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7 Secret Free Campsites in Utah

Certain secrets, including some free campsites in Utah, weren’t meant to be kept.

If you’re a camping fan, the Beehive State offers many spots to pitch your tent and stargaze under the vast desert skies. At the same time, you can also enjoy plenty of privacy and space. Who wouldn’t love that?

Today, we’re showing you seven secret free campsites in Utah where you can escape the crowds and experience the serenity of the great outdoors. These hidden gems are waiting for you to discover them.  

Let’s explore!

You’ll Love These Secret Free Campsites in Utah

From seasoned adventurers to those just dipping their toes into the outdoors, these spots are perfect for all adventure levels. Prepare yourself for the fantastic views these peaceful locations offer.

Utah is home to some astonishing contrasts and natural beauty. It beckons you to discover its landscapes. Luckily, these secret and free campsites will make it as easy as possible to do just that. 

Pro Tip: We ranked the Utah National Parks From Best To Worst to help you plan where to go first.

Camper riding on a Scenic road in the red rock canyons during a vibrant sunny day. Taken in Arches National Park, located near Moab, Utah, United States.
Camping in Utah doesn’t have to be expensive! In fact, you can often do it for free.

#1 Spiral Jetty

Camping at Spiral Jetty offers a unique experience combining art, history, and the beauty of the Great Salt Lake. Be prepared for a rustic adventure and enjoy this remote area’s peace and privacy.

The area features a massive Earth art piece created by American sculptor Robert Smithson in 1970. He used mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, and water to make the popular landmark.

Spiral Jetty provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the serenity of the Great Salt Lake’s surroundings. While it has no set campgrounds, dispersed sites are available on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

These free spots are primitive, so be prepared to bring your water, food, and gear. Also, remember that there are no restrooms or showers, so plan accordingly. You’ll need to be entirely self-sufficient. 

While this spot may lack modern amenities, there’s plenty to see and do. Golden Spike National Historical Park and ATK Thiokol Rocket Display are in the area, and the Great Salt Lake is an experience.

#2 Campsites Cottonwood Canyon Road, Utah

Cottonwood Canyon Road is a scenic 47-mile-long backcountry route in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This park often gets missed as visitors rush to see the “Mighty Five” national parks. However, it offers an incredible opportunity to sleep under some of the darkest night skies in the state.

This unpaved road connects Highway 89 near Big Water to Highway 12 near Cannonville. Along the route, you’ll find several dispersed camping spots. These are free and offer an incredible experience in the heart of Utah’s wilderness.

Expect primitive and remote sites with no facilities such as restrooms, water, or trash collection. Be prepared to practice Leave No Trace rules and carry gear, water, and food supplies. 

We suggest driving a high-clearance vehicle and checking the weather and road conditions, as heavy rains can block the road. The clay can turn into thick mud, impassable for any vehicle, including those with four-wheel drive.

Stop by the local BLM visitor center and grab a permit. Since these spots are within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, you’ll need one. These are free but required for anyone wanting to enjoy camping within the park.

#3 Free Campsites Jug Hollow, Utah 

Jug Hollow in Ashley National Forest, located in northeastern Utah. It’s a hidden gem for those seeking a free, tranquil experience in the dense forests, meandering rivers, and diverse wildlife.

Dispersed camping is in many areas within the forest, including Jug Hollow. Visitors can fully immerse themselves in the beauty of nature without incurring any fees. This spot offers a primitive experience without designated sites or amenities such as restrooms, water, or trash collection.

This location is perfect for those in larger rigs. The best spots are at the end of Forest Road 208, where you can set up and enjoy epic waterfront views. Access is typically very easy as the forest service roads are well maintained.

While there are plenty of sites, this area can get busy. In addition, there are minimal trees, which decreases privacy. However, access to fishing, kayaking, and other aquatic activities make up for it.

#4 Valley of the Gods Dispersed Camping, Utah

Valley of the Gods, situated in the southeastern portion of the state near Mexican Hat. It is a hidden treasure that offers a mesmerizing and secluded camping experience. This lesser-known gem is often compared to the more famous Monument Valley. Its striking red sandstone formations, towering buttes, and sweeping landscapes will impress you. 

Valley of the Gods provides various options, allowing visitors to stay free and explore this enchanting area. However, visitors should come prepared for a primitive and self-sufficient experience. Pack out all trash, respect the environment and wildlife, and minimize the impact on the land.

In Valley of the Gods, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the 17-mile loop road that winds through the valley. It offers stunning views of the unique rock formations and landscapes. Hiking, photography, and stargazing are popular activities in the area, as the remote location and minimal light pollution make for fantastic night sky viewing.

For those looking to venture further, nearby attractions include the iconic Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, just a short drive away. Goosenecks State Park allows you to witness the impressive winding canyons of the San Juan River. Additionally, the Moki Dugway, a series of steep switchbacks on State Route 261, offers a thrilling drive with views of the surrounding landscape.

#5 Campsites in the Silver Island Mountains

The Silver Island Mountains near the Nevada border in northwestern Utah offer a unique and remote wilderness experience in a striking desert landscape. The Silver Island Mountains provide an escape from the crowds, connecting you with the rugged wilderness.

Dispersed camping is allowed in the area, so you can set up for free on public land. However, as with similar spots, they’re first-come, first-served, and there are no amenities. You’ll need to be responsible for providing for yourself and leaving the area as you found it.

Hiking, mountain biking, and off-road driving are popular activities in the area. Additionally, wildlife watching and photography are also popular. However, the region’s minimal light pollution makes it an ideal spot for stargazing.

The Bonneville Salt Flats, famous for its land-speed racing events, are just a short drive away. The flats host major events from August through October, so plan accordingly. Additionally, you can visit the nearby Wendover Airfield. This World War II training base now houses a museum and offers guided tours.

#6 Tom’s Best Spring Dispersed Camping, Utah

Tom’s Best Spring, located in the Dixie National Forest, is a secluded free location with dense forests and abundant wildlife. This is near the famous Bryce Canyon National Park, providing a fantastic opportunity to explore its unique hoodoo formations, scenic overlooks, and extensive trail system.

While exploring the area, you can enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, wildlife watching, and fishing.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is within driving distance for those looking to venture further afield. It offers a vast expanse of rugged landscapes, slot canyons, and archaeological sites. Kodachrome Basin State Park, with its striking sandstone chimneys and spires, is another nearby destination worth visiting.

#7 Gooseberry Mesa Free Campsites

Gooseberry Mesa, located in southwestern Utah near Hurricane, is a world-renowned mountain biking destination. It offers free dispersed camping amidst its striking desert landscapes. The area offers sweeping vistas of the surrounding canyons and rock formations, providing an unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Camping is allowed in several areas along the mesa, with sites tucked into the rolling hills and juniper trees. While these sites are free, they are primitive. So don’t expect any amenities or luxuries unless you plan to bring them with you.

In addition to mountain biking, Gooseberry Mesa offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, horseback riding, and stargazing. The mesa is home to several scenic trails, including the renowned Gooseberry Mesa Trail, a technical singletrack route that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

Nearby attractions include Zion National Park, which offers world-class hiking opportunities. Additionally, the nearby Red Cliffs Recreation Area features a unique geological formation. Known as the Desert Reserve, it delivers hiking trails, scenic drives, and an abundance of wildlife.

Pro Tip: You must explore these 7 Secrets Inside Zion National Park,

Explore Utah’s Beauty on a Budget

As you can see, you don’t have to break the bank to experience epic opportunities. We’ve shared some of our favorite secret campsites in Utah that are 100% free. While they may not cost you a penny, they can be a great place to stay while you make priceless memories. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring the Beehive State!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

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