Valley of Fire to Grand Canyon Boondocking

Today, the 14th of May, 2014, marks the beginning of the second week of my USA RVing road trip. So much has already happened along the way that I fear I’ll never be able to find the time and energy to blog adequately about the adventure. By way of doing some catching up, in brief, I left the San Francisco bay area on May 7 with the idea of seeing our country’s natural beauty and to take in, perhaps to a lesser degree, some of the cities and their cultural aspects. I’ve aways been a big fan of nature which I suppose is why I put that first. As a somewhat unimportant aspect of my travels I aim to set foot in the 34 states which I have not already set foot in so as to be able to say I’ve been to all 50. Well, we can cross one of those 34 off the list now as I’m writing this entry in Tusayan (pronounced… hell, how would I know?),  Arizona. It’s my first time in this state.

Tusayan, for those of you that don’t know, is a tiny town just south of the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. It’s the last stop before you fall off the cliff into the great gorge… if you’re heading north, that is. My exact location, for you RV boondocking types, or others who may wish to camp for free, is along NF-302, a dirt road in

Boondocking near the Grand Canyon
My boondocking site along NF-302. It’s a 7 minute walk to the main road in town.

the Kaibab National Forest, at GPS coordinates N 35,96821º, W 112.12428º. The elevation here is about 6100’. The weather today is sunny and clear, brisk, with last night’s lows in the high thirties and today’s highs predicted to be in the mid to 60s. This spot is close to the Grand Canyon airport so it’s abuzz with small planes and helicopters packed with sight seers zipping by overhead during the day. At night, at least last night, the first of several I expect to stay here, it was quiet.

Today’s weather is one reason that although I’m so close to the Grand Canyon—I rolled into this lovely little campsite late yesterday afternoon, by the way—I will not go up to see it until tomorrow when the weather is predicted to be warmer. I’m also in need of a little decompressing after a whirlwind week of driving and sightseeing. Plus, I figured if I didn’t make some effort to write a little about my trip thus far, that catching up later would become increasingly difficult as I fell further and further behind. So, I’ll hang around Tusayan and NF-302 for the day. A day at home…

After leaving the bay area, my first stop was Washoe Lake State Park just north of Carson City Nevada. I spent one night there before heading on to Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area operated by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). The following day my intention was to boondock at the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge but I missed the turn off and wound up spending the night at the Hitchin’ Post RV Park in North Las Vegas. From there it was on to Valley of Fire State Park (VOF) which I had been eager to visit and considered my first main destination. My intention is to add more to the blog about Washoe and Hickison at a later date.

_D7K8018_Atlatl_800
Atlatl RV Campground, Valley of Fire, Nevada

I spent three nights at VOF. It’s a glorious place full of visual treats for those inclined to feasts for the eyes. The first day was rather hot and later including gusty winds which rocked the RV all night long. The next days the weather was milder.

View along the White Domes hike, Valley of Fire, Nevada
View along the White Domes hike, Valley of Fire, Nevada

For anybody who visits VOF with the intention of doing anything more than a quick drive through I suggest purchasing the large map sold at the visitor’s center because the free handout maps omit much of what you may wish to see. I didn’t learn about the big map until it was too late. There is a hike of several miles length that passes arches and plants that I would like to have taken but had no idea it existed. The freebee map does mention the short White Domes hike which I highly recommend, and for you photo buffs, before too late in the day because the hills in the distance fall into shadow making photos of the vista less than they could be (see photo). At this time of year I’d say be there no later than 2 PM or so.

Contrasts in the Valley of Fire
Contrasts in the Valley of Fire

VOF has a $10 per day use fee. If you want a camp site, RV or otherwise add $10 more, and if you want an RV campsite with water and electric hookups add another $10. I think Nevada residents get a discount on these fees.

The Atlatl campground–named after and ancient spear-chucking device– has some sites with hookups, others without. The Arch Rock campground has no hookups. It also has a more private and intimate feel to it as the sites are nestled in among nooks and crannies of the sandstone whereas Atlatl is a larger, more open basin. Sites are gravel and most require some leveliing.

From here? It’s either going to be Utah or Page Arizona which is supposed to be a cool place to visit with some wonderful nature to see nearby.


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4 thoughts on “Valley of Fire to Grand Canyon Boondocking”

  1. Oh yes I did read this – I think I’ve read every thing on your blog – all very interesting. I’ve always wanted to see Valley of Fire – I didn’t realize there was any boondocking there until I did read your post. Thanks for all the great information. It’s people like you who’ve blazed the trails that make it so much easier for newbies like us! And we do appreciate it.

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