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donthompson

Advice: boondocking and water

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I'm planning a 3-4 week trip to southwestern Colorado and Utah in June.  I plan to camp in BLM campgrounds quite a bit.  Most of the campgrounds don't have drinking water available.  I'll be traveling alone.  I can fill the Ollie's fresh water tank before arriving at a BLM campground and I'll use that water to flush the toilet, wash dishes, shave, take a quick "ship shower", etc., but I'd prefer to have a separate water supply for drinking and cooking water.  I don't think I'll spend more than 2 nights in a dry camp before moving on.  Another Ollie owner recommended Scepter water cans.  I'm thinking about purchasing 2 of the 10 litre (roughly 2.5 gallon) cans to carry drinking/cooking water.  The cans weigh almost 3.5 lbs. and the water will weigh approximately 22 lb.s.  I think 25 lbs. is as heavy as I want to go.  Scepter makes a handy dispensing nozzle for the cans.  What do you think of this plan?  We recently had a problem with our communal well at home and had to purchase bottled water.  We bought two 2.5 gallon containers and used the water for drinking and cooking.  We only used about 3.5 gallons in 2 days for cooking/drinking--and there are three of us at home.  For you boondockers, how much water do you typically use per person, per day for drinking and cooking?

 

On future trips, I hope to spend time camping in remote areas rather than designated campgrounds where I can use the outdoor shower, etc.  I may spend 3-5 days in one spot without water.

 

Any advice is welcome!


Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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Don we just returned from a two week trip in SW UT. While we didn't boondock this time around, staying in BLM designated campgrounds the entire time but were off the grid for the entire two weeks. Obtaining water is easier than you might think. There is a nice BLM campground just outside Bluff called Sand Island that has water, also you can get water at the visitors center in Arches, as well as Windwhistle BLM near the Needles Overlook area. There are a number of BLM campgrounds along the CO River corridor both north and south of Highway 191 but none of those have water, but you can get all you need also at the Lions Park at the junction of Highway 191 and the road that takes you up to Castle Valley. Sorry can't recall the number of that one. Those are the only BLM campgrounds I've seen that do not have running water in SW UT.

 

We do not drink or cook with water from our fresh water holding tanks but carry two 5 gal BPA free water jugs with us, plus another 1 gal jug inside the truck on day outings. It took us the entire two weeks to go through the 10 gals of drinking/cooking water we brought along but understand too it was unseasonably cool during most of our stay and rained for a few days so need were not as severe as they normally would have been. Had the days been as sunny and hot as normal our intake could have been twice this amount. I would figure 1 gal a day person to be on the save side in normal summer weather.

 

Hopefully this helps.

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I carry two five gallon potable water jerry cans I bought from DOD surplus.  Easy to store in the truck and easy to pump into the Oliver tank.  For drinking water we carry several one gallon jugs plus a case of bottles.  We also each have a Seychelle water bottle for emergency.  The CDC says you can boil water one minute at a rolling boil and it is safe to drink.

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Current 2007 Airstream Classic Limited 31


2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II (Sold)


2016 Ram 2500 HD 6.7i Cummins turbo diesel


 

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Speaking of dumps, there is a good one in Moab at the local Ranch Feed and Seed supply on Main Street (not too far from the City Market by far the best grocery store in the area) at the south edge of town. $5 dumps + water refills too. I understand the Maverick gas station sort of across the street also has a dump station but don't know their setup or fees. To the best of my knowledge Blanding, Bluff and Monticello do not have dump stations, though there are a couple of small RV Parks in Bluff and one large one in Blanding. Never stayed at either but they might also allow a dump for a fee.

 

BTW if you boondock near the Bluff area, the Comb Ridge Wash to the north might be a better area than the Butler Wash area albeit no shade and relentless sun on the southern end. On the northern end of the Comb Ridge Wash off Highway 95 you will find a fair of amount of shaded dispersed areas  to dry camp or boondock. There is also some good camping on Cottonwood Wash further to the east and on NF land. I would be somewhat reluctant to tow an Oliver much more than the first mile ± of Butler Wash from the south end off Highway 191. Great canyons and hiking, as well as ruins and rock art if this interest you. However none of it is marked so do your homework before venturing into this area.

 

Also forgot to mention if you have the geezer pass BLM camping in this area is only $7.50 per night. Sand Island Campground was filling up most every night but if you get there by noon or early afternoon you should be ok. This is a major launch place to float the San Juan River. Windwhistle also usually fills up each night, both are small campgrounds with SI being the larger and roomier of the two. Don't even think about staying at Natural Bridges National Monument in your Oliver, very doubtful you could fit in their with tiny campsites and only about 13 of them I think. There are other BLM campgrounds on the same mesa as Windwhistle as well as a fair amount of dispersed campsites though most of them would be a bit sketchy to get an Oliver into then back out. But if you can negotiate one there are some awesome views along the west south west rim overlooking the Needles district of Canyonlands.

 

Let me know if you have questions or my descriptions aren't clear.

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Don,

 

On our trip home from the Oliver factory, we used our on board water tanks as you plan to. We also carried some store bought bottled water in the 2 gallon size with the built in spouts. For us the lesson learned was that for whatever water container you use, make sure it has a screw down lid! Many of the store bought water jugs we came across have a press on soft plastic lid, I'd avoid those, they were a major headache. In our smaller Elite, we found it a hassle to have a large water container kicking around, but luckily I had brought along a 1 gallon BPA free water jug from home with a handle and screw down lid. This worked great for our daily water needs (cooking/drinking) and was easy to refill from a larger 5 gallon water can that I kept in our TV.

 

Depending on time of year and destination will have a huge impact on water use. In the early season, many BLM and FS campgrounds don't have their water turned on yet. Summer in the desert...well, you get the idea. Water still can be found though. I purchased an inline water filter to refill the trailer and our drinking water containers and was glad I did just for piece of mind. Can't have too much of the stuff if you ask me. Having extra can also be handy to refill your trailer for showers, dishes, toilet, etc., when there are no hookups and you don't want to drive looking for water. My setup ultimately will be two 5 gallon cans (maybe more if we're really going to be out in the tules.) and two or three of those smaller 1 gallon jugs for taking in the trailer. I was looking at the Wavian NATO water cans: https://gijerrycan.com/water-cans/blue-water-can.html, but those Scepter cans look pretty good and are much cheaper. Although the Wavian cans are bomb proof so I have heard. They certainly make the best gas cans... Have fun!

 

Dave

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2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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Thanks to all of you for advice and information about your experiences.  I think I'll buy 2 20 litre Sceptre water cans rather than 2 10 litre cans!  I can handle 50 lbs. and they have a great spout that you can buy to fill small water bottles, etc.

 

Regarding BLM campgrounds in Utah, I do have the "geezer" pass which is a great bargain!  Routlaw and others, do you have any knowledge about the following BLM campgrounds?  They are all near Arches National Park:

 

**Goose Island BLM Goose Island Campground is located 1.4 miles from Highway 191 on Highway 128. The campsites offer spectacular views of the Colorado River and massive red rock cliffs of Arches National Park. Both RV and tent camping are available including 3 walk-in tent-only sites. This campground is popular due to its proximity to town, its shade during the summer, and the beautiful scenery. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

 

Hal Canyon Campground is located 6.6 miles from Highway 191 on Highway 128. One-way loop and 2 of the 11 sites are walk-in sites; early summer shade and nice river views. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 11 Toilets: Yes

 

Big Bend Campground is located 7.4 miles from Highway 191 on Highway 128. Big Bend can accommodate large RVs, trailers, and tents. Many of the sites are located next to the Colorado River, and all are surrounded by imposing cliffs. Big Bend has a sandy beach, a river walkway, and features accessible facilities. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 23 Toilets: Yes

 

Hittle Bottom Campground is located 23 miles from the junction of Highway 191 on Highway 128. The campground accommodates large RVs as well as tents. The Hittle Bottom boat ramp is the starting point for the Colorado River "Daily." An historic homestead is also located at the campground. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 15 Toilets: Yes

 

Dewey Bridge Campground is located 29 miles from the junction of Highway 191 on Highway 128. The campground accommodates small RVs as well as tents. The campground is located near Kokopelli's Trail, a multiple-use trail from Loma, CO to Moab. There is river access for small boats. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 7 Toilets: Yes

 

**Goose Island BLM Goose Island Campground is located 1.4 miles from Highway 191 on Highway 128. The campsites offer spectacular views of the Colorado River and massive red rock cliffs of Arches National Park. Both RV and tent camping are available including 3 walk-in tent-only sites. This campground is popular due to its proximity to town, its shade during the summer, and the beautiful scenery. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

 

Hal Canyon Campground is located 6.6 miles from Highway 191 on Highway 128. One-way loop and 2 of the 11 sites are walk-in sites; early summer shade and nice river views. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 11 Toilets: Yes

 

Big Bend Campground is located 7.4 miles from Highway 191 on Highway 128. Big Bend can accommodate large RVs, trailers, and tents. Many of the sites are located next to the Colorado River, and all are surrounded by imposing cliffs. Big Bend has a sandy beach, a river walkway, and features accessible facilities. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 23 Toilets: Yes

 

Hittle Bottom Campground is located 23 miles from the junction of Highway 191 on Highway 128. The campground accommodates large RVs as well as tents. The Hittle Bottom boat ramp is the starting point for the Colorado River "Daily." An historic homestead is also located at the campground. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 15 Toilets: Yes

 

Dewey Bridge Campground is located 29 miles from the junction of Highway 191 on Highway 128. The campground accommodates small RVs as well as tents. The campground is located near Kokopelli's Trail, a multiple-use trail from Loma, CO to Moab. There is river access for small boats. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis.

Fee: $15.00 per site Number of campsites: 7 Toilets: Yes


Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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Don, yes we are familiar with most of these campgrounds except Dewey Bridge and Hittle Bottom which are much further up 128 and well past Castle Valley. However we have camped at Goose Island and Hal Canyon but not Big Bend though we have been through it and are familiar with it. Goose Island fills up the quickest because its so close to Moab and the other areas to venture into. Hal Canyon is small but you should be able to fit into about half the campsites there with your Oliver. Big Bend is quite a bit larger but also much further out. Most of the side canyons along this part of the CO river corridor are used for mountain biking, there may be some hikers but not many compared to the cyclist. One campground you did not mention and our favorite along the CO river corridor is Williams Bottom along Potash road to the south of Highway 191. Turn right almost at the same junction for the entry into Arches. We prefer it over all the rest but your preferences maybe be different. There are also some excellent hikes near by, one within easy walking distance of the campground and some amazing rock art in this area, huge prolific panels. Further down this road and at the end there is another BLM campground but can't remember its name and it is quite large and more open than Williams Bottom which has more shade. The north corridor road (128) will receive quite a bit more traffic during the night than Potash Road which quiets down at night.

 

Also there are some campgrounds on the opposite side of the river, what is referred to as Kane Creek but with the exception of one of them they are not as appealing, however there are some of the nicest tent campgrounds along this area I've ever seen. Lots of ATV's, dirt bikes and other motorized backcountry vehicles in this area as well as mountain bikes but still there are some good and quiet hikes too.

 

You didn't mention Fisher Towers which is up past Castle Valley and off 128 but that campground is way too small for anything but tents and truck campers. The day we went up there on this last trip it was pouring rain, otherwise a fairly popular hike.

 

Some other interesting areas to explore but further to the west are Goblin Valley, San Rafael Swell, and a very small extremely isolated part of Canyonlands NP referred to as Horseshoe Canyon. Don't attempt The Maze in your own vehicle, either rent a jeep in Moab or better yet hire a guide. You can camp at the large parking lot at Horseshoe and there is normally room for an Oliver, but there is also well over 30 miles of backcountry gravel, sand rough road to get there. I wouldn't degrade it to a jeep trail, but its also not something I would want to attempt in a passenger car, high clearance and preferably 4WD are better and if its wet don't do it. The road can be quite narrow at times, but otherwise you shouldn't have any trouble doing it with the Oliver but all the campers we saw there were either truck campers or tents so proceed at your own risk. And don't overlook going into the Needles District, very nice campground there (fills up fast during peak season) and dispersed BLM just outside the park. Arches will be so crowded this time of the year its hardly worth the effort. We were there a few years ago in about this same time of year and some people were having to park literally 1-2 miles away from the trail head it was so congested. I'm not making this up. We felt like we were in a heard of marching ants on most of the hikes until you start heading deeper.

 

Hope this helps.

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Many people have an aversion to drinking water from the fresh water tank.  I've had no problem using the water for my drinking and cooking needs for the last 8 years.  I sanitize the tank by pouring 3/4 cup of bleach into my water hose before filling the tank here at the house.  I run the water pump and hot/cold water a bit and then let it sit overnight to kill all the "buggies".  The next day, I open up the fresh water drain valve and allow the tank to empty before refilling it.  I do this three times to ensure all the bleach taste is gone.

 

While camping, all water gets filtered as it goes into the trailer with one of those blue water filters readily available at RV supply sections in WalMart.  I use a Brita water jug to filter again before drinking it or adding it to Oscar's water bowl.

 

If you are squeamish about the quality of the water you have available, check out the system JrBirdman used when he travelled through Mexico. He uses a triple canister system with Sterilight UV from the RV Water Filter Store: https://www.rvwaterfilterstore.com/index.htm

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Pete & "Bosker".    TV -  '18 F150 Super-cab Fx4; RV  - "The Wonder Egg";   '08 Elite, Hull Number 014.


Travel blog of 1st 10 years' wanderings - http://www.peteandthewonderegg.blogspot.com


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Pete, all good points but to that I will add water in these holding tanks, pure and filtered or not simply taste terrible to us. There is something about the plastic tanks that seems to leech into the water if left sitting for more than a day or so. Like you we've tried the same sanitizing methods though we have not installed an inline water filter but have used a Brita and the stuff still taste terrible. We gave up on trying to drink from our tanks. Had the same problem with our small 5 gal tank in our T@b too, never could get used to drinking water from that thing no matter how many times we washed and sanitized it.

 

At the end of the day we figured it was just easier to carry our own water or get fresh supplies at the camping location filling our 5 gal BPA free bottles. The difference in taste is night and day. Have said it before but its worth repeating, this issue is not unique to Olivers, the entire industry has the same problem IMO due to the plastic holding tanks.

 

If we were going to do some long term backcountry camping or trips to Mexico I think JrBirdmans solution is a very good one but for a week or two or three at a time seems way more trouble than it would be worth given the usual good water supplies we have in this country.

 

Hope this helps

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Rob,

 

Thanks for all of the information about BLM campgrounds!  I checked out your website and it confirms that you know this area very well.  Great photos--I'll spend more time looking at them before I leave for Utah.

 

Don


Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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Thanks Don. My website is sorely in need of updating and completion. Was working it on it but got interrupted by some work and a group art show and haven't been back to the task. Let me know if you need more specifics. Love discussing and visiting this area.

 

 

 

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Rob,

 

You have a lot of knowledge about this area.  May want to talk to you by phone at some point.  I have the Moon publication "Zion and Bryce" that includes Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab.  My trip is to Mesa Verde, Arches, Bryce, Zion, and Cedar Breaks National Monument.  Any advice about books, maps, etc.?  I'm traveling alone so I want to hike safely and avoid getting lost!

 

I've been to Mesa Verde many times but have only passed through Bryce and Zion.  Looking forward to exploring these areas.

 

Noticed your photos from Chaco Canyon.  One of my favorite places--but haven't been there for many years.  When I was there, the road in was very rugged.

 

Don


Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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LOL, yeah its haul back into Chaco for sure. Been there many times and have seen that road in all sorts of conditions from relatively smooth for a dirt road to bone rattling washboards. Still worth the effort every time though.

 

You've picked some great locations. The only one I haven't been to is Cedar Breaks for some odd reason but have spent quite a bit of time in Grand Staircase-Escalante, Zion, Arches, Mesa Verde and of course Canyonlands. Expect large crowds for Zion and Arches this time of year, not sure about Escalante. We were in Mesa Verde a couple years ago in May and it was not too crowded, easy to get a campground there. If you have't been to Hovenweep thats another place I would also recommend. They have some great ruins there but the gnats this time of year might eat you alive. If you have not been to Escalante yet by comparison its huge and you will have to work a bit harder for your rewards there unless its been developed a lot since our last visit. Highlights would include Devils Garden, Calf Creek Falls, Long Canyon, and Coyote Gulch which has 3 slot canyons alone, and if you can find it Phipps Arch.

 

Don't overlook some of the BLM areas though and as long as you're doing this honestly I would include Natural Bridges National Monument on your short list. Its small and you will not get your Oliver into the campground but I promise you will not regret the visit or the hikes. Sounds like you have some interest in the ruins and petroglyphs and pictographs so again don't overlook visiting some of the surrounding BLM areas that can be chock full of this stuff and with hikes every bit as dramatic and gorgeous as the parks.

 

By all means feel free to call be glad to talk discuss. Don't get too worried about getting lost but do keep a GPS device with you or download one of the mobile apps to do the same. I like Gaia for my iPhone, works as good if not better than my Garmin and a hell of lot easier to use. The parks will lay everything out for you on a silver platter so you probably wouldn't need one in those places. But if and when you start to venture off into the BLM lands such as Cedar Mesa, or Comb Ridge as the saying goes don't leave the campground without one (GPS).

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