Bye Yosemite! We hope to see you soon.
With Labor Day weekend on the horizon, the park was beginning to fill up. We wanted to make some mileage as we headed toward our next destination: Zion National Park, located in southern Utah.
We loaded up the cooler with lunch and drinks, hitched up, made the dogs comfortable in the truck and headed out into the Mojave Desert.
We’d checked out Freecampsites.net, a resource that has helped us to find beautiful campsites many times in the past. We knew Zion would be mobbed and wouldn’t have any camping sites available, but often we’ve found great sites near places we’ve wanted to visit… for little to no cost using this site. Rob found several sites near Zion, which was around an 8 hour drive from Yosemite for us.
Soon we were in the Mojave, passing mile after mile after mile of bleak, rocky desert. The thermometer climbed into the upper 90’s and stayed there. Even with the air conditioner blasting, it was hard to stay cool with Chula on my lap and the sun beating down on the truck. After many hours, we turned onto US 93 and drove past several small towns lining a river that meandered through the desert. The water turned the area into a lush, tree-filled paradise that was everything the severe desert on either side couldn’t be.
I looked in wonder at the trees as Rob drove along.
A sign said “Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge” and we noticed several empty lakeside campsites in a small campground as we drove by. It was an hour short of our planned stop, but we decided it was too beautiful to miss. So we turned around, drove in and soon found ourselves a stunning free camp on a bluff above the lake.
I clipped the dogs into their leashes and headed down to the water.
An afternoon breeze blew over the lake, cooling the air. We looked down and noticed many critter footprints on the muddy bank. There were no human footprints, so I was hopeful we’d have a quiet stay at this campground.
There was a blue heron in the marsh on the side of our camp.
The refuge is a critical stopping point for migratory birds.
We planned to stay two nights and really enjoyed most of our time at the Refuge.
View out to the lake from our camp
Desert + Lake
Flowers in the desert
The star gazing was spectacular the first night we were there. The lights you see on the horizon are Las Vegas, which is 94 miles away.
We kept the fans on high, pulled out the awnings and were able to stay reasonably cool. With great internet service, we watched the Michigan/Hawaii football blow out, eating Chex Mix and drinking fizzy water.
Note: There were several other empty campsites nearby.
Here is a nice empty site…just down the road
This family did not speak in normal tones. They yelled everything, even when they were right next to each other….and they talked A LOT. They let their dog loose, who promptly came over to our site and terrorized Chula. They tromped across our site to our lake access to fish most of the day and night, even though they had their own. At night, their flashlights lit up the sky so stargazing was out. Their campfire smoke blew right into our camper. Aargh. I’m all for having fun, but not at the expense of others. Usually we get to know our neighbors, but when Rob went over to say hello when they moved in, they barely talked to him.
Ah well. You get what you pay for. I guess that’s why we have wheels. We packed up first thing in the morning and headed to Zion.