So you are off to travel to Utah in an RV this summer. What on earth could you possibly be thinking? Do you enjoy boob sweat? Of course, to get that wonderful pristine wilderness that is Idaho, Wyoming or Colorado, you do have to traipse through the beehive State. And if you are like our family and planning a RV Road Trip to Utah in a thirty-five-foot motorhome you might be doing portions of that drive at fifty-five miles per hour. It can be a long drive up the 15 Freeway in late June, especially if you find yourself camping anywhere between Hurricane, Utah and Salt Lake City. I hope and pray your motorhome has working air conditioning!
If you find yourself planning an RV Road Trip to Utah in those sweaty summer months where can you possibly camp and hike? How can you possibly enjoy the great outdoors where it is not over one hundred degrees outside? On our last family jaunt through Utah a few years back, we found ourselves camping in a Walmart parking lot in late July. It was well over one hundred degrees on that blacktop parking lot. It was too hot to even sit outside in our camp chairs and enjoy, well camping at Walmart, until near sunset. We couldn’t walk our pup for fear her lil feet would burn. It wasn’t optimal. But Walmart camping is free and this was one of our first RV vacation trips. We didn’t know we had other options.
Oota Aayita auntie?
The name Utah is just weird, let’s face it. But what in Utah is not strange? On our drive into the beehive state, we passed a pickup truck with two giant missiles in the back. Because Utah. You might be asking yourself, where did the name Utah come from? No, it does not mean, bring your missiles with you wherever you go because you never know when you might need them. Utah was named for the Ute tribe of Native Americans. The Ute Tribe were known as “The people of the pines” In our family, chock full of a different kind of Indians, from my boyfriend’s native Tamil Nadu area of India, Utah sounds like “Oota” as in “Oota aayita?” basically “Have you eaten” It’s a greeting you would give in Kannada instead of hello. Maybe that is why I love traveling through southern India so much. I love that the first thing someone says to me is to inquire if I’m hungry.
When we planned an RV Road Trip to Utah I knew we were in the real heartland of America and there would be nowhere to buy dal, puris or get a roadside dosa until we reached Mississauga, Toronto on the other side of the country in a month. On our first day of vacation, driving for over seven hours, I knew would be one of the longest drives of our two-month holiday. The motorhome fridge was stocked with homemade Muslim-style Biryani and Sweet Potato and Sun Dried Tomato Dal I was pretty sure we were more likely to find a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Hurricane than an authentic curry house. Utah is definitely not London. You are much more likely to find a Chick-fil-A than an authentic curry house on 2400 West. Homemade dal is actually a great pre-hiking dinner! Lentils are chock full of healthy proteins, B-Vitamens and fiber. I mean when you discover a area in Utah where you can hike and it is not 100 degrees outside.
Thank the Lord I packed the dal as our first day on the road took us almost ten hours just to reach Utah and we were not setting up camp until it was almost completely dark. Saying that I love me some mountain standard time. The sunset in the summer is not until nine p.m. and even though we rolled into camp so late after so many ridiculous delays the fabulous Utah time difference made it to not feel so bad. Except we really did eat dinner that first night of summer vacation “On India time” at 10:30 p.m.
Oh those Utah oddities
I’ll be the first to say it. When planning an RV Road Trip to Utah, you are going to find that Utah is an odd place in every way. The red rock gardens, volcanic bluffs and white manga stone-filled state parks everywhere look like something you would find on Mars. And who can stand to live in this desolate blazing hot state that is not quite Idaho, not yet? In a state chock full of Mormons expect the people of Utah to be so friendly and uplifting. I really enjoy driving down the gorgeous backroads of the American Southwest and not seeing California trash blowing in the breeze. I love that the older gentleman told me “God bless you” When he handed me my receipt after I purchased over sixty dollars worth of guava pastries from Farmstead the European-style bakery, also known as a patisserie, in St George. I need God’s guidance so I don’t eat all these blueberry custard croissants!
The friendliness of the citizens of Utah is unique and rendering. How is this possible in a state where you can’t buy tequila? Am I the only one who needs an icy margarita right about now? It’s always either below freezing or over one hundred degrees outside everywhere in this red-rock state. I don’t get it. Why do over three million people love living here I pondered as I hunkered down in the shade of our motorhome at 4.pm. in the evening hiding from the fiery red ball of the Utah sun. Well, obviously the national parks of Utah are the big draw. As are scenic wilderness areas like Pine Valley, Logan and Brianhead. Did you know that Brianhead is the highest city in Utah? When I planned our RV Road Trip to Utah I had a bee-line drawn to take me back into the alpine wonderland and away from the heat of the red rock desert. Moab? Maybe in the wintertime but not in June, not for our family on this RV road trip to Utah.
Stopping in Zion National Park was tempting but visiting a national park Father’s Day weekend with hordes of other perspiring tourists packed into a shuttle bus sounded like a horror movie to me. Who wants to go to Zion National Park in late June? That sounds miserable when it’s over one hundred degrees outside. Sweating my ass off this summer in Utah is not exactly my idea of a good time but Utah is the gateway to the beauty of Idaho, so here we go!
When we reached our campground in Hurricane, walking distance to Quail Creek Lake, I threw my Catahaola pup in the Jeep and pointed her towards nearby pine trees. I needed some pine pollen on the Jeep, asap.
After the shenanigans we went through to reach Hurricane Utah, we had one full day in the Hurricane area to do fun stuff and try not to sweat so much. I’d heard there was still snow on the upper peaks of Brianhead two hours east and that was tempting. But we decided we couldn’t handle that much time in the car with our farty Catahoula pup. (Her stomach had not adjusted to vacation food yet) So off to farm country in Pine Valley, we went!
Wow, I really had no idea how pretty Pine Valley, Utah would be. I felt like we were driving through the set of Yellowstone and Kevin Costner would be riding a hundred thousand dollar quarter horse through the tall grasses at any moment. Okay well, we didn’t see Kevin Costner, we did however see a lot of free-range cattle, a red-tailed hawk and some deer. We did about half the hike to Whipple Meadow which was basically straight uphill, nothing but switchbacks but oh so beautiful.
Now Harvest Hosts sounds like a camping experience you would find in LDS-packed Utah. When I think of Utah I do think of Mormons and that is because I had a lot of Mormon friends growing up and they all had family near Salt Lake City. Harvest Hosts is not a Mormon church adventure. Instead, it’s the best camping adventure accessory you never knew you needed. After you check out and photograph the just gorgeous temple in Salt Lake City or any other Utah big city, look for a list of Harvest Host wineries, farms or breweries. You can stay at thousands of Harvest Hosts facilities all over the United States for free with your Harvest Host membership. Unfortunately for us the date we were driving through the great Salt Lake area just happened to fall on Father’s Day so the one Harvest Host I was dying to stay at, on an alpaca farm, was not open on Father’s Day but I bookmarked it to check out the very next time we cruise down Interstate 15 in Utah.
On our second evening on the highways of Utah we found our way to Rowley’s Red Barn and of course, their homemade ice cream. We loved this Harvest Host stay but it was right next to the interstate which turned out to be so incredibly loud and the fifty-mile-per-hour winds did not help our sleep either. Utah was really starting to piss us off and we were wondering, are we in Idaho yet?
This Harvest Host is apparently the biggest tourist attraction in Santaquin, Utah. Santaquin, Utah is a small town south of Salt Lake City with a population of just over 13,000. We left Hurricane Utah in the early morning to beat the hurricane-like winds battering the 15 Freeway in Utah on that June morning. Forty miles per hour wind gusts were expected by the time we reached the greater Salt Lake area. Yea. One thing about gorgeous green and red Utah; If it’s not one hundred degrees then it is probably windy. When planning an RV road trip to Utah, expect forty-mile-per-hour wind gusts. I sure hope you are not tent camping!
Check out the Grotto Trail Falls just outside Santaquin Utah. Don’t do what I did and forget to wear your hiking boots and try to do the hike in your slippers. That did not go well. Less hiking, more relaxing creekside while the puppy frolicked in the snowy mountain runoff. But the red penstemon and fields of wild yellow mustard in this area are just stunning, even while trekking along in padded slippers. ( I swear these Utahians are probably looking at me, like OMG, that girl must be from California)
Looking for more outdoor fun near Santaquin, Utah? Big East Lake, is a paved nice 1-mile walk, thirty minutes outside Santaquin I mean when the mountain road is open to get there. We didn’t make it to the reservoir at Big East Lake. Online it says the road is washed out from the winter.
Driving through Salt Lake City and looking for a quick outdoor walk? Check out Antelope Island and the free-roaming bison there. Antelope Island has always been one of my favorite places near Salt Lake City. It is more scenic in the winter months though. Checking out the free-roaming buffalo from a safe distance is a fantastic autumn or winter walking tour. Sweaty summertime buffalo touring is just not my thing.
By day two of our Utah summertime adventure I’ll admit I was a little over Utah, no matter how amazingly beautiful it is. The people might be polite. The mountains and wildflowers might be stunning but I just can’t take the forty-mile-per-hour wind gusts. Luckily the further north toward the mountains of Idaho you drive, the greener, less hot and more scenic Utah becomes!