Secret campsites across America have been something of a myth as National Parks become overcrowded by the day. With so many campers hitting the road this summer and not enough campgrounds to meet the demand it’s about time that local experts share new sites to explore. With the most iconic National Parks in this country, the state of Utah has miles of untapped potential in the form of campsites. Through some research and with added expert knowledge we have some new areas to share with you. From Zion to Bryce Canyon there are plenty of incredible views and start nights sky’s for everyone to enjoy.
So what are you waiting for, Go Adventure.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway near Rockville, Utah (you have to camp 1/2 mile away from the road)
Not many travelers know about this secret camping spot–it’s sort of a hush-hush “locals only” spot (sorry, locals!). There’s a reason people want to keep this Virgin River floodplain all to themselves–it’s gorgeous, quiet, serene and away from the crowds that swarm Zion National Park. Also, it’s probably not where you want to throw your next big party extravaganza. Respect the quiet requests of your camping neighbors–even if you don’t see them, they’re there. Hermits are welcome.
Views from the byway: Smithsonian Butte, Eagle Crags, Vermillion Cliffs
This is backcountry camping–there are absolutely zero amenities. Unless you believe that Mother Nature is the best amenity you could ever ask for.
BONUS: Visit Grafton ghost town, located along the byway.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Hurricane, Utah – Link to Google Map here
• Head north on S 100 W toward State Street
• Turn right at the 1st cross street onto State Street
• Turn right onto UT-9 E/W 500 North
• Turn right onto Bridge Rd
• Turn right onto 250 S/Grafton Rd
• Turn left onto Smithsonian Butte Rd
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Ken’s Lake Campground located 10 miles south of Moab
Bring your motorhome, your tent, your army cot that you inherited from Grandpa, your Airstream or your truck with all your gear in tow. Ken’s Lake doesn’t discriminate–unless you’re planning on being a jerk and messing the place up. If you’re a jerk, please stay home. Moab is full of nice people and nice visitors–so practice Leave No Trace principles, and let’s leave it better than we found it, alright?
• Picnic tables
• vault toilets
• graveled roads
• trash receptacles
• 31 sites
NO DRINKING WATER AVAILABLE AT THE CAMPGROUND
Campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and time is limited to 14 days within a 30 day period.
HOW TO GET TO KEN’S LAKE CAMPGROUND
• drive 7 miles south of Moab on U.S. Hwy 191
• Turn left (east) and follow the signs approximately 3 miles to the lake
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Wind Whistle Campground
The campground is located 38 miles southwest of Moab, near Roan Bailey Mesa, and is somewhat cooler than Moab during the summer.
• Drinking water available May 1st – October 15th
• 15 sites
Campsites available on first-come, first-serve basis.
HOW TO GET TO WINDWHISTLE CAMPGROUND
• Drive 32 miles south of Moab on Hwy 191
• Turn west on the Canyon Rims Recreation Area turnoff and travel this road for 6 miles
CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
Cedar Mesa Campground
This primitive campground has:
• 5 sites
• Picnic tables
• Fire grates
• Pit toilet
NO DRINKING WATER AVAILABLE
No fees, no reservations
CHECK IN WITH CAPITOL REEF VISITOR CENTER FOR ROAD CONDITIONS PRIOR TO PLANNING AN OVERNIGHT STAY
HOW TO GET TO CEDAR MESA CAMPGROUND
From Capitol Reef National Park: 21.2 miles, 1 hour 9 minutes. Click here for Google Map.
• Head east on UT-24 toward Notom Bullfrog Basin Rd
• Turn right onto Notom Bullgrog Basin Road
• Continue onto County Road
• Continue onto Notom-Bullfrog Road
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Red Canyon Campground
The campground is just off of Scenic Byway Utah State Highway 12, and is surrounded by limestone formations similar to those found in Bryce Canyon National Park. The area around the campground is close to hiking and mountain biking trails. The Buckhorn Trailhead is located inside the campground.
• 37 sites
• Drinking water
• Flush and vault toilets
• Dump station
• Garbage disposal
$24/group site (up to 4 vehicles)
$6 for extra vehicle
$4 for day use area
Group area: $25 for 1-50 people; $100 for 51-100 people
For more local knowledge and first hand reviews of campsites across the country check out this innovative new campground review website.