Tag Archives: campground

Utah Road Trip Diaries: Camping, Kayaking, and A Lot of Great Stuff in Moab

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After leaving Capitol Reef NP, we stopped by a local restaurant at the intersection of two main highways that claimed to have some of the “best food” around. It was just aiite (I guess their nice personalities and great effort makes up for it). Outside on the patio, we ate our sandwiches and talked to two guys that had been on a similar national parks road trip for a few months. We were so jealous! They went to the Grand Canyon too (my dad kept texting me fire updates and weather reports about Arizona, saying it was like 124 and 126, so we avoided that whole state in general). AND they actually saw bighorn sheep! One of the guys was like, “Yeah, he was a daddy sheep, looking at us all mean-like because he had a baby sheep behind him”. Sounded more like a protective bighorn sheep mama.

 As we drove on we continued to see more signs saying “America’s Scenic Highways”. And, ooohhhhmygod, it was true – the land looked sofuckingAMAZING!! Tall, brick-red and dark-colored rock formations surrounded the land around the road. Unfckingreal.

IMG_1581-155The only problem was that we had been going in the wrong direction for quite some time now (and we were almost out of gas, with no stations around for miles!). We actually drove to the border of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (also near Natural Bridges) instead of going north towards Moab. We were so SAD to have to turn around (I’ve seen tons of photos of Glen Canyon in Backpacker magazine, and I have to say that it’s definitely a top priority on my next road trip. It looks stunning out there!)

It was so pretty, however, that we just had to get out of the car and take a shitload of photos:

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Amphitheater-like dome

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Dark stripes of water stains on red and tan rock

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Looking out towards Glen Canyon

Luckily the Highlander just barely made it to the next gas station about 26 miles out. We headed northeast this time – on our way to MOAB!

IMG_1617It was evening when we arrived in the city. So gorgeous.

IMG_1623Instead of staying in town, however, we stayed true to our camping roots and found an awesome little BLM campsite on the edge of town. It ran alongside the Colorado river right next to the highway, but it looked really nice. We soon found out however that all the campsites had been taken up for the night. One campsite that was vacant, however, were the incredibly humongous group campsites at the end of the grounds. We asked the camp host if we could just pay and stay there for a night, and were elated when he said that we could. IT WAS HUGE!!!

Hot, sweaty, and lacking shower facilities for the past few days, I went over to one of the eight picnic tables on our campsite and began to take a shower. I didn’t care that it was a dry campground (no running water) and that I had to use our own water reserves; I was disgusting and something had to be done about it. However, I have to say that there’s nothing more peaceful or liberating than taking a butt-nekkid makeshift sponge-bath/shower on a pitch black night during the middle of a Utah summer. It was like 75 degrees at the time. So relaxing.

We soon found out however, that boats would go up and down the Colorado river at night. A large truck would drive slowly back and forth down the highway, shining its bright stadium lights on the tall rock mountains bordering the river. It was pretty bizarre (The next day we found out that a  certain Colorado tour company conducts nighttime river tours. I think it actually has a religious theme to it. Oh, Utah…).
IMG_1633When we woke up in the morning and looked around….OH MAN. We couldn’t have picked a more amazingly gorgeous campground to stay at!!!!

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Those same tall rock walls in the morning

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My little REI Campdome tent against a stunning backdrop

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Utah Diaries: From Escalante State Park to Burgers in Boulder

We were pretty beat as we drove away from Bryce Canyon National Park. After an all day hike amongst the hoodoos, we had to drive a few hours to our next stop: Escalante. Actually – to be honest – we didn’t really know what our next stop would be. I guess that’s the beauty of going on a road trip! A month ago when we were planning our trip, I saw a picture of some gorgeous slot canyons/land formations in a Utah tourist magazine, and decided that we had to go and check out that area. It was in Escalante, but we really didn’t know what that meant. Escalante National Monument? Escalante State Park and Petrified Forest? Escalante city? We had no idea.

As we drove on, we passed by buffalo farms on the roadsides, and miles and miles of the most beautiful landscape ever. No wonder this highway (Highway 12, I believe?) has been designated as one of the “Top Most Scenic Highways of America”. I honestly thought they were lying at first. But then it just kept getting better and better:

Jumping for joy

Jumping for joy

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Mountains of red and tan rock as far as the eyes can see. Check out the highway on the bottom right.

Unfortunately, when we rolled into the town of Escalante, the visitor center had already closed (it was already past 5 pm). Joy was still sick and pretty tired, so while there were many places we could have camped at, I made an executive decision to stop and stay at Escalante State Park (and Petrified Forest – it was so cute). It also had a lake/reservoir nearby, and it was getting late. Joy likes water. I thought it might be a good match for us…

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Zion National Park: Hiking to Angel’s Landing

So…I really wanted to update this blog on a weekly basis during our month-long National Parks road trip. I REALLY did. And I tried! But there was hardly any interwebs connection wherever we went, thus making it nearly impossible to do any blog updating. Plus we were camping or backpacking the entire time. No wifi there.

After we experienced pretty much THE BEST TRIP EVER, we came back in August and I had to go directly to grad school. Nowadays, I do NOTHING ELSE except read a shit-ton of books and try to not look clueless in class.

OH YEAH. I digress. Back to the main story…

Angel’s Landing. Yeah, it was awesome. I LOVE ZION NATIONAL PARK! Top 5 fer SURE.

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Waking up to this lovely sight of the sun coming up over the mountains from our campsite

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Our campsite at the South campground

The great thing about Zion is that we arrived in the height of camping season and STILL found ourselves a campsite! The South campground is first come first served, while the other one contains reservable sites. Reservations are not needed, however. It seems that most people camp just for a night or so, while other visitors stay at nearby hotels or lodges.

Even at 9 am, the day was already getting hot.  Joy and I took the free shuttle to the beginning of Angel’s Landing, where we began our 2.5 mile ascent to the top of the mountain. NOTE: Bring a lot of water and start the hike before 9 am, when the day is not too hot and the morning is beautiful. We saw way too many people hiking up the trail around 1 pm with a small bottle of water shared between them. You WILL pass out.

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The beginning of our journey to Angel’s Landing

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Our mascot, Rainbow Pony

The hike has a lot of switch backs on the hike up, but it wasn’t too, too bad. There are plenty of places to stop along the trail and take in the view. Plus it’s paved almost all the way up! Never seen that before.

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Rock scrambling pit stop

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Road Trip, Days 1-3: Blue Lakes Campground

Joy striking a power pose at Twin Lake near Blue Lakes campground, CA

Joy striking a power pose at Twin Lake near Blue Lakes campground, CA

OH MAN. The interwebs out here is so terrible. I just wrote a whole long blog post about this campground (bumming free wifi from a grocery store near Zion National Park) and then it ALL crashed and erased. It’s 10 am and I’m attempting to blog again from the inside of our car (in an underground grocery store parking lot, because even though it’s early it’s still crazy fcking hot outside) while Joy takes a nap in the driver’s seat. Also: no one out here likes Credo mobile. I never have service! Sorry mom and dad, you’ll have to get updates about us from Joy’s phone.

Joy, Rob and Mey loungin at the edge of Lower Blue Lake

Joy, Rob and Mey loungin at the edge of Lower Blue Lake

This campground here is the shit. Just look at the photos. Nothing but clear sunny skies, the bluest waters…and swimming and floating and more swimming and more eating bomb ass food all day long (aged cheeses and bread, watermelon beer, fish tacos, raisin bread French toast, Reem’s “fool” dish made of fava beans).

Ah YEAH

Ah YEAH

Dinnertime

Breakfast: french toast with strawberries, smoked sausage, and egg scramble with spinach.

Just remember to bring lots of mosquito spray and a vehicle with high clearance (to handle the rocky dirt roads) and you’ll be having the time of your life. OH. And don’t forget to bring floaties. We had to haul 5 people to a granite island on 3 small floaties.

The swim over to the islands

Naptime

Naptime

You can’t see it in the photos, but Reem and I had to float/swim “Princess J” over to an island for one trip while he sat on the cush spot on top of the donut floatie. It’s pretty hard to swim when you’re hysterical and laughing that hard.

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Backpacking Diaries: Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur

When a friend of mine suggested that we do our first backpacking trip of 2012 to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur’s Ventana Wilderness, I said:

“HELL. yeah.”

Into the Ventana Wilderness

Into the Ventana Wilderness

Hiking and camping in Big Sur is always one of those must do’s for any native Californian.

The trip didn’t start off very well, unfortunately. Since we settled on going Sykes just a month before the trip, finding a vacant base-camp campsite up and down Highway 1 was pretty much impossible. EVERYTHING was booked up (we also went the weekend before the 4th of July, BIG MISTAKE). However, since I had just gone camping in Big Sur in 2010, I remembered a very small and far away campground called Botcher’s Gap –I was pretty sure it would have vacancies – it’s mostly a camp for backpackers.

After the long and winding drive up and down the mountain to Botchers Gap camp (whenever I go there, I always think that I’m getting lost! Just turn off of Hwy 1 onto Palos Colorados Rd. and you’ll be fine) we finally found ourselves a base camp – albeit a far away and uneven one.

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We BBQ’ed our veggies, ate our tamales, enjoyed our fire, and went straight to bed.

Pluses of Botchers Gap: cheap, guaranteed vacancies, beautiful views if you’re lucky to get one of the 3 spots on the edge of the valley, easy access to one section of the Ventana Wilderness (not near Sykes though). Downsides: uneven ground, sites close together with no privacy, STANK-ass pit toilets, all sites are rimmed with poison oak. Don’t roll off your site!

In the morning, we woke and made the drive down the mountain to the Sykes hot springs trailhead at the Big Sur Forest Service Station. To get to Sykes Hot Springs via the Pine Ridge Trail, it’s about a 10 mile hike.

Notes about the hike:

Despite the fact that the initial part of the trail that ascends through a lush green forest, the first 3 miles of the hike kinda suck. It’s almost all uphill, most of it is very exposed to the sun, it’s narrow, there’s lots of poison oak, and the trail is deteriorating at times. Do it in the early morning before it gets really hot and dry on that dusty trail. Luckily, after the first 3 miles, it becomes much more enjoyable.

A typical view on the Pine Ridge Trail

A typical view on the Pine Ridge Trail

There’s a few good camps to stop off at, so if you get tired, arrange to make your pit stops there!

Filtering water at Terrace camp, five miles in.

Filtering water at Terrace camp, five miles in.

Halfway through the day, our group decided to go to a camp at the 8 mile mark and save Sykes for the next day, because we didn’t think we would want to do 10 miles straight in one day (our group was a mix of 1st time backpackers and people who haven’t backpacked in years). But we missed the turn off for the earlier camps and went straight to Sykes. It turned out to be the best decision.

The campgrounds at Sykes are numerous – besides the first ones you see on the right when you go do down to the river, there’s tons as you follow the river to your left. As we ventured on and on to find a site, a bunch of naked circus hippies wearing tu-tu’s and hula hoops approached us…

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