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Discussion Starter #1
I have a long weekend coming up September 14th and I would like to visit Zion and Bryce for the first time. I plan on leaving Los Angeles in the very early hours to beat the desert heat and I would try to motor straight thru to the national parks. I am flexible on routes and sights. I do want to take a few hours in each of the parks to do one of the iconic hikes.

I will be on the road for 5 days/4 nights which is just beyond my normal limit for going showerless so any tips there would help too.

Mike
 

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Map of Free Camping Areas | Go Camping for Free!

Problem is National parks are very rarely free to camp and in my experience you pay a pretty penny in NPs for not a lot of return other than the existance of the park. Everytime I camp in a National Park I wind up paying 20+ dollars a night for a square to pitch a tent and pit toilets with no showers. Not much more than that you can stay in a motel 6.

Map of Free Camping Areas | Go Camping for Free!

On the plus side there are some options around the two at least. If you want free camping you need to shoot for national forests and BLM land. On those tracts of land you can camp free anywhere as long as it's not posted as a no camping area. I rarely go to National Parks anymore becuase I feel like I get nickled and dimed to death on the regular.
 

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I live in st. george. There is A LOT of BLM and Forestry service land in southern Utah. Way more of that than there is of populated area. You can find quite a bit of free camping space near the parks and then just pay the entrance fee to get in for the day. As far as showering goes, there are a number of KOAs (you could pay for one night and some have facilities. Sand Hollow State Park has nice facilities in a specific camp area. Some of these places aren't too much and you could pick the night you pay to stay as your shower day. Depending on the route you take you may find a truck stop with a pay shower. There is a shelter in St. George that allows people to come and shower even if they aren't staying there. There are some other options, but those are the initial ones that come to mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
thanks a lot guys.

Those are great tips. I will have a spot for sure now.

I like the idea of spending a night at a state park or KOA for a shower day. Good thinking.

The last couple times I tried to use a truck stop I was turned away. They said for truckers only.
 

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The KOA in Glendale Ut was nice. Up the road from there is Panguitch with a KOA. Utah is really a beautiful CLEAN civilized place in spite of the marriage plurality. When you are an old fart the Nat parks Etc and the Forest camps are 1/2 price.
That's the only thing good about aging that I've found.
 

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If you want free camping you need to shoot for national forests and BLM land. On those tracts of land you can camp free anywhere as long as it's not posted as a no camping area.
That entirely depends on the National Forest- "camp free anywhere" is certainly NOT the case in some.

For instance all camping along some dirt roads/areas in my nearby National Forests is banned except in designated sites.

It pays to check with the actual NF you plan to camp in- not much fun to get rousted after setup and fined by their law enforcement arm.
 

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You'll pay $25 for each Park or $80 for the year for all Parks.

Why not Arches( which I think is a freebie ). Seems it's close enough to the other two.



Takes little time to drive through. Fantastic little cafe at the end of Zion - best veggie wrap evah.



enjoy
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It pays to check with the actual NF you plan to camp in- not much fun to get rousted after setup and fined by their law enforcement arm.[/QUOTE]

Good idea. As my plans firm up I will call the ranger to confirm camping is still allowed at any preferred sites.

Doc: this is a quick trip and I won't be able to make Arches. My goal is to hit the closest two parks this trip so I can drive past them in good conscience next time.
 

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That entirely depends on the National Forest- "camp free anywhere" is certainly NOT the case in some.

For instance all camping along some dirt roads/areas in my nearby National Forests is banned except in designated sites.

It pays to check with the actual NF you plan to camp in- not much fun to get rousted after setup and fined by their law enforcement arm.

Not sure about out east where the pop density is higher but out west here You can pretty much camp anywhere in a NF unless it's posted as a no camping area. I haven't paid for camping since I got here two years ago.
 

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That is why I said "depends" and "some". Would hate to see someone assume it applied everywhere and learn expensively it did not:wink2:
 

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You'll pay $25 for each Park or $80 for the year for all Parks.

Why not Arches( which I think is a freebie ). Seems it's close enough to the other two.

I think you are referring to entrance fees which are separate from camping fees.
We were at Arches last year and it wasn't free to get in- but luckily I had the $80 card allowing free entry.
Camping fees are extra though...


One cool thing about the $80 pass-
last summer we hit a bunch of National Parks- paying at each gate as we went to them. Commented at one how we were going broke paying entrance fees- the lady asked if we had our receipts from our other parks.
Why yes we did! She said show them to me and if they total over $80 they'll swap it for the annual pass no charge!
Imagine that? The Government offering a sweet deal!
 

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Ive never had a problem stealth camping in any NF for 20yrs. Near Zion is a great area called Duck creek. Tons of riding in S Utah. Secret for me is to always set up tent after 6pm and be out before 6am. Never once have I been bothered. Buy the yearly pass for the Nat. Monuments, its well worth it. Most KOAs or commercial camp grounds will let you use there showers for a fee.
 
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