Utah holds some of the most breathtaking national parks in the United States, it’s a prime camping destination for anyone in the west of the country. At 5, it has the third-largest number of national parks in a state, as well as 43 Utah state parks and 13 national park service units in total. The natural beauty help by this state includes sweeping deserts, astonishing rock formations, and snowcapped peaks. With all this and more to see, visit Utah for your next back-to-nature getaway.
Because there’s so many to choose from, we’ve rounded up our favorite spots for the best camping in Utah, so all you need to do is pick from our list. So pack your bags, gather up your camping gadgets, and set off into the natural expanses of the beehive state.
Distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs, Utah’s first national park is filled with ancient beauty. Follow the paths where Native Americans and pioneers walked many years ago, and take in the enormous sandstone cliffs that soar skyward. Zion is renowned as one of the world’s best places for canyoneering, so try descending into slender canyons as a daytime activity on your camping trip.
Rock climbing is another popular activity, as Zion National Park has some of the tallest sandstone walls in the world. Experienced climbers will love the huge selection of challenges, while novices can hire a guide in Springdale nearby. Of course, Zoin is also filled with miles of trails, with options for short strolls to strenuous routes for experienced hikers. The famous and dangerous Angel’s Landing Trail is a bucket-list-worthy adventure, less than 5 miles long but including steep drop-offs and narrow ridges. The risk and the thrill are worth it, as hikers will be rewarded with an excellent view of the canyon when they reach the top.
Our recommended place to stay in Zion National Park is Watchman Campground, where there are 176 campsites. They might seem a little crowded, as it’s not the most private campsite, but in return for amazing views of the watchman rock foundation, we think it’s well worth it. You also gain easy access to the rest of the park. Of the campsites available, 96 have electrical hookups, and reservations are strongly suggested.
Bear Lake State Park sits on the shore of Bear Lake along the border in Idaho, nestled high in the Rocky Mountains. Here, calcium carbonate in the lake’s water gives it a spectacular aqua blue color and combined with the gorgeous sandy beaches, you’ll feel like you’re on a seaside holiday. There are a number of recreational activities available year-round on the lake, including plenty of watersports and great fishing. Nearby a ski resort offers snowy winter fun, and several hikes take you around the area to explore.
Bear Lake Campground has 157 sites spread around the entire lake and valley, for tents, trailers, vans, and RVs. Toilets and electricity hookups are scattered throughout, with fire circles already established at most campsites. Anywhere on the shore of Bear Lake makes an amazing camping spot, any one of them opens to a direct view to the beach and blue waters.
For the camping experience of a lifetime, get your spot on Antelope Island. This state park is an island in the Great Salt Lake, known for its stark beauty and surprisingly abundant wildlife. Because of its isolation, Antelope Island is known as one of the best places to stargaze in Utah. Its also home to free-ranging bison, mule deer, pronghorn (antelope), and numerous other desert animals.
Antelope Island State Park is also an excellent birdwatching destination, as millions of birds congregate on the shores each year. The park is also filled with backcountry trails, which you can hike, mountain bike, or ride on horseback, to take in the spectacular lake views and island scenery.
Bridger Bay Campground is a quiet and peaceful place to stay on Antelope Island. There are 26 campsites for tents and RVs, with vault toilets on site. Views from the campsites are highly enjoyable, if you get the right spot then you’ll see panoramic vistas of Great Salt Lake and beyond. De-stressing is one big reason that people take camping trips, and this tranquil island campground won’t disappoint. We highly recommend doing some stargazing from Antelope Island, it’s so quiet and peaceful that you’ll just feel all your stress melt away.
An area that rarely sees snow, Snow Canyon State Park was actually named after early Utah leaders Lorenzo and Erastus Snow. It’s known for its distinctive towering sandstone cliffs, colored red and white. Other geological features of interest include extinct cinder cones, lava tubes, lava flows, and sand dunes. All around the park, stunning views of the red rock formations can be enjoyed and endless photograph opportunities await!
There are a number of varied trails to try out at snow canyon, such as the Butterfly Trail. This scenic trail winds along the Petrified Dunes, down to the West Canyon Overlook and lava tubes. You could also take a gondola to the top of the mountain for some phenomenal panoramic views, or visit the White Rocks Amphitheater. Contrary to the rest of the park, this small natural amphitheater is composed of white Navajo sandstone, it’s quite the marvel to show your kids.
The campground at Snow Canyon has 14 RV sites with water and electric hookups, and 17 multi-use campsites. Located amid gorgeous scenery, you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop than the gigantic red stone cliffs. Facilities include modern restrooms, showers, and an RV dump station. More than 18 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails are accessible close by.
This sprawling preserve in southern Utah is famous for its crimson-colored hoodoos, which are spire-shaped rock formations. These hoodoos exist on every continent, but this spectacular sight is the largest concentration on earth. Several popular viewpoints can be enjoyed, each offering a different spectacular vista of the canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park has miles of hiking trails, and one such popular trail is the Queen’s/Navajo combination loop. This 2.9-mile connected trail makes a route that will show you both Sunset and Sunrise Point. In the summer, horseback rides make a wonderful way to experience Bryce Canyon, one that’s fun for the whole family.
When visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, you can stay at the Sunset Campground. Perfectly situated near to Sunset Point, this campground is popular yet spacious, offering 100 campsites. Tent campsites and spots for RV’s are available, and the ground has amenities such as restrooms with flush toilets, picnic tables, and potable water.
Camping in Utah doesn’t have to be a rustic experience. A trip to Wasatch Mountain State Park brings you closer to shopping, dining out, and golfing, to name a few things. Located in the Heber Valley, this park is filled with beautiful outdoor scenery. Miles of mountain trails can be hiked, or alternatively, ride a mountain bike or go horseback. In winter, skiing is popular and there are snowmobiles to rent on the alpine terrain.
There are plenty of options for recreation on your camping trip to Wasatch Mountain. An award-winning 36-hole golf course is located in the park, and plenty of sights to see. The campground at Wasatch Mountain State Park has plenty of tent and RV sites, some with full and partial hookups. Restrooms with showers are spread throughout, and a ranger station nearby will provide any information you need.
The two million acres of Dixie National Forest stretch 170 miles across southern Utah. Straddling the divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River, this national forest is the biggest in the state. The southern rim of the Great Basin provides some spectacular scenery, with views of the Colorado River canyons, made up of many-colored cliffs and steeply walled gorges.
Many visitors to the forest enjoy hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and fishing, there’s a lot of wilderness to explore too. Pine Valley is especially good for horseback riding and enjoying the peace and beauty of the forest in solitude. Also an excellent fishing spot, the many lakes, and reservoirs in the forest are home to rainbow and brown trout to name a few. Anglers, this is a great camping destination for you, just pack up your tackle box and read through our guide on the best way to catch brown trout.
There are endless campgrounds to choose from in Dixie National Forest. One we like is the Honeycomb Rocks Campground. Well located in the Pine Valley area, this campground is also nearby to Enterprise Reservoir. Here, a boat ramp is available; it’s the perfect place to camp and fish. There are 21 campsites with picnic tables, fire pits, and tent pads. A vault toilet is available for use and potable water is also accessible on-site.
This red-rock wonderland is one of the most breathtaking national parks in Utah. The peculiar rock formations are so distinctive, with hundreds of soaring pinnacles, huge fins, and unbelievably balanced rocks to ogle at. Of course, the park’s namesake is its biggest attraction, as there are over 2000 natural stone arches in the 76 thousand acres, the largest density in the world.
One attraction in this national park is the Devil’s Garden, where you can see a variety of natural arches connected by a network of hiking trails. One such sight is the Landscape Arch, which is the longest in North America. The Devil’s Garden offers stunning views, excellent hiking, and very good stargazing as well.
The Devil’s Garden Campground is the only one in Arches National Park, but when it’s this good, you don’t need another. The breathtaking views which surround this campground include not only rock formations but also various desert flora, including yucca and prickly pear. There are 51 campsites, and it’s best to reserve one ahead of time as this is a popular camping spot. There are no hookups, but potable water, picnic tables, and flush toilets are all located on-site.
The spectacular Grand Staircase of cliffs and terraces, the rugged Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Escalante River Canyons make up this National Monument. It’s a rich historical and geological area, covered in monoliths, slot canyons, and natural bridges and arches. All these geological phenomena make the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument one of the premier places to camp in Utah.
Hike through 250 million years of Earth’s geologic history, and wind between the technicolor cliffs of the monument. Hiking and sightseeing in Utah can’t be bettered, this 1 million-acre area has it all. The popular but small Calf Creek Campground is our recommendation in this National Monument. Here there are 13 first-come-first-served campsites, where you can spend a quiet and peaceful night amongst the red rocks. Another benefit to camping here is the proximity to Calf Creek, a perennial waterfall which makes another great sightseeing opportunity.
Goblin Valley is named after an area where soft sandstone has eroded into irregular and interesting patterns, which some think resemble goblins. In some places, these formations are close together and form a maze, which is lots of fun to explore with the family. For thrill-seeking campers, ATV trails weave around this interesting and surreal landscape, where Hollywood movie Galaxy Quest was filmed.
This Utah campground offers slightly more luxury than others, as there are two spacious yurts available to rent. These come complete with heating and air conditioning, so your trip to Goblin Valley State Park can be one done in style. Otherwise, there are ten tent camping sites, and 14 camping spots for RVs.
Near the town of Moab in southeastern Utah is Canyonlands National Park. Numerous canyons, mesas, and buttes were eroded here by the Colorado River and the Green River eons ago. Now, the colorful landscape is divided into four districts each retaining its own character.
The Needles District is one of these, where colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone dominate the area. A fantastic location for hiking and overnight camping trips, these rock formations are also excellent for bouldering. There are so many locations for climbing as well as bouldering scattered all around, so for campers in search of an adventure holiday, consider bouldering in Canyonlands National Park.
Squaw Flat Campground is the ideal base from which to explore this district, with miles of trails for hiking and leading to rock climbs close at hand. There are 26 sites, 5 of which are tent only, with toilets, picnic tables and fire rings located within the campground. There are no electric hookups at this campsite, so come prepared with your climbing gear too.
Aside from the bustle of Salt Lake City, there are so many natural wonders to explore in Utah. The Grand Canyon is close by, but don’t be tempted to cross over state borders when the equally breathtaking Canyonlands, Arches, and Zion National Parks are waiting to be explored. The isolation and peacefulness of these areas mean you can light a campfire under the night sky and stargaze for hours, meanwhile, the towering and dramatic rock formations create exciting adrenaline-pumping rock climbing opportunities.
There are RV parks, tent sites, and even yurts to rent in Utah’s parks and forests. No matter your requirements, we’ve got the perfect camping area for your next trip. Mountain biking and equestrian camping are best in Wasatch Mountain State Park, where other recreation opportunities include an impressively sided award-winning golf course.
Canyons, of course, are very important to the natural landscape in Utah, with these iconic red rocks holding fame around the world. For the best viewing, visit Bryce Canyon National Park and Goblin Valley State Park. Bouldering and climbing fans should visit the Needles District of Canyonlands, not far from Moab, and great for hiking too!
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has endless geological phenomena to view, so any camper with a true interest in our natural environment can’t miss it. The Calf Creek Campground here is so close to the waterfall that it’s a waste not to make the most of it.
The best camping in Utah is well within your reach, all you need to do is jump up and get adventuring! If camping in Utah will be your first time, you’re in for a treat. Utah holds some of the best camping destinations in the United States, so after you’ve picked one out, check out our handy guide on camping gear for beginners. The more you are prepared, the more likely your camping trip is to go off like a dream.
Bonus tip: Check out this video to see some bouldering in Canyonlands!