Camping spots. We’re deep into the dog days of summer, which is a euphemism for “we’re roasting in an overcrowded urban valley filled with pollution and wildfire smoke.” The good news is we needn’t look far to find oases. The Wasatch Front and Back are surrounded by majestic peaks and incredible landscapes, but many of us live a binary life of far-flung, epic adventures and balmy nights sprawled in front of a swamp cooler. With these three close-to-home camping spots, you can have an adventure and beat the heat while skipping the endless logistics of an exhaustive road trip.
- Timpooneke Campground – Nestled in the imposing shadow of Mount Timpanogos, the Timpooneke Campground delivers you from the city’s sprawling bustle into serene aspen and fir stands at 7,400 feet. The camping spots themselves have everything you need and nothing you don’t: picnic tables, campfire rings, nearby vault toilets and drinking water and fantastic views. The Timpanooeke Trail—a 15-mile roundtrip route to the summit of Mount Timpanogos—starts right from the campground, and the famed Timpanogos Cave National Monument is just a few miles down American Fork Canyon. If hiking isn’t your bag, head to nearby Tribble Fork Reservoir for canoeing, fishing and scenic mountain bike trails. Getting There: Head east on Highway 92 for five miles then keep heading East up the South Fork of American Fork Canyon. Follow the Alpine Scenic Loop for 3.5 miles to the campground. Forest Rd 056, Provo. 877-444-6777
- Tanners Flat and Albion Basin – Little Cottonwood Canyon is a famed winter playground—see the canyon road’s red snake of taillights for evidence—that’s underappreciated in the summer. Rock climbers may flock to granite walls while the thirsty head to Snowbird’s Oktoberfest, but many ignore the summer’s assets: wildflower blooms, alpine forests, hiking, climbing, fishing and biking. Tanner’s Flat Campground sits at the edge of Little Cottonwood Creek, which offers a fly-fishing setting that’s hard to beat. Nearby trailheads let hikers access Red Pine Lake, White Pine Lake and Maybird Gulch while mountain bikers can cruise the Little Cottonwood Creek Trail. If you’re an Alta diehard, drive a little further up the canyon road to Albion Basin Campground. The high-altitude campground is at 9,500 feet with views of the commanding Devils Castle and easy access to Cecret Lake and the Albion Meadows Trail. Getting There: Take Highway 210 up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Tanner’s Flat Campground is 4.1 miles up the road, and Albion Basin Campground is 10.2 miles, the last 2.4 of which are maintained gravel road. 7490 Little Cottonwood Canyon Rd, 435-649-3805
- Upper Narrows Campground – The Wasatch gets all the attention, but the Stansbury Mountain Range in Tooele County is worth a visit. The Upper Narrows Campground is the gateway to Deseret Peak, the highest point in the Stansbury Mountains at 11,035 feet and Utah’s fourth most prominent peak. The campground is burrowed between limestone walls at 6,400 feet with the South Willow Creek snaking through the sites and offering nearby fly-fishing for rainbow and brown trout. The Stansbury Front and Medina Flat Trails provide easy access the Deseret Peak Wilderness. Getting There: Follow Route 138 West for 10 miles to Grantsville. Turn South on Cooley Street and head five miles to South Willow Canyon. The campground is 3.2 miles up the gravel road from the Forest Boundary. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Dugway, 801-292-2800
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