Author Topic: Hiker/Biker Campsites in National Parks in Southern Utah  (Read 2005 times)

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Hiker/Biker Campsites in National Parks in Southern Utah
« on: February 15, 2022, 07:21:17 pm »
I am riding the Western Express and will pass through the southern Utah portion in mid to late June 2022.   Does anyone know if the national parks along the route have hiker/biker campsites available which do not require a reservation?    Specifically I will be going through Cedar Breaks, Bryce, Capital Reef, and Natural Bridges.    It is very difficult to find this information on their websites.   Thanks

Offline jamawani

Re: Hiker/Biker Campsites in National Parks in Southern Utah
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2022, 09:56:04 pm »
Not that I am aware of.

Bad story about Capitol Reef N.P. from ACA - p.23

I been to Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Bryce recently.
Many years since I was in Capitol Reef or Natural Bridges.
None have hiker/biker sites.

Zion is usually swamped and you MUST have a reserved campsite of you are out of luck.
(People illegally camped outside of the parks are routinely ticketed.)
Cedar Breaks has less visitation and only a small campground.
But you can easily camp on National Forest land nearby.
(You do know that you can camp almost anywhere on National Forest and BLM land?)
Bryce is also a problem with limited campsites, no hiker/biker camping, and heavy use.
Again, you can camp in Red Canyon in the National Forest, instead.

Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges are similarly bad - but with BLM camping ouside the park.
You can always fill up water and use restrooms in the park - but it really sucks.
And I have been advocating, individually, for decades for hiker/biker accommodations.

Good luck!

Offline aggie

Re: Hiker/Biker Campsites in National Parks in Southern Utah
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2022, 11:23:56 am »
Years ago I rode with a group going through the Utah National parks and we camped at the Glen Canyon National Rec Area in Bullfrog.  In the morning we took the ferry across the lake and rode back out to hwy 95 just a few miles from the entrance to Natural Bridges.  Very pretty ride with little to no traffic and of course no services.  Don't remember what month but the campground wasn't very busy.  It is a long shallow climb up from Bullfrog to hwy 95.  There is also a hotel in Bullfrog with a restaurant.  Not sure what is happening there with the drought and the very low lake water level.  Their website will say if the ferry is running. 
(It is currently not running due to low water levels.  Not sure if there will be enough spring runoff for it to reopen.)   Definitely not the way to go if the ferry is closed.  This is the current info on Hite: 
    Ticaboo Store and Registration Office: open 10am-4pm, closed Tuesday-Wednesday
    Convenience Store Fuel – open 24 hrs self service
    Hite Primitive Camping Areas – Primitive camping on beaches or in primitive environments. No designated campsites. Upper camping area closed.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2022, 11:25:56 am by aggie »

Offline Ty0604

Re: Hiker/Biker Campsites in National Parks in Southern Utah
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2022, 02:17:52 pm »
None of them have hiker/biker sites. I’ve toured extensively in several Utah parks…. Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Capital Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Cedar Breaks, Natural Bridges and some state parks; Goblin Valley, Deadhorse Point, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kodachrome Basin, Snow Canyon and a few others. The state parks were FCFS (at least some sites) but that could have changed. For Bryce, there are a lot of privately owned campgrounds outside the park. My favorite is Rubys. Zion is limited but Zion Ponderosa is my go to. They have a hot tub! If you’re near Arches/Canyonlands then Deadhorse Point is in the area. I don’t have any suggestions for the other national parks. We either had reservations or camped outside the park on BLM or NFS land. Sad about the link jamawani posted about Capital Reef above. That’s a shame.

Lastly, Zion doesn’t allow bicycles through the tunnel so you need to hitchhike if you’re riding through the park.
Instagram: tyjames0604


Offline LouMelini

Re: Hiker/Biker Campsites in National Parks in Southern Utah
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2022, 09:14:48 am »
I am from Utah and have ridden in the parks you mentioned except for Cedar Breaks. There are no hiker/biker sites at Bryce, Capital Reef nor Natural Bridges. The state parks of Utah, despite requests, do not have hiker/biker sites nor no-turn-away policies. I have been accommodated in the state parks when full, but that is dependent on who is at the entrance station. With the current record-setting visitation, accommodation may not happen. There is always the option of sharing a site (see jamawani post). This could be a problem if campsites are priced for a set number of people and additional fees are assessed for additional campers in that site.

In the August of 2020, I made same-day reservations at the KOA in Cannonville, east of Bryce NP. Cannonville is about 9 miles from Kodachrome State Park, a nice destination. Ruby's is good as one person mentioned, though popular. The forest service campgrounds in the area fill quickly near Bryce. I have had friends stealth camp near Capital Reef. I know that the campground in Capital Reef is booked up for the month of April. My wife and I are staying at the Wonderland campground 4 miles outside of Capital Reef in Torrey. I assume June will be booked up as well when you travel through. It has been about 5 years since I last rode in Natural Bridges area. There are places to pull off the road to camp near Natural Bridges. Hanksville has a very nice campground at the junction of 24 and 95. Water will be an issue after Hanksville to Blanding. There is a perennial stream about 30 miles south of Hanksville at a roadside reststop. I've heard of people stopping there to stealth camp but I can't say if that is legal. The campground at Hite marina closed years ago, but aggie posted some current information. I was told one could obtain water at a ranger station at Hite but I don't know if that is still true. People are nice and will generally stop to provide you with water if absolutely needed. Hanksville is 4300 ft. and Natural Bridges is 6200 so you will have a steady climb on hwy 95.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2022, 09:29:07 am by LouMelini »

Offline hikerjer

Re: Hiker/Biker Campsites in National Parks in Southern Utah
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2022, 08:44:35 pm »
"Bad story about Capitol Reef N.P. from ACA - p.23"

Boy, we could probably strart a whole thread about similar instances we've had dealing with the bureaucrats that run campgrounds.  I've had my share as I'm sure many of you have.. 

I had a very similar experience take place at a Forest Sevice Campground outside of Aspen, Colorado one August.  I road into Aspen about 7:30 p.m one evening and knew of a FS campground about three miles out of town so I headed for it. When I got there about 8:00 p.m., the somewhat surely host took one look at my bike and gear and put on an attitude.  When I asked about available camping sites, he said there were none available. I looked down the loop and saw an obviously empty one that had no reserved notice on it. He informed me that it was a group site, which it was, and that you had to have at least six people in your goup to use it. I asked if anyone had reserved it for that evening and he said no. I told him I would gladly pay for the the price of a regular site and that if anyone showed up later (I figured there probably wouldn't be a group coming in that late without resevations) that I would move. He flatly said no way. When I began to protest, he told me to leave and that he was tired of "my type of people around". That realy set me off and words were exchanged. But it seemd I didn't have much choice, so I headed out. On the way out a single guy in a pickup camper who had overheard the conversation, offered to share his site with me. Since he had his truck to sleep in it was obvious that he wouldn't be using the tent pad. I thanked him and began to set up my tent. The host Nazi came over and informed me that it was illegal for two unrelated people to use the same sight which was complete nonsense.  Another heated arguement ensued between my newly found friend, myself and the host. He threatened to call the police, so to spare the other guy any trouble, I moved on. I stealth camped a little way down the road and spend a good enough night although the amenities of a campground would have been nice after a long day. That morning I stopped by the campground again and the group site I had originally wanted was empty and obviously never used. Again, the host came out to confront me and I made a point that his unreasonableness cost the FS money, inconveniced me and made him look like an ass.  He again threatened to call the sheriff which I invited him to do and that I would would be stopping by the FS office in Aspen to have a chat and file a complaint. When I explained the situation to the ranger at the station in Aspen he apologized and was obviously rather upset with the host and promised to look into it. I had the feeling they had earlier problems with this particular host. I don't know what the end result was as I continued on my way but the whole thing left a me a bit upset. 

Another similar incident occurred while on tour through California's central valley. I had had a 70 mile day in very hot temperatures and the map showed a Bureau of Reclamation campground on the San Joaquin River near where I had planned to end the day's ride. I rode the easy two miles down the road to a very nice campground on the river. It had grassy shaded sites, tables, showers, the whole shebang. The campground had fifty sites and not one was occupied. I fond the hosts and asked if it was even open and about the proceedure of registering. I was informed that it was open but I had to have reservations in two weeks in advance to stay there. I pointed out that the campground was absolutely empty and couldn't understand the problem. They were quite polite and sympahetic but said rules were rules and there wasn't much they could do.  They even called to a higher level up who, in turn, actually called a still higher administrator to try and secure an exception but the anwer was a flat no.  Again, the hosts were sympathetic, and somewhat embarrassed, but said there was nothing they could do. They pointed me to another campground 15 miles down the road where I wearily rode to and stayed. Just another expample of beaucratic nonsense and complete lack of common sense. Guess it happens to us all one time or another.  Such is life on the bicycle path.

I've also had many instances where campground personnel have gone way out of thier way to accomdate me and help me out.  Actually, far more of these type of good experiences than negaive ones. I guess it's just depends who is charge of the fort that night. 
« Last Edit: February 19, 2022, 11:44:02 pm by hikerjer »