A long drive to an oasis in east-central Utah

I pack up and stow the crew in the Perfect Tow Vehicle.

Lovely and peaceful as it is at our camp at Upper Kent Lake, I’ve got the urge to move.  One of the papers given to me at the National Forest office shows a place to camp along a river.  It’s popular with fishermen.   We’ll go down the mountain and camp along the South Fork of the North River. Then I’ll unhitch and take the short drive into Beaver for some groceries.

Going down a mountain is easier than going up.

The last third of the way down the mountain, the road is paved.  A river of clear water runs along it in a state of continuous rapids.  There are a few places to pull off and camp, but they’re too close to the road for the crew.  Once down to the lower elevation, houses are clustered along the road.  A golf course and a racetrack appear.  The turn to drive up to the North River is somewhere along here.  Soon I realize I’ve missed the turn.

That’s when a strange thing happens.

I keep on going!   I don’t feel like setting up a new camp here.  I want to put some miles behind us today.  I drive to Beaver’s main street, take a right, and look for a grocery store.  Once found, I skip the parking lot – too great a chance of somebody blocking me in – and instead park on a wide shoulder on the side street.  I leave Spike and a crying Bridget in the PTV and run in to get some milk and a few other items.  That done, I quickly open up the BLT and put the food away.

Now where are we going?

I don’t have a clue.  I look at my Utah atlas.  Hmm . . . we could go up to Yuba Lake State Park.  That’s a pretty big lake not far from Salt Lake City.  Probably crowded.  Might need a reservation.   

Utah’s terrain makes it difficult for a person not well-acquainted with the state to anticipate good places to boondock.   National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas look inviting on a map.  In real life those areas may be sheer cliffs, deep gorges, high mesas, unreachable by vehicle, too exposed with no trees, or unsuitable for camping for other reasons.  

I want to make progress toward South Dakota, maybe see the Grand Tetons . . . .   I decide to continue north on I-15 and then turn east on I-70, avoiding Provo and Salt Lake City.  If a camping opportunity doesn’t appear, I’ll push us all the way to Green River.

“Okay, Bridget, settle down now.  It’s time for a long nap.”  Spike is already spread out on the bench seat.   “We may have some serious road ahead of us.”

Interstate driving can be monotonous.  Surprise!

I do enjoy watching the gradual changes in terrain.  Bridget and Spike sleep the 76 miles to Salina.  Along the way I realize I’m not in the frame of mind to scout out a boondock, it being mid-afternoon already.

A billboard warns, “Last chance for services for 104 miles.” 

I look at the gas gauge.  A little over half-full.  Probably enough, but I’d better not chance it.  I drive down the exit ramp.  Oh well, time to get a royal fleecing.  The first station proclaims $3.89 a gallon.  The second one, further away from the interstate, sells at $3.84 a gallon.  I pump.  The crew wakes up.

Once Spike and Bridget hear the hum of the wheels on the road, they go back to sleep.

Gee whiz.  When they say no services, they mean no services.  There’s nothing but annoying roadwork the first thirty miles or so.  Long grades up and down.  Only a narrow lane between the cones and that noisy strip they put on the edge.  Uninspiring scenery.  No signs of life.

About 50 miles east of Salina a rest stop appears in the barren landscape.  I park the rig.  Bridget and Spike wake up and commence barking loudly.  I rush to let them out.  “Okay, okay.  Jump out.  You’ve been such good, little travelers.”

We walk around the junipers in the dog exercise area.

The crew drinks from their water dish before we board the PTV.  We share a snack of turkey slices, and get back on the road.  The last fifty miles of Interstate 70 going east from Salina to Green River is spectacular!  I recognize landscapes I’ve seen in photography books.  No wonder there’s nothing on the road map in this area.  It’s like landing on an uninhabited, desert planet.  Breath-taking.  Jaw-dropping.  I take photos through the bug-splattered windshield . . . while driving.   I can’t help myself.

Nevertheless, I’m getting tired.

Green River appears, an oasis in the desert.  The state park is at the edge of town.  I wonder what the fee is.  A man sticks his head out of the entrance booth as we approach.   We exchange hellos.

“How much for primitive camping?”

“That would be the tent area,” he responds.  “Sixteen dollars, no hook-ups, if you can fit in a site.”

“And how much for a regular site?”

“Twenty dollars and you have electric.  We have some pull-throughs open.”

Four dollars more for electric.  I’m not going to search around and squeeze into a tent site to save four bucks.

I find a pull-through at the edge of the park next to a golf course. 

Immediately I take the crew for a walk around the campground which is nearly full.  The crew is excited to be around people again.  Me?  Not so much.

Well, it’s a place to sleep for one night and I can start up the air conditioner. . . Oh my!  Is that what I think it is?  We walk around to the other side of a brick building.  Yes!  They have showers!

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About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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30 Responses to A long drive to an oasis in east-central Utah

  1. Wow Sue, These pictures are spectacular! They came out great even through the windshield.
    Enjoy your day and the shower and electricity. Not a bad price for the night and hookups.

  2. Kim says:

    Wow – all that gorgeous scenery and from the interstate yet. Can’t wait to see where you and the crew land next!

  3. Cathie Laurent says:

    Ah, the little luxuries! Showers and electric! So glad the drive had such great scenery.

  4. Lacy says:

    Gorgeous scenery! And it’s funny to see the BLT w/ it’s umbilical cord showing…….Enjoy the a/c and showers!!

  5. Reine says:

    Great location. Looks like a good houskeeping stopping place. Top off the fresh tank, dump the black and gray tanks (they do have a dump station don’t they), take a nap with the AC on, get rid of any accumulated trash and take two or three LONG showers.
    The pictures are great. And you’re meeting your goal of getting closer to SD. Enjoy your stay.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Reine. You read my mind. . . always take advantage of the facilities at a fee campground. I enjoyed watching television last night with the air conditioning on. So did Bridget and Spike.

      I’m getting closer to SD, but I’m getting further and further away from my budget! We knew that would happen in the summer, right? I’ll be posting my daily expenses soon.

  6. john says:

    Hi Sue Showers, Air, View’s, Lake, Can’t beat it every now and than,,, I know how long it took me to start to get ripe…. Enjoy

  7. Joy A. says:

    Sue, I traveled that stretch of Highway 70 a couple of years ago and was amazed at how pretty the countryside was. Boy, I wish I could get a SP for $20 with electricity, don’t come to California it’s more like $30 to $50 dry camping.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Joy,

      I want to see California some day, but I’m not looking forward to the expensive camping. I have a feeling it’ll be a fast trip! Fifty dollars for dry camping? That’s crazy.

  8. Ron says:

    I went back and listen to Rambling Fever by Merle Hagert and on the road again bye willie Nelson , they pretty well say it all ,could be the fulltimers theme song

  9. Kathy says:

    I think its worth a few bucks every now and then even for the showers!!!! And the a/c is an extra bonus.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      My feelings exactly, Kathy. Green River is lower elevation so it’s hot. I was glad for the opportunity to check that my AC still works after months of not turning it on.

  10. Chinle says:

    Hey, you’re in my stomping grounds! You came across the San Rafael Swell and down through Spotted Wolf Canyon and the teeth of the Reef. I have a couple of posts back on Black Dragon and Three Fingers Canyons, which you came right by. I’ve spent years wandering around that country. It has many many treasures, wild burros and slot canyons and petroglyphs.

    So, now you’re in Green River. Kind of the town time forgot, an old railroad town that used to be pretty wild and wooly. There’s a nice little grocery store a block off main, look for Ray’s Tavern and head that way. BTW, Ray’s is where all the boaters hang out and they have really good smoked burgers and milkshakes (I know, the diet). Kathy, the owner is a friend.

    While you’re there, find Long Street and cruise down towards the Bookcliffs a few miles and look at the nice melon farms. Green R. melons are famous. BTW, DO NOT let Spike in the river, lots of undercurrents. I can’t picture you doing that, but just a word to the wise.

    Gren River was the location of a big missle base in the 60s and 70s. They shot Pershing missiles down to White Sands, thus the missile in the park. You can see the old buildings on the hill out of town to the east as you go down the freeway. It’s a very poor town, but some nice folks there.

    One last thing – you’re only about 45 easy minutes from Moab. It would be well worth the time to leave the BLT and spend another night, then head down there for the day tomorrow and go to Arches NP. I know you’re coming back that way, but it’s a place that you can visit many times. Moab also has a fabulous grocery store, City Market, plus a nice health food store etc. Just a suggestion. Welcome to the unique little desert town of Green RIver!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for the welcome. Nice of you,Chinle, to write so many suggestions and details about the town of Green River. Unfortunately I didn’t read your comment before hitting the road this morning. Now I am far from Green River. Let me wait until the next post to reveal where!

      That’s pretty rugged country to explore. . . and stunningly beautiful.

  11. Utah is unlike any planet you have ever visited before! Or state either, for that matter! 🙂 !!! Enjoy your journey and enjoy your shower! Hot here… at least 100 if not higher! Geri

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I agree with you, Geri. Utah is unique. I’ve only been to one of its national parks — Zion — yet the views from the roads make me feel like the whole state is a national park. Hot in Green River, too.

  12. Francy says:

    hmmm….even thru a bug splattered windshield your pics are awesome……thanks for letting me see more of this beautiful country of ours!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Francy. I shouldn’t be using my camera while driving. When there’s no place to pull over and the views are so incredible, I can’t help but point and shoot.

  13. Chuck says:

    Hey Sue, you’re gettin’ those ‘thru the windshield’ and ‘flyin’ by’ pix down pat !!! Drive safe! Chuck

  14. Marcia says:

    Ah, the joys of electricity and long, hot showers! When you head back the other way, you must drive the Colorado River Scenic Byway (I don’t remember the route #) to Moab. We drove it from Grand Junction to Moab a few years ago and were just blown away by the gorgeous scenery. There are some good places to camp around there, too.

  15. Dedra says:

    Thank you for giving the hwys (I-15)etc. I get my altas out and follow you. It’s fun and I feel like I’m traveling along with you. I’ve been reading you for a couple months, started out at 106,000 hits? Just plan luck i found you. I went out Aug., 2009 and bought me 1999 Casita, have love them from the first time I saw one. Funny, probably, that same year 1999. Even used they are expensive, way over book value.
    I was going to travel solo, went out once and a couple times with a lady friend (not big enough for two people), then let it sit, until now. I guess I’m just plan chicken, however, you’ve given me the courage to get out there and try. I like my own company and not good around a lot of people, (love my two, four legged babies), so you wouldn’t think solo would be a problem. I should add my husband doesn’t want to travel as much as I do, that’s why I got a Casita (named mine LT) , easy for one person to handled.
    Your two babies look just like the puppy my dad give me when I was ten (long time ago). Her name was Penny and she was called a fox terrier.
    Well, finally! I’ve been going to tell you, your blog is the best one I have ever read and I’ve read a lot of them. Your pictures are GREAT! Thank you for your blog.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Am enjoying the ride with you and the pups!! Thanks for all the great information and allowing others to post yet more!!! Might prove useful to us someday too…we shall see. Think into the paring down. Have made several trips setting up the storage unit…and there is a LEAK…so today was spent putting up some heavy plastic to at least redirect it!! HOPEFULLY they will fix it…we both talked to the manager…I warned him about being penney wise and pound foolish!! We can manage, nonetheless….but the whole idea in renting a totally indoor climate controlled storage unit is to do with NO water too!! Especially when we might keep it for a year or 2 until we are totally set up in whatever plan comes to be…still no for sure on plan A, but hubby thinks that could come at the last possible minute…so we are keeping our nose to the grindstone.

  17. geogypsy2u says:

    When you decide to go, you just roll along. I miss traveling like that. True, summer is sweeping along.
    Looks like the tire leveling thingys are out for this stop.

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