Exploring Central Utah: Fish Lake and Dixie National Forest

posted in: Utah, Van Life | 3

I’ve never wanted to postpone winter more than during our trip to Fish Lake National Forest. These mountains are a wonderland just begging to be explored. Unfortunately, old man winter is knocking while Eric and I hide in darkness with a blanket over our heads hoping he’ll go away. It works for children!

Castle Rock Campground

After being lured off I-70 by the intriguing rock formations of Fremont Indian State Park, Eric and I stumbled upon Castle Rock Campground. What a find!

The hills are alive…..

What made this place so special was the juxtaposition of eroding, canyonesque rock on the right, and to the left, a beautiful mountain boasting all of the colors of fall. I’ve never quite seen anything like it.

I only wish we would have arrived sooner.

A majority of the sites were spacious and we had the pick of the lot. After debating on colorful trees versus misshapen rock (because that’s what you do when you have 32 options), we made our final selection. Rock was the winner.

Our first site.

We enjoyed a solid 1-1 1/2 hours alone, climbing rocks, setting up camp and making dinner before seeing another soul. It was amazing. I should say “I” because Eric had to work. Boo.

No matter how nice the office, it’s still AN OFFICE!
Home Sweet Home

Wouldn’t you know it, out of 32 sites, the second person that pulled into the campground parked RIGHT next to us, their door opening right into ours. People are SO rude. Completely turned off and annoyed, we packed up and found a spot nestled in the trees to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

Yes. We were hiding.

The site was actually much more beautiful that it seemed.

There we go. There really wasn’t a bad spot in the entire place. That is what perturbed me most about the guy that parked right next to us in an EMPTY campground. Come on fella, common courtesy!

Ok. Rant Over.

Dispersed Camping

Eric and I ventured out the next day to see what the area had to offer. Let’s just say, Fish lake kept getting better. This is going on our list of places to go back to for sure.

Eric doing some fish spotting

We found a quaint spot not far off the road which felt like a million miles from nowhere. It was positioned nicely among the trees and a creek. That night we were lulled to sleep by the sound of nature.

Nature Walk

We mostly just chilled out here and enjoyed some solitude which was nice.

BLM Land

The state of Utah boasts miles upon miles of public lands free for us to use. It’s an incredible place to do some free camping and enjoy some solitude (on occasion). One of our great finds was a pasture with free roaming cattle just outside of Cedar City.

The downside? Sometimes you have to hunt for this kind of spot for several hours and through lots of different terrain (see photo below).

Nice views though!

Sometimes it is worth it. Sometimes it is disappointing when you work really hard and come up empty handed. It’s all a gamble. You win some, you lose some. That is life!


While we were having a great time and Utah seemed to be a turning point in our Van Life experience, this is also about the time when Real Life started to take a downward spiral. This is when Eric started contemplating his work situation in relation to living and traveling in the van. Uncertainty was floating in the crisp fall air. I’ll spare you the eloquent descriptions because after all, you know what happened—Eric left to sort things out.

Obviously there is much more to come! I’ll be rolling out some posts about my time in St. George and Zion National Park soon! I’m a little behind again (almost forgot about this entire section of our trip!) I call it a coping strategy 😉

Thanks for reading!

Until next time friends…..

3 Responses

  1. Heather

    Sometimes it’d be really nice to know what people are thinking like the guy parking right next to you. What the heck!

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