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If you've never heard of entrenched river meanders before, you're probably not alone. Better known as goosenecks, these river bends that cut deep into the surrounding terrain are truly spectacular, and you'll see the perfect example of them at Utah's Goosenecks State Park.
Located in southern Utah near Mexican Hat, this small but beautiful park offers picture-perfect views of a deep meander of the San Juan River. It's a stunning sight which will keep you reaching for your camera. The park's cozy campground also features a handful of primitive sites, making it a lovely place to spend a few relaxing nights camping in a rental RV.
Goosenecks State Park only covers 10 acres of territory, so it doesn't offer the same abundance of outdoor activities as some other state parks. But that doesn't mean you should pass this destination by, as the views themselves make the drive well worth it.
Speaking of the views, they're obviously the number-one attraction in Goosenecks. The park is located right on the edge of a vast canyon where, some 1,000 feet below, the San Juan River has carved its way through the surrounding landscape. The river actually flows a distance of over six miles in this area, but it only covers one and a half miles of its westward journey to Lake Powell.
As we've already mentioned, the views of the meander are absolutely wonderful, so you'll no doubt spend some time gazing out over the river (and snapping photos). Once that's done, the best way to spend your time in the park is to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. If you'd like to get active and do a little exploring, there are, unfortunately, no hiking trails within the park boundaries.
However, you might like to check out the Honaker Trail, which is found just to the northwest. Originally developed in the late 19th and early 20th century to transport supplies to gold prospectors, the trail is now a popular hiking route. The two-and-a-half-mile trail leads from the canyon rim and descends some 1,200 feet to the San Juan River below. It's a great way to get up close and personal with the geology of the area and check out the canyon from below. Be aware that the route is rocky in parts, and you'll need to take plenty of water for the trek.
One final pastime that Goosenecks State Park campers love is stargazing. With the nearest major centers and all the artificial light they produce many miles away, the night sky here can be quite breathtaking. Whether you're a keen stargazer or just want to see what the night sky looks like without any light pollution, don't forget to look up.
If you have plans to camp in an RV at Goosenecks State Park, search for an RV in San Juan County before making your way to the park. Although the park's campground is small and primitive, it's also pretty darn spectacular.
There are eight sites on the rim overlooking the meander. The views here are truly something special, and there are few better ways to start the day than to step out of your RV and take in the vistas of the San Juan River below.
However, scenery aside, there's very little else in the way of features in the Goosenecks State Park campground. Picnic tables and fire rings are provided, as well as vault toilets.
It's also worth noting that reservations aren't accepted here. Sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so you'll need to show up and take your pick of the available options.
When you're ready to pack up your rental RV and hit the road once again, you'll find plenty more worth seeing in the area surrounding Goosenecks State Park. This part of the country boasts some iconic natural scenery. You might want to head north to check out the colorful canyons and rock formations of Canyonlands National Park. If history is more your thing, make the 70-mile drive east to Cortez, Colorado to marvel at the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
Alternatively, if you'd rather get back to civilization, Flagstaff is a little over three hours southwest in Arizona. While you're there, be sure to check out the amazing Native American artifacts on display at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
Whichever direction you choose to travel, you won't have to go far before you find somewhere you'll want to stop and explore. Why not rent a camper near Goosenecks State Park and plan your ideal camping odyssey in southern Utah?