bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

One night in Monticello, Utah–Big Trip #2

We visited Monticello in November 2018 as part of Big Trip #2. 

Bugsy at House on Fire ruins

This wasn’t a well-planned stop. Our intention was to spend two nights in Monticello and have easy access to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park… but it’s still an hour drive to the Needles Visitor Center from Monticello, and a whopping two hours to our target trailhead for Druid Arch. The Druid Arch trail is over ten miles long, and when you add up all the time, that’s too long to leave Bugsy in the Airstream.

We figured this all out AFTER paying for two nights at the campground, but the owner was kind enough to refund us a night, and we set about coming up with Plan B: find a hike close to Monticello and ship out in the morning for the Grand Canyon (the second part of Plan A involved a night boondocking in Valley of the Gods, one of our very favorite camping spots, but it was too cold to not have power and not be miserable).


Mountain View RV campground in Monticello Utah

We stayed at Mountain View RV Park and Campground, a shady park with pretty views of distant bluffs. It was the only park open so late in the season, and we were one of only a few campers, so it was very peaceful. The campground is a few doors down from Peace Tree Cafe and Doug’s Steak and BBQ (more on those below).

You may wonder why we didn’t stay at Needles Campground in the National Park if our goal was to hike in Needles. Needles Campground allows RVs and trailers, but doesn’t have any hookups. We’d be boondocking there, so skipped it for the same reason we had to bypass Valley of the Gods.


Robertson Pasture Trail

trailhead for Robertson Pasture Trail near Monticello
The view near the trailhead of Robertson Pasture Trail
hiking Robertson Pasture near Monticello UT
That’s Canyonlands in the distance

After our initial frustration at not being able to pop over to Needles to hike subsided, we got to researching hikes in the Monticello area, and ended up hiking the Robertson Pasture Trail in the Manti-La Sal National Forest to mile 3 (it’s a 14.5 mile trail). It was a wonderful hike! We climbed through a quiet forest to a series of hilltop meadows with gorgeous views of Canyonlands in the distance. Surely it was the next best thing to hiking in Canyonlands itself.

Mule Canyon

Bugsy hiking Mule Canyon

We broke up the drive between Monticello and Cameron, AZ (where we would spend a night with full hookups before braving a cold boondocking night in the Grand Canyon) with a hike in Mule Canyon in the threatened Bears Ears National Monument to see some Anasazi ruins. The House on Fire ruins were impressive (Bugsy is posing there at the top of the page in her new boots), and we could see other ruins high up in the cliffs as we hiked a few miles through the canyon. There’s room to park and turn a trailer at the campground just west of the trailhead, but you’ll have to walk along the highway to the trailhead, unless you can figure out how to cut through (we couldn’t, and ended up sliding down the cliff to get into the canyon).


sliders at Dave's BBQ in Monticello

I was excited to have a healthy dinner at Peace Tree Cafe (you may recall we visited the Moab location) but they were inexplicably closed on a Saturday evening. Fortunately, they were open the next morning for coffee and smoothies to take on the road. Instead, we had dinner next door at Doug’s Steak and BBQ, recommended by the campground owner. J had meaty sliders with three different types of BBQ–he said they were great–and I had nachos, the opposite of the healthy dinner I had planned for at Peace Tree. They were delicious.


6 responses to “One night in Monticello, Utah–Big Trip #2”

  1. elizabeth a sheeran Avatar
    elizabeth a sheeran

    I loe Bugsy’s boots. They are so cute. I wish you would stop with the pictures of the wonderful food. It makes me so jealous as we have no such delicious options around here. Love, Mum

    1. bugsy Avatar

      What! You have so much delicious food up there! Maybe not bbq though…

  2. Jebo Avatar

    Can you tell me where the top picture is? We are wanting to see the homes in the rocks like that where we can take the dogs. Thanks

    1. Jebo Avatar

      **we are going to Monticello, Blanding, 4Corners and Moab. Would like in help!!

      1. bugsy Avatar

        Hi Jebo! The top pictures is at the House on Fire ruins in Mule Canyon. Here is a great description of how to find the trail. Have a wonderful trip!

  3. […] of visiting the farther-afield Needles section of the park, which we planned to do when visiting Monticello on Big Trip #2, but didn’t realize it’s still a long drive from there. Someday […]

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