With a variety of natural landscapes across the state, BYU students don’t have to go very far to camp in the great outdoors.
BYU geology student Torri Duncan enjoys camping in Utah because it reminds her of growing up in Aurora, Colorado.
“Escaping the crowds and experiencing the earth is inspiring,” Duncan said.
And Duncan isn’t the only one who finds pleasure in experiencing the great outdoors.
Wyeth Thomas, a graduate student studying creative writing, finds camping restorative and enjoys the change of pace and scenery.
BYU alumna Rachel Gilman also enjoys camping.
“I love camping because it’s living and breathing the outdoors,” Gilman said. “I feel more connected to the earth; I feel more grounded and more in tune with myself when I’m outdoors and camping.”
Here are five camping destinations to visit for a weekend getaway from campus this summer:
Silver Lake is an oasis tucked inside American Fork Canyon. This is Duncan’s favorite place to camp in Utah because of the beautiful scenery. The trail to reach the lake is steep but not very long, and Duncan affirms it is worth the hike. She suggests canoeing once arriving at the lake but warns of the freezing water that can come from spring runoff.
There is a fee to access the area because it’s located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. A one-to-three day pass costs $6, and monies collected are used to improve resources and protect wildlife in American Fork Canyon, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Reaching Silver Lake takes 30 minutes from Provo. After entering the canyon, turn left toward Tibble Fork and continue north past the reservoir.
For a camping spot that is right in BYU’s backyard, try Rock Canyon Campground. The campground is accessible via Squaw Peak Road in Provo Canyon or a 6.2-mile hike beginning at Rock Canyon Park. The campground offers access to multiple trailheads.
Rock Canyon Campground is a 45-minute drive away from the BYU campus. The campground is 9.5 miles up Squaw Peak Road.
Located next to the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island is a great spot to hike, horseback ride and mountain bike. The island is home to an array of wildlife, including mule deer, bison and coyotes.
It is also a prime spot for birding because the Great Salt Lake attracts hundreds of thousands of migrating birds and supports between 2 and 5 million shorebirds, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Amenities, including a visitor’s center, are available in the state park.
It takes two hours to reach Antelope Island from Provo. Take Exit No. 332 off I-15 and drive west until you reach the state park. Fees for camping areas vary.
Right on the banks of the Colorado River and situated in Moab, Big Bend Campground is a prime location to camp, according to Duncan. She said being near the water makes people feel like they are on the beach rather than the desert. Guided raft tours are available and there are opportunities to hike and mountain bike near the arches Moab is famous for.
Big Bend Campground is a 3.5-hour trip away from Provo. From Moab, drive north to Highway 128 and turn right. The area is located eight miles up the road and fees apply to the three designated group campsites.
Situated near the city of Kanab in Southern Utah, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park has a Moab-like environment but with lighter crowds. The state park features beautiful red sand dunes that the park estimates are over 10,000 years old. Hiking, playing in the sand and riding ATVs are common activities in the area.
Driving to the park from Provo takes just over four hours. Head south on Highway 89 toward Kanab and turn right onto County Road 43, which leads directly to the park’s entrance. Each vehicle is subject to a daily fee of $8 and campsites are $20 to reserve.