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Trailer Travels – Page 6 – Our home away from home!

Washington Lake Campground, Utah

On July 2, 2017 we arrived at Washington Lake Campground in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. This was our second stop on our summer adventure and we were here from the 2nd of July to the 9th of July. As the map indicates, we travelled nearly due south from Idaho down to Utah and then east up into the Uinta Mountains. Washington Lake is at an elevation of 10,000 feet and is one of hundreds of lakes in this area.

We have camped in these mountains many times over the past 30 years, but this is our first time in a trailer. The Washington Lake Campground is much more developed than our previous stop and we’ve always thought it would be good for trailer camping. Each site is paved, has a table, fire pit, and a dutch oven cooking table. The campground has a host and well maintained pit toilets. The sites are also much closer together than they were at Pole Bridge Campground in Idaho. However, our site was easy to get the trailer into and the neighbors never bothered us.

One feature this campground lacks is water. There are no water faucets in this campground and while there are faucets a short drive away, at Lost Creek Campground, it was inconvenient. Fortunately, we carry several six gallon water jugs that we filled several times and brought back to the trailer. Without these we would have had to move the trailer after four or five days.

The lakes in the Uinta Mountains are typically small and sometimes you stop and wonder whether what you’re looking at is a lake or a pond. However, Washington Lake is a rather large reservoir that has plenty of room for the many visitors that enjoy it. Fishing is moderately good, children and adventurous adults find the water warm enough to play in, and kayaking or non motorized boating is entertaining. The scenery is breathtaking!

Nearby lakes include Crystal Lake, Ponds Lake, Lily Lake, Trail Lake, Wall Lake, and Hope Lake. Trial Lake can be reached by vehicle and has a very nice campground associated with it. It was closed the week we were there due to snow delayed cleanup, but we managed to get our bicycles around the gate and enjoyed riding in a deserted campground. The other lakes can be reached by trail. My wife and I with three sons, two daughter-in-laws, and two grandchildren hiked from the Crystal Lake trailhead to The Notch. The hike included beautiful scenery, nice weather and a reminder that summer comes late at nearly 11,000 feet, snow. The younger crew couldn’t pass up building a snowman in July, and here it is.

On the way to The Notch, the crest of the pass, we stopped and played at a very small high meadow lake called Hope Lake.

 

The children had fun playing in the water and catching waterdogs and tiger salamanders. We’re going back next year to have the children collect a few salamanders for our backyard pond. Utah law allows the collection of up to 50 specimens and the children will love seeing them in and around the pond.

From The Notch the view was amazing. We could look back and see several lakes. The hike back was a little warm, but overall it was a great day.

On Saturday of our stay, my son and I went to get water for both of our trailers. On the way back we noticed people parking a very long distance from the trailhead due to the Saturday crowds and a lack of close parking. We stopped, gathered a small crowd into the back of the truck and took them up to the trailhead. Each trip for water resulted in another small group getting a ride to the trail. Who knew our adventure would include starting a shuttle service.

On July 9th we said our goodbyes to family and headed to our next stop. However, we didn’t actually know where our next stop was. We drove down the mountain to Heber City, Utah and ran some errands. We couldn’t find a dump station and we knew we wanted to head east, so we headed to Starvation State Park to use their dump station. After arriving at the state park we asked if they had any sites available, and after receiving a positive response we decided to stay a couple of nights.

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Pole Bridge Campground, Idaho

On June 29, 2017 we arrived at Pole Bridge Campground in Southeast Idaho on the banks of the upper portion of the Warm River. This was our first stop on our one month excursion. We were here until July 2nd when we left to meet family in the Uinta Mountains of Utah, more on that later.

We approached the campground from the south on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway turning right on Forest Service Road FS 150. However, continuing north on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway and then heading east on FS 315 and then south on FS 150 yields a smoother ride on wider roads.

The campground is primitive, but each site includes a table and fire pit. The sites are well separated, easy to get into and the price is right, free! The campsite we chose was at the southern most area of the campground as indicated by the blue pin on the satellite view. This view includes the entire campground, shows FS 150 and the Warm River which is quite small this far north. 

Our site was gorgeous and sat right on the banks of the Warm River. As small as the Warm River is we did catch some small fish and had fun in the river. The Warm River gets much larger where Warm Springs dumps into it further south. Warm Springs is worth visiting and is only a 20 minute drive from the campground. Upper and Lower Mesa Falls are also nice to see and are also about a 20 minute drive from the campground.

For those who love fly fishing, the Island Park area, to the northwest of the campground, has much to offer. A few examples include the Henry’s Fork, South Fork, Harriman State Park, Henry’s Lake, and the Maddison River. We’ve been out with guides in the area a couple of times and have really enjoyed the services provided by Henry’s Fork Anglers.

While in this part of the country we decided to visit a part of Yellowstone National Park we hadn’t visited before, Cave Falls. We had never visited this part of the park because the road simply takes you to the falls and a trailhead; you cannot get to other parts of the park in a vehicle via this entrance. The river was impressive and the falls were beautiful. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get to the falls from the campground with little but scenery to see on the way. It is a nice drive, worth seeing, but literally isn’t on the way to anything.

Pole Bridge Campground was a great starting point for our adventure. There is much to see and do in the area and the campground is relaxed, uncrowded and quiet. We’ll certainly camp here again!

On July 2nd we headed south to our next stop in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. On our way we discovered a Flying J truck stop that had a fuel isle with diesel, a dump station, potable water, and even propane. We took care of the trailer and continued south to Washington Lake Campground.

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5 States, 31 Nights, and 4200 Miles

On June 29th, 2017 our family of three hitched up our trailer and took off on an adventure. We travelled to 5 states, camped for 31 nights and put 4200 miles of road behind us. My wife and I thought it was great and our 11 year old son thought it was “good”. However, I view a “good” rating from him as a positive sign. It means he liked many of our activities and likes us, both good things!

We travelled to Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. We learned a few things along the way:

  1. We’re glad we didn’t select a trailer larger than the one we did, 27′. Small trailers have fewer campground limitations, they’re easier to pull up steep mountain passes with tight switchbacks, and into and out of tight gas stations. When we buy another trailer, we’ll purchase the smallest one we can be comfortable in.
  2. We love having a solar panel on our trailer and are now glad we purchased only one. When the sun is out, the one panel fully recharges the batteries by early afternoon. For fall or winter camping another panel would be nice, but the cost of a second panel is equivalent to the cost of a generator, which is mandatory even in the summer when you might experience multiple days of cloud cover. One solar panel means you’ll seldom need the generator, but when you do you have one.
  3. While camping in a trailer you have several scarce resources: electricity, propane, fresh water, and limited holding tank capacity. With a solar panel and backup generator electricity is not very scarce. In the summer propane seems to last forever. Our trailer has two 30 pound tanks that hold 7 gallons of propane each. In 31 days of camping we went through both bottles. We have an 80 gallon fresh water tank and it lasts three of us nearly a week. Our experience has been that the gray water holding tank is the most limited resource. Nearly all of the fresh water we use goes straight down the sink and shower drains and fills this 40 gallon tank in 4 or 5 days. We could of course be more conservative, but …
  4. We chose to purchase two 2kW Honda generators that can be connected in parallel to generate enough power to run everything in the trailer, including the air conditioner.  One of these generators is sufficient to run everything but the AC and we never used both on our adventure. We did connect one of them periodically to watch a movie or play a video game on the large TV. The generator was quiet enough that we locked it to the front of the trailer and it never bothered us inside. While we chose the Honda, I later found that Costco offers a very similar Yamaha generator for half the price; I should have looked!
  5. We’re glad we chose a trailer over a 5th wheel because I really utilized the bed of our truck for extra water, fuel for the generators, firewood, etc. I’m sure we would have loved a 5th wheel, but any fear we had about towing a trailer has dissipated.

When we left we had some trepidation about traveling in New Mexico and Arizona in July. However, both states have significant mountains and associated national forests. We stayed above 5000′ in elevation nearly all of the time and enjoyed reasonable temperatures, seldom if ever exceeding 80 degrees. The one exception was our three day stay in Carlsbad, New Mexico. While there we chose to stay at the Carlsbad RV Park and Campground, and while this isn’t our idea of camping, the facilities were clean, the staff was friendly and helpful, the pool was simple and refreshing, and most importantly we had electric hookups that allowed us to run the AC nearly 24 hours a day.

Our adventure was amazingly fun and relaxing. As we headed home on the last day we passed the I-70 East ramp and I just wanted to take it and continue our summer fun. The next few posts will describe each of the places we camped and the fun things we found to do there.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

We arrived in Goblin Valley State Park in the afternoon of Thursday April 13, 2017 and setup in site 15 in a 25mph wind.

We were joined by a son and daughter-in-law and their three wonderful children. Grandchildren are amazing to watch and have fun with. When they become work the parents are usually close by! They camped next door to us in site 17 in their tent. It was very sunny, clear and warm when we arrived, but the wind and blowing sand made it interesting. Site 15 is pretty close to the site to the south, but livable. Each site has a tent space, a table, an awning, and a fire pit. The sites are very close together. In the future we would consider boondocking on the nearby BLM land.

Those 25mph winds were coming out of the South and rocked the trailer enough to wake us periodically during the night, but nothing that seemed dangerous.

On Friday we all hiked down into Goblin Valley and let the kids run wild around and on the hoodoos. They had a great time climbing and conquering these miniature summits. The floor of the valley has hundreds of these hoodoos and is surrounded by valley walls that are equally interesting to climb in and up. We made our way slowly across the valley and approached the wall on the far side. We climbed into and eventually up on this wall to see what lies on the far side. The kids did great on this hike. We likely covered 4 or 5 miles and they just kept going to the very end.

On Saturday we hiked one of the two slot canyons North of Goblin Valley State Park. I was amazed at the number of cars at the trailhead, but the hike itself wasn’t overly crowded. There were other people, but having witnessed the parking lot I was concerned that the day would be full of people taking away from the breathtaking beauty; my fears were unwarranted.

The beginning of the trail consists of a wide and dry river bed reminding us that this is nowhere to be during a rain storm. The aftermath of a thunderstorm must be spectacular, but obviously dangerous. While the stream bed is dry, water must not be too far below given the number of large trees enjoying it.

Further into the hike you come to the narrow bits of the canyon. In these places children and adults enjoyed building bridges and letting worthy souls pass. The sandstone surface makes climbing pretty easy and fun. Some places are narrow enough that with a backpack on it is difficult if not impossible to turn around. When you come across traffic headed in the “wrong” direction someone has to concede to go backward.

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Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah

We arrived in Kodachrome Basin State Park on Thursday evening November 10, 2016 about 6:30 pm and setup in the dark. Trailering makes this far easier and the nearly full moon made it great.

We stayed in site 15 that has nice views and is quite private from others. There are two nice tent spots in addition to the long pull-through.

On Friday we hiked in the state park on the Angels Palace trail that has many beautiful vistas. The hike is probably a mile and a half and very easy in most spots. A few view points are pretty narrow and add a bit of excitement to the walk.

For 8 or fewer people our site, 15, is great. Pull-through for the trailer, a couple of cars, and a couple of tent sites. For a group of 16 to 24 take sites 13 and 14. The group site is for 35 or less and we aren’t sure you can park a trailer in the parking lot.

It was fairly chilly at night this time of year requiring our furnace to run quite often. In addition, the sun is quite low in the sky and the solar panel wasn’t sufficient to charge the batteries the last day or two. A four hour run of our little generator got the batteries charged and us warm. I wouldn’t mind a second solar panel, but I may attempt to make the one we have adjustable so we can better point it at the sun.

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Joe’s Valley Reservoir, Utah

We camped for five nights at the Joe’s Valley Reservoir Campground. When we arrived in the evening of Tuesday October 19, 2016 there were very few others in the campground. We chose a back-in spot with a great view of the lake. 

While there we went to see the Little Grand Canyon of Utah.   

We also went down a really cool canyon with great scenery and ancient Native American art. 

In addition to beautiful scenery and the canyon art, we enjoyed some fun fishing at Potters Pond that is about 15 miles north of the campground in Upper Joe’s Valley. There is a small primitive campground there and two ponds. At this campground a single site for our trailer is site 11 and site 6 is better for a trailer and tents.

The East pond seems to have more fish, but they’re smaller. The West pond had 12-16 inch trout that were down deep. They seemed to like a blue and black balanced leech pattern. Preston caught his first trout on a fly rod at these ponds.

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Island Park, Idaho

Some friends of ours invited us to their cabin for the Labor Day weekend, September 2 through September 5, 2016. We parked our trailer on their property on Huckleberry Lane in Island Park, Idaho. They had sewer, water, a 15 Amp electric hookup, and a small fire pit.

As unsocial as we are, we enjoyed being with our son’s friend’s parents and their extended family. We met parents, siblings, and their children. It was fun to talk and get to know them. 

While there we had a guide take us to Sheridan Ranch Reservoir and the Sheridan Stream. We had fun learning how to fly fish this stream and lake. We caught a few fish and had fun.

When we returned home. we left without our trailer. We planned to return the very next week and spend some more time in this beautiful area. We returned with one of our married sons and his wife and stayed from September 8 through September 11, 2016. We visited Yellowstone National Park and enjoyed it very much.

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Riverside Campground, Island Park, Idaho

Our first outing was to Riverside Campground on the bank of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in Eastern Idaho. We arrived early in the evening of Wednesday August 17th. On Thursday morning I arose, dressed in my suit and tie, and went to work at Brigham Young University – Idaho.

We fished on our own in the Henry’s Fork. When we get fishing we have a difficult time stopping for meals or anything else. Fortunately, the sun sets, ending our day. With our beautiful trailer we go home, turn on the furnace and the lights, and enjoy a great meal before retiring for the night.

Friday August 19 was our anniversary and we celebrated by floating down the South Fork of the Snake River with a guide. The guide wasn’t great, but the fishing was fun.

We stayed in a pull through campsite on the opposite side of the road from the river, but still quite nice. While there we drove through the Buffalo Campground, a bit further north, and thought the loop with hookups looked interesting to try someday.

On this trip we noticed several issues with the trailer. Several items were missing including the remote for the trailer, the remote’s charging cable, 12′ propane hose for a barbecue hookup, a hair dryer, and the remote for the TV. On the way home the refrigerator cover on the outside of the trailer blew or fell off. We returned the trailer to Stewart’s RV and they made appropriate adjustments under warrantee; they’ve been great to work with.

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