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.
Campground review: we made or tent site reservations online en route to Moab. When we arrived there was a sign stating they had a special for $20 night for tent camping. The office honored the special and reimbursed us the difference that we had already paid. The young man helping us check in was very kind and helpful. Unfortunately the pool was closed due to some plumbing issues in Moab. Kind of a bummer be it was super hot and it would have been nice. We were provided direction to site 138. It was a nice site with a couple shade trees. Since it is a commercial campground in town it is noisy and you hear highway traffic. Site are pretty close together. Just bring ear plugs and you’ll be okay. The site had a picnic table and a grill. No campfires are allowed. Some of the other tent sites had canopies for shade and rain protection.
Millcreek Canyon is home to some wonderful trails that can be accessed by foot or bike. Although the canyon offers many hiking trails, the main use of the trails seems to be for trail running. There is a toll per vehicle to enter the canyon, but this can definitely be worth it because this is one of the only canyons that allows dogs!
Large area with plenty of spots, a few side roads lead to even more spots. Main road was in good shape, side roads get pretty rough. Nothing impassable, just slow going. There are several Port-O-Lets along main road and a pit toilet near the back of the area. Arrived the Wednesday before Outerbike and found a spot at the end of the main road. Was a very busy weekend and the place stayed full - but never felt too crowded. Easy access to the Klonzo and Sovereign Trails via Willow Springs Road.
Good dispersed camping close to main road and access to awesome hiking.
Heading South from Manila, Utah on Hwy 44 takes you to the Sheep creek Geological loop. Heading up into the Canyon about 2 mi brings you to the Carmel Campground. This site has trees a creek and amazing beauty, along with wildlife and tons of great outdoor activities, being in such close proximity to Flaming gorge. When I was there the Kokanee salmon were spawning and filled the creek with their vibrant colors. Up the road you can see bighorn sheep that graze in the fields of the ranch and take in the exquisite wonder of what nature has created via the loop road. Manila is close by for any food or drink needs and fresh water in the campground. Please pack out what you pack in and leave it better than you found it. Enjoy.
I camped here in September 2019 as a home base while exploring the Moab area. Loved it. For some it may too far outside of Moab - takes about 50 minutes to get to and from - but it was a nice break from the crowds and the leftover heatof the summer. It's at 9,000+, so temps are much cooler, and in late September they were in the low 30s at night. When i was there the campground was not even half full over the weekend, which surprised me. (I am sure it is a different story during the summer). Sites are spacious with a fire ring (with grate/grill) and picnic table. My particular site (#18) could have fit at least two tents, maybe three (if smaller). There are two vault toilet sites for different sides of the campground. The ones I used were clean (as clean as vault toilets ever are) and had ample TP. There are no bear lockers, so you have to lock everything back up in your car at night. Most of the road on the way to the site is paved (La Sal Loop Road) - it's only the last 5 miles on the turn off to the campground that are not, but it is graded gravel/dirt and not a problem (I posted a photo of the road to this page). I drive a small SUV with AWD, but a sedan could make it just fine. The campground is located in a huge aspen grove and is absolutely silent at night (except for the bugling elk that freaked me out around 2am…). If you are counting on the aspens being golden in the fall, they are about two weeks behind the peak in Colorado (fwiw…according to some locals I spoke with). All in all I am looking forward to coming back here on a future trip. Really great spot.
By fluke on my honeymoon we booked at this campground.! SO glad we did! My family and I absolutely LOVE it!! It’s fun of all sorts, kayaking, lake beach, boating, cliff jumping, bbq, off-roading everywhere!!! And the beauty that surrounds is unreal!!
Also a GREAT restaurant down in town called Main Street is a must!!
Stumbled upon this campground while fishing around at Grantsville Reservoir and decided to head up South Willow Canyon to review all these unreviewed campgrounds! While the campground itself is officially closed for the season you could probably still camp here until the dirt road gets back enough that they close the gate towards the beginning of the canyon. The main attraction for this and the Lower Narrows CG's is the extremely close proximity of amazing water carved bulletproof limestone climbing! The Narrows climbing in South Willow Canyon is the premier HARD climbing spot for those in SLC that want to test their grit and push grades. The routes here go up to 5.14a with very few routes under 5.11, although you can find moderates elsewhere in the canyon. The 5.14a was but up by world renowned climber Chris Sharma and has been sent by other pros in the area like Jonathan Siegriest who claims it as "one of the top 5 5.14's in Utah."
Now enough about the absolutely amazing climbing and on to the actual campground! This is one of 2 campgrounds that has very large group sites, so if you're coming here with a mob then this is one of the places to check out! The group sites cost $50 and $90 and can hold 30 and 50 people respectively. There are also 6 single sites @ $15 a night. During the peak season May-Sept you can reserve the group sites on the recreation.gov website but at all other times they are first come first serve. Like all the other campgrounds in the canyon you also need to bring your own water and trash bags.
A wonderful place to set up camp for a week for a week or to use as a basecamp to climb the high peaks that surround the terminus of the South Willow Canyon road! On the way into the campground you get a great view of the rugged 11,000 foot Deseret Peak that looms over the campsites. While you can't really see it from most of the campgrounds, the serenity afforded by the trees and distance between the sites is more than enough to satisfy most outdoors people. For those that want to get a little closer to the peak, there is a 7 mile one way trail to the top of Deseret Peak that offers amazing views of the Great Salt Lake Valley!You can see all the way to the northern end of the lake as well as beyond the Bonneville Salt Flats into Nevada.
As for the campground itself it is fairly primitive and is very much like all of the other campgrounds in the canyon. It is however a little bit larger, having 12 single sites for $15 and a double site for $31. Like the other campgrounds you also need to bring your own water and trash bags as those amenities are not supplied. There are fire rings and picnic tables at every campsite and enough room for 1 car to park off of the dirt road. Another thing that is a little unique about this campground is that the stay limit is 7 days instead of the usually 14 that I see at most places
We love camping here and come often. We would usually visit between the months of March-Early November. Spring and fall bring sunny days and cool evenings and mornings. During the warmer summer months we take to the water. The temperature is always a bit cooler than in town. There are no fees but also no amenities. So please, if you pack it in then you need to pack it out. Bring plenty of water for drinking and cleaning. Make sure to plan ahead for bathroom/ shower needs as those are not available. If you follow the river you can find some spots with good shade. We usually find a spot near to the river in lower sunset, some spots around the bends are deep enough to swim. There is a lot of hiking nearby as well as horse trails. The kids really enjoyed hunting for crawdads, watching the tadpoles/frogs, and the cows as they would cross through for water. The nights are dark and allows for an awesome night of stargazing.
Let me start off by saying the other review for this CG is about 250 miles off target. The Narrows CG the other person is talking about is located in Zion National Park near St. George/Springville in southern Utah. There are no soaring sandstone walls here! There are however amazing overhanging water sculpted limestone cliffs that contain some of the hardest climbing that the west desert of Utah has to offer! There are a decent amount of routes on either side of the road with the majority of the routes being near the Upper Narrows CG.
This CG is setup in much the same way as the Upper. There are metal fire rings and picnic tables at each of the campsites with a vault toilet within a couple minutes walk from any of the sites. There are only 3 sites and there are no water or trash facilities so bring all you need and then pack it all out! The creek offers a nice respite from the heat in the summer and would probably be decent fishing as well. I only saw a couple trout while wandering around but I'm sure there are more!
This is the 2nd campground that you come across after you enter the Wasatch National Forest. It is only a couple miles in after the dirt road starts. Surrounding the campground are these amazing looking rock cliffs and outcrops that look like volcanic flows or maybe a pyroclastic flow or tuff. Its really crumbly and doesn't make for good climbing but forms pretty "melting mud" walls.
There are 5 single sites all aligned in a row next to the creek. 2 of the sites are on the opposite side of the road, however, away from the creek. As with all the other campgrounds in the canyon there are picnic tables and fire rings. There are also vault toilets and you'll have to pack in all of the water you'll need (unless filtering?) and pack out all your trash as there are no garbage cans. Please be aware of this and help us keep this area clean and beautiful!
Despite its name this campground is for everyone, not only boy scouts! I honestly have no idea why they named it this. It's probably due to the fact that this is the only campground in the canyon that has a large group site capable of fitting up to 50 people. This campsite lies at the end of the campground and has parking for 10 vehicles at least but you'll have to pay extra beyond what's included in the booking price.
The campsites in this campground have all the same amenities as the other campgrounds in the canyon which includes a picnic table, metal fire ring, and vault toilets withing walking distance. It also appeared to have horse corrals but they could have just been a fence to keep people out of restoration areas. As with the other campgrounds bring all the water you need or a filtration system and then trash bags to haul all your garbage out as there are no trash cans!
This is the very first campground that you come across after transferring from blacktop to dirt road past all the private houses. It lies a little over a mile up the road and is the smallest campground with only 2 campsites. This makes it one of my favorite as it will seem you have the forest and the creek all to yourself! Be warned that all of the campgrounds in the canyon do not supply water or trashcans so you'll need to bring all you need to drink as well as trash bags to haul out all of your garbage. There was an interesting little dam on the east side of the campground and I scared a bunch of trout out from under it as I walked across so bring your fishing pole or fly rod if you want to!
I wouldn't recommend staying here unless you have an RV. With that being said it is a good spot to come fish for a day trip. It offers beautiful views of the Oquirrh and Stansbury Mountains to the east and west respectively and the reservoir is stocked with trout almost 1 a month during the spring though fall. The reservoir is also completely man made so you get the feeling that you're in a bowl within a bowl!
As for the campground itself there are the standard concrete fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets. There are also a few gazebos around with the campsites radiating off of them like spokes of a tire. Now the reason I said that I wouldn't camp here without an RV is because there are absolutely NO TREES anywhere! So it can get super windy and uncomfortable in a tent if a storm blows through.
Campground Review: Mineral Basin is located in the Wasatch Mountains to the East of Salt Lake City. If you have ever skied Snowbird, this camping area is the same as the backside and keep going down. This area is beautiful and primitive camping. Resulting in two major points: It is free and in order to keep it nice, please pack out what you pack in!! We accessed this area via the east side and Wasatch State Park and Midway, UT. It is a long dirt road which is relatively maintained. There is a lot of side by side activity on these roads so some of the corners have been banked/rutted out but a non-lowered vehicle should be able to navigate the roads with only a few bottom scrapes.(If you want to drive a bit higher into Mineral Basin than our campsite, a high clearance or off-road vehicle is required). We have seen tents as well as trailers camping in this area(as long as you are comfortable pulling your trailer on unpaved mountain roads). The campsite we chose was off a small spur road which offered privacy and was along a small stream. The flowing water provided some great ambiance and white noise while we slept. As with other primitive camping, there is nothing here with regards to amenities with the exception of an established fire ring. Our site did have a nice flat spot dug out but that may not be the case for all the spots. We brought everything we needed for a one-night excursion and couldn't have had a better time. There are some hiking trails nearby (Pittsburgh Lakes trailhead was just a little farther up the road from us) and lots of open space for my husband to run the dog out by chasing his RC car. We visited in September before the leaves started to change, but fall would be a beautiful time to camp, but be prepared for cold once the sun goes down. Overall, this is my type of camping--primitive and isolated to enjoy being outside.
Gear Review: Banner & Oak Apparel and Hats
As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I get the awesome opportunity to test out gear once in a while. While I was in Mineral Basin, I had the chance to try out a shirt as well as a hat from Banner and Oak. Being a busty female, I am always hesitant to purchase female cut clothing online as sizing is so inconsistent I can never be sure of it fitting. However, I was very surprised (and pleased) to have the Coyote - Indigo shirt not only fit but was comfortable. The female cut with shorter sleeves and contoured sides made me feel like I was wearing a comfy tee without the boxy feel. The material is a soft jersey blend which didn't shrink when washed. I think this is going to be my go-to shirt for everyday summer wear as well as my outdoor adventures. I also purchased a few hats. Because I was not too excited about the ladies hats (the only design I liked was in pink and I am not a pink kinda gal), I purchased the men's Bighorn - Khaki for myself and the Switchback - Gray for my husband. The Bighorn has a curved brim which the Switchback is a flat brim. Both have adjustable mesh backs but if you tighten it too much it will look a little funny. These are definitely men's hats as they crown is taller but I didn't mind it. The construction of these hats is very sturdy--the crown is solid and won't become misshapen if it is caught in the rain (or left out for morning dew like mine was). I also liked the color scheme which as earthy and outdoorsy--definitely that go-to hat for outdoor adventures. The only negative I found is the brim inside will need to be worn in a little as the build it rigid and the fabric is a little scratchy as it is more of a canvas material. Overall, Banner and Oak has created a great line of products which are fashionable, comfortable, and most importantly durable to keep up with the outdoor enthusiast.
This campsite is conveniently located inside Zion Park. It is nice because unlike the other campground it is on a two week rolling reservation so you don’t have to plan 6 months out—downside is it fills up quickly. We camped in a tent spot right by the trail and a short walk to the virgin river. Pros: decent shade (for Zion) and easy access to the water. Cons: ridiculous amounts of ants (from what I could tell most of the spots near the trail/river have that problem). I was stoked to wake up under the red cliffs and be able to relax in the river for sunset. Ants were definitely a headache but considering the views we made the most of it. Also plenty of deer roam through the campground adding to its beauty.
We came late in the year, however one section was still open. There was plenty of spots to choose from. The site had rabbits, deer and antelope roaming around. The bathrooms were clean and well kept. No soap dispensers but there was a hand air dryer.
The closeness to the main road causes day time to be a bit noisy and not as relaxing as the place could be, but it’s quiet at night.
I find it strange that all campgrounds charge the same amount but don’t offer the same amenities - no trash or water here and only an open air pit toilet.
But after all that it’s a great campground very close to Moab, Arches and Canyonlands and well worth it all.