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Zion National Park

Essential RV Utah:
The Ultimate
Guide to National
and State Parks
in the Beehive State

by Jake Poinier

Zion National Park

If you’re starting your Utah RV adventure from Nevada or Arizona, entering the southwest part of the state soon deposits you in Zion National Park. Hikes to Angels Landing, Weeping Rock or Emerald Pools are among the self-guided favorites—or the more adventurous can hire a local guide to go canyoneering or horseback riding. (Note that RVs that are 11’4” or taller or 7’10” or wider, including mirrors, require a tunnel permit to get through the tunnel to the upper part of the park, and RVs over 13’1” or more than 40’ long are not permitted.)

The three campgrounds in the park are very popular and fully occupied almost every night from mid-March through November. West of the park, Zion River Resort is a popular choice, offering a full range of amenities and an onsite pool and sauna; on the east, Zion Crest Campground and RV resort provides full access to the amenities of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.

Dried up river between cliffs
view of light waterfall behind cliff
Pool of water in cave
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Just a short drive from Zion, these ever-shifting sand dunes are as picturesque as they are fun to hike and play in—plus, if you have your ATVs in tow, about 90 percent of the park is open for riding. Insider tip: A $75 annual Utah State Parks pass ($35 for seniors) for Utah residents covers entrance fees at Coral Pink Sand Dunes and the other state parks listed in this blog post. Annual passes for out-of-state residents run $150.

Within the park, campsites are tucked in among the juniper trees—including 12 pull-throughs with water and electric hookups. In the nearby town of Kanab, there are numerous Good Sam-affiliated RV parks to choose from, including the recently renovated Crazy Horse RV Resort and Kanab RV Corral.

Cliff with blue clouds above
desert sand with dried vegetation
Desert sand with pink sunset
Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park’s geology and coloration are nothing short of spectacular and surreal—particularly the famed hoodoos that were carved in the sandstone over the course of millions of years. Lots of family-friendly trails, such as Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop Trails, lead to up-close views of the formations.

The North and Sunset campgrounds in the park have just under 200 sites between them. At the north entrance to the park, Ruby’s Inn Campground and RV Park receives solid ratings, as does the Red Canyon Village to the west.

Rock arch with forest below
spire-shaped rock formations
Looking up to trees between rock formations
Kodachrome Basin State Park

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Yes, you’ll probably have a Simon & Garfunkel “Kodachrome” earworm before, during, and after your visit here. Still, be ready with your camera at every turn, whether you’re doing a drive-through tour or setting out on a hike to see one of the 67 popular sandstone features such as Chimney Rock, Shakespeare Arch, and Ballerina Geyser.

Kodachrome Basin’s campground has a reputation for quiet beauty as well as modern facilities, including more than a dozen RV sites with full hookups. South of the park, Cannonville/Bryce Valley KOA Holiday offers wonderful sunset views of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Small cliffs by green field
Arch connecting two cliffs
River underneath double rock arches
Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

If you’re detecting a theme here, Utah parks are all about wild rock formations and gorgeous colors carved out of the earth—and Capitol Reef is no different, with its amazing array of cliffs, arches, domes and canyons. The good news is that it’s generally less crowded than Zion and Bryce, while still offering access to natural wonders. In addition to tons of different hikes, Capitol Reef offers a truly unique park experience: picking fruit in the orchards, including apricots, peaches, pears and apples.

In fact, that’s a pretty good reason to stay at the park’s only developed campground, the Fruita Campground, which has 71 sites—no hookups, but there is an RV dump as well as a potable water fill station. Fifteen minutes away, the town of Torrey has several well-known RV camping options, including Wonderland RV Park, Thousand Lakes RV, and Sand Creek RV Park.

yellow tree life in front of mountain
hieroglyphics of people
Farm house by canyon
Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park

If Goblin Valley State Park looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen movies such as Galaxy Quest or City Slickers II. The mushroom-shaped rock formations are technically hoodoos, but locally known as goblins. No matter what you call them, the Valley of the Goblins is heck of a lot of fun to hike and explore—and the easygoing Wild Horse Mesa Mountain Bike Trail is a great option, too.

Goblin Valley’s campground is small, with only a dozen RV sites that need to be reserved months in advance. If you’re up for boondocking, the BLM land outside the park is a good option.

Dark brown canyon rock formations on cloudy sky
outlook of rock formations
mushroom shaped rock formations
Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

The canyons, mesas, cliffs, and spires in Canyonlands National Park were created by the paired powers of Utah's Green and Colorado rivers. Hiking, mountain biking, and backpacking are popular ways to enjoy the serenity and scenery (including the famed Mesa Arch), but rafting through Cataract Canyon is another worthy option to consider.

Within the park, there are two options for overnighting: the Needles Outpost and Island in the Sky (Willow Flat) Campground. Both are first-come, first-served, and sites fill up quickly spring through fall. Outside of the park, free camping is plentiful on BLM lands. Heading into Moab presents the RV camper with a dozen different options, including Archview RV Resort and Canyonlands RV Resort.

view of different sediments in mountain
rock bridge at sunset
arch with top heavy rock formation
Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is best known for its array of more than 2,000 arches, but its other virtues include all of the geographic features that make this area of Utah unique: sandstone fins, towers, hoodoos, and balanced rocks. The Delicate Arch Trail and Windows Primitive Loop are among the most-traveled paths, but you really can’t go wrong—with amazing viewpoints at just about every turn in the sandstone landscape.

The Devils Garden Campground is one of the most scenic campgrounds you’re ever likely to encounter, and it’s convenient to the trails. Yes, it’s dry camping—but it’s worth it.

arch at sunrise
thin rock arch
large rock arch
Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

You’ve logged a lot of miles to cross Utah and reach Canyonlands and Arches, and Dead Horse Point State Park is worth adding to your list. One look from the Dead Horse Point Vista, and you’ll understand why it’s one of the world’s most photographed panoramic overlooks—perched 2,000 feet above the Colorado River. Named an International Dark Sky Park in 2016, the area also offers spectacular stargazing at night. The Intrepid Trail System isn’t nearly as gnarly as most Moab mountain biking; instead, it’s a family-friendly way to get views of the river and Canyonlands.

If you’re interested in enjoying the wilderness rather than heading back into Moab, the Kayenta Campground has 21 developed sites with RV electrical hookups. In 2018, the park added the Wingate Campground, which offers surrounding views from the top of the mesa. Two-thirds of the 31 sites have electrical hookups to support an RV.

Colorado river horseshoe bend
river bend
tourist looking over mountain range
Looking through rock arch to another

Photos Courtesy of Shutterstock

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