20 Best Places to Camp Within Two Hours of Salt Lake City UT
Named for the massive lake just to its north, Salt Lake City is a sleeper hit. There’s much more to this beautiful city than Mormons and Sundance.
A whopping 26 mountains in Nevada have an elevation over 11,000 feet. You might have assumed it’s all desert in the American west, but Utah is also home to over 1,000 fishable rivers and streams.
With all this natural beauty available just a short drive away, Utah’s capital city is a must-see destination for campers and pretty much any other outdoor enthusiast. Read on for the 20 best camping options in Salt Lake City!
1. Affleck Park
Just half an hour by car from Salt Lake City, the campground at Affleck Park is a bare-bones campground with beautiful forested views and a small creek. If you’re looking for a quiet camping getaway, Affleck Park is for you.
Even though it’s close to the city, cell service is a bit spotty – not ideal for staying in touch, but perfect for people who want to ditch the phone for a while. The reservations-only campground is generally open from Memorial Day through Halloween.
- Grill & picnic table at each site
- Creek & woods
- Quiet hours 10 PM – 8 AM
- No on-site drinking water
- No power hookups
If you want to swim in the Great Salt Lake, Bridger Bay Beach is probably the easiest way to do it. Campsites here have picnic tables, fire pits, shade roofs, and nearby flush toilets, and a dump station.
There’s tons of wildlife at this campsite, including deer, rabbits, and buffalo. An easy hiking trail called the Lakeside Trail goes on for a little under 3 miles and every campsite has a view of the lake.
- Flush toilets & dump site
- Basic amenities
- Hiking trail & wildlife
- No potable water or electricity
Conveniently located close to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and Antelope Island State Park, this KOA is a step above most others. Folks who want to get the camping experience without going completely off the grid will love having electricity and even Wi-fi available.
Other amenities include propane, firewood, a pool, RV sites with 50 amp hookups, BBQs, a playground, and ice. Unlike some other campsites that have to limit their seasonal availability, this KOA is open year-round.
- Plenty of amenities
- Year-round operation
- RV sites available
- Close to other campers
- Not the best for unplugging
Located in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, the Spruces Campground is more modern than you’d probably expect. In addition to paved roads and walkways, this campsite also has drinking water and flush toilets provided. Each individual site has a fire ring, picnic tables, and grills.
Wildflowers abound in spring and in autumn the leaves are wonderfully vibrant. Firewood is available for purchase. Guests have a baseball field and volleyball court at their disposal. The only real drawbacks about the Spruces is that swimming and domestic animals are not permitted whatsoever.
- Flush toilets & potable water
- Hiking, mountain biking & fishing
- Plenty of shade
- No pets
- No swimming
Close to Sundance and a wilderness area that shares its name, the Mount Timpanogos is a nice option for people who want easy access to the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest without having to drive in on a dirt road. It’s a favorite location for hikers, who have easy access to the 14-mile Aspen Grove Trail.
Flush toilets are available but drinking water is not. The alpine vistas are stunning in the park. Vehicles over 20 feet long can’t be accommodated at this campsite and may not be allowed on the Alpine Scenic Loop where it’s located. Reservations can be made with the Forest Service here.
- Flush toilets
- Great hiking
- Paved roads
- Near Sundance
- No potable water
- No hookups
The views of the Great Salt Lake are breathtaking from this campground. There are RV sites available with hookups, as well as picnic tables at each site. Make sure to come in the springtime before the bugs come out.
If you want to feel like you’re in a remote part of the backcountry, this isn’t the campground for you, but if you want to see the lake itself then it’s a great place. Make sure you grab the owners’ phone number so you can call them and get them to open the gate for you.
- Lakeside overnight camping
- RV sites with hookups
- Clean & affordable
- Bugs in the summer
- Potential light pollution
Green grass and well-developed dirt roads await at Ophir Creek campground, which is located a little over an hour southwest of Salt Lake City. There are tons of activities you can enjoy at this location, including mountain biking, hiking, and fishing. Even though it’s so close to Salt Lake City, it feels like you’re nestled deep in the backcountry.
There is no running water or electricity here, although there are two outhouse-type buildings with toilets in them. In addition to the camping, you can also pass through the small town of Ophir, which was established in a gold rush and all but abandoned after.
- Toilet facilities
- Picnic tables
- Plenty of available activities
- No electricity or running water
Another great campsite in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, the Upper Narrows are one of the rare sites on this list that can accommodate large groups of up to 50 people. It’s a great place for hikers or large families who want to camp together. There are other sites available for smaller groups.
Vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings are at each site. Easy access to Deseret Peak and the surrounding wilderness can be found via the nearby Stansbury Front and Medina Flats Trails.
- Accommodates groups
- Great hiking
- No crowds
- Gravel & dirt roads
- No water
Leave Temple Square in Salt Lake City and you’ll reach the Lincoln Beach Campground in about an hour. It’s on the southern end of Utah Lake near Provo, which allows for tons of different water sports like canoeing, kayaking, fishing, boating, and swimming. There’s also a volleyball court, barbecue grills, and drinking water.
Leashed pets are allowed at Lincoln Beach. There’s a marina so boat owners can launch their own boats. Just next to this campsite is a wilderness area with tons of interesting wildlife that’s accessible by kayak or canoe. Lincoln Beach also has restroom facilities.
- Perfect for many water sports
- Restrooms & drinking water
- Plenty of wildlife
- Not the cleanest lake
On the western edge of the reservoir in Jordanelle State Park, Keetley Campground has great primitive camping setups for people who want to get some peace and quiet and aren’t afraid to rough it. There’s about a ¾ mile hike to most of the campsites and the carts they have to help you move gear are hard to find so pack light.
There’s a marina in the reservoir and a general store not far away. Don’t bet on any electricity or water hookups. Bring everything you’re going to need with you and make sure to follow the Leave No Trace guidelines to maintain the natural beauty of this spot.
- Peaceful, quiet
- Located near water
- Great views
- Long (ish) hike to site
- No water or electricity
- Little shade
Alta, Salt Lake City’s tallest peak, is surrounded by hiking trails and rivers, not to mention some of the best skiing in the country in the winter months. The Albion Basin Campground is located in Little Cottonwood Canyon just past Alta, giving campers the perfect opportunity to experience Alta and surrounding attractions like Snowbird Resort and still camp out.
Hiking is one of the highlights here. The trail to Cecret Lake is a favorite for hikers. Fly fishing and rock climbing are also popular. Look for wild animals like moose, goats, and deer. Vault toilets are available, but no electricity.
- Near Alta
- Fantastic hiking
- Great fly fishing
- Wildlife & wildflowers
- Gravel & dirt roads
- No electricity
Another great place for overnight camping in Big Cottonwood Canyon, this campground seems primitive because it has no hookups, but it does have a few flush toilets to eliminate possibly the worst part of roughing it. Fishing is the most popular activity here, but you can also take short hikes in the surrounding woods.
Drinking water is available at this campsite. It’s a great place to stay if you want to have a quiet stay with your fellow campers but don’t want to be completely in the middle of nowhere.
- Drinking water
- Flush toilets
- No electricity
- No hookups
Some people just aren’t cut out for primitive backcountry camping and the Little Valley Country Store has your back if you’re one of them. It might not be glamping in a cushy yurt, but their cabins are homey and have all the comforts of home. They also have RV sites with full hookups and regular tent sites.
There’s wifi on site as well as drinking water, flush toilets, and hot water. Campers can re-up on supplies at the country store and the 12-mile driving tour of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is less than 15 minutes away.
- Water adjacent
- Full amenities
- RV sites
- Furnished cabins available
- Less isolated from other campers
- Not really roughing it
If you manage to find it at all, you’ll find Rishel Peak just before the Nevada border on I-80 West. This is an absolute gem for people who really like to get out into the backcountry. It’s the closest overnight camping option to the Bonneville Salt Flats Special Recreation Management Area, which is unmissable.
The good news is this is land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) so you don’t have to pay to camp. However, you do need to have a 4×4 vehicle and you absolutely must not drive on the salt when it’s wet or you’ll get stuck in the mush.
That being said, this is a fantastic way to see the Salt Flats. It’s just wilderness, so you’ll have to bring everything you need. But if you’re in SLC and you like backcountry camping, this should be at the top of your list.
- Unbeatable natural beauty
- Salt Flat-adjacent camping
- No signs or facilities
- 4×4 vehicle required
- Windy at night
Stansbury Island is the second-largest in the Great Salt Lake – although it’s not technically an island at all since a dirt road connects it to the mainland. You can camp here and rarely ever see another person. There’s a beautiful view of the lake and there’s plenty of space for an RV.
You might find some nice spots around the 7-mile marker and there are some port-a-potties around but don’t expect much in the way of facilities. This is a BLM site so it won’t cost you anything to stay here. However, unless you’re staying for a few nights then the trek out may not be worth it.
- Great Salt Lake views
- Private & quiet
- Hard to reach
- No signs
A little over an hour away from Salt Lake City you’ll find Vernon, Utah. Follow a 9-mile dirt road to the reservoir and you’ll find a small bare-bones campground with stunning mountain views and a pristine body of water. Most people come here to lake fish, but taking a stroll around the grounds or just hanging out by a campfire is just as much fun.
Be warned that there are no facilities of any kind here beyond a few vault toilets.
- Private, sparsely visited
- Mountain & reservoir views
- Plenty of space
- No facilities
For camping with a few more amenities and tons of outdoor activities, try Timpooneke Campground in the Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness. Firewood, grills, and picnic tables are all there for enjoyable meals with your fellow campers. Hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife watching are some of the main activities here.
Bring all the water you’ll need since there isn’t any available at Timpooneke. You could also try to bring a water pump if you can camp near a creek, but better safe than sorry.
- Wildlife & wildflowers
- Plenty of activities
- Picnic amenities
- Flush toilets
- No water available
45 minutes north of SLC on Pineview Reservoir sits Anderson Cove, one of the best campgrounds in the area for people who want to swim. There’s a day-use beach with a volleyball court and a marina for people who enjoy boating. The lawns are mowed and there’s a level of security here that isn’t common at most other campgrounds.
There’s also a convenience store about a ½ mile from the campground. A quiet hour rule is in place between 10 PM and 6 AM and ATVs are banned so you can be sure to have a restful stay.
- Swimming allowed
- Day-use beach with volleyball court
- Convenience store
- Drinking water & vault toilets
- No hookups
This campground and the nearby RV park are great for families. Spanish Oaks has restrooms, picnic tables, and a playground. Most of the surrounding grass is mowed so everyone can play outdoors barefoot if they want.
There’s plenty of gorgeous nature around and since the campground is more manicured you can settle in quickly and enjoy time with your fellow campers. The Spanish Oaks Reservoir is a great place for swimming and for fishing in a few spots.
- Easy access to nature
- Flush restrooms
- Grills & picnic tables
- Less private than other campgrounds
20. Wendover KOA
Just across the border in Nevada, this KOA is perfect for people who want that westward drive across the Salt Flats but don’t want a primitive campsite in the middle of nowhere. There are pull-through RV sites with hookups and even a swimming pool that’s open in the warmer months.
Propane and firewood are available for sale. There’s also a volleyball court, mail services, and camping cabins if you prefer not to use a tent. If you need a place to stay while you’re on the road exploring the rest of the wild west, this KOA will definitely do the trick. However, you’ll be within walking distance of a McDonald’s so don’t expect any wilderness points.
- Wifi & electricity on-site
- RV sites
- Pool & volleyball court
- Close to Salt Flats
- Tons of amenities
- More urban surroundings
The Albion Basin Campground is the best for most campers in the Salt Lake City area. It has all the amenities and some of the best hiking in that part of Utah, plus there’s easy access to the site itself. You can walk around and see a bit more of the area around Salt Lake City’s tallest mountain. If you’re really trying to rough it and see the Salt Flats, then Rishel Peak is the most unique SLC site. But for everyone else, Albion Basin is the best.
Bonus tip: If you have time to go a bit further from SLC, check out Dinosaur National Monument!