Every year for Memorial Day, my buddies and I go backpacking and camping, this year we are checking out Utah. We are wanting to check out Arches National Park. Are there any other great spots that are camping friendly near there? Has anybody been to Canyonlands Nat'l Park or Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat'l Park? Looking to hike in and set up tent every night.
On the North side of town there is a large bridge that crosses the Green River (you can't miss it). There are a ton of campsites along Highway 128 (the turnoff is right next to the bridge).
If the organized/official campsites along Highway 128 fill up you can keep going and you will be able to find other places to camp, but they probably won't have restrooms. Depending on when you actually arrive there is a good chance those sites will fill up. A LOT of people from Utah go camping over Memorial Day weekend.
Even the official/organized campsites do not have running water, so make sure you bring plenty of containers for water. There is a spring on the South side of the road just a few hundred yards after you turn onto Highway 128. The Visitor Center - Arches National Park also has water.
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There is a visitor's center in town on the main drag through Moabthat coordinates all the campsite vacancies for the surrounding area, since the campgrounds often fill up and you don't want to have to drive to each campground searching for an open space. One-stop shopping. Even if you were to find one on your own, someone may drive up with the paperwork to boot you out if you don't go through this center; because they did. Even so, during busy times, be prepared for them not having anything left. It's good there is a place to go that knows that. There is also BLM land and Forest Service land. Much of that is fine as long as you are not leaving traces that you were there. Try http://www.discovermoab.com/campgrounds_blm.htm for pre-plannng. There is also a hostel on the opposite end of town from Arches that will let you pitch a tent and use their showers, as long as they have room.