Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lets Go Camping in the Abajo Mountains!

Ok kids, it's time to go camping in the Manti-LaSal National Forest located in the Abajo Mountains.  Yes, this forest is also located in the LaSal Mountains, but we're not going that way yet...too much snow blocking the roads.

Recently, I went on a tour of the four National Forest Campgrounds located in the Abajos (also called The Blues).  Our tour guide was Autumn Ela, Recreation Specialist out of the Moab Field Office (435-636-7155).  Also on the tour was Pam Hanson of San Juan County Economic Development; Linda from the Moab Welcome Center; Garry and Stacy from the Monticello Welcome Center (I'm with this crew also).  We spent six hours touring the sites, breathing in fresh air, feeling cool breezes, seeing wildlife and serene landscapes; and enjoying the quiet.  Going back to work at the WC afterwards was hard, very hard; but now we all had tons of information and knowledge about the campgrounds.

Autum Ela at the Bear Box; Pam Hanson, Linda (Moab WC), Garry (Monticello WC), Stacy is hiding and I'm dong the camera work.

If you want information, click on "camping in the Manti-LaSal National Forest" up above; or go to National Recreation Reservation Service (http://www.recreation.gov ) or call 1-877-444-6777, to reserve your site.  The four do have first come, first serve sites, as well as reserved spots; so if you can't decide, you can just show up and hope there is a spot open for you.

Dalton Springs (located 4.5 miles from the Monticello Welcome Center)

$10/night for a single campsite; up to 14 days; $30/night for the one group spot...all first come/first serve. There are bear boxes there if you don't have secure food storage of your own; dumpsters for ALL garbage.  There are vault toilets, and faucets for potable water only; no connecting hoses to the RVs.

Buckboard (located 5 miles from the Monticello Welcome Center)

Basically the same information as Dalton Springs, except there are two group sites at $40/night, and you can reserve sites for single use or groups.

The host for Dalton Springs also looks after Buckboard.  These two campgrounds are also known bear travel areas (reason for the bear boxes), and there have been NO attacks on humans or pets.  Pets must stay at the campsites and not be allowed to roam; in other words, no annoying the other campers, or the wildlife in the area. 

Turkey Tracks at Buckboard

Devil's Canyon  (About 12 miles south of Monticello, off Highway 191)

Half this campground is reserve only, while the other half is first come, first serve; all sites are $10/night; vault toilets, potable water, and a host onsite.  At the far end of the first come/first serve section is a Nature Trail; only takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get through and is not difficult at all.  Just before you take the loop back to the beginning, the ruins of a cave granary can be seen across the canyon.

 Reserved Site

First Come, First Serve Site

The Nature Trail Begins.

The dirt road that goes past the campground leads into the Manti-LaSal National Forest; six miles along is the trailheads for Camp Jackson and Wagon Wheel; there is dispersed camping (must have a stone fire ring), ATV trails and beautiful landscape.  I'll be writing about this, with photos included, in a future blog post.

Nizhoni (located on FR079/Johnson Creek Road; easy access Blue Mountain Road in Blanding)

Single sites are both reserve or first come/first serve at $10/night; the two group sites are $40/night and must be reserved.  There are vault toilets, potable water and a host onsite.  While we had a leisurely lunch hour there, the mule deer wandered on through, but didn't beg for food, and we did NOT throw any to them.  Can it get anymore serene???

There are NO dumpsters or bear boxes in Nizhoni; whatever you bring in must be brought out.  Keep it clean, so everyone can enjoy the sites, not just you!

Group Sites

Here is your basic information about the four campgrounds around the Monticello/Blanding, Utah areas; remember to do your own research, get all the i's dotted, t's crossed and have a good time....that good time does depend on you!

Mary Cokenour


  1. Nice! Many memories of boy scout camps, family reunions, school field trips, hunting trips, and high school parties at ALL of those places.

    1. All I can hope is that others are feeling the same way; or that this is giving many ideas for enjoying 2016 more.