Campsites are tucked in the pygmy pinyon-juniper forest on the mesas above Moab, yet offer great views. Individual sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. One group site, Horsethief Group Site, is available for reservation through Recreation.gov. The area has many 4WD roads and mountain bike routes nearby. The campground is close to Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. Individual Sites: 55 (limited to 10 people & two vehicles per site); Group Site: 1 (reservable); Water: No; Toilets: Yes; Hook-ups: No. (Note: this is a different recreation site from the "Horsethief Camp" located in the Needles, CA area).
Stayed 7/17/20 - $20/night
We stopped here for just one night to experience Canyonlands and Arches. We setup here in the afternoon after deciding on this place over a dispersed area on 191. We picked 23 because it was next to the bathrooms(vault toilets) and what we thought were the best views. The bathroom did start to smell, so next time we’d probably setup a few sites down.
After returning from a night-hike at Delicate Arch, we came home to the Big Dipper sitting above our tent. This was a great area, although not very private. A typical campground setup, we were just lucky that there were maybe only 3 other groups at the time. If I were to do a similar trip again, I’d most likely go for the free dispersed area back on 191. I love the campground, but I would have been just as happy down the road and to save the$20.
Vault toilets and no problems with AT&T cell service.
This campground is situated conveniently in-between Arches and Canyonlands. I’ve stayed here a few times and I’ve never seen it full so it’s an easy spot to get a FCFS site. It’s also usually quiet, clean, and away from town.
It helps that most of the sites also have a great view.
This campground is located about 10 minutes outside of Canyonlands - Island in the Sky and 35 minutes from the Arches entrance station. The sites are spread out enough, but I could see it being loud and crowded in the busy season.
We were one of three groups in the whole canpground, including group sites. The pit toilets were clean, there's a dumpster available and each site had a leveled tent pad, fire ring with grate and picnic table. We set up to a gorgeous sunset, and woke up to a full on blizzard.
The campground is rather quiet with ample space between sites. No water, but vault toilets were clean. It’s conveniently located just outside of Dead Horse state park and Canyonlands National Park: Island in the sky entrance. We stayed here one night because we couldn’t find camping in the NP at Island in the sky (willow flat) campground. Very clean and on the RV side of the campground had nice big flat areas for tents. The fee was $20 and you payed at those iron ranger kiosk’s (envelope drop). Would stay here again as the temperature stayed 10 degrees cooler than downtown Moab.
A nice little campground with some trees to set up under for shade. We were hit with a small wind storm in the middle of the night and woke up covered in sand, but that’s Utah! The views over the canyons are stunning during sunset. Far fewer mosquitoes up here than in any campsite in the canyons. Bike access directly from the campground to great MTB trails nearby. Our one complaint - as with most BLM campsites, there is no pot sink, shower, or access to water so make sure to bring lots with you! Close to Canyonlands and Moab.
Great access to two National Parks, plus mountain biking for all skill levels! The trails from the campground are considered "easy" but more intermediate and advanced trail systems are not far away, including the amazing trail system at Dead Horse Point State Park. Gravel/sand riding is also an option, there are several jeep trails that are quite enjoyable. After you burn your legs out from all that riding, make sure to check out Arches and Canyonlands for breathtaking scenery and an amazing cultural experience.
This campground has an amazing family friendly and welcoming atmosphere. If you're lucky to snag a spot before its full, I highly recommend this campground.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I occasionally have the opportunity to test out gear from time to time. On this trip, the conditions were perfect to test out the Aftershokz Trekz Air Headphones. These are THE headphones for active sports. They are bone conducting and sit on the edge of your ears. This allows you to hear noises around you while listening to music. This is fairly important while mountain biking; e.g. when your partner yells "SHARP LEFT" to you to avoid crumpling into a juniper tree while listening to "Hooked on a Feeling" (ooga chaka ooga chaka).
It did take some trial and error to figure out the right part of my head for the headphones to work the best (my husband on the other hand had no problem when he gave them a try). They hook over the ears, but the sound mechanism itself needs to sit on the bones that are in front of your ears. Once I figured that out, operating them while wearing sunglasses and a bike helmet was no problem. They are so lightweight, they were unnoticeable aside from the sound of the music I was playing. Yet they were still secure: they stayed in place even while making a bumpy, rocky descent.
Pros: Lightweight; can hear other humans, cars, etc; great sound quality; ease of use; water/sweat resistance; easy to clean; fits under helmet; fits with glasses; ability to take calls; stays in place.
Cons: Optimum sound quality may take a few uses to dial in; not noise cancelling (but earplugs were included if you need this).
I will be making the Aftershokz Trekz Air Headphones a part of my kit for biking, climbing, running, and skiing. Their small size and convenient carry case makes them ideal for travel.
After a day of exploring Arches National Park and having Canyonlands in our sites for the next day, we needed a place to sleep. Being the "fly by the seat of our pants" folks that we are, we had made no prior plans. Dead Horse Point was full so we made our way over to Horsethief Campground. We grabbed the last open site!
It was pretty standard campground camping. Enclosed vault toilets, picnic tables, fire pits, designated tent pads, scrub and trees between sites. I will say the toilets smelled super clean and there was not a piece of trash or paper anywhere. Considering the place was totally full, there must have been a lot of detail paid to cleanliness. We did some walking, some chatting with neighbors, and some pictures of the sunset. The next morning we woke up to a couple inches of snow! Made for our day in Canyonlands a bit of a bummer as it was cold, snowy, and foggy.
This is a great spot to stay for it's proximity to Arches, Canyonlands, and Moab. Not much in the way of cover or protection so inclement weather may not be very fun. Shoulder season where you are not seeking shade or cover from rain, it's great! If location is everything, Horsethief gets an A+!
Great bike trails and fun for kids to explore!
Campground Review: First let me say, I have stayed at this campground before and reviewed it so check out that other review for additional information as I am going to try to provide new info about the surrounding area. Horsethief is a standard BLM managed campground. It has well maintained and stocked pit toilets, an on-site camp host in the peak season, dumpsters for trash, picnic tables, metal fire pits, and marked and level tent spots. Each camp site has room for at least two vehicles and accommodates both trailers and tents. It does not have hook-ups but it is easily accessible by both pull behind trailers or RVs. This stay was in early November. It was busy during the weekend but was dead during the week. I think my husband was one of the only sites occupied during the week which makes for a quiet camping trip. It was also quite cold—dipping into the 20s at night. So if you plan to visit in October, November, or December prepare for cold even though you are in the desert. We had a little propane heater in the tent which was quite nice. One other difference between my visit in the spring and my late fall visit was it was not overly windy. There was a slight breeze on occasion but not the high winds we experienced in the spring. We love this campground and will definitely return in our multiple trips to Moab. One final thing to note, is this camp ground is either expanding or they are building another campground right across the road because of the increased demand for quality camping close to mountain biking. I don’t have an ETA on when the new loops will be open for campers but this is great news due to the increased visitors to this site.
Horsethief Campground has become our go-to campground when we are coming to Moab to mostly mountain bike. As I mention in my other review, this spot it very centrally located and you can visit Canyonlands NP, Arches NOP, and Deadhorse State Park all within a 15 minute drive. However, the real convenience of this campground is its proximity to world class mountain biking. Every time we come, we see more and more sites filled with people with their mountain bikes in tow. We did bike this trip but because of the cold, we waited to bike until it warmed up a little bit. But anyway, this campsite is so convenient to world class mountain biking and trails for all ability levels. You can ride to Horsetheif, Mag 7, Navajo Rocks, Gold Bar (via Gemini Bridges Rd which is a dirt road), and you are a 10-15 minute car ride from the Klondike, Klonzo and Bar M trails. You can also easily arrange a bike shuttle for one way trips. My husband and I were able to do a shuttle between the two of us—we dropped the Jeep off at a trail head down the road, then over biked 12 miles to the car from our campsite then drove back. Super easy and convenient and the go-to site for mountain bikers.
Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get the opportunity to test out gear from our awesome partners from time to time. This time, I was able to test out the Midland MXT275 MicroMobile base station. I have also had the opportunity to test out another product from Midland (the X-TALKER T51X3VP3 Two-Way Radio) which we used when testing out the base station. My husband and I installed this in our Jeep Wrangler which has been out fitted for rock crawling (hence why we are in Moab a lot). First impressions: this little unit was super easy to install and use right out of the box. My husband loves radios and communication devices and has a CB, Ham Radio, and now GMRS radio all installed in the Jeep. He was able to fit the small, and sleek device easily among all his gadgets without taking up too much space. You can hardwire the radio into the vehicle or just plug it into the cigarette lighter (12v power jack). We used the plug in so we can unplug it if we are not going to be using it for a while. One other benefit is it has a USB port which allows you to charge other devices (like your hand held radios) while driving. It has 15 channels—half of which provide a higher power transmit (since it does not have a mic gain) to improve range. It is also feels really durable considering it is a small, compact and sleek unit. We are not easy on our gear and we feel this unit will be able to take a beating.
Usage Impressions: My husband was able to test out this in a variety of situations. He tested range with his friend who was sitting at home (using a non-Midland radio) in Heber City, UT and Jeremy was driving. He was able to get about 10 miles in this situation with super clear sound and transmission. We also tested range between two moving vehicles driving on Highway 6 to Moab. The jeep obviously had the base station and I had a handheld X-talker in my car. We were able to get at least 5 miles between vehicles while both were moving and going through the winding canyons/mountain passes. We were also on the higher channels which boosts the transmission signals. One huge bonus was the volume of the speaker. It was loud enough to be heard clearly over the elevated road noise of driving a lifted Jeep at high speeds on the highway. He came through super clear on my handheld and I couldn’t detect much of the surrounding noise.
Overall evaluation: we love this little unit. It just allows us to have another means of communication when we are traveling in the backcountry and cell reception is spotty. The sound quality cannot be beat and has the same quality whether you are using another Midland radio or a different brand. How we foresee using this more in the future, is when we are backcountry car camping or hunting where we need to set up some type of base camp while we go out and explore. It will also be great when we are doing bike shuttles and people aren’t stopping at the same trail heads. If you are looking to get a non-handheld radio that has awesome range, clarity and durability for a great price—the MXT275 MicroMobile base station should be on your short list of options if not the only one.
A great alternative when the Island in the Sky Campground at Canyonlands is full (or if you're just looking for something else up on the mesa), Horsethief Campground is a relatively well developed BLM campground. There are pit toilets, established tent pads, fire pits, and picnic tables at each site. I camped the first week of October and arrived after 5pm yet there were still several sites to choose from. The campground filled up as the evening went on.
Note that at certain times of the year there is NO WATER anywhere up by the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands, at Dead Horse State Park, or elsewhere. Make sure you have enough water before you begin your ascent.
Horsethief Campground is a few miles away from the Canyonlands entrance and thus it's easy to get between the two in a matter of minutes. There are also mountain bike trails and hiking trails that leave from Horsethief campground. The views are incredible no matter which trail you take.
I got up early in the morning to drive into Canyonlands to see the sunrise at Mesa Arch. It was beautiful and very much worth the early morning but it was also very crowded with other people to watch the sunrise.