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May 30, 2023 1:00:00 PM 7 min read

The 15 Best Dispersed Camping Spots in Utah

Want to camp without costs or reservations? This one is definitely for you. Put society and the city behind you for a day or five and take a walk on the wild side with dispersed camping. Head off the beaten path with the best-dispersed camping in Utah. 

What is Dispersed Camping? 

Dispersed camping essentially means finding a secluded spot in nature, setting up, and roughing it (in a tent, RV, or another suitable vehicle) outside of designated camping grounds. It allows you to distance yourself from other people and to connect with your natural surroundings in a unique way, far from the maddening crowds found in common campsites.

Also known as free camping or boondocking, dispersed camping is “off the beaten path” and free in every sense of the word. It is the perfect getaway for the wild at heart. It’s often synonymous with BLM camping, in Utah and elsewhere.

tent set up next to campfire

Where Can I Find Dispersed Camping?

The list of options for camping in the Beehive State is enormous and boasts some of the most sought-after dispersed campgrounds in the entire country.

Apart from offering some of the best skiing in the world, Utah is also home to five of North America’s most epic national parks. Add to this the fact that many dirt roads in the state come to a dead end on BML territory (Bureau of Land Management, which manages a little less than 50% of the land in Utah).

Dispersed camping is permitted here, and the options for finding an exotic spot to chill for a few nights are almost infinite. However, while hundreds of alternatives exist in Utah, one should always first call or visit the local ranger station to get the most accurate information on where best to head into the wild.

utah national park warning sign

Why Do People Choose Dispersed Camping?

Though some prefer a standard campsite with its amenities and human buzz, dispersed or free camping is considered by most in the outdoor community to be the best or purest means of reconnecting with the old ways – a “return to your roots” free-style camping approach that does not require reservations, nor fees, and offers no traditional amenities. There are no rules besides those which are based on a sincere respect for nature, such as leaving the spot where you stayed exactly as you found it.

Discovering that perfect spot may require a hike or the use of a solid 4x4, where you can then set up as you please. In the warmer months, you may even opt to sleep without a tent, under a star-fretted night sky. 

Our 15 Best Dispersed Camping Spots

1. Muley Point

mulley point utah

Although it doesn’t offer much in the way of shade, Muley Point (in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) does provide some of the most jaw-dropping views in the state, particularly from the top of the cliff at the southern end of Cedar Mesa.

2. Jug Hollow

ashley national forest utah

Located in the Ashley National Forest, on the banks of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, this is one of our faves in the Northeast of the state. It has flat areas for camping and stunning views in all directions, though it can get a little crowded in high season. 

3. Gooseberry Mesa

gooseberry mesa near zion national park

Located on BLM land and very close to Zion National Park, Gooseberry Mesa offers some of the very best dispersed camping in the Zion area. Just be sure that you are on BLM territory before setting up as there is a fair bit of private property along the road, which is to be avoided.

4. Tom’s Best Spring Road

bryce canyon national park

Often referred to as Forest Road 117, this area has an endless selection of locations to pitch your tent near Bryce Canyon. With easy access via well-maintained roads, the Dixie National Forest is beautiful and offers plenty of shade. Worth noting is that it does normally get pretty busy at Tom’s, but there are always plenty of secret spots to be found if one ventures a little further into the wild.

5. La Sal Loop

la sal mountains

If you’re looking for campgrounds near Arches National Park, put a pin near La Sal Loop. The loop winds for about 60 miles around the La Sal mountains, offering a myriad of stunning dispersed camping sites. Given its elevation, it is a little cooler in summer than many other sweltering camping areas. Camp close to the rim for some of the state's most famous views.

Related Reading: Scenic Byways of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

6. Valley of the Gods

valley of the gods utah

Situated on BLM territory near Mexican Hat and not far from Muley Point, this area is simply breathtaking. It is made up of enormous rock formations, reddish buttes, mesas, and masses of rock towers. The roads are suitable for almost any type of vehicle and the sunrises and sunsets are unmissable.

7. Stansbury Island

stansbury utah, near salt lake city utah

A visually stunning out-and-back spot to the west of Salt Lake City, it is preferable to be driving a pretty rugged vehicle when you visit Stansbury, although it is easy to find and navigate. Just one heads up: some of the land is private so make sure to set up on BLM territory. But, if you pick the right spot, Stansbury can be one of the best secret camping spots in Utah.

8. Spiral Jetty


Close to the town of Corinne, near the northern stretches of Great Salt Lake and not far from Golden Spike National Historic Park, you can find this huge earthwork sculpture, built-in 1970 by Robert Smithson. The area is somewhat desolate and remote, with awesome sunsets and sunrises over the lake, though it lends itself more to RV, van, or vehicle accommodation as it can get pretty windy. Much of the land is private so be sure to choose carefully where to spend your time.

9. Diamond Fork Canyon

diamond fork canyon utah

Of the dispersed camping areas close to Salt Lake City, our favorite camping areas are located about 12 to 15 miles into the Diamond Fork Canyon. One major bonus about staying here is the easy access to the Fifth Water Hot Springs. The Canyon is absolutely breathtaking with plenty of fabulous hiking possibilities.

10. Silver Island Mountains

bonneville salt flats utah

One of Utah’s most popular tourist destinations set on BLM land, the Bonneville Salt Flats are unique and also famous for land speed record contests. Camping is not permitted on the flats, but there are plenty of options in the surrounding areas, particularly in the Silver Island Mountains. Expect unbelievable stargazing and great daytime views.

Related Reading: Utah Hiking Bucket List: 15 Epic Summer Hikes

11. Cottonwood Canyon Road

grand staircase escalante national monument utah

For some ultra-remote camping, visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Located between Big Water and Cannonville, it is the largest national monument managed by the BLM. With masses of dispersed camping options, our favorites are along Cottonwood Canyon Road. If you’re looking for something as remote as possible, it doesn’t get much better than this.

12. Hole in the Rock Road

holes in the desert rock

Also located close to the Grand Staircase-Escalante and offering loads of hiking options, the camping selection here is almost endless. With phenomenal views and plenty of privacy, if one looks around carefully, this area also lends itself to virtually any size vehicle. Beware though - it can get very windy and dusty.

13. Manning Meadow

wasatch mountain range meadow

Situated in the Fishlake National Forest on the shores of the Manning Meadows Reservoir, this is a relatively old-school primitive camping area, but in one of the most tranquil areas of Utah. Enjoy a wide variety of activities in this magical wilderness, such as hiking, swimming, and fishing.

14. Willow Springs Road

old willows southern utah

The camping areas along Willow Springs Road are hard to miss! We like the fact that it is easily accessible, making it ideal for a quick night or two away over the weekend before heading back to civilization. It is suitable both for RVs and tented camping.

15. Mammoth Designated Dispersed Camping Area

duck creek utah

For those who are seeking the most primitive and untouched natural beauty, this is the spot for you. With lush forests, meandering dirt roads and access to the beautiful Mammoth Creek, activities here consist of hiking, biking, fishing, and more.

Related Reading: Hit the Road: 5 RV Camping Destinations Near Heber City, Utah

Get Out & Play

While there are a hundred options, these are 15 of our favorite spots to set up for free camping in Utah. Just remember to prepare yourself adequately, choose your site carefully, and be respectful to nature and other campers, should you encounter any.