Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area
Guide

Introduction

The Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area is a BLM-managed property in north-west Utah near the ghost town of Aragonite. The area covers over thirty-six thousand acres of terrain comprised of mudflats, sand dunes, and low, undulating hills. It's a harsh, low-lying desert environment with views of the Newfoundland Mountain Range to the distant north and the Great Salt Lake State Park to the far east. The extensive washes in the recreation area have a sparse covering of vegetation, though there is some growth of juniper in places that provide a shady respite from high temperatures.

The Horseshoe Knolls, or Knolls Recreation Area as it's also called, is a major playground for off-roading and there is an almost endless network of trails crisscrossing these BLM lands. Plus, there are miles of open mudflats for speed lovers to race over. The trails are also put to good use by cross country hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.

Dispersed camping is permitted in the recreation area, but because of the zone's attraction for OHVers, it might not be as tranquil as you would expect of such a remote desert location. It does quieten down after dusk though, so it's a good spot for spending the night and doing some stargazing. If you're heading to the Knolls for some OHV action but want to pitch up in your RV in a quieter location, you'll find a suitable campground in the Great Salt Lake State Park an hour's drive from the recreation area.

RV Rentals in Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area

Transportation

Driving

The Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area is an easy to access BLM property. The Lincoln Highway, I 80, runs adjacent to the north border. On the I80 between Aragonite and Burmester, you'll find the junction for the UT 196 southbound which will take you right into the recreation area. The roads receive a fair amount of traffic so the dirt is compacted but bumpy in places, and it's recommended to take it slow if you're in a rig and towing a trailer. There is no specified parking area so vehicles can be left anywhere so long as they don't obstruct a trail or roadway.

If you're heading to the Knolls Recreation Area for some OHV fun after RV camping in the Great Basin National Park, you'll have a choice of two routes to get there. The shortest is along the US 93 northbound through Ely and Cherry Creek and will take you around three and a half hours. Alternatively, you can motor up the US 50 which will take you by the Canyon Mountains which are part of the Fishlake National Forest and around the western border of the Utah Lake State Park. It's a longer run, four and a half hours in total, but a lot more scenic.

Parking

Dispersed RV camping is allowed in the Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area and vehicles may be parked anywhere as long as they don't block access roads or cause an obstruction on the trails.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area

Campsites in Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Great Salt Lake State Park

If you don't want to camp out in the Horseshoe Knoll Recreation Area, one of the closest campgrounds is in the Great Salt Lake State Park. The campground is open for twelve months of the year and can accommodate RVs up to forty feet in length. The campground is located north of the town of Tooele on the southern shore of the lake.

There are five back-in campsites at the Great Salt Lake Campground all of which are gravel-surfaced. The pitches are fitted with water and electricity hook-ups and a picnic table. The sites are along the lakeshore, but exposed to the elements with no shade at all.

On-site amenities at the Great Salt Lake Campground are good for such a small site. There is a shower block and restrooms, a boat ramp and a visitor center. The campground is pet-friendly.

Seasonal activities in Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area

Off-Season

Off-Roading

One of the main reasons most folks go RV camping in the Horseshoe Knolls Recreation Area is to spend time off-roading. The enormous acreage is full of exciting challenges for experienced riders both along the well-traversed trails and across country on two or four wheels.

The dunes and mudflats are great for dune buggying as well as speeding over on a quad. The recreation area is remote from services and cell phone coverage can be poor, so riders should go prepared for all eventualities and carry extra fuel, water and provisions and preferably not go out into the wilds alone.

Natural History Museum Of Utah

The Natural History Museum Of Utah is a state-of-the-art building on Wakara Way in Salt Lake City. The impressive building houses ten galleries with numerous exhibitions on diverse topics. Explore the geology of the state and how it's changed over the millennia, browse extensive collections of minerals and gems or find out in-depth information about the eight Native American tribes of the region.

The Museum is open seven days a week and well worth taking time away from the desert to tour around.

Fear Factory

You'll see plenty of ghost towns while you're driving around Utah, but if you want to do something that will really make your hair stand on end, go to the Fear Factory.

The Fear Factory is an indoor theme park in Salt Lake City with some seriously scary attractions. There are monsters, gravity-defying thrill rides, fear-inspiring ziplines, free-fall jumps, and a virtual reality zombie game. After a few hours in the Fear Factory, spending a night alone in the desert will be child's play.

In-Season

Hiking

Hikers heading to the Knolls can expect to be trekking through mostly desert washes with a few scrub bushes here and there. There are miles and miles of open country to contend with, so being able to find your way about and know your route back is essential.

Carrying enough water and food for a couple of days at least, even if you're only planning on hiking for a few hours, is also advisable and so is letting someone know where you're going plus your estimated time of return. If you twist an ankle or anything untoward happens, you may not have a good enough signal to call someone, though if you're lucky and stick to the dirt trails, an OHVer could ride by and come to the rescue.

Stargazing

The Horseshoe Knoll Recreation Area is far away enough from major urbanizations to have very little light pollution. Pitch camp in the desert and so long as you don't spend too long staring into the flames of your campfire, when night falls you'll be able to see the universe in all its glory.

If you're not too knowledgable about the stars and want to find out more, make a visit to the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, where they've been teaching visitors about science and the galaxies for fifty years.

Bird Watching

While animal and bird life in the Knolls Recreation Area is scant, two of the best spots in Utah to go bird watching are close by. The saline waters of the Great Salt Lake attracts many species of waders, ducks, and swans who feed on the large population of brine shrimp in the lake. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge draws flocks of migrating birds in their thousands and several species of raptor, including bald eagles, hawks, and falcons, use the refuge as their winter habitat.

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