Utah is a great place for camping. One of the reasons it attracted Mormon settlers was because it was full of stunning natural beauty, like nothing anyone had ever seen before.
The good news for all you campers and hikers is that all that scenery has been preserved by the park service for us to enjoy today. If you look at a map of Utah, you’ll see that almost the entire south-central portion is national park. You could easily spend several weeks in Utah and always find new things to see.
Utah has some of the greatest camping in the country, and Bryce Canyon is a choice spot. Bryce is about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City and about 7,000 feet up in the air. At Bryce, you’ll find hiking trails that lead right into the canyon, and a nice, high desert climate.
It may not be New York City, but Bryce Canyon has its own Wall Street. It’s a little different, though. It’s one of the many canyon trails that winds around into the canyon, where you are surrounded by towering rock formations that cast shadows every which way. Bryce Canyon is a desert hiker’s dream.
Because it’s so high up, Bryce gets its fair share of weather extremes. In the summer it is hot, and in winter it is freezing cold. Many find that late spring or early fall are good times to go. At those times of year, you can have some warmth and sunshine for your day hikes and the cool desert night to sleep in.
Bryce Canyon has 2 campgrounds, but there are also places where you can pitch your camp out in the wilderness. Both campgrounds are RV accessible.
Zion is an amazing place because it’s located in the spot where three distinct landscapes meet. It’s located at the crossroads between the Mojave Desert, the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. This is why Zion offers sights you won’t see anywhere else.
Hiking and mountain biking are the best way to see Zion. For those of you who are not into long all-day hikes, there are lots of trails that aren’t too long. There are three campgrounds with varying levels of accommodation with spots for your RV and motor home. You can keep it as rugged or as comfortable as you want.
If you really want to see the best of what Zion has to offer, you have to hit the backcountry. This may mean strapping everything to your back and stretching those legs a little bit, but it will be well worth it.
At Zion, you’ll see stark cliffs rising out of the canyon floor, rushing streams cutting through walls of rock, wind and water-sculpted rock formations that look like something from Mars, strikingly beautiful wildflowers growing out of bare earth… and maybe even a mountain lion! Don’t worry, they’re shy. If you see one, it will be for a split second before he runs off to safety.
Arches National Park is named after its most striking feature – the arches. These arches are made of all natural sandstone. Over time, the wind has carved them out of this delicate rock. For geologists, it’s a goldmine of ancient fossils. For hikers and other outdoors types, it’s full of spectacular scenery.
In addition to the arches that make it famous, the park is full of barren desert beauty. Giant boulders stand balanced on top of each other, like they might be ready to fall at any moment. Unearthly rocky shapes stand out in a landscape of sand, shrub and brightly colored wildflowers. Arches is a photographer’s paradise, with its rock structures that subtly change shape over the course of the day as the sun hits them at different angles.
There’s only one campground at Arches, the ominously named Devils Garden Campground. If you plan to go, especially during summer, you should call to make a reservation. You can also make a reservation online. There are both tent camping spots as well as those that can accommodate larger vehicles, trailers and RVs, complete with hook-ups.
You can plan a whole camping vacation around Utah alone. Besides these popular national parks, there are more out-of-the way places to camp in Utah, where you can really get away from it all.