11 Spots With The Best Camping In Utah – Read To The End To Uncover A Hidden Gem

There are many wonderful places to camp all across the US but very few states can offer the natural diversity of Utah. From the lakeside camping grounds of the Great Salt Lake to the surreal Mars-like hoodoo-filled deserts, Utah has it all.

Perhaps you live in Utah and you’re wondering where to go next or perhaps you’re planning your first camping trip there and you don’t know where to start – in either case, this guide to the best camping in Utah will help you find the perfect destination for your next trip.

1. Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley State Park In The Utah Desert

Located near the town of Hanksville, a little over 200 miles south-east of Salt Lake City, Goblin Valley is one of the state’s most well-known and popular places for camping and hiking. It is best known for the hundreds of hoodoos, strange geological formations which are said to resemble goblins.

The park is open year-round but in summer, it can become uncomfortably hot, and the best time to visit is probably in spring or fall. There is plenty of opportunity to hike out to see the goblins and there are trails for mountain bikes, too. It’s a perfect place to take kids to explore as a family.


2. Devil’s Garden

Devil's Garden, Utah

Another area of surreal rock formations, Devil’s Garden in the Arches National Park contains the highest concentration of natural arches in the world. Some of the most famous – and photogenic – of these include the Delicate Arch and the Landscape Arch and they have to be seen to be believed.

The park is located near the town on Moab and is perfect for desert camping. The highlight of any stay is the chance to hike out on the various trails to see the star attraction, the arches themselves, but there is also the possibility for mountain biking and driving off-road vehicles.


3. Fruita Campground

Entrance Of Capitol Reef National Park Viewed From Fruita Campground

Entrance of Capitol Reef National Park viewed from Fruita Campground

The only developed campground in the Capitol Reef National Park, Fruita is a perfect choice for family camping trips. Most of the camping ground is in a shaded area that will protect you from the heat and it is located next to historic orchards where you can pick your own fruit.

The camping sites are first come, first served and tend to fill up very quickly during peak season in spring and fall so you need to arrive early. Fruita is known as an “oasis in the desert” and apart from fruit picking, hiking, horse riding, fishing and ATVs are all on offer.


4. Spruces Campground

Mountain Stream In Spruces Campground, Utah

Mountain stream in Spruces Campground

The Spruces campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon is located only a short drive from Salt Lake City, making it a practical option for people looking who want to spend time outside but don’t have time to venture further afield. The campsite is well maintained and the prices are very reasonable.

The site includes a baseball field, volleyball court and horseshoe pits but what makes it such an attractive choice is the number of hiking trails on offer for almost all levels. There are short hikes suitable for young children and you stand of good chance of glimpsing wildlife including moose.


5. Zion’s Watchman

Zion National Park At Sunset

Zion National Park

The Zion National Park gives you the chance to camp below the towering Watchman cliffs. This is one of the most spectacular and picturesque of all the camping areas in Utah and during the day you can marvel at the views while at night you will be dazzled by the stars.

Unfortunately, this park is no hidden secret and it can become incredibly busy during peak periods. This means you can’t expect any solitude and you definitely need to book ahead. Still, to see Utah’s natural landscape at its most stunning, you should certainly try Zion NP at least once.


6. Wasatch State Park

Spring Wildflowers In Wasatch State Park

Spring Wildflowers At Wasatch State Park In Heber Valley

The Wasatch State Park in the Heber Valley is a camping area for those who don’t like to be idle while they’re away. The activities on offer range from golf, horse riding, mountain biking, hiking and tubing so there’s plenty to keep you active.

Horses By A Wooden Barn In Wasatch State Park, Heber Valley

Horses by a wooden barn in Wasatch State Park, Heber Valley

This is a year-round camping area and in the winter, there is a selection of winter sports available too, including cross-country skiing. There are good amenities and the park is located only about 50 miles south east of Salt Lake City so it’s an ideal destination to escape with a minimum of fuss.


7. Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Amphitheater from Inspiration Point at sunrise

If you enjoy breath-taking geological formations, top of your list might be Bryce Canyon National Park. You can hike out on trails like the Navajo Loop or the Queen’s Garden to take in the most famous sights such as the hoodoo-filled Amphitheater or Thor’s Hammer.

Although most popular in spring and summer, this area is open all year and apart from the usual warm-weather pursuits including hiking and horse riding, the winter months offer the chance for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. First come, first served so arrive early during peak season.


8. Bear Lake State Park

Blue Water Of Bear Lake State Park In Utah

Located on the border with Idaho, there are several camping options at Bear Lake. You can take advantage of white sandy lakeside beaches at Rendezvous Beach, you can make use of the facilities at Bear Lake Marina or there are several more basic camp grounds on the east side of the lake.

The lake itself is obviously the main draw here and you can expect to take part in a range of water-based activities including fishing, sailing, water skiing, or even scuba diving. Reserve in advance if you want to stay on Rendezvous Beach or at the Marina.


9. Antelope Island

Antelope Island State Park, Bison

Bison In Antelope Island

Antelope Island is the perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts. This is the largest of the ten islands on the Great Salt Lake and is home to a herd of 600 American bison as well as antelope, deer, porcupine, badger and coyote.

The lake offers a multitude of water-based activities including sailing and kayaking, and on the island, it is possible to explore on foot, mountain bike or horseback. Note that the campsites are all primitive with pit toilets and no shower facilities. Gnats are a major annoyance from April to July.


10. American Fork Canyon

American Fork Canyon, Utah

An extremely popular part of the state for camping, American Fork Canyon boast rugged Alpine scenery, waterfalls, attractive terrain and snow-topped ridges. There are two campgrounds, Little Mill with 66 campsites and Granite Flat with 64.

A Picnic Spot In American Fork Canyon

One of the picnic spots in American Fork Canyon

There are plenty of scenic hiking options or you may choose to drive the 7.5-mile Alpine Loop road. Also in the area is the Timpanogos Cave National monument which is worth a detour. Bear in mind, the Canyon is very popular and you now have to pay to drive in even if you don’t camp.


11. Little Grand Canyon

The Wedge - Little Grand Canyon

Sunrise over Little Grand Canyon, at "The Wedge"

The Little Grand Canyon is something of a hidden treasure that receives far fewer visitors than the more famous Canyonlands and Arches nearby. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and should appeal to someone wishing to try escape the crowds.

The camp grounds, which are first come, first served, offer access to excellent hiking or the chance to simply relax in a place less frequented by the usual tourist hordes. Spring and fall are the best times as summer can be scorching hot and winter numbingly cold.

Conclusion

Some of these camping areas in Utah are among my favorites in the whole of the US. I love the scale of everything, the way it makes me feel so small and insignificant compared to the grandeur of mother nature. This really is the great outdoors at its very best.

Which are your favorite camping spots in Utah? Have I missed any out? Do you know of any undiscovered treasures you want to share? If you liked my article, please leave me a comment – and don’t forget to share with your friends!

Julie McClain
 

Chief editor here at Outdoorzer. I'm an outdoor lover and ever since I was a little girl, I've worked hard to learn all I could from my Dad about Camping, Hiking, RVs and surviving in the woods.

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