by Carrie Nusbaum
Sometimes schedules don't work out (ugh, jobs), or maybe you are just looking to embrace your independence in solitude, and so you decide to take a wilderness vacation alone. I spent some time camping/hiking/wandering around in Utah recently, stopping first at the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, a park about 20 miles west of Zion, and a 6+ hour drive from Los Angeles. Red Cliffs is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is great because BLM lands are often less developed than other outdoors spaces (therefore less trafficked), and also cheap. According to some fellow campers Red Cliffs is in some seasons a very popular area (if there is a marathon in the area, for example), but maybe because I was there in early May, I spent these few days basically alone.
I camped at an established campground, which was $15/night first-come first-served. You can also camp primitively (see: dispersed camping) within a few limitations basically anywhere on BLM land for free, which is good to know as a young and cheap person. Heads up--while my campsite was beautiful and surrounded by the namesake red cliffs, there were a LOT of fire ants in the area, so I definitely took precautions to avoid getting a bite. I'll spare you my traumatic childhood fire ant story. There are a number of trails in the area, all of which can be accessed easily from the camp site, but my favorite was easily the red reef hike into the nearby canyon.