Jolly’s Ranch, Utah

On September 24, 2021, we spent two wonderful evenings with family at Jolly’s Ranch. The city of Springville, Utah, manages this campground. Most sites have electrical hookups for an additional $5 per night. Our campsite was on the north side of the campground road against the creek. The campground is heavily wooded, affording significant shade from the summer heat.

The good and bad of camping this close to home is that people come and go for various tasks and activities. We had children that left with grandchildren for soccer games, softball games, bicycle rides, etc. Camping close enables those with lots of other stuff going on to come, but they are away a significant amount of the time. We made the best of it and enjoyed it thoroughly.

This time of year was a stunning time to be in the canyon. We arrived on Friday and wished we were a week later to enjoy the fall colors more fully. However, over the next two days, we watched the colors emerge. By the time we left, the trees in the canyon were filled with red, orange, pink, and yellow leaves. The ground became covered with leaves of every color—what an excellent time to camp. The days were warm, the nights were fantastic, and the scenery was beautiful. I hope this becomes a family tradition. Thanks to our daughter for taking the initiative and setting this up.

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Boondocking in the Uinta Mountains – AGAIN, Utah

On September 1, 2021, we did something we have never done before. We pulled our trailer to the same campsite we stayed at last month, set it up, and then left it there for our return the next day. It made me a bit nervous, but it worked out just fine and it was nice returning the next day with nothing to do but enjoy the place.

On Thursday we traveled to our site via I-15 north to I-84 and then I-80 south to Colesville, Utah, and then east on East Chalk Creek Road. Little did we know that the road was going to be gravel, dirt, and mud. Fortunately, we took a short wrong turn and ended up near 40.997804, -111.046955 which is the corner where Wyoming digs into Utah, kind of interesting. We arrived at our site just after dark, and fortunately, it was all set up, safe, and sound, and just needed us and a little heat to make it our home.

Since it was labor day weekend, we were excited about our four-night stay. The site is located at 40.805360, -110.874998. As mentioned in our last post, this site is a lovely spot right on the Hayden Fork of the Bear River. The view from our trailer was phenomenal, as pictured. The site was quite level and required nothing more than our new leveling wedges. The following picture illustrates how close we were to the river and how level and easy the site was to occupy.

Comparing the photos in this post and our previous post you can see that the river was much lower this week and fall is on its way at this 9000′ location. On Friday we traveled to nearby Lily Lake and fished from our tubes. The fishing was pretty good and the lake was beautiful. It’s a bit of a drive up a dirt road, but it also afforded us an opportunity to discover a new dump station that is clean and free. We also fished Butterfly Lake, the Hayden Fork, and took a Sunday drive to see Whitney Reservoir and Beaver Lake.

This was a great trip. We slept in each day, fished, played board games, watched movies, and ate great food. It was the last of summer in the Uintas. The highs were in the mid 60’s and the lows in the low 30’s and froze one or two nights. It was simply beautiful and relaxing.

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Boondocking in the Uinta Mountains, Utah

On August 19, 2021, we left for a three-night stay at a boondocking site we identified last year in this same area. The site is located at 40.805360, -110.874998. We had no reservations but were open to staying in the Washington Lake campground, returning to the last location where we camped, or trying something new in this area. We found the location available and moved right in. It is a lovely spot right on the Hayden Fork of the Bear River. The view from our trailer was phenomenal, as pictured. The site was quite level and required nothing more than our new leveling wedges. The following picture illustrates how close we were to the river and how level and easy the site was to occupy. We’ll certainly return to this site.

We fished the Hayden Fork for a few hours on Thursday with no luck at all. We used our float tubes and fished on the nearby Butterfly Lake for nearly 9 hours on Friday. On Saturday, the weather was not cooperative, and we spent most of the day in the trailer reading, playing games, watching movies, etc. We ventured out between 6 pm and 8 pm to fish the river and found some success. Shortly after returning, a huge black cloud approached, it got very dark, and the lightning, thunder, and hail began. We enjoyed listening to the hail on the trailer’s roof and hunkered down for a cozy and relaxing evening. Sunday morning was beautiful, sunny, and warmed quickly. Again, we spent a relaxing day before returning home to the events of another week.

This was a quick and relaxing trip. We slept in each day, fished, played board games, watched movies, and ate great food. It was the last of summer in the Uintas. The highs were in the mid 60’s and the lows in the high 30’s. While I don’t think it has yet frozen at this location, there were very few insects and virtually no mosquitos. It was simply beautiful and relaxing.

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Riverside Campground, Idaho

On June 14, 2021, we traveled to one of our favorite campgrounds, Riverside in Idaho. This was our first outing of 2021 and is one of the latest starts to a camping season we have had. We’ve been to Riverside Campground many times. We had reservations for site A1 for 14 days and looked forward to a very relaxing stay. It isn’t our favorite site, but we wanted our family members and friends to have the nicer spots. It is such a lovely place, but the weather in July is a bit warm for not using the AC. It was a bit smoky at times due to the Oregon and California wildfires, but that didn’t hinder us from floating the river, fishing, etc.

Site A1 is across the campground road from the Henry’s Fork River, and site A2, a lovely site, is right across the road. The site has plenty of room. Loops A and B are paved in this campground, while loop C has gravel roads and parking spots. Loop C is a bit more primitive, and that’s intriguing, but the forest is a bit thinner, resulting in less privacy between sites. Just writing about the place makes me want to return.

While at Riverside, we spent a little time each day fishing. The fishing wasn’t great, but we had fun and enjoyed passing the time doing something we love to do together. Unfortunately, we were told the fishing at Henry’s Lake wasn’t any good this year, so yet again, we didn’t go. We’ll get there another day. During the first week of our stay, we had friends join us. During the second week, we had family join us. Both were so much fun to interact with; we look forward to doing it again.

On June 28th, we had to pack up and leave. We ate at Maddox Ranch House for dinner and headed home. Unfortunately, along our route, our right rear tire on the trailer had a blowout. We successfully pulled to the right on the freeway, a highway patrol officer helped us out, but the blowout caused significant cosmetic damage to the trailer. The damage will have to be fixed, but it won’t keep us from camping until it is.

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Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

On October 15, 2020, we left for a three-night stay in Cathedral Gorge State Park near Panaca, Nevada. We chose this location primarily for the warm daytime temperatures and the clear skies forecasted for astrophotography. The park didn’t disappoint. The daytime temperatures reached 80 degrees, the early morning temperatures were close to 40 degrees, and the night skies were clear and reasonably dark.

We first populated site 16. This site is a nice pull-through that will easily support 35-40 foot long RVs. It is a beautiful site with several shade trees. It was the last appropriately sized site remaining when we arrived. However, no location near the site is suitable for viewing the night sky. The next day we moved to site 6. Site 6 is well distanced from other campers, has a great tent pad, offers great night sky views, but doesn’t have much shade.

All of the campground sites have electrical hookups offering 20, 30, and 50 Ampere circuits. There are also water spigots throughout the park. Like many state parks, there are bathrooms with flush toilets, sinks with running water, and showers. There is a paved bicycle trail that runs from Panaca to Cathedral Gorge State Park. It would be a fun place to bring bicycles and enjoy the ride.

We arrived around noon on the 15th, set up camp, and then went on a 4-mile loop hike. We started the loop an hour before sunset, hoping to catch dusk and wildlife it might bring. We didn’t see any wildlife, but the scenery was interesting and beautiful.

We also enjoyed investigating “the caves” that aren’t really caves at all. They are narrow slot canyons that aren’t very long but quite tall. It’s a little like a cave without a ceiling. There aren’t very many of them, but it’s a fun activity. There are also a few ruins left by the CCC built in the ’30s. They also left a wood and mud sunshade that is now used as a picnic area.

On Friday afternoon, we took a short road trip through Caliente, Nevada to Kershaw-Ryan State Park. We stopped for burgers, fries, and drinks in Caliente and took them to the state park for a picnic. This park is an amazingly beautiful oasis in the middle of a very stark desert. You can see how arid the background of this photo is, but luscious vegetation can be seen in the foreground.

This park was once someone’s farm, and they grew fruit trees and grapes. There is a natural spring that still runs today. While it was beautiful when we were there, I can only imagine the relief from the heat this place yields summer visitors. After lunch, we took a couple of very short hikes around this tiny state park.

After leaving Kershaw-Ryan State Park, we went to Panaca Spring. This is a warm, not hot, spring that is used today to irrigate the nearby farms. However, before it escapes the initial pool, it is a fun place to swim. The water is clear, allowing good views of the numerous small fish. This time of year, the spring is about 4′ deep and about 84 degrees. It is certainly not a soaking kind of hot spring, but it isn’t a cold swimming hole either. It was perfect for a warm and sunny day swim.

One evening, I set up the telescope to show my son and wife some of the planets. We were able to observe Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Uranus was just a dot like the stars, Mars wasn’t as red as they expected, but Jupiter and especially Saturn were very pleasing to observe. We also looked at several galaxies and nebula. It is nice to see the beautiful things that God made for our enjoyment. Later that evening, I connected a camera, computer, and other electronics to enable some astrophotography. I enjoy the combination of the awe-inspiring creation and the technology that enables its capture.

Saturday evening, I captured three deep sky objects: NGC 7293 or the Eye of God, M 45 or Pleiades, and several objects surrounding the Horsehead nebula. These objects are 650, 444, and 1375 light-years from earth, but with modest equipment and some post-processing can be seen in all their glory.

Cathedral Gorge State Park was a fun and relaxing place to spend a few days in the fall. The temperatures were great, the hikes and scenery were awesome, the outings were fun, and the astrophotography was rewarding. There are certainly darker spots for astrophotography, but I think the images are evidence that it is dark enough.

We’ve been to this state park before, but we’ll probably go again. Young children would really like “the caves,” and we can’t resist taking grandchildren to places we think they’ll like. I can’t wait to see and hear them among the rocks and crevices of Cathedral Gorge State Park.

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Boondocking in the Uinta Mountains, Utah

On August 27, 2020, we left for a three-night stay somewhere in Utah’s Uinta Mountains. We had no reservations but were open to staying in a campground, returning to the last location where we camped, or trying something new. As we headed up the mountain, we realized we would arrive just before dark. We determined to try a new boondocking spot we had investigated during our last trip. We ended up staying right on the Hayden Fork of the Bear River at 40.806183, -110.874523. The view from our trailer was phenomenal, as pictured. The site was quite sloped towards the river, but some previous occupant had dug a hole for the left trailer wheels that brought us close to level. A few blocks under the right wheels, and we were all set.

We fished the Hayden Fork for a few hours on Friday and Saturday and caught some small trout. We also took our float tubes and kayaks to Butterfly Lake on Friday. At the lake, my son and I were completely schooled by our mother/wife. The fish were larger and more plentiful than on the little river. On Saturday we fished the Stillwater Fork of the Bear River where we had great luck last year. The three of us only caught one fish this time around. The Stillwater Fork was much lower, being a month later than last year’s visit.

While at this location, we checked out a few of the surrounding sites. Our favorites are at 40.805357, -110.875007, 40.804432, -110.875664, and 40.807726, -110.873388. All three are within walking distance of our campsite. Our favorite is the first of the three, and for a group of two or three trailers, we liked the last of the three.

This was a quick and relaxing trip. We slept in each day, fished, hiked, played board games, watched movies, and ate great food. It was the last of summer in the Uintas. The highs were in the mid 70’s and the lows in the high 30’s. While I don’t think it has yet frozen at this location, there were very few insects, and virtually no mosquitos. It was simply beautiful and relaxing.

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Boondocking in the Uinta Mountains, Utah

On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, we decided to get out of the valley heat and go camping for a few days in Utah’s high mountains. We determined to go to Washington Lake, believing there would be some walk-up sites available if we arrived early. We arrived at noon, and there were plenty of walk-up sites with nothing and no one in them but had reserved signs hung on their posts. Evidently, the camp hosts in this area routinely reserve these sites for people who drive up and pay for their site days in advance. I think this defeats the purpose of walk-up sites, but who can argue with camp hosts that believe they’re kings of their realms. We tried nearby Trial Lake Campground and Lost Creek Campground but found the same behavior – reserved walk-up sites. No worries, we went over the 10,000-foot summit and headed for Sulfur Campground. It had a few sites available, but just north of Sulfur are a few dirt roads that offer boondocking opportunities, so we went there.

This place was quite nice. It had a great view of a vast meadow, distant mountains, a huge forest, and had a few trees of its own that provided shade and a great place to hang the hammock. Obviously, it was much less crowded than the nearby campgrounds, and the price was right!

On this outing, we tried our new pop-up screen room. It literally took a minute to put up, and it was easily moved afterward. It does take a few more minutes to insert some stakes in case of wind, but in less than five minutes, you can have a shelter that protects you from the rain and the mosquitos. However, when the sun strikes the roof of this beast, it radiates inward and cooks you alive. You can choose to be a bit too warm, but protected from the mosquitos, or enjoy the cool mountain air and get eaten alive. Fortunately, on this trip, we enjoyed a nearly constant gentle breeze that kept the bugs away.

Just north of our camping site on Highway 150, there are a couple of more dirt roads that offer excellent camping opportunities. These locations are closer to the river than we were camped, and we’d like to return and give them a try. Near one of the campsites, we discovered this beautiful beaver pond complete with a lodge. We use to enjoy fishing these ponds and would like to come back and give it a try.

We traveled a short distance south to Moosehorn Lake, where my son, wife, and I fished for a couple of hours. We’ve never had much luck fishing this lake, but it looked inviting. The campground associated with Moosehorn is nice but better suited for tent campers or very small RVs. The lake is quite small; I fished its length several times from my float tube.

The last couple of nights of our five-night adventure were shared with our daughter, her husband, and their beautiful children. We had fun playing with their children, playing board games, shooting BB guns, starting fires, etc. One of the best features of boondocking is no campground rules. There are no quiet hours, no occupancy limitations, no vehicle limitations, etc. Obviously, it is essential to be polite to others, but there is generally so much space between campers, nothing you do bothers others, it’s great.

As always, being in the mountains makes me appreciate life more. Being home makes me look forward to the next time I can go camping in the mountains.

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Cherry Campground, Utah

On June 19, 2020, we traveled a very short distance to Cherry Campground near Springville, Utah. We occupied site 5 and enjoyed it for Friday and Saturday night, and most of Sunday. We were accompanied by our daughter, son-in-law, and their three young, and fun, boys. They occupied site 3, a double site, that gave their family plenty of room to play and enjoy the stream. It was a beautiful place to spend Father’s Day.

Hobble Creek, is very small at this point in the canyon. It’s perfect for children to wade, build dams, and even fish. My wife caught a few small fish, but due to the shallow water, the fish were very skittish and require a stealthy approach. Sites 3 and 7 have a nice beach sort of entry into the creek. The other sites along the creek are a bit more abrupt. Surprisingly, there were very few mosquitos or other insects. We set up a netted table covering expecting mass amounts of bugs this time of year and this close to a slow-moving stream, but it was entirely unnecessary.

We spent most of our time in site 3 with our family. Our site, site 5, fit our trailer nicely but was awkwardly close to site 6 with little underbrush or trees between the sites. Each time we walked out of our trailer, it felt like we were stepping into the neighbor’s camp.

If you’re looking to camp with others, the two best neighboring sites are sites 3 and 4. Site 3 has plenty of space for tents, games, or socializing and site 4 is a short distance away. If however, you’re looking for a single site, site 7 is a gem. Site 7 is the last site on the creek and there are no campsites to the west or on the door side of most RVs, just woods and the creek.

This is a very nice campground for being 15 minutes from a city. On the weekends the road is busy, but tolerable. We look forward to returning.

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Riverside Campground, Idaho

On June 10, 2020, we traveled to one of our favorite campgrounds, Riverside in Idaho. This was our first outing of 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we haven’t dared to leave the house and go camping. In addition, my new job has taken a lot of my attention and time. We’ve been to Riverside Campground many times. On this trip, we had reservations for site A3. It isn’t our favorite site, but at the time of our reservation, it was about the only site left. It was perfectly adequate, and we would stay in it again. It is such a lovely place and the weather was great. It was a bit windy at times, but while that impeded the fly fishing it also swept away the mosquitos.

Site A3 is across the campground road from the Henry’s Fork River, but there isn’t a campsite across or near A3 to block the beautiful views. The site has plenty of room and is very private. In this campground, loop A, and B are paved while loop C has gravel roads and parking spots. Loop C is a bit more primitive and that’s intriguing, but the forest is a bit thinner resulting in less privacy between sites. Just writing about the place makes me want to return.

On the first night of our stay, we got in quite late, having dealt with a flat tire on our trailer, and were invited to dinner at the cabin of our dear friends. We leveled the trailer in record time and joined them for dinner. That was a beautiful gesture and made our evening very nice. Having been isolated since mid-March, due to COVID-19, we ate, laughed, and talked until after midnight. On Saturday night we had dinner with the same couple at the Trout Hunter Lodge. The Trout Hunter entrees weren’t great, but the appetizers and desserts were very good.

While at Riverside we spent a little time each day fishing. The fishing wasn’t great, but we had fun and enjoyed passing time doing something we love to do together. All of us caught at least one fish. Due to the wind each day we didn’t make it to Henry’s Lake, but we’ll get that another day.

On June 14th the forecast was for 20 mph winds on our drive home. To get out before the wind we arose at 5 am and pulled out at 6:15. The wind was already blowing at 15 mph, but we were just ahead of the stronger winds. We dumped the trailer and arrived home at about noon. I can’t wait for our next journey.

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Wedge Overlook Campground, Utah

On November 2, 2019, we packed quickly and made a mad dash to a nearby BLM campground called Wedge Overlook. We wanted to get away for one night to do some astrophotography under relatively dark skies. The skies at this campground are rated at a Bortle Class 2. We were surprised by the number of other campers this time of year, but we found site #6 available. Unlike most campgrounds, this BLM campground has no amenities other than a plethora of rock fire rings built by previous campers. The best part of these sorts of campgrounds is that the sites are 1/4 of a mile apart. It’s just like camping in complete solitude.

We arrived at the campsite at about 3 pm, set up camp quickly, and got the telescope set up for a night of photography. The sunset was at about 6 pm, and by 7 pm, it was dark enough to begin polar alignment. The moon set about 11 pm, and I used the dark skies to perform some needed telescope maintenance and to get used to my new ASIAir device to control the telescope mount and cameras. At 2 am, I focused my attention on the Horsehead Nebula area in the Orion Constellation. I configured the system to take 200 60 second exposures and went to bed. The image shown here is the result.

At 6 am, I arose to finish up the photography tasks, dismantle the entire system, and pack it carefully away. We joined a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Huntington, Utah, for their worship services. After church, we raced home for other activities. This trip was a quick 24-hour adventure, but it was surprisingly relaxing and pleasant to be under the bright stars.

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