Skip to Content

Popular Boondocking Camp to be Closed, State Money Grab Replaces It

How are we going to kick off 2022? With another boondocking site closing, obviously.

This time it’s a state park replacing it. And, in our opinion, it seems like a money grab from the state. 

Let’s get into it.

What Boondocking Site Will Close?

The popular boondocking site on the chopping block is Willow Springs Trail in Moab, Utah.

The exact location of this site is 38.6968, -109.6981.

It bears stating that this site isn’t closing due to land abuse (at least not directly). Instead, Utah passed a bill that will designate it a State Park. The current plan for the park is to create two established, paid campgrounds. 

Here’s why it sounds like a money grab.

Moab is very protective of commercial development. Meaning it’s pretty challenging for new RV parks and campgrounds to be built.

As recently as October, the Moab Planning Commission denied a new RV campground construction.

However, the state quickly passes a bill to create a two-campground state park in the same area.

Sounds fishy, huh?

Moab, USA – June 13, 2014: Store fronts, restaurant sign and street traffic at Main Street in Moab – Utah, popular destination for rock climbers and bikers, getaway to Arches National Park.

How Is Willow Springs Dispersed Camping Rated?

We use Campendium as the gold standard for boondocking site reviews. And, the users of Campendium give Willow Springs 4 out of 5 stars.

Everything from pop-up campers to motorhome buses have been able to access this dispersed campsite.

Corndog Caravan on Campendium recently reviewed the site. They said:

Very happy with this location. Even though there are lots of people here, we are spread out enough. Great location for Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point SP. Fire pits and large spaces. Vault toilets and port-a-potties throughout.

The Dyrt reviewers also give the spot 4 out of 5 stars.

What State Park is Taking Over?

The newly minted state park is called Utahraptor State Park. It’s named after a famous Utah dinosaur.

Here’s the official word from Utahraptor State Park:

In the 2021 legislative session the Utah State Legislature passed HB 257, which created Utahraptor State Park, located roughly 15 miles northwest of Moab in Grand County.

This new state park includes popular recreation spots such as the Dalton Wells and Willow Springs areas. Utah State Parks believes that — with proper planning and coordination with partners — we can better protect the area while maintaining its recreational value.

And, here’s a bit from them about development:

While it is still in the planning process, future park visitors to the area can expect two modern campgrounds, restrooms, office and entrance station, and trailheads for access to the nearby OHV and mountain bike trail systems.

Money Grab or Legit Conservation?

What do you think? Is the state trying to preserve the area or cashing in on public land?

Let us know in the comments.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. kittynana says:

    With more and more RVers, we will be seeing states doing this when they can. Ka-ching!

  2. Cheryl D Garcia says:

    Hmmm, it does seem a bit suspicious, er, I mean coincidental that the powers that be would decide to cash in on making a State Park out of a free boondocking area. But I do admit to having an eye for a good deal when I see it and probably should recognize the Utah Legislature for wanting to keep their coffers in the black, right? My husband and I truly do love the great Utah outdoors and look forward to our new overland off-grid travel trailer being built soon, so we hope to be joining like-minded adventurers then!

  3. Buzzgeo says:

    I’m a photographer who lives in the Moab area. My view is that both the RV and off-road communities show very little respect for the Utah wild areas. Litter, oil waste, feces and other sewage, grey water dumps, and other garbage is common. The communities are not policing themselves. I am glad Utah has now regulated these popular areas. The sad part is the camper slots will quickly be reserved and become basically inaccessible. Utah has usability issues with their reservation system. ‘Leave no trace’ does not seem to apply here. I do not see this as a for profit issue for Utah, I see it as a way to regulate and police areas that have become contamination sites. There are organizations who are trying to improve their communities but we seem to have lost our respect for the outdoors. It’s sad.

  4. Bob says:

    The state looking for money. But I would rather give my money to a state park than to a private RV park.
    BUT….it didn’t say if this dispersed camping area was state land or federal BLM land. BLM or other federal land is for ALL Americans and a state should NEVER be allowed to grab it!!

  5. Bob says:

    @Buzzgeo, I totally agree that OHV people are a detriment to the natural world. They are just thrill seekers with total disregard for rules. A very common thing I see when heading out for a hike are the tire tracks of these driving right by the signs saying “No motor vehicles beyond this point ”
    Another smaller group of rule breakers I see are the ones who think this is Africa and they are on safari. These are the full size jeeps towing those overland trailers. They also just drive right by those signs.
    They’re lucky I obey the rules, otherwise I would love to not obey the rule that says I can’t shoot assholes!

  6. Sondra Kolner says:

    Apparently this is a good idea for this area. 150 pounds of trash was removed from it. Had the boondockers. not abused their free site this would not have occurred. Now Utah takes over there will be rangers watching for those abusing the area .

  7. Jan says:

    My thoughts exactly! In recent light of some of the dispersed camping shutdowns in Utah because of the minority of abusers this seem like a move by your government to cover costs And to patrol by a strategic central location.
    If a private entity were to purchase the land and leach out all the profits, once this current trend of camping ceases (or a great increase in costs thereof) they would abandon or not upgrade and then subsequently claim the losses to your State government anyway! Back to where you started!

    There is still lots of BLM sites throughout Utah for those who are retired/ disabled and surviving on low income. Maintaining a permit for a 14 day rule keeps people honest

  8. Mick says:

    I wonder if we will still have free access to the trail at Willow Springs into Arches? There’s not going to be much open land near Moab after this.