Camping Tips for Southern Utah
as I like driving through southern Utah, there
are some drawbacks to traveling through here in the summer. First, it gets
pretty hot, with summer high temperatures often reaching 90 to 95 degrees.
Another problem is that small,
biting flies called cedar gnats (because they live in cedar trees) and even smaller
-- and even more irritating -- biting flies called no-see-ums (because you
"no-see-um") can be pretty bothersome, as they were during this trip. Nothing that I've
ever tried repels these pesky critters, including Off, Cutters, and 100%
DEET, so I usually give up and put a bandanna around my head to cover my ears.
Yeah, I look like a dork but it works.
Winters are cold here and summers are hot, so I think May and September
are the best times to visit southern Utah. However, even snowy February can be pleasant if
you've got warm clothing, as I
discovered a few years ago. Plus, you don't have to deal with the pesky
bugs then (because they're all frozen solid).
on this trip, I
stayed in Utah for five nights and I camped every night, staying in State Park campgrounds for
nights and camping on primitive sites the other three. Primitive camping
just involves finding a pretty place on public land (National Forest Service or
BLM land -- primitive camping isn't allowed in National Parks) and setting up your campsite. You don't have to pay a fee but,
of course, there aren't any facilities, which is why I always carry a 5-gallon
jug of drinking water in my truck. I prefer primitive camping to staying in State Parks or motels because I like the freedom and
remoteness. Of course, that's one reason I love the West.
tips, see my page on
Camping in the U.S.
left: Looking for another campsite. Don't worry about entering gates unless they're specifically marked "No Trespassing" -- just make sure you
close them after you pass through. Fences on public land are to keep cattle in,
not to keep visitors out.
center: Once in a while, I'll stumble across a fantastic campsite like
this one, overlooking 1,000-foot deep Clay Canyon near Lake Powell.
Those are the Henry Mountains in the background, the last explored
mountain range in the lower 48 states. This is one of the most
remote areas in the U.S.
right: After driving on the Burr Trail, nothing tastes better than Doritos,
salsa and a cold Diet Pepsi. Beautiful, empty places like this are why I love Utah.
Travels (2001-02) >
Story List >
U.S. Stories > Camping Tips
for Southern Utah