Your family's Pacific Coast Highway camping experience is exactly the reason this native San Diegan retired to Cedar City! Cedar reminds me of the safe and carefree summer weeks spent at my grandparents’ home in Escondido; then, a rural/pastoral suburb of San Diego.
Sorry for the lack of camping facilities/hassle your family experienced. I would have advised against such an adventure for all the reasons you discovered. Father's Day at Brian Head, were we the only ones there!? Oh, how I love my last 9 plus years in beautiful, quiet Cedar City!
Enjoy your columns!