Five years ago during our first year as full-time RVers, we camped a few nights at Goosenecks State Park in late May. Unfortunately, the spring heat, strong winds and blowing red dust drove us away. However, because Goosenecks SP was so unique and the views so fantastic I instantly placed a return stay onto the old RV travel to-do list.
This March as we worked our way through New Mexico and into Utah we found ourselves once again in the area. The weather forecast looked fantastic with calm winds and temps in the low 80s, unusually warm for March, so we booked in for four nights.
Back in 2012, the camping was dispersed, informal and free. Since then they have added some picnic shelters, a few tables, garbage cans and some primitive campsites. They also upped the cost to $10 a night. It’s dry camping with no electric, sewer, water or even a dump station, but a complete bargain if you take into account the canyon views!
If you don’t want to stay in the designated camping area, you can still drive down a dirt road and boondock along the rim which is what we did. The further you venture the rougher the road gets but, the more elbow room you can attain. Furthermore, since the main viewpoint is a big attraction for day-trippers and tour buses the further down the less noticeable is the traffic in and out.
What are the Goosenecks?
The Goosenecks is the name given to the tight curves and loops of the San Juan River where it has carved out deep canyons into the southern Utah desert landscape.
Millions of years ago, the Monument Upwarp forced the river to carve incised meanders over 1,000 feet (300 m) deep as the surrounding landscape slowly rose in elevation. Eroded by water, wind, frost, and gravity, this is a classic location for observing incised meanders. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goosenecks_State_Park
The views from the campsites on the canyon rim are spectacular. Though, to get a further appreciation of the scale of the Goosenecks a short 1/2 hour trip to the Muley Point Overlook is highly recommended. The trip itself is an adventure as you will have to drive the Moki Dugway!
Rising 1100 feet in 3 twisting miles the Moki Dugway is carved out of the Cedar Mesa and features 10% grades and multiple switchbacks on a mostly gravel road. Don’t take a large RV or trailer!! Turns are tight and portions of the road have rock overhangs. My Garmin RV 760LMT was frantic beeping alert warnings at me on approach!
The Moki Dugway for a normal sized vehicle in dry conditions actually isn’t that bad and nicely graded. Although, for those afraid of heights and lifelong flatlanders, it can be a bit harrowing. I’m sure it’s harder on the passenger than the driver judging from my wife’s reactions. 🙂
We traversed the Moki Dugay in our big 20 foot long almost 8 foot wide dually truck. There was room for us on the switchbacks and were able to get by the few cars coming the other way without incident. Everyone is taking it slow and the road widens in spots to let others pass.
Near the top of the dugway, you’ll find a large pullout to drink in the panoramic views featuring the Valley of the Gods red rock formations to the east.
Muley Point Overlook
Once you have climbed to top the Cedar Mesa via the Moki Dugway, take the next left and follow 6 miles of red dirt and gravel roadway out to Muley Point. The road is graded and decent to travel on for 2wd vehicles but if wet in could be a different story so check the forecast.
At Muley Point, you’ll find breathtaking views from high above the Goosenecks and out to the iconic sandstone towers of Monument Valley. There’s acres of slick rock and large boulders to scramble around on and explore. But watch your step it’s a long way down.
Video Highlights from Goosenecks State Park
Photo Gallery – Goosenecks State Park Visit
We absolutely love this part of southern Utah and have now visited on three separate occasions. Even so, we’ve barely scratched the surface of things to do and see. We’ll definitely be back.
Check out my post and video from spring 2015 detailing our experience boondocking in the Valley of the Gods
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