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Utah – Trailer Travels

Chokecherry Campground, Utah

On May 12, 2022, we escaped the big city and drove billions of miles (15.4 to be exact) from home to site 33 at Chokecherry Campground in the Deer Creek State Park in Utah. We had things to do in the valley, so being close and able to come and go was perfect. This and many other sites at Chokecherry have full hookups, including water, sewer, and electricity. Site 33 had a 30 A circuit, but some of the sites have 50 A circuits. We never connected the electricity, but we used the water and sewer at the end of our stay to dump our tanks; that was very convenient.

This was the laziest camping trip we have ever taken. It was just the two of us; we didn’t even bring the dog. But, believe it or not, we went outside a few times and walked around the campground. However, we barely even cooked a meal at the campground; we ate at restaurants in Midway. So, I guess we didn’t actually go camping but instead moved our bedroom up the canyon a few miles; it was great!

We love staying in our trailer, and it was fun doing so while still being able to get stuff done we had to do. Chokecherry was a fine campground for what we wanted to accomplish. I suspect it gets busier when the weather and the lake are warmer, and lake-loving families are free for the summer. During May, the weather was moderate, and the campground was busy but quiet.

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Red Canyon Campground, Utah

On Friday, June 29, 2022, we departed for our first outing of 2022. We headed toward Red Canyon Campground, northwest of Bryce Canyon National Park on Highway 12. We weren’t sure whether the campground was open yet or not, so our backup plan was to boondock just east of the campground. Upon arrival at the campground, we were pleased to find it open and nearly empty. The camp hosts informed us that the campground opens each year on the last weekend of April. The campground costs $21 per night but has running water, pit toilets, flush toilets, showers, and a dump station.

We chose site 29 for our stay. The parking spot was reasonably level and approximately 50′ long. The area is shady in the morning until about 10 am and then sunny for the remainder of the day. The table is nestled in the trees and stays shadier longer into the afternoon. Other sites may be better for the hotter months of the year. We would also consider staying in campsites 22, 9, and 1 in that order.

Campsite 22 is up high against the canyon wall affording excellent views. It is very private from others and has a nearly 70′ long driveway. However, the site doesn’t have very good tent spots. Site 9 is a wide, almost double campsite that is very flat, private, and away from the highway. Site 1 is a lovely, large, flat drive-through spot, but the table and firepit are not very private at the end of the drive-through.

We came south to red rock country to do some hiking and enjoy the outdoors. After arriving on Friday afternoon, we hiked straight up from our site until we reached the Golden Wall Trail. After that, we hiked on the trail to the arrow on the map. It was getting late in the day, so we decided to take the Buckhorn Trail dead-end and then return to camp. It was a great little hike. The Buckhorn trail was the highlight of the day. A few areas of the trail are narrow but nothing too tricky with a bit of care.

On Saturday, we walked along the paved bike path running along Highway 12 to the Red Canyon Visitors Center. Then, we took the Golden Wall Trail up to the intersection of the Golden Wall Trail and the Castle Bridge Trail. We debated over which route we would take and even considered making it a loop, but in the end, we chose to take the Castle Bridge Trail.

Eventually, we rejoined the Golden Wall Trail and hiked back to our campsite. While it was an enjoyable hike, those who don’t want to or are unable to hike 5 miles won’t miss much by just doing what we did on Friday. The views on both hikes were phenomenal, and the April weather was nearly perfect.

It was great to get away for the weekend, relax, and go on great hikes. The Red Canyon Campground is excellent, and even though it is close to Highway 12, the noise isn’t too bad after dusk. We’ll very likely return to enjoy some more hiking, and for sure, we’ll ride bikes on the paved bike trail that goes for at least 8 miles and ends in the Bryce Canyon National Park. Can’t wait for the next outing.

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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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