First Time Visiting The Valley of the Gods

It was windy as forcasted the next morning, and Lee was outside waiting for Harry and Vicki to leave because he wanted to pay forward the favor Steven had done for us, and take a picture of Harry and Vicki’s rig as they left. When he noticed they stopped  near the entrance for a long time he walked over to check on them, and Harry told him that there was an error message on his dash about the wiring harness for the trailer and he had noticed that the trailer brakes weren’t working.

This is something that has happened to us twice (once in Alaska when Lee, Bill, and Ben had to cobble something together) and a second time more recently when it stopped working again while we drove through Texas to the RV Dreams reunion rally. Because of these incidents, Lee always carries a spare RV Blade Connector plug (only $6.41 on Amazon) and because they are universal he was more than happy to give it to Harry.  I have included the link above, and seriously, do yourself a favor and buy one of these.  I think we have proven that you are bound to be in an inconvenient place when one fails!

Before Harry replaced it, Lee recommended making a diagram of the wiring before removing the old one.  Lee had learned the hard way that even though the connectors are universal, the wiring colors are not always, and it was much easier to wire the new one if you knew which wire went where.   So they did that and then replaced the connector pretty quickly.  It was especially impressive because they were outside in the crazy wind, but that didn’t phase either one of them.

Vicki and I, on the other hand,  stayed in her truck and were talking and laughing until they were done.  I know we got the better end of that deal, which I was totally fine with, and it was nice getting some more time to talk before they left.  The new plug worked perfectly and after testing the brakes, we all said goodbye again and they headed down the road.  I am really glad we got to spend some one-on-one time together and it was wonderful getting to know them better.

Harry and Vicki pulling out with a shiny new trailer connector, and on the way to their next adventure!

By the time Lee finished and we got settled back in our RV, it was really rocking in the wind.  Lee said it felt a little like we were in a boat in high seas and the motion started to get to both of us a little. Ultimately Lee put  rubber wheel chocks between our trailer wheels, lifted the back jacks, and lowered the front, which helped a little.  We really didn’t want to just sit in the rig though, and since there was lots of blue sky (despite the wind) we decided to give The Valley of the Gods a try.  We were hoping that it would be less windy at lower elevation, which turned out to be the case, so we headed out for a scenic drive.

Through sheer dumb luck we selected the entrance on Highway 163, but you can also access the road on Highway 261 just south of the Moki Dugway.  After traveling the road I absolutely recommend going in off 163, and maybe even turning around and going back that way, because I found the second half of the trip pretty miserable.  The first half of the road was absolutely incredible and definitely the views earned the Valley of the Gods name.  I did the best I could, but the pictures absolutely don’t do it justice, and since the drive is only a couple of hours, it really isn’t something that should be missed.

There were several boondocking spots near HWY 163 and most had 2-3 bars of AT&T

 


Yes, it was that red.


The rocks were beautiful, both from far away and closeup, which isn’t always the case.

 

Despite the wind it was a perfect blue sky day

 

These two rocks were like sentinels at a gate.

 

Panoramic of the entrance to the best section

 

The road was really great until this point and friendly for a big rig, then we hit a dry creekbed. The drop off was much steeper than it looks.

 

Definitely wouldn’t want to bring a rig through here, because we took it slow in our truck due to low clearance.  Lee went slowly on the left side which had a little more gravel and we did OK.  This was by far the worst spot, and our 4×2 handled it just fine.

 

So glad we made it through because on the other side the views were even better

 

This formation was my favorite because it looked like toy soldiers are lined in a row

 

The boulders at the base were taller than me.

 

A little truck porn 🙂

 

Unfortunately after we got through the great section the road got really bouncy. Lee wanted to turn around and do it again with the Go Pro, but I actually had to pull a veto on that idea. The first half was absolutely tremendous, the second half not so much, but I would absolutely do it again, just maybe turn around and drive back the way we came once we’re past the good part.

You can also boondock in this area, which many friends of ours have done and liked.  If you do, I wouldn’t go too far from the 163 highway entrance with the big rig unless you have a second vehicle to check out the road conditions.  We liked it so much we even briefly discussed moving down there from Gooseneck, but moving is a pain, and we were pretty happy at Gooseneck Park.    Next time though we might check it out, because it would be nice to spend a little more time there walking around.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time at Lone Rock Primitive Beach Campground

By Thursday we were ready to move on to our next region, and we ran into a bit of a snag.  Originally I wanted to head straight to Bryce Canyon from Zion, but the weather forecast was for below 50 degrees every day, down in the 20’s and 30’s at night, and even worse, very windy.  So we changed our plan and were going to head to Page AZ, but I really wanted to find a place to stay closer to Kanab.  Lee was concerned there wouldn’t be enough in Kanab proper to warrant staying there and then moving on to Page, so I called Cori and confirmed there was plenty to do from there.  We’ve been “cheating off her paper” since we started this trip, but I also wanted to have the flexibility to explore options on my own as well.   The trouble was when I strike out on my own, I have to figure out where to stay, and once again I was getting conflicting reviews from Campendium.  There were lots of spots along Hancock Road near the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, but one of the reviews said they were too sandy for big rigs and another said it was fine as long as you stopped on the road and walked the site before pulling in.  We decided to check it out for ourselves, especially since it was only a couple of hours from Zion, and headed to Kanab.

First we had to dump our black and grey tanks, and fill our fresh water, so we stopped at a Chevron on 59 East that we had seen when we went to Gooseberry Mesa.  This was the first time I have ever had to find a place to dump and take on fresh water, and despite having several apps to help me it still was more difficult than I thought it would be.  The Chevron charged $7 to dump, which was fine, but then told us the water was not potable.  I am not 100% sure that was true after seeing their brand spanking new setup, but it wasn’t worth the risk for us. They also had bulk propane, which we needed, but not surprisingly there was no one there who could fill it.  This happens to us all the time. Even at truck stops that have RV lanes there is often bulk propane for sale, but nobody there trained to dispense it. By this time it was 12:30pm so we ate a quick lunch in their very large parking lot, and then got back on the road.

Along the way, near Pipe Springs Monument, we stopped at another Chevron, this one owned and operated by the local reservation.  Even though it didn’t show on any of my apps, they were fine with us filling up with water and had a nice big area on the north side of the building that we could use.  It took about a half an hour to fill the tank, because the flow rate was low, but we both felt better having water in the tank.  Now we could stop anywhere and stay, so we headed to Hancock road.

The road itself was paved, and very big-rig friendly, and the views along the way of the coral colored sand dunes were really pretty.  I wasn’t nervous going down the road, because I saw it ended at the State campground and knew if nothing else we would be able to turn around there if we needed to.  Almost from the beginning there were lots of places to boondock.  Some of the sand roads went back pretty far, and we saw several RV’s tucked back in the trees.  The views were pretty as well and I was getting pretty excited about the spot, but every time we stopped and got out and looked we could see relatively deep ruts in the sand roads.

Impossible (for me) to get the color in a picture but it was a coral pink. Lee, by the way, only saw the sand as tan colored so depending on how you perceive color it might not be this pretty.

If you own an ATV I would absolutely recommend this place. Looks like a ton of fun

 

Lee was getting concerned that I would try to push this issue, but I reassured him that I wouldn’t ask him to pull into anywhere he wasn’t comfortable with.  Unfortunately that ended up being in none of the spots, and we spent a frustrating hour stopping, getting out and looking, and then continuing to drive.  Soft sand, unlike hard packed dirt, can be a real problem with RV’s, and since we didn’t have four-wheel drive and there was no cell signal on the road, it just wasn’t worth the risk.  There was one big spot that would probably have worked near the intersection of Hancock and County Road 43, but it was full of RV’s with ATV’s and wasn’t really what we were looking for. The only cool thing about the drive is we got hit by a pink whirling dervish of sand that was at least 30 feet across.  That surprised both of us, and was really cool. The rest of the time was just frustrating though, especially because the location was perfect for what we wanted to do.

Ultimately we ended up driving all the way to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Campground and because of a cancellation they did have a spot available.  Unfortunately it was just a big parking lot, more designed for people looking to use ATVs in the park, and since we didn’t have an ATV, at $28 a night wasn’t a good bargain for us.  They were doing construction at the park, and it looked like they were putting in several rows of “proper” RV sites, with pedetals and spigots, so that’s a good sign for the future. It was pretty and I loved the coral colored sand, and I would highly recommend it if you have an ATV, but since we didn’t have one and it was around 3pm we decided to keep moving and headed towards Page.

Once we got on 89 the road was absolutely beautiful.  We crossed through the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, The Vermillion Cliffs Monument, and the south end of Glen Canyon along the way.  It was rough driving right by that stuff without stopping to take pictures and explore, but it was getting later and I was trying to find out more about the Stateline Campground.  This is a small (and free) BLM campground right in the middle between Kanab and Page.  Unfortunately it is down a 10 mile road and once I saw how steep it was (plus dirt) I decided to not even chance it.  If we got there and the sites were too small for us, it would be a long drive back to the main road and then towards Page.

Finally we made it to Lone Rock Primitive Beach campground, and we were pretty stressed from the day.  What should have been a really mellow 3 hour drive, turned into an all day trip and neither one of us was very happy about it.  When we got into the campground we took a moment to get our bearings, and both realized we weren’t exactly sure how to proceed. It was after 5pm, so the entrance shack was unmanned, but there was a pay station that took credit cards.  The campground has fresh water, trash dumpsters, and an RV dump station near the entrance, but not clearly designated camping spots.  We paid for one night, and then drove in and after looking at the sign that read “Deep Sand-Proceed At Your Own Risk” we headed down to the beach.  There were lots of big rigs there, and a place to park higher up if you weren’t comfortable going down, but since there were several roads leading down to the beach area, we weren’t sure which way to go.  Ultimately we picked a path that looked a little rockier and more solid than soft sand, and was to the north and made it down successfully.  I am glad we went that way, because later Lee took the truck alone up a different path on the south end and almost got stuck in the softer sand.

Driving into Lone Rock

The booth which is manned mainly between 9am and 6pm as far as we could tell. Since it’s still off season it wasn’t every day

There is an automatic pay station for after hours. $14 a night, which is steep for boondocking but they do have trash, water, and a dump onsite

We went down, and most of the spots right along the water were taken, but we found a spot just a little higher up that was right across from the lone rock.  It took us a while to place ourselves just right, and to get our RV level, but when it was done we both took a breath because the spot was absolutely beautiful.

If you are not comfortable parking on the beach you can stay up here on the plateau. Our friends Linda and Steve did, and really liked the view from there

The north end of the beach is much safer for bigger rigs

We were told to stay away from the south end so we did

I will say, to be completely transparent, that someone had left a pair of shorts and some toilet paper directly in front of our site, but I put on some gloves and put it in a trashbag and then it was perfect. Despite the amount of people it was very quiet, so quiet I could even hear the beating of a crows wings in the morning.  And at night the sky was a “bowl full of stars” that completely came down to the horizon.  Breathtaking.

I circled our RV in the spot we finally chose. It looks crowded, but there was at least 4 RV lengths between us and our neighbors.

View from our rig

The cliff in the front had an inlet at the base of it and gave us some extra protection from the wind. Plus it was more rocky on the cliff than down on the beach proper.

 

So we are here and not sure how long we will stay because this area requires some research.  Unlike a National Park where the information center has everything you need, this area will require a little more time to make sure we see everything. As of this writing Lee has gone into town and is getting propane and trying to get some information about the area.  I am using this time to get caught up on the blogging so I can clear my mind of Zion and start fresh in this area.

Not surprisingly I am finding it hard to keep up, because of the amount of pictures we are taking.  I am taking Lee’s advice and going to write the narrative first, while it’s fresh in my mind, and then fill in the pictures later.  It’s not so much that I feel pressure to blog in a timely manner as I find that the more time that passes the less I can remember about the experience.  I can only hold so much in that aging brain of mine and want to capture the moment as completely as I can.  I don’t want to spend the daylight hours on that so I am taking time in the mornings and evening as I can to chip away at it.  Thankfully our solar system is working wonderfully,  and I have more than enough power to use the computer anytime I want.

Speaking of that, I want to take a moment and thank Greg of RV Solar Solutions for designing the perfect system for us.  We could never stay in places like this without our solar and I am beyond happy with the system that we have.  They are a great company and provide a great product, and yes, they are friends of ours, but I am a tough customer.  I would do it again without a second of hesitation, and highly recommend them if you want to stay in places with a view like this, for free, or nearly free.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time Boondocking in Utah

Since we only had a four hour drive to our destination in Utah, we took our time in the morning, saying goodbye to everyone and making sure our rig was ready to roll.  The jack problem is totally fixed!!  Amazing difference, and the new stairs are wonderful.  It’s amazing what you can get used to over time, and I was super happy when we buttoned everything up.  As I mentioned before, this was our first time traveling without a set schedule, but we did get a list of places we wanted to see from Cori’s Blog, Deb’s Blog, a spreadsheet Kat and Bert sent us, and most importantly a two hour conversation with Jo and Ben.  They used to live in Colorado, and have spent a ton of time boondocking in Utah.  The hard part for them was that they were always in a truck camper, so really had to think through all the spots from the perspective of us pulling a 40 foot fifth-wheel.  Jo also turned me onto an app called Campendium, which I had heard of but never used, and it turned out to be a wonderful resource.

Based on their recommendation we had a potential spot very very near Zion and we headed to Smithsonian Butte.  The drive on Interstate 15 itself was amazing as we crossed from Nevada, to Arizona, and then Utah.  In particular I liked Virgin Gorge in Arizona and then when we entered Utah the gorgeous red rock views started almost immediately.

Virgin Gorge

Entering Utah

 

Our first stop was Smithsonian Butte, but despite the fact that we saw big rigs parked there on Google maps we learned this area was no longer open for camping.  That was such a shame because the views were stunning, but after Lee talked to a couple of locals he verified that the road ahead where we would be able to camp was definitely not big rig friendly.

Where Ben had seen big rigs parked

This would have been the perfect spot!

Gorgeous views

Next we went to North View BLM campground, which was free and along a creek but the available spots were far too small for us.  It was also packed with tent campers and I wasn’t really crazy about the vibe so we headed to the next area. Since we don’t have a second vehicle we parked off the main road and walked in, which worked out pretty well.

Decent views but the road was rough and the sites very small.

I was getting a little worried at this point, especially because the reviews on the next place, Sheep Bridge Road, stated that it was great but often very full.  It is a 2 mile long graded dirt road to reach the first spot.  We ended up turning down the first side road we saw and not that long after found a prime spot with 4 bars of AT&T coverage!  (There are tons of spots here, but for the record our coordinates were 37.1893, -113.2235).   I was so happy, and we quickly set up, watched the sunset, ate some dinner, and made a fire.  Then the moon came up and the light breeze and moonlight were very romantic.  Absolutely amazing, and what a wonderful way to start our Utah adventure 🙂

View from our kitchen window.

 

Nice firepit already in place

 

Behind us and to the right

 

Behind us and to the left

 

Rig porn 🙂

Hard t0 capture the colors at sunset.  This picture doesn’t come close to doing it justice

(I completely forgot to put this in the original post about the reunion rally, so here’s a little video I made for the attendees with photos supplied by RV Dreamers of their travels that was shown at the potluck dinner. For those that attended the rally and want to save a copy of the video to your computer, you can start the video and then ONCE IT IS PLAYING, right click on it and select “Save Video As” to download it so you can have the file permanently on your computer. If you don’t want to download it you can just watch it. As always, video looks best full screen and in HD, and those controls can be found in the lower right corner of the video player window. Plus it looks better in this format rather than all washed out with a projector and a screen. – Lee)

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.