If you think Utah is mostly rocks and sand and not much to do, you probably haven’t been to Millsite State Park. Central Utah is one of those rare places where several different geographic zones come together, so this park is one of the liveliest places in the Mountain West. Not only that but Millsite is one of the rarest beautiful gems of beauty in Utah as it lies off of the breathtaking Millsite Reservoir smack dab in the middle of the state.
At Millsite State Park, forested mountains tower in the west, a canyon runs from north to south, sweeping green fields are to the east, and one of the nicest lakes in the area is at your feet. Park activities include hiking, boating, and fishing. The scenic and reasonably challenging trails are open to hikers, mountain bikers, and off-road vehicles. You won't want to miss a chance to photograph a jaw-dropping waterfall right within the park. There’s also an 18-hole golf course carved directly into the desert floor.
Perhaps the real beauty of Millsite State Park is that campers can bring the modern world along with them if they choose. Many park facilities have been recently updated. There are roughly two dozen RV parking spots for your rig or trailer. Most of them have both electric and water hookups. This park is also one of the few state park facilities in the country with free WiFi.
Millsite State Park is not far from the Interstate 15/Interstate 70 intersection. Interstate 15 bisects the Mountain West from north to south, and Interstate 15 bisects it from east to west. So, the park is in a great location. It’s an easy drive from almost anywhere in the western half of the country. Ferron, the nearest town, is by no means a sprawling metropolis. But it has gas, groceries, and basic camping supplies. Larger towns, like Provo and Salt Lake City, are not very close by. But if you want to go camping, you probably want to get out of the city. Inside the park, there is a huge parking lot near the beach and boat launch, and another gig one near the golf course.
Workers recently renovated and expanded this campground to make it more RV-friendly. Millsite State Park’s RV Campground has 20 back-in sites. Some are close to the lake while others are a little further inland. Ten sites have electric and water hookups; ten sites have only electric hookups. The Wi-Fi is usually very strong in the campsite since the signal originates from the nearby park entrance. Each motorhome parking spot has a barbecue grill and picnic table so that you can enjoy the outdoors as well. Campground amenities include a restroom and shower area and an RV dump station.
For years, Millsite Reservoir suffered from chronically low water levels. In 2018, officials launched a major dam reconstruction project which has, for the most part, put these problems to rest. As time goes by, fishing conditions will get even better. A fishing jetty is located just off the boat launch, and that’s a good place to catch bass. The shoreline features some shady places and some exposed rocky places. Either is a good place for catfish, as is the dam. If you put out to open water, the salmon usually bite well. During the winter, crappie ice fishing is pretty cool.
Millsite Reservoir has mostly deep, blue water that’s ideal for boating. The area near the park is rather confined and excellent for non-powered craft. Motorboats usually take it easy until they reach open water, and then there’s plenty of space to gun the motor. Despite its convenient location, the lake is usually not very busy, even on July Fourth, Memorial Day, and other popular boating holidays. Waterskiing, jet skis, and other powered boat sporting events are common here. You may even see a high-elevation parasailer here and there.
The swimming beach is located near the RV park. It’s not too windy, and there is plenty of sunshine. The shallow water near the beach warms up pretty quickly in the late spring and early summer, so swimming is available for much of the year. The beach is also unusually wide, so there is plenty of room for impromptu beach picnics and pick-up Frisbee games.
All the aforementioned geographic diversity (sand washes, canyons, and mountains) mean that the hiking trails at Millsite State Park are quite nice. You'll love the Arapeen OHV Trail Spur. It connects to a larger system which goes through Ferron Canyon and Manti-La Sal National Forest. The entire OHV trail is some 350 miles long. Honorable mention goes to the San Rafael Swell desert trail. It winds through the desert on the eastern border of the park. Takes lots of water, even if you go during the winter. Special honorable mention goes to Dry Wash Trail. It’s steep and long, but it goes through one of the most heavily-forested areas of the park.
The newly-expanded, 18-hole, par-71 Millsite Golf Course is one of the most scenic ones in Utah. The 7th hole is usually rated as one of the nicest ones in the state. It features a sheet waterfall where overflow pours down from the reservoir. Millsite Golf Course also has a very nice clubhouse that includes a full-size pro shop. The greens and fairways are all very well-maintained during the long golf season, which typically runs from March through December. And, if you’re like us and you lose a lot of balls in the rough, they are easy to find. The fairways and greens are atop a sand wash. If you don’t play, don’t feel left out. Lots of people have fun driving golf carts through the course and taking in the view.
Out here in the middle of nowhere, the night sky comes alive on moonless winter nights, since there is practically no light pollution. Pack a telescope in your RV to see sharp details on the moon and other nearby celestial objects. With a slightly larger telescope, you can see similar features on the far-away gas giants.