Utah is a camper’s dream. With plenty of outdoor attractions, majestic mountains, stunningly clear skies, and a seemingly infinite number of campgrounds, Utah is the place. Seriously. As for lakeside camping, the options are just as numerous. Nevertheless, here are some of the state’s most gorgeous.
Escalante is a hidden gem in Southern Utah. Located on the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, this campground also neighbors the Escalante Petrified Forest, which features chunks of brilliantly colored petrified wood. To the opposite side, the campsite is bordered by an unassuming reservoir perfect for swimming and other watersports. This campground makes camping seem more like a luxury, given its impeccably clean hot showers and bathrooms. A mere five-minute drive will take you to the center of Escalante, which is home to numerous popular restaurants, an outdoor outfitter, grocery stores, a gas station, and a bunch of cute, tiny pioneer houses. This campground is perfect for amazing hiking followed by a dip in the reservoir and a hot, cleansing (spider-free) shower.
Strawberry Reservoir is a popular watersport and fishing destination in Utah, and for good reason. The reservoir is easy to access, close to both Heber and Park City, and surrounded in every direction by beautiful views. Likewise, Strawberry Bay Campground (which is just on the periphery of Strawberry Reservoir) gives the camper access to those views, as well as access to a cerulean, starry sky and a prime location for roasting marshmallows with your loved ones after a day on the water. With tent sites, RV sites, group sites, drinking water, and flush toilets, the campground feels like somewhat of a home away from home, with way more nature and slightly less refined modern conveniences.
Sitting at a pretty elevation of 8,000 feet, Payson Lakes Campground is a Utah favorite for a variety of reasons: it isn’t too far from town, it’s family friendly, it allows for prime fishing and canoeing, and has all of the necessary amenities for classic yet convenient camping. In the summer, wildflowers decorate the campground, and year-round, campers can enjoy the area’s forests of fir, pine, and aspen. With the water close by (but not too close) you can avoid pesky amounts of bugs, all while maintaining convenient access to the water. This is the kind of campsite you’ll want to take your kids, fire up the Dutch ovens, have a barbecue, and play card games by lantern on your site’s picnic tables. This is low-key, boat-free lakeside camping.
Sometimes, Lakeside Campground doesn’t feel like camping at all. It’s that comfortable. This is lakeside camping at its easiest. Utah Lake is Utah Valley’s largest body of water, making it great for just about any water-related activity. If you don’t feel like swimming in the lake, you can even swim in the campground’s swimming pool. The campground is a “Full Service RV Park,” with Wi-Fi, pull-through sites, cable, and propane refills for your grill. The campground has a lawn for games and sports as well as plenty of shade, which will surely keep you cool even in the heat of summer.
Straddling the border of Idaho and Utah, Bear Lake is arguably Utah’s top water destination. The lake is huge, and if you don’t get eaten by the Bear Lake Monster, odds are you’ll start coming back year after year. And while many rent cabins at Bear Lake, tent camping is also incredibly popular. If you’re worried about being dirty after a day on the lake, don’t be—the campsite has hot showers and flushing toilets to ease your concerns. At Big Creek Campground, you can spend all day working on your tan or jet skiing with your family. Afterwards, you can return to a welcoming campground, a cozy fire, and the comfort of your warm sleeping bag.