Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Zion National Park | Boondocking Areas

A friend and I had driven to Zion National Park for a day trip and planned to come back for a longer visit. While we were in the area, we decided to visit a few areas that may be suitable for boondocking.

We didn't find much on the internet, except along a road called Kolob Terrace Road.  The boondocking there is along a little river, but more suitable for van campers and tents.

You will see signs posted by BLM on the south side of Route 9 stating that these are "Your Public Lands" and you'll see quite a few dirt roads, including one paved one in this area.  Some of these roads are better than others, as usual for BLM land.

We noticed a few rigs quite far from Route 9 on the south side, as well as a few dirt roads leading into the area. The area we chose to visit was actually labeled with a street sign. We turned into Sheep Bridge Road and followed it for a couple of miles. We found a couple good large camping areas about 1.7 miles in, at 37° 11.836'   113° 13.177' .   There is a low cable over the road, but my 5th wheel, about 12 feet tall, made it under OK.  Going out, just use the left side of the road.

I have a small 5th wheel and my friend has a small travel trailer, so we picked the smaller site and stayed for about a week. The area was not heavily used while we were there, but does have some traffic. There were people with bikes as well as ATVs.

The scenery is quite good in this area, the typical desert foliage and some nice rock hills. There are a few pullouts along the road to where we camped, but they are right on the road, so it was nice to have our own little area.

It's about 10 miles to Hurricane, Utah, and about 15 to Zion National Park.  We found very little trash in our immediate area, but while driving around we found a campsite that was left with all sorts of trash.  I'm sure that situation was not caused by RVers, but please be sure to keep these areas clean.  We are lucky to have this vacant land to camp on without fees, I would hate to see them fenced off because of a few people who litter.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Grafton | Utah

Grafton is a ghost town just a short drive south of Rockville off Highway 9 in Utah, the road that leads to Zion National Park.

The first sign of the remains of the town was a sign for the Grafton Cemetery. We visited this area and noted that some of the grave markers have been updated/replaced, complete with plastic flowers on some of the graves.

A little further down the dirt road, we saw a beautiful green pasture with large trees, contrasting with the red rocks.

Shortly after that, we started seeing a couple of old buildings behind fences. We stopped and took some photos of the buildings, an old church with the bell still up in the steeple as well as a larger building that may have been a school.

There were other buildings nearby, another couple of houses and an old work wagon sitting in a field.

I love these old ghost towns and this is not very far off the beaten track, and it's on a relatively decent dirt road, so that's a bonus.

St George, Utah

Utah is well known for having a large Mormon population.  One of the most impressive buildings in St. George is the Mormon Temple of the Latter Day Saints which takes up an entire block.  It is a large multi-story, stark white building that can be seen from many locations in the city.

The grounds are immaculately kept and the front fence is lined with 5' tall rose bushes.  It is obviously very impressive.  The green lawn is striking, since the area surrounding the city is desert and red rocks!

There are multiple traffic circles in the area and one nearby has a very impressive display.  There were multiple red rock formations in this one as well as some bronze statues of horses, colts and one horse with an Indian aboard at full gallop.

This city is easy to get around and everything is available.  The scenery is great as you can see red rock cliffs and other formations as you drive around.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Zion National Park | The Tunnel | Utah

A friend and I took a day trip to Zion National Park to scout out some boondocking areas as well as a quick drive through in the areas we can drive in the park.  Most of the area is only accessible by shuttle, which is great, since we don't have to drive while trying to look at all the scenery. They stop at every overlook and you can get off whenever you want and stay at that area for as long as you want.  I will be visiting that area in the next couple days, so I'll be posting more in the near future.

The main area you're allowed to drive through is the road to The Tunnel. This is a tunnel that was built in the 1920s, completed in 1930, in order to get from one side of the mountain to the other, a total of 1.1 miles. There are numerous "windows" in the tunnel where the workers were able to toss out the rubble as the tunnel was drilled and blasted as they went along.

Since it was built that long ago, it's a very narrow tunnel with not much height for large trucks and RVs. The height in the middle of the two lane tunnel is 13' 2". Height on one side or the other is much lower. In order to get an RV through, you need a permit ($15) and they will stop traffic both ways so you can proceed through, driving right in the middle of the tunnel. 
On the other side is more of the park, a little different in terrain, but it includes Bighorn Sheep that we were able to photograph. The scenery here is spectacular and some of these rock mountains can be up to 3000' high.

On the way back through the tunnel from the other side, we were able to slow down and take a few photos through the "window".
When you go to the Grand Canyon, you stand on the rim and look over. When you get to Zion, you enter the canyon at the bottom and the road to the tunnel climbs the sides of the canyon with multiple switchbacks, providing amazing views at every turn.

Snow Canyon State Park | Utah

We took a day trip to this area, which is full of great rock formations. There are white and red rock formations as well as black lava rock to add contrast. Since we didn't stay at the park, we drove in to get photos.
This was a parking area on the road to the State Park - wonderful views and a trail into the area.

Everywhere we looked, there were more impressive rock formations, cliffs and hills. Even with all the rocks and hard-packed sand of the desert, we do have delicate little flowers.

On one hillside, we found this triple - white rock, red rock and lava flow!

More lava flow mixed in with the red rocks!

More scenery below......



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Virgin River Recreation Area | BLM, Arizona

This is a great little campground in the far northwest corner of Arizona, about halfway between Nevada and Utah.  Massive rock mountains surround the campground, and even though it feels like you're in a rock bowl, it is elevated from the riverbed far below.  Since there is water available and a clean restroom, as well as trash cans.  There is a small fee - $8 or $4 with a Senior Pass.  $90 per month if you feel like staying that long.


The drive on Interstate 15 in this area is awe inspiring.  The road was cut through the rock mountains years ago and is being widened in areas.  The mountains tower over as you're driving through, and there is no safe way to pull over to get photos!  I did manage to grab one photo while riding with a friend - please excuse the antenna!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Red Cliffs Natural Conservation Area, Utah

Three of us from the campground went to a nearby BLM camping area the other day.  One of our fellow campers had been a camp host at this site so he was our tour guide.  Gorgeous scenery, but I don't think I'll go over there camping, since there are two tunnels that are less than 12 feet in height and not wide enough for me to be comfortable taking my 5th wheel there.  However, it was a great day trip and we had a wonderful hike, in spite of the clouds that didn't seem to want to leave us.




On the way home, we went by one of the state park lakes - gorgeous views all around.