Great (and Easy) Weekend Trips in Southern Utah
As the leaves change color and the air turns crisp, it’s the perfect time of year to rally family and friends for one last camping trip. But with the end of summer’s lazy days, who has time or energy for a prolonged backpacking adventure?
Keep planning to a minimum with a weekend-friendly car camping adventure instead. We’ve rounded up some of the best spots for camping with kids, buddies, or a whole family reunion. Each of these campgrounds offers sunny Southern Utah fall weather and proximity to great recreational opportunities. There’s sure to be a getaway site that’s perfect for your crew.
Online Bonus: See the locations of each of these campgrounds and get driving directions at goo.gl/ZBKRpZ
Sunset Campground, Bryce Canyon National Park
Do you like hitting the trail before you’ve even set up your tent? The very best of Bryce Canyon’s spectacular hiking trails loop outward from Sunset Point, just a few hundred yards from this campground’s entrance. Explore colorful hoodoos via the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden trails, or linger at Sunset Point’s gorgeous vista. Separate areas are reserved for RV and tent campers, meaning you’ll enjoy either convenient utility hookups or generator-free peace and quiet.
Number of sites: 100
Cost per night: $15 (plus park entry fee)
For Mountain Bikers:
Kayenta Campground, Dead Horse State Park
For dedicated riders, Kayenta Campground offers a rugged but rewarding experience just moments from some of Utah’s greatest trails. You won’t find showers or campfire rings here, but you’ll enjoy escaping the sun at shaded patio tables and grilling dinner on built-in charcoal BBQs. Canyonlands, Arches, and Moab are within a 45-minute drive of the morbidly-named park. The three loops of the Intrepid Trail System that snake through the park provide a perfect slickrock experience for novice to intermediate riders (or a warmup before tackling a gnarlier ride).
Number of sites: 18
Cost per night: $25
For the Spur of the Moment:
Red Canyon Campground, Dixie National Forest
Tucked amid ponderosa pines and towering red rock formations, you’ll find the secluded refuge of Red Canyon Campground. It’s connected to an extensive system of trails via a short, scenic walk, and it has amenities for both tent and RV campers. This campground is first-come, first-served, so no reservations are required or accepted. Though it can fill up in the summer months, fall’s quieter days practically guarantee you’ll have your pick of spots.
Number of sites: 37
Cost per night: $15
For Big Groups:
Snow Canyon State Park
Get the whole gang together for an impromptu family reunion. Snow Canyon offers two generously-sized group camping areas that accommodate up to 50 campers. Lava tubes, lava flows, and extinct cinder cones all make this a must-see for the geologically minded as well. Don’t be fooled by the name—Snow Canyon sees snow only during the depths of winter. It’s a great choice for late-season camping. Plus, its location near St. George’s resorts and restaurants makes it a great choice if you don’t want to cook for 30 every night.
Number of sites: 27
Cost per night: $16
For Hungry Campers:
Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef National Park
What could be more wholesome than a day of apple picking with friends or family? At this “oasis in the desert,” you’re welcome to gather in-season fruits from the 3,000-plus trees originally planted by hardy settlers and now maintained by rangers using historically-correct methods. You’re welcome to eat all you care to while visiting the orchards, or pay a low per-pound price to take your harvest home (or just back to your campsite). Apple season lasts until mid-October—check the park website (nps.gov/care) for more precise harvest dates.
Number of sites: 17
Cost per night: $10
Though the days are growing shorter, there’s still plenty of time to squeeze in another camping trip (or two) before the snow flies. Grab a friend or round up the family and head out on a final adventure to cap off the season.