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American Fork Canyon Camping Free

Is Mutual Dell Open

Camping at Mary Ellen Gulch – American Fork Canyon, Utah

Normally it is open year round, but is closed on Sundays and Christmas Day. Sunday use is permissible for firesides and youth conferences with the approval of the respective Stake President and the Agent Stake Presidency. The facilities are also used to meet the needs of over 200 wards and their related families.

Local Camping Spots To Enjoy This Summer

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY Utah is home to five national parks meaning we have a lot of beautiful scenery around the state. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to try a new, scenic camping area this summer, here is a list of five.


The Guinavah-Malibu campsite is part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Logan Canyon. The campsite borders the Logan River and offers some good fishing. There are also several hiking trails near the campsite, and some designated mountain biking trails that are nationally ranked.

Campers need to make reservations for a spot at Guinavah-Malibu at least five days in advance.

Silver Lake

Silver Lake is a beautiful fishing pond and camping area at the top of American Fork Canyon. Camping is not allowed within a half mile of the lake, but with a little hiking there are plenty of great spots. Part of the drive to reach the lake is on windy dirt roads, so more durable off-roading vehicles are recommended, but people can make the trip in a small car. During the drive, you can see most of American Fork Canyon it’s a breath-taking sight.

Payson Lakes

Mirror Lake

Top Image Credit:

Rock Climbing American Fork Canyon

Pleasant Grove, Utah

Added by George Bruce Wilson

The American Fork Canyon provides great opportunities for weekend warriors to expert climbers. This is the birthplace of overhanging sport climbing. There are over 800 routes to choose from. The canyon consists mainly of limestone.

American Fork Canyon, UT has a rich history in outdoor activity. Little do most people know that American Fork was the birth place of steep, overhanging, sport climbing. Developed by locals, now legends, in the climbing world like Boone Speed and Jeff Pedersen amongst others. This canyon came onto the map in the late 1980’s. The hay days of the canyon have been gone for awhile now, but what was left behind was a canyon full of steep powerful routes. The canyon is mainly limestone with many caves and over 800 routes and counting. Most of the canyon caters to intermediate to advanced sport climbers, but there are a few cliffs with beginner grades.

For camping in the area there are a few campgrounds that you must pay per night for. There is free camping, but you must go pretty far out of the way to access it. During the summers the campgrounds fill up fast so make a reservation if possible.

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Iron Springs Group Ashley National Forest

Iron Springs Group Site can host 4-5 trailers depending on length, in the grassy meadow just a few miles off UT-191. This area becomes busy on weekends with OHV users, horseback riders, hikers, and anglers. Small lakes and streams surround the Iron Springs Group areaperfect for self-sustainable vanlifers looking to catch dinner!

Special Considerations For Free Camping In Utah

Camping at Timpooneke, American Fork Canyon, Utah

Similar to Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service Land across the country, stay limits are imposed across all public land in Utah. That means every 14 days you must move camp 25 miles from where you were. In some areas, special permits are required for overnight camping, even when its free. Grand Staircase Escalante operates on an overnight permit system that visitors must obtain to stay within the monument.

Most of the free camping throughout Utah exists in remote and often harsh environments. When heading into the southern desert or venturing onto the Salt Flats, make sure you have enough water, food, first-aid, and car maintenance gear in case of emergency. Oftentimes cell phones wont pick up a signal, so if anything goes wrong youll need to be able to take care of yourself until you can make it to civilization.

While that can be intimidating, its also one of the pure joys of camping on the 33-million acres of public land across Utah. If you pick the right forest service or BLM road, youll find yourself separated from the hustle of the city, with a million stars overhead, and the stillness and silence of wilderness.

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Utah Dispersed Camping Rules And Regulations

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 .

Follow all other area rules, regulations, and restrictions, such as campfire restrictions, camping stay limits , and closed areas.

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

How To Get To Bryce Canyon National Park Free Camping Spots

Bryce Canyon national park is found in Southern Utah. It is approximately 4 hours from Las Vegas, NV, 2 hours from St George, UT, and 4 hours from Salt Lake City. There are three national parks nearest to Bryce Canyon: the North Rim of the Grand Canyon , Capitol Reef National Park , and Zion National Park .

Cedar City Regional Airport, when flying, is closest to Bryce Canyon National Park. It is 19 miles away. However, if you prefer to fly to a large International Airport, you must book your tickets to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas.

If you will be driving, use highway 12 between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Park for the best scenery. There is also an alternative route along highway 89 from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park.

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Free Camping On Southern Utah Blm Land

If I were to define Utah free camping by one word it would be desert, and the southern part of Utah has multiple types of desert to satisfy: arid and cold, high and sunny, sandy, and tumbleweedy. Pictures always show the red desert regions of Utah, and for good reasontheyre geologically stunning. To the west, however, theres a lesser known area near Filmore, home to the Unesco Desert Experimental Range, and the Confusion Range.

At the base of the Confusion Range, youll find Snake Pass Road, which offers seven canyons to the east: Road Canyon, Jackson Canyon, Noddy Canyon, Cedar Canyon, Rock Canyon, Burnout Canyon, and Smooth Canyon. These all lead into the Confusion Range and eventually up to King Top, with stunning views.

Going even farther south, boondockers looking to enjoy some desert sun will find countless BLM roads going down washes, across red sand, and through desert hills. Take your pick with Last Chance Desert, Rock Springs Bench, Mussentuchit Flat, Horse Heaven, Walker Flat, or Bartlet Flat, all south of I-15 on the way to Moab.

If you have time, the San Rafael Desert is worth exploring. Take CR 1010 to Red Reef and stake your claim before heading to Moonshine Wash for a five-star slot canyon experience.

Even farther south near Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Bears Ears National Monument, youll find loads of free camping. Its likely that taking a turn down a dirt road anywhere in the southern desert will lead you someplace magical.

Places And Things To Do And See With Descriptions

Little Mill Campground in American Fork Canyon

When you plan a short visit to Bryce Canyon National Park, you can drive to Inspiration, Sunset, Bryce, and Sunrise viewpoints. They are the main attractions. Inspiration Point has three viewpoints, with each point gaining elevation for more spectacular views. You can hike to the top. Go on a hike on the Queens Garden Trail, which begins at Sunrise Point, and descend among the rock formations.

The Bryce point, about 200 ft higher in elevation than Inspiration Point, provides a spectacular view of the hoodoos. Follow the Mossy Cave Trail along a sparkling river to get to the cave of dripping water. Go a little further to discover a beautiful desert oasis with a gorgeous waterfall.

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Free Camping On National Forest Land In Utah

I wish free camping on National Forest Service land near Salt Lake City was easier to find, but the close proximity of SLC to the Wasatch range means stricter regulations on overnight stays in most canyons from the valley floor. Within an hours drive, however, youll be able to find plenty of pull-offs and remote campsites with easy access to lakes, hiking, mountain biking, and more.

Navigating Blm Land In Utah

BLM land comprises the majority of public land in Utah and is mostly concentrated in the southern desert regions. However, parts of this land are inaccessible and unusable for the general public. The BLM operates under a multiple use and sustained yield policy, meaning portions of the land can be used for pursuits other than outdoor adventure, like oil mining, grazing, and timber harvesting.

That being said, there are still millions and millions of acres of Utah BLM land with roads leading to the perfect camp spot, if youre willing to search.

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How To Camp For Free In Utah

Whats the rule with dogs on BLM or NFS land while camping?

Dogs must be leashed in developed areas such as trailheads and parking lots, but once on the trail or out of developed areas, dogs can be off leash. There is one major exception to this rule dogs are NOT allowed in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Little Cottonwood Canyon, nor any watershed area in SLC . Best way to avoid this and avoid getting a ticket? Dont camp in those areas venture out to more dog friendly areas. Dog poop is still required to be picked up and packed out. I recommend bringing a ziplock bag to keep the smell at bay. I have a lot of posts on my blog of dog friendly camping areas! Also check out my post on Backpacking with Dogs!

The West Desert is a great place to camp, especially in Late Fall and Winter. The temperatures are much cooler , and hardly anyone explores that area. There are several peaks that are fun to hike up as well, including Tetzlaff Peak, Pilot Peak, and Rishel Peak. This map below is a great resource to find free camping everything in yellow is BLM land.

Car Camping on BLM land near Moab, UT.

Heres a mapof all the FREE BLM areas to camp in Moab.

Car amping for free behind Bryce Canyon National Park, at the Willis Creek Slot Canyon TH.

Car Camping in the Henry Mountains, Utah.

Backpacking in Rock Creek Basin, High Uintas.

PIN me!

Free Camping Near Park City And The Wasatch Range

Camping in American Fork Canyon Utah [3024x4032]

Utah may tout itself as having the greatest snow on earth, but that snow wouldnt be too useful without the gorgeous mountains it gets trapped on. These mountains are beloved by skiers in the winter and adventure-loving campers in the summer.

Check out Salamander Flat or Heber Mountain for beautiful boondocking and tent camping on national forest lands. Mud Creek Road BLM dispersed camping near Strawberry Reservoir is another option near the Wasatch.

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Free Camping Along East Fork Road

If you follow East Fork Road south past Daves Hollow there are several Forest Roads branching to the east.

On the map below you can see 3 sites along with FR 1164. These will do in a pinch but try elsewhere first. During my last stay, East Fork Road was very bumpy and unpleasant to drive.

Verizon has reasonable LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping Near Utahs Big Five National Parks

Have you heard of Utahs Mighty Five national parks? If not, its time to get this epic road trip on your bucket list. The Mighty Five parksArches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zionare all located in southern Utah, and full of the kind of red-rock landscapes that will have your wanderlust dreams firing on all cylinders. There is no free camping inside the parks, but nearby BLM and Forest Service land provide excellent options.

Lets move from east to west, starting at otherworldly Arches National Park. Those who need to stay in cell phone range will gravitate toward the popular Willow Springs Trail along the original entrance road to Arches. This spot gets overcrowded fast, so those with a high-clearance rig who prefer a quieter experience might check out Lower Gemini Bridges.

Canyonlands National Park is a short drive from Arches. Make your home base at Lone Mesa to explore the Island in the Sky region, or Lockhart Road to check out the lesser-visited, and stunningly beautiful, Needles District.

Next up is Capitol Reef, a gem of a park that often gets overlooked by its flashier neighbors. This spot is absolutely worth a visit if you like soaring cliffs and hikes through the canyons. Settle into Pleasant Creek Dispersed to be just a stones throw from the park itself.

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Free Camping In The Toms Best Spring Road Area

Many will say this is the best area to camp and I agree. There are countless campsites for every need and with easy access to Bryce Canyon NP and Red Canyon.

Note the Pit Toilets across the road when you turn onto Toms Best Spring Road! This makes camping here very convenient! Theres no water, however. The closest free water is at the Red Canyon Visitor Center.

There are many campsites and several access roads not shown on my maps. Basically, there are 5 loops to consider. Most folks prefer the first 3 loops closest to Byway 12.

  • Loop 1 branches to the left of Toms Best Rd.
  • Loop 2 goes to the right
  • Loop 3 is also on the right a bit further down Toms Best Rd.

There are two more loops further away but lets focus on the closest 3 in this guide.

Larger RVs tend to prefer Loops 2 and 3. The roads are dusty but easy to navigate. Loop 1 offers excellent views and is perfect for Vans and 4WD vehicles. The roads are rougher but 2WD vehicles should be OK in most weather conditions.

Verizon has reasonable LTE service at these campsites.

Best Free Camping Near Moab

Little Mill Campground near American Fork Utah

Utah Campsite #2: N 38°287.26, W 109°228.88

Moab is the gateway to Utahs legendary red rocks formations that make up Arches National Park, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Millions of visitors flock to Moab each year to catch a glimpse of its otherworldly sights. Permits and local campgrounds fill up quickly but nestled 5 miles outside the city of Moab lies a campers dream!

Manti La Sal Road is the mecca of dispersed camping in Moab. This long winding road will take you up and above the hustle and busy-ness of Moab. You will be welcomed with expansive sites of the desert on your left and massive mountains surrounding you on your right.

There are hundreds of established yet free campsites tucked away on this well-traveled road, yet youre still just outside the city to make those emergency grocery and libation runs!

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Silver Lake Flat Reservoir: Paddleboarding & Camping

Not to be confused with the popular Silver Lake near Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon, American Fork Canyon also has a Silver Lake of its own. This one is called Silver Lake Flat and its kind of an adventure to get there! Its definitely one of those places where the journey is half the fun.

Silver Lake Flat is located just 3.5 miles past Tibble Fork Reservoir. Once you arrive at Tibble Fork, continue up the road until you reach Granite Flat Campground. But instead of heading straight into the campground, turn right onto the dirt road. Thats where the fun begins. You have to drive up the windy, narrow dirt road climbing 1,100 feet with a steep drop off on the passenger side. Ive done the drive in a Toyota Camry but I wouldnt recommend it! Something with AWD or 4WD is much better. Its also a popular spot for UTVs, so beware of teenagers speeding around the corners.

Once you’ve got your paddleboard rentals squared away, the best place to set up camp for the day is about half way down the east side of the lake. Youll see a parking lot off to your right next to a beach area. This is where most people come to paddleboard, kayak, or tube. This is another lake that doesnt allow motorized boats, so its very family-friendly. And from here, you get some beautiful views of aspen lining one side of the lake and pine trees lining the other.

Anyway, you get these amazing views of Mt. Timpanogos over the lake and its breathtaking!

Tibble Fork Reservoir/silver Lake

  • Overview Tibble Fork and Silver Lake Flat Reservoir are beautiful fresh water lakes located up American Fork Canyon. These popular outdoor recreation areas offer a wide variety of activities and trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, ATVs and horseback riding. Nestled in the scenic Wasatch Mountains, Tibble Fork and Silver Lake offer spectacular views and are a frequented for their photographic opportunities.Note: Tibble Fork and Silver Lake are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and require a small day use fee to access.Accessibility: To get to these Reservoirs, take the Alpine-Highland exit 284. Stay on Hwy 92 and turn left at North Fork junction in American Fork Canyon. Silver Lake Flat is just past Tibble Fork Reservoir.

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