From breathtaking sandstone arches and canyons to world-class skiing, Utah is an all-season, crowd-pleasing destination for van lifers. Utah boasts more national parks than any other state, bar California and Alaska, and it’s easy to see why. The landscape is awash with gold, orange, and red hues that could warm you up on the coldest of winter days. Rock climbers, geologists, and fans of natural beauty are in heaven when they see the variety of interesting rock formations across the state.
From van life magnets to hidden gems, from cities to remote desert lands, we’re sharing ten places in Utah to add to your next road trip itinerary. Looking for the best destinations, spots for van camping, and activities to enjoy while you’re there? Read on.
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GREAT SALT LAKE AND SALT LAKE CITY
Where to Van Camp: Great Salt Lake State Park Campground
Why we Love it: Get your fill of both city life and wide-open nature when you stay in a small waterside campground on the Great Salt Lake. The lake has an unusually high salt content which allows swimmers to float effortlessly on the water, much like the Dead Sea. From your campsite, venture around 20 minutes east to Utah’s capital, Salt Lake City, to visit museums, restaurants, and the culturally-interesting Temple Square.
Where to Van Camp: Park City RV Resort
Why we Love it: Around 40 minutes away from Utah’s capital, you’ll find the ski bunny mecca of Park City. This area is home to some of the country’s best ski resorts. Get cozy in your van with views of the snow-capped mountains at the Park City RV resort, take a self-guided tour of the 2002 Winter Olympics site, and of course, hit the slopes. At the end of January, the city also plays host to international visitors for the Sundance Film Festival, which offers tickets to the general public.
DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
Where to Van Camp: Green River Campground
Why we Love it: If you tend to look for travel destinations with a story, this national monument is for you. Follow the thread of this land from prehistoric times to the age of the ancient Fremont people with a large collection of Jurassic-era dinosaur fossils and beautifully-preserved petroglyphs. In the warmer months, you can also get your adrenaline pumping with whitewater rafting on the Green and Yampa Rivers. Boondock at a campground next to the Green River and enjoy a bit of fishing on a lazy day.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Where to Van Camp: Moab Valley RV Resort & Campground
Why we Love it: Arches National Park is one of the most scenic destinations in the U.S. and lucky van dwellers can stay in luxury at the doorstep of the park. With a swimming pool, hot tub, giant chessboard, and putting green on-site, it might be hard to tear yourself away from the Moab Valley RV Resort. However, you’ll be glad you did when you’re standing under the towering red sandstone arches that the park is famous for. Try your hand at photographing one of the park’s most dynamic-looking spots, the Double Arch.
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Where to Van Camp: Moab Valley RV Resort & Campground
Why we Love it: If you prefer using one campground as a home base for different day trip adventures, you’re in luck! Moab is one of the most beloved van life destinations in Utah because it is located between multiple popular national and state parks. From the RV resort, one only needs to drive 35 minutes to reach Canyonlands National Park, which provides a majestic landscape similar to the Grand Canyon, minus the throngs of tourists.
DEAD HORSE POINT STATE PARK
Where to Van Camp: Kayenta Campground
Why we Love it: Keep the good times rolling by heading from Canyonlands National Park to this adjacent state park. Dead Horse Point State Park is known for an overlook of colorful striated cliffs which are cut into a “U” shape by the Colorado river an astonishing 2,000 feet below. You can wait out the midday heat at the shady, peaceful campground, then walk directly from your campsite to several hiking trailheads as well as the visitor’s center. After dark, the minimal light pollution results in some heady Milky Way views.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Where to Van Camp: Bryce Canyon Pines Campgrounds
Why we Love it: Bryce Canyon is yet another of Utah’s famous “Mighty Five” national parks that makes it onto our list. Notably, this area has the world’s largest concentration of hoodoos, which are picturesque irregular columns of rock. The park is open year-round and, if you’re willing to brave the cold, you’ll be rewarded with an even more spectacular landscape of snow-covered orange hoodoos against the bright blue sky. At this campground, you’ll appreciate full hook-ups along with a personal fire pit for cozy s’mores-making sessions.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
Where to Van Camp: Watchman Campground
Why we Love it: Explorers will be thrilled with the opportunities for adventure offered by Zion National Park, particularly the endless-seeming playground of slot canyons. There are a variety of hikes for every difficulty level through these narrow sandstone passageways, from scenic and sandy walks to more technical hikes that require wading through water. Looking for a challenge? Book a guided canyoneering experience to learn how to rappel down the cliff walls.
CORAL PINK SAND DUNES STATE PARK
Where to Van Camp: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Campground
Why we Love it: Ramble on down to the bottom of the state for a dreamlike landscape of coral-toned sand. The dunes are estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old and lend themselves well to dramatic photography, barefoot walking adventures, and sand sledding with rental gear available at the visitor’s center. The park’s campground offers modern amenities including hot showers to wash away all of the sand accumulated while exploring the dunes.
MONUMENT VALLEY NAVAJO TRIBAL PARK
Where to Van Camp: Goulding’s Monument Valley RV & Campgrounds
Why we Love it: This iconic park managed by the Navajo Nation straddles Utah and Arizona and is a must-visit location in either state. Numerous major films have been shot in Monument Valley, shaping our collective image of the American West. Fiery-colored pinnacles, mesas, and buttes tower up to 1,000 feet above the 17-mile scenic driving loop. Stay overnight at the well-located Goulding’s RV Park to make the most of sunrise and sunset views in the valley. Then check out the nearby Goulding’s Museum for a taste of the area’s history.
Whether you choose a few spots from our recommendations or follow the entire list, you’re sure to be inspired by the magnificent vistas and rich history of Utah. Looking for the van to take you there? Visit Rec Van today.