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early morning tent - Arches National Park

early morning tent

Devil's Garden Campground: the best of the National Park System Devil's Garden Campground Review

The Devil's Garden Campground is the crown jewel of the National Park system. I have been lucky to camp at many of the park system's campgrounds and surely all the most noted, and I can say without much hesitation that this one is the best. Of course, if you hate the desert and glowing red rock scenery, please head to the forests of another park. You would be doing everyone a favor since thousands are turned away from this gem every year for lack of space. About the only thing missing here is showers due to lack of precious water. Sure, they could truck it in and they already do for drinking water purposes but that would increase prices and put more of a stress on the environment than need be. If you can't go without a shower for a couple days, stay in town and drive 50 miles round trip every day. Hey, at least it's a pretty drive.

Spots can be reserved and if on a tight schedule you should certainly do this well in advance as this is one very popular campground. It was a very reasonable $15 a night in the spring of 2008 but I see it's gone up to $20, still in line with many other parks with far less of a water problem. This can be done between 180 and 4 days of arrival. So, you can't call the night before and hope to get a spot. My guess is you won't likely get one 4 days ahead of time during the busy season.

If you are traveling foot loose and fancy free, they luckily have left 24 spots open to walk-in campers. You simply show up and hope there is a spot available. Obviously, people stay for more than one night and not all of the spots open up each day. My suggestion? Get there very early.

Unique Qualities: We got to the park in the afternoon and of course there were no spots. We camped at nearby Canyonlands for one night and returned at 4:30 AM the next morning. We were not the first ones there either! At 7:30 AM they informed the hundred people waiting that there were 7 spots opening up that day. We were glad we were crazy enough to get up that early. It was first come first serve after that and we got an amazing spot. It was huge and plenty big for the ten people the park allows. It was set right in the rock rock fins so we had some shade. Our tent went on a nice sandy patch high on a hill looking down at our picnic table and car. It was worth carrying everything up there, believe me. Jack rabbits and deer scurried through every morning. It was a paradise we'll never forget. If you like camping and the desert, make sure to camp here.

Price Comparison: least expensive

Directions: At the end of the Arches Scenic Drive, 18 miles from the park's entrance.

Price: less than US$20

Theme: Campground

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 13, 2009
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