Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mt. Rushmore Trip - Part 1 - Utah

Dalton Springs Campground Site #3 

Dalton Springs sites.  Note some pull-throughs.

At the end of May we headed out with my (Greg's) parents for a trip to see Mt. Rushmore, which none of us had ever seen and was on my Mom's bucket list.

My parents are now at an age where driving long distances is difficult for them, so I drove their Pleasureway camper van with my Mom in the passenger seat and Karen drove our Nissan NV Camper van with my Dad in the passenger seat.

We left Los Alamos, New Mexico a little late in the morning.  My parents take quite a while to get the last items packed away these days.

Our first overnight stop was at the Dalton Springs forest service campground that is just a little west of Monticello, Utah (southeast corner area of Utah).  We got to the CG just after the sun had set and we were able to get parked and level just before darkness fell.

The campground was a good choice for a quick overnight on our way to Salt Lake City for a nephew's high school graduation.  It costs $10 bucks a site, $5 with the Golden Age pass. There are dirt pads, dirt roads, water was available and the restroom were vault type. There were a few larger sites and pull-throughs that can handle bigger rigs.

There are a lot of trees that are low to the ground with lots of branches so be warned that you might have to be careful not to hit branches if you take larger rig there.

We were there just for the night and the next morning, so we didn't really explore the area, but there looks like a lot to explore up there. We will have to come back and check it out.

The Harts Draw area trail map.
The next morning, after a quick oatmeal breakfast, Karen and I decided to check out the Buckboard Campground that is a couple miles further up the road while my parent's got their van organized. (My father is very into having everything very organized and in it's place, cleaned and swept out.  Karen and I, on the other hand just toss everything in, do a quick sweep and we are ready to rock and roll.)

Buckboard had a lot of group sites and a few single sites.  It has a nice green meadow in the middle. It was kind of pretty. Both CGs are right at the base of a mountain area.  The drive to them is scenic. We saw a lot of deer in the area.

When we got back, my parent's were ready for the next leg of the trip to the Salt Lake City area.

Bell Rock, Utah

Scenic Utah near Canyonlands

Scenic Utah near Canyonlands

We love this area

Near Moab
We headed north from Monticello through some of the most scenic lands imaginable.  We definitely need to spend time exploring this whole area.

Moab had a lot more going on than I had remembered.  It was packed with late spring vacationers. We had lunch at a Subway in Greenriver and then headed up Hwy 191 past Price and then into Provo on our way to Jordonelle Reservor, where we would camp for a few days while in the Salt Lake City area.

My father really liked Provo.  He called it very "progressive" with all the green space, trails and modern businesses. My Dad has a tendency to want to live in many of the places we see along the route. Provo was now on his large "I want to live there" list.

Karen and Monkey friend relaxing at Jordenelle Reservor, Utah

Enjoying our portable campfire pit at Jordenelle.

The following is a 360 view of our campsite at Jordenelle State Park.  We were in site Hailstorm 71. Click and hold in the image to move around:

Jordenelle Reservor and State Park is a great campground. It's near Park City, Utah up in the mountains east of Salt Lake City. It's very modern and was designed with larger rigs in mind. I've camped here before and we enjoyed it.  (We were in the Hailstone camping unit of the State Park, there is another campground on the other side of the lake.)  Our two sites had water hookups and electric.

The state park has a nice marina with boat rentals and a big store.  It's super pleasant here. The only downside I can give is that there is road noise from the nearby highway, but I enjoy watching the huge three part trucks light up on the highway at night as they creep by. It reminded me of watching cruise-ships going by in Hawaii.

Actually there was a second issue with this campground:  There were hot showers but the water was luke warm. It made for a refreshing time.

Our reason for being in Salt Lake was to attend our nephews high school graduation.  It was held at Thanksgiving Point near Draper, which is a historic public farm with a large auditorium and a cool dinosaur museum.

Aspens on narrow Mt. Timpanogos Summit road

Outstanding scenery on Mt. Timpanogos summit road

We had a great drive from Jordenelle over the summit road of Mt. Timpanogos past Robert Redford's Sundance resort and past Timpanogos Cave.  It's a very curvy and extremely scenic mountain road that is pretty much single lane much of the way.  We don't recommend taking a big rig up there, although we saw a few big ones in a campground on the west side of the summit.  It must have been a white-knuckle trip to get them up there.

The whole Salt Lake region is economically booming. They keep their prosperity pretty much a closely guarded secret, but it looked like 1999 all over again.  There were construction cranes everywhere. They are even widening Interstate 15 again. (We lived through the huge hassle of the last major construction on 15 when we lived in Salt Lake just before the Salt Lake Olympics.)

Thanksgiving Point use to be a fun little public farm out in the middle of nowhere.  Now there are office buildings surrounding the whole farm. It's crazy how much growth there has been in the fifteen years since we lived in Salt Lake.

The graduation was great as we cheered for our nephew, Ben. He graduated from an accelerated high school that allowed him to obtain an AS degree while still in high school.  It's call Itineris Early College High School. Ben has enrolled at the University of Utah in downtown Salt Lake for the fall.

The next day we attended the baptism of our Great-neice, Finley. It was nice to see everyone so happy and healthy.

Our stay at Jordenelle was very pleasant.  We were there for three days and had time to sit, relax and take in the lake. We watched the Park City Sailpaloza that was going on during our stay. We took nice walks through the park in order to keep up with our hour and a half walk time per day.

On our walks we noticed that many of the very best campsites had huge motorhomes sitting in them with no one around at all.  We asked the camp-host about that.  They said that rich Park City home owners were allowed to pay for sites for the entire summer and they parked their RVs in the greatest sites and rarely visited them, basically using the sites as expensive parking spaces for their monstrous RVs. This seemed really unfair to us.  They had turned these great sites into their own private summer lake getaway spots.

There should be a two week limit on spaces, like most places, but I guess money talks in the Utah State Park system. The 1% screw us again! It's the story of our moronic age. Someday our society will wake up and stop this kind of elitist nonsense, but probably not until things get really terrible, which shouldn't be long.

If you need a base camp in the Salt Lake area, Jordenelle is a great choice.  It's a bit of a drive down into Salt Lake itself, but it's a pleasant scenic drive.

Next up: it's onward to Wyoming.

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