Boondocking near Bryce Canyon National Park in Dixie National Forest, Utah

Getting There

I’d say the most harrowing parts of boondocking are not knowing if there will be an open spot and not knowing the current conditions of the road ahead of time.  Are there massive ruts in the road or low-hanging tree branches?  Will we be able to turn around if the spot is already taken?  It takes a healthy amount of a certain something to overcome those fears and commit to driving your entire lives, house, and family several miles into an unfamiliar forest.  Is that certain something stupidity or confidence?  I’d say that depends on how it works out.  🙂

This was easily remedied when we had Trudy since we could disconnect the Ford Escape we towed (which had to happen anyway) and one of us could go scout.  The key is that they were both motorized, so Hannah could go scout and radio back to me if/when I should drive Trudy in.

So far we’ve never disconnected the Fox from the Ram to scout (meaning we’d have to reconnect, drive in, then disconnect again), but I guess some people do that.  Perhaps having already driven several hours with a toddler at that point influences our decision?  Yeah, I’d say so.

One of our favorite national parks – Bryce Canyon!

Anyway, driving into our spot in Dixie NF was one of those times that scouting would have been nice.  The NF has many loops and roads with spurs for dispersed camping – some of which are more big-rig friendly (or medium-rig friendly in our case?) that others.

We drove around the main forest road and found no spots, so we ventured deeper into the forest.  At one point the road split into two narrower roads – which I assumed meant one was for coming and one was for going, so I chose the road on the right.  The roads did end up reuniting but not before the one we chose became extremely narrow and rutted.  We had bushes and branches up against the side of the RV and ended up having to do several multi-point turns just to continue down the road without smashing bushes.

 

Our spot in Dixie National Forest

We ended up getting a great spot near the end of that side loop.  We saw only one other vehicle going down the road we were on during out stay – I guess that’s the benefit of going down more difficult roads!

Our spot in Dixie National Forest near Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

Our spot – in the area known as Cabin Hollow – was surrounded by giant pines and provided lots of solitude.  We had empty forest roads to walk down, a good amount of open area around the RV, and endless woods to explore.

Exploring behind our spot in Dixie NF

There’s also a great multi-use paved trail that we rode bikes on a few times.  I believe it goes all the way to the park but we didn’t make it that far.

A nice paved trail was waiting at the start of the forest road and went all the way to Bryce Canyon

Our site had plenty of room, which meant we were able to set up an old tent for Calla to use as a playhouse.  We also set up the hammock, which is one of Calla’s favorite things!

Calla in her playhouse

 

Bryce Canyon

We ventured into Bryce Canyon National Park several times.  As usual, we went all together and visited the overlooks, the visitor center, and did a short hike.  Hannah and I did longer, more strenuous hikes individually other days.

We hiked Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop as a family and did Fairlyland Loop individually.  Unfortunately the section known as Wall Street was closed when we were there but there’s so much to see at Bryce that I don’t think it mattered at all.

Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop intersect and combining the two gives you the best of both trails.  These trails gave us a taste of the wonder Bryce contains with stunning views of hoodoos up close and from afar.  They’re both also very popular since they’re shorter, less strenuous and packed with beauty.

Hiking Queens Garden / Navajo Loop
Hannah pretending she’s a hoodoo in Queen’s Garden
Hannah entering a tunnel through one of the formations

Our favorite part of visiting Bryce was absolutely Fairyland Loop trail.  It’s longer and more strenuous – around 8 miles and over 1,500 feet in elevation change – so there are far less hikers.  Getting out into the canyon with the innumerable hoodoos and other formations without many other people was extremely special.  We both say that Fairland Loop is our favorite hike we’ve done anywhere on this journey.

The start of Fairyland Loop trail
Fairyland Loop winds around the hoodoos
Hannah at the beginning of the trail
Weird, scrubby trees, spectacular hoodoos, and nobody around – that’s why Fairyland Loop at Bryce Canyon NP was so great
Fairyland had lots of up and down, which gave you great views of what was coming next
Fairyland also included an optional detour to see the Tower Bridge formation

Overall we loved Bryce Canyon.  It’s one of our favorite national parks!

Date visited: May 2018

2 Comments

  1. Time
    Why don’t you carry a small scooter or dirt bike for scouting! I use to have a 50cc MS tire fitted scooter on my truck that for, shipped farm supplies and tires out to lonesome farms. Some up in hill county, impossible to u-turn a big rig so you had to back up the last section for a proper job.

    1. That’s a great idea, and something I’d love to have… but not something I want to haul around or maintain! I’d have to put a hitch on the front of our truck since we have bikes on the back. And I don’t feel like doing that. Ha!

      Thanks for the comment, Peter!

Leave a Reply