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Utah’s Top Winter Campsites

Utah. It evokes so many vivid images; after all, it is a land of abundant beauty, red-stone canyons, has a rich ancient history, and is home to the mighty five national parks: Zion, Bryce, Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands. What’s best is all of them are within three hours of each other. But, here is an insider tip if you are planning to do winter camping in Utah: north Utah can become sub-arctic during the off-season however, it is South Utah that becomes a playground for all outdoor enthusiasts. We have rounded up Utah’s Top winter campsites for you to plan your trip this winter.

1. Sand Hollow State Park near Zion National park

Nearly 45 minutes west of Zion, it is one of Utah’s newer state parks. It has two campgrounds(Sandpit and Westside) on the BLM land and each of them has its separate fee system, usually ranging from USD 25-USD 38 where you can pull a campervan. Once you enter and take in the beautiful and unique red sand landscape and sandy beaches, you do these two activities over there: 

What can I do there?

Picnicking: You and your group can picnic around in several areas dotted around the lake. Imagine having a relaxing meal while enjoying spectacular views of the sand dunes, mountains, we have got you hooked, right!

Mountain biking: Utah mountains are famous for both hiking and biking. The Bearclaw poppy trail is one such trail you do with your friends while catching a view of the gorgeous mountains of Utah.  

Tip: Pack your binoculars because you will have over 20,000 acres of open area for wildlife viewing

2. Red cliff’s campground in Red cliff’s conservation area

This campground is run by the BLM and will cost you the standard USD 15 per night but remember only 10-11 sites are available which are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and each of them has a shaded picnic area, fire pit, and running water. This spot is right off I-70 but yet it is so secluded that you will feel a world away. 

What can I do there?

If you are interested in seeing Dinosaur tracks, then add this place to your list when planning a winter camping in Utah as there you can find 17 well-preserved dino tracks. Apart from this, hiking, climbing are other sought-after activities done by adventurous seekers like you.

3. Devil’s Garden Campground in Arches & Canyonlands

Imagine camping around natural sandstone arches and jaw-dropping scenery, exciting? Right. What’s even more amusing is that Arches National park has the highest number of natural arches in the world and over 2500 of these can be found in the Devil’s garden. But, remember there are no resources at Devils Garden so make sure your campervan has enough space to stock up on water, food for all of your friends before you drive. 

What can I do there?

This area has one of the beautiful natural sandstone arches, monoliths which were sculpted over 170 million years ago by wind, ice, and thermal erosion. Thus, it beckons you to wander carefree. Hiking trails are abundant and one such famous trail is the Broken Arch trail which is located within the campground. You can also opt for guided hiking tours of the fiery furnace

4. North Campground in the Bryce Canyon National park

Over 99 sites are available for campers. The campground is first come first serve and thus, it is suggested to arrive early if you don’t have a prior reservation since they tend to fill by 2 PM. 

What can I do there?

You can go for the Rim Trail which happens to be the most accessible hiking trail around here with the trailhead starting at the campground. If you are one of those who loves watching the sunrise, then visit Bryce point; the morning light gives it a beautiful orange glow. For an adrenaline rush, see the natural bridge which is 85 feet long and 125 feet high.

5. Fruita in Capitol Reef National park 

Among the aforementioned campgrounds, the Fruita campground may be one of the most spectacular you have ever visited. Campsites are nestled beneath an impressive red cliff and surrounded by the beautiful orchard and Fremont River. By staying here, one can see the geological anomaly- water pocket fold, a literal wrinkle in the earth, that extends over 100 miles.  

What can I do over there?

Slot canyon hikes or Canyoneering: There are several tight slot canyons to explore here. Some of which you can squeeze through on food while others require you to bring canyoneering equipment. Join a local guide on a canyoneering excursion to learn more. 

Historic attractions: Check out the Fruita Schoolhouse, old Blacksmith Shop, the Fremont Petroglyphs, and the Gifford Homestead.

How renting a campervan can help me while planning a trip?

Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in domestic travel across the US including road trips through many of America’s national parks. One of the most famous parks known as Utah national park road trip offers some of the most unique and diverse landscapes in all of the US and they are best seen at your own pace. To do so, we think renting a camper van is one of the best ways to explore the state and see the area at your convenience. When you have a van, you have your home with you. This translates into saving money you would have spent on food and accommodation because you will be sleeping and cooking inside your van.

Everybody likes to travel and explore at their speed. When you are driving down scenic byways, you can stop at any sunset point and marvel at its beauty. It will be up to you whether you want to do a “mighty five road trip” in a week or want to spend more time hiking to hidden canyons far from popular tourist spots.

Lastly, what are the tips I should know before planning winter camping in Utah?

A few of the tips listed below will ensure you get the best out of your trip.

Purchase the America the Beautiful National Park pass: Having this pass covers your admission to all the aforementioned parks for a full year for only USD 80. Even if you are planning to pay for an individual pass, it will come down to a total of USD 150. So, having the pass helps you save USD 70. 

Start your day early: After sunset when the temperature freezes, you have no other option but to stay at the campsite. Hence, start your day after sunrise. 

Stock on food:  One cannot imagine how much you will save by doing grocery shopping in advance before heading to the park. 

Pack layers: When you are hiking, it can get a little warm while climbing up. Wearing layers helps you unzip as the day warms up. 

Download Offline maps: Since much of the Utah national parks trips are remote,  there is a high likelihood you will be without cell phone service for much of your trip. Therefore, having an offline version of google maps for all of southern Utah will help you navigate your way easily. 

Apart from the tips given above, you can add yours which you think will be useful when winter camping in Utah. Also, keep in your mind that many of the campgrounds are open year-round. As a safe side, always check the weather report before booking as the temperature in some of the areas can fall below freezing once the sunsets.