11 Best Places for Free Dispersed Camping in Utah

Today, I’m going to break down my favorite free campsites in Utah.

In my opinion, Utah is one of the absolute best – if not the absolute best – states for dispersed camping in the entire country.

Here are 11 of the best free dispersed campsites in Utah for your next trip.

Related Post: The Best Camping Gear for 2021


Best Dispersed Campsites in Utah

Jump to the free campsite you want to learn more about:

You can also browse through our Utah dispersed camping map to find a free campsite near you.


My Favorite Free Dispersed Campsites in Utah

Utah is home to literally hundreds of free campsites, most dispersed. But, if asked about my very favorites, the following are clear standouts.

Muley Point

Location: Glen Canyon NRA, near Mexican Hat

Free camping in Utah honestly doesn’t get much better than Muley Point.

In fact, this very well might just be one of the best free campsites in the country, especially if you’re after breathtaking views.

The campsites with the best views are perched high on a cliff at the southern end of Cedar Mesa with panoramic views of the desert below, including the San Juan River winding through a deep canyon. On a clear day, you can even see Monument Valley in the distance.

There are two ways to reach Muley Point. From the south, you’ll make the climb up the steep (11% grade) and switchback-heavy Moki Dugway, a usually well-graded dirt road cut into the side of the cliff. I’d avoid this route in an RV or pulling a trailer.

Arriving from the north is better suited for RVs and trailers. Highway 261 is paved until you reach the Muley Point Road turn off (just before the dugway). The access road is unpaved, yet frequently graded. Expect moderate washboarding but nothing too severe.

Muley Point, like almost all Utah dispersed campsites, is very popular now. But there’s still a lot of room to spread out and find something private, especially if you drive further in. If privacy is your top priority, look for a site away from the rim (on the opposite side of Muley Point Road).

Camping here is often windy as all get and most of the ground is hard stone. You’ll likely need to stake down your tent with something other than tent stakes. The drop off is steep, sudden, and a long way down. Don’t wander too close to the rim. Keep a close eye on children and dogs.

What I Like:

The incomparable views are well worth the journey. Watch the sunset – but make sure to wake up early to watch the sunrise as well. Muley Point Overlook is a must-stop destination if you’re traveling near Mexican Hat or the Four Corners.

What I Dislike:

Not much shade. It gets very hot in summer (like most of Utah). Muley Point is growing more and more popular, so expect company.

For More Info:

Muley Point is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Call Glen Canyon headquarters for more information: (928) 608-6200

Valley of the Gods 

Location: BLM Land, near Mexican Hat

Valley of the Gods is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Muley Point.

It’s notable for its towering rock formations, similar to those in nearby Monument Valley (it’s actually been given the nickname “mini Monument Valley”), including reddish brown buttes, mesas, and towers galore.

Although the formations are slightly less impressive, I personally prefer Valley of the Gods over Monument Valley as its much less popular and feels much wilder and more primitive.

Valley of the Gods is located on BLM land. You can set up camp pretty much anywhere, although it’s always best to pick a campsite that’s previously been used. You’ll notice a bunch of these open spaces just off the side of the winding dirt road. 

The road is unpaved but really not too rough, aside from a few washes. Most Class C RVs and trailers can probably make the full loop, but I recommend big rigs arrive from the east entrance and stick to one of the first several campsites where the road is smoothest (and there’s the most turnarounds).

Almost any passenger vehicle can make this drive. Just keep an eye on recent weather conditions and avoid the area after heavy rains.

Even if you don’t plan to stay a night, I encourage anyone passing through Mexican Hat (or camping at nearby Goosenecks State Park) to at least visit. The 17-mile loop takes about an hour to drive without any stops.

What I Like:

Valley of the Gods is absolutely magical. Watch the sunset – or, better yet, wake up early to take in sunrise. You won’t be disappointed. The area is somewhat popular with day use visitors, but it’s easy to find a private campsite for the night.   

What I Dislike:

There’s minimal shade, so it can get very hot during the day. The BLM doesn’t allow campfires here. Please respect this rule – even though you’ll likely see other campers breaking it.

For More Info:

Valley of the Gods is part of the Bureau of Land Management.

Call the Monticello Field Office for more information: (435) 587-1500

La Sal Loop

Location: Manti-La Sal National Forest, near Moab

The many dispersed campsites off of the La Sal Loop make it my favorite place for free camping near Moab and Arches National Park.

The loop road winds its way for roughly 60 miles through the La Sal Mountains from Castle Valley to just south of Moab. Countless dirt forest service roads offer access to hundreds of fantastic dispersed campsites.

My personal favorites are located between La Sal Lookout Point and Porcupine Rim Campground. Some of these are just a few dozen feet off the road while others require navigating several miles of fairly rough dirt roads to reach. Many boast stunning views of Porcupine Rim and Castle Valley below.

Alternatively, head up a forest service road deeper into the mountains (rather than towards Porcupine Rim) for more shade and a little more privacy.

Moab has countless other places to dispersed camp, but I favor La Sal Loop because the higher elevation means it stays quite a bit cooler in the summer. And, during the fall, the changing colors of the aspens, cottonwoods, and other trees is spectacular.

Many sites are accessible by vehicles only (most don’t require 4×4 or high clearance) while others, typically those closer to the main road, can accommodate RVs and trailers.

If you do plan to camp here in a big rig, I recommend arriving from south of Moab (via Old Airport Road) rather than from Castle Valley. This section of the drive is not nearly as steep or windy. 

My guide to free dispersed camping near Moab breaks down six other awesome Moab dispersed camping areas in more detail.

What I Like:

Tons of space to spread out and find a private campsite. Get ready for incredible views if you do camp near the rim. Although a little farther from Moab and Arches than other nearby dispersed camping areas, both are still just a short drive away. Canyonlands National Park is also nearby. Definitely camp here if you like mountain biking.

What I Dislike:

The drive can be a little sketchy, especially from Castle Valley. The road is steep and windy with free-range cattle regularly crossing the road. Cattle are allowed to roam in much of the national forest, so be prepared to avoid cow pies at camp.

For More Info:

La Sal Loop is part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Call the Moab Ranger District for more information: 435-259-7155.

Diamond Fork Canyon

Location: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, near Spanish Fork

Diamond Fork Canyon is my current go-to for dispersed camping near Salt Lake City.

My favorite campsites are located just off of Diamond Fork Road about 12 to 15 miles into Diamond Fork Canyon (coming from Highway 89 to the south).

There are maybe two dozen good campsites just off the main road, many near the creek. Many more dispersed campsites are located on unpaved forest service roads nearby (such as up Forest Road 051 and Forest Road 715, for example).

Although the campsites themselves are pleasant, perhaps the best reason to stay here is the easy access to the popular Fifth Water Hot Springs (also called Diamond Fork Hot Springs).

Dispersed camping in Diamond Fork Canyon is a great option for RV boondockers thanks to the well-maintained road and large, flat campsites.

Know that dispersed camping isn’t allowed until roughly 12 miles down Diamond Fork Road from Highway 89. A large sign marks the start of the dispersed camping area.

What I Like:

Diamond Fork Canyon is exceedingly beautiful. Campsites are available with shade and many are set right on the creek. Spanish Fork is just 30 minutes away. Salt Lake City is about an hour and a half away. Hiking opportunities are plentiful, including the 5-mile roundtrip hike to the hot springs.

What I Don’t Like:

Cow pies abound thanks to free-range cattle – so be careful where you pitch your tent (or, better yet, sleep in an RV, trailer, or vehicle). None of the campsites along Diamond Fork Road are very private, but private sites can be found off spur roads.

Seemingly long-term campers frequent this area, many obviously overstaying the two-week camping limit. Left-behind junk is common, including a few seemingly unattended/abandoned RVs, trailers, and tents. Not sure this is always/currently the case, but it’s been true on each of my visits through the years (the last being fall of 2020).

More Info:

Diamond Fork Canyon is part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Call the Spanish Fork Ranger District for more info: (801) 798-3571 

Cottonwood Canyon Road

Location: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, between Big Water and Cannonville

Visitors flock to Utah to take in the state’s five national parks – but few check out Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s well worth a visit, especially if you love dispersed camping. Not only is it the largest national monument managed by the BLM, but it’s also one of the most remote places in the contiguous United States.

Although dispersed camping is allowed throughout most of Grand Staircase-Escalante, the campsites along Cottonwood Canyon Road are among the absolute best.

The 47-mile unpaved scenic drive connects Highway 89 near Big Water to State Route 12 near Cannonville to the north and takes you into the very heart of the national monument (an area most visitors to Utah fail to explore). Spectacular scenery awaits, including impressive natural features like Cockscomb and Grosvenor Arch.

My favorite campsites are those located between the turnoff from Highway 89 and Paria Box Trailhead, about 13 miles in. Venture off the road a bit and you’ll find that several offer sweeping views. A campsite near a jumble of large rocks (visible from the road) is another standout and even offers a bit of privacy.

Cottonwood Canyon Road is usually in decent condition (I believe it’s graded on a somewhat regular basis), but you should absolutely avoid making the drive if rain is in the forecast. Mudstone, clay, and silt make the road impassable – yes, even to four-wheel drive vehicles – when wet.

Pretty much any passenger vehicle can make the drive when it’s dry, although high-clearance is helpful and four-wheel drive is certainly a bonus. Know that there are no services along the entire 47-mile route and minimal cell reception, so come prepared.

I’d never recommend making the drive in an RV or while pulling a trailer (although it can and has been done), even when conditions are bone dry. That said, many of the campsites are large enough to accommodate RVs and trailers.

Free permits (available at any BLM visitor center) are required for dispersed camping in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

What I Like:

This place is seriously remote. If you like getting away from crowds as much as me, you’ll love it here. The scenery is beautiful with lots of interesting rock formations. The road can get somewhat busy during the day, but I’ve never seen many other campers. There are also a ton of places to hike around here.  

What I Don’t Like:

When dry, the road is fine for almost any car to drive (although high-clearance is helpful). But, when the road is wet, you don’t want to be out here. If there’s a heavy rain during your stay, you’re almost certainly stuck until things dry out, so always carry extra supplies. Always keep an eye on the weather conditions and make sure that you’re prepared before camping here.

More Info:

Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Backway is part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Call the Kanab Field Office for more information: (435) 644-1200

Gooseberry Mesa

Location: BLM Land, near Apple Valley 

Gooseberry Mesa is easily one of the best places for dispersed camping near Zion National Park.

Located about 15 miles east of Hurricane, just north of Highway 59 near Apple Valley, it takes about an hour to drive to Springdale as well as Zion’s south entrance from this dispersed camping area.

Gooseberry Mesa is notable for its private campsites, desert landscape, and star-filled night skies. Head to the end of the road (it’s bumpy) for the most scenic campsites on the rim with views of the canyons and valleys below.

Trailers and RVs can make the trek – I’ve even seen big rigs out here – but it’s ill advised. The road is always washboarded and often heavily rutted with few places to turn an RV or trailer around. This free campsite is best left for vans, tents, and very small trailers.

Remember to look out (and respect!) for “no trespassing” signs. Much of the land is private property along the first mile or two after the turn off of Main Street. Make sure you’re on BLM land before setting up camp for the night.

What I Like:

It’s not the closest or most convenient, but this is my go-to dispersed campsite near Zion. The panoramic views are great, you can find a decently private campsite, and there’s excellent hiking and mountain biking close at hand. Cellular service is strong.

What I Dislike:

The road really isn’t all that rough (except after heavy rains). But it is narrow. I’ve seen plenty of RVs and trailers here, even Class A motorhomes, but there are very few places to turn around and a lot of tight squeezes.

For More Info:

Gooseberry Mesa is part of the Bureau of Land Management.

Call the St. George Field Office for more information: (435) 688-3200

Hole in the Rock Road

Location: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, near Escalante

An abundance of free camping is available just east of the town of Escalante south of Highway 12.

These dispersed campsites are located on BLM land within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. A good place to start your search is near Hole in the Rock Wayside and down Hole in the Rock Road.

Also known as BLM 200, the road is unpaved and somewhat rocky but well-maintained (for the first several miles, at least). Several campsites, especially the large meadow less than a half mile after the turnoff, are perfect for RVs and trailers of all sizes.

Car and tent campers should drive in a little further to find a more peaceful campsite. There is a huge variety of campsites here – many private, some with shade, and almost all with outstanding desert views.

This area is filled to the brim with awesome hiking opportunities, such as Zebra Slot, Peek-a-Boo Gulch, and Coyote Gulch to name just a few. Definitely give yourself enough time for one or two hikes.

Capitol Reef National Park is only about an hour and a half away from Hole in the Rock Road. And the drive there along Scenic Byway 12 is among the most scenic in all of Utah.

Unlike most BLM dispersed camping, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument does require a permit (they’re free!) for all overnight campers. Pick one up at the visitor center in Escalante.

What I Like:

There’s a ton of free camping here, both down Hole in the Rock Road (BLM 200) and nearby BLM roads. The views are incredible. You can find private campsites if you poke around. Any size vehicle will fit here, including even the largest RVs.

What I Don’t Like:

It can get very windy and dusty here. The best campsite for big rigs (the first meadow) is often busy and noisy. It’s also fairly close to the highway so there is some road noise.

More Info:

Hole in the Rock Road is part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Call the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center for more information: (435) 826-5499

Silver Island Mountains

Location: BLM Land, near Bonneville Salt Flats

Note: Camping isn’t allowed on the salt flats themselves.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are an extremely popular Utah tourist destination.

In addition to taking in the area’s uniquely stark beauty, race car enthusiasts flock here to enjoy “Speed Week” in August, “World of Speed” in September, and “World Finals” in October.

Unless you’re planning to attend these events, do a little research ahead of time and plan your stay around these busy times. Things will be much less hectic and much more peaceful.

Although camping isn’t allowed on Bonneville Salt Flats itself, a plethora of free camping is located on the surrounding BLM land – particularly, in the Silver Island Mountains.

Just west of the salt flats, the roughly 54-mile loop through the Silver Island Mountains has literally hundreds of primitive campsites for dispersed camping. All boast incredible stargazing at night and most have excellent daytime views.

Just past the entrance sign is the most popular place for RV boondockers. But the road here is fairly well-maintained, aside from washboarding, so RVs and trailers shouldn’t hesitate to venture in for at least a couple miles to find more private campsites.

Although overnight camping isn’t allowed on the flats themselves, you can drive out on them during the day. I strongly encourage this – as long as it hasn’t been raining recently.

What I Like:

Tons of space to spread out. It’s easy to find a private campsite here. Large sites near the main road are perfect for RVs and trailers while smaller sites off of spur roads offer plenty of privacy for tent, van, and car camping. Both Bonneville Salt Flats and the town of Wendover are just a short drive away.

What I Don’t Like:

Almost no shade is available. And it does get very hot in the summer. The area can get busy during events at Bonneville Speedway, although it’s easy to find private campsites the further you drive in. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of trash here – broken bottles, burnt up furniture, food waste, etc.

Like always when dispersed camping, make sure to pack out all your waste (this includes trash, food waste, and human waste).

More Info:

Silver Island Mountains is part of the Bureau of Land Management.

Call the West Desert District Office for more information: (801) 977-4300

Tom’s Best Spring Road

Location: Dixie National Forest, near Bryce Canyon National Park

For convenient boondocking and dispersed camping near Bryce Canyon, look no further than Tom’s Best Spring Road.

Also known as Forest Road 117, Tom’s Best Spring Road is lined with countless campsites, many ideal for even the biggest RVs and trailers.

Luckily, the gravel road is almost always in decent condition. RVs and trailers as well as passenger vehicles will be fine here. Although several flat, spacious campsites are located just off the highway, I recommend driving a bit further in (even in a big rig) to find something more private.

RVs and trailers should probably stick to one of the campsites off of Tom’s Best Spring Road itself – but I do encourage other campers to explore the various spur forest service roads to find a little more privacy.

Dixie National Forest is absolutely stunning. And the abundance of trees coupled with the higher elevation means it’s usually much cooler here than many other top Utah dispersed camping areas.

One quick gripe – it does get busy here. It’s also very dry during the summer. Dust can be an issue if you’re parked just off the main road. You’ll likely also hear the hum of RV generators at all hours, unless you venture in deep on a back road. 

What I Like:

Just off Highway 12. Very close to Bryce Canyon National Park. Flat, spacious campsites are perfect for RVs and trailers. Many campsites are large enough for several big rigs to camp together in a group. Lots of shade, but also plenty of sun for solar. Explore spur roads for smaller, yet much more private, tent campsites.

What I Don’t Like:

The proximity to Bryce Canyon and Highway 12 means Tom’s Best Spring Roda super popular. Expect others to be driving past all day long (and, subsequently, kicking up dust). This also brings with it a little noise – namely, in the form of generators. You can avoid most of the crowds by driving several miles in (and/or taking an offshoot road).

More Info:

Tom’s Best Spring Road is part of Dixie National Forest.

Call the Powell Ranger District for more information: (435) 676-9300

Jug Hollow

Location: Ashley National Forest, near Flaming Gorge NRA

Jug Hollow is my favorite place to camp near Flaming Gorge – not to mention it’s one of the best free campsites in northeastern Utah.

Although there’s a ton of dispersed camping nearby, these campsites are among the most scenic. In fact, most are located right on the banks of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

The forest service access roads are generally in great shape (do expect washboarding), making Jug Hollow great for rigs of all sizes, including large RVs and trailers.

Spacious campsites (most flat and level) beckon boondockers passing through the area. Many of the sites are large enough for several RVs or trailers.

If amazing views are most important to you, head to the spot at the very end of the peninsula (end of Forest Road 208). It’s popular – and for good reason. Park here for water views on three sides of your vehicle.

Jug Hollow and the rest of Flaming Gorge NRA are quite popular. It does get busy here. And it’s not exactly private. If the area is full, or you prefer something more peaceful, Ashely National Forest has plenty of additional dispersed camping areas to explore.  

What I Like:

Campsites are right on the water. Amazing views in every direction. The sites are flat and spacious. The road is relatively smooth (aside from washboarding). This is a great spot for RVs and trailers. Cellular service is typically strong. Don’t forget to bring your fishing pole or kayaks.

What I Don’t Like:

Like all the best free campsites in Utah, it does get busy here. The busyness and lack of trees means there’s not much privacy. It can get very windy here – and dusty. Make sure to stake down your tent if you’re tent camping. Cattle roam the area so watch out for cow pies when setting up camp.

More Info:

Jug Hollow is part of Ashley National Forest.

Call the Dutch John Office in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area Ranger District for more information: (435) 781-5263

Spiral Jetty

Location: Great Salt Lake, near Corinne

Last but not least on our list of the best places for free camping in Utah is Spiral Jetty.

Located near the northern stretches of Great Salt Lake, just outside the town of Corinne, sits this large earthwork sculpture built in 1970 by the sculpture Robert Smithson.

Although the sculpture itself is worth a visit, the surrounding area is a decent place to camp for those traveling on I-15 or I-84 through Utah.

The unpaved road into Spiral Jetty is long, bumpy, and dusty. All passenger vehicles can make the trek (just drive slowly and cautiously). Smaller RVs should be fine here – same with smaller trailers.

This part of Utah is beautiful in a remote, desolate sort of way. Sunrise and sunset over the lake are fantastic. But the openness does bring exposure to wind and sun. The water levels have been low lately, so don’t expect any water near the jetty itself.

Spiral Jetty is best for van camping or sleeping in a vehicle. As mentioned above, small RVs and trailers can make the drive, but there is limited space to set up camp or to turn around, especially if the parking area is full. Tent camping is another option if you’re willing to brave the wind.

Most of the surrounding land is private. So be careful when setting up camp. It’s best to stick to near the parking lot (or walk down near the jetty/shoreline). Don’t try dispersed camping away from the main road. Please respect all no trespassing signs.

What I Like:

Remote, desolate, and barren. Uniquely beautiful views, especially at sunrise and sunset. Close to Golden Spike National Historical Park. About an hour from I-15 and I-84. Very dark night skies are perfect for stargazing. Walk across the crunchy salt mud flats to see the famous pink lake water.

What I Don’t Like:

This area is very exposed to wind and sun. The ground is quite rocky which makes it a little difficult to find somewhere to set up a tent (look near the shoreline). Spiral Jetty can get quite busy during the day but mellows out at night. Don’t expect much privacy, unless you’re here in the winter.

More Info:

Spiral Jetty is managed by the Dia Art Foundation.

Email the Dia Art Foundation for more information: spiraljetty@diaart.org


How to Find Even More Free Camping in Utah

Zion National Park in Utah

The 11 campsites on this list are far from the only places for dispersed camping in Utah. Here’s how to find even more free campsites:

  • Online Maps – Google Maps (use satellite view) is a great tool for finding dispersed camping opportunities. I also like FreeRoam.app and Gaia GPS. Both let you turn on national forest and BLM boundaries to help make sure potential campsites are indeed on public land.
  • MVUM Maps – Both national forest and BLM ranger stations offer paper motor vehicle use maps to visitors. Don’t be afraid to ask rangers for dispersed camping recommendations. I’ve found some awesome campsites just by asking a ranger.

Yet another free camping option is to try out “blacktop boondocking.” Some stores, including Walmart and Cracker Barrel, allow free overnight parking for campers and boondockers. This does vary by locale – so make sure to call ahead.

Although casino parking lot camping is another alternative in most states, it’s not an option in Utah. The state outlaws all forms of gambling, including tribal casinos. But you might be able to find a decent spot for casino camping just across the border in a neighboring state, such as Nevada.

My final recommendation is stealth camping. Although I personally only use this as a backup plan, a lot of campers swear by it. But, Utah has so many places for dispersed camping that you shouldn’t have a problem finding a free campsite.


Utah Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations

road to gemini bridges near moab utah

Utah is an incredibly special place – and you must treat it as such.

Please, please, please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles and leave your dispersed campsite even cleaner than it was when you arrived.

Always pack out all your trash and always properly dispose of human waste (bury it in a cat hole, pack it out in a WAG bag, or use a portable toilet like the Luggable Loo).

Follow all other area rules, regulations, and restrictions, such as campfire restrictions, camping stay limits (usually 14, or sometimes 16, days for national forests and BLM land), and closed areas.

The goal is to limit human impact on Utah’s natural areas as much as possible. Failure to respect our public lands can lead to shutdowns. No one wants that!


Have a Blast Camping in Utah!

There’s something truly special about Utah – whether you’re visiting Salt Lake City, its five national parks, or any of its other natural areas.

And, in my opinion, the absolute best way to enjoy all of its beauty is by dispersed camping off the beaten path in a quiet, remote, and uniquely beautiful free campsite.

If you’re on a larger camping road trip, or just want to check out free campsites in other states, our other free camping state guides (like free dispersed camping in Arizona) are well worth a look.

My guide to finding free campsites (anywhere in the US) and my guide to dispersed camping gear are other resources you might find helpful.

Here’s to hoping your next Utah dispersed camping trip is one for the record books!