5 Secret Campsites near Utah’s National Parks

Utah Secret Campgrounds

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

Zion National Park Campsites

http://utah.com/campgrounds/smithsonian-butte-zion

 

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?

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES

• Picnic tables

• vault toilets

• grills

• graveled roads

• trash receptacles

• 31 sites

NO DRINKING WATER AVAILABLE AT THE CAMPGROUND

FEES

$15/site

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

Arches National Park

http://utah.com/campgrounds/kens-lake-moab

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.

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES

• Drinking water available May 1st – October 15th

• Toilets

• 15 sites

FEES

$15/site

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

Bye Canyon Utah

http://utah.com/campgrounds/windwhistle-canyonlands

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

Cedar Mesa Campground Utah

http://utah.com/campgrounds/cedar-mesa

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.

CAMPGROUND AMENTITIES

• 37 sites

• Drinking water

• Flush and vault toilets

• Showers

• Dump station

• Garbage disposal

FEES

$15/site

$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

Red Canyon Campground Utah

http://utah.com/camping/red-canyon

 

For more local knowledge and first hand reviews of campsites across the country check out this innovative new campground review website.

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