Utah is primarily known for two things: its world-class skiing and winding slot canyons. But the Beehive State has much more to offer the outdoor enthusiast. It's home to five national parks and eight national monuments. And that's just the beginning. There is no shortage of exotic camping in Utah.
For desert dwellers, Monument Valley never disappoints. It’s the kind of place that leaves a person searching for meaning. When the sun dips below the monuments and the sky radiates with color, it’s easy to see why the Navajo people revere the land. Media buffs will also recognize the familiar landmarks from film and TV. Those visiting Bears Ears can see Monument Valley in the distance from campsites like Muley Point.
Campers who visit Goblin Valley get a unique experience. An amphitheater of bizarrely-shaped hoodoos greets visitors. Even though there are hoodoos all over Utah, none compare to the “goblins” in this state park. They make an excellent backdrop for photos, adventure, games, and soul-searching.
A worthy Utah destination is Zion National Park, growing more popular by the year. The etched canyon walls make a lasting impression, as they jut thousands of feet up from the earth. The sense of perspective visitors experience keeps them coming back. The Watchman campground is a popular choice for campers. It offers accessibility to trails, the Virgin River, a shuttle bus, and the adjacent town.
Many will also make a trip to nearby Bryce Canyon National Park, to see the infamous spires. Staying at the North campground is a great way to see the best parts of the park.
It doesn’t take a road trip to go camping in Utah. The state capital, Salt Lake City, butts up against the Wasatch Mountains. Fifteen minutes up one of the canyons is all it takes to trade city noise for alpine meadows and lakes. In the summer, Albion Basin blooms with color. Red Pine Lake is a secluded campsite with two lakes and frequent wildlife sightings.
For a different kind of mountain experience, the Uinta Mountains aren’t much farther. They’re the only mountain range in the contiguous US that runs east-west. Still part of the Rockies, they’re Utah’s highest range, with King’s Peak topping out at 13,528 feet. Most of the camping is dispersed, but Mirror Lake is a great campground right off the main scenic highway.
There’s something for everyone in the great state of Utah. From the desert climate to the fresh mountain air; unique experiences found only in the land of Zion. With nooks and crannies waiting to be explored, camping in Utah is, indeed, life elevated.
We arrived at Zion on a Thursday evening in mid-November'19 without any plans. The Zion South Campground is closed for the season at this time, which we were unaware of. We did not have a reservation, and the sign at the entrance said full. We drove around a bit anyway.
In the 'F' loop, which has access to the walk-in sites, we noticed a parking spot without a reservation tag. So we knocked on the door of the on-duty campground host to ask about its availability. Sure enough, it was a no-show and they allowed us to stay after paying the standard $20 fee. The host made sure to explain how rare this occurrence is and we shouldn't bet on it in the future. Worth a try though if you have no other plans!
It is a very short walk from the parking lot to the 'walk-in' campsites. Maybe a few hundred feet. Sites are pretty close together, and the walk-in sites do not have their own fire pit. Instead, they have a few communal fire pits with benches around.
The sites each have a nice flat tent pad, an awning for shade, a picnic table, and a bear box.
Stayed here for a night before checking out the Delicate Arch at sunrise. Works pretty well for that as it is only a 10 minute drive to the entrances of Arches NP.
We didn't venture very far down the main road, and at the beginning it is pretty dense with campers. Probably not the best choice if you're looking for more secluded camping.
Mid-November it got down to about ~30 degrees F. Down to ~24F when we entered the park at 5:30am.
We camped off the second labeled mesa road/path - the one after Wire Mesa - I think it's labelled Grafton mesa? Drove pretty far down the mesa, maybe 2 miles, and found a great spot overlooking the valley.
This is challenging to get to coming from Rockville over the single-lane bridge (Bridge Rd). The section of the road that ascends to the mesa/butte is very rough. Lots of rocks, dips, washboard, etc. It is like this for maybe a mile? And then it turns into a fairly decent gravel road. We made it up and down in a Subaru Crosstrek, but I would recommend a higher clearance vehicle unless you are very comfortable in your vehicle.
Takes about 30 minutes to get from site to Zion.
Very worth it though! Not many people here in November. Much better experience than the tightly packed campgrounds south of Zion.
Sand Hollow is a beautiful man made lake with bright red sand and clear waters. This park allows for motorized and non motorized boats, off road vehicles, rentals, camping and dogs.
There are very limited spots by the water to camp, and fires are only allowed in specific fire rings. Outside firewood is not allowed. There is also an entrance fee to enter the park, National Park Passes will not work here.
There are nice day use areas, and areas designated for camping. Tents and RVs allowed, although most access roads are covered in thick sand. I would not recommend taking a low clearance vehicle. There is also a small restaurant for food and vault toilets for use.
You cannot camp around the entire lake. The back portion is fenced off, only allowing half of the lake to be occupied. I chose to camp as far away from the other campers by the backside of the lake. It was a very beautiful, sandy spot right by the water. However, it seemed like the other people staying at the park had no sense of respect or personal space. We set our tent up around 2:00pm and we constantly had ATV's, families with dogs off of the leash, fishermen etc walking/driving right through our site. This continued even through the night until quiet hours. Light and sound travel very well over this lake, so someone drunkenly singing with their buddies across the lake sounds like they are right next to you. People are driving their cars at all sorts of hours blinding you with the reflection off of the water. There are Park Rangers that drive around but don't seem to do anything. There was litter everywhere hidden in the sand. There are a couple of trees and bushes that provide some shade but I would recommend bringing a shade tent. There are also a couple of metal tables with attached chairs at some campsite locations.
This would be a beautiful location to visit for the day with your family. I would not recommend camping here overnight unless you don't enjoy personal space, respectful neighbors, quiet hours or humming RVs.
Not as good as camping in the park and twice as expensive this campground (in November) offered plenty of campsites on relatively level ground. The fire pits are prehistoric without any grates but… if you can’t get a spot in Zion… you’ll hopefully appreciate finding a spot here.
1st of November and no reservation… the campsite was full but the park let’s stragglers like myself camp together at one of the group campsites. Plenty of picnic tables and a large fire pit and a fire ring with cooking grate. The ground isn’t level at this site and it’s almost impossible to pound stakes into the packed earth without a iron mallet (thank you NEMO Meidr mallet)… so having one I was popular. Plastic stakes won’t work. Many campers loaded their tent with rocks to keep it from blowing away.
Talked to the ranger at North Campground (which was full by 4 pm) and she said they closed Sunset a week or so ago due to cold temps and no campers. Now the weather is perfect but they are not re-opening Sunset, despite loads of campers here today.
I haven’t stayed here yet, but I stayed close and hiked most of the trails over just a few days. This National Park is very underrated and I believe it is very well maintained. Home to one of the “hardest” trails in America, Angel’s Landing. I think it’s rated that because of how dangerous it can be, don’t let that discourage you though, anyone can do it! And the view at the end does NOT disappoint.
This is one of my favorite spots to camp out in the west desert! Marjum Canyon lies just north of Sawtooth Mountain and the enormous cliff of Notch Peak which rises out of the valley floor 2000' feet! Within Marjum Canyon itself there are also numerous single and multi-pitch climbing routes There are a couple of small pull-offs of the main canyon road that leads to very primitive campsites and even a hobbit hole that was walled in by a hermit that lived in the area for 20 years! There are no amenities here so bring all the water you need and haul out all of your trash. There is also no cell service out here so bring a spare tire, let someone know where you're going, and have an emergency beacon just in case!
Hands down the best campground for sunset views on all of Antelope Island! The sunsets in the fall, and winter are the best as the bugs have gone down considerably and therefore you won't get eaten alive! Hues of all different kinds of colors reflect off the perfect mirror surface of the Great Salt Lake and give you an endless sunset much like at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I would have given this campground 5 stars if there was any shade whatsoever but there isn't any!
This campground is pretty primitive in that there is no drinking water available and only vault toilets available with picnic tables and a fire ring at each campsite. There are only 20 sites with 2 equestrian sites that go for 40$ a night. The closest drinking water is at Bridger Bay Campground and there is also a grill on the island that is open during the summer.
We stayed here during our fall trip to Utah this year. We find the state parks offer more services and don’t tend to have the large crowds like the National Parks, especially in Utah. This park is next to a nice reservoir that provides boating and fishing options for campers. The camp itself is just off the main highway and can be accessed by both large trailers and RVs. This park has a wonderful view to the west over the lake with hillside to the east. The park staff were really customer friendly. Our site had some privacy even during the busy fall period. They have all the facilities you need including showers, water, power, and a dump station. While this may note have the natural beauty of the nearby parks, it’s situated between Zion and Arches National Park and makes for a nice stop over. The hikes in the park are terrific and you can see a number of examples of petrified wood and other interesting geological rock areas.
This is a great camp site that provides easy access to Moab. A bit close to the road but still offers some of the best scenery you can ask for. We used this as our base for rock climbing and enjoying the river for a few days in October. Great climbing and bouldering all along the canyon!
In my opinion, this campground is a means to an end… It's simply the most convenient place to camp if you want to take advantage of Zion and all the amazing hikes. We arrived super late because of traffic and the entrance to the park was closed so we couldn't get in to camp - we had to (illegally) sleep in our car until morning. The campground is right at the entrance and is nicely spaced out. In all honesty, we didn't spend much time at the site because we were out hiking the Narrows, Angels Landing, and anywhere else we could possibly wander. There's a great restaurant nearby inside the park, with a big grassy area out front. Mule deer everywhere!
Do yourself a favor and take the free shuttle to the Narrows, even if you only hike in a quarter mile (which most people do).
This place is perfect if you have jet skis and off road vehicles and want to camp right on the beach for a few nights. Great access to the lake. It’s not too far from Page and there’s a gas station with supplies fairly close. It’s a great party spot, there’s plenty of room for big groups. If you’re looking for seclusion this is not for you. If you’re getting in late it’s great because you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a spot.
Great campground! But you have to get there early!!! Only ten spots. They were full when we got there but luckily someone was nice enough to share their site with us! Bathrooms were clean! 15$. Each site has a covered picnic table and a fire ring
If you don't plan on spending some time exploring, climbing or doing some photography on or around Looking Glass Rock, then there's not much reason to take the dirt road out to this spot. The road is dirt and well maintained until you take a cutoff to your left right as you're getting to the western boundary of the rock form. There are primitive campgrounds scattered all over the area surrounding the butte. There are some sites that do require a high clearance/4WD vehicle in order to get to as you'll be driving over uneven slick rock and some moderately deep sand. There are no amenities so bring everything you need and then pack it out!
As for adventures we did while in the area, we visited the always popular Wall Street climbing area to the west of Moab on Potash Rd. If that's too busy for ya you can also go a little further up the road and explore around Day Canyon where we also climbed the tower in the pictures, Boognish Tower. And of course if you're looking to just spend an afternoon or a night around the arch then the East Rib Route on Looking Glass Rock is an amazingly easy beginner climb (albeit slightly run out) that has a spectacular ~120' completely free hanging rappel through the window at the top of the route. Certainly the best arch rappel I've done in the area and definitely one of the more unique beginner climbs in the Moab area.
This is one of our absolute favorite campgrounds in all of Utah! Not only are you surrounded by the tallest desert towers in the entire US! The "Titan" stands at just over 700' tall and is surrounded by other towers shooting into the hundreds of feet as well! Not only do you have the Fisher Towers, but the large sandstone mesas and towers to the west are also very visible.
The campground itself is nothing special amenity wise. It is a small CG that is first come first served for 5 sites that hold 10 people max and cost $15. These sites are tent only so no RVs. There are picnic tables and metal fire rings, along with vault toilets, but there are no other amenities. So bring all your water and pack out everything.
While in the Fisher Towers area you can hike the 2.2 mile out and back trail that leads to a great viewpoint of The Titan! In nearby Onion Creek there is also some fun off-roading to be had. If you're looking for "quality" desert climbing then these giant stacks of mud are perfect! Some of the less popular routes definitely have pieces break off on a regular basis. Most of the short approach and really popular routes like Ancient Art are pretty solid rock though. Since Ancient Art was crazy busy (6 parties in front of us) we decided to do 1 of the 2 routes up Lizard Tower, which is also the closest to the parking lot haha. On a serious note, pretty much all routes here are of a serious trad/aid nature so please be cautious when climbing and know your limits!
We stayed at the Wingate campground in Dead Horse Point State Park. We loved the proximity to the Rim Trail and the Schafer Canyon, minutes of waking from our walk-in tentsite, but that was often overshadowed by the stench of the vault toilets closest to those walk in sites. all the other areas of the campground had a flush toilet facility but our closest one emitted a smell that sometimes permeated our site and always stunk while we were at the car right next to it. Once you got inside the toilet stall, the smell was no longer an issue, but outside it was awful. The campground is accessible with a fairly short drive to Arches National Park.
We had a tentsite at Bryce View Campground in Kodachrome Basin State Park and it was wonderful! The sites are set spaciously apart. We had a tent but all of those sites had a drive through option. Picnic tables and toilet facilities close by. Many sites had lovely views and there were trees at every site to provide shade and privacy. Outside of Bryce National Park but within 20 minutes of the park. Great campground!
This campground much like the others in this canyon is situated along the banks of the South Fork of the Ogden River. Before you get to Causey Reservoir and Weber Memorial Park, this is the biggest campground you'll encounter. There are 35 single sites @23$ and 8 double sites @46$. Some campsites are reservable and some are walk in sites. A picnic table and metal fire ring is at each site along with vault toilets and drinking water scattered throughout the campground. The campsites in the teens seemed to be the closest to the creek
As for activities to do in the area, there are plenty of options! Right by most of the campsites you can fly fish or set off on a tubing adventure down the Ogden River! It is required that you have a life jacket before setting off. If you're looking for bigger accumulations of water you can either head back down canyon to the huge Pineview Reservoir or head up canyon to the steep walled Causey Reservoir!
A great medium sized campground that is halfway up the canyon on the way to Causey Reservoir. It is tucked away from the road near the Upper Meadows Campground and therefore feels very serene next to the river. There are 14 single sites at the typical for the canyon 23$. and 3 double sites for 46$. You can leave most of your main amenities at home as the campground is fairly well equipped with vault toilets and drinking water spigots scattered throughout the campground. Each site also has a sturdy picnic table and a reinforced fire ring. All sites are first come first served so get here early on weekends or holidays if you don't want a spot near the road at the other campgrounds!
Quaint little campground situated on the south side of the river away from the road. You can get to this campground by crossing the same bridge you would for getting to the Lower Meadows Campground and turning left immediately after the bridge. There are only 9 single sites @ 23$ and most are close to the river. Since they are all single sites big RVs will not fit but a small trailer probably will. The campground has vault toilets and drinking water like the other CGs in the canyon as well as concrete fire rings, picnic tables, and a prep serving table at each campsite.
As for recreation in the area you have a choice between 2 amazing reservoirs! There is the huge Pineview Reservoir that is good for boating and Causey Reservoir which is further up canyon and whose steep walls is more suited for deep water solo climbing! There is also great fishing all along the river and someone created a little rock bath in the middle of the river for you to chill out in during the hot summer!
This is a Huge campground and day use area, with 3 group sites, that is right next to Causey Reservoir! The park/campground is maintained by Weber County and has plenty of amenities along with additional bonuses at the group sites! There are 58 single sites and 3 very large group sites. There are picnic tables and fire rings at both of the types of sites but the group sites additionally have electricity as well as horseshoe rings and volleyball nets. There are also flushing toilets and trash for the whole area.
For recreation nearby you have very easy access to the beautiful and sprawling Causey Reservoir with its steep limestone walls. There is some high quality climbing nearby but most of the bolted routes are advanced to expert. If you're just looking to have fun climb/scrambling around you can do some deep water soloing on the south side of the reservoir. If you're looking to recreate in other ways you can also boat around on the reservoir and fish or fish from the shores or in the south fork of the Ogden River.
A campground better suited for large gatherings rather than secluded getaways. It also serves as a nice place to have a picnic for a day trip as they also have spots specifically for that. Other than the day sites they also have 9 single sites, 6 double sites, 1 triple site, and 3 group sites. There's more non standard sites than there are normal single sites which gives you an idea of how many people would be in the area if everything were booked up on a busy weekend or holiday. As with the rest of the sites in the canyon there are picnic tables and fire rings as well as vault toilets and drinking water spread throughout the compound. There is also a trail system to the south that leads to river access for tubing or fishing.
While a little bit larger than its Upper Meadows twin it still sits on the south side of the river away from the road and therefore offers a bit of natural tranquility. The campground is about half the size of the Perception Park Compound but will hold maybe 1/6 of the people so you'll have lots of distance between your neighbors. You can choose from 17 single sites or 6 double sites @ 23$ and 46$ respectively. Like the other campgrounds in the canyon the amenities are fairly primitive with fire rings and picnic tables at each site with drinking water spigots and vault toilets scattered throughout the playground.
For fun things to do in the area there is Causey Reservoir which is only a few miles up canyon! It is a wonderful spot to kayak, canoe, or SUP around and also to access the cliffs for some deep water solo climbing!