Utica Reservoir is set in a granite basin surrounded by red fir and lodgepole pine forest. The reservoir has lots of islands and is kept mostly full. Granite slabs along the shore extend into the water. There are two campgrounds adjacent to each other, Sandy Flat and Rocky Point. Elevation is 6,800 feet.
I’m new to camping, so take my review with a grain of salt…
We stayed at the Sandy Flats Campground on the Utica Reservoir. The campsite is pretty small, and doesn’t have a host or stationed park ranger. Rather, it basically works on the honor system and you are expected to pay.
Even the farthest spot is just a minute walk to the water. But there are only a handful of spots, so make sure you get here as early as you can to secure a spot. Because there’s no host or ranger, there are also no reservations. It’s all first come first serve! I arrived on a Thursday to find 2 open spots. By Friday afternoon, there was a constant stream of cars looking for spots, only to have to check somewhere else.
If you do manage to get a spot, it’s quite nice. Not very secluded or private if that’s what your looking for, but still enough breathing room at each spot to give you a sense of personal space.
The Sandy Flats campground does have a single vault toilet, but it’s pretty gross. The lock is broken, so someone tied a string to the door inside that you have to hold onto while doing your business. Especially right now during the pandemic, it was weird to hold onto this string that everyone’s been touching. The good news is that there are two vault toilets a short walk away at the next campsite that are somewhat nicer (in that they have working locks).
This camp spot is definitely for people who want to get out on the water. The reservoir is beautiful with tons of little islands and peninsulas to explore. Tons of people kayaking and canoeing. You can also swim in the reservoir, although I personally found the muddy ground of the reservoir pretty yucky. If you’re looking for a place with tons of trail heads, you should probably skip this campsite. Besides one trail at the adjacent Union Reservoir, there are really no trailheads around here, unless you just like exploring the wilderness. But if you love being on the water, this is a great spot!