The Camping in Utah Guide: What Are the Best Sites? 

The Camping in Utah Guide

The Camping in Utah Guide: What Are the Best Sites? 

Utah, with its breathtaking landscapes and vast wilderness areas, offers some of the best camping experiences in the United States. From the rugged beauty of the northern mountains to the red rock wonders of the southern desert, camping in Utah is a must-do for outdoor enthusiasts. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best camping in Utah, covering both the northern and southern parts of the state. We’ll also highlight the top spots for every season, including where to go for winter camping. 

If you need camping or outdoor gear of any kind in Utah, we can help! We’re located off Redwood Road in South Salt Lake and sell everything from wool hiking socks to camping knives and dome tents!

Camping in Southern Utah 

Southern Utah is like a dream come true for campers. We’ve come up with a list of the top spots to pitch your tent in Southern Utah, where each place offers its special slice of the great outdoors. 

1. Zion National Park 

Zion National Park is a jewel in the crown of Southern Utah’s camping destinations. With its massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky, Zion offers a backdrop for camping like no other. The Watchman Campground is particularly popular, providing spectacular views of the Watchman Tower. Special considerations include the need for permits for certain areas and the popularity of the park, which means reservations are recommended well in advance. The best time to visit Zion for camping is during spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) when the temperatures are mild, and the park is less crowded. 

View Of Zion National Park

2. Bryce Canyon National Park 

Bryce Canyon, famous for its unique hoodoo rock formations and natural amphitheaters, offers a magical camping experience. North Campground and Sunset Campground are among the favorites, placing you within walking distance of the canyon’s rim and the breathtaking views of the amphitheaters at sunrise and sunset. Winter camping here is also an option, with snow-capped hoodoos providing a stunning contrast against the clear blue skies. The best times to camp are late spring through early fall, with cooler temperatures and reduced snow levels making the park’s hiking trails more accessible.

3. Capitol Reef National Park 

Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem, with fewer crowds and equally impressive landscapes. The Fruita Campground, set among historic orchards where you can pick fresh fruit, offers a blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. The park’s unique geologic features, including the Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile-long warp in the Earth’s crust, make it a fascinating place for camping and exploration. Late spring to early fall is ideal for visiting Capitol Reef, with pleasant weather for hiking and exploring the park’s scenic drives and backcountry roads. 

4. Arches National Park 

Arches National Park is world-renowned for its over 2,000 natural stone arches, as well as hundreds of soaring pinnacles, giant fins, and balanced rocks. The Devils Garden Campground provides an immersive experience, allowing you to wake up to stunning views of these natural formations. Summer can be extremely hot, so the best times to camp are spring and fall when the temperatures are cooler, and the park’s beauty can be fully appreciated without the sweltering heat. 

5. Canyonlands National Park 

Canyonlands invites campers to explore a vast wilderness of canyons carved by the Colorado River, offering a more rugged and remote camping experience. The Needles District’s Squaw Flat Campground is a standout, providing easy access to some of the park’s most impressive hikes and panoramic vistas. Special considerations include the remote location, requiring campers to bring all necessary supplies. The best time to visit Canyonlands for camping is in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, making it perfect for exploring the park’s extensive trail network and enjoying the spectacular night skies. 

6. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offers countless opportunities for backcountry camping amidst its multi-hued cliffs, canyons, and plateaus. The monument’s sheer size and remote nature mean you can find solitude and unspoiled natural beauty. Dispersed camping is widely available, allowing for a true wilderness experience. The best times to visit are spring and fall, when the desert temperatures are bearable, and the risk of flash floods is lower. This area requires campers to be self-sufficient and practice Leave No Trace principles, as facilities are minimal. 

6. Grand Staircase-Escalante National M

7. Goblin Valley State Park 

Goblin Valley State Park stands out with its distinctive landscape, characterized by hoodoo rock formations that strikingly resemble goblins. This landscape serves as an inviting arena for enthusiasts of hiking, photography, and family outings, providing a blend of adventure and natural beauty. The clarity of the night sky here is unparalleled, ideal for stargazing enthusiasts. 

The campground itself is equipped with essential amenities such as potable water, restrooms, and showers, ensuring a comfortable stay. Visiting in late spring or early fall is advisable, as these periods offer the optimal balance of agreeable daytime temperatures and cool evenings.

8. Cedar Breaks National Monument 

Situated at over 10,000 feet in elevation, Cedar Breaks National Monument presents a cooler camping option during the hot summer months. The Point Supreme Campground offers stunning views of the amphitheater’s deep colors and is a great base for hiking, wildflower viewing in early summer, and stargazing. Due to its high elevation, the campground is only open from June to September, making summer the best time to visit. The area around Cedar Breaks also offers opportunities for alpine meadow explorations and is known for its brilliant displays of wildflowers, especially in July and August.

9. Kodachrome Basin State Park 

Named for its colorful rock formations and spires, Kodachrome Basin State Park offers a tranquil alternative to the nearby national parks. With over 67 monolithic stone spires known as sedimentary pipes, the park’s landscape is unique to say the least. The campground provides amenities and access to a variety of trails that showcase the park’s geological features. The park is particularly beautiful in the spring and fall, with mild temperatures perfect for hiking and photography. Its relative obscurity compared to Utah’s national parks makes it a peaceful retreat for campers looking for a quieter experience. 

Kodachrome Basin State Park

10. Bears Ears National Monument 

The area is a mosaic of ancient ruins, petroglyphs, and natural wonders. Dispersed camping is available throughout the monument, offering an opportunity to connect with the land in solitude. The best times to camp here are during the spring and fall to avoid the extreme summer heat and winter cold. Camping in Bears Ears requires a high level of self-sufficiency and respect for the cultural and natural resources.

Camping in Northern Utah 

Northern Utah rolls out a whole different kind of outdoor charm for campers, swapping Southern Utah’s red rock vistas for lush forests, sparkling lakes, and rugged mountain landscapes. Enjoy the list we’ve compiled of the top camping destinations in Northern Utah: 

1. Bear Lake State Park 

Famously known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its intense turquoise-blue water, Bear Lake State Park is a prime destination for campers seeking both beauty and water activities. The park offers several campgrounds around the lake, with Rendezvous Beach and Bear Lake Marina Campgrounds being among the most popular. Summer is the best time to visit for swimming, boating, and enjoying the famous raspberry shakes at the local festival in July. The lake’s vastness offers ample opportunity for waterfront camping, fishing, and even scuba diving in its clear waters. 

2. Antelope Island State Park 

Located in the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island State Park offers a surreal camping experience with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The island is home to free-ranging bison, mule deer, and antelope, making wildlife watching a unique aspect of camping here. The Bridger Bay Campground provides stunning sunset and sunrise views over the lake. Spring and fall are ideal times to visit to avoid the summer bugs and heat. 

Antelope Island State Park

3. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest 

This vast national forest offers countless camping opportunities in the rugged Uinta Mountains and the Wasatch Range. From high alpine meadows to serene lakeside spots, campgrounds like Mirror Lake and Christmas Meadows are perfect for those seeking a wilderness escape. The area is renowned for its extensive hiking and mountain biking trails, fishing, and scenic drives. Late spring through early fall is the best time to camp, with snow lingering in the higher elevations until early summer and beautiful fall foliage appearing in September. 

4. Tony Grove Lake Campground 

Nestled in the Logan Canyon at an elevation of over 8,000 feet, Tony Grove Lake Campground offers a cool retreat during the hot summer months. The area is famous for its wildflower displays in July and numerous hiking trails that range from easy strolls to challenging hikes. The lake itself is a serene spot for canoeing and fishing. The campground is well-developed, providing a comfortable base for exploring the surrounding Cache National Forest. Due to its high elevation, the best time to visit is from July to September when the road to the lake and campground is snow-free.

Tony Grove Lake Campground

5. Snowbasin Resort 

While primarily known as a winter ski destination, Snowbasin Resort transforms into a camping and outdoor paradise during the summer. The resort offers RV and tent camping with access to its lifts for mountain biking, hiking, and scenic gondola rides. The resort’s summer concerts and events add a unique entertainment aspect to camping here. With cooler temperatures than the valley below, it’s an excellent summer camping destination.

6. Pineview Reservoir 

Surrounded by the picturesque Ogden Valley and the Wasatch Mountains, Pineview Reservoir is a hotspot for water enthusiasts and campers alike. Anderson Cove Campground provides lakeside camping with amenities, perfect for those looking to swim, boat, or fish in the warm waters of the reservoir. The surrounding trails offer opportunities for hiking and mountain biking. Summer is the peak season for camping at Pineview Reservoir, with the warm weather making water activities a major draw.

8. Willard Bay State Park 

Just north of Ogden, Willard Bay State Park is a freshwater reservoir with two marinas and ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and waterskiing. The Cottonwood and Willow Creek campgrounds offer shaded spots with easy access to the water, making it a perfect summer getaway. The park is also home to a unique wetland area, providing excellent bird watching, especially during migration seasons in spring and fall. 

Winter Camping In Utah 

Winter camping in Utah offers a unique experience, with snow transforming the landscape into a quiet scenic backdrop. We’ve identified a few key spots ideal for those looking to brave the cold and enjoy the outdoors in a different setting. 

1. Mill Creek Canyon 

Just a short drive from Salt Lake City, Mill Creek Canyon is a favorite among locals for winter recreation. While formal campgrounds are closed during winter, backcountry camping is allowed with appropriate permits. The canyon is renowned for its cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails that wind through snow-laden forests and past frozen streams. The easy access from the city makes it a perfect quick getaway for those looking to immerse themselves in a winter wonderland without venturing too far from home comforts. 

2. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest – Mirror Lake Area 

While the Mirror Lake Highway is closed to vehicles during the winter, the Mirror Lake area of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest becomes a secluded haven for winter campers willing to trek in. The area is accessible by snowmobile, skis, or snowshoes, offering a true backcountry experience amidst the towering peaks of the Uintas. The stillness of the snow-covered landscape, punctuated by the occasional track of wildlife, makes for an unforgettable winter camping trip. 

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest - Mirror Lake Area

3. Dead Horse Point State Park 

While most famous for its breathtaking views over the Colorado River and Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point State Park also offers a peaceful winter camping experience. The park’s yurts provide a cozy shelter from the cold, equipped with heating to ensure a comfortable stay. Winter brings a tranquil atmosphere to the park, with fewer visitors and snow-capped views that are simply unmatched. The clear, cold nights are perfect for stargazing, free from the light pollution found in more populated areas. 

4. Dinosaur National Monument – Split Mountain Campground 

Dinosaur National Monument, straddling the Utah-Colorado border, offers a unique winter camping experience at the Split Mountain Campground, open year-round. The campground sits among dramatic scenery where the Green River cuts through ancient rock formations. Winter in the monument is quiet, offering a stark beauty and solitude not found during the busier summer months. Hiking trails and petroglyph sites remain accessible, weather permitting, allowing for exploration of the area’s rich history and geology under a blanket of snow. 

The Camping in Utah Guide Conclusion 

Utah’s diverse landscapes offer unparalleled camping experiences, from the red rock deserts of the south to the alpine forests and majestic lakes of the north. If you’re planning a camping trip in Utah and find yourself in need of updating your gear, consider stopping by the General Army Navy Outdoor Store in Taylorsville, UT. Our store is stocked with a wide range of high-quality camping and outdoor equipment to meet your every need, ensuring you’re well-prepared to explore Utah’s great outdoors.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Call Now Button Click to listen highlighted text!