utah dark sky scene


Spectacular Utah State Parks


If you’re planning to travel with an RV rental, Utah is where you can get the most bang for your buck. Utah is well-known for its spectacular national parks and monuments, but that’s where you’ll also find the most crowds. Utah also has 43 excellent state parks that see much fewer visitors compared to their more famous counterparts. In your own camper rental, you’ll have the freedom to explore these lesser-known, but no less beautiful parks. These are just five of Utah’s state parks that you can explore in your RV rental.


Great Salt Lake State Park & Antelope Island State Park

Starting off with perhaps Utah’s most famous state park, the Great Salt Lake is also one of the most easily accessible. The park lies just outside Salt Lake City, and its main attraction is its beaches, birdwatching, and sunset views. This makes it perfect as a starter for your trip, as you can easily pickup and drop-off your camper rental in the city. Great Salt Lake has a much more relaxed vibe than the other mountainous parks in Utah, so you can also use this as a nice reward at the end of your trip. A popular activity here is sailing, and you can get daily boat or jet-ski rentals at the Great Salt Lake Marina within the park. Kayaking is another a great option. There’s also a year-round campground with water and electricity, which can accommodate RVs. They also offer primitive tent camping on the beach. Be sure to book ahead, especially in the high season.

If Great Salt Lake State Park is too relaxed for you, head to Antelope Island State park, just an hour’s drive away. On Antelope Island, you’ll find the majority of hiking and mountain biking opportunities. The island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway, also has more wildlife-watching, and is home to everything from bobcats and coyotes to antelope and bison, all of which roam free on the island. The rocky landscape also has some of the best lake views, so head up here for sunset. The park has three campgrounds that welcome RVs, one of which is a large group site. However, none of these campgrounds have on-site water or electricity, so if that’s a necessity, you’ll have to camp at Great Salt Lake State Park. One of the main draws for camping on Antelope Island is it’s primitive camping, which provides great views of the night sky. The park hosts special dark sky events, such as star-gazing and photography tours.


Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Located just between Zion National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is just as advertised. The dunes were created through a peculiar phenomenon called the Venturi Effect. Wind passing through the nearby sandstone cliffs erodes the rockfaces, and the cliffs funnel the wind through the mountains, carrying the sand to the over 3,000 acres of dunes that you see today. The sand maintains the colorful quality of the sandstone cliffs, giving the dunes its unique golden-red hue. Coral Pink Sand Dunes is most popular for its ATV-riding opportunities, as around 90% of the dunes are open to ATVs and off-road vehicles. It’s also popular with families, as there are hiking opportunities for all ages and abilities. The park has interesting wildlife, with numerous species of insects, including the Coral Pink tiger beetle, which is unique to the park. In the springtime, you might also find small ponds created by melting snow, which serve as oases for small animals like toads and salamanders. The park currently has two campgrounds. Both are open to RVs, but only one has hookups available. Coral Pink Sand Dunes serves as a great stopover while exploring Zion and Grand Staircase-Escalante, and is an excellent chance to see a unique type of scenery in the area.


Dead Horse Point State ParkButte in Utah

Located just outside Moab and Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park occupies a bend in the Colorado River. If you’re a photographer, this is a can’t miss stop on your RV rental journey. Dead Horse Point is one of the best viewpoints in the state, and perhaps the whole country, and is one of Utah’s most photographed vistas. The lookout offers views of the neighboring Canyonlands and Moab, and a spectacular canyon that could even rival the Grand Canyon. The state park has eight miles of hiking trails that each have their own overlook; each one is easily accessible to any hiker, regardless of ability. Mountain bikers can also find a paradise here, with over a dozen paths. Dead Horse Point State Park is also a designated International Dark Sky Park, so camping here is extra special. Within the park, there’s Kayenta and Wingate Campgrounds. Both have electrical hookups, but since the area is too dry, you’ll have to fill up your water in Moab. There are also some unique glamping opportunities at the Wingate and Moenkopi Yurts. All campsites in the park require a reservation, so be sure to book ahead.

Goblin Valley State Park

Located about an hour east of Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley has one of Utah’s most bizarre landscapes. The scenery is so alien, that the park has been used as a filming location for several sci-fi movies, including Galaxy Quest. The park gets its name from the sandstone “goblins” that scatter the landscape. The main attraction here is hiking among the unique formations, and the park is very popular among families. More adventurous travelers can get a permit to go canyoneering at the Goblin’s Lair. Others can try the beginner and intermediate-level hiking and mountain-biking trails. There are also fourteen RV spaces within the park, with showers and a communal water station. Be sure to take one of the ranger-led dark sky programs at night, and take advantage of the great photography opportunities during the day and night.