You may have passed through Salt Lake City on your way to California camping or a Rocky Mountain vacation, but did you know that there are dozens of places to play within a few hours’ drive of Utah’s largest city? From mountain-studded national forests to the starkly beautiful national parks of southern Utah, it’s all easy to access when you start in Salt Lake City.
You probably already know that the city is bordered on the east by the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, stretching two million acres, from northern Utah into Idaho and Wyoming. Plenty of national forest RV camping is available in the Wasatch National Forest closest to our starting point, so pick a place to explore and get started.
Another beautiful spot for RV adventures near Salt Lake City is just an hour southeast, at Wasatch Mountain State Park. With a nice mixture of modern campground amenities and outdoor recreation possibilities, this is a prime spot for RV campers new to the Salt Lake City area.
While camping at Wasatch Mountain State Park, you’ll have the chance to play a round on one of the state park’s four golf courses, enjoy scenic drives and hiking trails and visit historic sites, all within the park’s boundaries. You can reach this outdoor wonderland by following I-80 E from Salt Lake City to the junction with US-189 and then south forty miles to the park entrance.
When you’re ready to venture farther south of the city for national park RV camping, you’re in for a treat. Within a five hour drive south of Salt Lake City are a half dozen national parks, each with its own special appeal. From the green and crimson canyons of Zion National Park to the hundreds of natural stone arches in Arches National Park, campers will find unforgettable landscapes in every direction. Here’s a list of the national parks south of Salt Lake City that you’ll want to add to your camping vacation itinerary.
- Arches National Park – near Moab, UT, with more than one hundred square miles of red rock arches to discover by scenic drive, hiking or canyoneering.
- Zion National Park – four and a half hours south of Salt Lake City via I-
15, waits to amaze RV travelers with the sight of enormous sandstone cliffs turned shades of pink and red by time.
- Bryce Canyon National Park – tucked between I-15 and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, promises memorable views and once-in-a-lifetime hiking through gigantic sandstone ‘hoodoos’ and spires.
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – just east of Bryce Canyon, is a vacation in itself, an area the size of a small state filled with slot canyons, plateaus swooping upward from the desert floor and wilderness areas filled with hidden waterfalls and streams.
- Capitol Reef National Park – north of Grand Staircase, is a completely different experience for RV campers Visit the Fruita Historic District to learn about Southern Utah’s early settlers and then plan time to hike or take a scenic drive to see the multi-colored canyons formed by this giant ‘fold’.
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell – in far southern Utah, has outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone. Scenic drives, trails and the blue, blue water of Lake Powell will lead you to red rock canyons, historic sites and impossibly tall rock formations. Don’t forget to make the trip to Glen Canyon Dam; the tour is worth the drive!
Southern Utah travel tip: RV travelers to southern Utah may find it easier to make reservations at private RV campgrounds that surround these national parks, as the campsites within most parks fill early. Fortunately, quality RV parks abound in Southern Utah, so just remember to make reservations before you come.
Didn’t we say there’s a lot to see and do when you begin your RV camping adventures in Salt Lake City? Pick one or two or stretch out RV camping season and see them all. The state and national parks spread across the Beehive State are sure to become a part of your favorite RV travel memories.