Dry Camping near Zion National Park
Last month the Eco Womb Tour visited Southern Utah for the first time, exploring Zion National Park, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, and other amazing places. On our way there, we got pretty hyped to go explore but wondered where we would stay. With campgrounds either being $70 a night or booked out through the summer, we decided to try something new by staying three weeks on BLM land just outside Zion.
We quickly fell in love with our site, which was on a mesa with 360 degree views of Zion Canyon, Gooseberry Mesa and the snowy Pine Valley Mountains. There were mountain bike trails right out our front door, leading to some pretty fun bike rides! The town of Hurricane was only a few miles away at the base of the mesa, though you couldn’t see it from the site. And we had full phone service for all of our stay.
We met people from all over the world, from Australia to the UK. There were people there who were boondocking for the first time, and there was one man, Kevin, who told us he had lived 11 years on free, public land. He did this by living out of his tent setup and rotating camping areas after a few weeks in one spot. I don’t know about you, but I found that pretty cool!
Dry camping (or boondocking) turned out to be pretty easy. We arrived with a full tank of fresh water and empty grey and black tanks. We conserved water by using only what we needed to, and spent days having fun in the sun instead of inside our home. Our rooftop solar provided energy, the majority of the days were sunny and since we were on a mesa with no trees within 5 miles, we had plenty of power.
(Full disclosure: We showered and did laundry at our friends house, enabling us to go longer on our tanks. Gotta stay clean! Thanks Shanti)**
After all that, we dumped only once during our 22-day stay in Southern Utah, going 11 full days on our tanks with 7 people, woohoo!
It rained a few times during our stay, and while the storm clouds were amazing (and the lightning a bit scary), the dirt road leading to our campsite turned into a mudpit after the rain. That was great for the kids to play in, but not so good for our minivan! We waited until the sun came out to dry the road before going anywhere. A 4WD vehicle would’ve been just fine, but our van is not an off-road creature! Lol.
Zion was amazing!! Most of the trails in Zion Canyon were closed due to the spring snowmelt or rockfall, including The Narrows, which was a bummer. But we quickly found other places to explore, like this deserted canyon trail:
And don’t sleep on the surrounding area! We hiked in other, less trafficked places, including our new favorite: Red Cliff Reef Trail.
Overall, I loved seeing Southwest Utah. And we did it all while living off-grid, on public land, for FREE!! By doing this we were able to check another place off my travel list AND save up some dinero for our upcoming ALASKA TOUR!! But for real: Boondocking is a useful option if you’re self-contained, and not only is it free you’re also closer to nature. It’s literally all steps from your front door.
**Also, if you visit the area, reach out to our friend, Shanti Hodges from Hiking My Way and Founder of Hike it Baby for her upcoming retreats, group hikes in the region, and if you’re not camping, book her AirbnB!