Born to Camp – Grab Your Tent!

Camping is in the blood. As a child, I went camping to Scotland. Dad dug trenches around the ridge tent, adjusted guy ropes day and night to avoid flooding, tricks learned as a boy scout in the 1930’s. DDT was used to kill the bugs. Cooking was on a one- ring burner. Milk came in cartons from a machine on the main street of Fort William. The equipment we needed fitted neatly into a Ford Prefect. Every year the same ritual: set off at 5 a.m. to avoid the non-existent traffic, breakfast at Lauder consisting of traditional Scottish mutton pies and onwards to Pitlochery, singing, ‘Over the Sea to Skye’. This was in the days before the Forth Road Bridge, reliant on the ferry from Queensferry.

When my children were young we decided to take them camping – experience the good life. We paid a mere £100 for a second-hand frame tent and all of the equipment. Yes, a frame tent! We could only dream of one of these luxury items when I was a child. Yet again, setting off at 5 in the morning, breakfast at Lauder (although husband refused the mutton pies), disappointment at having to buy milk in a shop, equipment fitting neatly into a Renault 11. But this time, as a parent, immense satisfaction at introducing the offspring to the wonders of nature, instilling in them a passion for the outdoors.

Oh Diane! What have you started. One simple statement,

“Guess what, we’ve bought – a tent and we’re going to start camping.”

“Aaarh!”

A few months earlier it was a Harley Davison. This is Diane who only ever travels 5 star. This is the Diane who has weekly facials and manicures. How could Diane possibly be going camping? Diane does not camp! We camp… well, used to camp. Let’s face it. Lots of people used to camp. Say what you like about the outdoors and getting back to nature, when you can afford to give up camping, you give up camping. I like my 5 star luxury hotels, with waiter service, en-suite complete with toiletries, maid service, mints on the pillow and complimentary champagne and fruit.

Imagine then the panic! Camping! Diane had invited us to a camping exhibition. There should have been a warning sign – no males over 50!! I saw the gleam in his eye, the excitement as he prowled from tent to tent. And there it was… it lured us in – ‘The Bear Lake 4′. The Rolls Royce of tents. No simple, lightweight, cheap, ‘don’t mind if you’re never used ‘ tent. This tent begins at £500. It has breathable fabric with holes that close when it rains! It has windows with curtains and tie backs and mosquito nets, its own doormat and matching windbreak. Irresistable to any man over 50. I could sense his return to youth, the excitement, the outdoors, back to nature, shed the trappings of modern day life. The money was handed over so quickly. The return to camping had begun. But, we have no equipment!

Oh, how times have moved on. We are now the proud owners of an electric hook-up, an electrically inflated air-bed (double height), high tech cooking facilities, a camp kitchen, matching crockery complete with tray stored on shelving unit, an electric cool-box, electric kettle – no more whistle – I miss the whistling kettle. All of this for a mere £500.

And now, the latest addition – a new car to put it in! Not any car but a carefully structured piece of engineering that was longing for owners to take it camping. This is the Rav4. The cheap holidays that we can have as we move into retirement….has now cost us a further £24,000! Not quite the £100 of days gone by. At these costs we will have to use it!

Scotland, mutton pies at Lauder are beckoning… can’t wait.

Hope there’s a hotel nearby in case it rains. I’m sure I can fit the hair straighteners in….television……en suite bathroom……..
http://helloecoliving.com/2010/04/born-to-camp/

Boondocking: How to Camp Without Hookups

You’ve probably heard a lot about boondocking–camping without hookups–and wondered why anyone would want to camp where there were no water, sewage, or electrical connections. All modern RVs have been manufactured to be independent of these appendages that hook them up to land-based resources. All RVs have a holding tank for fresh water, and most of the time two holding tanks for waste, one from the toilet and one from the shower and sinks. They also have a house battery or batteries to supply 12-volt electricity to the RV and a generator to produce electrical power to the 120-volt and 12-volt systems, and to recharge the batteries. Camping without these hookups opens up many more possibilities on the vast natural areas and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Forest Service (FS) for enjoying your RV lifestyle. First, though, you have to get comfortable with camping without hookups, which limits your amount of drinking water, battery electricity, and waste disposal capacity. Here are seven ways to conserve your natural resources and transition from hookups to boondocking.

  1. Start off by boondocking for just one or two nights at a campground that does not have hookups, and won’t tax your onboard systems. But to go longer than that you need to learn some conservation techniques and alter some wasteful habits.
  2. Conserve your fresh water supply by taking Navy showers-rinse down, turnoff water, soap up, rinse off. Wash your hands the same way. Filling your gray water tank is one of the more limiting factors in how long you can boondock, so prevent as much waste water from entering the tank as you can.
  3. When washing dishes, use a small bowl of soapy water. Rinse dishes in a tub of water, rather than under a running faucet. Wipe food off your dishes before washing. Use a small bowl of soapy water to wash and a plastic tub of water for rinsing. With a little practice you will be surprised at how much water you previously wasted.
  4. Carry extra Jerry jugs or gallon containers of water to dump in your tank when your pump starts sucking air.
  5. To conserve electricity so that your house batteries last as long as possible, turn off lights, TV, radio, porch light, computers and any other electrical appliances or tools when they are not being used. Use rechargeable battery operated book lights for reading.
  6. If you need to use a 120-volt appliance like the microwave, blender, or coffee grinder, or your battery-draining water pump, schedule using these in the same block of time while running the generator, which will power them directly without pulling amps out of your batteries.
  7. To find public land boondocking campsites, stop at ranger stations and visitor centers upon entering public lands and ask about “dispersed camping” areas. Find public lands on state maps that show recreational lands. Most roads to these sites will be dirt but were built solidly for logging and cattle trucks and fire-fighting equipment and most should be suitable for RVs.

For more information as well as RVing tips and destinations visit my Healthy RVLifestyle website or check out my eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, a complete manual on boondocking.

Best 10 Places to Camp in Utah

If you are planning an outing in Utah, here is a list of the best 10 places to go camping. Most of these campgrounds have a variety of activities including hiking, swimming, fishing, boating and more. The sites vary so if you need to use a family cabin tent or want room for a privacy shelter be sure to allow yourself enough space to accommodate for that. Quite a few campsites these days have enough room for the larger 5-6 person tent or even a couple smaller 2-4 person tents or solo tents.

Jordanelle State Park Campground:

The Hailstone Recreation Area is the premier development of Jordanelle State Park. Hailstone is a large developed campground and day-use area located on the west side of the reservoir. Hailstone serves thousands of visitors each year from boaters and campers, to fishermen and special events. Hailstone offers picturesque camping with 223 sites for RV’s, camping tents, picnicking and more. The park is open May-October and has several fun activities for friends and families; these include camping, biking, fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing, playground and more. The park also has amenities available for the comfort of the visitors, which include concessions, cabins, pro shops, dump stations for RV users, modern restrooms, grills, hot showers and boat rentals. The camping fees range from $16 to $20 per night. It is also open for reservation.

Mill Hollow Campground:

Mill Hollow campground is located next to the Mill Hollow Reservoir in the Uinta National forest at an elevation of 8,800 feet. The park has a total of 28 camping sites, camping tents only non-electric 11 and RV non-electric 17. Pets are welcome at all sites. The park has several amenities including vault toilets, drinking water, campfire rings, grills and firewood. The park also offers many activities to the families and groups that visit. These activities include fishing, canoeing, kayaking, wildlife viewing and hiking. The camping fees can be obtained from the self-service pay station. Some sites are first-come, first served while others can be reserved on line. Fees are $16 per night with additional fee for reservation in advance.

Goblin Valley State Park Campground:

Goblin Valley State Park campground is located in Hanksville Utah, 48 miles SW of Green River, Utah via SR24. It gets the name from the strange and colorful landscape filled with bizarre sandstone rock formations called goblins. The park has 24 camping sites, 1 group site and 2 yurts. The activities offered in this park are camping, hiking, wildlife viewing to name a few. The park has several amenities available such as dump stations, fire rings, vault toilets, grills, picnic tables, modern restrooms and hot showers which make life easier and fun for the campers. Reservations are allowed and the park is open year-round. Caution: Extreme desert landscape with little or no shade. The camping fees are $16 per night.

Devils Garden Campground:

Devils Garden campground is located in the Arches National Park in Southeastern Utah. Devils Garden offers 51 camping sites which are available for reservation, this gives the visitors the opportunity to stay overnight and enjoy the scenic environment. There are two group campsites, 35-person and 55-person. Both of these sites are $3 per person with a minimum fee of $33. No trailers or RV’s are allowed at these two sites and reservations are required. The park has several facilities for the visitors comfort; these include flush toilets, amphitheater for ranger talks, drinking water and picnic areas. This campground has breathtaking scenery, abundant hiking trails, guided hiking tours and more. The camping fees are $20 per night, plus $9 for booking reservation between March 1 and Nov 1. Nov 1 through end of Feb sites are available on first-come, first-served basis. No hook-ups, dump stations, electricity or showers.

Green River State Park Campground:

Green River State Park is located on the banks of the green river. It has a total of 42 camping sites and facilities available for the usage of the visitors are modern restrooms, hot showers, group use pavilion, an amphitheater and boat ramps. There are two group campground sites available by reservation. Some of the campground activities include fishing, boating, swimming, numerous species of birds for the bird watchers and nine-hole golf course. Campground amenities include drinking water, dump stations and hook-ups for RV users, showers, picnic tables, grills and more. Reservation is subject to availability. The campground is open year-round. The camping fees are $18 and $25 for hook-ups sites per night.

Snow Canyon State Park Campground:

The Snow Canyon State Park campground is located in the 62,000 acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. It is located near St George, in southwestern Utah about 310 miles south of Salt Lake City. It has a total of 14 RV sites with water and electrical hook-ups and 17 multi-use camping sites. The park is open year-round and reservations are encouraged. The park has made available several amenities which include modern restrooms, electricity, hot showers, group use pavilion, hiking/biking/equestrian trails and a dump station. There are several activities that take place in the park such as horseback riding, biking, hiking, rock climbing and junior ranger programs. This scenic park allows people to enjoy nature studies, wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities in abundance. The campground fees range from $16 to $20 per night.

Dead Horse Point State Park Campground:

Dead Horse Point State Park campground is located 25 miles from the city of Moab. The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. Towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, the overlook provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands’ sculpted pinnacles and buttes. The 21 site Kayenta campground features electrical hookups, tent pads, sheltered tables and charcoal grills at each site. It has several amenities available to the visitor; they include comfort stations, concessions, dump stations, restrooms, drinking water, visitor center and more. Also several fun activities take place in the campground; these include summer evening programs, hiking, mountain biking, nature study, wildlife viewing and photography. The park is open year-round and the camping fees are $25 per night. Group rates $25-$75 per night.

Firefighters Campground:

Firefighters campground is located just 3 miles from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. This campground serves as a memorial to three firefighters who lost their lives in the 1977 Cart Creek Fire. It has a total of 60 camping sites of which six are wheelchair accessible family sites with each having a picnic table and a campfire ring, some sites have grills. The park has several amenities available to the visitors; these include flush toilets, dump station, amphitheater, grills, and showers 2.5 miles away at Deer Run campground. Some of the other interesting activities that take place in and around the park (within 10 miles) for the enjoyment of the visitors, are birding, biking, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, water skiing and swimming. Also within 10 miles you will find a general store, restaurant, marina and boat ramp. The camping fees range from $18-$20 per night and reservation fee is $9. This park is open May-September.

Watchman Campground:

Watchman campground is located in the Zion National Park which has a total of three campgrounds. Watchman is near the south entrance at Springdale. Some campsites get shade for part of the day, but many get no shade at all and summer temperatures exceed 95 degrees so staying cool can be a challenge. The Virgin River runs along the edge of the campground and there are a few riverside campsites. There are 162 regular sites, 2 wheelchair accessible sites and 7 group sites available. All sites are drive-up with a maximum of two vehicles but only one RV or trailer, overflow parking is available. Not all campsites have electrical hook-ups so if you need power, you will want to make a reservation in advance. The park area offers many recreational opportunities, including, backpacking, biking, hiking, climbing, horseback riding and more. Comfort stations provide flush toilets, cold running drinkable water and trash containers, but no showers or electrical outlets. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit with grill. Springdale is adjacent to Zion Canyon; pay showers, a small market, firewood, Laundromats and restaurants are available. Springdale can be reached from the campgrounds by car, foot, bike, or free shuttle (April through October). Reservations are highly recommended if you want to guarantee a spot at this campground. Tent and electric campsites are available year-round but group sites March through early November and are by reservation only. The camping fees range from $16-$20 per night.

Bryce Canyon North Campground:

North campground is located in close proximity to the visitor center in Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is really famous for its beautiful rock features. This campground has 13 RV sites available by reservation and 86 RV and tent sites available on first-come, first-served basis. There are no hook-ups in the campground but a fee-for-use dump station is available at the south end of the campground. Amenities include restrooms with flush toilets and drinking water. During summer months coin-operated laundry and shower facilities are available at the general store nearby. Hiking, backpacking, and photography are among the many things to do here. Activities vary during the time of year. The park is open year-round but is subject to temporary road closures during winter snow storms. The camping fees are $15 per night.