Camping in Utah in July - Is this crazy? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 10-14-2013, 11:20 PM   #1
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Camping in Utah in July - Is this crazy?

With the youngest of our kids still in school, we are kind of limited to the months of July and August for summer vacations. With that in mind, I am trying to do some early planning for next summers vacation. One of the possibilities I have been pondering would be to take in some of the Utah National and State parks, which I have never seen but have been very keen on seeing for many years.

Now keep in mind that we are from a relatively cool climate, and seldom experience temperatures above 90°F for more than a couple of days in a year (although I personally do not mind hot weather). If we were wanting to go to the Utah desert for 2 weeks in July or August, would the temperatures be so unbearable that we would have a totally miserable time? Would the summer heat limit our activities so much that it would not be an enjoyable time?

Our 19' is air conditioned, so if we were to stay in campsites with electrical services, we could at least stay comfortable during sleeping times. If there are limited opportunities for obtaining serviced sites, I guess it would not be out of the question to take a generator with us on the trip, but that would be a last resort decision for me.

Any comments on best things to do or places to visit while vacationing in Utah in the summer months? We do like to stay active with hiking, biking, paddling, and similar activities.

Any thoughts or advice would be welcome.

thanks.

Dave
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:46 AM   #2
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I can't comment on Utah, but I can comment on hot weather in general. If you prepare for it, you can get used to it, and you can still see the sites.

Several years ago the wife and I had a week or two in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The whole time we were there, the day time highs were mid thirties, the night time lows weren't much cooler, and the humidity was extreme. Wear a hat, drink lots (*lots*) of water, wear appropriate clothing, and don't over do it. You might not be comfortable, but you will adapt and you can still enjoy. You might not be able to cover as much ground as you otherwise would, though, so you need to plan for a slower pace.

Having said that, be careful and make sure you understand the risks.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:01 AM   #3
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I think it depends on your family's tolerance for heat and whether they'll be flexible. When we were in Arches it was really hot during the day although it was still May, and there was very little shade. I'm pretty sure it cools down at night, even in July but daytime sightseeing, hiking, etc. might mean getting up early and taking a siesta during the hottest part of the day. We got some complaints from one of our teens in Arches, but the other two (12 and 18 enjoyed the adventure. Zion for two weeks over Memorial Day was a pleasure, but the river was running then -- my friend who was there in August with her kids enjoyed Zion but the river wasn't running and they couldn't go tubing like we did. I would really recommend Zion -- they have buses so you don't have to drive and your family can go in different directions depending on hiking ability. Supplies are close by in the town that is just across a small walking bridge and I'm pretty sure there is electric hookups (we were in a tent)
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:11 AM   #4
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The other item is the altitude, drink plenty of liquids for the change.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:56 AM   #5
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We did Southern Utah last year at the end of September, early October. Even then it got real hot. Bryce Canyon was not too bad, as it is much higher in elevation, and evening cooled off a lot, not too far above freezing, but daytime temps still got up to 30°C. Zion was a very hot, With daytime temps exceeding 30°C every day, and night time temps remaining near 20°.

We did manage okay without A/C, though sure would not want it much higher. There are parks where you can get services, but some of the nicer National Park Campgrounds did not have services, and were much nicer. In July, and being from a cooler climate, I think you would want to use your A/C if you have it.

We hiked almost every day, as there are TONS of great hikes to do in both places. We always got ourselves going early though, and there was usually a nice crispness in the air, as when we finished by early afternoon, we were ready for some shade.

I will be back to the area, so much yet to see. I really want to do some mountain biking in Moab while still relatively young.
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Old 10-15-2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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You should check and make sure you've got what ever identification is needed to cross the border. Passports are always the best.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:36 PM   #7
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Thank-you. So far, all of your responses seem to have been based on visiting during the non-summer seasons when the temperatures are somewhat more moderate. Even then, there seems to be a common theme that the days could still be quite hot. Anyone have any specific July-Aug experience in the Utah parks where you have experienced the onslaught of the full summer heat, and enjoyed it?

J Mac - It goes without saying that we would have to bring proper documentation for the border crossings. If we didn't have it, we wouldn't get in.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:38 PM   #8
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Utah in July and August can be unbearable indeed in a lot of the state. I just got back from a biking trip to Moab and we stayed in the Portal RV park in a friends trailer. There are full hookups at the RV places in town which would seem necessary during the hot summer. When it hits 110 during the day you will not want to go anywhere. The rock there also radiates the heat and there is no place to hide. If you go to Moab there is also the option of escaping the heat by going up into the LaSals and there are lots of great trails up there.

I would try to go as late in August as possible and plan on spending most of your time in the Bryce Canyon area. The Byrce Canyon area is around 8000ft so it is bearable in the summer time and then there is the Virgin River Trail area which is a great destination. Brain's Head is also near Bryce and that is a good destination. What is your biking ability?

Park City is also a good area to visit in the summer as it is a lot cooler.

A final thing to think about is towing in the heat and the stress on your transmission.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ice-breaker View Post
Thank-you.

J Mac - It goes without saying that we would have to bring proper documentation for the border crossings. If we didn't have it, we wouldn't get in.
This tip was as much for you as it was for others. Being turned away at a border with kids in the car can be a real let down. And you did ask for any thoughts or advise.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:44 PM   #10
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A good place to go for weather is:

Weather Forecast & Reports - Long Range & Local | Wunderground | Weather Underground

Choose a city and then scroll down until it comes to "Weather History and Almanac." One can find the weather in that location on any given day in the past.
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Old 10-15-2013, 04:32 PM   #11
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Its crazy...but as a parent who camps you get used to crazy things. We camped in Utah in July, in our pop-up when my son was about 9 years old. We stayed at Arches NP, with no hookups. We used small fans to sleep.

But the real trick was to get up early and go on a short hike before it got to hot. Then drive in to Moab and use the town pool for the afternoon. (Showers too!) Then back to the park after the worst heat of the day.

Because we always prefer National Park / National Forest campgrounds over RV parks, we found municipal pools helpful in several locations. But now that I have a choice, I'll travel to the desert in the spring or fall.

Maybe schedule an overnight raft trip on the Colorado out of Moab as well. Nice family trip.
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Old 10-15-2013, 05:48 PM   #12
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. If you go to Moab there is also the option of escaping the heat by going up into the LaSals and there are lots of great trails up there.

What is your biking ability?
We are setting plans to go there about this time next year. It will be my brother and me with our wives. He is a great rider, and I would classify myself as very good, and willing to try just about anything with the exception of big jumps and drops. My brother is just a youngster at 54, so I expect more out of him.

When the time gets closer we will be doing a lot more research, and making plans of where to go, so may contact you along with others to see what they liked best.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:05 PM   #13
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Just my opinion & experience so take it for what it is worth;
The Utah national & state parks are beautiful and enjoyable to visit. But not in July and August. It is a very rocky region with little shade and water in late summer. A lot of our national campgrounds have no power and have strict generator and pet rules. As posted, your vehicle/tires and your Dometic refrigerator will be challenged. Thankfully it is low humidity heat and it cools down some at night. Full brim hats, sunscreen, and plenty of water are important while hiking the trails. Start from the trailheads early and take possible afternoon thunderstorms/lighting serious. I recommend Dead Horse Point SP and Kodachrome SP as two great state parks.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:32 PM   #14
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I spent a couple of days in the South campground at Zion in mid June, 2012 with temperatures in the high 90's. While a hike up the Virgin river was fun, sitting in or even outside the trailer without electrical hookups for the AC was not. I stuck it out for a couple of days, did a few hikes, but wimped out & headed to a commercial campground with electric to run the AC.

I suspect it will be worse in July. I second Dead Horse Point & Kodachrome, and will add a stop at Goblin Valley State Park.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:56 PM   #15
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There are campgrounds in northern Utah, near Heber, that are not so bad in July/August. Also check the Wasatch range. I've tent camped in those areas in late July/August a few times and it was quite pleasant.

Utah has a nice website for its campgrounds. Here's a link for the Heber area:
Heber Area Campgrounds | Utah.com

But these are Alpine mountian areas, not like the desert spots in the south. Lets just say I enjoyed early morning and early evening in those areas...and found someplace cool to hang out during the heat of the day.
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:22 PM   #16
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Dave, I have been logged out twice and lost my intended reply. Here it comes in two parts: Southern Utah is spectacular, maybe other-worldly. My experience has been VW pop-up and tent camping; as I recall, more spring and fall than summer. Still, given a choice of summer or not at all, I would choose summer. Higher altitude park campgrounds in Bryce (8000), Cedar Breaks (10,000), and maybe Dead Horse Point (6000) should be OK without AC. Zion and Arches have serviced RV parks near the entrances.
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:30 PM   #17
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Part 2: Hiking down into the Bryce formations is dramatic; either start early or late to moderate ascent temperatures, or plan for a full moon night (one of our most memorable adventures). Zion's hikes are mostly to higher vistas, facilitating an early and cooler climb, descending when it's hotter. For much of the awesome Zion Narrows hike you are wading in the Virgin River, so you can cool when you want. Sure there are nice Utah alpine campgrounds, but you have the best of that world to your west in Canada. Southern Utah is something else - even in the summer! Hope this helps...Glenn.
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:55 PM   #18
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Thanks for the great responses. I definitely want my trip to utah parks to be memorable for great views and fun activities rather than for unbearable conditions. Will have to put a little more thought into this before making a final decision, but right now am leaning more towards something a bit further north and saving a utah trip for a few years from now when shoulder season holidays become more practical for us.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:26 PM   #19
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If you have not been there, Yellowstone would be great for your family. Wonderful wildlife, fascinating geological features like geysers, mud pots, waterfalls and the travertine terraces. So much to see. I've been there in summer when the worst problem is the crowds of people. However, this too is manageable by doing early morning and late afternoon hikes and activities then maybe some kayaking on Yellowstone Lake in the early afternoons. RV campgrounds outside the Park itself will have swimming pools and other family fun activities as well.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:29 AM   #20
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Dave,
Don't be discouraged by high temps. Travel the world while your kids are still around. Your family is likely to forgive you someday for taking them to southern Utah in July or August. Like Canada, campgrounds fill up with summer vacationers...so plan well.
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