If you believe that outdoor camping is completely inconsistent with indoor facilities, come to Utah’s Piute State Park. Aside from a restroom, boat launch, and a few picnic tables, this park is almost completely undeveloped.
That does not mean there’s nothing to do. Piute Lake is a roughly oval-shaped body of water that’s deep and blue. So, the fishing and boating are excellent. Away from the lake shore, there are a network of motorized and non-motorized hiking trails. Or, since the park is undeveloped, you can just lace up your hiking boots and take off. The scenery is quite nice as well. Piute State Park is surrounded by towering mountains, craggy rock formations, and some old-growth forests.
Piute State Park is also a great place to park your motorhome. Stake out a nice place near the lake, or find someplace a bit higher. You'll love to soak in the beautiful views of the Utah hills. Plus, if you're into ATVing, this is one of the state's best kept secrets with awesome ATV trails.
Piute State Park is located in one of the most scenic areas of one of our most scenic states. The sprawling Fishlake National Forest is to the west, and a mountain chain that includes Monroe Peak, Langdon Mountain, and Monument Peak lie to the east.
Even though it’s in the midst of all this wilderness, Piute State Park is surprisingly accessible. It’s about halfway between Las Vegas and Provo, off of Interstate 15. This route is a well-maintained interstate which is wide and straight. Visibility is excellent as well. Most RVers go through the aforementioned Fishlake National Forest to reach the park, and the lone road that cuts through this area is pretty much the epitome of a “winding mountain road.” But just watch your speed around the curves, and you should be fine. Besides, going slow gives you more time to take in the scenery.
Unless you happen to be driving the Empire State Building, parking at Piute State Park is definitely not a problem. Some of the park is a bit rocky. But the closer you get to the lake, the flatter it gets. The areas right next to the lake is a bit sandy in places, but hey, that’s why they call it camping.
Reservations are not necessary at Piute State Park. The primitive campground is open on a first-come, first-served basis.
Believe it or not, Piute State Park actually does have an RV campground. A primitive campground loop is just off the main park road. Needless to say, there are no hookups or amenities. Other people park their rigs on the flat western lake shore. An unpaved road runs from the “campground” to Rudd Hollow, which is not really much of a hollow. This area is easier for RVers. It’s accessible yet remote, so it’s a great place to unplug. Junction, a tiny town to the south, is big enough to have a convenience store and some basic camping supplies.
Piute Lake water levels vary significantly, so fishing is feast or famine. About once every six years, Piute Lake is a mudhole, because officials completely drain it. When the levels are low, the fishing is truly awful. But when the water levels are high, it’s one of the best fishing spots in Utah. In the mornings, many anglers take a boat out to deep water and haul in lots of trout. In the afternoons, the wind picks up, so most anglers fish from shore. Find a good spot and reel in a few bass. Ice fishing is pretty popular here in the winter as well. Piute Lake is big but not huge, so it often freezes over completely for weeks or months at a time.
You absolutely cannot miss the boat launch. It’s adjacent to the only paved section in the park at the north end of the reservoir. The lake is usually windy between late morning (around 11 a.m.) and sundown. Sailboats dominate the lake on summer afternoons. There’s lots of open water here, so power boating is very popular as well. Canoers, kayakers, and other unpowered boaters usually go out in the morning or early evening when the wind is calm. The lake shore is mostly flat and sandy, but there are some cool rock formations here and there as well, especially on the northeast shore.
Pretty much all of Piute State Park is one big swimming area. Just watch out for boats if you swim out far. The sandiest part of the lakeshore is probably near the boat launch. There’s an inlet there where boats rarely go, so swimmers have more room to operate. If you prefer the road less travelled, the entire western shore of the lake is pretty much one long beach. As there are no trees, this area does get rather sunny and windy in the afternoon. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your activity preference.
There are five sheltered picnic areas near the boat launch. These shelters are a pleasant refuge on a sunny afternoon. Take a break from swimming, boating, or hiking and enjoy an outdoor meal with family and friends. The gently-lapping lake waters are a very serene touch that complete the experience.
Piute State Park links up to the ATV trail network that criss crosses southwestern Utah. Most of these trails go through the mountainous areas that surround the park. Closer to the lake, there are a number of well-marked trails that lead from the lake to the foothills just past the tree line. Most of them start flat then become somewhat steep. So, lace up your hiking boots or take off on your mountain bike. Alternatively, blaze your own trail through some unspoiled wilderness. Before you head out, pack lots of water in your rig and wear lots of sunscreen. Even in early spring and late fall, these trails are very warm and very sunny.
Mile-high (elevation 5,900 feet), Piute State Park is an excellent place for stargazing on a dark, moonless winter night. Shooting stars streak across the sky almost continually. Distant stars are so bright that you almost need sunglasses to view them constantly. Use a simple telescope to see amazing features on the moon and other nearby celestial bodies. Break out a larger telescope to see similar sights on far-away gas giants. Even more-distant gas nebulae are also clearly visible from Piute State Park. It wouldn't hurt to pack a telescope in your campervan.