Utah is home to an array of geological features, from twisting canyons and towering red rocks to sheer mountains and sandy desert terrain. The Beehive State also has hundreds of lakes, including the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere – the Great Salt Lake. Whether you’re dipping into Dinosaurland or relishing the gorgeous landscapes, get back to nature with a camping trip to Utah. Here is our pick of the best campsites – bookable on Culture Trip.
In the 1940s, the National Geographic Society visited this area in southern Utah and named it after the once-popular color film first developed by Eastman Kodak in 1935. It was used to capture photos of Kodachrome Basin State Park’s 67 monolithic stone spires and sandstone layers of red, pink, white, yellow and gray. Some 5,800ft (1,768m) above sea level, it’s only 20mi (32km) from the crimson-colored hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Imagine waking up each morning in your canvas tent on a wooden deck to views of the rock spires that have made Kodachrome Basin State Park so alluring. Campsite amenities include a queen-size memory foam mattress, side tables, a picnic table, a firepit and grill, a solar shower and a washroom. Dark skies make stargazing a delight.
This relatively quiet state park opened in 1963 on the cliffs of the Sevier Plateau near the northwest corner of the Piute Reservoir. Anglers come for the rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout, as well as bass. Boating, waterskiing and ATV riding are among other popular activities.
Willard Bay is a freshwater reservoir on the floodplains of the Great Salt Lake. The state park is popular with anglers and boaters, as well as swimmers and waterskiers who especially enjoy the warm waters of the reservoir. It’s possible to spot bald eagles during the winter months.
This furnished campsite near the Willard Bay freshwater reservoir sits close to the park’s front entrance and is within walking distance of the campground restrooms. Nature paths lead to the beaches, and there’s a playground for kids. The boat dock is a short drive down the road. Also, there’s no electricity at this off-grid campsite, and you’ll need to bring firewood and bedding.
Say “dinosaur tracks” to a budding paleontologist, and they’ll tell you about the 200m-year-old dinosaur prints preserved in the Navajo sandstone at Red Fleet State Park. If ancient tridactyl and bipedal dinosaurs don’t tickle your fancy, there’s boating and fishing in the Red Fleet Reservoir, or you can hike through the desert landscape.
This waterfront campsite in Red Fleet State Park is perfectly situated if you’re keen to explore the nearby Dinosaur National Monument, Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum or the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The reservoir is excellent for campers who want to spend their days fishing, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing. Depending on the time of your visit (and evening cloud conditions), you can join the Red Fleet rangers for a free naked-eye astronomy presentation.
The 3,495-acre (1,414ha) Starvation Reservoir is the star of Fred Hayes State Park, 4mi (6km) northwest of Duchesne. Activities run the gamut from waterskiing, boating and wakeboarding to fishing. Alternatively, you can lounge on the sandy beach.
About two hours southeast of Salt Lake City, this campsite offers a sandy beach, a 3D archery course and numerous hiking trails. The reservoir, of course, is where you can go boating, waterskiing, swimming and fishing.
Otter Creek Reservoir came about in 1897 when a dam was constructed to provide water to Mormon farmers. ATVers can access the popular Paiute Trail directly from the park. In addition to fishing and boating, birdwatching is also popular, as Otter Creek is on the Pacific Migratory Bird Flyway.
This furnished campsite, with amenities such as a memory foam mattress, a propane tent heater, a picnic table and a solar shower, in Otter Creek State Park offers a robust choice of activities. The campsite sits along the Pacific Migratory Bird Flyway, making it ideal for birdwatchers. You can also go ATVing, boating and fishing. There’s an additional pop-up tent if your camping group grows – all you need to do is remember to bring a mattress or a sleeping pad.
Steinaker State Park satisfies campers with diverse interests. The Steinaker Reservoir, which has a paved boat ramp, offers sandy beaches, swimming and other water sports. Also, there’s excellent largemouth bass and rainbow trout fishing. Many campers use this park as a base to explore Dinosaurland.
Combine your love of the outdoors and paleontology at Steinaker State Park, which is known for its fossils and dawn-of-time relics, plus Dinosaurland is just 45 minutes away by car. Exploring close to the campsite? Take your pick of hanging at the beach, fishing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Remember to bring a tent and some gear.
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