If you truly want to get away from it all in your RV in the rustic beauty of Utah’s wilderness, Fishlake National Forest is the perfect place. Tucked away in central Utah, Fishlake National Forest spans over 1.5 million acres featuring diverse climates from the Pahvant Mountain Range and Tushar Mountains to sagebrush grasslands and lush forests. You can leave the camper behind to discover unique natural wonders like Pando, which is a colony of majestic aspens that are one of the world’s oldest living organisms.
One of the spots you can’t miss during your RV trip is the largest freshwater mountain lake in Utah and the forest’s namesake, Fish Lake. Fishing, boating, ice fishing, and even scuba diving are among the popular aquatic activities you’ll enjoy. You can hike, bike, or horseback ride through jaw-dropping scenery like open mountain meadows and ancient groves of aspen and pine. If you’re looking for a faster way to get around you can explore one of the top off-roading trails in the country, the 275-mile Paiute ATV Trail System. Visiting Fishlake in your campervan or trailer is pleasant any time of year since the summer months average temperatures in the 80s, while the winter stays in the 30s or 40s. Plus, the forest boasts 12 RV-friendly campgrounds. Read on for details on a few of the top options.
Fishlake National Forest is in the center of Utah about two hours north of St. George and three hours south of Salt Lake City. You’ll want to use caution and reduce speed when driving an RV, campervan, or trailer in Fishlake National Forest since much of it is located in a mountainous region. I-70, which cuts across the central region of the forest, will be easier for driving a big rig since it is a large, wide highway. UT-153, which spans across the lower area of the park, is not recommended for RVs or trailers since some portions are very winding, narrow, and unpaved. Other local roads, like UT-25 that takes you to Fish Lake, are well-paved and much easier to traverse. If you need supplies there are small towns to the west along I-15 and to the east on I-70.
At over 1.5 million acres, Fishlake is so huge that it is divided into four districts: Fillmore, Beaver, Richfield, and Fremont River. It will be easiest to get around to various areas of the park by vehicle. There are plenty of areas to explore by ATV, on foot, or by bike, but these are not feasible as a primary mode of transportation. Parking is available at many points of interest including Fishlake, Wildcat Rest Area and Information Center, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
Open from May to October and located in the Fremont River Teasdale District, Singletree is the largest campground for RVers. While the campground is primitive with no hookups, you can get away from it all with gorgeous views of the Henry Mountains and the vista of Capital Reef. You will have access to drinking water, restrooms, a dump station, and Wi-Fi for a fee. Most sites can fit a 35- to 45-foot rig and are fully shaded for extra comfort. Each site features a paved pad, fire pit, and picnic table. Pets are welcome as long as they stay on a leash, and generators are permitted during certain hours. Many campers love that scenic nature trails are a short walk away.
Mackinaw Campground is open from May to September and offers waterfront views right on Fish Lake. While this is a dry campground, meaning there are no hookups, flush toilets, showers, and drinking water are available. Rigs up to 65 feet long can be accommodated. When you arrive at your campsite you can expect a gravel pad, picnic table, and firepit. Half of the 68 sites are open for reservations. Best of all you can hike, bike, or fish right from your campsite. The campground is located at high elevation so you’ll want to bring a windbreaker or a jacket.
Located on the shores of Fish Lake, Doctor Creek Campground is open from May to September. The campground offers a total of 30 sites, half of which are available for reservations. While there are no hookups available, you will find drinking water and flush toilets near your site. Each site provides a gravel pad, picnic table, and fire pit. Rigs up to 40 feet can be accommodated. Many RV campers choose Doctor Creek for its access to stellar trout fishing and boating on Fish Lake. Groceries, gas, and supplies are available at several resorts located nearby in the Fish Lake Basin.
Located on the idyllic shores of Fish Lake, half of the sites at Mackinaw Campground are open on a first-come, first-served basis. Each site features a gravel pad, picnic table, and firepit. While there are no hookups you will have access to flush toilets, showers, and drinking water.
Of the total 30 sites at Doctor Creek, half are first-come, first-served. There are no hookups available, but drinking water and flush toilets are within walking distance to each campsite. Most sites can fit an RV or trailer up to 40 feet in length. You’ll find a gravel pad, picnic table, and fire pit at your site.
If you are hauling your ATV on your trailer you will have more than 2,700 miles to explore at Fishlake. There are a number of ATV trails and open areas you can discover. The most popular route is the Paiute ATV Trail System which encompasses a primary trail of almost 300 miles, plus more than 900 miles of unmarked paths. You even can take several days and go ATV camping to explore everything this remote wilderness has to offer from 11,500-feet high ridges and mystical forest streams.
If you’ve ever wanted to strike it rich you can try your luck at gold panning in Fishlake National Forest. Just head in your campervan to one of the gold panning areas like Indian Creek Trailhead and Little Cottonwood Campground. Take the kids and explore the stream to see if you can spot and collect small flecks of gold. Even if you don’t catch gold fever you can still learn all about the life of 19th-century gold miners at Miner’s Park Interpretive. You can collect other rocks, minerals, or even plant fossils you find on the trail as long the collection is for personal use.
Fishlake National Forest is a great place to take an RV getaway, especially if you love the water. There are dozens of small lakes, ponds, and streams that are idyllic fishing spots. One of the best places to bait your hook is at Fish Lake in the Fremont River Ranger District, where trout fishing and trolling are popular. If you want to cruise around on the water Fish Lake, Mill Meadow Reservoir, and Johnson Valley Reservoir welcome motorized boats. If you want to take out the kayak or canoe you are welcome on most of the smaller lakes as well.
Hiking and biking are some of the best ways to explore Fishlake’s beauty filled with jaw-dropping views and enchanting forests of Ponderosa pine and spruce. Perhaps the most scenic hike is along the two-mile, moderate Bullion Waterfalls Trail, where you will see beautiful falls towering above at 75 feet. If you want to take your dog hiking, the three-mile Delano Peak Trail is a scenic trek dotted with wildflowers. For those looking for a hard hike with beautiful waterfront views, try the 16.2-mile Fish Lake Loop. Mountain bikes are welcome on most trails.
If you are towing horses in your trailer you will find that Fishlake is very accommodating for equestrians. You’ll love riding the trail while taking in majestic vegetation like pinyon and juniper, sagebrush, and mountain mahogany. You’ll also want to pack those binoculars in your camper in case you spot native wildlife like elk, deer, or black bears. There are also several equestrian campgrounds you can stay in that feature corrals, water, and easy access to horse trails.
Once the cold starts drifting in Fishlake turns into a winter wonderland with snow-capped mountaintops and trees, but it also transforms into a hotbed of winter sports. You can explore a dozen trails in the Beaver District on snowshoes or cross-country skis. You’ll love soaking in breathtaking panoramic views of Mt. Terrill which you can reach by snowmobile. If your rig is full of kids get ready for a fun-filled day of snowing or tubing. Anglers won’t be disappointed with plenty of ice fishing opportunities as well.