Sand Island in southeastern Utah

Wednesday, May 8

I say goodbye to Camp Goosenecks with its 1,000 foot cliffs, entrenched meanders, and zigzag mountains.  Another great camp.  I’d come back here again.  I look back at the crew on the bench seat.  Those guys enjoyed it here, too.  The PTV gingerly picks her way through the sharp rocks and ridges of the campground road.  The road at Valley of the Gods is a lot better than this.

We pass Valley of the Gods on the way to our next camp.


The rock seems to glow from within in the morning light.


Our destination is Sand Island Campground!

A short, 20-minute hop from Goosenecks State Park, and only about four miles west of Bluff, Sand Island is a BLM campground ($10 reg./$5 with senior pass).  I hope we can nab a river view site.  Entering the river valley from the highway, the first thing that comes into view is the Sand Island boat launch ramp on the San Juan River.

People are drawn to water, not to mention water dogs like Spike.

People are drawn to water, not to mention water dogs like Spike.


There are two campground loops.

We discover Loop A is picturesque, but it’s for tents and truck campers only.

Tent sites in a cottonwood grove.

Tent sites in a cottonwood grove.


Cruising around Loop B I spy four empty sites.

And one of them is on the river!  After an easy, straight back-in,  I let Bridget and Spike out of the PTV.  I’m glad I put their suits and leashes on this morning.  That river looks powerful.

“Look!  There’s a path down to the river!  Let’s go!”

The crew and I take the path through the willows.

The crew and I hurry down the path through willows.

“Our own private beach!”  Well, kinda.  More like a mud bank.  I study the water’s edge. Gee, that drops off fast.  Dangerous current.

No telling how deep just a step off this "beach."

No telling how deep just a step off this “beach.”

“Sorry, Spike.  You don’t want to go in there.  You’d float like a boat all the way to the meanders at Goosenecks!”

Spike seems to agree.  At any rate, I’m glad I have him and Bridget on leashes.

I set up a complete camp.

The crew is out of the pen and off-leash for this photo only.

The crew is out of the pen and off-leash for this photo only.

I stake down the outdoor rug and set up the crew’s pen.  (I don’t always bother right away with those two items at some camps.)  The pen goes around the picnic table (not shown) so the crew has shade and so they can beg their fool heads off when I try to eat.

The river flows beyond and below the railing.

The river flows beyond and below the railing.


Then I do something I haven’t done in a very long time.

I write a check for the campground fee!  Oh my!  My hand trembles!  Belle Campground in Joshua Tree National Park, California, was the last campsite I paid for and that was late last fall, over five months ago.

Bridget and Spike want to explore our new home!

They both trot happily as we walk around the campground loop to the self-pay station.  It seems that every bush has a story to tell the crew, and Bridget and Spike have their own to contribute.

Back at our campsite, I cook up some hot dogs on the stove.

I take the plate of dogs with a glass of iced tea out to the picnic table so I can watch the river as I eat.

Wow, lots of song birds around here.  I take their melodies as a good omen for this camp.

A rufous-sided towhee scratches around in dead leaves.  A distinctive, yellow-breasted bird with a red head alights at the top of a cottonwood and sings heartily. (Later I look him up in my field guide.  He’s a Western Tanager, the first I’ve ever seen.)  Black swallows flash white under their wings as they swoop over the river, eating insects, no doubt.  Two tiny birds I can’t identify hop from branch to branch on a bush growing out of the river bank.

Of course, Bridget and Spike get their share of hot dog.  I’ve become accustomed to turkey dogs and chicken dogs.  I eat hot dogs mainly so I have a reason to eat spicy mustard.

I carry my dish and fork into the BLT and retrieve my camera to take photos of floaters passing by our campsite.

Here they come!

Here they come!

“I love your trailer!” a woman calls out.  “You have a great spot!” calls another.

“How long is your float?” I ask the man paddling a raft loaded with their gear. Probably a guide.

“Twenty hours on the water,” he responds.  “We do it in seven days.”

Further downstream toward the bridge and soon out of sight . . .

And there they go, further downstream toward the bridge and soon out of sight . . .

This makes a pleasant home for us.  We’ll take it easy around camp the rest of today. Maybe I’ll get back into that Jack London book.  Tomorrow we’ll go to Bluff early so I can try some blue corn pancakes.  It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted a pancake — of any color!



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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76 Responses to Sand Island in southeastern Utah

  1. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    I think this camp has gone to the dogs ha. Of course you eat the hot dogs with mustard, no one eats a hot dog with ketchup unless they are foreigners wearing sandals and socks. 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I remember the moment in my childhood when I first saw a person put ketchup on a hot dog. Coming from a mustard-and-relish-only-on-hot-dogs family, I nearly choked in revulsion at the sight of such a travesty!

      Now I have worn sandals and socks, but only around the campsite.

      • Billy Bob says:

        Mayo, mustard, ketchup an’ Louisiana hot sauce….an’ a hand full of onion.
        An’ I don’t wear no shoes nowheres.

      • Eileen P. says:

        Reminder, RVSue, that I grew up in Hudson Falls, not far from your childhood home town. Lots of folks, including my family, put ketchup on hot dogs. Seems so odd now to think of it.
        Eileen in Phoenix

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Does that mean you put ketchup on your dogs? You were kind of evasive on that point. Don’t be shy, Eileen. You can admit it. This blog does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion or condiment preference.

          • Eileen P. says:

            LOL…no, I am a mustard/relish/onion girl. No ketchup on hot dogs or, heaven forbid, scrambled eggs.

            • Az-Vicki says:

              Well…guess I’ll be the first to admit…I use ketchup n onions on my dogs. Must be a fur’ner cause I can’t stand mustard but don’t wear sandals n socks! LOL

              • rvsueandcrew says:

                We forgive you, Vicki. Although if we come across you, we may look at you kind of funny.

              • Mark says:

                I put ketchup on everything, but hotdogs are the only thing I add mustard. As for the sandels, I didn’t know socks were not allowed. I never wore sandels until a few years ago my wife bought me a pair before leaving on vacation. One morning while the camper was parked in front of my brothers in Calif. I asked one of the girls to pass my sandals over. She laughed and said “no Dad those are Moms”. My brother came out of the house and the first thing he said was “whats with the socks and sandals”. Now I’m starting to rethink this sandal thing. When we left that day to go to the beach he open his gate in front of the house and I backed the van out. While he was closing the gate I stuck Becky’s sun hat with lacy bow on my head. He got in the van and gave me the strangest look. I said “whats with Californians don’t you wear socks or hats”. I never heard anymore about the socks. lol

                Salina Ks.

          • Connie & Mugsy says:

            Good thing! I will be the one to come on and say that I hate mustard. I don’t like the taste or the smell. Admittedly, I’m not much of a hot dog eater, but in my house growing up it was only with ketchup. Normally now I eat them baked with just saurkraut… and never a bun.

      • Rattlesnake Joe says:

        That’s okay just don’t do it at Walmart or people will think you live in the parking lot. Come to think of it I do…sometimes. 🙂

  2. gingerda says:

    Now this is my kind of campsite. I love to be next to the water and just kick back and enjoy the people floating by. I lived in Cedar City, Utah for 5 years and my ex and I would camp in different places, but mostly in Dixie National Forest, off of highway 14, or Otter Creek state park. Lots of beautiful places in Utah to see.
    Ginger Las Vegas

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I looked up Otter Creek State Park located on Otter Creek Reservoir — Looks inviting. I also see a few campgrounds along Hwy 14 . . .Cedar Canyon, Webster Flat, Navajo Lake, Te-Ah, Spruces, Duck Creek . . . (Love my Benchmark atlas!) . . .

      It must be a pretty area with so many campgrounds and then there are probably boondocks in Dixie NF. With all those choices, I’d probably stay in one of the campgrounds.

  3. SusanandLance says:

    Hi Sue, pretty spot by the river. We live in the Taos area and the Western Tanagers are migrating through right now. If you cut an orange in half, they will come to it. Makes for some great photos as they sit in the orange and eat. They also like suet cakes. Enjoy your stay there. We are taking our Casita out for the first time next week–can’t wait!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh boy, you’re taking out your “egg” for the first time! Wonderful! Have a fabulous adventure.

      Those tanagers are gorgeous. It’s not often to see such a colorful bird outside of the tropics.

  4. libertatemamo says:

    Lovely!! I’m going to have to add this camp to our “list” for the area. How fabulous to be right by the water!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I know! I love being next to water. There are four RV sites that have access to a river view, three down a path, and then ours that has the view from the site itself.

    • Beth says:

      We tried that spot a few years ago with a 35′ fifth wheel… and got snagged by one of the low hanging Cottonwood branches…so eyes to the sky if you try 🙂

  5. Ron says:

    Sue here is another product for your Amazon page: Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven
    I used one on my last trip and loved it ,used the griddle to make pancakes ,fry bacon .burner for heating water or a meal and the oven for hot biscuits.
    Oh love some biscuits and gravy . Yea I know I am a redneck
    Love this stove and won’t go camping without it now
    Love your blog as always

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Ron! I revised your comment so that it has a link to my product page, “For the road and campsite.” Scroll down and you’ll see it.

      • Ron says:

        I hoped you would change it after I saw how it posted and didnt know how to change it.

  6. CT says:

    What a lovely, relaxing spot! I always enjoy being by a stream or river.
    I just tried turkey hot dogs a few days ago. My husb was just diagnosed w/diabetes so I’m changing what I cook. I was amazed that the turkey dogs had 0 fat & they were pretty good!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I ate a “regular” hot dog a few years ago (social gathering, felt I couldn’t refuse) and I was sick in bed the next day, when not running to vomit, that is. Many of the turkey dogs and chicken dogs aren’t as chemically enhanced as the others, and then the zero-fat factor is great.

      I was married for several years to a diabetic. You’ll both be healthier with your good attitude about changing the way you cook.

      • CT says:

        Because of his diagnosis, I’m focusing a lot more on eating vegetables. Here’s an item you might want to add to your Amazon list. It’s a pan than you put on the grill for vegetables. It’s the Kingsford KNS77 Skillet. It works great! I’ve grilled peppers & onions & they were really yummy!

  7. says:

    Sue, I so love your blog. I just had my 57th birthday and I can’t wait to live this way. We have an 800 sq. foot log camp in Maine for summers and I’d like to spend winter months exploring the warmer states. Do you have any thoughts on trailers for a 4 cyl. truck? Am concerned about fuel costs etc. Keep up the great work. I lust for your adventures! Karen

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, how fortunate you are to have a camp in Maine! I have fond childhood memories of that state.

      I’m not an expert on travel trailers and tow vehicles. I’m sure there are readers of this blog who know more than I. (Hint, hint) Maybe one of those kind that look like a flat box on wheels that opens up (although I wouldn’t want to sleep in anything with a soft side in bear country). Or maybe a teardrop? I really don’t know.

      Any chance of trading in the truck? It’s always good to have more power than you need, especially on the long, long grades that are all over the West.

      Good luck, Karen, and a belated “happy birthday!” to you.

      • Val. Lakefield Ontario says:

        Karen, Aliners tow well behind 4cy vehicles. Ours weighs 1520 lbs folds down for less wind resistance. Google Taylor Coach, another ultra light. Made in Canada but he sell to
        lots of folks in USA…that is my next one.

        Sue, great pics once again. Folks who came to see my Aliner today went away with your
        blog name. The husband wrote it down so he wouldn’t forget….:-)

    • Also consider checking out TrailManors – ultra lightweight, hard sided folding (swing arm actually) trailers. We have one of their smallest, the 2417, and enjoy it immensely. They can be towed behind 4 cyl vehicles.

  8. mary ann (pontotoc ms) says:

    what a neat site! even if spike can’t go in, it’s so fun to watch the river go by. thanks for the bird report~i love hearing about them. i’m with ron on the biscuits and gravy~i rarely indulge though, otherwise i would look just like the blt.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I can relate to your last statement, Mary Ann. I’ve been eating bread ever since I bought the camp toaster. I have to stop soon for the reason you gave.

      I like to mention the birds for the many birdlovers who read this blog.

  9. If you feel like taking a little day trip (32 miles), go up the Moki Dugway, take the first dirt road on the left, and in a few miles you will be at Muley Point, a lovely place to boondock. Road was decent last time we were there. Even has a better view than Gooseneck, overlooking Monument Valley in the far distance.
    We had your site at Sand Island in 2010, it was fun watching the rafters go by.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Jim and Gayle!

      I spoke with a couple who were also camped at Goosenecks SP. They drove out to Muley Point which we could see from the park. I avoided Moki Dugway, don’t like driving on edges of cliffs.

      Ha! You had this site!

  10. Grace says:

    Hi Sue! I want some blue corn pancakes, too! That sound so good! I always try to find your camp on google.maps and found that this campground is actually on the WEST side of Bluff. It sure looks inviting. We’ll put it on our list of places to go, too! Thanks! Grace (in Tucson)

  11. Laurie Herndon says:

    Hi RV Sue…always SO ENVIOUS of your wonderful adventures….(got room in your camper for one more crazy gypsy like me) Keep your pups safe…fast moving water for sure! Seeing any cactus blooms on the saguaros? Keep us posted. Love the photos! A devoted fan!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      We’re no longer in saguaro country. I can’t figure out how to avoid the heat and still hang around in the Sonoran long enough to see the saguaros bloom.

  12. Trisha says:

    Hi Sue and Crew! I am new to your blog. I was wondering if you know Beth and Forest with Sprocket? They were at GOG too I think at the same time as you! How fun, ships pass in the night!
    I am a Nomadic Mystery shopper. I travel to one mystery shop to another. So am quite a tumble weed! I was just in CA., AZ, just left NM and am now waiting to do a shop tomorrow (Yaa! free showers) in Amarillo, TX. , If you know of anyone (or anyone reading this ) that is near X75 on I-40 East, I have a free shower to give to them. Just look for the hiigh top Chevy van, white with grey trim! or email me at and I will save the shower for whoever might want one.
    Enjoying your blog.. I hope you will visit my forum at It is brand new so needs someone to post to it! Yes, it is focused on mystery shopping, but will be much about v-dwelling (van-dwelling/vehicle dwelling) too!
    1995 Chevy Hi-top Sports 20 van
    Currently in TX heading east to PA eventually.

  13. BJ says:

    Sue, I love your blog have followed along your daily travels and have ordered stuff from your Amazon links —- I did my masters work in ornathology and those small birds in the bushes are known as “dinky birds” most likely a warbler or wren of some type —- my favorite out your way is the Painted Bunting – it’s a stunner! Have continued safe and fun travels with the crew. BJ from Johnsburg IL

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, BJ! I do believe you are correct. Probably a warbler, as I can identify wrens.

      A bright yellow bird, fairly small, showed up in that same bush. Looking at my field guide, I identified it as a Yellow Warbler.

      Thank you for reading my blog and for shopping through my links. I appreciate it.

  14. placestheygo says:

    Check out the town for us. We decided to stay in Bluff so we can have WiFi. We arrive in little over a week. I have so much hiking to do. Cedar Mesa is a wonderful area. I read a recommendation on the Bluff City Cafe. It says they have the best Indian Fry Bread and soup they ever tasted.

    Looks like a wonderful site! What fun watching all the rafts go by!! Enjoy your stay!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m taste-testing the local restaurants. I should be able to give you a review before you arrive!

    • Kentster says:

      Good luck with wifi. We stayed last week in the cottonwood RV park. Wifi works there. Sorta. We also could get it at the Cobs coffee house and the twin ridges cafe. Be forewarned that Bluff is at the end of the Internet pipe and it is ssslllloooowwww and intermittent. Still great place.

  15. Well, I just love your blog! May I ask if you have pics of the pen you use to keep the poochies in at times? I am looking forward to September to begin traveling with our two furbabies. My husband retires and we are considering a Casita or ??? Keep up the good work! Thanks, Marjorie

    • Okay, I guess I should have checked first! I just found the link and what a deal! I believe I will order 2 sets as well. Love the captions, “get me outta here, get me outta here…..” , hmmmm sounds like my two as well, LOL!

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        It sounds like you saw my blog post about the pen. Be sure to click on the Shopping Links page from the header, “For your crew.” The pens are described there, as well, with a link to Amazon (although any of my Amazon links will give me credit.)

        If you decide on a Casita and want to buy new, be sure to give the factory a couple months lead time.

        Nice to hear from you, Marjorie. And thank you for buying your 2 pens through my link!

  16. Pamela in Louisiana says:

    About fifteen years ago my husband and I, along with my mom and dad were boondocking where you at. Boondocking was allowed on the right side of the boat launch along the cliffs at that time. We both had high top camper vans we made customized ourselves. Such sweet memories… Anyway, if you can still walk along the cliffs going toward the bridge, look about half way up the cliffs for petroglyphs. Hopefully you’ll be allowed close enough to see them. I’m sure things may have changed a lot in those fifteen years or so. Back then the area closer to the bridge was covered with jackrabbits right before dark, too.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Pamela,

      What wonderful memories! The petroglyphs are still here. The panel is fenced off to keep people from destroying the drawings.

      The crew and I took a walk along the cliffs up past the bridge today. I’ll post some photos.

  17. Lois Joy says:

    I’m in Mesa, AZ and the days are heating up!! How long do you plan to stay in this camp? And then, where to next? It’s been great to venture with you and the crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, Lois Joy, I don’t know how long I’ll stay or where I’ll go next, other than making a general trek northward. I’m not trying to keep anything a secret. I really don’t know!

  18. Rita from Phoenix says:

    Try also blue corn mush…it’s like cream of wheat except made with blue corn meal. I like blue corn tortilla chips also with cream cheese & salsa. Love the camp ground and your description of birds in the area. I hear hummers in my back yard…they must be migrating back north. I have to put a feeder out this weekend.

  19. Jim Sathe says:

    Isn’t Bluff an interesting town in a spectacular setting? We stayed at Sand Island in 2010. You sure find your way to a lot of the same places we have been. Hope to bump into you sometime, somewhere. Keep up the good blogging.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Bluff has a lot of personality and, you’re right, the setting is spectacular. Oh, one of these days a guy will come up to me and say, ” Hi, Sue. I’m Jim. You know, from your blog? The one who told you about Willard Springs?”

  20. Renee (from Datil) says:

    Sometimes I envy you with your “compact” home. (You’ve seen how big WE are!) You can get into some of the best nooks & crannies… Love Utah; it’s one of our favorite states, and you’re seeing some parts we haven’t made it to (keep having to migrate to the midwest for an elderly parent check-up). We’ll get there eventually! Currently at Lake Texoma in Oklahoma…

  21. Kay says:

    Oh wow… nice campground. Sue, do you think all 60 plus feet can fit in that place?

    I bet Spikey is one happy guy, WATER!

    Rowdy has been rather good this week. I am thinking the “time out bench” is really working. He’s even stopped mouthing off at me when I tell him to be a good doggie.

    Hope your technology gadgets are working good for you now. Enjoy those beautiful places you are finding.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      There are two very long sites here. This is a first come-first served campground, so you’d be playing those odds.

      Now’s the time to train Rowdy. It sounds like he is an intelligent dog and is teachable.

  22. AZ Jim says:

    Another great spot. Nice to have that view and fun to shout to the floaters and have them respond. Your pics put us there with you but we don’t have to pay a fee….Thank you! I agree about keeping the crew out of that water, it looks dangerous. Have a wonderful stay there Sue…..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Jim!

      I’m not timid about swimming in rivers — did that a lot as a kid — but I wouldn’t venture into this section of the San Juan, and not just because it’s muddy. This river runs deep right up to its edge on the outside of a curve, and the current looks formidable.

  23. acheapguy says:

    Sue, after 60 comments, I don’t know if you will get all the way down here, but can you tell me where you got that neat rug? Is it a regular rug, or specifically for camping? PS, I don’t let our dog see your blog. You are too good to those guys. 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, acheapguy!

      I always read every single comment. Nice to hear from you.

      Yes, the rug is specifically made for camping and outdoor use. It can be rained on and it sheds dirt and sand easily through its weave or sweeps clean.

      You must not be aware of the Shopping Links pages. Go to the header, click on Shopping Links, and then click on “For the road and campsite.” You’ll see a bunch of products… Scroll down to the photo of the crew on the outdoor rug. If you buy the rug through any of my links, I get some $$. 🙂

      I agree. It’s a neat rug, very durable.

      • earthdancerimages says:

        Chuck and I have had our camp rug for 4 years and it is still going strong! We just have a different pattern than RVSue has! We highly recommend these rugs!

  24. Reading this post made me smile. We got hopelessly lost trying to find this campground last month – Google Navigation took us around & around through progressively narrower sandy 2-tracks, until we finally said ENOUGH! We were afraid we’d never get back out with our T@DA trailer. Now that we know for sure it exists, we can try again next year. Our day of trying to find this campground can been found on The post is called Blown Back to Arizona, and the photos are in the next post. Really enjoy your blog….keep up the good work.

  25. Gayle says:

    You eat hot dogs so you can have a reason to eat spicy mustard. I drink rum and coke so I have a reason to drink rum. Weren’t they called Cuba Libres back in the day? Cuba isn’t free yet, so I need to drink another one! Cheers to you three at your beautiful campsite!

    • Chuck says:

      Gayle, loved your comment on Rum! But spicey mustard and sauerkraut are hard to eat without the hot dog….slides thru yr fingers…messy.

  26. Virginia says:

    If you get sick of eating meat, a real nice alternative is TVP (total vegetable protein). It comes as dried nuggets or granules and you redhydrate it and it’s very nutritious and takes on the flavor of anything you cook with it i.e. rice, pasta, beans etc. Great in soups and stews. Google it and you will see the different kinds they have. They even have one that tastes like sausage. I met a man years back while shopping at a natural foods store and he said he cured himself of cancer eating vegan and TVP so it’s a very healthy thing to eat. I think your batting average for free camping sites beats all prior records. Waterfront sites usually come at some cost but $5 will not break the bank.

  27. Joy says:

    Joy Estes Park Colorado-Oh good, you are in Bluff.Up at one loop there are some wonderful wall drawings and hand prints and info on the locals that lived there ages and ages ago….. it is on the first loop to the right as you entered the area.. Hope you stop in the museum ,restaurant and gift shop at Twin Rocks.Interesting stuff. ….Another incredible road and places for R.V. …as you go out of Moab and come to River…instead of going straight to Arches or towards 70- turn right into the most wonderous canyon,purples and reds .along the river, it is just amazing and will eventually come out at 70 anyway but you can camp along the Colorado ,in that canyon,gorgeous foliage,secluded ranches,majestic scenery.You’ll love it. Without a doubt, the prettiest canyon you will ever see…watch out for small water falls that spray on the road.

  28. Ron Sears says:

    great looking site Sue…enjoy

  29. Angie2B says:

    I agree with the ketchup not belonging on hot dogs. However, don’t be hating on my socks with sandles. Try it you may like it. hahaha

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