This time of year, it is usually still pitch black in the morning when Millie wakes me up for her nature’s call. We stumble out of the rig into the expansive desert that is our boondock spot just outside of Canyonlands Needles District.
The sky is no longer awash with a carpet of stars, but rather, almost completely covered by clouds—all except the fringes along the horizon. Could we be in for a fabulous sunrise today? I head back to the RV for my camera and tripod and then set up to await the big show.
What a show it is (and a great way to start the day)!
As much as I adore this gorgeous Indian Creek Canyon, my water tank is nearly empty and I’ve been 4 days away from a cell signal. Time to head back to civilization in Moab to replenish and connect. But not without a momentary crisis to deal with first!
After hitching up the car to leave, I notice one of the rear RV tires looks low on air. A quick check with my digital tire gauge confirms that the tire only has 13 psi (when it normally has 60 to 65!). YIKES! I decide to proceed down the dirt road anyway, hoping the other dually will support the load until I can get to the paved highway a mile away.
Once to the highway I figure I can try re-inflating the tire first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll unhitch the Tracker and drive 45 miles to the nearest cell signal to phone my emergency road service. Thankfully, my little air compressor does the trick (albeit, slowly for a big RV tire).
As we arrive back into Moab, I head right to the truck tire shop and they repair the pooped-out tire valve gasket and have me back on my way quickly, all without even needing to unhitch the Tracker! Then it’s on to our friendly little in-town Pack Creek Campground for a couple days to do laundry and replenish our tanks.
Our first night at Pack Creek is delightful. We have the huge dry camping section all to ourselves. But the desk clerk had warned when I arrived that they were sold out for the weekend and that Thursday night would be nearly full too. No big deal, I think. I’ll just move to one of the big boondocking areas north of Moab for the weekend.
I decide to go take a look at the boondocking spots on Thursday evening to just make sure I can navigate the roads o.k. with the View. Lots of pretty scenery along the way…
But every single boondock area is jammed packed! Even the “parking lot” boondocks along the busy highway are filled up! Huge 5th wheels and Class A’s, little pop-ups and truck campers, all seeming to be towing large flatbed trailers loaded to the brim with ATVs and motorcycles. What the heck is going on here?
I get back to my camp at Pack Creek at dusk to discover the ATVer mob has now also invaded our quiet little campground! Pop-ups of crying children not wanting to go to bed yet, and 5th wheels of adults desperately trying to sooth their frayed nerves on 3.2% beer! I must admit doing the same that night in my View!
When the sun rises on Friday morning, Millie and I are promptly on the road trying to flee the Moab Mob as quickly as possible. I have no idea where we’ll camp for the weekend, but am determined to drive all the way to Green River if I must to flee this noisy mob! Looking at my trusty Escapees Day’s End Directory, it looks indeed like Green River might have some options—one even mentions a beachfront boondock right on the banks of the Green river! Worth a shot! Let’s go!
We start down a long paved road past a valley full of green farm fields…
No sign of any other RVs and not even any signs for a campground or BLM land, but I continue anyway hoping that my Day’s End won’t let me down. As we approach the 10-mile mark, the pavement turns to gravel, and just as the directions state, there is suddenly a developed area of a 10-site campground with a large boat ramp accessing the Green River. Day’s End says the campground will be free, but after seeing $15/night BLM boondocking campsites in Moab, I highly doubt this is still accurate.
I drive around the small loop of sites. All are occupied except for a tiny tent site… and 1 large, level RV site! Could we really be this lucky?!! We pull in and set up camp, then go to re-read the entrance sign for the Little Gray Canyon campground. No “iron ranger” pay station, no fees mentioned of any kind. Yes, it’s true! We have just stumbled into a total free, totally gorgeous, riverfront camping spot!
And did I mention the large sandy dog beach?
To top it off, there’s even a faint one bar of 1X Verizon which I’m quickly able to boost to 3 bars of nice 3G with my Wilson Sleek and Wilson Directional Antenna mounted to my Unger telescoping pole.
And how does a photographer mount such a pole to their RV? With a studio lighting stand boom arm mount, of course!
One afternoon, as Millie is taking her swim, I notice a herd of cattle coming down the gravel lane. No cowboys on ATVs in this part of Utah—real cowboys ride real horses here!
One cowboy’s dog decides to run down to the river to get a quick drink and play with Millie. But, no rest when there’s herding to be done—the cowboy just rides down the rocky hill to soon git along his little dogie.
There are a fair number of kids and families in our little campground, but most are spending their days rafting down the river or playing on the large beach, so it never feels overwhelming or too crowded here. I finally learn that this is a statewide UEA 4-day school holiday weekend, so it appears every family in Utah is getting in their one last big camping trip for the season.
By noontime on Sunday, the campground has nearly emptied with all the kids and families heading home to get back to school and jobs, and brace for Winter’s arrival. Millie and I soak up paradise for a few more quiet hours, and once fully rejuvenated, pack up ourselves to head on to our next adventure.