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I visited Spider Rock and met the proprietor Howard Smith 20 years ago. He is still there maintaining this spacious campground on his own. It is rough around the edges but you will be very close to the rim of the canyon and within a short drive of amazing access points via car and foot. The campground has no amenities and is covered with a layer of fine red dust, but we did just fine in our 17-foot Casita RV. Call before you go to find out about limitations as the Navajo Nation has been hard hit by Covid. Don't miss the hike down into the canyon to see the White House (named after the large cliff dwelling ruin cut into white rock). The canyon is breathtaking: red cliffs surround lush-looking pastures cared for by Navajo inhabitants but off limits unless you access via Lighthouse Trail, which offers limited access to the canyon floor, or arrange a guided tour.
Great laundry with big washers and driers and lots of space to fold clothes. The bathrooms are big and very clean. Owner was so great and so kind. Will stay again when passing through. Only downside is there are no trees or grass but it was perfect for what we needed!
Nice quiet FREE place to stay the night even though there were quite a few campers. Camping is in the parking lot area and basically any pull off you can find a space. If you’re in a tent just hike off anywhere and pitch it for the night. There are no trail markers so just be aware while exploring the very cool formations. Off hwy 371, at the T in the road turn left (Google maps said to turn right just FYI) continue down to parking lot or along the road.
There are pit toilets, no water or garbage. I was able to get AT&T and Verizon cell reception.
This campground is more like a parking lot with extended canyons for camping. You can set up shop right on the outskirts of the parking lot on the flat ground or in the nearby canyons or turnoffs on the road to get the the parking lot.
There is a pit toilet located there that is really well taken care of. There is also a picnic shelter for those super hot days when you are in need of shade.
You can also backpack across the wilderness area as well. You will need to check the weather and supply extra water since there is not much shade and no water sources.
For Hiking: We used Gaia GPS to pinpoint our coordinates to the "cool" spots and ended up getting detoured due to really cool formations all over the place. We were like moths to flames. It is such a cool spot and LOTS to see!
Gear review: Banner and Oak Freedom to Explore hat
Occasionally as a Ranger we get the opportunity to test out some gear from time to time. I got this hat for my partner and he wanted to test it out for a while before we reviewed it so we thought this was the perfect opportunity. You can find the hat here: https://bannerandoak.com/collections/hats/products/horizon-olive
This hat is extremely fashionable and comfortable. The color is a perfect Olive with black writing that says "Freedom To Explore". There is a mesh lining on the inner front of the hat that helps with sweat and heat. It also keeps you from getting a line across your forehead when removing the hat. He wore it all day and didn't take it off once for it being too loose or too tight. Even after a week fo wearing it everyday it didn't get that gross sweat smell that normal hats get.
The back of the hat has a buckle closure instead of snaps so it lays nice on the back of your head and doesn't dig in.
For a lot of people, close to town might be a good thing. For us it meant that we could hear the main road all night but we were in a scenic spot. It says there is a toilet but we didn’t find it.
We are here for camping because we wanted to go to town for a real meal (sorry mountain house!) and didn’t want to drive back to Bisti but there were no campsites found online near Shiprock.
We pulled into the first site and it was full of garbage. Like a dumpster exploded.
We drove father down and found a spot in the wash. We know it’s not ideal in most camping scenarios to be in a wash. But there was 0 chance of precipitation.
Our site ended up great as long as you don’t mind sunset sounds of people heading back towards their camps for the night. The size of the area makes it seem more secluded that it is. The site was large and there are many places to pull off and camp at night out here.
Indian Route 12 runs north to south and bisects the wheatfields lake and the main campground areas. Overnight camping and fires are discouraged along the lake but people get away with it. There is sporadic night traffic on the roadway throughout the night and it is sometimes loud. The campsites are hit and miss. Some have old dilapidated picnic tables and along with sandstone fire rings or barriers. The roads to the campsite are not graded and over time roads have been created through campsites with no regard.
There are 3 compost type toilet facilities at various parts of the lake. No running water. There are some trash receptacles but most leave their trash in piles next to the receptacles because the chutes to the receptacles are about 12x12 and wont accommodate a large trash bag. There are numerous stray dogs in the area that take advantage of the trash piles.
Fishing: I have only seen small rainbow trout. Stockers from the Navajo Hatchery in Toadlena NM. There is no motorized access to the east side of the lake as it was blocked off years back by metal tube barriers.
Too many rude fishers and kids running around unchecked. Fiddling with your fishing area and fishing gear.
Stayed here two night so we could hike and horse back ride in canyon de Chelly. This campground could be better the grasse in the site needed to be mowed. It’s a nice location close to the opening of the canyon and horseback rides are across the street. Be careful what you leave out theft here is a problem, we had our bumper hitch stolen while we were in town shopping.
… As far as campgrounds go, I would not choose this spot. It is close to a scenic national monument and is located right at the entrance and is easy to get in and out of. That is where the positives end. It is sparse and fairly packed. It doesn't have a ton of vegetation as it is in the desert so expert dirty and hot. The monument itself is worth experiencing but I wouldn't plan for it to be a destination, just a pit stop. I won't stay here again.
So open and wide in this state park, the sky is beautiful and the rocks are orange. I remember going here when I was younger and to revisit is just amazing. I would defiantly recommend this state park to anyone.