5 Amazing Camping Spots Near Salt Lake City

Escape the city and find some peace and quiet.

By: Utah.com
April 29, 2015

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Salt Lake City's proximity to amazing outdoor recreation almost eliminates the need to own a tent. Then again, there’s something pure and recalibrating about rolling out a mat and sleeping on the lumpy ground. And with so many amazing camping spots hiding around the Salt Lake Valley, the decision to get out and rough it gets a little less rough. Take a quick drive up the canyon, head out to the Great Salt Lake or make it a full weekend trip down to southern Utah — you really can't go wrong with any of these epic homes-away-from-home.

1. Albion Basin

Photo: Colton Marsala

A short drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon will lead you to great camping at Albion Basin Campground. From there it's an easy but absolutely beautiful hike up to Cecret Lake (bonus local cred if you didn't raise an eyebrow at the spelling). Learn More.

2. Stansbury Island

Photo: Eric Bennett

Stansbury Island isn't exactly an island — it’s only mostly surrounded by the waters of the Great Salt Lake — but it offers pretty incredible views at the sunrise or sunset. Because most of it is BLM land, you won't need much planning or notice — just pack up and go! Learn More.

3. The Spiral Jetty

Photo: Prajit Ravindran

First check out Spiral Jetty, one of the world’s preeminent works of land art, created by Robert Smithson on the coast of the Great Salt Lake. Then, since it’s a bit of a trek out there, you’d do well to set up camp nearby and let the aesthetic significance swirl around you overnight. Like Stansbury Island, this place is rugged and has little camping infrastructure, so head out there with a mind open to uncommon versions of natural beauty. Learn More.

4. Willow Lake

Photo: Lindsay Daniels

Willow Lake is a gorgeous mountain lake up Big Cottonwood Canyon. (Moose seem to dig it, too, so keep an eye out.) It's a short hike from the parking lot, so not strictly car camping, but it's close enough to bring an arm full of gear without too much trouble. Call it “luxury backpacking.” Learn More.

5. Little Grand Canyon

Photo: Derrick Lytle

Little Grand Canyon is exactly what it sounds like. Debatably better than the real thing if you’re crowd-averse, because this one’s secret is pretty well kept. Often overshadowed (and underpopulated) by its proximity to neighboring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, you've got to be pretty unlucky not get a (free!) campsite. Learn More.


Get more information on these trails and others around Utah at Utah.com.

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.