Dows Trekking & Camping along Highway #191
An Arizona couple who have toured and documented almost every national forest campground in the nation recently passed through the Moab, Utah, area on yet another of their working vacations.
“It’s a tough life,” joked Suzi Dow after spending a day surveying campgrounds on the La Sal Mountain range, where they spotted, among other things, a cowgirl on horseback moving a herd of cattle. Dow and her husband Fred live in Bisbee, Ariz., but have spent a significant amount of time on the road since they first began the project 19 years ago.
As the Moab Times-Independent reported, back in 1994, during a visit to Virginia, the Dows had trouble finding any information online about the Jefferson National Forest campground where they ended up staying. That experience prompted them to develop a website that would provide detailed and comprehensive information on all of the country’s National Forest campgrounds, Suzi Dow said. Their website, www.forestcamping.com, created with the blessing of the U.S. Forest Service, is now filled with hundreds of reviews and thousands of photographs.
Suzi Dow noted that she and Fred reached their goal a couple of years ago of visiting every one of the 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands in the country, along with virtually every campground located therein (more than 2,400 in all). She said they are now in the process of revisiting some of the sites in order to update the information on their website. They also regularly receive tips from fellow campers regarding updates and corrections, she said.
The Dows’ current trip, which they bill as “the road less traveled,” is to follow the nearly 1,600-mile route of U.S. 191 from southern Arizona all the way up to the Canadian border. Along the way, they’ll pass through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. The trip, which started in mid-July, will take them through six national forests, four national monuments, three national parks and six state parks, Suzi Dow said, adding that when side trips are taken into account, this summer’s adventure will cover more than 2,000 miles.
Suzi Dow said they chose the U.S. 191 route at the suggestion of a reader.
“This is not a major commercial roadway but a route of two lanes better suited to motorcycle traffic than big 18-wheel trucks,” Suzi Dow said. “There are few roads that can claim a traveler will be able to experience vast stretches of open landscape one day and climb mountains that catch clouds the next.”
Fred Dow said the scenic qualities along U.S. 191 might surprise travelers.
“There are places where wind and rain have carved unbelievable formations and people have lived among those structures since before Columbus reached the New World’s shores,” he said. “Highway 191 is a humble road (that) no one thinks is worthy of a Scenic Byway designation. It is often overlooked by travelers, but we think it has so many possibilities.”
The Dows spent five days in Moab in late July, staying in their 31-foot motorhome in a local RV park in town at night, then traveling to various target campgrounds during the daytime and documenting them.
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