Sunday, September 28, 2014

Groups Sites - Pros and Cons

Looking for a campsite on a Saturday within an hour (or two) from Salt Lake City isn’t easy two months out. Using the different reservations (ReserveAmerica and systems to scan campgrounds showed full campgrounds, closed campgrounds (anything over 6000 ft. it seems) or campgrounds that catered to ATV enthusiasts – of which I am not.
But I could, however, pay a little bit more and get a group site at what was reviewed as a beautiful campground: Diamond Campground just east of Spanish Fork, Utah. This seemed rather straightforward. It was cheaper than a hotel and got us out of the smog filled basin that is now Salt Lake.

We dropped by the airport, picked up our oldest daughter and headed south. It took about an hour to leave the Salt Lake basin behind and wind our way through the foothills to the valley where this campground sits. The air clears, shadows lengthen - fall shows itself in the yellowing leaves of the cottonwood trees.
All of this was ours for the evening

I’m going to guess that some group sites are meant for multiple campers and others, like the site at Diamond (which is up the road from the main campground approx. 3 miles), is meant more for day use. The various trucks with trailers in the parking lots showed that both horses and ATVs were out and about on the land nearby. The group site is fenced in – obviously to keep those pesky cattle out of the morning coffee pot – and the only place to put up a tent was in the corner that also happened to be the lowest part of the campsite. Okay, so it was a bit odd but certainly workable for a simple overnight on our way south.

We had two bonus situations to help us feel right at home: a wedding was happening up in the hills beyond our group site and teenagers with grand hopes of reaching The Hot Springs – wherever the hell those were – kept dropping by to see if we could give them directions. All we knew was they weren’t at our site. Thankfully, the last batch (about twenty kids in three vehicles) came breezing into our site around ten pm and Andy sent them cheerfully on their way again.
It was a mellow evening by the fire and our daughter talked about not putting her rainfly on the tent since it was so balmy. I noticed some flashes of light back beyond the hills and suggested that she just might want the extra protection. I was tired and forgot that she was in a depression. Sure, the rainfly worked great but all that runoff had to go somewhere, right?  I'm actually surprised that so little got wet.

All in all - I would hesitate in reserving an unknown group site again. It was pretty obvious that these group sites only exist for the day use of large groups of folks who want a place to serve a big meal and have a campfire. Or, if you have numerous RVs – the paved parking lot was huge. I think we should have taken a run through the main campground to check and see if any spots were open. Most campgrounds have some spots that are not on the reservation system.

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