RV Trip 2018 - Utah, Colorado & Nevada - Part 1 of 4

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Welcome to the travelogue of our RV trip to Utah, Colorado & Nevada in the fall of 2018. This was the fourth month-long trip in our 'coach,' a 30-foot Class A motorhome (an FR3 by Forest River). As on previous long trips, I kept a journal during the trip, and have adapted it to the content you’ll find here. We’ve selected about 200 of our photos (a subset of the 2,000 we took) for sharing online. That’s a lot of culling on Chris’ part, to eliminate 90% of the photos! We’ve broken it down into four albums, for easier viewing.

The photos will load as you scroll down this page, and sometimes it takes a few seconds for a photo to appear.

Read more: RV Trip 2018 - UT, CO, AZ & NV - Part 1 of 4

Map of entire route

Map of Part 1 route

Friday, Sept 28, 2018 (California) Thousand Oaks (home) to Yermo (Barstow/Calico KOA Campground)

Our first stop on this trip was a KOA campground just outside Barstow. Nothing to write home about, just a place that fits our 3-hours-driving-per-day goal.

It was 100° when we arrived, so we did as little as possible while waiting for the AC in the coach to bring the temperature down.

Phew! Even the cats thought it was hot.

Saturday, Sept 29, 2017 (California / Nevada) Yermo (Barstow/Calico KOA Campground) to Las Vegas (Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort)

We headed out in the morning, and just before the CA/NV border, we passed the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world's largest solar thermal power station. And adjacent to that we could see the Desert Stateline Solar Facility, a very large solar photovoltaic power station.

This night we camped at the Las Vegas Motorcoach (LVM) Resort. We had stayed here on our first long trip (to Yellowstone). It’s easily the most beautiful RV resort we’ve ever seen. All the sites are owned, but many owners rent them out when they’re not there. The grounds are lovely and the sites have wonderful improvements such as shade covers, patio furniture, outdoor kitchens with granite-topped counters, built-in barbecues, personalized landscaping and lighting. Absolutely lovely! Again, at close to 100°, we stayed inside until late afternoon when it had cooled off a bit. Maybe 92°.

With some shade and a breeze, I took advantage of the site’s amenities and used their sink to wash lots of fruit and veggies outside.

Then after a Caprese Salad, Chris used their BBQ for grilling our salmon and for toasting some rustic bread with artichoke spread.

After dinner, we put on our swimsuits and took our dessert (champagne-soaked strawberries in a cup) and headed over to the pool to cool off. And just as we’d experienced on our last stay here, we had the pool to ourselves, and it was delightful!

Sunday, Sept 30, 2018 (Nevada / Arizona / Utah) Las Vegas (LVM Resort) to Cedar Breaks (Supreme Point Campground)

On our way from Las Vegas, NV to Cedar Breaks, UT, we briefly passed through the northwest corner of Arizona. The Virgin River Gorge featured some dramatic scenery that showcased the geologic processes of tilting, folding and faulting. We stopped in St. George, Utah to fill up with gas at a Costco. Getting roughly 7 m.p.g. in the coach, it definitely pays to get the best price around!

We left I-15, heading east on SR 143, and began climbing. The entrance to Cedar Breaks National Monument is at a little over 10,000 feet elevation. As we climbed ever higher, the scenery became more and more beautiful. The Aspens were that stunningly beautiful, vivid yellow. And with the bright yellow leaves, occasional red rocks, and blue skies with puffy white clouds, it was breathtaking! The salmon/red colors were not yet plentiful, but every little bit we’d see some and I would always say ooh-aah-wow, that’s my favorite!

We stopped at the first overlook of the Cedar Breaks ‘amphitheater’ by the Welcome Center and walked out to the viewing platform. (If you’re not familiar with Cedar Breaks, it boasts the same type of geological history/features as Bryce Canyon, but is much less crowded.) I think we hit it at a great time of day in terms of lighting and shadows. The sun occasionally disappeared behind the clouds, but never for very long.

From there we proceeded into the Point Supreme Campground and found our spot for the night. We were camping here on the last night before the campground closed for the season. Perched on a rise overlooking a large meadow, framed on all edges by trees, we scoured the scene for elk or deer but never saw any, though we heard elk bugling during the night.

We also heard some rain during the night, which we knew was coming. We get so little of it at home that we really enjoy hearing it on the roof of the coach when we’re traveling. And so far, we’ve been really lucky with rain not interfering with planned activities during our travels (though I’m afraid with this trip that lucky streak may come to an end, because Pacific hurricane Rosa is predicted to bring lots of rain to Utah and Colorado).

Monday, Oct 1, 2018 (Utah) Cedar Breaks Supreme Point Campground) to Salina (Great Western Trailhead)

As we headed out this morning, we stopped at two of the three remaining overlooks (there was no room to park our coach at one of them). The Chessmen Ridge and North View overlooks were beautiful, but we both enjoyed the view from the Welcome Center Overlook the best, possibly because of the difference in lighting at different times of day.

We were treated to more beautiful views of Aspens turning colors as we drove back down the mountain, from SR143 back to I-15 North, and then headed east on I-70.

Our spot for tonight was a very small campground (about 6 sites) built by the Fish Lake Forest Service at a trailhead for the Great Western Trail.

We camped about 15 ft. from Salina Creek. There was water flowing, but very little, very slowly, not enough to hear. The scene there by the creek wasn’t exactly calling to us, so instead we enjoyed a glass of wine in the coach—with the windows open, enjoying the pleasant temperature—while playing Rummikub.

Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018 (Utah) Salina (Great Western Trailhead) to Moab (Big Bend Campground)

We got one of our earlier starts (for us) this morning (pulled out at 10:10) as Chris had read that the campgrounds along the Colorado River in the Moab area (along 128) tend to fill up fast in the fall.

As we drove east along I-70, it started misting a bit, and eventually turned into rain. Which was great for washing the windshield, but not so great for getting photos of all the wonderful rock formations along the way.

After reaching Moab, we turned onto Hwy 128, which follows along the Colorado River. We found a nice spot at Big Bend campground, very close to the river’s edge, and parked ‘nose-in’ giving us a great view from the cockpit: bright yellow flowers, the river, and the red cliff on the other side.

Chris found a relatively flat spot for our chairs, on the banks of the river, and we took our chairs, glasses of wine, our books and umbrellas to sit outside for a bit. It was in the low-mid 70s and threatening to rain.

Chris set up the tripod to get a picture of us, and I said let’s do another one holding up our umbrellas just for fun. So we did, and eventually, it did sprinkle a bit and we used the umbrellas for real!

Wednesday, Oct 3, 2018 (Utah) Moab, UT (Big Bend Campground to Palisade, Colorado (Grande River Winery)

This morning it looked like it was gonna’ be a lovely day and we briefly debated staying here another night (which would require shortening our upcoming stay at Gore Creek by one night).

Ultimately, we decided the day was heating up too fast, and with no electricity for AC, we decided to stick with our plan, so we took off toward Palisade (our next camping spot, prior to Gore Creek).

Shortly after leaving our campsite, we stopped at Castle Creek Winery, which we had visited before during our long RV trip in 2015.

After entering Colorado, we stopped at a free dump station along I-70 provided by the state. While there, we laughed at the dog-walk area with its colorful fire hydrants.

We noted a hill that we both recognized was shaped much like Diamond Head (Oahu, Hawaii).

We stopped for the night at Grande River Vineyards, a Harvest Host member. After parking at the winery tasting room, we went inside for some wine tasting. We bought a couple of bottles there, a Cabernet Franc and a Rosé.

Back in the coach, we decided that it would be nice to have dinner at a restaurant (a rarity when we’re on the road), as the Wine Country Inn was walking distance from the tasting room and our coach.

I had trouble sleeping that night and was awake for what seemed like an hour, seeing some fairly regular flashes of light through my small window shade. When I finally rolled over to look at Chris’ window shade, I realized it was lightning. It had been going on for a while before I heard the first clap of thunder, which came while I was getting out of bed to make my way up to the cockpit. I wanted to watch the light show through the big windshield.

Chris hadn’t awakened with that first clap of thunder, but the sound of the windshield shade going up woke him. We sat there in our seats up front watching the approaching storm, the lightning bolts spectacular, coming fast and furious, and the claps of thunder getting ever louder. Before long, the rain started, and it started coming down hard and fast in no time.

And then with one more deafening thunderous clap, it began to hail. The sound on the roof of the coach was terrifying. The hail sounded as though it must be the size of baseballs, and Chris worried that the skylights in our roof were going to shatter. With the loudest clap of thunder, Cooper, who had followed me to the cockpit, beat a hasty retreat to the bedroom, with us on his heels, while Barley hid under Chris’ seat in the cockpit. It got so loud that we put our hands over our ears.

When Chris was able to make out the size of the hail, he said it looked to be about the size of marbles, but it sure sounded like baseballs! Thankfully the hail blast didn’t last very long, but the rain hung in there for quite a while. A large, slow-moving storm it would seem.

Thursday, Oct 4, 2018 (Colorado) Palisade, Colorado (Grande River Winery) to Vail, CO (Gore Creek Campground)

We chatted briefly about the storm with the gals from the winery, who were out front as we were pulling out, and then hit the road headed for Gore Creek Campground in the White River National Forest. Much like at Cedar Breaks National Park, we would be camping the last two nights before the campground closed for the season. It was a beautiful drive through Devil’s Hole Canyon, with the westbound lanes elevated above the eastbound lanes, reminding us a little of the Disney World Monorail.

It was a scenic drive with lots of yellow Aspens, and here and there, some of them were turning red.

When we arrived at the campground, we stopped briefly to talk to the campground host who confirmed that Chris had indeed chosen the best site there, and when we pulled in, we were not disappointed!

There was plenty of water in the creek, and there were very small trees/shrubs right in our site that had turned yellow, and a few even smaller plants that had turned red. It was a little too chilly (and drizzling just a bit off and on) to sit outside today, but it looked like better weather was on tap for tomorrow.

Friday, Oct 5, 2018 (Colorado) Gore Creek Campground

We were able to sit outside this afternoon, next to the creek, though it was still chilly. With a large beach towel as a blanket, a glass of wine and our books, we enjoyed a little outdoor time, though the scenery was too lovely to get much reading done. Perched near the edge of the creek, we could look both upstream and down. The photo and video we’ve included really don’t do it justice because the sunbeams and shadows made for difficult lighting conditions. But it was truly picturesque with the lush greenery and the water rushing over the stones in the creek. Not to mention being able to see more of those lovely yellow aspens on a hillside across the creek. We were both glad that we hadn’t traded one of our two nights here for another night in Moab! No hiking or biking here, just taking in the lovely scenery and fresh air.