the campground road, but offer a good alternative for two trailers and a plethora of tent spots. Site 16 is also a reasonable pull-through with a nice view of the river. Sites 7 and 9 are good options for a trailer and those using tents. Site 20 is pleasant, but better suited for a smaller trailer.

Sulphur Campground was a nice place to spend a week and for us to recall pleasant times past.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
775818243

Cherry Campground, Utah

We made a quick getaway this past weekend to celebrate a dear friends 60th birthday and the couple’s first time camping in a trailer. We arrived in Cherry Campground near Springville, Utah on Saturday June 30th and returned home on Monday July 2nd. Three of us were aware of the pending surprise, but her husband was not. We arrived at 4:30pm to ensure that he was settled and wouldn’t notice us arrive. We got the trailer parked in site 2 very quickly, waited for two of their children to arrive,  and then walked down to their site and surprised him. It actually worked!

The campground was well maintained and our sites were right up against the Hobble Creek. Each site had the typical fire pit with grill and a picnic bench. The site was very adequate, and while we enjoyed it, it is very close to the canyon road which is just on the other side of the creek. If we were to camp in this campground again, without children, we would choose a site away from the stream to get us away from the road and its associated noise. With children, we would likely stay where we were simply because they enjoy the creek so much.

The campsite fee was $23 per night which seems a bit high for a campground with vault toilets and no running water. The sites were clean, a reasonable distance from one another, and the hosts were friendly. What more can you ask for for $23 per night?

We learned that Cherry opens in April which is welcome news for those of us who get the camping itch early in the year. This may be just the answer for spring get aways.

Just up the canyon from Cherry there is Balsam Campground. Balsam is not as good for RVs, but has many sites for larger groups of tent campers.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
268488162

Riverside Campground, Idaho

On June 13, 2018 we returned to the Riverside Campground in Island Park, Idaho. This is the campground we first visited after acquiring our trailer in 2016. For this visit my wife, son, and I chose to stay in site A-5. It is a pull-through site right next to the Henry’s Fork River; it’s a beautiful site. We stayed here for four nights and returned home June 17, 2018.

Riverside has three loops, A, B, and C. As far as I can tell the A and B loops are paved while the C loop is packed gravel. Many of the sites are away from the river, but all sites are fairly spacious and a reasonable distance from neighboring sites. The sites along the Henry’s Fork River are gorgeous and the fishing is reported to be great. However, on this visit I forgot to pack our fishing waders so we’ve played a lot of board games and found other things to do. We finally fished from the bank for about an hour and caught two small fish. Waders and more time would make this stretch of river a lot of fun.

Best Sites

Our favorite sites in this campground are A-20 and A-21. A-21 is at the far end of the campground, is very close to the river, and has great views. Riverside also has a group site that looks fun for family gatherings. The parking area is large enough for three or four RVs and there are numerous tables and fire pits. With some care I am sure you could circle the wagons and have a great time as a group.

The island park area is one of our favorites. The air is cool, the fishing is amazing, the rivers are huge, the campgrounds are spacious and the area is not nearly as busy as most Utah mountain camping areas. W hope to come back here year after year, and work at BYU-Idaho nearly guarantees we will.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
4666348114

Boondocking Near Goblin Valley, Utah

On Thursday May 24, 2018 we retrieved our trailer from its winter storage for the first time in 2018 and headed to an area near Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. We were joined by a son and his family and a daughter and her family. One of the families arrived on Friday and the other on Saturday. We chose not to stay at the state park, but rather boondocked in some neighboring BLM land at location, 38.569091, -110.743433. As you can see from the image, we didn’t have a lot of neighbors even though it was the Memorial Day weekend. More showed up as the weekend progressed, but none were close enough to be heard or bother us.

All but the last couple of miles to this location were well maintained paved roads. The last couple of miles were on dirt roads with lots of ruts and bumps. While it wasn’t smooth, it was easily managed at low speeds. The boondocking sites are so large you simply drive around in them until you find a place that’s level enough to add the final touches. As others arrived it was easy for them to “circle the wagons”. It was a great spot, but I think in the future we’ll try someplace just to the north of this area where we expect to find a bit more slick rock and a bit less dirt and sand.

The temperatures were in the high 80’s and low 90’s each day, but cooled off rapidly in the evening. The wind came up each afternoon about noon and blew pretty good, about 15 mph. The wind kicked up considerable sand and dust and made for pretty uncomfortable conditions for a few hours each day. However, the landscape was beautiful and the night skies were spectacular in spite of the nearly full moon. The children had a great time climbing in the rocks and rolling down the nearby sand hills.

On one of the days we hiked the nearby Wild Horse Canyon trail. This is a slot canyon that is only a few feet wide in some spots. We spent one of our days walking through Goblin Valley. The kids liked this as well and even though I have been there many times, it was still enjoyable. During our next visit to this part of the state we’ll try and hike the Ding and Dang canyons. I have heard they’re amazing!

We returned home, cleaned the trailer thoroughly and returned it to storage until the next outing in the middle of June. It was fun having the trailer out and can’t wait for the next outing. Perhaps I enjoy the trailer too much. I’ve been telling people for a couple of weeks that I am unhappy to have to go to Hawaii for a week because it will get in the way of going camping. Truly I have a problem!

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
4623787480

Red Cliff Campground, Utah

On Wednesday November 22, 2017 we left home for an undetermined location south of our home where we could enjoy a warm Thanksgiving holiday camping. We have gone camping nearly every Thanksgiving for twenty or so years. Most often we end up at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, but on warmer years we consider Snow Canyon State Park in Utah or Zion National Park. This year we couldn’t decide so we decided to decide on the way.

While heading south we noticed signs indicating long delays getting to Zion and decided not to risk that this year. Just before Saint George, Utah we noticed a sign for Red Cliff Campground and, after conversing with our son and his family via cell phone, pulled off to give it a try. This little campground has ten sites, but on our way through we found site number 5 available. In a stroke of good luck those in the neighboring site were pulling out, so we claimed it for our son’s family who pulled in just a few minutes later.

After getting settled in we spent the remainder of the day playing on the red sandstone hills near our site. The sandstone made it very easy for the younger children to climb and hike around. It was amazing where they could get to on their own. The views from our trailer windows were stunning; everywhere you looked there was red rock.

On Thanksgiving day we had breakfast and then began the preparation of our feast. We don’t go without while camping on Thanksgiving. We prepared the turkey in a dutch oven on a stove and added briquettes later in the day to brown the bird.

With the turkey we had mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, beans with bacon,  rolls with honey butter, stuffing and for desert pecan, chocolate and apple pie. My wife prepared the beautiful apple pie from scratch and cooked it in another dutch oven.

All of the food was cooked to perfection and very delicious. We weren’t hungry again until late into the evening when turkey sandwiches hit the spot.

On Friday we hiked up the river trail to a waterfall. However, this time of the year the river is dry and the pool at the bottom of the waterfall is something you wouldn’t want to fall into. The hike was still beautiful with plenty of huge boulders for the kids to climb and an endless supply of red canyon walls and blue sky. There are some huge trees and stumps along the trail that gave the kids an alternative medium to climb.

On Saturday we took a trip to the Silver Reef Museum to learn about the mining of silver from this area in the 1800’s. The museum is situated in a bit of a ghost town with a jail and a few other ruins. The street through the ghost town starts at the museum, passes the jail and the ruins and continues into a neighborhood of new homes, strange. At 1pm we watched a show where several bank robbers dressed in realistic attire had a shootout with law enforcement. I think all of us were amazed at how loud the revolvers were. They were shooting blanks, but the sound alone would stop you in your tracks.

On Sunday we packed up and headed home. Once we arrived we emptied the trailer and took it to its winter resting spot where we won’t see it again until March. During 2017 we camped for 43 nights in 6 states and enjoyed every minute. We have owned our trailer since August of 2016 and have camped for 57 nights. I can’t wait until March 2018 when our journeys will continue. Until then …

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
4585127102

Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

On October 19, 2017 we travelled to Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada. The campground is approximately two and a half hours north east of Las Vegas and about an hour and a half west of Cedar City, Utah. I am sure this is a very hot and uncomfortable place in the summer months, but this time of the year it was perfect.

We took site number 5 which was flat and long enough to accommodate our trailer and the truck parked sideways across the entrance. The site had 30A and 50A electric hookups, but no water or sewer. While we used the electric, it would be much more appreciated in the summer when the AC would likely run day and night. The site also had a nice table, shade from the sun and a fire pit. The only strange thing about the site is that it is surrounded by posts. We learned through experience that if you park to close to the posts to make room for the truck, the pop outs will run into the posts. We only had to move the trailer once.

To the rear of our trailer the view was simply flat desert with distant cliffs. However, this provided great views of the stars and an occasional glimpse of wildlife.

One night I was grilling hamburgers and had three slices of cheese at the ready. I wasn’t using any light source as the glow from the trailer and natural light provided just enough to get around. I stepped into the doorway of the trailer to ask my wife a question and then immediately returned to the grill. When I went to place the cheese on the burgers, it wasn’t where I left it, it was gone. I don’t know what took it, but it was kind of creepy thinking something was paying enough attention to me to notice when I left and what I had left behind. Perhaps it was one of these little rabbits? I was just grateful that whatever it was it wasn’t a meat eater. I had more cheese, I didn’t have more burgers.

Over the next few days my wife and I along with our son and his friend hiked around Cathedral Gorge. Most of the hikes are short and pretty easy. There is one four mile hike that we never got around to doing because my wife severely sprained her ankle. We were all enjoying the Caves, which are really super narrow canyons, when the kids came to get me because my wife had heard her ankle make a terrible noise and she was in severe pain. I thought at first they were pulling my leg, pun intended, but sure enough I found her in real agony. We walked very slowly back to the trailer, got her seated, the ankle wrapped and put on ice. She took the next couple of days off while I cooked, cleaned and entertained the children. I am still not sure she really hurt her ankle 🙂

On October 23rd we headed home. We enjoyed Cathedral Gorge and will come back to hike the trails we missed.

NightsTotal NightsMilesTotal Miles
4545986590