Camping Itinerary: Mid-April in Rabbit Valley / McInnis Canyons / Colorado National Monument

We’re booked!  Easter Weekend in Rabbit Valley, with a short hop (yuk yuk) to Colorado National Monument.  Want to stay legit? You can easily tent-camp or car-camp this itinerary. We’re going to glamp it in a rental RV.

Trip Goals

  • See a few natural wonders . . . but not too many other people.
  • Find a primitive campsite . . . without flipping our rental RV.
  • Maintain a balance . . . between unplugging and arachnophobia.
Rabbit Valley Trail Map (c) 2013 James Hodge. See full PDF at Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA)

General Plan

Night 1 – Boondock in Rabbit Valley Recreation Area

Night 2 – Boondock in Rabbit Valley again.

Night 3 – Dry camp at Saddlehorn Campground in Colorado National Monument

Are “boondocking” and “dry camping” synonomous? Comments welcome.

Out and About

Our children (ages 8 and 4) hike happily for 1.5 to 2 miles and grudgingly for 2.5 to 3. So everything is flexible. We carry a lot of toilet paper.

Rabbit Valley: Trail through Time Dinosaur Loop (1.5 miles, easy)

This interpretive trail skirts an active fossil quarry.  Here’s a generous description from Colorado West Outdoors. Purists can visit the BLM page.

Rabbit Valley: McDonald Creek Trail (3 to 4.5 miles, easy to moderate)

Petroglyph-hunting in a creekbed canyon..  See this detailed description on Colorado West Outdoors. Or see trailhead directions and a slideshow at  The BLM page is here.

State Line Fossil Area

Colorado West Outdoors, exclusively, seems to have the 411 on this sweet spot. The BLM allows “casual collecting of reasonable amounts of common invertebrate and plant fossils from public lands for personal use.”  Woot!

See this brochure for details and Daniel Hemann’s site for basic fossil identification.

Colorado National Monument: Window Rock Lollipop Loop (1.7 miles, easy)

The trail leaves from the visitor center, but there’s access from Saddlehorn Campground, too.  Either way, we will carefully time our hike to avoid the heaviest crowds. REI’s Hiking Project has a nice little map.

Need an indoor day? The Museum of Western Colorado Dinosaur Journey is right off Interstate I-70 in Fruita, Colorado.

Campsite Activities
(in addition to card games and s’mores)

Clean and catalog our fossils: Daniel Hemann tells us how.

Make Plaster Fossils: The materials are easy to find and pack, and the gratification is near-instant. Here are simple instructions from

While the plaster is out, here’s a brilliant petroglyph craft from NFK: Nature for Kids.

Glamping Equipment

2013 KZ Spree Escape 19 BH (bunks, RV-queen, and slide dinette), from the very pleasant folks at Funshares in Grand Junction.  Towing with our own SUV.

Area Research

Rabbit Valley is an OHV area, but we plan to go north of the freeway based the remarkably generous campsite data from On Borrowed Land and a local trail use map from Stay the Trail Colorado.

If you plant to build a fire, see Utah’s  Fire Restrictions Homepage, the Fire Restrictions Homepage, and Local Fire Ban Status.

Firewood gathering is prohibited in Rabbit Valley. According to other visitors’ photos of local signage, wood fires are prohibited at Saddlehorn Campground (charcoal only).

One thing I learned for certain: camping rules widely vary across the area. This chunk of Colorado is a Venn diagram of public land designations: BLM, Wilderness, National Conservation Area, National Park, some BLM-by-permit use only, and, oh, yeah, a wild mustang protected range.

And let’s not forget the seasonal road closures.

You may need to compare several maps.  Feel free to drop me a note and I’ll share what I’ve got.

That’s it. We’re going. This. Family. Will. Camp.

I don’t yet know whether we are “RV people.” I can’t say that we are not.

But of two things I am certain:

Spiders? Yes. Sorry, kids.

Television? No. Not sorry.


  1. This sounds like a wonderful trip! We’ll be passing through Colorado National Monument this summer, so I’m very much looking forward to reading your trip report. We’ve long held RV rental dreams but will be tent camping/backpacking this go around. You’re creating such fantastic memories for your girls–way to go, Mama!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s