Glamping - The Great Outdoors

Camping can mean a lot of things. It can mean using an RV, setting up a tent, or sleeping in your car. It can mean going to an established campsite with some amenities or it can mean going to the middle of nowhere and finding a flat enough place to set up a tent. It can be in the woods, the desert, on the beach, anywhere, really!

Our caravan of cars in the middle of nowhere

For us, we tend to find known campsites that are more of the beaten path. Clearly others have been here before, but they’re fairly far from other sites, and there are no amenities. [Either that, or we go to Disney World 😉]. We recently got a MASSIVE tent, and we like to bring an air mattress so we don’t have rocks digging into our bodies as we sleep. We also recently got a two-person sleeping bag, and it’s great for using body heat to keep warm. We also bring pillows and extra blankets, because you never know how chilly it’ll get!

In addition to the kitchen gear I talked about here, we also bring fold up camping chairs and tables to put near the fire for meals and just hanging out. I’d also recommend bringing some sort of emergency gear, like a car kit and first aid, just in case. Hopefully you won’t ever need to use it!

Depending on your activities, you may decide to bring a number of other things. We saw so many cars towing ATVs, motorbikes and/or mountain bikes. If you plan on hiking a bunch, hiking poles can be nice, and a Camelback backpack is convenient for carrying lots of water easily, plus food and sunscreen. There are lots of canyons around which require climbing gear, so rock climbers can have a lot of fun, too. If you’re a photographer, bringing lots of gear can be great - just be careful of dirt and sand! Night photography is great here, because of the lack of ambient light.

"Vader Rock"

This trip we went to the San Rafael Swell. Our first night we spent near Goblin Valley, at a site we call Vader Rock because the shape of the huge rock reminds us of Darth Vader’s helmet. From this site we can walk up to a nice little notch and look over at the canyons on the other side, or climb Vader Rock itself. We also hear a lot of people on ATVs and motorcycles. You can also quickly drive to Goblin Valley, which is worth seeing!

The next two nights, we went a little further and camped near Cistern Canyon, which we could walk to from our campsite. In order to make it all the way through and out Ramp Canyon nearby, though, you need mountaineering gear - it’s a bit more technical, and we didn’t do that. We did make it all the way to the chokestone in Cistern Canyon, though, which makes for some fun photos.

At the chokestone!

Muddy pups in Muddy Creek

The next day we drove to the Muddy Creek hike. This water really lives up to its name! There were some dogs with us and they got FILTHY swimming in this water. It would be good to bring water shoes (like Tevas or Chacos) on this hike, because you will get wet! I think we got about knee deep at one point, but if you go even farther, you might get even wetter! Also, entering this hike you get to pass by an old mining area, with some dilapidated wooden buildings. It’s amazing that this land used to be utilized for mining so much, and now it just sits there. Do NOT go into any mines, though. That could be super dangerous both because they may not be stable, and because they aren’t cleaned up and you could get radiation!

A lot of people go farther south to Moab and Canyonlands, but we really like this area around Green River - I think it’s a little less off the beaten path, and it’s not far from Moab anyway, so it could be fun to mix things up a little bit.

(edit: reviews.com reached out to me about their reviews of the best air mattresses - check it out if you're in the market)

Goblin Valley

Most days (actually, pretty much everyday) I identify as a girly-girl. I like to be able to wash my face and brush my hair and I typically make sure I look and feel clean. Camping sort of goes against these general feelings of cleanliness and girliness, but my boyfriend grew up going camping with his family, so he's dragged me a couple times.

In March, we went to Goblin Valley in Utah, about 6 hours west of Boulder. We stayed at a campsite that he named Vader Rock, because the big rock formation next to it looks like Darth Vader's helmet (see pictures above). While we were there, we did some hiking (up Vader Rock and in Little Wild Horse Canyon), shot some guns, and had some nice big campfires.

The Little Wild Horse hike is a pretty good one. It's not too technical, but you either need to wear shoes that can handle getting wet (like Teva's or Chaco's) or be willing to take off your shoes and socks at a certain point because there is usually a bit of water in the narrowest part of the crack canyon. I ended up taking off my sneakers, but I think I might invest in some Chaco's for next time. Climbing Vader Rock was not my cup of tea at all. Because Utah is a lot of sandstone, most of the steps you take end up breaking a little (or a lot) beneath your feet. Having to be cautious of the way my knees twist, this type of hike freaks me out a bit. We did get to a nice overlook, though, and I was able to unwind with a nice cold Woodchuck Cider once we got down.

I was impressed with the level of food we ate. We had mac and cheese, hot dogs, fajitas, gumbo and sausage! Not a bad menu considering there was no electricity or running water. Just coolers and a nice camping stove. For breakfast I had fruit and instant coffee, and for lunch, snack foods and sandwiches.

We also explored Goblin Valley itself. It looks like a bunch of stacks of rocks, and I guess someone thought that they looked like goblins, and the name stuck. They are pretty huge - I wouldn't want one to fall on me - and there are just so many! I think an epic game of hide and seek might be in order someday. I heard that a Boy Scout Troop knocked one formation over and got in trouble. I can't imagine ruining something so naturally beautiful! This park is also other-worldly - some of Galaxy Quest was filmed here!

Another thing about being a girly-girl: I don't like guns. However, a bunch of the men we went with do, so we went far from camp and shot at a pile of dirt. I suppose it was kind of exhilarating, but I don't think it's ever something I would choose to do on my own.

1911 .45 Auto in slow motion, shot by my guy, Nathaniel

I am glad I went, but I look forward to my next vacation being somewhere less dusty (maybe Disney World).

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