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  • Sarah Tucker

Private vs. government parks

Editor's Note: This fantastic review of several different types of parks came from a reader a few weeks back. It was so excellent that I wanted to share Mike's views with all of our readers. He followed up with numerous fantastic photos from the trip. Enjoy!

My wife and I bought a Vistabule about a year and a half ago and absolutely love teardrops, so when I stumbled on your magazine I was excited to find something dedicated to teardrops! The Nov issue you invited thoughts about private vs. government sites. Our “go to” in Minnesota are the state parks due to the combination of being reservable and the proximity to hiking etc. We just did a trip to Utah and stayed at 3 places that to me sum up the best & worst of each.

First stop was Pinewood RV in Duck Creek Village. A rarity for Utah, the entire place was covered in tall pine trees that gave great shade and at least a bit of separation from neighbors. Very small (a dozen sites) and cozy, the staff here were incredible - Chef Lou who was very eager to go off-menu, Gary the general groundskeeper and all around helpful guy, Josh the general manager / waiter / cashier / anything that needed to be done - they all made the entire stay worth it! The downside, well off the main highway (89) it was about halfway between Zion and Bryce, but extremely remote in terms of services (restaurants, stores).

Second stop was Capitol Reef campground. Simply the most amazing views we’re ever had short of boon docking! Spacious sites, especially at this time of year, meant no neighbors. The major downside, again, at a this time of year, was no showers and very limited services/amenities including no electric hookups. We were prepared for this though - our solar panels and Zodi hot water shower came in very handy!

Third stop was Portal RV in Moab. This was the traditional “pack em in” RV park with very nice showers and convenient hookups and tons of services and amenities even in walking distance, but zero separation from neighbors, including the kids nearby flying drones overhead which you can’t do in government parks.

Looking back on all three there’s no clear winner because each has a different purpose. That said, we do find ourselves more in tune with the Canyonlands experience for a lot of reasons. Proximity to neighboring sites is something we find ourselves commenting on frequently so at least subconsciously that seems to be something we care a lot about. If you do a little extra prep, bring a few extra things, essentially pack like you’re ready to boondocks, this makes up for what might be lacking. There are no right or wrong answers, just keep track of your first & last impressions whenever you go somewhere new and it might lean you in one direction or the other!

Mike has a blog with more trip stories and sure to check it out!

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