East Canyon State Park sits secluded in the mountains of northeastern Utah. The park includes the 684-acre East Canyon Reservoir and is a favorite destination for beachgoers in the summer and snow lovers in the winter. Before hitting the beach, campers can park their RV or trailer at Dixie Creek Campground or Big Rock Campground. Visitors staying at any of the 54 sites can access restrooms, showers, and a private boat ramp.
Spend a day enjoying the reservoir. Go swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or tubing as you enjoy the surrounding mountain views. Or you can toss in a line and see if you can catch some of the hungry bass, catfish, trout, or other fish that live in the lake. Keep an eye out for native wildlife like elk, moose, and bald eagles while you are out there.
The park also features historical sites, including a portion of the original Mormon Pioneer Trail created by the Donner-Reed party in 1846 as they trekked toward California. Modern-day visitors can hike a four-mile stretch of this trail from the Mormon Flats area to the summit at Big Mountain. With rolling hills, clear waters, and signature aspen trees, East Canyon is a hidden treasure and the perfect destination for your next RV vacation.
East Canyon State Park is located about 28 miles northeast of Salt Lake City and 12 miles south of the town of Morgan. Surrounded by highways, you can get to the park from I-84 to the north, I-80 to the east or south, and I-15 to the west. Being in such a mountainous territory, take a side trip to one of the peaks in the area such as Thurston Peak to the northwest, Grandview Peak to the southwest, Gobblers Knob to the south, or Lewis Peak to the southeast. You may also be interested in visiting Durst Mountain or Monte Cristo Peak to the north.
During the warm weather months, visitors can reach the park and campground from Salt Lake City through Emigration Canyon. The canyon roads are closed Thanksgiving through Mother’s Day, which means off-season visitors will need to access the park by Interstate 84 through Ogden instead.
The campground and marina areas are connected by wide, paved roads that easily accommodate RVs and trailers. Off-highway vehicles are not permitted in the park, and drivers can only park in designated parking areas at the campsites, marina, and select trailheads.
Most RVers park their rig at the campsite and explore the park on foot or bike. Additional parking is located at the day-use areas and boat ramp.
Big Rock Campground has 21 sheltered campsites at the southern end of the lake that are primitive with no utilities at all. However, there are vault toilets nearby, and it is just a short drive to the main park where you access drinking water and showers. These spacious sites have varying length limits for RVs with most being 30 to 40 feet. There is one that is 50 feet and one as small as 20 feet long.
Each of the campsites have a campfire grill and picnic table that seats eight people. This campground is near the day-use area where you can find several covered picnic areas with barbecue pits near the water. Your furbabies can join you at the camp as long as they are restrained and supervised at all times during your visit. Reservations can be made up to four months in advance.
The Dixie Creek Campground is located on the north end of the East Canyon Reservoir near the marina. It offers 33 sites for RV camping, some of which offer full hookups while others have partial hookups. All sites have access to restrooms and showers. However, the water is turned off for winter from mid-October to mid-April. Each camping permit includes parking for one vehicle. Fire rings and picnic tables are available at campsites for use.
Length limits for RVs range from 30 to 58 feet long so be sure to check this when making your reservations. Be warned that the campground lacks trees, so there isn't much in the way of shade here. In the height of summer, it might be a good idea to bring your own shade if you have room for it. This campground is located near the concession stand, boat ramp, and several day-use pavilions with tables and barbecue pits. Pets are allowed as long as you supervise and restrain them all the time during your stay.
There are two log cabins at the northern section of the lake just to the southwest of the Dixie Creek Campground. These cozy lakefront cabins can accommodate you and up to five others with two bunk beds and a futon. Although they do not have kitchens or restrooms, they each have air conditioning, heat, a small microwave, and a refrigerator. Water is available outside the cabin and a restroom nearby.
In addition, you can cook outside on the barbecue pit or fire ring. There are a table and chairs inside and a covered picnic table outside as well. The cabins are also located nearby the boat launch, so you can take your boat for a spin on the lake. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed so your dogs will have to miss out on this experience. Reservations can be made up to four months prior to your visit.
For a completely new and unique camping experience, reserve one of the covered wagons at East Canyon State Park. From the outside, it looks like a typical covered wagon that pioneers used years ago. But on the inside, you will find a king-sized bed and twin bunk beds with enough room to sleep four people. Believe it or not, there is even a small refrigerator, microwave, and kitchenette inside.
Outside you can enjoy barbecuing on the propane barbecue pit or over the campfire grill. There is also a picnic table if you want to eat outdoors. If you are bringing your furbabies, don’t reserve a wagon because no pets are allowed inside. The wagons are located just to the north of the Dixie Creek Campground next to several campgrounds. It is not a long walk to the comfort station, which offers showers and restrooms with running water.
At the northern end of the lake by the campground, the park offers four yurts for reservation. Made of vinyl-lined canvas, these large circular tents have a wood floor, deck, electricity, heat, and air conditioning. Fully furnished with beds, a table, chairs, and lights, you and five others can enjoy this unique form of camping at East Canyon State Park. Be sure to bring your own bedding though, because they are not provided.
Although there is no kitchen, you can cook outside on the barbecue pit or fire ring. There is a restroom with hot showers and potable water nearby as well. Available all year long, if you want to try out one of their four yurts, you can make a reservation up to four months in advance and a two-night stay is required. Unfortunately, Fido will have to stay home for this experience because pets are not allowed in the yurts.
Located on the south end of the lake, if you have a big group, try the River’s Edge Group Campground. The campground offers three different group areas. The Large Spring Group Area can accommodate up to 25 people with 10 vehicles. The area is eight miles from the main park and only has vault toilets with no water. The good news is you can have your RV with you at this site. It just has to stay in the parking lot, which is not far from the rest of the camp.
The Mormon Flats Group Area can handle up to 90 people with 20 vehicles. There is no water access and only vault toilets. Eight miles from the main park, you will have to bring your own water in with you. This site does not allow RVs and is set up for tents only. The River’s Edge Group Area accepts up to 100 people, 25 vehicles (or six RVs), and is ADA-accessible. It is six miles from the main park, has vault toilets, a pavilion, and no water. All these sites have picnic tables, barbecue pits, and fire pits and can be reserved up to four months in advance.
East Canyon Reservoir is a popular getaway for campers and daytime visitors seeking prime water recreation. Enjoy swimming and sunbathing on the beach at one of the many waterside picnic areas. The East Canyon Marina offers a variety of watercraft rentals including ski boats as well as non-motorized options like kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats. Enter the water through boat ramps at the Marina and at Dixie Creek Campground. Water skiing and tubing are also permitted.
At 5,700 feet elevation, East Canyon State Park is home to a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals. Visitors are likely to spot mule deer, elk, and moose on the mountain slopes as well as smaller animals like coyotes, foxes, porcupines, and rabbits. The reservoir and surrounding hills are frequented by birdwatchers eager to catch a glimpse of bald and golden eagles, great horned owls, osprey, sage grouse, and mud swallows. Don’t forget to pack your camera in the rig before heading out.
Avid hikers will discover scenic and historical views as they take to the trails in East Canyon State Park. The park manages the Mormon Flats area, the starting point for a four-mile trail that ends at the summit of Big Mountain. The trail is perfect for hiking and biking as well as cross-country skiing during the winter months. Along the way, hikers will see the remnants of historic Fort Wells, a stronghold built by Mormon pioneers to protect themselves against the invading Johnston’s army in 1857.
Visitors to East Canyon State Park will find ample scenic locations for picnicking. There are 21 designated picnic areas scattered throughout the park. Large groups can take advantage of two day-use pavilions featuring grills and fire pits that can be reserved in advance. There are also 40 dry storage units that accompany picnic areas and group pavilions to preserve and store food and supplies throughout your stay. Stop by the general store at the marina if you forget any necessities.
The East Canyon Reservoir spreads over 684 acres and offers the perfect fishing opportunity at any time of the year. Fishermen young and old can try their hand at catching trout, smallmouth bass, crappie, and crawfish. Set up on the shore or rent a boat at the marina to fish from the water. In the winter months, the reservoir freezes over and becomes an ideal location for ice fishing. Be sure to have a current Utah fishing license and dress in warm layers as the temperature drops.
Winter weather doesn’t mean the opportunities to enjoy East Canyon State Park have ended. Scenic views and trails can be enjoyed in a new light when snow is involved. The four-mile trail from Mormon Flats to the summit at Big Mountain is a favorite for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Snowmobiles are allowed on the frozen East Canyon Reservoir via the boat ramps at the marina and Dixie Creek Campground, but special permits are required. If you are not into these snow sports, grab a sled or snow disc instead and slide down one of the slopes in the park.