I've spent almost two weeks over two trips in southern Utah this last spring. And with those two trips came some realizations that I didn't necessarily think about before.
For this post I'm going to talk about what makes a place good or bad. Or, to be more accurate, what makes a place good and bad.
My first trip to Utah this year was with my daughter on our annual spring break road trip. Our first camping spot was in the north end of Glen Canyon, at a campground along the Dirty Devil river. As a camp site it had everything we wanted. It was beautiful, quiet, secluded. It was early in the season so we were the only ones there.
It was also far away from anything interesting. An hour Natural Bridges Monument. More than that to a gas station. More than that to anything else. The lake was down (a lot) so there wasn't even an opportunity to put in couple of kayaks in the water if we had them.
Having learned my lesson we broke camp early the second morning and headed to Capital Reef National Park. The campground there was, well, a traditional national part campground, with paved roads and little separation between sites. The rest of the park, however... Washes and slot canyons to hike, pre-Native American cliff drawings, the remains of a Mormon settlement, a working orchard and the pies it supplied ingredients for. We could have spent another day there despite its tiny size.
While waiting out a rain storm in our tent, my daughter made this observation: "The worst camp sites have the best activities." While that statement is nowhere near a hard and fast rule, it is frequently true. Few places are everything you want them to be at the time you want them to be.
Glen Canyon is too far away from everything to make up for the excellent camp site.
Capitol reef was fun but didn't have any seclusion.
Lake Mead was too close to the Vegas suburbs to get a dark sky.
Grafton Mesa beautiful, close to Zion but ankle deep in mud.
At this point it will sound like I'm complaining and I assure you I am not. My experiences were all wonderful, despite the frustrations (and maybe even because of them). In hindsight, however, I would have modified my plans some. And I will take my experiences forward with me to the next trip and, maybe, find a place or two that is all good.
Be good, have fun,
Ophelia is the latest animal in our brood. She is a strange cat with a strange voice.