Inspired by fellow RVers to visit Goosenecks State Park, we spent 4 days in the area and found lots of wonderful things to do including a spur-of-the-moment drive on Johns Canyon Road.
One of many benefits of being full-time RVers is having the flexibility in a travel plan when advanced reservation is not required. Between Monument Valley and next RV park reservation in Moab we had 7 days of total flexibility of where we could spend our time. With the fresh water tank full and both holding tanks empty, we are happy as a clam at high tide and ready to roll. Our destination was Goosenecks State Park, near a community of Mexican Hat, Utah.
I first heard about Goosenecks State Park from reading Scott’s blog post. The idea of parking Stimpy on the rim of a rock cliff overlooking a deep canyon was all I needed to remember this place. So when our travel route brought us to the area, Goosenecks State Park was one of the stops we had to do. We were very happy that we did.
Goosenecks State Park
According to the park’s website, a deep river canyon at Goosenecks State Park is one of the most impressive examples of an entrenched river meander on the North American continent. This section of the San Juan River twists and turns through the meander, flowing a distance of over six miles while advancing merely one and half miles! The river not only meanders, but it also carved the desert and created a 1000-foot deep canyon below. It’s something to see.
Although the park’s website said to camp in 8 designated sites along rim, where fire-ring and picnic tables are located, they allow dispersed camping beyond the designated camping area. Basically, you drive further and further in until you find the spot you like. For big rigs, the dispersed camping area is probably your only option. We picked a spot in a nice, open area next to the rim. We stayed there for 4 nights. Using the cellular signal booster, we were able to have decent T-Mobile signals for internet. Now, that really made us happy.
This is a small park. It’s all about the view of the goosenecks. There isn’t much to do in the park. However, there are plenty of things to do nearby. We visited Natural Bridges National Monument (about 45 miles away), stopped at Muley Point, drove through Valley of the Gods, and drove on Johns Canyon Road.
Johns Canyon Road
When we visited Muley Point on the southern edge of nearby Cedar Mesa, while admiring the view of the canyons and desert floor from the Point, we noticed a dirt road running between Cedar Mesa and the San Juan River canyon. The road is indicated on online maps as Utah-244 or Johns Canyon Road. I had read that the road leads into Johns Canyon, but didn’t do much research about the drive itself.
On our last day in the area, we decided to drive the Johns Canyon Road, just to see what it’s like. I wasn’t sure what I expected to see, but it turned into a really nice drive. See for yourself.
It took us about 3 hours to drive to our destination spot and back to Goosenecks State Park. The entire time on Johns Canyon Road we didn’t run into any other cars or anyone and had the road and the place to ourselves. The condition of the Johns Canyon Road was quite good. There were a few spots where a high-clearance vehicle is required. We did put the truck into 4-wheel drive a few times. There were no cellular signals for most of the drive, so a paper map is essential. We had an off-line map with GPS for live update of our location.
Note: Camping at Goosenecks State Park is on a first-come-first-served basis. Camping fee is $10/night. The campground has only vault toilet. No water.
Although there are 8 designated sites with table picnics and fire rings, self-contained RVs are better off camping in the dispersed camping area beyond the official camping area. This effectively means the park can accommodate many more than 8 sites. It’s unlikely that you won’t find a spot to camp. From our experience, almost everyone moved on after a night or two, so even if you couldn’t get a good spot, just park somewhere and move to a better spot in the morning.