Our move day was expected to be 110 miles or so. We ended up a bit more than that. I generally like having reservations for our various stops. That’s not always possible as was the case in this move. Our plan was to camp in one of the public (BLM) campgrounds along the Colorado River, just north of Moab, UT. Most everyone assured me that since we were arriving so early in May and on a Thursday afternoon rather than on Friday that we’d have no problem finding a campsite. That didn’t work out for us. We drove up the river canyon seeing one “campground full” sign after another. I finally found a camp host and asked him what the chances were that we’d find a spot if we continued up the canyon to one of the more distant campgrounds. He didn’t offer me much hope, especially for a larger 5th wheel. Then he suggested the BLM Horsethief Campground which is on the road to Canyonlands National Park and near Dead Horse Point State Park. He was fairly confident that we’d find a spot there.
Since we already had reservations for the state park starting Monday we decided it was the best option, even though it put us 30 minutes north of Moab. Off we went, climbing one 8% grade of switchbacks, over hill and dale, searching for a place to “land.” We found a nice campground with large, level sites, and a very nice view of the distant snow-capped Henry Mountains. There are over 50 sites and, in spite of what I was told about there being a high likelihood of there being plenty of vacant sites, the campground filled to capacity three of the four nights we were there.
We settled in for our first “no hookup” camping experience in this particular camper. My biggest concern is water. We stopped and filled up with 80 gallons of fresh water in Moab. A side note on that: everyone told me that we could get water at old Lion Park on the northern edge of Moab. We found the spot, but there was a brand new chain and padlock on the water outlet. When I mentioned that to the fore-mentioned camp host he was surprised as he had just gotten water there the day before. We ended up going across the road from the park to a RV Resort and paying them $5 for water.
At Horsethief we are a long way from water. Not only that, but our next move is just down the road about 10 miles and there is no water available there either. It is certainly doable but we need to be sure our fresh water supply holds out. Fortunately, we found some places where we could fill the 5 gallon or so supply of water containers we have stashed away. That allows us to use our “on board” water for quick showers, toilet flushing, etc. During our stays at the two “horse” campgrounds every trip will include emptying our water containers into the fresh water tank and then refilling them as we travel.
Another concern is camper battery power but that’s not as big a deal as we only need the batteries to last while we are at the BLM campground. Once we move to the state park we’ll have electric, just no other hookups.
Horsethief Campground is a great campground for people who don’t mind being off the grid, who want a very quiet campground, who enjoy beautiful sunsets and star lit nights. My Verizon phone managed to get a few bars of cell service but data limped along with an occasional 1X connect. The roads and sites are all good gravel and the pit toilets are clean and have no “outhouse” odor. On our senior pass we stayed for $7.50 a night (others pay $15). It’s about 30 minutes into Moab, but the entrance to the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands is nearby.
While Jackie and I would prefer full hookups with maybe a pool, we found this dry camping experience to be an occasional acceptable alternative, especially when it is being done for a good reason (like visiting two awesome national parks). We’re not ready to join the solar-powered boondocking crowd on a regular basis, but staying at Horsethief does allow us to see a bit of what draws them to this style of camping.