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).
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
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.
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).
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.