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Camping Tips for Southern Utah 

(Reprint from News: June 18, 2001)

June 18, 2001

 

As much 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).

 

Altogether on this trip, I stayed in Utah for five nights and I camped every night, staying in State Park campgrounds for two 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.

 

For more tips, see my page on Camping in the U.S.

 

       

Above 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. 

Above 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.

Above 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.

 

 

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