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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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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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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Twin Hollows Campground, Utah

On October 16, 2019, we set out for Twin Hollows Campground in southern Utah. We were searching for warmer weather, a BLM campground that would give us some space at a ridiculously low price (free), and that was near some other locations of interest.

Twin Hollows Campground is immediately west of Highway 89 just south of Mount Carmel Junction, Utah. The “sites” are simply dirt, sand, and maybe a rock fire ring. We were fortunate and acquired a site with a living tree. Some of the sites are too sandy for large RVs but may make excellent sites for those in light vehicles, jeeps, tents, etc. The sites west of the main dirt road are along the East Fork of the Virgin River. Those on the east of the main road are up against a steep hill/cliff that climbs towards the highway. The sites in the southern half of the campground are protected from the sounds and sights of the highway. However, the northern half of the campground was much noisier and exposed to highway traffic. Side-by-sides and other off-road vehicles routinely travel the main dirt road.

On the east side of the campground, there is a very short hike called the Belly of the Dragon. I would guess the length of the hike is about 0.5 miles roundtrip. There is a 5′ to 6′ ledge at the beginning, but the rest is extremely easy to navigate. The Belly of the Dragon is a manmade tunnel that crosses under Highway 89. It is made of soft sandstone and is covered in signatures and art of varying quality.

Twin Hollows Campground is approximately 15 miles from the east entrance to Zion National Park. The east entrance seems less traveled than the main entrance, but it was plenty busy even in October. After entering the park, we traveled through a 1.1 mile-long tunnel that has several windows out of the cliff face it’s carved along. RVs must pay a $15 fee to go through the tunnel. The shape of the tunnel forces tall vehicles to travel down the center of the tunnel, consuming both lanes and necessitating an escort.

I don’t much care for the crowds associated with Zion National Park, but our quick tour revealed a couple of gems worth the visit. The Fall colors in Zion were spectacular. The red rock, green trees, and blue sky are usually beautiful, but add yellow and red foliage, and it made every view amazing. The East Rim Trail was a good bang for the buck. The views were great, and the effort to get there was low, and the crowds weren’t too bad.

From the same parking lot that is used to access the East Rim Trail, you can access a nice slot canyon. It’s a simple climb down, a short hike through the slot canyon, and then back to the parking lot. I don’t believe this one is marked and so the crowds go the other way.

In addition to Zion National Park, we drove south for 30 minutes to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The campground there looked interesting, and we may plan a trip back to try it out. We also headed south to Red Canyon and hiked in and back about 6 miles through sand. We were so worn out by the time we almost got to Red Canyon, we turned around and headed back. We’ll do this again, but we’ll bring a side-by-side or some other transportation to get us down the very sandy road. Transport in and out would make the slot canyon much more fun.

We returned from our Fall adventure on October 20, 2019, after joining an Orderville congregation of the Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their Sunday service. It was a lovely trip with day time temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s and nighttime temperatures as low as 21, but usually in the mid 30’s. The weather was great, the site was spacious and free, the stars were beautiful, and the company was fantastic!

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Indian Creek Campground, Utah

On August 30th, 2019, we gathered for a large family reunion at the Indian Creek Campground in Utah. This campground consists of seven large group sites. There is water, pit toilets, a tiny stream, quite a bit of shade from Aspen and other trees, a large fire pit, a couple of large tables, and a large dutch oven table. There are a lot of decent tent spots and ample parking for several RVs. The high altitude setting makes this campground reasonably comfortable even in the summer. During our stay, it was warm in the sun, nice in the shade and chilly in the evenings.

It is eleven miles of dirt road to get into this campground from either the north or the south. The road from the north is pretty good but so narrow in a few spots that one of our party had their trailer hit someone else’s trailer going on the road in the opposite direction. It took a lot of effort to get them by one another. Perhaps the road from the south is wider, but we don’t know.

During the weekend family members rode 4-wheelers, side-by-sides, and went fishing at nearby Potters Ponds. In addition, we participated in board games and outside tournaments. I spent a couple of late nights capturing starlight through my telescope that resulted in an image of the Western Veil Nebula.

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Washington Lake Campground, Utah

July 2019 Trailer Trip

On July 31st, 2019, we traveled from Porcupine Campground in Idaho, through Evanston, Wyoming, where we acquired supplies and arrived at Washington Lake Campground in Utah. Our family has been camping, backpacking, fishing, and even snowmobiling in the Uinta Mountains for more than 30 years, making it a fitting place to end our journey. If this wasn’t enough to draw us to this picturesque lake, we had our oldest son and his family joining us in their RV a few days later.

We arrived at Washington Lake at about 6 pm and found site 40 available. It’s right near the entrance to the campground and away from the lake. While we first thought it wasn’t great, we learned to like being away from others and out of the pedestrian traffic to and from the lake.

After being in this site a few days, we decided that while I had to go back to work on August 5th, my wife and young son would remain for the remainder of the week. I would rejoin them on the weekend of August 9th. In my absence, our daughter and her three sons joined my wife and stayed in our trailer. When I returned on the 9th, Washington Lake Campground was host to my wife and me, two of our sons, one daughter, a daughter-in-law, five grandchildren, and a friend of my youngest son. It was a great 11 nights of camping. Washington Lake Campground has a 7-day limit, so we had to leave the camp and return. While gone, we dumped the trailer and acquired freshwater. We, fortunately, retained site 40.

On August 1st, we were outside looking at the stars about 10:30 pm when I noticed an unusually bright and new star in the Big Dipper. Then I realized this star wasn’t a star at all, but a satellite. Looking up likely candidates in an astronomy application on my phone indicated that it was the International Space Station. It was amazingly bright.

The Uinta Mountains contain many lakes and streams, and decent fishing in most of them. On August 2nd, my wife and I and our youngest son fished the stream that flows out of Christmas Meadows on the north side of the Uinta Mountains. It was the first time our 13-year-old put together his nymphing rod, tied the line, and chose a nymph to use. We walked down to the river together, and I asked him to pick a fishy spot. He identified a slow run of water near a fast-moving piece of water and indicated he would fish it. It looked like an excellent seem and a sweet hole. On his first cast, he pulled out a beautiful fish and the largest I had seen in this river. He walked downstream a few dozen feet and after just a few more casts caught a 23-inch brown trout, the catch of the century on this little stream. I think he’s hooked!

While at Washington Lake, we enjoyed walks with our children, grandchildren, and of course, our favorite dog, Leo. Leo loves the water and goes nuts when someone catches a fish. He loves to wade and swim and doesn’t mind looking like a wet rat.

The grandchildren inevitably find a way into the water. Whether it is intentional or unintentional is sometimes hard to tell. On at least one occasion, I witnessed a young grandchild playing blissfully near the water’s edge when an older sibling snuck up behind them and, while parents were distracted, gave them just enough of a push to plunge them into the lake. Grandpa doesn’t tell!

On August 11th, 2019, our 31-night journey through three states came to an end. We hauled the trailer home and began to adjust to home life. It was hot, there were lots of errands to run, and work was relentless. It took us no time at all to wish we were back in the mountains. We’ll have more camping trips in 2019, but the big one is over until next year.

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