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Author Topic: Camping throughout the southwest ... suggestions?  (Read 7990 times)
bellimages
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« on: September 09, 2013, 08:58:02 AM »
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I realize that this is a generalized question, but does anyone know of a good (or really good) website that lists campgrounds throughout the southwest? I plan on spending a few weeks in northern Arizona, southern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. National Parks are a no-brainer, it's the more remote areas that are cause for concern, especially since I will be out of cell phone range most of the time. Therefore I need to know where I will be spending nights BEFORE I depart.
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bretedge
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 10:15:04 AM »
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Northern Arizona is pretty wide open to dispersed camping, i.e. park and camp wherever you want.  Southern Utah is a little bit more restrictive but there's still no shortage of dispersed camping.  I don't know of any resources that list designated campgrounds, though.
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Martin Archer-Shee
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 06:37:20 PM »
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With respect it appears that National Parks are really a no brainer  now. What a pity, such a wonderful resource.
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pluton
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 04:33:24 PM »
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AAA used to produce CampBooks and Campground Maps  for California, which listed both public and private campgrounds.  If they made them for AZ and UT, see if you can get ahold of them.
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HSakols
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2013, 07:50:12 PM »
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What does a cell phone have to do with camping?  Chuck the phone. Life was primitive prior to 92.  There is amazing camping all over, but I'm sure people aren't going to divulge there favorites.  The fun is to go and make your own discoveries.  Go to Escalante and just get lost out there.  You won't regret it.  Most camping is free out there on public land.  Just don't leave you garbage or tolet paper.  Bring five gallons of your own water.  
Here is where we camped.  Notice we were on a road and not just going where ever.
http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=944423 
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 08:34:35 PM by HSakols » Logged
Misirlou
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2013, 09:36:42 AM »
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Chaco Canyon is a pretty fantastic place to camp, but it's federally managed, so likely to be closed now. No cell service needed there.
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bellimages
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2013, 08:16:01 AM »
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Smart phones allow me to do searches (such as campgrounds, etc.).
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arlon
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2013, 09:28:10 AM »
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Just curious what you call camping? I do a lot of camping in the SW (More south than I think you're looking at). National parks are going to be a big issue this fall.

Found this on some national park openings. http://www.nps.gov/shutdown/index.html
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 12:23:42 PM by arlon » Logged

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bellimages
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2013, 10:13:29 PM »
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I guess I need to define "camping." Camping is not my purpose on this trip... the purpose is photography. While I do like to camp and backpack, I do it as a recreational thing. But when I'm shooting, I sleep in the back of my SUV to save on costs, and to be in the landscape where I am shooting.

Going back to my original post, I asked for suggestions of where I might spend some of my nights. I was hoping that someone knew of a website that lists remote places where I can (legally) camp. For example, I have learned that in the Alabama Hills, outside if Lone Pine, CA, I can pull in anywhere, OR, I can pay to use one of two campgrounds.

I'll list a few places where I may shoot. If you've been to any of these locations and know of places to "camp," let me know.

1. Areas around Page, AZ
2. Bisti Wilderness
3. Ship rock
4. Monument Valley
5. Factory Butte (near Hanksville, UT)
6. Taos, NM
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Misirlou
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2013, 10:39:08 PM »
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In New Mexico, there are more interesting places to photograph. Try City of Rocks State Park. You could spend a week making photos at City of Rocks, and it only covers maybe 10 acres. Good place to camp too, unless wind bothers you. Galisteo is a cool semi-ruinous town full of weirdness.
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arlon
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2013, 08:33:11 AM »
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Look on the national forest and BLM sites. I have an old AWD Astro van that I "camp" out of. It's my hotel room I can set up on location. I spend more than a few nites a year on BLM land. Nice thing about the van is it pretty stealthy and works well in walmart parking lots too. I'm never noticed there like an RV would be. I like cheap and often use google earth to scout back roads on blm land for suitable locations to camp and hpotograph. Some of the BLM staff are really helpful if you just talk to them. The rangers know the areas like their own back yard and can often suggest places to camp. Some places like expeditionportal.com have a large community of people that like to get off the beaten path and may have more ideas than the photography community.

Sorry I don't have specific info for the area you're interested in, I generally hang a little further SE centered around West Texas.

I love camping/photography from my van. I tried to get a FB group started of people with similar interests for sharing info but it has gone nowhere.  )-:}

Free camping on BLM land 5 minutes from Carlsbad Caverns NP.. It seldom costs me more than $10 for a three day weekend of camping out of my van (excluding fuel cost). Definately a lot of bang for the buck. (-:}
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Lightsmith
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2013, 02:11:25 PM »
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What works best for me is Google Maps. Along the route where I plan to stay or visit I do a "search nearby" for "camping". I also use the BLM website as a great deal of this area is BLM managed land and they have many campsites that are usually a lot less crowded than the RV parks and National Park campgrounds in the area. Some of the camping areas require that you be self-contained and do not allow for tent camping as there are no toilets of any kind. 

The books by Laurent Martres are a good resource for planning photography trips in the southwest.
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Lightsmith
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2014, 05:55:25 PM »
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Most of the public lands in this area are "managed" by the BLM and they have area specific websites with maps. For general travel I also use the USFS maps for each forest in a state. They can be ordered online and mailed to you before you leave. I use both these resources to plan where to camp when in the area. The great thing about the BLM campgrounds is that they are less well known than the national park campgrounds and so it is easier to find a campsite without making reservations in advance.

There are primitive campgrounds and for many of these you need to be fully self-contained so a truck camper or motorhome is OK but not car or tent camping. The flip side is that with no hookups these are less popular for the RV crowd and I do mean crowd.

From a photography and trip planning perspective I like the 3 outstanding books on the area by Laurent Martres. I have used them to decide on routes and places to go to and then for a given area I will use Google Maps and do a search nearby for "camping". Some places like Ship Rock have no camping in the area but it is legal to simply park and sleep in your car or RV in this area. 
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2014, 11:36:02 AM »
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Good boondocking sites are a learned skill.  Experience tells you where you'll find good spots.  Google Earth is the ultimate map, but you'll need Internet access.  "Mapster" has excellent topographic and road data and works offline.  Free, too.

BLM lands are an excellent resource.  I'm no lawyer, but it seems that camping is largely unrestricted.  Maps showing the extent and boundaries of these lands are invaluable.

I use infrastructure sites frequently.  Cell towers, microwave towers, power transmission lines all have access roads and even if you wind up camping just outside the security gates, you're on public land and you won't get chased off.  All provide the three basic requirements: Quiet, Dark and Level.

Invisible is good.  Hide.  If they can't see you, they can't bother you.

1. Areas around Page, AZ
Walmart lot in town.  Marina parking lots.

2. Bisti Wilderness
No idea

3. Ship rock
Native reservations all around.  Boondocking difficult

4. Monument Valley
Native reservations all around.  Boondocking difficult

5. Factory Butte (near Hanksville, UT)
many small roads into the desert near Hanksville. Otherwise, Capital Reef has a superb campground.  Burr Trail and Waterpocket fold has campgrounds.

6. Taos, NM
eastward towards the mountains gets you off the tourist trail

Like arlon, I frequently hide in plain sight.  Commercial parking lots, church parking lots (except Saturday night!) casinos, shopping malls, hospitals, anywhere vehicles are likely to be parked overnight.




Happy Hour, somewhere in Central Nevada.
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angolden
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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2014, 06:16:22 PM »
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You might want to check out Expedition Portal. It is a forum focused on exactly this type of question and there is a wealth of knowledge about the areas you are planning on visiting.
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bill proud
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« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2014, 10:41:57 AM »
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Hello,

Page: There is a commercial campground in Page with camping spots and showers. If you want remote, say, Allstrom Point, drive to Big Water and out into the boonies. Google the map for it. South of Page on the Utah side has some sandy back roads, not recommended.

Bisti: There is a lonely fenced parking area with no facilities, no water, no campsites. You could park and sleep in your vehicle, I've seen people do this.

Ship Rock: Nowhere to officially camp but road by the rock goes for miles. Used to be a favorite drinking area for locals, lots of broken glass near  entry road to the east of the hogback.

Monument Valley: Gouldings, and primitive camping right at the entrance. They used to have camp sites with water and facilities at the entrance as well.

good luck,

 

 
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Lightsmith
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2014, 07:49:46 PM »
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The area around Ship Rock is completely unrestricted for camping if you are self-contained. This is true on many wildlife refuge areas as well though you have to be with a specified distance of the "road".
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Frank Sirona
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« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2014, 04:37:24 PM »
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The area around Ship Rock is completely unrestricted for camping if you are self-contained. This is true on many wildlife refuge areas as well though you have to be with a specified distance of the "road".

But as far as I know you need a Navajo permit for camping, don´t you?
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Frank Sirona. Large format photography of the Desert Southwest.

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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2014, 04:46:46 PM »
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Arizona's a bit far from the south west, isn't it? If you want campsites around Somerset, Devon & Cornwall, I can give you some suggestions  Wink
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Lightsmith
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« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2014, 07:19:12 PM »
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For any area where I plan to be I use Google Maps and once I pinpoint a location will use the search nearby to locate campgrounds. It works well for this function and with the satellite view I can see if there is any vegetation or potential shade or water in an area.

Most of the places out in the desert are on BLM land and it is not difficult to find what the restrictions are for camping. I use a slide in camper on a pickup truck so I can stay anywhere. Not unusual in this area to find that all the camping is classified as primitive and so that means only self-contained RV's are allowed and no tent or other camping.

If I was going to spend time in the area I would consider renting a Class B motorhome in Arizona and using it for my travels. Lots of advantages to having a small fridge, a fresh water tank, toilet, and place to sit indoors and work on camera gear or use your laptop to review your images.
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