Car Camping Offers Something for Everyone from $50 to $100

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(Photo by Shannon McOmber)

(Photo by Shannon McOmber)
(Photo by Shannon McOmber)

I like backpacking, I like hiking, but sometimes you just need to get some rest.

Spring Break is meant to provide that R & R. Does that mean staying in your apartment and sleeping in until noon? Why yes, yes it does (if that’s what you’re into). But there is also leisure to be had in the outdoors and lots of it. Welcome to the world of car camping.

Camping is a beautiful thing. It’s for both the quiet outdoors types and the loud party types, plus everyone in between. From morning hikers to Dutch oven cobbler-makers to free-love spirits (you know who I’m talking about), camping fits all types. So load up the trunk and let’s celebrate the outdoors the leisurely way — with a car, a hammock, and some really good food. Here are three top spots to spend your Spring Break for around $50 to $100 apiece:

 

ZION NATIONAL PARK $99

Zion price

During one Spring Break my brother Mike and I decided to head down to a NASCAR race in Las Vegas (withhold judgement, please). After a day that featured racing, way too many shirtless dudes, and a number of things my eyes can never unsee (it was like Woodstock, but with rednecks and no cool music), we headed back to Salt Lake City, meeting up with some friends at Zion National Park on the way up.

I had been to Zion before, but this time felt different. Maybe it was because I had just spent hours at a NASCAR event that was anything but beautiful, but the park put a spell on me.

We took a small hike to an overlook that presented to us the contrast of colors in the park. The vibrant greens colliding with the red sandstone made for a majestic sight. I just stared down, taking it all in. (Wait, am I “that artsy guy”?) Oh, and there’s, like, slot canyons and other famous outdoorsy stuff, too (now that’s better).

 

PANGUITCH $50

Panguitch Price

It was late spring and I was en-route to Southern Utah with a group of friends when one of them asked, “Want to go to Bryce Canyon?”

I hadn’t been to Bryce Canyon since I was younger, but I remembered cool-shaped formations and horseback riding, so of course I was down for the trip.

“Hell yes,” I replied. Everyone else agreed, and we were off.

We stopped by a store in Panguitch, a nearby city, and bought some steaks, bacon, Reese’s, and ingredients for peach cobbler. Then we set off to find the canyon.

None of us had a smartphone or the smarts to figure out where the park was. We must have missed a turn because next thing we knew we were lost in southern Utah. We gave up after a while and decided to just head for the hills and camp. We found a campground in the middle of nowhere with signs everywhere that read “no collecting wood” and “use your own wood.” From then on out it was sex jokes galore — for obvious reasons. And it was almost as fun as finding the actual canyon.

 

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK $82

Black Canyon price

In a trip of about six hours, Salt Lake residents can reach Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in western Colorado.

My friend Brad Riding visited the park last fall and says it’s “mind-blowingly enormous.”

He tends to exaggerate, but the park does feature canyon walls that drop almost vertically to the Gunnison River below.

The park isn’t full of activities, but for car-campers, that’s alright. You can spend time outdoors with some friends and make memories.

Disclaimer: The cost of these trips assumes you are traveling with other people because camping alone is unsafe and, more importantly, you need someone there to laugh at your jokes. Also, these plans involve a car that gets about 25 miles per gallon.

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@millerjryan