From lakes to mountains to desert plateaus, Utah’s great outdoors comes in many flavors.
With a wide variety of terrains ranging from dense forest to arid plateaus, Utah has been attracting campers, backpackers, and hikers for generations. It's home to five national parks, plus dozens of state parks and national forests and monuments (not to mention plenty of BLM land), making it easy to find a Utah camping experience that suits you best. While the southern and eastern parts of the state attract lovers of the great outdoors with their massive rock formations and abundance of recreation activities, you’ll also find plenty to do up in the north, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to getting out on one of the region’s many lakes and reservoirs come summer.
Northern Utah is where you'll find some of the state's lushest areas, with plenty of lakes and mountains, a stark contrast to the rockier, arid regions to the south. Salt Lake City is one of the region's biggest draws, and its easy access to outdoor recreation areas, such as Antelope Island State Park on the Great Salt Lake, makes it a reasonable base for those wanting to explore the region. Camping areas abound in this region—the tent-only Cottonwood Campground at Bear Lake State Park is a particularly good choice.
Eastern Utah offers some of the best opportunities for outdoor recreation in the state, and that's not just because two of Utah’s five national parks—Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park—are here, a short drive from Moab. Spots worth visiting include Dead Horse Point State Park (popular for mountain biking) and Natural Bridges National Monument, where you’ll see three natural bridge formations carved from the earth millennia ago. This area is also great for archaeology fans. Hovenweep National Monument is a great place to check out the ruins of 13th-century pueblos, while Bear Ears National Monument is full of beautifully preserved ancient cave art.
South Central Utah offers a mix of high desert and dense forest, with plenty of spots to go out and play. You can hike through the slot canyons of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, explore the fairytale-like hoodoos at Goblin Valley State Park, or try your hand at canyoning at Capitol Reef National Park. This region is also home to Lake Powell, on the Colorado River, right on the border with Arizona.
Home to both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, southwest Utah offers fantastic hiking and camping options, with a mix of beautiful rock formations, vast forests, and desert sand dunes. While the national parks are the main draw, this region offers plenty to do, from ATV/OHV riding on the massive golden dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park to checking out the red rock formations at Kodachrome Basin State Park. You'll find some of Utah's best camping spots and hiking trails all through the region, and the lack of light pollution makes this area ideal for stargazing under the night skies.