With scenery ranging from wooded mountains and canyons to rivers and deserts, Utah is home to some of the most spectacular – and otherworldly – landscapes in the US. One of the best ways to experience this magical state is to grab your gear and head to camp!
With thousands of improved sites throughout the state, you’re bound to find a place to pitch your tent with a beautiful view to boot: your options include National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, dispersed BLM tracts and more. You can camp near bouldering spots, hiking trails, fishing rivers, and even close to Salt Lake City.
Use our guide to find the best places for tent camping in Utah to plan your perfect trip.
Oak Grove Campground – Dixie National Forest – Pine Valley, Utah
Nestled among tall trees, this campground offers ten spacious sites complete with picnic tables, fire rings, and tent pads. Vault toilets, drinking water, and parking spaces are provided, and the fee is $5.00 per night. The dirt road to the campground winds through a canyon before climbing to an elevation of more than 6,000 ft and trailers are not permitted. The sites are first-come-first-served; you’ll want to make sure you secure one before making a day trip to Zion National Park, about an hour’s drive away. A trailhead near the campground entrance explores the Pine Valley Recreation Area. The nearby town of Leeds has a small market for supplies; bustling St. George is also about an hour south.
Watchman Campground – Zion National Park – Springdale, Utah
Only 18 of the 176 sites here are tent-only hike-in sites, and an additional 69 tent sites have adjacent vehicle parking. Tent sites are $20.00 per night; reservations are recommended and can be made up to 6 months in advance. Sites are equipped with picnic tables and fire pits with grills. Comfort stations provide flushing toilets and running water. There are a few sites along the Virgin River; however, most sites are in full sun in a desert environment. The view of the Watchman rock formation from the campground is unbeatable, and the 2-mile Watchman Trail makes a great morning hike. A free shuttle runs to Springdale, where showers, shops, and services can be found.
Rainbow Trail – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – Lake Powell, Utah
This 27-mile backpacking trek requires planning ahead, stamina, and a permit from the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department – not to mention three to five days to complete. It leads to the Rainbow Bridge, a sacred Navajo site, National Monument and the largest natural bridge in the world at 290 ft. tall and 275 ft. across. On the journey, you’ll sleep beneath the stars in canyons and alcoves,
beside natural bridges and atop mountain passes. Remember to be respectful of the archaeological sites and artifacts you encounter, and ALWAYS practice the seven Leave No Trace Principles when enjoying our public lands.
Coyote Hollow Campground – Dixie National Forest – Hatch, Utah
You don’t have to have a horse to use this small equestrian camp. Four well-spaced sites offer picnic tables, fire pits, and tent pads. There is a vault toilet, but the water source is not reliable. Hiking trails wind through the ponderosa forest just past the corral, but the real attraction of this area is Bryce National Park, a ten-minute drive, renowned for its eroded red rock hoodoos. Sites are first-come-first-served,
with a $10.00 fee per night. At an elevation of 7,880 feet, be prepared for chilly evenings.
Riggs Spring Loop Trail – Bryce National Park – Kanab, Utah
There’s lots of shade along this 8-mile backcountry trail, and you’ll need a $5.00 permit from the visitor center before setting up at one of the four campsites to marvel at some of the darkest skies in the nation. Water can be obtained from a spring about halfway through the hike.
Fruita Campground – Capitol Reef National Park – Teasdale, Utah
Located in the heart of Capitol Reef’s charming fruit orchards, this 70-site campground is the only developed camping area inside the park. The campground is open year-round; sites are $20.00 per night and reservations are available during the busy season (from March through October). Each site has a picnic table and fire pit (grills only at the 7 walk-in tent sites). Potable water is available at the entrance
to the camp, and there are bathrooms with flushing toilets as well as accessible vaults in each loop. The adjacent Fremont River Trail winds along the Gifford Homestead before reaching the park’s visitor center.
Cedar Mesa Campground – Capitol Reef National Park – Torrey, Utah
If you’re looking for something off-the-beaten-path in the Capitol Reef area, you might prefer Cedar Mesa Campground. At 5,500 ft. elevation, this primitive campground offers five well-spaced and private sites with tables and fire pits, not to mention breathtaking views of the valley below. There is one vault toilet, but no water is available. The Red Canyon trail leads from the campground through a pinyon
forest into a large canyon. Spots here are first-come-first-served, and it’s recommended that visitors fill their water jugs and check conditions at the visitor center before making the 25-mile trip off of Highway 24. Best of all? There’s no fee to camp here!
Lone Mesa Camp – Bureau of Land Management, Moab District – Moab, Utah
Just outside Moab, you’ll find this gem within day-tripping distance of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dead Horse Point State Park, Navajo Rocks, Gemini Bridges and recreation opportunities along the Green and Colorado rivers. You’ll need a reservation to use one of the five sites here, which are designed to accommodate groups of 5-40 campers at a time.
Willow Flat Campground – Canyonlands National Park – Moab, Utah
This popular campground is located in the Island in the Sky district of the park, a short distance from the unforgettable Green River Overlook. At $15.00 per site per night, it’s a more budget-friendly option than Canyonlands’ other campground. 12 first-come-first-served sites each have a gravel tent pad, picnic table, and fire ring; some have shade awnings. There are vault toilets, but no water.
Wingate Campground – Dead Horse Point State Park – Moab, Utah
This brand-new facility will open for the 2018 season with 31 campsites, 11 of which are tent-only walk-ins. Campers will enjoy gravel tent pads, picnic tables under shade shelters, fire pits and bathrooms with flush toilets, running cold water and dishwashing sinks. The fee to camp is a steep $35.00, but the inspiring views of the Colorado River snaking through the canyon below will take your mind off of everything but the great outdoors!
Goose Island Campground – Bureau of Land Management, Moab District – Moab, Utah
Make sure you get here early – the 21 sites at this quaint riverside campground are first-come-first-served and tend to fill quickly, which is no surprise given the endless opportunities for rafting, kayaking, hiking and climbing nearby. A paved bicycle trail leads straight to Arches National Park, and the town of Moab is only minutes away. For $15.00 per night, you’ll have access to water, vault toilets and a fantastic view of the iconic red sandstone cliffs that have inspired generations of adventurers.
Green River & Split Mountain Campgrounds – Dinosaur National Monument – Vernal, Utah
No trip to Utah is complete without a visit to this amazing monument, where you can see an enclosed quarry full of 149 million-year-old dinosaur bones, raft through canyons, study petroglyphs and hike to an old homestead. Both of the monument’s campgrounds are located on the scenic Green River, beneath Split Mountain. Split Mountain Campground is open year-round, but only allows groups of 8 or more when Green River Campground is open (usually April-October). Green River Campground has a bathroom with flush toilet; Split Mountain Campground has a vault only. Sites along the river are well-spaced with even gravel tent pads, tables, and fire rings. The fee is $18.00 per night, and some sites are on a reservation system. These campgrounds rarely fill, except on some holiday weekends.
Diamond Campground – Uinta-Cache National Forest – Spanish Fork, Utah
With waterfalls, canyons, hot springs and more, this area has plenty to explore. Half of the 60 sites can be reserved ahead of time; the others are first-come-first-served. Drinking water and vault toilets are available. Nightly fees range from $18.00 for single sites to $36.00 for doubles.
Lily Lake & Lost Creek Campgrounds – Uinta-Cache National Forest – Kamas, Utah
Fishing and non-motorized boats are allowed in the dazzling alpine lakes surrounding the campgrounds at nearly 10,000 ft. elevation. More than 50 spruce tree-lined sites with picnic tables, fire rings, and paved parking spaces provide privacy and wildlife viewing opportunities. nearby Bald Mountain and Crystal Lake boast hiking trails that weave through the Uinta Mountains. Vault toilets and drinking water pumps can be found in both campgrounds and trailheads. The fee to camp is $23.00, paid to a private concessionaire, and some sites can be reserved ahead of time. If you’re looking for a secluded getaway, you’ll find it here: the nearest telephone is 25 miles away in Kamas.
Ibantik Lake – Uinta-Cache National Forest – Kamas, Utah
This five-mile backpacking trip is perfect for beginner backcountry campers, with an elevation gain of only 1,000 ft. and magnificent alpine scenery. There are no tables, toilets or amenities here – just peace and quiet. Keep an eye out for the resident herd of mountain goats and treat water from all sources before drinking.
Mountain View, Indian Bay & Juniper Point Campgrounds – Starvation State Park – Duchesne, Utah
Four primitive and two developed campgrounds make Starvation State Park an ideal tenting destination. Whether you’re looking for a family-style camp with amenities or in the mood to rough it, this park has a spot for everyone. Mountain View Campground has restrooms with flushing toilets and showers; sites have water and electric hookups, fire pits, tables and shade shelters, as well as – you guessed it – a view
of the mountains. Indian Bay has partially developed sites with fire pits and picnic tables and two vault toilets. Juniper Point is a truly primitive campground with a vault toilet: visitors are allowed to camp wherever they desire and may not have picnic tables. Camping fees are dependent on season and location.
Clear Creek Campground – Sawtooth National Forest – Malta, Utah
This remote riverside campground near the Utah-Idaho border has twelve sites with picnic tables. Some are handicap accessible. Reservations are not required, and you can stay for up to fourteen days with no daily camping fee. There are vault toilets, and water from the creek can be treated for drinking and cooking. There are horseback and hiking trails close by.
Bridger Bay, White Rock Bay, and Ladyfinger Campgrounds – Antelope Island State Park – Syracuse, Utah
Less than an hour from Salt Lake City, the largest of the islands on the one-of-a-kind Great Salt Lake is home to a herd of more than 500 bison, as well as countless other creatures. Fees for tent sites in the park’s three primitive campgrounds range from $12.00 to $24.00, and vault toilets are located in each campground. The smallest of the camps here is Ladyfinger, with five sites for tents only, and fires are not
permitted. Drinking water and showers are available near the day-use area. Don’t miss a hike to the historic Fielding Garr Ranch at the southern end of the island.
Red Pine Lake – Wasatch National Forest – Sandy, Utah
The rigorous 7-mile hike to Red Pine Lake climbs to nearly 10,000 ft. elevation, and the awesome canyon views and lakefront campsites are worth every step. An additional mile hike leads to the lesser-trafficked Upper Red Pine Lake where wildlife abounds; however, the campsites there are not as well-defined. A vault toilet is available at the trailhead, and water from the lakes can be treated for drinking
With so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, it’s no wonder campers and nature enthusiasts are flocking to Utah. Whether you’re looking to enjoy some of the comforts of home where you pitch your tent, or you’re ready to get away from it all to put your survival skills to the test, we’re sure you’ll find your next favorite spot here.
About The Author
Hi, I’m MaryJean! From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans and everywhere in between, I’ve been camping for more than twenty years. After adventuring through 44 states and abroad, I’m here to share the best places I know for adventures in the great outdoors. When I’m not on the trail or in the tent, you can find me baking, reading or tending to my houseplants in San Diego, CA.