What is Seasonal Camping? Is It for You?

Are you looking for a way to enjoy RVing without the hassles of packing, towing, and setting up? If so, seasonal camping just might be for you.

Do you search for a convenient weekend retreat to spend quality time outdoors? Consider a seasonal getaway or yearly vacation tradition at a campground or RV resort near you. Seasonal camping is a great way to enjoy your favourite destination and activities time and time again.

What is seasonal camping?

A seasonal campsite is just like a regular campsite rather, rented for a long term. As the name suggests a seasonal is generally over the whole camping season which typically runs from the months of April to October in many northern campgrounds. Head south, and you’ll find campgrounds and RV resorts offering seasonal sites on a three-month, six-month, or year-round basis.

Ultimately at any location, seasonal RVers tend to leave their camper right on-site for the extended duration versus routine travel. This gives couples, solo travelers, or camping families an amazing place to retreat to, similar to a second home, getaway cottage, or vacation rental but with their own RV parked on their own piece of paradise.

Some seasonal campers choose a campground close to home while others snag a spot at a favorite destination even if it is a bit of a drive. Your trailer or motorhome will be parked for the season and you can come and go as you please.

Ambassador RV Resort is a popular seasonal park in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is seasonal camping for you?

Seasonal camping might appeal to you if:

  • You like to head to the campground at the last minute: If you find yourself deciding to camp on short notice, you may have trouble finding open campsites. Having a seasonal spot means no more making reservations.
  • You dislike the weekend camping hustle: By the time you get off work on Friday, get home, and get hooked up and packed up, you are exhausted when you arrive at the campground. You face the same struggle when you get home on Sunday. Having a seasonal spot means you can load up the essentials and head to the campground with much less hassle.
  • You are paying for off-site storage: If you have a HOA or other reasons for not storing your RV at home, you might find a seasonal campsite that costs only slightly more than paying for storage.
  • You would like to be part of a community: Some campgrounds have a lot of seasonal campers and you may enjoy socializing at the campground (of course, you may discover you don’t like this aspect!).
  • You’d like an affordable vacation home: If you’ve considered getting a vacation home near one of your favorite destinations, a seasonal campsite would give you a similar experience while also allowing the flexibility to take your RV offsite for trips.
Monte Vista RV Resort is a popular seasonal park in Mesa, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why choose seasonal camping? There are many advantages.

  • Camp more often: Seasonal camping allows you to camp more often because you don’t have to worry about searching for and booking a different campsite every time you want an adventure. If your seasonal spot is close to home weekend getaways are even easier.
  • Less stress over packing: With a seasonal campsite your RV and belongings are already set up for you when you arrive after a long workweek. You can spend less time packing and more time enjoying your weekend.
  • Make last minute decisions: If you find yourself deciding to camp on short notice, you may have trouble finding open campsites. Having a seasonal spot means no more making reservations.
  • Meet other campers: You are able to easily meet and make new friends with the other campers at the site. Seasonal camping allows you to be a part of the community at your specific campsite.
  • Save money: This value can vary greatly due to family size, location, and other personal preferences. So, if you plan on camping often, becoming a seasonal camper can save you money.
Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge is a popular seasonal park in Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sounds good? Before you decide seasonal camping is for you, here are some things to consider:

  • Find a place that you love: Consider your favorite campgrounds and decide if you’d be happy to stay there for an entire season.
  • Do your research before committing: Talk to other campers in the park and see if they are having a good experience. If you decide to stay for more than a few days at a time, can you get the supplies you need easily? What is the storage situation? What is the campground’s policy on guests? Are there activities and attractions close by? What about shopping? Location is important!
  • Give it a try first: Rent a spot for a couple of weeks. Leave your RV and see how you like the experience of coming and going. Ask yourself if the drive is too long. Be sure to include a holiday camping weekend to see how much the atmosphere changes.
  • Calculate your costs: Does the cost of a seasonal spot fit your budget? Will it be worth your while in the long run? Understand what is and what is not included (for example, some campgrounds charge extra based on usage for electricity or water on seasonal sites). Find out the exact dates that are included. Some seasonal sites can be rented for the whole year while other parks offer shorter seasons. Find out whether you have to pay the fee upfront or is it there a pay-by-month option. Ask about cancellation fees if you decide the park isn’t for you.
Settlers Point RV Resort is a popular seasonal park in Washington, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for finding the perfect seasonal campground

Here are five tips for finding the perfect seasonal campground.

1. Find a place that you love going back to again and again

Lots of campgrounds are just fine for a night or two but how enjoyable is the campground for repeat visits? Think about the location, the amenities, the campsites, and the overall atmosphere as you consider how often you’d like to camp in a particular park.

2. Do your research and ask the right questions

There are a lot of elements to consider when you are looking at a long-term spot. Are other seasonal campers happy with their experience at this park? Will you be surrounded by other seasonal campers or overnighters? Can you get Amazon deliveries? Can you store stuff outside of your RV? Try to think about all of the items that contribute to a great experience and think of things that make the long-term experience different from a short-term stay.

3. Check out the surrounding area

If you are returning to the same campground again and again, chances are you will also be exploring the local area. Does it offer the kinds of activities, restaurants, shops, and amenities you will need and enjoy? As with buying a home, think location, location, location.

4. Do a trial run of weekends

Try out the seasonal camping experience by renting a spot for a couple of weeks. Leave your RV and see how you like the experience of coming and going. You’ll soon figure out how far of a drive works for your situation. Be sure to include a holiday camping weekend to see how much the atmosphere changes.

5. Calculate your costs

Does the cost of a seasonal spot make sense for your budget? Sure, it will cost more but if you get out camping more, the cost could be well worth the experience.  A seasonal sites may cost anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 per year. Make sure you understand what is and what is not included (for example, some campgrounds charge extra based on usage for electricity or water on seasonal sites).

Find out the exact dates that are included. Some seasonal sites can be rented for the whole year, while other parks offer shorter seasons. Ask whether you have to pay the fee upfront, or is it there a pay-by-month option. Also, you may want to check into any cancellation fees if you decide the park isn’t for you.

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

Memorial Day Weekend: Let’s Go Camping

Each year, the camping season kicks off on the Memorial Day weekend

As Memorial Day approaches, it’s time to dust off the camping gear, pack up the RV, and hit the road for a rejuvenating adventure. Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and what better way to kick off the season than by immersing yourself in nature’s embrace?

Camping offers an abundance of benefits beyond just a temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It provides an opportunity to disconnect from screens, breathe in fresh air, and reconnect with loved ones or simply with one-self. Whether you’re an experienced RVer or a novice camper, there’s something special about spending a weekend under the stars.

One of the greatest appeals of camping is its versatility. Whether you prefer pitching a tent in a wooded area, parking your RV at a scenic campground, or even glamming it up in a luxurious glamping site, there’s a camping experience to suit every preference and comfort level. Memorial Day weekend presents an ideal opportunity to explore a new campground or revisit an old favorite.

As you make plans for Memorial Day weekend, consider embarking on a camping adventure to celebrate the beauty of the great outdoors. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a chance to unplug and unwind, camping offers an unparalleled opportunity to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories with loved ones. So grab your gear, hit the trail, and let the adventure begin!

Wondering where to camp?

Buccaneer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, Mississippi

Located on the beach in Waveland, Buccaneer is in a natural setting of large moss-draped oaks, marshlands, and the Gulf of Mexico. Buccaneer State Park offers Buccaneer Bay, a 4.5 acre waterpark, Pirate’s Alley Nature Trail, playground, Jackson’s Ridge Disc Golf, activity building, camp store, and Castaway Cove pool. 

Buccaneer State Park has 206 premium campsites with full amenities including sewer. In addition to the premium sites, Buccaneer has an additional 70 campsites that are set on a grassy field overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Castaway Cove (campground activity pool) is available to all visitors to the Park for a fee. 

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico

Enjoy camping, fishing, and boating at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico’s largest state park. Elephant Butte Lake can accommodate watercraft of many styles and sizes including kayaks, jet skis, pontoons, sailboats, ski boats, cruisers, and houseboats. Besides sandy beaches, the park offers restrooms, picnic areas, and developed camping sites with electric and water hook-ups for RVs.

Elephant Butte has 133 partial hookup sites and 1,150 sites for primitive camping.

Get more tips for visiting Elephant Butte State Park

Cedar Pass Campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cedar Pass Campground, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, the Cedar Pass Campground has 96 level sites with scenic views of the badlands formations. Enjoy the stunning sunsets, incredible night skies, and breathtaking sunrises from the comfort of your RV. Camping in Cedar Pass Campground is limited to 14 days. Due to fire danger, campfires are not permitted in this campground and collection of wood is prohibited. However, camp stoves or contained charcoal grills can be used in campgrounds and picnic areas.

Get more tips for visiting Badlands National Park

Hunting Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Hunting Island is South Carolina’s single most popular state park attracting more than a million visitors a year as well as a vast array of land and marine wildlife. Five miles of beaches, thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, a saltwater lagoon, and ocean inlet are all part of the park’s natural allure.

Hunting Island State Park camping is available at 102 campsites with water and 50-amp electrical hookups, shower and restroom facilities, beach walkways, and a playground. Two campgrounds are located at the northern end of the park near the ocean. One of the campgrounds provides individual water and electrical hookups. Some sites accommodate RVs up to 40 feet; others up to 28 feet. A designated walk-in tent camping area is available that includes tent pads, fire rings, picnic tables, no power, and centralized water. 

Get more tips for visiting Hunting Island State Park

Blanco State Park, Texas

This small park hugs a one-mile stretch of the Blanco River. On the water, you can swim, fish, paddle, or boat. On land, you can picnic, hike, camp, watch for wildlife, and geocache. A CCC-built picnic area and pavilion are available for a group gathering. Anglers fish for largemouth and Guadalupe bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and rainbow trout. Swim anywhere along the river. Small children will enjoy the shallow wading pool next to Falls Dam. Rent tubes at the park store.

Choose from full hookup sites or sites with water and electricity. Eight full hookup campsites with 30/50-amp electric service are available. Nine full hookup sites with 30-amp electric are available. 12 sites with 30 amp electric and water hookups are also available. Amenities include a picnic table, shade shelter, fire ring with grill, and lantern post.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia

Wander among the pines at Laura S. Walker, the first state park named for a woman, an oasis that shares many features with the unique Okefenokee Swamp. This park is home to fascinating creatures and plants including alligators and carnivorous pitcher plants. Walking along the lake’s edge and nature trail, visitors may spot the shy gopher tortoise, saw palmettos, yellow shafted flickers, warblers, owls, and great blue herons.

The park offers 44 electric campsites suitable for RVs, six cottages, and one group camping area. Sites are back-ins and pull-through and range from 25 to 40 feet in length.

Get more tips for visiting Laura S. Walker State Park

Meaher State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meaher State Park, Alabama

This 1,327-acre park is situated in the wetlands of north Mobile Bay and is a day-use, picnicking, and scenic park with modern camping hook-ups for overnight visitors. Meaher’s boat ramp and fishing pier will appeal to every fisherman and a self-guided walk on the boardwalk will give visitors an up-close view of the beautiful Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

Meaher’s campground has 61 RV campsites with 20-, 30-, and 50-amp electrical connections as well as water and sewer hook-ups. There are 10 improved tent sites with water and 20-amp electrical connections. The park also has four cozy bay-side cabins (one is handicap accessible) overlooking Ducker Bay. The campground features a modern bathhouse with laundry facilities.

Get more tips for visiting Meaher State Park

Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Catalina State Park, Arizona

Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams invite camping, picnicking, and bird watching—more than 150 species of birds call the park home. The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails that wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest at elevations near 3,000 feet. The park is located within minutes of the Tucson metropolitan area.

120 electric and water sites are available at Catalina. Each campsite has a picnic table and BBQ grill. Roads and parking slips are paved. Campgrounds have modern flush restrooms with hot showers and RV dump stations are available in the park. There is no limit on the length of RVs but reservations are limited to 14 consecutive nights.

Get more tips for visiting Catalina State Park

Myakka River State Park, Florida

Seven miles of paved road wind through shady hammocks, along grassy marshes, and the shore of the Upper Myakka Lake. See wildlife up-close on a 45-minute boat tour. The Myakka Canopy Walkway provides easy access to observe life in the treetops of an oak/palm hammock. The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 100 feet through the hammock canopy.

The park offers 76 campsites with water and electric service, most sites have 30 amps. A wastewater dump station is located near Old Prairie campground. All campsites are located within 40 yards of restroom facilities with hot showers. All sites are dirt base; few sites have vegetation buffers. Six primitive campsites are located along 37 miles of trails.

Get more tips for visiting Myakka River State Park

My Old Kentucky Home State Park State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Kentucky

The farm that inspired the imagery in Stephen Collins Foster’s famous song, My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night! is Kentucky’s most famous and beloved historic site. Built between 1812 and 1818, the three-story house originally named Federal Hill by its first owner Judge John Rowan became Kentucky’s first historic shrine on July 4th, 1923. Located near Bardstown the mansion and farm had been the home of the Rowan family for three generations spanning 120 years. In 1922 Madge Rowan Frost, the last Rowan family descendant sold her ancestral home and 235 acres to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The golf course is open year-round.

Admire the beautiful grounds of My Old Kentucky Home State Park in the 39-site campground. Convenience is guaranteed with utility hookups, a central service building housing showers and restrooms, and a dump station. A grocery store and a laundry are nearby across the street from the park.

Get more tips for visiting My Old Kentucky Home State Park

Lackawanna State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania

The 1,445-acre Lackawanna State Park is in northeastern Pennsylvania ten miles north of Scranton. The centerpiece of the park, the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake is surrounded by picnic areas and multi-use trails winding through the forest. Boating, camping, fishing, mountain biking, and swimming are popular recreation activities. A series of looping trails limited to foot traffic wander through the campground and day-use areas of the park. Additional multi-use trails explore forests, fields, lakeshore areas, and woodland streams.

The campground is within walking distance of the lake and swimming pool and features forested sites with electric hook-ups and walk-in tent sites. Campground shower houses provide warm showers and flush toilets. A sanitary dump station is near the campground entrance. In addition, the park offers three camping cottages, two yurts, and three group camping areas.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

Spanning more than 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is California’s largest park and one of the best places for camping. A diverse, desert landscape the park encompassing 12 wilderness areas rich with flora and fauna. Enjoy incredible hikes, crimson sunsets, and starlit nights, and view metal dragons, dinosaurs, and giant grasshoppers. Set up camp at Borrego Palm Canyon or Tamarisk Grove Campground. Amenities include drinking water, fire pits, picnic tables, RV sites, and restrooms.

Get more tips for visiting Anza-Borrego State Park

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Snow Canyon State Park is filled with great hiking, beautiful Navajo sandstone formations, ancient lava rock (basalt), and out-of-this-world views

There are 29 camping sites at the Snow Canyon State Park; 13 are standard sites with no hookups and 16 are sites with partial hookups that come with water and electricity. Most sites are not big-rig friendly. Group camping is also available.

Get more tips for visiting Snow Canyon State Park

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

39 Best Apps for RV Travel (iOS & Android)

Apps for RV travel can come in handy on the road. From finding a place to stay to documenting your journey, chances are you will find more than one app that fits your needs.

Planning and executing the perfect RV road trip can be a challenge and having the right RV-related apps makes all the difference.

Whether you’re going on a weekend camping trip or you’re full-timing in your rig, there are numerous things to consider when you’re hitting the road in your RV. Where are you going to camp? Will there be internet? Will it rain and keep you trapped inside all weekend?

Whether you’re looking for free dispersed camping options, a place to dump your RV tanks, read campground reviews, connect with other travelers, plan your route, or check the weather there’s a mobile app or two (or three) to help you do just that. 

Keep reading for my list of favorite apps for RVing and travel.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel: Find a place to overnight

Finding a place to stay, of course, is integral to any successful RVing adventure which is why five of the 39 apps deal with finding a place to stay overnight.

Allstays: Allstays lists campgrounds, boondocking spots, BLM land, parks, attractions and more, and it shows them all on a map. You can search near you or along a route or by state and you can have the map show you everything from campgrounds to interstate rest areas to Walmarts, RV dump sites, pretty much anything an RVer needs to find.

Harvest Hosts: More than 5,100 farms, wineries, breweries, and attractions across North America are listed in this subscription service…places where RVers can stay free overnight. The app shows details, gives directions, contact numbers, photos, and reviews from other RVers. Many of the Harvest Hosts offer overnight camping in absolutely beautiful spots.

KOA: KOA is the go-to campground for many RVers. The app lets you see photos of the campground, get an idea of what amenities are available, and read reviews from other RVers who have stayed there. You can also reserve a spot from the app.

Overnight RV Parking/TogoRV: Togo RV is now integrated into Roadtrippers Premium

Cracker Barrel: The Cracker Barrel app shows Cracker Barrel locations near you or on your route, many of which allow free overnight stays in the parking lot for RVers. You can also order take-out meals from restaurants along your route allowing you to have it ready by the time you get there. Cracker barrel is very friendly to RVers usually offering parking even for big rigs.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Plan a trip

Whether plotting out a trip or already on the road and looking for a place to stop, these apps help you find the destinations you’ll be seeking out.

iExit: Making a pit stop for food, gas, or a bathroom break is easy when you have the iExit app. Whether you’re looking for well-known franchises like Starbucks and Walmart to convenient amenities like free Wi-Fi and truck or trailer parking, this app has you covered. It locates fuel stops, tells you the average cost per gallon, notes what restaurants and businesses are at that exit.

Yelp: Yelp can help you find restaurants, bakeries, donut shops. Pick a location and see what’s near you.

Here’s a hint: Always look for places with the best reviews, four or five stars.

Roadtrippers: This app helps you find fun and interesting things to see along your travel route. You can filter it however you want but the app covers just about every region in the country and makes some great suggestions for off-the-beaten-path exploration. Read the reviews from others who have been there and you’ll find some fun places to stop.

Waze: Waze is a community-driven travel app that shows you the shortest possible route to your destination. Like Google Maps, Waze makes real-time adjustments for traffic jams and other obstacles—but Waze is often more accurate since it caters specifically to drivers.

Yes, you may have GPS built into our RV. But Waze is hands down the best app I have found to not only navigate us to where we need to be but to show us in almost real-time things like traffic backups, speed traps, road construction, debris on the road, and other important information about what’s ahead. It’s updated by users like you who are up ahead and you’re encouraged to report issues you encounter for those behind you.

GasBuddy: GasBuddy is an app specifically designed to find nearby gas stations and save money on gas. Use it to find the cheapest gas in your area and filter gas stations by amenities like car washes, restaurants, and bathrooms.

It’s the app you want to have if you’re serious about finding the cheapest gas around. Information comes from users like you, so you have the most up-to-date prices.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Connect with a physician while on the road

Health care should always be a priority when you’re on the road. These apps can connect you with a physician via smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Keep in mind of course there will be costs/insurance involved.

Teladoc connects you with a board-certified doctor 24/7/ via phone or video. Teladoc physicians can diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication, for many medical issues, including sore throat and stuffy nose, cold and flu symptoms, and respiratory infection. The app is free for iOS and Android with costs for connecting with a doc dependent on insurance and other factors.

Doctor On Demand allows users to connect face-to-face with a doctor through video on your smartphone or tablet. Doctor On Demand works with or without insurance and is available at reduced rates through many major health plans and large employers. Providers are licensed and board-certified. The app is free for iOS and Android with costs for connecting with a doctor dependent on insurance and other factors.

MDLive offers virtual doctor visits with board-certified physicians from wherever you are, whenever you want. Users can schedule a non-emergency appointment at a time and day that’s convenient or have an on-demand visit in around 15 minutes. The app is free for iOS and Android though there are costs for connecting with a doc dependent on insurance and other factors.

Apps for RV travel – Keep track of your family and friends

Keeping track of family members and friends you might be traveling with is important. Likewise, if you’re traveling solo, you want to make sure others know where you are located while on the road. These apps take the idea of staying connected to a whole new, safer level.

Life360 sets up small circles of friends to automatically share information such as location and arrival. You can create custom circles, too, like if a group is going on a hike or exploring and wants to keep track of each other for a short time. The app allows for chatting and sending private messages to other users. It’s free for Android and iOS.

MamaBear Family Safety: MamaBear Family Safety is designed for parents to monitor their kids’ location. But since it allows users to get updates and messages, it can easily be oriented towards RVing. For example, you could use it to check in with family back home and keep them updated as to your location without having to text or call or check-in. The app even has a panic button that can be activated if needed.

For parents, the app has a social media monitor that allows Mom and Dad to see what the kids are doing on social media. It even can be set to show their teen’s driving habits to know if they are speeding. But RVers could use those features so friends and family back home could follow their social media posts and see whether they are on the road or camped somewhere.

Apps for RV travel – Summer Safety

With the brunt of RVing during the summer it’s important to remember the elements presented by Mother Nature during the warmest time of the year. These apps help you practice even better summer safety.

OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps you take precautions against outdoor heat while working or playing. It features a real-time heat index and hourly forecasts, specific to your location. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Waterlogged app makes sure you stay hydrated. The app tracks your water intake with minimal effort and can send reminders of when it’s time to drink water. The app is free for iOS and Android with in-app purchases for premium features.

EPA’s SunWise UV Index app provides a daily and hourly forecast of the expected intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun as well as sun safety tips to help you plan your outdoor activities. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Get help in the kitchen

I suppose you could technically dine out for every single meal you have while on the road but that doesn’t seem especially economical or super healthy. Be sure to check out these steady flows of recipes tailored to RVing as well as resources for great-tasting dishes.

Tasty Meal Planner & Cookbook offers more than 3,000 recipes right at your fingertips. The app features an innovative search tool that allows you to filter by ingredients, cuisine, and social occasion you’re in the mood for. There are even videos to help you figure it all out. The app is free for iOS and Android.

NYT Cooking browses and searches thousands of recipes from The New York Times. Recipes feature photography and easy-to-follow instructions. It sets up your own personal recipe box. Mark recipes you’ve cooked, rate recipes, and leave notes. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Food Network Kitchen includes more than 80,000 recipes and step-by-step cooking classes. Choose from more than 50 live classes each week taught by your favorite Food Network stars, culinary experts, award-winning chefs, and surprise celebrity guests. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Connect with nature

Use your smartphone or tablet to (ironically) connect with nature.

Audubon Bird Guide is an app that helps you get outside and get your birdwatching on. It covers 810 species using photos instead of drawings, includes range maps, has a good selection of audio recordings including alternate calls and regional variations, and slightly more descriptive text including habitat, range, and nesting information. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Sky Guide shows a detailed picture of the heavenly bodies above as well as what’s over the horizon and on the other side of the world. The app points out constellations and their exact locations so you can look up at the real sky and find everything. The app is $2.99.

iNaturalist app helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature when you document what you’ve seen. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Fishing apps

What’s a great RV trip without doing some fishing? We have three apps for RV travel that will help you.

Fishbrain is currently the number one fishing app serving as a personal fishing log, map, and forecasting tool. Other features explore the most effective baits and you can know exactly what you’ve caught with the app’s species recognition tool. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Fishing Points lets you save and find your favorite fishing locations and trolling paths. There are satellite views from Google Maps or you can use offline mode with nautical charts for boating whether on open seas, lakes, or rivers. The app is free for iOS and Android.

BassForce puts the expertise of the greatest bass anglers of all time right at your fingertips. Just input the conditions for your fishing day and the app’s pros will show you the specific baits that have worked for them under those exact same conditions. The app is free for iOS.

Apps for RV travel – Streaming video apps

With so many TV shows and movies available in so many different services like Netflix, Hulu, and more, keeping track of it all can be a big job—especially if you’re looking for your favorites.

JustWatch Streaming Guide lists streaming services where you can watch movies and TV for free, rent, or buy. There are nearly 40 streaming providers including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go. The app has lots of interest and genre filters and newly added shows and movies for each service. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Yidio Streaming Guide monitors major services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime as well as smaller services, delivering more than 100 in total. When you find a TV show or movie, the app will list the streaming sites that have it available. Choose one and you will be taken to their app or website to buy, rent, or watch. Some shows you can watch in-app. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Improve your sleep

Having trouble sleeping? These apps can monitor how well you sleep—or don’t. This information can be especially useful if working with a physician to address what could be pretty serious problems.

SleepScore app tracks your sleep and shows when you sleep light, deep, and when you wake up. The app uses sonar technology so you only have to have your phone by your bedside for it to work. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Sleep Cycle provides analysis to help you get a good night’s sleep. The app has an intelligent alarm clock designed to gently wake you up while you’re in your lightest sleep phase. It also integrates with Apple Health. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Apps for RV travel – Weather apps

Bad weather can happen anytime. There are several apps for RV travel that will help you prepare for the worst when it comes to the potential devastation that can be brought by Mother Nature.

Drive Weather app illustrates the National Weather Service’s forecast shows weather along your route at the expected time you will be at each point on your trip. Drive Weather also compares weather on different routes allowing drivers to add stops and interactively change departure time to find the safest time to travel. The app is available for Android and iOS.

NOAA Weather Radar Live provides weather forecasts with features including a radar overlay that shows areas of rain, snow, and mixed precipitation in high resolution and vivid colors. Set your device to received alerts from the app whenever severe weather is on the way. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The Storm Radar app brings you up-to-date high-definition radar provided by NOAA. In fact, Storm Radar lets you view weather patterns up to six hours ahead of time. Allow the app to send you notifications and you won’t even have to keep checking the app for bad weather that might be on the way. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The Weather Radar app from AccuWeather goes beyond your local forecast to provide a daily snapshot of the UV index, visibility, allergy, precipitation, and air quality reports, all the information can be accessed directly via the app. Look ahead 15 days to ensure you’re prepared for any weather or use the app’s MinuteCast feature for hyper current and local forecasts. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Petcare on the road

With so many RVers traveling with their pets, I would be remiss to not include two apps that can be useful for RVing with four-legged friends.

Pet First Aid from the American Red Cross is a first aid guide and knowledge base for owners of dogs and cats. The app provides instant access to simple first aid lessons, step-by-step guides, and how-to videos. There’s also a section for vet contact details. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Rover: Dog Sitters & Walkers is often called a Uber for dog sitters. It helps you find dog sitters near you all of whom have been vetted for trustworthiness and the service is covered by insurance. Book a pet sitter for boarding, house sitting, and doggy daycare. Sitters can use the app to provide photo updates and notifications to pet owners. The app itself is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Document your journey

When it’s all said and done, you may want to document your story for your records—or to share with others.

Driftr: Social Travel Platform app supports photos and videos and encourages sharing reviews and travel advice. Create your own travel blog instantly. Quickly and easily find the best places to stay, attractions, places to eat anywhere in the while taking advantage of exclusive offers. It’s helpful in planning a trip as well. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Day One Journal lets you create an entry with just one click or use one of the numerous templates. You can add data like location, weather, the music you are listening to, and more. Plus, you can embed photos and videos or even draw. And to make sure you stay consistent, you can set notifications to remind you that it’s time to journal. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Worth Pondering…

You don’t need to have all the answers. What you need to do is be curious and open-minded enough to learn.

—David Fialkow, co-founder of General Catalyst

How to Go Camping in National Parks: Tips and Tricks for the Best Experience

If you missed National Park Week, you can still celebrate by camping in one of the country’s pristine national parks

Did you know you can camp overnight in many national parks? It’s one of the best ways to enjoy a national park—you can spend a night under the stars far from the noise and traffic of busy cities and enjoy an immersive experience instead of simply passing through.

The National Park Service (NPS) recently commemorated National Park Week which ran April 20-28 this year with a slew of celebrations. If you missed out on the fun, you can still celebrate by visiting a national park and even camping in one. Here is some advice for having the best experience camping at a national park.

Camping at Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to go camping in national parks

1. Reserve a campsite

Not every national park has a campground, but most do. You can find which parks have campsites on the NPS Find a Campground locator.

Once you’ve chosen your desired campground, make sure to reserve a spot. NPS campsites can fill up quickly, so you should always have a reservation before you arrive at the campground.

Some campgrounds are closed during certain times of the year because of weather so spring through fall is generally the best time to camp in a national park.

Keep in mind that the remaining national park free entrance days in 2024 are June 19, August 4, September 28, and November 11—this could be an optimal time to go if you want to avoid park entrance fees but a bad time if you want to avoid crowds.

Camping at Pinnacles National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Do your research

Once you’ve confirmed your reservation, read up on the campsite’s rules and regulations. This information available on the park’s website will let you know whether campfires are allowed (and if so, whether you can buy firewood in the park), if there are food lockers, what sort of bathrooms are available, and whether the site has potable water. This will help you plan what to bring on your camping trip.

You should also research the park itself. Each national park’s website has “plan your visit” and “learn about the park” sections which are great resources to help you prepare. Learn what the park has to offer so you can plan hikes and other excursions and study the flora and fauna so you can identify the native plants and animals you come across while there.

Camping at Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Pack for the weather

The park’s website should also have information on weather patterns so you can get a general overview of what to expect from the conditions when you visit. This will help you guide whether you need rain gear, how insulated your sleeping bag needs to be, what kind of shoes and clothes you should bring, and more. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray!

Even if you’re camping in the middle of the summer and rain isn’t in the forecast, you should always be prepared with a rain cover for your tent, an extra blanket and a rain jacket.

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Bring food

Some national parks have restaurants on site, but many don’t. Again, do your research before you go to see what options are available within the park you’re visiting. However, in case of unexpected closures, it’s safest to bring your own food.

Nonperishable food is always great for camping but if you have the space, you can bring a cooler and have more options. If campfires or camping stoves are allowed in your campsite, you can cook something over the fire or bring packaged backpacking food and reheat it in minutes.

5. Be prepared for wild animals

If your food looks or smells enticing to you, it’ll be even more so to the animals in the parks. Make sure you keep all food safely stored—some sites have food lockers and in others you’ll want to bring a bear box.

Never keep food in your tent and make sure to clean up your food and wash all plates and utensils immediately after eating. Dispose of any trash in designated garbage bins and clear everything out before you leave your campsite.

Camping at Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Leave no trace

This is one of the most important elements of visiting any natural area but especially in a national park. These areas are beautiful, diverse environments and it’s important to protect and preserve them for future generations to enjoy and for the good of the ecosystem. Furthermore, national parks are protected by law and causing any harm to them could leave you subject to a pricey fine.

To keep them safe, follow the seven basic principles of Leave No Trace which are:

  • Plan ahead and prepare: If you know where you’re going and what the rules and regulations are, you are less likely to cause accidental harm to an area.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Never go off trail in a national park, as you can disturb the environment. Even if an off-limits area seems like plain dirt, you may actually be looking at something like cryptobiotic soil crusts, which are full of biotic organisms that hold the soil together and prevent harmful erosion. Make sure you stay within designated areas at all times.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Waste can attract animals causing dangerous situations for them or you. Additionally, garbage and other waste can pollute the local environment causing additional harm to animals and nature and making the park experience less enjoyable for others.
  • Leave what you find: While it may be tempting to pluck flowers for scrapbooking or take home a giant stick, these things are all essential parts of their respective ecosystems. Leave them where they are to avoid affecting the environment and to allow others to enjoy them.
  • Minimize campfire impacts: Nearly 85 percent of wildfires are caused by humans according to the U.S. Forest Service and unattended campfires are one of the biggest culprits. If you make a campfire, make sure you watch it constantly and keep flammable items far away from it. When you put out the fire, don’t just douse it with water; mix in cool ashes and make sure you see no smoke or glowing coals before you leave.
  • Respect wildlife: While it may be tempting to offer a squirrel your leftover sandwich crusts, it’s best not to feed animals. If you see any, make sure to admire them from a distance. If you bring any pets with you, make sure they are on a leash and stay close to you.
  • Be considerate of others: Don’t be that person that brings a loudspeaker on a hike and don’t stop to take pictures in the middle of the trail if there are people trying to get past you. Be courteous and do your best to stay out of others’ way.
Camping at Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. DIG DEEPER: The Ultimate and Complete Guide series

I have written two series of guides on national parks to help you explore these protected areas in greater depth. Each guide helps you plan your adventure and discover the magic of the park.

The Ultimate Guide series of National Parks include:

The Complete Guide series include:

Worth Pondering…

However one reaches the parks, the main thing is to slow down and absorb the natural wonders at leisure.

—Michael Frome

The Ultimate Guide to Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park is filled with great hiking, beautiful Navajo sandstone formations, ancient lava rock (basalt), and out-of-this-world views, so come along, as we tour this amazing hidden gem.

On the edges of ecosystems, eras or civilizations, you’ll find some of the most remarkable travel destinations. Snow Canyon State Park is one such place. Located at the edge of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Colorado Plateau, Snow Canyon State Park explodes with dramatic geology perfect for your outdoor adventure—and photo opportunities.

Cut by water, sculpted by wind and time, Snow Canyon’s Navajo sandstone cliffs share the same history and geology as Zion National Park to the east. You may find yourself wondering why it isn’t a national park.

As recently as 27,000 years ago lava flows exerted their powerful force reshaping the canyons and creating the park’s distinctive landscapes. The blend of Navajo sandstone cliffs, petrified sand dunes, and broad lava fields make this terrain a fantastic playground for both adventurous travelers and families looking to give kids an outlet to expend some of their boundless energy.

Snow Canyon State Park is one of those state parks often overlooked by people touring Utah. While Utah is obviously known for The Mighty Five and as a prime destination for winter recreation as well, there are also 43 state parks. Many of these parks are just as majestic as the national parks but without the crowds. Also, state parks are generally dog friendly.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where is Snow Canyon State Park?

Snow Canyon State Park is located in southwestern Utah near the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. If you are planning to stay close to the park, the best city to stay in is St. George because it is just an 11-mile drive.

When to visit Snow Canyon State Park

Spring and fall have average high temperatures of 80 degrees and 73 degrees respectively creating a sweet spot for active adventures at Snow Canyon. Summer can get pretty warm with very little shade available but getting out early in the day is ideal. Winter packs mild temps and all activities remain available. 

Despite its name, the park rarely sees snow. (The park is named for Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, Utah pioneers, not the white precipitation.)

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

History of Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park is about 7,400 acres located within the 62,000 acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. The reserve was established to protect the desert tortoise! I wish I would have been able to see one on our visit here. It was created in 1959 and opened to the public in 1962.

It is likely that humans have been using this park for more than 10,000 years based on the artifacts found in the park. The users of the park ranged from Paleoindian mammoth hunters to 19th century settlers.

Why is it called Snow Canyon?

When people hear the word snow they often think of frozen white stuff falling from the sky. While it is possible for Snow Canyon to receive snow, it’s not common.

Snow Canyon was originally called Dixie State Park but was later renamed. The snow in Snow Canyon is in reference to two early Utah leaders, Lorenzo and Erastus Snow.

The park is also known as movie sets for a few Hollywood films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to do at Snow Canyon State Park

There are more than 38 miles of hiking trails, excellent biking trails, opportunities for technical climbing, and more than 15 miles of equestrian trails.

Hiking

Hiking is the prime activity in the canyon. As soon as you drive in, you can quickly see why. Gorgeous red and white sandstone streaks together with black lava flows spilling along the canyon floor- create a perfect playground for exploring on foot. Along with slot canyons to enter and lava tubes to explore, the sweeping vistas and overlooks might have you grabbing for your camera. You’ll need more than one day to do a thorough job of exploring the park’s 18 hiking trails

Check out my list of the most popular below. Distances are roundtrip.

Note: Most of these trails do not have shade. Come prepared with water (1 liter per person) and plenty of sun protection (UV clothing, sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses).

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lava Flow Trail

Distance: 2.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate, some uneven surfaces

Hike through a jumbled lava field, the vivid remains of a long ago volcanic eruption.

The Lava Flow Trail, also known as the Lava Tubes is a 2.5 mile, family-friendly trail that takes you back in time. The trail takes you past three lava cave entrances. Entering the caves can be a little dangerous as it can get dark and slippery at times. There is a dedicated parking for the trail head.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jenny’s Canyon Trail

Distance: 0.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy, level with a few slopes and steps

This is a very short trail with easy access from the road; a great children’s trail that leads to a short, sculpted slot canyon. According to the park brochure, kids enjoy this trail the most due to the geological features and because it’s a slot canyon.

It will take you half an hour to complete the hike but it might take you longer if you decide to take time to admire the Snow Canyon Sand Dunes on your way.

Petrified Dunes Trail

Distance: 1.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate, some uneven surfaces and steep slopes

This route crosses massive Navajo sandstone outcrops and sand dunes frozen in time.

A favorite of many, this hike takes you to one of the best viewpoints of the park. The trail is relatively well marked but you’ll definitely want to wander around and explore the unique formations in the area. It’s located in the heart of Snow Canyon State Park and one of the most photographed hikes in the canyon due to its unique beauty.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pioneer Names Trail

Distance: 0.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy, fairly level with some steps and slopes

This crescent-shaped trail passes pioneer names written in axle grease dating back to 1881.

This trail is accessible from two different parking lots. From the North lot, it is less than a quarter-mile to the end and the southern lot is a little more than a mile long. The hike takes you to a canyon wall that was written on by early pioneers. The axle grease writing has been preserved by an arch that hangs over it and provides a reminder of the early settlers in the area. It’s a sandy trail, so make sure to bring a good pair of shoes.

Butterfly Trail

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate, some steep slopes, steps, and uneven surfaces

Winding along the west side of Petrified Dunes this trail leads to West Canyon Overlook and lava tubes.

You can access this trail from its own parking lot or continue from Petrified Dunes Trail (see above) since they intersect. It is best known for winding along the petrified dunes and leads to several overlooks and lava tubes.

The best time to do it is in spring and fall. Start in the morning to better appreciate the great views. It’s not a family hike since it has plenty of uneven surfaces.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Johnson Canyon Trail

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy, level with some rocky slopes and steps

Leads to a sheltered canyon of willow and cottonwood winding through lava flows and red rocks to an arch spanning 200 feet.

Passing through stream beds, lava flows, and a beautiful canyon this trail is a grand experience. The canyon is more shaded than many of the other hikes making it one of the best hikes for the summer and fall months. It’s a great place to take a rest and enjoy quality time with your family and friends, and it will only take 1 hour to hike it. This trail also has seasonal closures, so check the availability before you plan your trip.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Biking

Besides simply biking the main road through the park, two other bike-friendly trails exist. The first is Whiptail Trail, an out-and-back, paved path that runs from the south entrance and through about two-thirds of the canyon. Delightful for bikers of all experience levels but the last quarter mile is steep. There’s always the option to turnaround before this steep climb.

The second bike path is West Canyon Road. Once a road, as its name suggests, it is a dirt and gravel path. Beefier tires than those of a road bike are needed but you won’t need a high-end mountain bike to enjoy this trail. The road runs four miles up the canyon and takes the west fork at the end of the canyon that will lead you past the Whiterocks Amphitheater at the northern end. This path traverses parts of the park that no other trail will show or lead to.

Access the West Canyon Road at Sand Dunes picnic and parking area for an eight-mile round-trip excursion.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rock Climbing

Well-known for its incredible rock cliffs, you’ll find from short sports clip-ups to mixed multi-pitch routes in Snow Canyon. With more than 7,100 acres available, rock climbing is one of the top outdoor activities to do here. Take a look at these areas and pick your next rock climbing route.

For a full list, visit mountainproject.com.

Johnson Canyon

Ideal for trad climbing, this trail allows you to descend at the dead end of Johnson Canyon. If you go during the week, it is almost always empty so you will have the wall for yourself. These are the coordinations: 37.17970°N / 113.6347°W. You can climb all year long.

Hackberry Wash

At this trail, you can do trad and sport climbing. If, if you are coming from St George this will be the first crag in the park. It is close to Jenny Trail (see above). The best time to climb is spring, fall, and winter. 

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Island of the Sky

This sandstone is located in the middle of Snow Canyon. To reach the top you have ledges, dihedrals, and ramps that will be a huge help. The level of difficulty is moderate and it has an elevation of 3,780 feet. There is no easy pathway in this sandstone, be prepared. You can visit any time of the year. 

Balkan Dome

One of the shortest routes in Snow Canyon but is fun to try. You can reach this part via the Pioneer Names Trail (see above). Everything is covered with sandstone that sometimes makes it harder to climb, so be patient. Is located across the Islands of the Sky and is an ideal route for sport climbing. The best time to go is summer, fall, and spring. 

West Canyon

Probably the most complete trail since you can not only do trad and sport climbing but also hike. This canyon features five routes that range from 5.8 to 5.11c. You can access it via the Three Ponds trail. The coordination is 37.19330°N / 113.6425°W.

Horseback riding

There are several trails open to horseback riding in Snow Canyon: Beck Hill Trail, Chuckwalla Trail, Gila Trail, Lava Flow (only between West Canyon Road and turn-off to White Rocks Trail), Rusty Cliffs, Scout Cave Trail, Red Sands (from West Canyon Road Trail to the west), Toe Trail, West Canyon Road, and the equestrian trail (starting at Johnson’s canyon lot and running parallel to whiptail until the sand dunes lot, from here the trail parallels West Canyon Road).

If you don’t have your own horses, a guided experience is offered by local companies. Take a leisurely stroll with an equestrian friend and soak in the views, floral, and fauna and everything Snow Canyon has to offer the senses.

Petroglyphs

If you hike the Gila Trail to about the halfway mark, trail markers designate petroglyph sites. These illustrations, carved into stone by Native Americans, are delicate historical landmarks and are fun to examine.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyoneering

Canyoneering combines hiking with rappelling allowing exploration into slot canyons and down-climbing through the canyon. It’s a unique outdoor adventure that doesn’t exist in most places but the area has lots of options. Snow Canyon has two canyoneering routes, both of which require an access permit. If you want to explore Island in the Sky or Arch Canyon, secure a permit through the state park’s website or contact a guide company to take you.

Wildlife

Snow Canyon isn’t just famous for its hiking trails, rock climbing walls, and sandstone cliffs but also for its unique wildlife. You can find coyotes, kit foxes, quail and roadrunner, and sometimes tortoises and peregrine falcons in this State Park.

Millions of people come from across the country to watch leopard lizards, gopher snakes, canyon tree frogs, and sometimes tortoises and peregrine falcons. 

There are thirteen sensitive species protected by law within the park including the Gila Monster which is the only venomous lizard in the United States. The best time to watch the wildlife is at dawn and dusk. You will have plenty of time to go hiking and observe the wildlife since the park opens at 6:00 am and closes at 10:00 pm. 

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping

A night or two under the stars is the perfect escape from a fast-paced lifestyle. Snow Canyon State Park is the ideal place to find those stars and quiet nights. The campsites will have you feeling like you’re camping in the Flintstones’ backyard with views of a cinder cone towering above and petroglyphs etched into rocks. 

There are 29 camping sites at the Snow Canyon State Park; 13 are standard sites with no hookups and 16 are sites with partial hookups that come with water and electricity. Most sites are not big-rig friendly. Group camping is also available. All sites are reservable online through reserveamerica.com.

Final thoughts

Snow Canyon State Park is truly one of the most beautiful places in all of Utah! Southern Utah is a well-known location for outdoor activities and Snow Canyon should be on any outdoor lover’s list whether you visit with friends or family.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Snow Canyon State Park FAQ

Is Snow Canyon State Park worth visiting?

Absolutely! It’s one of the most popular parks in Southern Utah and has so many hidden gems like the Petrified Dunes or Lava Tubes that will blow your mind. It’s a great place to try new outdoor activities like hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and camping. Also, it’s less crowded than Zion National Park or any other National Park located in Utah.

Are dogs and other pets allowed in the park?

If you’re planning a trip with your furry friend, this is going to make you really happy because you’re allowed to bring them with you! However, they must be on a leash around the campground and they can only accompany you to the Whiptail Trail and the West Canyon Rim Trail. Take into consideration that the leash must be a maximum of six-feet long.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Details

Address: 1002 N. Snow Canyon Road, Ivins, UT 84738

Phone: 435-628-2255

Hours of operation: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Directions

From I-15 northbound: Take exit 6 (Bluff Street). Go north on Bluff Street to the intersection with Snow Canyon Parkway. Turn left onto Snow Canyon Parkway and proceed approximately 3.5 miles and turn right onto Snow Canyon Drive. Follow this road to the south entrance of the park.

From I-15 southbound: Take exit 10 (Washington). Turn right off the ramp then an immediate left at the light. Follow this road for approximately 5 miles to the intersection with Bluff Street/ SR-18. Proceed through the light and continue on Snow Canyon Parkway for approximately 3.5 miles and turn right onto Snow Canyon Drive. Follow this road to the south entrance of the park.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Day-use fees:

Utah resident: $10 per vehicle (up to eight people); $5 per vehicle (up to eight people); seniors 65 and older (with UT driver’s license); $5 pedestrian/cyclists (up to four people)

Non-resident:  $15 per vehicle (up to eight people); $5 pedestrian/cyclist (up to four people)

Camping fees:

Non-hookup sites: Standard sites $40 per night; hookup sites (water/electric) $45 per night; extra vehicle fees (one extra vehicle per site permitted) $20 per night

Worth Pondering…

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.

—John Muir

The Most Dangerous Places for Overnight RV Parking + Safety Tips

After a long day of driving, finding yourself in an unfamiliar area without any RV parks in sight means seeking a safe overnight RV parking spot. Finding overnight RV parking is a challenge most RVers face at one time or another. Many RVers are concerned about this especially regarding safety. But generally speaking, you don’t have to worry too much—if you keep a few key things in mind.

RV travel is great because you always get to sleep in your own bed. But unknowingly choosing dangerous places to sleep in your RV could put your life and property at risk. That’s why even if your interior is comfortable you need to consider your overnight parking surroundings. With that in mind, I’ll discuss the top three risky places for RV travelers to park for a night or longer.

The three most dangerous places to park your RV overnight (or longer)

Before we get started, a reminder that there are exceptions to every rule. Please use your own judgment skills as you choose overnight RV parking.

Generally, staying in a dedicated campground or RV park with amenities is your safest overnight parking choice. Some RV parks and resorts even have gated entries to stop animals or trespassers from getting too close to campsites.

You may be on your way to a national parks adventure and you want to save money with a cheap or free overnight parking. We’ve all been there! Although there are many free RV parking options you’ll have to navigate additional hazards once you arrive. 

Let’s review the top three most dangerous places to sleep in your RV from the streets to the wilderness.

Camping in Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangerous RV parking spot #1: On the street

Overnight street parking in your rig can be risky. In many places, it’s illegal to keep your RV on the street for an entire night. You could end up with a hefty fine or even get your RV towed.

Legality aside, it’s just not a great idea to park on the street if you can avoid it.

Potential thieves might see your RV as an easy target especially if they think it’s empty.

You won’t always have the benefit of security cameras from surrounding buildings either.

Instead of parking on the street, you should head for an RV-friendly parking lot. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see travel trailers and motorhomes with tow vehicles parking overnight at Walmart parking lots. Truck stops are usually filled with truckers at night and can be noisy but are usually safer than street parking.

In 2021, Love’s Travel Stops began the process of expanding its offerings by adding dedicated RV hookups at some of its travel stops. For complete details read Love’s RV Hookups: Comfortable RV Stays at Truck Stops?

You can also try overnight parking at other places like casinos. The national restaurant chain Cracker Barrel is also very RV-friendly. And outdoorsy big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, or Camping World also have large lots that can fit your RV, too! These retail stores usually have well-lit parking lots as well as security cameras. Some even have hookups or dump stations you can use for a small fee (sometimes they’re free, too!).

Dispersed camping at Quartzsite, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangerous RV parking spot #2: In the wild

Some campers want to save money by boondocking or dry camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the backcountry. The U.S. and Canada have large swathes of public land in national forests where you can park for the night, totally free of charge. But even when you find a good spot, dispersed camping comes with its own hazards.

Wild animals are one of the biggest risks of backcountry RV camping. For instance, if you set up a campsite and decide to cook after a long travel day you might attract scavengers like raccoons, possums, and skunks. Even taking the food inside doesn’t always help because they can still smell the lingering aromas.

In the worst-case RV parking scenarios, you might even attract a bear!

Most bears have trouble getting into a locked RV but that doesn’t stop them from trying. You might sustain major bear damage to your RV siding, doors, and windows. Plus, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when there’s a huge predator at your campsite.

The wild is also a dangerous place to park your RV because you tend to be isolated from other people. Dispersed wild camping can be nice if you’re looking for peace and quiet but if nobody is around things can quickly go south in the event of an emergency. Boondockers tend to camp far away from other people so you won’t be able to call for help if your RV breaks down, a natural disaster strikes, or animal predators give you problems.

Camping at Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangerous RV parking spot #3: Risky campsites

Another dangerous RV parking choice is risky campsites in geologically active terrain.

Just because RVers stay in an established campground or RV park doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re safe. Some campgrounds are poorly maintained or located in geologic hazard zones. 

Be thoughtful as you select a campground and a specific site for the night. Consider these external factors that may lead to trouble.

Dispersed camping near Scenic Highway 24, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Questions to ask before choosing a campsite

Is your site level?

An unstable campsite can lead to disaster if your vehicle starts rolling or if the ground gives way. That’s because landslides are another potential danger if your site is on a slope or located in a hilly area previously burned by wildfire. One bad rain and your RV could get wiped out.

What do your surroundings look like?

Are there many dead trees in the area? Is the foliage particularly dry or overgrown? These can be fire hazards so you should stay away from potential kindling material. In a wind storm, dead trees can drop branches on top of your RV.

Is there water nearby?

We all love a scenic lake view or the comforting white noise of a nearby river. But bodies of water can flood in heavy rainfall. If your site is too close to the water line you might get trapped in mud or several inches of water. Proper drainage is crucial. Always put some distance between yourself and nearby water sources.

Three tips for keeping your RV (and you) safe

Between the streets, wilderness animals, and geographically risky campsites there are plenty of places that could qualify as the most dangerous places to park your RV for the night.

But in this RV life, sometimes you won’t have much of a choice. For example, your itinerary plans might fall through. Or you may desperately need to save money. In these cases, you might have to spend a few nights in these dangerous locations.

In this case, it’s important for you to protect yourself and your RV from potential harm. Nobody can prepare for every eventuality but there are some things you can do to stay safer.

Camping at Sand Hollow State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parking safety tip #1: Buy an RV security system

For starters, invest in a top rated RV security system. This is especially helpful if you spend a lot of time camping on the streets, in rest areas, or in parking lots. Urban areas tend to have higher crime rates so you need to protect your home on wheels.

Most security systems have cameras, alarms, and ways to contact the authorities if there’s a break-in. It’s also a good idea to upgrade the locking mechanisms on your windows. Switch to a keyless RV door lock too.

RV parking safety tip #2: Take precautions against wild animals

Curious animals may visit your campsite if they smell food or other strong scents. It’s hard to deter them completely but you can prevent damage and force them to keep their distance if you take a few precautions such as:

Consider storing your food away from your RV. Bear-proof containers could be a good investment if you frequently go boondocking. You could also place your food in hard-to-reach areas.

Place animal deterrents around your campsite. Most creatures will be too scared to approach you if you have motion-activated lights or foul-smelling deterrents.

Camping in Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parking safety tip #3: Have backup communication devices

Nowadays most of us rely on our smartphones for everything. And for good reason! Our phones are more powerful than ever and are getting better all the time. But if you want to camp in remote areas, you might not always have a strong cell phone signal.

If something happens while you’re camping in a dangerous place, you’ll need a reliable way to call for help. In this case, you have a few options:

A satellite phone is a good investment. This device communicates via satellites not cell towers. It can connect you to help when no cellular connectivity is present. They’re also quite sturdy so you don’t have to worry about breaking them.

Buy a GPS tracker, satellite messenger device, and subscription. A GPS tracking device and a host of satellite messenger devices and associated subscriptions can let you send status updates with location information and an SOS/distress option that will immediately dispatch emergency crews in the event of a life-threatening emergency. 

Flares, smoke signals, and other non-electronic communication methods can also come in handy. Consider taking a wilderness survival course to learn how to use these methods.

Camping at Smokian RV Park, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Final thoughts about safer RV parking

Camping in an RV is so much fun because you have endless options for overnight RV parking. But there are certain places like rest stops on highways that you may want to avoid. But if you can’t get to a campground, you always have options. Just keep an eye out for these dangerous places to sleep in your RV, so you can make smarter decisions when you choose a place to park.

For more on safety, check out:

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

20 Amazing Campgrounds Worth the Road Trip

Sleep under the stars

Camping is great but camping in a one-of-a-kind site with unique features (saltwater pools, sweeping views, horseback riding, we could go on) is even better. The next time you decide to venture into the great outdoors be sure to first consult this list. From campsites nestled in legendary state parks to options located on warm, sandy beaches, here are 20 campgrounds in the worth the road trip.

Shenandoah National Park campgrounds, Virginia

All of the five campgrounds at Shenandoah are open seasonally from early spring until late fall. Reservations are highly recommended on weekends and holidays. 

Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.1) is the nearest campground for those entering the park from Front Royal in the northern section of the Park. All sites include a place for a tent or RV, a fire ring, and picnic table. Mathews Arm has a combination of reservable and first-come, first-served sites.

Big Meadows Campground (mile 51.2) is centrally-located in the park. All sites include a place for a tent or RV, a fire ring, and a picnic table. All sites at Big Meadows Campground are by reservation only.

Other campgrounds in Shenandoah include Lewis Mountain (mile 57.5) and Loft Mountain (mile 79.5).

Here are some helpful resources:

Devils Garden Campground, Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Devil’s Garden Campground, Arches National Park, Utah

Camping in Arches is only allowed in Devils Garden Campground. The demand for campground sites is extremely heavy and the park service recommends making reservations as early as possible. Reservations can be made up to 6 months before arrival and must be made at least 4 days before you arrive. If you don’t have a reservation, plan on camping outside the park. Between November 1 and February 28, 24 sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

By the way, I have a series of posts on Arches:

Potwisha Campground, Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park campgrounds, California

There are fourteen campgrounds in the parks including two that are open during all four seasons. Campsites hold up to six people. Each has a picnic table, fire ring with grill, and a metal food-storage box. Nearly all campgrounds require advance reservations; sites fill quickly.

Except when weather or safety conditions require a closure, Potwisha Campground is open year-round with a four-month advance booking window. The campground sits at 2,100 feet elevation along the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River under an open stand of oaks. Hot and dry weather in the foothills often require fire restrictions in the summer. In the winter, the campground is usually snow-free.

If you need ideas, check out:

Joshua Tree National Park campgrounds, California

The majority of the 500 campsites in the park are available by reservation. 

You can camp among these truck-size boulders at Jumbo Rocks, one of the park’s eight campgrounds. Only two campgrounds (Black Rock and Cottonwood) have water, flush toilets, and dump stations. Cottonwood is especially popular with RVers. At the Hidden Valley and White Tank campgrounds, RVs are limited to a maximum combined length of 25 feet (RV and a towed or towing vehicle); in the other campgrounds, the limit is 35 feet, space permitting.

Here are some articles to help:

Cedar Pass Campground, Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Badlands National Park campgrounds, South Dakota

Badlands National Park offers two campgrounds. The Cedar Pass Campground is a paid campground with 96 sites total, some designated for RV camping with electric hookups. Reservations for the Cedar Pass Campground can be made through contacting the Cedar Pass Lodge online or by phone at 877-386-4383. Sage Creek Campground is a free, first-come first-serve campground with 22 sites and limited to RVs 18 feet in length or less.

Read more:

Cottonwood Campground, Canyon de Chelly National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyon de Chelly National Monument camping, Arizona

Cottonwood Campground is managed by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department. Nightly fee with 93 sites available first-come, first-serve. No showers or hookups.

Here are some helpful resources:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park camping, North Carolina and Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park maintains developed frontcountry campgrounds at 10 locations in the park: Abrams Creek Campground, Balsam Mountain Campground, Big Creek Campground, Cades Cove Campground, Cataloochee Campground, Cosby Campground, Deep Creek Campground, Elkmont Campground, Look Rock Campground, and Smokemont Campground. Camping is popular year-round and the park has a variety of options to enjoy camping throughout the year. Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds are open year-round. All other campgrounds are open on a seasonal basis.

If you need ideas, check out:

White Tank Mountains Regional Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

White Tank Mountains Regional Park camping, Arizona

With nearly 30,000 acres, White Tank Mountain Regional Park is the largest park in Maricopa County. White Tank Mountain Regional Park offers 40 individual sites for tent or RV camping.

Most sites have a large parking area to accommodate up to a 45 foot RV and offer water and electrical hook-ups, a picnic table, a barbecue grill, a fire ring, and nearby dump station. All restrooms offer flush toilets and showers.

Read more: A Hiker’s Paradise: White Tank Mountain Regional Park

Jekyll Island Campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jekyll Island camping, Georgia

Park your RV or pitch your tent under the magnificent oaks on the northern tip of Jekyll Island. Located opposite the Clam Creek Picnic Area you are near Driftwood Beach, the fishing pier, and fascinating historic ruins. For your convenience, there are camping supplies and a General Store for those pick-up items and bike rentals so you can explore all that Jekyll Island has to offer.

The Jekyll Island Campground offers 18 wooded acres on the Island’s north end with 206 campsites from tent sites to full hook-up, pull through RV sites with electricity, cable TV, water, and sewerage. Wi-Fi and DSL Internet is free for registered guests.

If you need ideas, check out: Celebrating 75 Years of Jekyll Island State Park: 1947-2022

Mesa Verde National Park camping, Colorado

Spend a night or two in Morefield Campground just four miles from the park entrance. With 267 sites there’s always plenty of space and the campground rarely fills. Each site has a table, bench, and grill. Camping is open to tents and RVs including 15 full-hookup RV sites.
Morefield’s campsites are situated on loop roads that extend through a high grassy canyon filled with Gambel Oak scrub, native flowers, deer, and wild turkeys. Several of the park’s best hikes leave from Morefield and climb to spectacular views of surrounding valleys and mountains.

Here are some articles to help:

Kayenta Campground, Dead Horse Point State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dead Horse Point State Park camping, Utah

Nestled within a grove of junipers, Kayenta Campground offers a peaceful, shaded respite from the surrounding desert. All 21 campsites offer lighted shade structures, picnic tables, fire rings, and tent pads. All sites are also equipped with RV electrical hookups (20/30/50 amps). Modern restroom facilities are available and hiking trails lead directly from the campground to various points of interest within the park including the West Rim Trail, East Rim Trail, Wingate Campground, or the Visitor Center.

New in 2018, the Wingate Campground sits atop the mesa with far-reaching views of the area’s mountain ranges and deep canyons. This campground contains 31 campsites, 20 of which have electrical hookups that support RVs or tent campers while 11 are hike-in tent-only sites.  All sites have fire pits, picnic tables under shade shelters, and access to bathrooms with running water and dishwashing sinks.  RV sites will accommodate vehicles up to 56 feet and there is a dump station at the entrance to the campground. The Wingate Campground also holds four yurts. 

Read more:

Picacho Peak State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picacho Peak State Park camping, Arizona

Picacho Peak State Park’s campground has a total of 85 electric sites for both tent and RV camping. Sites are suitable for RVs and/or tents. Four sites are handicapped-accessible. No water or sewer hookups are available. Access to all sites is paved. Sites are fairly level and are located in a natural Sonoran Desert setting.

Here are some helpful resources:

Grand Canyon National Park camping, Arizona

Mather Campground is located in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Open year-round, there are 327 sites. Each includes a campfire ring/cooking grate, picnic table, and parking space. There are flush toilets and drinking water throughout the campground. No hookups are available but a dump station is available.

Situated within a picturesque high desert landscape, Trailer Village RV Park park offers paved pull-through full hookup sites designed for vehicles up to 50 feet long. Trailer Village RV Park is open year-round.

The North Rim Campground is open from mid-May 15 through mid-October, weather permitting. The canyon’s rustic and less populated North Rim is home to abundant wildlife, hiking trails, and unparalleled views of this natural wonder. The facility is at an elevation of 8,200 feet with pleasant summer temperatures and frequent afternoon thunderstorms.

Here are some articles to help:

Alamo Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alamo Lake State Park camping, Arizona

Campground A offers 17 basic sites with both back-in and pull-through sites. Campground B has expanded to 42 mixed-amenity sites. Campground F has 15 full-hookup sites. Campground C offers 40 water and electric sites. Dry camping is located in Campgrounds D and E and each site has a picnic table and fire ring.

Read more: Alamo Lake State Park: Fishing, Camping, Wildflowers & More

Buccaneer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buccaneer State Park camping, Mississippi

Buccaneer State Park Campground has 206 premium single-family campsites and is located in a natural setting of large moss-draped oaks and marshlands on the Gulf Coast. All of the 206 develop campsites have full hookups (water, electric, and sewer). There are also an additional 70 sites (with water and electric) that are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and 25 primitive (first-come, first-serve) sites located in the back of Royal Cay camp area.

Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The Fruita Campground is often described as an oasis within the desert. Adjacent to the Fremont River and surrounded by historic orchards this developed campground has 71 sites. Each site has a picnic table and firepit and/or above ground grill but no individual water, sewage, or electrical hookups. There is a RV dump and potable water fill station near the entrance to Loops A and B. Restrooms feature running water and flush toilets but no showers. Accessible sites (non-electric) are located adjacent to restrooms.

Here are some helpful resources:

Gulf State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf State Park camping, Alabama

Gulf State Park Campground offers 496 full hookup sites with paved pads. All full hookup camping pads are at least ~45 feet (most back-ins) to ~65 feet (most pull-through) long with more than enough room for RVs with pullouts, have picnic tables, and pedestal grill tops There are 11 modern, air-conditioned bathhouses throughout the campground.

Meahler State Park camping, Alabama

Meaher State Park has 61 RV campsites. Each site is paved, roughly 65 feet in length and has 20, 30 and 50-amp electrical connections as well as water and sewer hookups. You have a grill and picnic table at your site and plenty of space between you and the next guest. The park has 10 improved tent sites with water and 20-amp electrical connections. All tent sites have a grill/fire pit and picnic table available. The campground features an air conditioned/heated main shower house equipped with laundry facilities for overnight campers and a smaller bathhouse equipped with restrooms only.

Read more: Where the Rivers Meet the Sea: Mobile-Tensaw River Delta and Meaher State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lost Dutchman State Park camping, Arizona

The campground has 135 sites and three group camping areas: 68 sites with electric (50/30/20 amp service) and water and the remainder non-hookup sites on paved roads for tents or RVs. Every site has a picnic table and a fire pit with an adjustable grill gate. There are no size restrictions on RVs. Well-mannered pets on leashes are welcome but please pick after your pets.

Goose Island State Park camping, Texas

Choose from 44 campsites by the bay or 57 sites nestled under oak trees, all with water and electricity. Every camping loop has restrooms with showers. Goose Island also has 25 walk-in tent sites without electricity and a group camp for youth groups.

Read more: Life by the Bay: Goose Island State Park

Worth Pondering…

As you go through life, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

—Yogi Berra

The Best RV Camping May 2024

Explore the guide to find some of the best in May camping across America

Where should you park yourself and your RV this month? With so many options out there you may be overwhelmed with the number of locales calling your name.

Maybe you’re an experienced RV enthusiast, maybe you’ve never been in one—regardless, these RV parks are worth your attention. After finding the perfect campground, you can look into RV prices, the different types of RVs, and learn how to plan a road trip. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll convert to full-time RV living.

I didn’t just choose these RV parks by throwing a dart at a map. As an RVer with more than 25 years of experience traveling the highways and byways of America and Western Canada—learning about camping and exploring some of the best hiking trails along the way—I can say with confidence that I know what makes a great RV campground. From stunning views and accommodating amenities to friendly staff and clean facilities, the little things add up when you’re RV camping. And these campgrounds are truly the cream of the crop.

Here are 10 of the top RV parks and campgrounds to explore in May: one of these parks might be just what you’re looking for. So, sit back, relax and get ready for your next adventure at one of these incredible RV parks!

RVing with Rex selected this list of parks from those personally visited.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly RV park recommendations for the best places to camp in April. Also check out my recommendations from May 2023 and June 2023.

Ambassador RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho

Ambassador RV Resort is a 5-star resort that is easy-on, easy off (I-84 at Exit 29) with 188 full-service sites, pool, spa, sauna, and 5,000 square foot recreation hall. Features 30-foot x 85-foot short term pull-through sites, 35-foot x 75-foot long term pull through sites, 45-foot x 60-foot back-in sites and wide-paved streets. Pets are welcome if friendly and owner is well trained.

Located near Idaho’s wine country and convenient to the Boise metro area, the Ambassador is the perfect home base for all your activities.

Holiday Trail Park of Chattanooga © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Holiday Travel Park of Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Located a half mile off I-75 (Exit 1), Holiday Travel Park of Chattanooga offers 170 campsites with water, sewer, 30/50 amp electric, and cable TV connections. Most sites are pull-through, graveled, and level with some sites up to 70 feet for big rigs. Amenities include a newly renovated pool, fast speed Internet, playground, bath house, laundry room, facility, meeting room, outdoor pavilion, and dog park.

Our pull-through site was in the 65-foot range with 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and Cable TV centrally located. Interior roads and individual sites are gravel. Holiday Travel Park of Chattanooga is located on a Civil War battlefield which served as a skirmish site in 1863 preceding the Battle of Chickamauga.

Settlers Point RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Settlers Point RV Resort, Washington, Utah

Settlers Point is a lovely RV resort with all the amenities and more—sites are huge, mostly level, very clean and well-maintained, gravel, excellent Wi-Fi, helpful and friendly staff. Upon registration we’re given two bags of gourmet popcorn from a local company (Moore ‘n More) and they were delicious!

Easy-on, easy-off; though just off I-15 the park is quiet with no freeway noise. Settlers Point is conveniently located near St. George and an easy drive to Zion National Park and Sand Hollow State Park. The facilities are top-of-the-line and very orderly and clean: Two pools (one adult only), hot tub, pickleball, indoor lounge with TVs and table for games and puzzles, two laundry rooms, dog park, dog wash tub, and children’s playground. This place is top notch!

7 Feathers Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Seven Feathers Casino RV Resort, Canyonville, Oregon

With twenty-three acres of lush lawn, enjoying the outdoors has never been easier. Enjoy a heated pool and hot tub, 24/hour grocery, deli, and ice cream, and make some fun friends and memories at the Seven Feathers Casino. Rent a yurt or RV site, or, if you want more space, stay in a comfortable cabin and purchase luxury packages for enhanced leisure.

River Sands RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

River Sands RV Resort, Ehrenburg, Arizona

River Sands is a new RV resort on the Colorado River in Ehrenburg. It opened less than a year ago. The park is huge, quiet, clean, and conveniently located near Interstate 10. Although we could see the freeway from our RV site there was no traffic sound. The park has a spacious feel; the pull-through and back-in sites are huge both in length and width and mostly level. There is very limited vegetation around the sites which is to be expected since this is a new park and in a desert climate.

The park has something for everyone with amazing Wi-Fi with streaming capability. River Sands has pickleball courts, a 5,000 sq. ft. dog park, beautiful Clubhouse with heated pool and hot tub overlooking the river. The Park Staff were amazing and the manager is especially friendly and helpful.

12 Tribes Casino RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington

A new RV park, 12 Tribes Casino opened in 2018 with 21 pull-through full-service sites 72 feet long and 42 feet wide. Interior roads are asphalt and sites are concrete. Amenities include paved patio and picnic table, individual garbage container, cable TV, Wi-Fi, and pet area. Guests of the RV Park are welcome to enjoy the pool, hot tub, sauna, and workout facility located in the hotel. The casino also offers gaming, fine dining, and café.

Capital City RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Capital City RV Park, Montgomery, Alabama

Approximately 6 miles north of I-85 (Exit 6), Capital City RV Park is a 5-star park located on the northeastern edge of Montgomery. The park offers clean and quiet sites at reasonable rates.

Capital City features full-hookup sites with 20/30/50 amp electric service, cable TV, high speed Wireless Internet, complete laundry facility, and private bathrooms with showers. Our pull-through site was 70 feet long and 35 feet wide with centrally located utilities. Interior roads and individual sites are gravel. This is a well designed and maintained RV park.

Whispering Hills RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky

Whispering Hills RV Park is nestled in the heart of horse country in Georgetown, north of Lexington. The park is located approximately 2.5 miles off I-75 at Exit 129. Whispering Hills offers 230 full-service sites including nine new premium pull-through sites in the 70-90 foot range. Amenities include swimming pool, basketball court, laundry facility, book exchange, fishing pond, bath houses, picnic tables, and fire rings at most sites. Our pull-through site was in the 60-foot range. Most back-in sites tend to be considerably shorter and slope downward. Interior roads and sites are gravel.

Cedar Pass Campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cedar Pass Campground, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, the Cedar Pass Campground has 96 level sites with scenic views of the badlands formations. Enjoy the stunning sunsets, incredible night skies, and breathtaking sunrises from the comfort of your RV. Camping in Cedar Pass Campground is limited to 14 days. The campground is open year-round with limited availability in the winter season. Due to fire danger, campfires are not permitted in this campground and collection of wood is prohibited. However, camp stoves or contained charcoal grills can be used in campgrounds and picnic areas.

Jekyll Island Campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia

The Jekyll Island Campground is the most affordable, conveniently accommodation located near Driftwood Beach. Choose from RV and tent sites as well as amenities like free Wi-Fi, shower facilities, and onsite laundry. The campground offers 175 campsites on 18 wooded acres on the island’s north end.

Options range from tent sites to full hook-up, pull through RV sites with electricity, cable TV, water, and sewage. Wi-Fi and DSL internet is free for registered guests. The campground also will offer private yurt experiences beginning in 2023.

Worth Pondering…

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

—John Ruskin

The Complete Guide to Dixie National Forest

Dixie National Forest straddles the divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River in southern Utah. Scenery ranges from desert canyon gorges of amber, rose, and sienna to high mountain forests, plateaus, and alpine lakes. The forest is a part of the world-renowned landscapes of Southern Utah and provides a backdrop and serves as a gateway to surrounding National Parks and Monuments.

Dixie National Forest covering almost two million acres of natural grandeur is nestled in the picturesque landscapes of southern Utah. The forest boasts a diverse range of ecosystems, climates, and elevations from the rugged grandeur of deep canyons and fascinating rock formations to the serene allure of mountain lakes and towering ponderosa pines. It is a haven for those seeking a retreat into the untamed wilderness.

Based in Cedar City, Dixie National Forest is the largest National Forest in Utah straddling the divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River. The forest’s natural beauty is a source of inspiration to adventurers offering countless opportunities to explore hiking trails, fishing spots, and camping sites amidst the enchanting backdrop of the American Southwest.

Join me on a journey into the heart of this natural wonder where each turn reveals a new chapter in the story of Utah’s remarkable landscape. Explore Dixie National Forest’s vast expanse of natural beauty where the rugged terrain and serene landscapes offer a unique experience to those seeking adventure.

Dixie National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Features of the Dixie National Forest

Diverse ecosystems: Dixie National Forest stands out for its remarkable diversity of ecosystems ranging from low desert-like environments to high-elevation alpine landscapes. As you explore the forest’s vast expanse you’ll encounter sparse desert-type vegetation in the lower elevations giving way to a transition zone dominated by low-growing pinyon pine and juniper. Further up, the forest transforms into a lush realm featuring stands of aspen and conifers including pine, spruce, and fir.

Climatic extremes: One of the defining characteristics of Dixie National Forest is its range of climatic extremes. The forest experiences precipitation ranging from 10 inches in the lower elevations to over 40 inches per year near Brian Head Peak. At higher elevations, the majority of annual precipitation falls as snow creating a winter wonderland. Thunderstorms are common during July and August often bringing heavy rains and making August the wettest month in some areas.

Varied elevations: The forest’s topography is marked by varying elevations offering a visual feast for visitors. Elevations range from 2,800 feet near St. George to the towering 11,322 feet at Blue Bell Knoll on Boulder Mountain. The southern rim of the Great Basin adjacent to the Colorado River provides awe-inspiring scenery characterized by multi-colored cliffs and steep-walled gorges carved by the Colorado River canyons.

Rich wildlife habitat: Dixie National Forest provides a diverse and thriving habitat for a wide range of wildlife species. From elusive cougars and bobcats to majestic golden eagles and wild turkeys, the forest’s varied terrain supports a multitude of creatures. Big game hunting has traditionally been a major attraction and more recently there has been a growing interest in wildlife viewing and photography.

Recreational opportunities: Offering a plethora of recreational activities, Dixie National Forest caters to outdoor enthusiasts. With 26 developed campgrounds, five picnic sites, and group camping areas the forest provides opportunities for camping, hunting, scenic driving, hiking, and horseback riding. Additionally, there are 83,000 acres of designated wilderness areas including Pine Valley, Box-Death Hollow, and Ashdown Gorge ensuring a mix of both primitive and developed recreational experiences.

Archaeological treasures: Beyond its natural wonders, Dixie National Forest holds archaeological treasures that speak to the region’s rich human history. Pictographs, petroglyphs, and artifacts reveal the presence of prehistoric and historic populations. The forest’s heritage program aims to interpret and preserve these clues allowing visitors to explore and appreciate the area’s cultural significance.

In essence, Dixie National Forest encapsulates a tapestry of natural and cultural wonders providing an immersive experience for those eager to connect with the diverse landscapes and historical narratives of southern Utah.

Dixie National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

History

Established on September 25, 1905, as the Dixie Forest Reserve by the General Land Office, Dixie National Forest has a history rooted in southern Utah. The name Dixie comes from the local term for the warm southern part of Utah which stuck after settlers arrived in 1851 to grow cotton for the Mormon Church. The forest’s name reflects its warm climate, a connection maintained since its inception.

In 1906, the U.S. Forest Service took over management officially designating Dixie Forest Reserve as a National Forest on March 4, 1907. The forest’s boundaries changed over time including the addition of the western part of Sevier National Forest in 1922 and the full integration of Powell National Forest on October 1, 1944. Despite occasional local sentiments to change the name bureaucratic complexities kept it as Dixie National Forest.

Beyond administrative changes, Dixie National Forest has a history reaching back to Native American cultures like the Desert-Archaic, Fremont, and Anasazi. Spanish explorers, such as Father Silvestre Veles de Escalante in 1776 ventured through the region leaving the Old Spanish Trail. Trappers, traders, and gold hunters frequented the area between 1835 and 1850 establishing it as a well-defined trail with challenges from the local Paiute Indians.

The forest experienced a continuous influx of settlers and explorers influencing the landscape and contributing to the region’s historical richness. Today, as the largest National Forest in Utah, Dixie National Forest’s history is woven into Utah’s Dixie reflecting a legacy of human effort and a lasting connection between the land and its inhabitants.

Dixie National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Unique location of Dixie National Forest

Located in the heart of southern Utah, Dixie National Forest occupies a unique and strategically important location in the region’s diverse landscape. Stretching for approximately 170 miles across the state, the forest straddles the geographical divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River.

This distinctive positioning contributes to the forest’s exceptional scenic variety featuring everything from the rugged cliffs near the Colorado River to the high-elevation plateaus like Boulder Mountain. The southern rim of the Great Basin where Dixie National Forest unfolds showcases multi-colored cliffs and steep-walled gorges carved by the Colorado River canyons.

This unique location not only makes the forest a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking diverse recreational opportunities but also highlights its significance as a vital ecological transition zone where the Great Basin and Colorado River ecosystems converge, creating a mosaic of habitats that support a rich array of plant and animal life. Dixie National Forest’s distinctive geographical setting thus adds an extra layer of allure to its already captivating natural beauty.

Dixie National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vegetation and plant species in Dixie National Forest

Utah Juniper: Found in the lower elevations of Dixie National Forest, the Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) is a hardy evergreen, well-adapted to arid conditions. Its twisted branches and scale-like leaves characterize the landscape showcasing its resilience in desert-like environments.

Single-Leaf Pinyon Pine: Alongside the Utah Juniper, the Single-Leaf Pinyon Pine (Pinus monophylla) is a common sight in the lower elevations. Recognizable by its short needles bundled in pairs, this small pine species plays a significant role in the ecological tapestry of the forest, demonstrating adaptability to the region’s challenging climate.

Colorado Pinyon: Thriving in the transition zone of mid-elevations, the Colorado Pinyon (Pinus edulis) is a low-growing pine species with distinct two-needle clusters. Its presence contributes to the diverse plant communities within Dixie National Forest highlighting the unique characteristics of this intermediate zone.

Quaking Aspen: As elevation increases, the landscape transforms with the emergence of Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) groves. Known for their fluttering leaves, these deciduous trees create visually stunning landscapes in higher altitudes offering a striking contrast to the evergreen-dominated lower elevations.

White Fir: At the highest elevations, coniferous forests dominate and the White Fir (Abies concolor) is a notable species in this upper zone. With its tall stature and soft needles, this fir species contributes to the overall biodiversity of Dixie National Forest forming a key component of the high-elevation ecosystems.

Engelmann Spruce: Another coniferous species in the high-elevation zones is the Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmannii). Recognizable by its slender, blue-green needles, this spruce species is well-adapted to the colder and more elevated regions of the forest playing a vital role in shaping the upper reaches of Dixie National Forest.

Limber Pine: Completing the trio of conifers in the highest elevations is the Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis). Its flexible branches and long needles characterize this hardy pine species. As a resilient inhabitant of the alpine zones, the Limber Pine adds to the biodiversity and ecological resilience of Dixie National Forest.

These plant species collectively contribute to the intricate ecological mosaic of Dixie National Forest adapting to the varied elevations and climates that define this unique and diverse natural environment.

Dixie National Forest (Panguitch Lake) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fauna

Cougar: The elusive and majestic cougar (Puma concolor) also known as mountain lion or puma, roams the diverse landscapes of Dixie National Forest. As a top predator, cougars play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance by controlling herbivore populations. Their presence underscores the wild and untamed nature of the forest.

Bobcat: The adaptable bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a skilled hunter found in Dixie National Forest. With its distinctive tufted ears and spotted coat, this elusive feline navigates various habitats within the forest. Bobcats contribute to the biodiversity by preying on small mammals, birds, and other smaller creatures.

Golden Eagle: The skies above Dixie National Forest are graced by the majestic Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Known for its impressive wingspan and keen eyesight, this raptor dominates the aerial domain. Golden Eagles are a symbol of the forest’s avian diversity and their presence adds to the rich tapestry of wildlife in the area.

Cottontail rabbit: The cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus spp.) with its distinctive fluffy tail is a common sight in the lower elevations of the forest. These small herbivores are integral to the food web providing sustenance for predators like bobcats and birds of prey. Their adaptability allows them to thrive in diverse habitats.

Wild turkey: The iconic wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a resident of Dixie National Forest particularly in areas with mixed vegetation. With their striking plumage and distinctive calls, wild turkeys contribute to the avian diversity of the forest. They play a role in seed dispersal and insect control, further enhancing the ecosystem.

Utah prairie dog: The Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens), a keystone species, creates burrow systems in the meadows and grasslands of the forest. Their activities aerate the soil and provide habitat for other species. Conservation efforts for the Utah prairie dog contribute to maintaining the health of Dixie National Forest’s unique ecosystems.

Blue grouse: The blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) adapted to the higher elevations is a distinctive bird species found in the coniferous forests of Dixie National Forest. Their mottled plumage provides excellent camouflage and their presence reflects the forest’s ecological diversity, particularly in the alpine zones.

Dixie National Forest’s fauna represents a harmonious interplay of predators, herbivores, and avian species showcasing the resilience and adaptability of wildlife in this diverse and ecologically significant environment.

Dixie National Forest (Red Canyon) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Attractions in Dixie National Forest

1. Red Canyon

Located within Dixie National Forest, Red Canyon is a breathtaking natural wonder renowned for its vibrant red rock formations. Often referred to as a mini Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon offers a captivating preview of the geological splendor that characterizes the broader region. Visitors can explore the area through scenic drives, and hiking trails, and witness the awe-inspiring beauty of towering hoodoos and sandstone cliffs.

2. Boulder Mountain

Boulder Mountain, one of the largest high-elevation plateaus in the United States graces Dixie National Forest with its serene landscapes. Dotted with hundreds of small lakes this area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities abound providing a tranquil escape into the heart of the forest’s diverse ecosystems.

3. Panguitch Lake

Panguitch Lake surrounded by the picturesque scenery of Dixie National Forest is a haven for anglers and nature enthusiasts. The lake offers excellent fishing opportunities for trout making it a popular destination for those seeking a peaceful day by the water. The surrounding forested terrain adds to the charm creating an ideal setting for camping and outdoor recreation.

4. Box-Death Hollow Wilderness

For those seeking a more secluded and rugged adventure, the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness presents an untamed paradise within Dixie National Forest. This designated wilderness area features deep canyons, meandering streams, and lush vegetation. Hiking trails lead adventurers through this pristine landscape, offering a chance to connect with nature in its raw and unspoiled state.

5. Powell Point

Powell Point provides a panoramic view that stretches for miles allowing visitors to marvel at the vastness of Dixie National Forest and beyond. This viewpoint, accessible by car provides a unique perspective of the forest’s varied terrain from high-elevation plateaus to the rugged canyons below. Sunset views from Powell Point are particularly stunning, casting a warm glow over the diverse landscapes.

6. Hell’s Backbone Bridge

Hell’s Backbone Bridge is a remarkable engineering feat that spans across a deep gorge offering a thrilling experience for those who traverse it. This narrow bridge provides stunning views of Death Hollow and the surrounding forested landscapes. The journey across Hell’s Backbone is not only an adventure in itself but also a gateway to the captivating scenery of Dixie National Forest.

Dixie National Forest (Scenic Byway 12) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Scenic Byway 12

Running through the heart of Dixie National Forest, Scenic Byway 12 is a designated All-American Road renowned for its spectacular views and diverse landscapes. The journey along this scenic route takes travelers through red rock canyons, alpine forests, and expansive plateaus. Numerous pull-offs and viewpoints offer opportunities to appreciate the unique features of the forest.

Dixie National Forest’s attractions provide a varied tapestry of natural wonders from iconic rock formations to serene lakeshores and untamed wilderness. Each destination within the forest offers a distinct and memorable experience inviting visitors to explore the diverse facets of this captivating landscape.

Recreational activities in Dixie National Forest

1. Hiking and nature trails

Dixie National Forest beckons outdoor enthusiasts with an extensive network of hiking and nature trails that cater to all skill levels. Whether you’re seeking a stroll amidst towering ponderosa pines or a challenging hike to witness panoramic vistas, the forest provides a diverse range of trails. Popular routes include those leading to scenic viewpoints, waterfalls, and unique geological formations allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the American Southwest.

2. Fishing at Panguitch Lake

Panguitch Lake ensconced within the forested landscapes is a haven for fishing enthusiasts. Renowned for its pristine waters, the lake offers a rewarding experience for anglers seeking trout, including rainbow and cutthroat varieties. The tranquil surroundings coupled with the thrill of a potential catch make Panguitch Lake a popular destination for those who relish a serene day by the water.

3. Camping in scenic campgrounds

Dixie National Forest provides a plethora of camping opportunities across its 26 developed campgrounds. From the shores of Panguitch Lake to the alpine meadows near Boulder Mountain, these campgrounds cater to various preferences. Whether you prefer a rustic experience or seek amenities like fire pits and picnic tables, the forest’s campgrounds offer a chance to immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of nature.

4. Scenic drives along Byway 12

Embark on a journey through the heart of Dixie National Forest via Scenic Byway 12, an All-American Road celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes. This scenic drive takes travelers on a visual feast passing through diverse terrains including red rock canyons, alpine plateaus, and forested realms. Numerous pull-offs provide opportunities for photography and contemplation of the forest’s natural wonders.

5. Winter activities

When winter blankets Dixie National Forest in snow, the landscape transforms into a snowy wonderland offering opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The forest collaborates with state parks to maintain trails for these winter sports allowing visitors to experience the serene beauty of snow-covered landscapes while engaging in invigorating outdoor activities.

6. Wildlife viewing

Dixie National Forest is a haven for wildlife and avid nature enthusiasts can partake in wildlife viewing experiences. From the elusive cougar to the vibrant blue grouse, the forest supports a diverse range of species. Birdwatchers can spot golden eagles soaring in the skies adding to the rich avian tapestry of the area. Patient observers may also catch glimpses of deer, antelope, and other forest inhabitants.

Dixie National Forest’s recreational activities cater to a wide spectrum of interests ensuring that visitors can tailor their experiences to match their preferences whether seeking adventure, tranquility, or a cultural journey through time.

Dixie National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Facilities and amenities in Dixie National Forest

Campgrounds and picnic sites: Dixie National Forest boasts a network of 26 developed campgrounds strategically located to offer a range of camping experiences. From lakeside camping near Panguitch Lake to forested retreats, these campgrounds provide essential amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and vault toilets. Whether you prefer a rustic experience or seek family-friendly sites, the forest’s campgrounds cater to diverse preferences allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.

Visitor centers and information stations: Throughout Dixie National Forest visitor centers and information stations serve as gateways to the forest’s wonders. Headquartered in Cedar City, these facilities provide valuable resources, maps, and knowledgeable staff to assist visitors in planning their exploration. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned adventurer, these centers offer insights into the diverse landscapes, recreational activities, and cultural history of the forest.

Scenic byways and viewpoints: Navigating through Dixie National Forest is made seamless with designated scenic byways and viewpoints. Scenic Byway 12 takes travelers on a visual journey through diverse terrains. Numerous viewpoints along the route provide opportunities for breathtaking vistas allowing visitors to pause, appreciate, and capture the natural beauty that unfolds before them.

Winter recreation facilities: During the winter months, Dixie National Forest transforms into a snowy playground and the forest collaborates with state parks to maintain trails for winter activities. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling enthusiasts can access well-maintained trails providing a unique perspective of the forest blanketed in snow. These facilities ensure that winter visitors can engage in invigorating outdoor activities while surrounded by the serene beauty of a winter landscape.

Fishing access points: Panguitch Lake and other water bodies within Dixie National Forest offer excellent fishing opportunities and the forest provides well-maintained fishing access points. These points facilitate anglers in reaching prime fishing spots enhancing the overall fishing experience. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced angler, these access points contribute to the accessibility and enjoyment of fishing within the forest.

Dixie National Forest’s facilities and amenities are designed to enhance the visitor experience providing essential resources, educational opportunities, and well-maintained spaces for a diverse range of recreational activities. Whether seeking information, cultural insights, or a serene camping spot, the forest’s amenities cater to the varied needs of its visitors.

Dixie National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for visiting Dixie National Forest

Stay informed with visitor centers: Take advantage of the visitor centers and information stations within the forest. These hubs provide maps, trail information, and knowledgeable staff to help you plan your activities.

Respect wildlife and nature: Dixie National Forest is a haven for wildlife so approach encounters with respect. Keep a safe distance, avoid feeding animals, and observe quietly. Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out your trash and minimizing your impact on the environment. By respecting nature, you contribute to the preservation of the forest’s delicate ecosystems.

Pack essentials for outdoor activities: Whether you’re hiking, camping, or fishing ensure you pack essentials. Bring sufficient water, snacks, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing for changing weather conditions. If engaging in winter activities, carry winter gear. Having the right equipment ensures a comfortable and safe outdoor experience within the varied landscapes of Dixie National Forest.

Explore Scenic Byway 12: Don’t miss the opportunity to explore Scenic Byway 12, an All-American Road that traverses Dixie National Forest. This scenic route offers spectacular views and diverse landscapes. Numerous viewpoints along the byway provide excellent photo opportunities and a chance to appreciate the unique features of the forest. Take your time to savor the journey.

Check trail conditions and closures: Before embarking on hiking or other trail-based activities, check for trail conditions and possible closures. Weather, maintenance, or wildlife management may affect accessibility. Stay informed by consulting with park rangers, checking online resources or contacting visitor centers. This ensures a safe and enjoyable exploration of the forest’s trails.

Participate in interpretive programs: Immerse yourself in the cultural and historical aspects of Dixie National Forest by participating in interpretive programs. These programs, often organized by the forest service provide valuable insights into the region’s Native American history, early settlement, and ecological significance. Engaging with these programs enhances your connection to the land.

Respect heritage and historical sites: Dixie National Forest holds historical and cultural significance, so respect heritage sites and artifacts. Follow established trails, avoid touching petroglyphs or ancient structures, and adhere to any posted guidelines. Preserving these sites ensures that future generations can also appreciate the rich history of the forest.

Prepare for altitude changes: Dixie National Forest spans a range of elevations from lower desert areas to alpine plateaus. Be mindful of altitude changes especially if you’re not acclimated to higher elevations. Take it easy during the first day to avoid altitude sickness, stay hydrated, and be aware of any health concerns related to changing elevations.

Check for permits and regulations: Depending on your activities, certain permits or regulations may apply. Check if camping, fishing, or other recreational activities require permits, and ensure you comply with all forest regulations. This helps in maintaining the integrity of the forest and ensures a smooth and lawful visit.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to Dixie National Forest ensuring a memorable and respectful exploration of its diverse landscapes and natural wonders.

Dixie National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

In summary, Dixie National Forest spanning nearly two million acres in southern Utah showcases a diverse tapestry of natural wonders. From captivating canyons and rock formations to tranquil lakes and towering ponderosa pines, the forest encompasses various ecosystems and elevations. As Utah’s largest National Forest, it straddles the Great Basin and the Colorado River boasting a rich history since its establishment in 1905.

Here are a few more articles to help you explore the area:

As you leave Dixie National Forest, it’s hard not to feel a sense of awe at the natural beauty that surrounds you. Whether you spent your time hiking through the forest, fishing in one of its many streams, or simply taking in the stunning views, you’ll likely leave with memories that will last a lifetime. And while the forest is certainly a place of natural wonder, it’s also a reminder of the importance of preserving our planet’s precious resources for generations to come. So as you say goodbye to Dixie National Forest, take a moment to reflect on the beauty of the natural world and the role we all play in protecting it.

Worth Pondering…

…the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere.

—Edward Abbey, American author and former ranger at Arches National Park

Camping In Utah: Explore the Mountains, Lakes, and Red Rock Country

Some of America’s most spectacular camping spots are in Utah

Whether you want to experience the wonders of red rock country, the many activities in the mountains, or the sparkling shores of the Great Salt Lake, you’ll find there is a little something for everyone in Utah.

When is the best time to go camping in Utah?

There are activities to enjoy year-round in Utah. In the warm spring and summer months, you can hike miles of trails through red rock country or go canyoneering through slot canyons. By winter, the mountains provide a wonderland for activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

Spring is the perfect time to go camping in Utah when the temperatures are more comfortable, there are fewer crowds than in the summer, and the wildflowers are blooming. 

Driving in Utah

Utah has some of the most scenic roads in the country but not all routes are suitable for RVs. Make sure you have an RV-safe GPS to get turn-by-turn directions based on your vehicle’s specifications. Current weather and traffic conditions are regularly updated on the UDOT website. 

Some of the major highways in Utah include:

  • Interstate 15 runs north-south all the way through Western Utah and connects most of the state’s major cities including Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo, and St. George
  • Interstate 70 branches off I-15 in the western half of the state near the Cove Fort Historic Site and continues to Maryland on the East Coast
  • Interstate 80 spans east-west in Northern Utah through Salt Lake City, over the Wasatch Mountains, and northeast into Wyoming
  • U.S. Route 6 runs east-west through Central Utah. Stretches of the route are concurrent with the other major highways including I-15, I-70, and US-50.
  • U.S. Route 191 runs north-south through Eastern Utah and passes through Moab and serves as the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
  • U.S. Route 89 spans north-south through Central Utah’s Wasatch Mountains
Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic drives in Utah

Although many roads in Utah provide beautiful views some routes have been designated as Scenic Byways. However, not all of these routes are RV-friendly.

Utah Scenic Byways include:

Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway

This scenic route twists and turns through the towering cliffs in Zion National Park. It follows up a series of switchbacks and through a tunnel built right into the rock cliff. Keep in mind the road has a vehicle length limit of 40 feet (or 50 feet for vehicle combinations) and is not suitable for large RVs. 

Scenic Byway 12

Scenic Byway 12 is a designated All-American Road that connects Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Park. The byway leads over Boulder Mountain Pass and through Red Canyon tunnels.

Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic Byway 24

This scenic stretch of US Route 24 runs through Capitol Reef National Park. The route begins in Torrey and heads east through the park passing by the visitor center. It continues through a remote area before reaching the small town of Hanksville and then follows north to connect with I-70. 

Mt. Carmel to Long Valley Scenic Byway

This byway follows a beautiful stretch of US-89 for about 60 miles. It begins in the town of Kanab and leads north toward Mt. Carmel Junction. Several roads branch off the byway and provide access to Grand Staircase National Monument. The road winds through red rock canyons and a forested mountain landscape until it comes to an end at the US-89 and US-12 junction.

Logan Canyon Scenic Byway

If you’re camping in Utah during the fall, the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway is the perfect route to take to see the seasonal foliage. The route runs east-west on US-89 from Logan to Garden City and on to Bear Lake. This area provides access to all kinds of outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and skiing.

National Parks in Utah

Utah is best known for its Mighty Five National Parks. The parks are all within a relatively short drive of one another and some can be connected via the scenic byways listed above.

If you plan on visiting at least several of the parks purchase an America the Beautiful Pass ahead of time. This annual pass is $80 and good for the entire year. Considering the entrance fee to these national parks are $35 for each location the annual pass pays for itself after visiting just three parks.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park

Zion is the westernmost national park in Utah located 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The landscape is dominated by giant sandstone cliffs and slot canyons providing ample opportunities for outdoor adventures. Hike the park’s scenic trails such as the famous Angels Landing, climb or canyoneer in the slot canyons, or enjoy tubing on the Virgin River.

There are three campgrounds in Zion including South Campground and Watchman Campground. There are also several campgrounds and RV parks within a short drive of the park.

Bordering the eastern entrance to the park is Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. This vast, 4,000-acre ranch offers spacious RV sites, a variety of glamping accommodations such as cabins, yurts, and Conestoga wagons as well as on-site activities available through East Zion Adventures.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Canyon National Park

Less than two hours east of Zion, Bryce Canyon is known for its massive hoodoos and spires. At 9,100 feet in elevation, Bryce Canyon is nearly double that of Zion (at just 4,000 feet). The landscape becomes blanketed in snow during the winter and one of the two campgrounds in the park closes for the season. 

Sunset Campground is open April 15–October 31 with three loops of campsites. Reservations are required during the peak season May 20–October 15. North Campground has 99 campsites that are available all year on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can get sweeping views of Bryce Amphitheater from both Sunrise and Sunset Points. If you want a closer look hike the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop to make your way down into the canyon. 

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is perhaps Utah’s most underrated National Park. The park is 116 miles northeast of Bryce Canyon via the Scenic Byway 12. Much like Zion, the landscape is centered round the massive red rock cliffs.

There is only one developed campground in Capitol Reef and it is open year round: Fruita Campground accepts reservations during the peak season March 1–October 31. The campground has spacious sites for all types of RVs as well as a dump station and potable water. The area is remote with no cell service, so come prepared and be ready to unplug. 

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is not only the most iconic park in Utah but one of the most famous national parks in the country. The park is home to the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. The natural arches and giant rock formations provide amazing views. Stop by the viewpoint overlooking the famous Delicate Arch or take the 3-mile hike to see the arch up close.

As a relatively compact national park, Arches does not have the acreage of some of the other national parks for guests to spread out. As a result, a timed program is in place to manage the crowds that the park sees between April and October. For additional information refer to 10 National Parks That Require Early Reservations for 2024 Visits.

There is one campground located in the park, Devils Garden Campground. Due to the park’s popularity, reservations are essential if you want a spot. There are numerous full-service RV parks in the Moab area and BLM land for boondocking just a short drive from the park entrance.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is about an hour’s drive from Moab. The park is divided into four districts; the Island In The Sky District is the most popular and the easiest to access. The Needles District is located in the southeastern part of the park with scenic hiking trails, a campground, and a visitor center. The Maze is the most remote district in the park. Those visiting the Maze will need to be completely self-sufficient as there are no services available. Lastly, the Rivers District provides access to the Colorado and Green Rivers which carve the park’s massive canyons.

One of the best known highlights in the park is the Mesa Arch. This iconic rock formation is located in the Island In The Sky District just off Grand View Point Road. The arch is easy to access from the trailhead at just a half-mile walk with minimal elevation gain.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah State Parks

While the Mighty Five National Parks get all the attention, there are several Utah State Parks with equally impressive views. Some notable parks include:

  • Dead Horse Point State Park is just a short drive from Moab and Canyonlands National Park. The park also has two RV campgrounds along with hiking trails and beautiful canyon views.
  • Deer Creek State Park sits about an hour away from Salt Lake City on the shores of Deer Creek Reservoir. The park has great views of the Wasatch Mountains, a campground with waterfront sites, and opportunities for fishing and boating. 
  • Goblin Valley State Park located about an hour from Capitol Reef has hiking trails, unique rock formations, as well as an RV-friendly campground with about 23 sites.
  • Jordanelle State Park makes a great home base just 40 minutes from Salt Lake City. The park is located on the shores of Jordanelle Reservoir and offers several activities like hiking, biking, swimming, boating, and fishing.
  • Rockport State Park is also just 40 minutes away from Salt Lake City on the shores of Rockport Reservoir. The park has five developed campgrounds with both RV and tent sites available. 
  • Utah Lake State Park is Utah’s largest freshwater lake at roughly 148 square miles. With an average water temperature of 75 degrees, Utah Lake provides an excellent outlet for swimming, boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet skiing.  Anglers will find channel catfish, walleye, white bass, black bass, and several species of panfish.
  • Located just 15 miles east of St. George, Sand Hollow State Park offers a wide range of recreation opportunities. With its warm, blue waters and red sandstone landscape, it is one of the most popular parks because it has so much to offer. Boat and fish on Sand Hollow Reservoir, explore and ride the dunes of Sand Mountain Recreation Area on an off-highway vehicle, RV, or tent camp in the modern campground.
Utah Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping near Salt Lake City

There are numerous campgrounds and RV parks to choose from in the Salt Lake City area.

This includes Salt Lake City KOA Holiday, Sun Outdoors Salt Lake City (formerly Pony Express RV Resort), nearby state parks, forest campgrounds, and private RV parks like the highly rated Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City.   

Camping on the Great Salt Lake

If you’re camping in Salt Lake City, you’ll be close to all kinds of attractions, restaurants, and businesses. However, if you want to camp even closer to the Great Salt Lake, there are a few state park campgrounds that will put you just a stone’s throw from the beach.

Antelope Island is the largest island on the Great Salt Lake. The island is preserved as a state park with a few RV-friendly campgrounds, beach access, and several hiking trails that overlook the lake.

Great Salt Lake State Park also has a campground open year-round. The campground can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length. The sites include water and electricity and have access to the park’s dump station. The park additionally offers boat slips and public viewpoints overlooking the lake.

Camping on Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell camping

Lake Powell is located in Southern Utah and stretches into Northern Arizona. It is located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area as part of the Colorado River. There are several RV campgrounds in the area including NPS-managed campgrounds and privately operated parks that provide spacious RV campsites and access to the river for activities.

Bullfrog RV & Campground is operated by Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas on the north end of Lake Powell. The campground has spacious tent and RV sites with full hookups and concrete pads. They have a camp store as well as a dump station, potable water, and a launch ramp.

Camping near Moab

Moab is a prime destination in Eastern Utah for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its close proximity to the iconic Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and several other parks and trails.

The city has a wide variety of restaurants, guided tours are available, and there are numerous RV camping accommodations to choose from. One of the best options in the area is Moab Valley RV Resort with spacious RV sites, tiny home rentals, and all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay.

Boondocking in Utah

Did you know that nearly 42 percent of Utah is public land? According to the BLM, the bureau manages over 22.9 million acres of public land in the state. This provides endless opportunities for RVers to go boondocking off the grid away from the crowded campgrounds.

Plan your Utah camping trip

Camping in Utah is a great adventure to experience in your RV. For more tips check out these blog posts:

Worth Pondering…

…the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere.

—Edward Abbey, American author and former ranger at Arches National Park, on Canyonlands