If you’re looking to take a breath of fresh air from the mundane city life, you won’t have to wander far. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is a short drive away from Salt Lake City and offers extraordinary scenery, recreation, and relaxation. With 2.1 million acres of diverse landscape, there are endless opportunities to get closer to nature, whether it be from the seat of your campervan, bike, OHV, or on your own two feet. From caves to mountain peaks, with rivers and lakes in between, you won’t want to miss this unique forest.
All four seasons are buzzing with activity in the forest, and it’s no surprise that this is one of the most visited National Forests in the nation. The summer offers carpets of wildflowers, and hundreds of miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers to discover. The snow draws its own population of skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, and snowshoers out to play. Other outdoor opportunities in the area include fishing, scenic driving, caving, swimming, kayaking, and horseback riding.
Located less than 100 miles away from Salt Lake City, the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is a great weekend getaway for you and the family. The main highways leading into the forest include I-80, I-15, and Highway 40. Many smaller forest roads and scenic byways connect to these key highways and will bring you to RV campgrounds and other recreational areas. Although most forest roads are paved, the elevation may be difficult to maneuver for larger vehicles trying to wind their way through the forest. Don’t let it deter you from seeing the incredible views from the scenic byways though, as there are plenty of stop-offs along the way, so keep your camera handy. Summer months bring a sea of visitors, so keep in mind that traffic may be congested or moving slowly in certain areas. Winter months bring the opposite problem, and many routes within the forest may be closed due to heavy snowfall, so make sure to check your routes ahead of time.
The Soapstone Campground is perfect for those who love nature, but also love the comfort of their RV. Located just off of the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, the campground roads and parking spurs are paved, making it easily accessible for large vehicles and trailers to navigate.
This pet-friendly campground has 34 sites available for RVs and trailers from 36 feet up to 95 feet in length. The campground is open from June through September. Some sites are reservable, while other sites are first-come-first-served, depending on the season. The sites are equipped with fire rings and picnic tables, and vault toilets and trash collection are also provided. There is no potable drinking water available on-site, so make sure to pack plenty with you for your stay. Firewood is available for purchase from the camp host.
Recreation opportunities in the area are endless thanks to the proximity of the Uinta Mountains and the Lower Provo River. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, OHV riding, canoeing, and wildlife viewing are some the most popular activities, with some trails leaving right from the campground. Check out the nearby Soapstone Basin for miles of exhilarating off-road vehicle trails.
For those looking to escape for a quick getaway not too far off the beaten path, Spruces – Big Cottonwood campground is conveniently located near Salt Lake City. This scenic campground is situated in Big Cottonwood Canyon and has beautiful views of the nearby mountain peaks. The campground is open from May through September, and there are over 90 sites to choose from. Each of the sites can fit vehicles with a maximum length of 20-45 feet, depending on the site. Each site also contains a picnic table and fire ring with flush toilets and drinking water available on site.
A baseball field, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits are available within the campground for your enjoyment, along with a plethora of other activities just outside your camper door. Hiking the Donut Falls Trail or fishing out of the Big Cottonwood Creek are popular activities, along with mountain biking, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing. Colorful wildflowers are prominent in the summer and the autumn leaves display beautiful colors in the fall, so don’t hesitate to take the RV for a spin to see all this area has to offer.
Granite Flat Campground sits below the breathtaking peaks of the Wasatch Mountain peaks and offers a unique array of activities nearby. The campground is open from May to September, and reservations are accepted. Each of the 65 RV- and trailer-friendly sites is equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. Vault toilets, water spigots, and horseshoe pits are available for use as well. The roads and parking spurs are all paved, making it easy for large vehicles to maneuver. The parking spurs vary in length from 28 feet up to 69 feet.
The campground is located just a few miles from the American Fork Canyon and the Tibble Fork Reservoir. Well-liked activities in the area include fishing, canoeing, mountain biking, and hiking. If you’re looking to try something new, scuba diving is popular in the nearby Tibble Fork Reservoir, and a guided cave tour is available in the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. If you’re just looking for a place to relax, stay near the campervan with the pets and enjoy the beautiful wildflowers that flourish the area in the summer.
The beautiful Strawberry Bay Campground is located on the shores of the Strawberry Reservoir. The campground is open from May through October. There are 295 sites can accommodate RVs and trailers with a maximum length between 50 feet and 117 feet. Twenty-six sites offer full hookups. This large campground offers picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station.
A boat ramp is also available on-site, so feel free to hook up your watercraft to the back of the rig. Other popular activities include hiking, biking, OHV, and horseback riding. In fact, there is an extensive trail network located near the campground. Don’t forget to pick up a map from the Strawberry Visitors Center located nearby. Please note that this is a pet-friendly campground, but there is very little shade to provide relief from the sun.
Seeing huge chunks of the forest from the comfort of your RV is made easy by the scenic byways that traverse the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The Alpine Loop, Mirror Lake, Ogden Valley, Mt. Nebo, and Logan Canyon National Scenic Byways each give you a different perspective of the forest from the road. The autumn brings drivers from all around to experience the leaves changing color. Many campgrounds and recreation areas are located off the highways, so it's possible to spend days winding your way up and down these spectacular byways.
Hundreds of miles of footpaths cross through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, making it the perfect place to lace up the hiking boots and hit the trail. Whether you’re an experienced climber, or just looking to reconnect with nature, there is a trail for you. For those with a few more miles under their boots, the Wellsville Mountains boast one of the steepest treks in the Rocky Mountains, so don’t forget to pack the camera in the RV. For a more relaxed experience, check out the Wind Cave trails in Logan Canyon.
If you’re looking for an adventure, consider checking out the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. This massive monument encompasses an area of 250 acres within the American Fork Canyon, located just a few miles off of Interstate 15. If you’re willing to take on the steep 1.5-mile trek, you’ll be rewarded with three limestone caves available for you to explore. During the summer, the park rangers lead tours through the caves and also offer an introduction to caving course that starts at the beginning of the main trail.
High mountain lakes and long stretches of river provide endless opportunities for fishing. Anglers from all over the state and country come to Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to try their luck for arctic grayling, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass, and trout. The Strawberry Reservoir is known as one of the top still-water fisheries in Utah and is surrounded by beautiful scenery. The high Uinta Mountain Lakes have miles of trails that lead to hundreds of lakes and streams, as well as viable fishing areas right at the foot of your RV.
Snow doesn’t stop the fun in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, it just provides a different backdrop for winter activities the whole family will love. The Wasatch mountain range has hundreds of trails for snowshoeing, many of which are near Nordic centers and commercial areas that offer equipment rentals and expert guides. Check out Spruces – Big Cottonwood Campground for a fun easy trek, you may even spot some wildlife along the way! If you’re looking for a more rugged experience, there are over 60 trails to trek in the backcountry of the Wasatch Front and Wasatch Back.
Four major ski resorts call the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest home, making it possible to see the forest in a whole new way during the winter months. Brighton, Alta, Solitude, and Snowbird are some of Utah’s most visited resorts and offer world-class slopes open for skiers and snowboarders alike. All four have numerous runs for all ages and levels. Although most resorts are located within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake, be sure to check current weather conditions before packing up the RV and heading out.