BLM Campground Review – Big Bend BLM, Moab, UT
A very scenic but very busy campground on a “big bend” of the Colorado River just NE of Moab, UT
- Site Quality = 3/5
Great to poor site quality depending on where you end up. There are 22 total sites all cleared, firm dirt with “sitting areas” containing picnic table and fire-pit. No hookups. Road-facing sites (#9/10) have pretty red canyon views while many of the waterfront sites (#1-8,11-22) either have accessible or full water views. Biggest ding is variation in site size and separation. Some sites (e.g. pull-throughs 9 & 10) are incredibly large and spacious whereas many of the back-ins are very small, shared or too close together. Of the 22 available sites I would say only ~4 could fit our size.
- Facilities = 2/5
Very basic facilities. On-site pit toilets, kept nicely clean and on-site garbage disposal. NO on-site water or dump.
- Location = 3.5/5
Location is a mixed bag here. On the one hand the campground is in a very pretty spot, right on a big bend of the Colorado River with access to a beach and water views, plus it’s only ~15 mins from town and a few miles from Arches National Park (very convenient). On the other hand it’s right next to busy U-128, plus it’s very popular so there is an almost-constant background noise of cars and people. I would say it’s a great spot for exploring Moab, but a poor spot for those who want to get away from it all.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
Very good pooch spot. You have good space in camp and are right next to the Colorado with a pretty on-site beach area that has enough shallow water for pooch to splash and enjoy. You are also very close to some of the best paw-hiking in Moab including the fabulous Negro Bill Canyon hike.
Overall Rating = 3.4
BONUS ALERT = Camp within view of stunning red canyons and the Colorado River.
Summary: So I have to admit we have mixed feelings about this our stay here. Big Bend BLM campground is in a pretty and convenient location. It lies on a big bend in the Colorado River with access to a lovely beach, water/canyon views all around plus it’s only ~15 mins from downtown Moab and a few miles from Arches NP. These are the positives. The issues are two-fold. First sites are very variable in size/separation -> all sites are basic dirt with picnic table and fire-pit, but some are incredibly large and spacious (e.g. pull-through sites #9, #10) whereas others are very small or even shared (= 2 sites in one spot e.g. #11/12 and #18/19!). Second it’s very busy. It’s a popular spot and in high-season it’s full all the time (literally a test of musical chairs to get in) plus it’s right next to the overflow camping and U-128 which is a well-used and thus somewhat noisy road. This means there are constantly either rigs driving through camp looking for open sites or cars on the road next door, so it doesn’t have the laid-back, peaceful kind of feel we usually like in BLM sites. We enjoyed our time in Moab and certainly appreciated our huge site, location and pleasant views, but we were somewhat tired of the crowds and noise by the time we left. For a first-time visitor this is probably a good base to explore Moab, but I think if we return to the area we’ll chose to stay at one of the more remote (and thus quieter) campgrounds further out.
Extra Info: Marginal Verizon signal (data signal vacillated between 1X and 3G), but we managed to get a stable, usable 3G signal with our external antenna/amp. 22 sites, all first-come-first-serve. Sites cost $15/night (no hookups). There is one-night-only overflow camping area opposite Big Bend if all campsites are full. NO on-site dump station and NO on-site water.
Extra, Extra Info – OTHER BLM CAMPING? BOONDOCKING?
Other BLM Camping: The BLM office manages 26 campgrounds around Moab, but not all of them are “beast-friendly”. Of the available choices in our size only Goose Island (very, very busy and close to town but nicely separated sites and totally worth it if you can get a waterfront spot), Ken’s Lake (south of town) or Horsethief (~20 miles NW from town, but very quiet and relaxed) make the cut. The other options were either too small or we didn’t like them. Of these Horsethief would be our #1 choice coming back.
Boondocking: Everyone always wants to know about Boondocking around Moab and the simple answer is there’s practically none. Due to overuse the BLM closed most of the traditional boondocking spots and implemented a policy of designated campsites only (in fact on the main roads it’s prohibited to camp anywhere else & they can/will fine you for doing so). There are very few select free “dispersed camping” sites listed on the BLM website which are mostly suited to tenters or truck campers. Nothing we could find in our size, but worth a look for those with smaller rigs.
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