The Absolute Best Camping Near Salt Lake City

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: July 11, 2023
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Surrounded by the Wasatch Mountains and Oquirrh Mountains, Salt Lake City is in a beautiful valley with mountainous views. Add views of the enormous Great Salt Lake and you have one of the most picturesque settings in the U.S. Sounds like an amazing place to do some camping. If you want to camp, but you also want to stay close to downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, there are plenty of options. Read on to find the absolute best camping near Salt Lake City!

1) Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island is an island (sometimes a peninsula depending on water levels) on the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Visitors come to get away from it all, to hike or mountain bike the trails and go for a float in the Great Salt Lake. In late October you can witness the Annual Bison Roundup where hundreds of horseback riders work together to round up nearly 700 free-roaming bison to move them to the north end of the park. Did you know you can apply to help with the round up by riding with the group? The roster is full this year but plan ahead for next year. If you prefer you can bring a lawn chair and set up to watch the roundup which will be on October 29, 2022 this year. Besides bison there are antelope, bighorn sheep and mule deer that make the island their home.

For camping there are several camping areas in the park with campsites. The main campground has 64 sites for RV’s and Tents. If you are curious how to get your RV to “an island”, Antelope Island State Park is accessed by a causeway at the north end of the park. There are no roads that go through from the south end closest to Salt Lake City. You do need to make reservations at least 2 days in advance for all the campsites. Take a look at the chart below to compare campgrounds and choose what works for you!

Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake

Antelope Island is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

©Bella Bender/Shutterstock.com

LocationNW of downtown right on the Great Salt Lake
Distance from downtown Salt Lake City50 minutes (40 miles)
Bridger Bay Campground64 sites, RV or tent, water and electric in the upper loop, nice covered picnic tables and fire rings, flush restrooms and showers
White Rock Bay Campground20 sites, RV or tent, no water or electric, picnic tables and fire rings, pit toilets only
Lakeside Group Campsite1 site, up to 80 people, no water or electric, picnic tables and fire rings, pit toilets only
Ladyfinger Campground5 sites, walk-in (230 feet from the parking lot), tent only, no water or electricity, picnic tables, no fires allowed at these sites, pit toilets only
Split Rock Bay Backcountry Campsites4 sites, hike-in only (5 miles from the parking lot), primitive sites, no water or electricity, picnic tables, no fires allowed, pit toilet, you do need reservations
AmenitiesRestrooms or pit toilets, picnic tables
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYes, required at least 2 days in advance
What makes it one of the bestSome of the best wildlife viewing in the state!

2) Utah Lake State Park: Lakeshore Campground

It is hard to compete with a lake the size of the Great Salt Lake (not to mention the name proclaiming it’s “Greatness”), but an amazing recreational lake that is near Salt Lake City is the Utah Lake. The Utah Lake State Park and Campground is located about 45 minutes south of downtown on the eastern shore of the lake. The park has 2 marinas, a swimming beach, boat ramp, and a new disc golf course.

Settle in to one of the 31 sites with water and electric and a choice of back-in or pull-thru sites. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire pit and BBQ with access to restrooms and showers. Take your boat out for some epic fishing with anglers snagging walleye, black bass, white bass and channel cats. There is a fish cleaning station on site so plan on some Parmesan crusted walleye for dinner over the grill at your campsite!

Utah Lake with skyline

Utah Lake is only 45 minutes from Salt Lake City and has a wide variety of different activities to keep you busy.

©iStock.com/craigpickup

LocationSouth of downtown on Utah Lake
Distance from downtown45 min (45 miles)
RV/Tent sites31 sites, back-in and pull-thru
CabinsNo
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes, and BBQ
AmenitiesRestrooms, showers, marina, boat ramp, beach
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestLakeside camping close to downtown

3) Salt Lake City KOA Holiday

Salt Lake City skyline Utah in USA

Whether you’re looking for beautiful mountain hikes or downtown shopping, there are so many fun places to visit in Salt Lake City, Utah.

©iStock.com/f11photo

One of the closest places to camp near Salt Lake City is right in the city at the Salt Lake City KOA. It is only 8 miles from the Natural History Museum, 6 miles from the Tracy Aviary and Botanical Gardens and 8 miles to the Hogle Zoo. Visit the African Savanna at the zoo to see the long tongues of the giraffes or the mountain zebras. At the Rocky Shores Exhibit you can watch Nikita and Neva (the resident polar bears) swim through the underwater enclosure or pop up on the rocky land site next to the water where you might get to watch them at dinner time. After a day exploring the attractions in Salt Lake you can head back to the KOA where you can spend several days just enjoying the amenities at the park.

Camping at the KOA really is a vacation in itself. There is a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, and large social fire pit areas for gathering with friends (and meeting new friends) and family for chatting about your excursions around town. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring with some of the RV sites also having nice patios. There are campsites for RV’s and tents as well as cabins for rent. Staying right downtown is what makes this one of the absolute best places to camp near Salt Lake City!

LocationRight in Salt Lake City
Distance from downtownNW of the downtown area
RV/Tent sitesYes, back-in and pull-thru some with full hookups
Tent sitesYes, water/electric
CabinsYes, basic cabins and deluxe with private bathrooms and kitchenettes
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, showers, laundry, swimming pool, playground
Pet FriendlyYes, Kamp K9
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestSo much to do right at the campground you might not need to explore Salt Lake City!

4) Sun Outdoors Salt Lake City

Donut Falls, Utah

A look into the cave of the famous Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Getting to the falls is a very popular hike.

©iStock.com/Aaron Hawkins

Another great option for staying right in Salt Lake City is the Sun Outdoors Salt Lake City RV Park. All the sites are convenient pull-thru sites with full hookups. The campsites have concrete pads with room for pull-outs and cable TV, Wi-Fi, and a picnic table. The park has an outdoor pool, club house with billiards and foosball as well as a camp store.

Wake up early in the morning, brew a cup of coffee, then head to the Donut Falls Hiking Trail, a 3.5 mile loop trail where you might see butterflies, grey squirrels, and white-tail deer on your hike to the unique circular falls in the park. Bring your camera or phone to snap some shots of the beautiful waterfalls. Being so close to downtown also gives you the opportunity to go visit the temples, shops, and restaurants right downtown before turning in at your campsite.

LocationNorth of downtown in North Salt Lake
Distance from downtown12 min (7 miles)
RV SitesYes, full hookup, pull-thru and back-in
Tents sitesNo, not available
CabinsYes, variety from 1 bedroom to deluxe
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, showers, swimming pool, playground
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestNice facilities close to downtown!

5) Bountiful Peak Campground

Bald eagle resting on a tree stump.

There is so much beautiful wildlife to see near the Bountiful Peak Campground, like the majestic bald

eagle

!

©iStock.com/ca2hill

With Salt Lake City surrounded by mountain ranges you know there has to be some amazing mountain camping. The Bountiful Peak Campground is the perfect place for camping in the mountains. Bountiful Peak Campground is less than an hour from downtown Salt Lake City and has 29 sites for RV or tent camping. The scenery is beautiful but be prepared for some primitive camping with no water/electric or sewer hookups.

This is the perfect place to set up camp and explore the park. Load up the back pack with water and granola bars for a day hike where you might see Cooper’s hawks, bald eagles, and plenty of ground squirrels. Enjoy the hiking trails and take lots of pictures to capture nature at its best. Sunrise and sunset are some of the best times to take pictures with the mountains as the backdrop. Truly one of the absolute best places to camp near Salt Lake City!

LocationNorth of downtown in the mountains
Distance from downtown50 min (28 miles)
RV/Tent sites39 sites, non-electric
CabinsNo
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesVault toilets
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsNo, first come first serve
What makes it one of the bestPrimitive mountain camping near Salt Lake!

Summary of The Absolute Best Camping Near Salt Lake City

CampgroundLocation
1Antelope Island State ParkNW of downtown right on the Great Salt Lake
2Utah Lake State Park: Lakeshore CampgroundSouth of downtown on Utah Lake
3Salt Lake City KOA HolidayRight in Salt Lake City
4Sun Outdoors Salt Lake CityNorth of downtown in North Salt Lake
5Bountiful Peak CampgroundNorth of downtown in the mountains

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Aneta Waberska/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Utah State Parks, Available here: https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/camping-opportunities/
  2. Utah State Parks Reservations, Available here: https://utahstateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/utah-lake-state-park/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=UT&parkId=343871
  3. Salt Lake City KOA Holiday, Available here: https://koa.com/campgrounds/salt-lake-city/
  4. Sun Outdoors Salt Lake City, Available here: https://www.sunoutdoors.com/utah/sun-outdoors-salt-lake-city
  5. Recreation.gov, Available here: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/233755?tab=info