10/16 – 10/20/2014 Grand Junction and Hanksville

Our plan had been to spend a couple days in Moab doing laundry and such while waiting for our La Paz boat-buddy Frank (s/v Island Seeker) to drive over and visit from where he was staying in Grand Junction, Colorado.  However, a conversation with the campground host in Canyonlands got us questioning this plan.  This guy may have been completely full of crap and, I suspect, that was actually the case as some of his predictions about even his own campground filling up never actually happened.  However, he told us that the Utah schools had some kind of holiday on the upcoming Thursday and Friday and the weekend would be nuts with people coming down from Salt Lake for the long weekend.  Said that if we didn’t already have reservations at an RV park in Moab, we weren’t likely to find a spot this late in the game.  He advised us to hang on to our campsite until we knew for sure we’d have other accommodations.   We briefly considered that but then rejected the idea since we didn’t want to take advantage of the senior pass low rates to reserve a site that we might end up not using.  It’s a long way back from Moab just to tell the guy we wouldn’t be staying so the site could end up sitting empty on a weekend that someone could use it.  I didn’t want to be “that guy”.

So, we first considered just taking our chances and seeing if we could find a spot in town.  But then we got to worrying about Frank.  If he brought his van with the intention of staying over, where would he stay if sites were so hard to come by?  Most RV parks frown on two vehicles parked in one spot.  Finally we decided we’d just skip Moab and go to Grand Junction.  Visit Frank on his own turf.  No reason, really, not to, other than it meant we’d have to do the dreaded “backtrack” afterwards.  I chose a random Grand Junction RV Park that Dora had in her database and off we went.  

One of the best things about our decision was that we got to drive up highway 128 along the Colorado River.  We’d intended to come this way originally but it added  over an hour to our trip from Price.  Now we’d get to see the canyon beyond the Big Bend Campground where we stayed the first night.  It turned out to be a beautiful and spectacular drive although you’d never know it from the two lousy photos I took.  Neither are worth the bandwidth to upload.  Granted, there were precious few places to pull over and the canyon couldn’t really be captured from inside the rig, but still…   Once we came out of the canyon, we were up on top of the Colorado Plateau and on range land.  Just before getting on to I-70 we passed through Cisco, Utah.  Looks like a ghost town with lots of dilapidated buildings, old mobile homes, and “no trespassing” signs.  Saw this interesting specimen from mid-to-late 60s.

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It’s a Dodge Travco motorhome, somewhat in need of some serious TLC.  To read about one of these beauties that’s actually actively exploring, check out our friend Pat, Ali and the kids on their Bumfuzzle blog.

In Grand Junction, we stayed at the Junction West RV Park.  The grounds were pretty standard, a huge graveled lot with tiny little patches of green grass, but its main attraction was that the staff was extremely friendly and the bathrooms and showers were, besides being spacious and well-thought-out, probably the cleanest facilities we have ever seen in a more-or-less public facility.  Kudos to them.  Also, although I got my Good Sam 10% discount, it still cost $36.00 to stay.  While I was in the office later, a guy came in with a 40′ 5th wheel trailer and ultimately paid only $21 for the night.  I heard “Passport America” mentioned in his conversation with the RV Park lady.  Back at Flipper, I Bing’d Passport America and found that, for $44/year, you get to stay at participating parks for 50% off.  I checked the map showing where the parks are and, although not as widespread as Good Sam parks, there are still a ton of them.  Too late to make our $44 back before we go into Mexico but, after we return to US soil next spring, I might have to check into this further.  Sure would take the sting out of those $40/night parks.  Naturally,  that grossly overpriced place in Jackson, Wyoming wasn’t on the participating parks list.

On our first full day in GJ, Frank had some business to take care of in Glenwood Springs.  He really wanted us to see this place as he thought it would be a perfect place for us to light someday.  He, like so many other folks we’ve visited, don’t seem to “get” that we never ever want to live in snow or rain again and would prefer someplace that doesn’t get too cold.  With Glenwood Springs being some 6000 feet above sea level, on the west slope of the Rocky Mountains, you can imagine how well it would meet our criteria.  Nevertheless, it was a pretty town.

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We spent Friday night parked in Frank’s sister, Valerie’s driveway, saving $36.  But the next morning we headed back to the RV park so we could do all the things that we’d had to neglect while visiting: laundry, curtain-sewing, blogging, a few camper repairs, shopping, etc.

Sunday morning, safe in the assumption that the weekenders should be bound for home, we headed back to Utah.  Hanksville, Utah to be exact.  I had been doing some research on Capitol Reef National Park, our next destination, and found that there is one 71-site campground within the park.  It’s first-come-first-served and, according to the website, usually fills by late afternoon in the fall.  Couldn’t find any BLM or Forest Service campgrounds nearby so we opted to stay at an RV park in Hanksville, a tiny little town about 40 miles from the park.  That’d put us in an excellent position Monday morning to scoot on in and get a campsite early in the day.  The park was the Red Rocks RV Park and Restaurant and there was not a lot of info on-line about it.  There was, however, a phone number.  I called and, once I was reassured that they were indeed still in business, made reservations for Sunday night.

The drive to Hanksville was pretty boring, being mostly on I-70.  Although we generally avoid the Interstates at all costs, there are a few places where they are unavoidable.  Green River, Utah to Moab, Utah is one of those stretches.  We drove 130 miles or so on I-70 and it did nothing to make me want to change our “no interstates” policy.  The drive wasn’t bad, it was just incredibly boring.  First time this whole trip so far that I’ve gotten drowsy while driving.

After we left the interstate and started down Utah 24, we passed tons of campers, some pulling boats (Powell Reservoir is down this way), trailers, loaded-down SUVs, etc, going the other way.  We took this as a very good sign that the weekend crowds were clearing out.  We got to the RV park (now named Slickrock RV Park and Restaurant) around early afternoon.  We’d been told to check in at the restaurant when we arrived.  This was an incredibly smart move on their parts.  While we’re standing there filling out paperwork, we’re watching tray after tray of really good-looking food being delivered to the tables.  Then, when the lady who checked us in told us that, as guests of the RV park, we’d receive a discount on any meals we ate at the restaurant, we were sold.  We’d definitely be back for dinner.  We got ourselves situated in the park and decided to take a walk through town to kill time.

Hanksville is a little town of around 250 folks.  There’s the RV park/restaurant, a motel, a burger joint, 2 gas stations, a small market, the post office and, of course, the inevitable Mormon church, plus a few cool old buildings, some falling down and some not.

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It was a fun little place to walk around but it didn’t take us very long.  Once dinnertime rolled around, we headed to the restaurant.  Lulu had their nachos which were topped with, besides the usual stuff, a big pile of slow-smoked beef brisket. She declared them delicious but, ultimately, a little more than she could eat.  I opted for the BBQ brisket sandwich with steak fries.  Also delicious although I had no trouble finishing mine.  And that’s not a reflection on portion size, it’s just an admission that I’m a big pig.  The RV Park guest discount turned out to be 10%.  Not bad.  We decided that, to get a really good and early start tomorrow, we’d have breakfast here as well.  They start serving at 6:00 AM.

Monday morning, we did, indeed, have breakfast and, despite the fact that the waitress didn’t show up for work, it was excellent.  We had to cool our jets for a little while waiting for the post office to open at 8:30.  We had some stuff we wanted to mail and were tired of packing around.  At the post office we overheard a little bit of town gossip about some woman skipping town (we assume it was the missing waitress), and then asked the postmistress about the town.  I asked where the residents go to do their big grocery shopping trips.  She said they sometimes went to Price and sometimes to Richfield, both over 100 miles away.  She said that, not only do you try to be very complete in your grocery list but you also ask around to see if anyone else needs anything.  She also said there’s a seniors’ bus that makes the trip every couple of weeks so they all just pile in and make a day of it.  Sounds pretty good.  She also said it gets cold in the winter (“But it doesn’t stay cold.”) and they get a couple feet of snow (“But it doesn’t stick around long.”).  I guess we can mark Hanksburg off of our “Possible Places To Settle Down” list.  However, it was gratifying to see some seniors choosing to live where they wanted regardless of the fact that it was a long way from medical facilities.

Once our packages were on their way, we headed up to Capitol Reef National Park.


Canyonlands NP (Horsethief campground) to Grand Junction, CO: 118 miles

Driving around Grand Junction: 25 miles

Grand Junction to Hanksville, UT: 162 miles

Total to-date: 3,751 miles


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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One Response to 10/16 – 10/20/2014 Grand Junction and Hanksville

  1. MarjFries says:

    Interesting to hear continuation of visit in Grand Junction. Lulu, I would never have taken you to Glenwood Springs without a good soak in the Hot Pools! We could have spent the day!!

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