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Moab, Utah Campsite

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The view from my walk everyday.

The view from my walk everyday. At the bottom is Courthouse Wash that I walk along daily.

After our two night stay in Monument Valley it was time to move on. Back when I first posted my plans for this summer and said that I planned to spend May in Moab, many people responded that it would be too hot to be here in May, so I should go sooner. The forecast seemed to bear that out so we decided to come straight here. And at first that seemed to be a good plan because right away it jumped into the mid-80s and it was getting pretty warm. But then a storm front came through and the rain rolled in and it cooled right off–and it’s been pretty cool ever since. In fact the hottest it’s been is 80 since then and that’s fine with me, I can stay comfortable in that no problem. Oddly. the bigger problem has been the cold, rainy days, not the heat. All the locals I’ve talked to said this is very unusual weather, it’s rarely  this volatile with constant ups and downs and wind and rain coming and going. Almost every day has periods of sunshine, clouds , more sun, more clouds and maybe some wind and rain thrown in for good measure.  The forecast for this weekend is more rain and wind.

The weather had been stormy. That’s the snow-capped La Sal mountains in the background.

Because of that I’ve only made three trips into Arches NP and I haven’t done any star photography even though that is one of the main reasons I came here. We’ve already been here for 10 days so we keep thinking we will move on  but then when I research the weather at  all the places I would like to go, there is some real cold weather in their forecast. As mediocre as the weather is here, it’s still better than nearly everyplace around us!

Suanne’s and my campsite. The yellow tent on the right is someone who couldn’t find a spot so he camped with us.

The bottom line is coming here is the best thing we could have done because it’s so much warmer than everywhere else! Weird but true!
Courthouse Wash

Courthouse Wash

I really love Moab, it’s impossible to say which place is my favorite in the country, but I can say with 100% certainty that there is nowhere in the country I like more than here–there may be places I like as much, but none I like more!  There is so much beauty around here with

  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • The Colorado River flows almost right through town.
  • The La Sal Mountain range provides a beautiful, snow-capped backdrop.
  • Even the “plain,” unrecognized places are beautiful around here!
A small field of Lupine near camp.

A small field of Lupine near camp.

Because of that great combination of beauty and openness it offers a huge array of sports and adventure opportunity–all of them world-class. By that I mean there isn’t anyplace  in the world where there are as many activites and that are as good as they are. People come here from all over the country and even the world to partake in the:

  • Photography
  • Mountain Biking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Off-Road 4×4 and Jeeping
  • White-water Rafting
  • Backpacking
  • Canyoneering
  • Skydiving
A group of RVs caped about a mile away.

A group of RVs camped about a mile away.

While I don’t do many of those things, I still revel in the energy that’s here because so many truly alive and adventurous people are concentrated into one small area. No one is here waiting till they are old to enjoy life, in fact the majority are young, vibrant people living life on the edge. And even the older folks who come here are the most adventurous ones who are savoring and drawing deeply from all that life has to offer.

The prevailing attitude and energy in Moab, UT is to look Death straight in the eye and spit in his face!

My kind of people!

The only problem with it’s popularity is the crowds and traffic around town, which spills over into limited camping. As far as I can tell, there isn’t an available RV space in town, they are all full. The soil in this area is very fragile so the BLM seems to continually close areas to dispersed camping. Fortunately, there is one very good place left that is still open, mainly because it’s on state land, and that is the area down Willow Flats Road where we are camped now. I have a map to our current camp at the bottom of the post.

It might be stormy right now, but just wait a couples hours and it will change completely!

If you don’t like the stormy weather right now, just wait a couples hours and it will change completely!

No matter where you live, I highly recommend you put Moab at the top of your bucket list and make sure you get here. The sooner the better!


  1. Ming

    hey, at least when you get rain there, you don’t stay wet for long. I just came back from a trip to the damp coast of Vancouver Island. So beautiful on the coastal beaches, but I was reminded that when things get wet there, they don’t dry out!! (hence all the giant, moss encrusted trees) I have to remember to get my timing right, wet coast in the summer, and desert in the cooler months.
    It’s nice to come back and see other kinds of beautiful travel pictures from you and Suanne, as well as your photo tips for the area. I must pick up the photo books you mentioned in past posts.

    • Bob

      You’re right about that Ming, it dries out super fast here!
      I think I like that better than staying wet forever!

  2. Richard Muller

    I just waited out that storm over near Dolores, CO. Now in Canyonlands. It’s special country!

    • Bob

      Richard, it’s been a stormy spring hasn’t it! This place is even beautiful in storms!

      • Lucy

        Beautiful pictures, Bob, I like them all but my favorite is the first one with the rainbow.
        Enjoy you travel-time.
        My regards, Lucy.

        • Bob

          Thanks, Lucy, it’s hard to take a bad picture with a rainbow in it!

  3. Mountain dan

    Hi Bob: We’re staying in the east end of Flagstaff next to the Coconino NF, and that’s what everybody tells us too about the weather, is that this is very unusually cool. Up on Mount Humphrey just north of Flagstaff, I was hiking on that mountain today, and it was miserable. Too much slush on the trail from the heavier than expected snowfall. Apparently, it’s not just in the west, but near Kansas City there was some flooding from the same aberrant weather system. regards, Mountain Dan

    • Bob

      Mountain Dan, it’s an unusual weather pattern for sure and these are big systems that cover most of the country so there is no getting out of them. Oh well. What ya gonna do!!

  4. Magicwolf

    That picture with the rainbow and the La Sal mountains in the background is great! It makes me want to go for a walk in it. I appreciate the knowledge that there is dispersed camping in that area. It does a lot for the soul to have a beautiful area to roam in, as well as happier, adventurous people nearby.

    • Bob

      Thanks Magicwolf! There is a good energy here!

  5. Walt

    Looks like a great spot. Is it accessible/suitable for a fifth-wheel trailer? I’m actually planning to be in that area in a few weeks (when I’m sure it will be too warm, but it’s the only time I can go as my son is not yet out of school) to see an old friend, so I’m on the lookout for low cost or free campsites.

    • Bob

      Walt, yes, there are 5th wheels all over the place here. The road is a little rough so you have to take it slow, but you can get in no problem!

      • Walt

        Thanks, Bob! Is there a special permit or anything else I need to know about camping in the area? We would be spending seven or eight days in the area. Thanks again.

        • Bob

          Walt, no, nothing at all you need to do to camp here. It’s very popular so if you come on Friday or the weekend during summer you may not get a spot. I’d suggest coming during the week. We’ve never seen a Ranger so enforcement appears to be lax.

          • Walt

            Thanks. I was planning on coming on a Monday, so I should (hopefully) be fine. Thanks again for the info!

          • Bob

            You’re welcome Walt!

  6. Naomi

    Absolutely gorgeous photography, Bob! Thanks for sharing.

    • Bob

      Thanks Naomi, it’s my joy to share it with you.

  7. Joe S

    I will check that spot out when I’m in Moab next week. Last time I was out there I camped at “Area BFE” for free. It’s an off road park south of Moab.

    • Bob

      Thanks Joe, I had never heard of it so I checked it out, very interesting!

  8. Calvin R

    Bob, I’m sure it’s frustrating not getting the pictures you want, but you still got some excellent pictures. The two with rainbows in the desert stand out, especially the one with the La Sal Mountains in relief as the background.
    I took note of the issue with too many people. Many here dislike having much company, so that’s well worth noting.

    • Bob

      There is a little bit of a clash of cultures in boondocking, RVers are generally very social while vandwellers tend to be more non-social. But it works out in the end.

  9. Jim at Growing Faith

    It looks like a great place, thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Bob

      You are welcome Jim!

  10. Ming

    interesting about the weather patterns. They are predicting an el niño winter for the coming year. Can you remember back a few years to what that looks like for the Arizona/ California deserts?

    • Lucy

      Ming, yes, if my memory doesn’t fail el niño took place in 1997-98, it rained cats & dogs in California, it rained practically every day for about 6 months !! We do need lots, lots of H2O in Southern California, the more…THE BETTER !!
      Please ‘ El Niño ‘ come back soon !!

      • Ming

        fingers crossed for California then!

    • Bob

      I’m sorry Ming, I lived in Alaska until 2006 so I know nothing about lower 48 weather before then. I’m pretty sure 97-98 were unusually cold winters in Alaska if that helps you any! 🙂

  11. Al

    I am in Monticello and heading North, may make it to your camp site yet today.

    • Bob

      It’ll be very good to see you Al. It’s raining now so the road is a mess.

  12. Jeannie

    Hi Bob,
    For star photography, have you been to Great Basin Nat’l Park (in eastern Nevada)?
    It is supposed to have a very clear view of the night sky.
    Thanks for the campsite tip for Moab. It is definitely on my list for next year’s road trip. Currently shopping/saving for the van (Chevy Express– Thanks for that tip, too!).

    • Bob

      Jeannie, you are the second person this week to recommend GBNP IN Nevada, I’m going to have to get over there!
      If you get a good one, you will love the Express!

  13. Pondputz

    Great pics, you are getting closer 🙂
    The inter-mountain west weather, has delayed our movements by a few weeks but, it is going to be an awesome spring flower and fishing season.
    Steamboat Springs is predicted to get 20 inches of snow tonight..but, they are at 9,000 ft elev.

    • Bob

      Pondputz, I’m ready to go and explore, especially in Colorado, but just when the weather starts to get better a storm blows through and I have to sit tight to stay warm.
      I’d like to get out of here before the memorial day weekend crowd gets here, but I don;t think I want to be anywhere else. I certainly don’t want to get 20 inches of snow!!!!
      We should compare schedules and try to get together!

  14. Leonard Surprenant

    My wife and I stayed on Willow Springs Rd, you may recall Edward Abbey in his book Desert Solitaire talked about Willow Springs being the original entrance into Arches NP. One can still drive into Arches along that road, gets rougher the farther back but doable. Also have you checked out Kens Lake BLM cg? It’s south of Moab several miles. The only place around Moab where there is a water fall. Known as Faux Falls because it’s man made when the BLM, I think, cut a whole through the ridge above the cg to take high water out of Mill Creek which used to flood Moab. Have fun.

    • Bob

      Thanks for that great info Leonard, I’ll have to look into the campground. We’ve had so much rain I bet the waterfall is really running fast!

  15. Al Christensen

    I probably won’t be getting to Moab until late summer. I’ll check out your site.

    • Bob

      Al, I prefer all of the Utah National Parks in the fall when the heat is down and the crowds are thinner. Of course Bryce is at 10,000 feet so it can get cold on you by then.
      But look who I’m telling this to, you lived in Utah so you know more than I do. Hope our paths cross this summer!

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