Camp by the largest saltwater lake in the US on a camping trip around Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City, Utah sits in Salt Lake Valley with Oquirrh Mountains to the west and the Wasatch Range to the east. The city’s borders make up the banks of Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the entire western hemisphere. After swimming and boating around the lake, set up camp at Great Salt Lake State Park on a tent, RV, or primitive campsite on the beach. Nearby parks like Antelope Island State Park offer campers views of free-range bison right from their tent window. Or, take a break from the saltwater and discover Utah Lake State Park, where warm fresh waters await swimmers and anglers alike.
A short drive west of the city brings Hipcampers to Great Salt Lake State Park for year-round camping. Campsites for trailers up to 40 feet with water and electric hookups are available by the lake’s rentable marinas for swimming and boating. Or reserve a spot right on the beach in primitive tent campsites with firepits and access to hikes that lead to views of Black Rock National Historic Landmark. There’s no fishing because of the lake’s high salinity and mineral content, but the thriving brine shrimp bring migratory birds that are great for birdwatching.
Antelope Island is the largest island in Great Salt Lake, a wonder of geography that becomes a peninsula when water levels are low. The geography of Antelope Island State Park creates great backcountry trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking (eBike rentals are also available at the visitor’s center). Then, stay at RV or primitive campsites in the park among local free-ranging bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope. The pet-friendly park also has accessible campsites with full hookups, hot showers, and picnic tables.
The mouth of Provo River empties into Utah’s largest freshwater lake. Warm, 75°F Utah Lake waters are rife with catfish, walleye, and white bass available to fish year-round. It’s also great for swimming, boating, and paddleboarding—with canoes and kayaks available to rent within the state park. Campers can rent boat slips too, but they do fill up fast during popular camping seasons. After a day of fishing, set up camp at pet-friendly paved pads that offer back-in and pull-through options as well as full hookups and firepits.
The humid continental climate of Utah’s Great Basin area provides Salt Lake City hot, dry, and mostly clear summers, averaging high temperatures of 86°F. Winter temperatures range from 27°F to 49°F, which makes for great winter camping opportunities for skiers and snowboarders who visit the area. Pacific Ocean jet stream air currents flow right over SLC, which does send large storms from October through May.
There are several BLM camping options near Salt Lake City. One popular spot is the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, located about an hour's drive from Salt Lake City. Another option is the Simpson Springs campground, situated in the West Desert about 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. This area offers a more remote and peaceful camping experience. Keep in mind that while some BLM camping areas are free, others may require a fee for developed campgrounds.