Sunday, April 28, 2013

Goosenecks State Park, Utah

On a scale of one to ten I give our April 26, 2013 campsite that coveted ten. I’m as tight with my tens as a Russian ice skating judge, but this was a Primo spot. To get a ten you need several things going for you. Quiet, scenic, natural, FREE, uncrowded and remote. Goosenecks State Park in Utah fits this bill. Unlike most state parks this was just a rocky parking area on a dead end road near the center of the Universe. I’m not sure about the center of the Universe part, I’m just taking the word of an ancient Navajo medicine man. As hard as I tried, I could not get a picture that would represent the vastness of this place, the depth of the river gorge or the rainbow of colors in the surrounding geology. Not as vast as the Grand Canyon, but you can’t park and camp twelve feet from the canyon edge there. Gaila was on edge all night (pun entended). She doesn't like living on the edge. Our view included a thousand foot drop to the San Juan river snaking through Utah. In the distance to the South we could see the many spires that make Monument Valley famous. To the East the lesser known, but equally impressive, extrusions littering the Valley of the Gods. To the North the high mesa that leads to Natural Bridges National Monument, over a road that took a lot of imagination. To the West the San Juan river eroding its way into the horizon and eventually emptying into  Lake Powell. In my pictures I included a screenshot from Google Earth to give the area some perspective. The small blue square in the screenshot is our campsite. We had a full moon to boot and just a couple neighbors. RV camping today takes a little more planning than it used to. State and federal parks are all going to a reservation system. Many National Forest and now National Parks are turning to concessionaires to run what the government can’t seem to manage profitably. Politicians are already trying to take the Senior Access card away. (I’m sure there will be a rider in the Bill that allows for half-price camping if you’re a politician.) At Lake Powell we found the Wahweap Campground to be concession run. Full hookup sites at Californian prices with no Senior discount pass accepted, and no hookup sites available with option to use the Senior discount pass. Showers were coin operated. Eventually dump stations will be converted to concession, coin operated mini-businesses. That stinks.  The point I’m am trying to make here is how refreshing it is to find an oasis like Goosenecks State Park. There are many such places left. You just have to work a little harder at finding them. I use Allstays RV app,, Frugalshunpikers  Guides
Click here to visit Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking.
and many other sources. One of the best sources are my neighbors. We are now in a National Forest campground called Devil's Canyon just below Canyonlands. There are numerous BLM campgrounds along the Colorado River, two campgrounds in Canyonlands NP (first-come-first-serve) and one in Arches NP (reservation only). All these places are packed. Moab is Sedona North. So in planning our next combat camping drive to the North we have decided on a three prong offensive. First, our campground neighbor just told us about a new BLM campground that is not on any of my radar sites. Second, we have added Arches NP reservation site to our "favorites" computer list, checking it several times a day for an opening. Third, we are leaving the Mother Ship here at Devil's Canyon and exploring the Southern section of Canyonlands by car. It is fifty miles up a dead-end road. If we find a camping site in the park, we will occupy it with our tent to secure the perimeter, then move the Mother Ship up.  It’s not as bad as it sounds. We never move on a Friday or Saturday. We always find a mooring and drop anchor on weekends. We seldom do reservations. It takes the spontaneity out of traveling. Here in Utah it is all about temperature and elevation in the spring. We checkerboard all over. If it’s cold we go low, if it’s hot we climb. If we were on a reservation schedule we would be locked into a route that could be miserable.  So, I like to think of my campgrounds as half-full, not half crazy. --Keep Smilin’ 

You can just see the motorhome above the river bend in these pics!