Top 5 Favorite Campgrounds of 2020

Top 5 Favorite Campgrounds of 2020

2560 1920 Kristi Corder

For many of you, 2020 probably wasn’t a great year. You may have been stuck at home with the kids, sick with Covid, or perhaps lost a loved one during the pandemic. While our family had a rough ending to 2020, we continued to live life as usual for the first 9 months. So just as we shared with you in 2019, we wanted to share with you our top 5 favorite campgrounds of 2020.

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If you’ve followed our journey for any length of time, you know we have a long list of campgrounds we’ve stayed at as a family. In 2020, we spent all of our time in the western half of the United States from Texas over to California and as far north as the Canadian border. We boondocked 197 nights during the year, spent 84 nights at campgrounds/RV parks, had 73 nights of moochdocking, and 12 nights spent at our sticks and bricks in Texas moving out of our house after it sold. So we have quite a few places to choose from. Here are our favorites.

Favorite Campgrounds #1: Saddle Mountain BLM

Saddle Mountain BLM
Photo courtesy of Diary of a Family

If you read our Top 5 Favorite Campgrounds of 2019 blog post, you will notice this same boondocking spot in that post. Yet again, Peyton has claimed Saddle Mountain BLM as his top pick. Usually, his favorite place is where we currently are. He has a way of living in the moment (which isn’t a bad thing at all), but we were completely shocked that he chose this one again despite not being at Saddle Mountain currently.

We only stayed at Saddle Mountain for a short time. It actually wasn’t even on our radar for 2020, but we had a child who had a dental emergency that needed to be taken care of while in Arizona. Since this spot is free, first-come, first-served, and is located just west of Phoenix, AZ, it made for the perfect place to stay at the last minute.

Peyton said he chose this place for a few reasons. First, he got to play with his friend Wyatt again. Wyatt and his family were our neighbors at the 2019 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta who we also ended up meeting up with on many other occasions throughout 2020. We also knew there were 5 other Fulltime Families staying there, so meeting new friends is high on his priority list. And finally, he got to climb the mountain all day every day, and help build a fort. Yes, folks, it’s all about friends for him.

Favorite Campgrounds #2: Auxiliary Dam Recreation Site

Auxiliary Dam Recreation Site

We were told from the time we arrived (well, really the next day because we arrived in the dark), that this was Abi’s favorite camping spot ever. We figured with all the other interesting places we would be visiting in 2020, that it would likely change. But here we are writing this post in 2021 and she still chose it as her favorite.

When asked why she picked this as her favorite place we camped in 2020, she said:

I liked it because we got to camp right next to the water and we got to kayak.

We tried to get her to tell us more, but she continued to repeat that she liked it because we got to camp right next to the water. Ha! Ha! Straight and to the point. I guess we’ll have it pretty easy when deciding on future places to stay.

Auxiliary Dam Recreation Site is located on Lake Isabella in Lake Isabella, CA. It’s one of a couple of sites on the lake and is just south of Sequoia National Park. It’s considered a National Forest area and has a $10 fee if you don’t have the National Parks Pass. There are no hookups, but there is a dump in the area (which was closed when we were there). The views are wonderful and the weather was fairly nice for early March.

Favorite Campgrounds #3: Twin Hollows Canyon Dispersed Camping

When we first asked Allison to name her favorite place from our 2020 travels, she answered Grand Tetons National Park. We had to restate the question to find out her favorite camping spot. Without hesitation, she answered Twin Hollows Canyon. Well, she actually answered:

That place in Utah that we camped by the creek and Peyton and those girls caught snakes.

This was her favorite spot for one reason and one reason only: the creek. And just like her sister, as long as we’re near water I think we’ve made her day. She was the first to hop out of the truck and head down to the creek when we arrived.

Twin Hollows Canyon is located on BLM land in Mount Carmel, UT. It’s free to camp there, has quite a few spots that will fit bigger RVs, and there are no hookups. But it’s close proximity to Zion National Park can’t be beat. It’s located only 15 minutes from the east entrance of Zion National Park. It’s got great views and cool hikes for the family, but can get kind of noisy from ATVs driving along the dirt road.

Favorite Campgrounds #4: Capitol Reef Overflow Dispersed Camping

Capitol Reef Overflow Dispersed Camping

Hands down, Capitol Reef Overflow is Kristi’s pick for 2020. As we always say, we love boondocking and wide-open spaces. The bright blue skies contrasted with the towering red rocks made for beautiful evening scenery. And this spot is just outside the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park making after-work exploration super easy to do.

Because this is boondocking, campsites are first-come, first-served and there is no cost for camping. There’s easy access to this area off Highway 24, but as you turn onto the dirt road you quickly encounter large rocks which make for a bumpy ride in. Once off the paved road, you can just pull into any open spot you can find here.

While there was room for our 39′ fifth wheel, we might suggest that if you have a large RV you consider another boondocking area down the road. It was a bear trying to get in, turned around, and set up in this tight and unlevel area. The area where we parked was one of only a handful of spots a large RV can park. But if there’s room, Kristi says GO FOR IT!! You won’t be sorry.

Oh, but beware of the wind!

Favorite Campgrounds #5: Upper Teton View – Toppings Lake Dispersed Campsites

Upper Teton View - Toppings Lake Dispersed Campsites
Photo courtesy of The Traveling Tysingers

And the final spot on our top 5 favorite campgrounds of 2020 is Brent’s pick. Upper Teton View – Toppings Lake Dispersed Campsites was pretty darned spectacular. This picture taken by our friends The Traveling Tysingers pretty much sums up the reason Brent loved this boondocking spot.

As was said in our 2019 post, he loves a bit of a challenge. This campsite is located just off Highway 191 that courses through Grand Teton National Park. Once you make the turn off the road, you head into the National Forest on a bumpy dirt road. At one point the road splits into two ONE LANE roads. To get to Upper Teton View, you have to take the one-lane road on the left and go up the mountain and around curves where you can see no other vehicles that might be coming the opposite direction.

Because this area is technically on National Forest land, it is free for boondocking and limited to a 5 day stay during peak season. As you can see in the photo, there were a number of large RVs camped out with this gorgeous view. What made it even better…all of these other campers were our friends! This is a great place to stay should you want to trek into Grand Teton National Park or drive another 45 minutes into Yellowstone National Park.

Do you have a favorite campground you visited in 2020 that you’d include on this list? Leave a reply in the comments at the bottom of this page and let us know about it!