It is never a goal to camp in a gravel pit, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. My family must have camped in gravel pits when I was a kid, because it seems quite natural to me to use a gravel pit as a home for the night. But not everyone was raised like I was. On Labor Day weekend I was heading home with my friend Jan. We were focusing on getting home, no longer in the vacationing mode. We were in Fields, Oregon about 6 PM and were starting to think about where we would spend the night. I thought the BLM Page Spring campground an hour north may be full since it was a holiday weekend. I asked at Fields if they could recommend a place we could pull over for the night. Sure, there was a gravel pit a couple of miles north. A couple planned to go target shooting there that night, but we were not to worry, they were a nice couple. Sounded great to me.
Driving Nevada Highway 50 westward, I experienced the basin and range geology first hand. The broad valley basins and then up over a mountain range. A slow motion up-then-down that held a peaceful predictable rhythm. The green valleys and then the forested ranges tipped with snow made me lust to stop and explore, but that would have to be another trip. I needed to get home.
Heading home I thought I might need a place to spend a night northward of St George, Utah. Reading blogs I found someone had spent a night at the Parowan Gap petroglyphs. I tucked away that fact for possible use later. It was now later and Jan and I were heading to The Gap. We arrived at an interesting site to visit but one of marginal camping appeal. We did our best to be away from the county road and away from a dirt road hoping that neither would have much traffic that night. We sat enjoying some wine, alternating looking at the interesting mountain of rock and looking the other way at green grass meadows outlined by trees. The area begged to be explored, it had a charming sweet feel. But exploring would have to be done by others. We were on a mission to get home and back to work. Continue reading
Traveling west of Page, Arizona on Hwy 89 we were looking for a place to call home for a few nights. We stopped at the BLM Paria Contact Station to ask about places to camp. The friendly lady gave us two recommendations: The gravel pit up behind the Contact Station and a place a bit west. The gravel pit looked OK but we decided to check out the other location. We were glad we did; we scored, having a really nice spot to spend a few days.
I needed to drive into St. George to pick up a friend that was joining me. To simplify the logistics, I reserved a camp site at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park campground. The campground was as one expects, paved loop roads and camping neighbors. After too many days with sponge baths the highlight for me was a hot shower.
I stopped at the BLM office in Canyonville, Utah to get my free camping permit and to enquire about boondocking sites. The woman at the office was efficient, helpful and dutifully gave me a location to boondock. I think they give everyone the same location when asked. The highlight of the information center was finding a road guide geology book written for the Cottonwood Canyon Road. Anyone that has any interest in geology should stop at the center and buy the book.
My next adventures were near the Hole in the Rock Road east of Escalante, Utah. Driving to that location from the east was a bonus, somehow in my hours of trip planning I didn’t learn how incredibly scenic Highway 12 is east of the Hole in the Rock Road. Driving along I found myself on a hogback with sandstone canyons on both side. “Oh my, oh my,” escaped from my mouth as I drove. I slowed down trying to keep my eyes on the twisting road but I also wanting to see every inch of the scenery and miss nothing. It was a challenge.
Ah, a perfect example of nowhere in Utah. Camping on the edge of a canyon showing the ribbons of stone and no one within miles of me. I was driving the Burr Trail and had heard that there were boondocking sites west of Long Canyon. I found the best site in the world on the north side of the road just before the road heads down into Long Canyon.
After a day of exploring I loved sitting in my comfy camp chair, drinking a cool beer and absorbing life.
After enjoying the San Rafael Swell area I moved southward. In Utah you don’t have to travel far to find new adventures. My first stop was at the BLM office is Hanksville. It was enjoyable to talk with the man working the information desk when I arrived. He was a local that loved the land and suggested over a week’s works of activities. Such enthusiasm for the land is fun to experience and share.
A highlight for me was a visit to the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry. I knew no one would be working at the quarry, but the thought of seeing an actual dinosaur quarry was exciting. Off I went following the BLM directions – turn north onto Cow Dung Road about three miles west of Hanksville. The drive to the site was gorgeous.
When I started planning my trip I kept reading references to the San Rafael Swell. Slot canyons, historical mines, wild horses, pictographs, goblins, BLM land that will allow the dogs to run around, hikes, and lots of land for boondocking. It sounded like my kind of place and it didn’t disappoint me. I had allocated three days of my trip for exploring the area, I could have spent over a week and not seen everything.