Car campers in the Anasazi Country area of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona have lots of choices for where to spend the night. Many types of campsites are located near Anasazi ruins and both public and private campgrounds are found throughout the region. In some places, there are camping opportunities outside of designated campgrounds. However, most people find the wide range of developed campgrounds easily fills their needs.
Private campgrounds come in all shapes and sizes and are found in many of the towns in the area. They range from large modern facilities with full showers, laundry, and other facilities to small campgrounds with just a site or two tucked into a scenic spot. Most are located near roads for convenience and to attract attention.
Most private campgrounds near Anasazi ruins cater primarily to RVs and motor homes. Although many have tent camping areas, tents are usually an afterthought and the car camping areas are often lacking in any form of natural ambiance. However, some are excellent for car campers so be sure to check all your options.
Private campgrounds are operated to produce a profit and the camping fees are established by the owners. Many private campgrounds have shower facilities that are a great place to clean up when you have been camping and hiking. Showers are included with camping fees but if you are not staying in the campground you can usually pay just to shower. Be sure to check in with the campground operator and pay the shower fee.
Most car campers will spend at least part, if not most, of their time in public campgrounds. Public campgrounds in Utah and the surrounding states are operated by a number of different agencies. The US Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and others all operate campgrounds in the area.
Public campgrounds in Anasazi country range from primitive to deluxe and from tiny to huge. Almost every identified public campground will have designated campsites with picnic tables and established fire areas. They will have restroom facilities of some sort – usually outhouses. Many, if not most, will have water available but don’t assume this without checking first.
Public campgrounds are generally located in areas that offer great outdoor recreation opportunities. Trailheads, archeology sites, scenically significant areas, and other unique places are all likely homes for public campgrounds. Some make a great base for exploring surrounding areas while others offer direct access to recreation. Some public campgrounds in Anasazi country are rather remote so make sure you understand the roads you will drive before you head to any site.
There is usually a camping fee charged at public campgrounds. At some campgrounds there will be a host or a patrol individual who will collect the fees while at others you need to self-register and pay at a kiosk. Some public campgrounds are operated by private companies under contract to the agency. Fees at public campgrounds are generally much lower than at private campgrounds. Unless you are staying in a campground that has online reservations you will pay your fee onsite. You must bring cash or personal checks as electronic payments are not accepted.
Undeveloped Campsites – Dispersed Camping
There are many places in Anasazi country where it is possible to have a great car camping experience without using a developed campground. Most of the BLM and US Forest Service land is open for camping and many people take advantage. This is called dispersed camping and it is common on the thousands of acres of public land in the region. Although these lands are generally open for dispersed camping there may be local exceptions. Be sure to know that camping is allowed before you set up camp!
While vast areas of land are open to camping it is always best to try and find an already used undeveloped campsite. In many areas you can find delightful campsites that have been well used by many others. It is common to find established fire rings in these sites but there are no other services – no picnic tables, no water, and no outhouses. The natural lands of the region are easily damaged by camping so try to confine your impacts to sites that have already been disturbed by others.
If you are planning for dispersed camping you need to make a few extra preparations. Since there will be no picnic table you must plan to have surfaces for food prep, cooking, and eating. Many campers use portable tables and stove stands. There is no water so you need to bring all you will need. Since there are no toilets you need to be aware of how to properly go to the bathroom and dispose of your waste.
Great Campsites Make Better Memories
The campsite you select can make a big difference in how much you enjoy your camping experience. If you are looking for solitude a private campground that caters to RVs will not provide the experience you seek. On the other hand, if flush toilets, hot water, and showers are important you won’t find them at most public campgrounds. Do your homework to find the best campground for you.
No matter what type of campground you choose, learning to Select a Good Campsite can enhance your trip. While most campsites can be used, selecting a great site can make memories. Our guide gives you things to think about when it is time to Select a Campsite.
To learn more about camping and campgrounds, these books may be of help to you: