The Best Camping Throughout Utah’s Mighty 5 - Native Campervans
The Best Camping Throughout Utah’s Mighty 5
If you’re just starting to plan your trip through Utah, or you’re looking for new places after many months of wanderlust, we know just the place. Utah’s Mighty 5, in our opinion, consists of five of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring National Parks and camping spots in the US.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a few of these National Parks in passing or maybe even visited one or two yourselves. Either way, our team has compiled our favorite established and dispersed campsites at each of these National Parks. Get ready for a great trip from our van pick-up location in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Zion and Arches are often head-to-head for the most popular National Park in Utah’s mighty 5, and nothing beats camping there. They offer a different view of the Southwestern Utah landscape.
The Virgin River runs through the park, creating beautiful, lush landscapes that turn into waterfalls and hanging gardens, all of which culminate into Emerald Pools. Many have experienced or at least heard of the Zion Narrows wading hike that takes hikers through century-old chasms.
The Watchman Campground is our top pick for established campsites in the Zion NP area. Watchman is located a short walk from Zion’s visitor center. Campers can catch the shuttle into the park from their camp spot! Talk about easy. The ease of access to Zion is the main highlight of this campground, but visitors are also treated to amazing views and fiery sunsets.
Kolob Road BLM is our choice for dispersed camping. At this site, campers are close to Zion and can enjoy the peace and quiet of an unestablished campground. There aren’t many amenities but if that is what you’re looking for, Kolob Road BLM is a perfect spot to rest your head after this visit.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon, or what we like to call it – Hoodoo Haven – is home to thousands of spire-shaped rock formations, red canyon lands, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There are hundreds of hikes, lookouts, and viewpoints to visit on your trip to Bryce Canyon NP. Bryce Canyon is truly an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.
North Canyon Campground is located inside of Bryce Canyon NP. Weekend adventurers have easy access to all Bryce Canyon has to offer as well as amazing views of the rock formations and vistas. North Canyon is at 8000 ft elevation. Bring a jacket! No matter what month you visit in, this campground is guaranteed to get chilly at night.
Dixie National Forest is a fantastic, dispersed campsite and only 15 minutes away from Bryce Canyon NP. Past campers say that it is easy to find, there are lots of sites, and the service is good. Large Doug Firs surround this dispersed site.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is one of Utah’s lesser-known Mighty 5, but it has some amazing spots for camping. Many visitors tend to overlook this natural wonder. You don’t want to miss this park! Capitol Reef is home to the Waterpocket Fold. This should-be world wonder contains multiple layers of golden sandstone, canyonlands, and idyllic rock formations. If you’re into monoliths, the Cathedral Valley is nearby.
Whether you’re looking for a scenic drive, other-worldly views, historic petroglyphs, or hiking; Capitol Reef NP has something for everyone.
Fruita Campground is an idyllic and established camp spot nestled in the cliffs and canyons of Capitol Reef NP. It is located inside the Waterpocket Fold. This is the only established campsite in Capitol Reef NP.
Have you ever heard of desert mirages? Images of water and grass that appear to wary travelers in the desert? Fruita campground is a desert mirage come to life. With lush grass, surrounded by multi-colored sandstone rock, and potable water nearby – there is truly nothing like it!
Capitol Reef National Park Dispersed Camping offers a more intimate experience. This dispersed campsite does feature porta potty’s nearby but that is the extent of the comforts of home you’ll experience while camping here.
At Capitol Reef, you aren’t located inside the park but you do get some of the feel of Capitol Reef NP. Sandstone cliffs surround you. You can truly get some peace and quiet at this campsite.
Canyonlands National Park
Weekend warriors can get to Canyonlands in just under four hours from Salt Lake City, UT. In four hours, you’ll be transported into a picturesque desert landscape. Canyons and buttes carved out over centuries thanks to the Colorado River will surround you on all sides.
Canyonlands NP is split up into four districts and each district offers a host of different activities for visitors to choose from. You can take advantage of hikes and four-wheeling or explore and learn about historic Indian artifacts and culture or spend an afternoon white water rafting.
After a busy day like that, you’ll need a place to rest your head.
Campers looking for a set-up campsite should park at Island in the Sky Campground. Though there is no water at this campground, there are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Our favorite thing about this campsite is that this spot is very close to hiking access and only ¼ mile away from a killer sunset overlook!
Those looking for a more “off the beaten path” campsite can check out Lockhart Road Dispersed Campsite. At this site, you’ll lay your head to rest between a sea of red rock hoodoos. Campers often climb the surrounding hills to look out over the valley.
Hamburger Rock is your vantage point. Just past there, you will find the turn-off to the campsite. Due to the remote nature of the campground, the sunsets and starry skies are magical.
If you want to feel like you’ve really immersed yourself in Canyonlands NP, then Lockhart Road Dispersed Campsite is the site you’re looking for.
Arches National Park
Arches NP is a little over 3 and a half hours from the Salt Lake City area. Most campervanners are blown away by the looming natural arches that tower over them.
Arches earns its name because visitors can explore the 2000 natural arches located in the park. Hikers, cyclists, stargazers, and rock climbers can spend days exploring this natural playground.
Devil’s Garden Campground is located inside of Arches NP. Devil’s Garden is unique because it allows campers to sleep among the arches. Cacti lovers can marvel at the many prickly pear cacti, yucca, and desert flowers that appear painted on the rocks surrounding the campsite.
Sunrises and sunsets are phenomenal at Devil’s Garden. The sun radiates off the high desert landscape. From Devil’s Garden you’ll watch the entire park turn radiant reds, pinks, and oranges.
Because Devil’s Garden is an established campground, campers can expect a more luxurious experience. The site features paved roads, toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, and much more.
Campers looking to commune with nature a little more can take advantage of BLM 378/Willow Springs Rd. Unlike Devil’s Garden, this site doesn’t feature the same comforts of home like paved roads or built toilets.
That shouldn’t stop you though! After all, you’re pretty set up with your van! Why not try out a dispersed campsite? If you’re looking for unbeatable stargazing, BLM 378/Willow Springs Rd is the spot to camp at when visiting Arches NP. Dispersed campsites allow visitors to camp farther away from other campers which means fewer lights at night and more stars.
We hope this list of Utah’s mighty 5 camping spots and National Parks inspires you to get out and explore the great outdoors. Even if you’ve been to one of these National Parks or campsites before, there is also something new you can discover. Tag us on social media (@nativecampervans) and let us know where you’ve ended up!