Take It Off-Road

Utah’s Red Rock Adventures

Ted and Cheryl White have been to Utah three times!   They fell in love with truck campers while visiting Zion National Park and continue to go back for more red rock adventures.  Before visiting Utah, Ted had a vision of it being a rather flat and barren place.  Now, he says, that it is without question one of the most beautiful places in the United States.

Zion and Canyonlands


Family time in Arches National Park

Camping with the Lance at Moab, Utah in 2005

Camping with the Arctic Fox in South Mineral Campground, Silverton, Colorado

Interestingly, it was at Zion National Park that we got our first good look at a truck camper thanks to a couple from British Columbia who let us see theirs.

We were amazed by Utah and that set us on a path that would, six years later, put us in a truck camper.  We had been tent camping all of our lives until we started waffling between a Class A, Class B, Class C, tow behinds, and even pop-ups starting around 1997.  We kept coming back to truck campers.

In 2003, we bought a 1992 Lance 900.  It was a good starter camper.  We learned a lot from it.  Shortly after we bought out Lance, we traveled to Canyonlands National Park in the Lance and hiked through the Needles District.  Now we have a 2003 F350 Dually diesel and a 2005 Arctic Fox 1150.  On Friday, October 5th, 2007 we left our home in Brookfield, New Hampshire and started traveling west.

One rule that Cheryl and I have is that we never drive for more than two hours at a shot.  We still drive twelve to fourteen hours a day, we just take a lot of breaks.  Doing this, we have found that we are able to drive longer and it prevents fatigue.  We left New Hampshire Friday afternoon and were west of Denver by Sunday night.


Bryce Canyon National Park


Bryce Canyon National Park campground

An overlook at Bryce Canyon National Park

A survey marker in Bryce Canyon National Park

We stayed on I-70 until we got to Route 24 where we went through Capitol Reef National Monument into Bryce Canyon National Park.  The first day we were there, we took an eight to nine mile hike on the Queen’s Garden and Peek-A-Boo trails.  The last part of that hike was rough with the switchbacks and the quick increase in elevation.

Later that day, our children and grandchildren showed up from Idaho and New Hampshire.  That night we stayed at the Sunset campground.  The campground has no hook-ups and is a no generator area.  We were fine because we have a solar panel, LED lights, and are fairly conservative with our use of power.  We like to be free of hook-ups when we travel.

The next day, we drove all the way south in the park to Bryce Point.  That’s where the marker is in the picture above.  By the campground the views are nice, but down at Bryce Point they are so expansive. You can see all the way to Capitol Reef from there.

On the third or fourth day, we took the grandchildren on part of the Queen’s Garden trail.  They were three and five years old and liked it a lot.

Every night we’d have a campfire and cooked most of our meals outside.  The limited room doesn’t bother us because we spend most of our time outdoors.  That makes a truck camper different from a Class A.  When you’re living outdoors, a truck camper is just as big as a Class A.

We like to fully experience a park, which you can’t do in a day or so.  Ideally we would stay a week. There are about twenty hikes at Bryce Canyon.  In six days, we only scratched the surface of the hikes.


Capitol Reef National Monument


Grand Wash Trail at Capitol Reef National Monument

Mormon Orchard at Capitol Reef National Monument

Petrogylphs at Capitol Reef National Monument

We left Bryce Canyon and drove on Route 12 to Escalante National Monument.  It was the 14th of October and it was snowing as we drove over the mountain pass.

We stayed in Capitol Reef one night.  During our time at the park, we went to the Ancient Mormon orchard and picked apples.  The campground itself is right inside the orchard.  It was huge and, being October, there were lots of apples.  We also walked up to the visitor’s center, which was probably a mile from the campground.  While at the park, we also hiked the Grand Wash Trail and saw petroglyphs. Then, we left Capitol Reef and drove to Arches National Park.


Arches National Park


Climbing the Slickrock Fins at Arches National Park

Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park

Outdoor musical instruments at Rotary Park in Moab, Utah

Before arriving at Arches, we made reservations for the Devil’s Garden Campground.  Two hundred feet above our campground was a fin, which is a long narrow wall that’s eroded on the sides.  That is where we got together for a family photograph.

Arches doesn’t have a lot of hiking, but the trails they do have are good.  We did the Broken Arch trail with our grandchildren.  In fact, we hiked with our grandchildren almost everyday that we were there. We also hiked to Sand Dune Arch.

On the next to last day, Cheryl and I hiked the Fiery Furnace.  It’s a trail I would recommend to almost everyone.  It’s not as difficult as they make it sound.  It’s not that long of a walk and the pace is slow. No map or GPS will work in there, so a park ranger took us through.  It was a complete maze with little slots and narrow gaps. About eighteen other people were with us on the hike and it costs about $15.

In Moab, there is a park called Rotary Park where my wife was playing the outdoor instruments (see above).  It is a town park with outdoor instruments, which kids and adults can play with. No matter where you go in Moab there’s hiking and biking.


Natural Bridges National Monument


Natural Bridges National Monumnet 50KW solar array

Climbing down at Natural Bridges National Monument

Horse Collar Ruin

We took route 191 south from Arches to Natural Bridges.  We drove down past Canyonlands.  We went to Natural Bridges National Monument because I wanted to see their 50 kilowatt solar array.  There’s about one acre of solar panels and the panels run the entire park.   Solar runs the housing, visitor’s center, maintenance shop, and anything else they need electricity for.  There is no grid power at all at Natural Bridges.  The panels were put in during the 1980’s.   At that time, they were the largest solar array in the world.

We hiked overland from Kachina Bridge to Sipapu Bridge, which is about a four mile hike.  We then hiked down to Sipapu Bride and through the canyon back to Kachina Bridge.  Getting down to the bridges is a bit of a scramble.  Hiking through the canyon, we came upon Horseshoe Ruin. You’d think once you got down there along the wash it would be an easy hike, but it’s not.  It’s sandy and stony.  I was really amazed at how Horseshoe Ruin effected me.  I thought it would be cool to see the ruins.  It was more than that, it was awe inspiring – way beyond cool.


Hovenweep National Monument


Ruins line the canyon rim at Hovenweep National Monument

One of the indian dwellings at Hovenweep National Monument

Camping in the Arctic Fox at Hovenweep campground

Hovenweep has four hikes in separate locations, but we only did one.  There is a rim trail that goes around the rim and across the bottom of the canyon and back up.  There are dwellings on the edge of the cliffs and you wonder why they would have put them there.  We stayed a day and from there we headed home through Durango and up to Silverton and Duray.  We traveled on the Red Mountain Highway, which has to be the one of the scariest roads I have ever been on in my life.  Narrow and twisty I can do, but when even the white line has eroded away into the canyon in places, it gets a little tense.  It was very beautiful.  Then we headed home.

Our eighteen day trip was 4,796 miles from New Hampshire through Utah and back.

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