Willard Bay State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Willard Bay State Park rests atop the Great Salt Lake flood plain and features Willard reservoir, a 9,900-acre fresh-water lake. Located just under 20 miles north of the city of Ogden, and less than two miles from the small town of Willard, Utah, this modern state park offers amazing year-round fishing, boating, and water-skiing opportunities for campers as well as fantastic opportunities for hiking, swimming, and birdwatching. The wide-open country that surrounds Willard Bay provides for panoramic views of Utah’s majestic mountains and the Great Salt Lake, and it offers the chance to spot wildlife such as white-tailed deer, elk, and moose. The reservoir, which stores water from the Ogden and Weber rivers for use by nearby farmers, was developed in 1964. The area was declared an official state park just two years later in 1966. The modern amenities at Willard Bay State Park include both individual and group campsites as well as covered picnic tables, boat launching ramps, courtesy docks, fish cleaning stations, modern restrooms, and spacious camping areas. This state park is an ideal spot in which to enjoy outdoor recreational activities during every season. Willard Bay State Park has two separate marinas known as the North and South Marinas. The North Marina offers state-of-the-art day-use and camping facilities in addition to the group-use areas that are available to both overnight campers and day visitors. The South Marina is a bit more rustic but still provides several modern amenities.

RV Rentals in Willard Bay State Park

Transportation in Willard Bay State Park

Driving

Willard Bay State Park is situated just off of I-15 in northern Utah. The South Marina is located on the north edge of the city of Ogden, just over a dozen miles north of the city center, while the North Marina area is a few miles farther north. The roads that lead to the state park are relatively straight highways without any sudden changes in elevation, making it easy to navigate in big rigs or when towing a trailer or boat. The turn-off area for the South Marina is directly off of I-15, and the turn is clearly marked and easy to spot. To get to the North Marina, you will need to turn from I-15 onto W 750 N before seeing the signage that points to the campground. The roads inside the park are paved, as are the parking pads in the majority of the campsites. There are no driving restrictions for RVs and trailers within the park.

Parking

There are several parking lots in Willard Bay State Park for RVs and trailers. The eight parking lots in the park are distributed across the North Marina and South Marina, and you’ll find parking spaces for your RVs and trailers at the Cotton Wood Campground, Willow Creek Campground, South Marina Campground, the Day Use-Area, and fishing patrons. Parking is restricted to designated areas.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Willard Bay State Park

Campsites in Willard Bay State Park

Reservations camping

Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Campground is also located near the North Marina, just a short distance from the Willow Creek Campground. The Cottonwood Campground features three cabins as well as 36, 30-amp, full-hookup campsites that can accommodate motorhomes up to 60 feet in length. Cottonwood Campground also provides centrally located restrooms and hot showers, and there are several faucets with potable water scattered throughout the grounds. Campers who choose to stay at Cottonwood Campground can also take advantage of the raised viewing platform or the sandy swimming beaches, and boaters will appreciate the well-maintained boat launch located nearby. A sanitary dump station is located at the nearby Willow Creek Campground. Campfires are permitted in designated areas. Please remember to observe the park's quiet hours between 10 PM to 7 AM.

Willow Creek Campground

Willow Creek Campground is situated near the North Marina, and it features 35 pull-through campsites that are suitable for RVs up to 45 feet in length. RV hookups are not available in the Willow Creek campground, but each campsite has a fire-pit, a picnic table, and a grill. Generators are permitted during the day and must be turned off during the park’s quiet hours between 10 PM to 7 AM. Amenities at the Willow Creek Campground include two centrally-located bathhouses with modern restrooms and showers, access to hiking trailheads, and proximity to sandy beaches. The dump station for Willard Bay State Park is located just west of this campground. Your canine companion is welcome to join you at this campground, but your pooch must be leashed appropriately and accompanied at all times. Dogs are prohibited from visiting designated swimming beaches. The length of stay in Utah state campgrounds is limited to 14 days within any 30 days.

South Marina Campground

The South Marina Campground is located near the South Marina. It features 30 single-family campsites available by reservation, as well as one camping area suitable for larger groups. Of the 30 single-family campsites, 23 of the campsites offer full-hookup options with 50-amp electrical power, water, and sewer, and these sites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 50 feet in length. Each campsite offers a fire-pit, a grill, and a picnic table. Additional campground amenities include modern restrooms, hot showers, several day-use picnic shelters, a boat ramp, and a viewing platform for wildlife watching. It is worth noting that the showers are typically closed between the hours of 10 AM to 5 PM to help conserve water. Leashed pets are welcome to accompany their pet-parents at this campground, but the pets may not be left unattended, and remember that animals are prohibited from visiting designated swimming beaches. Generators and loud music are not permitted during the campground’s quiet hours, from 10 PM to 7 AM. The length of stay in the campground is limited to 14 days within any 30 days.

Brigham City / Perry South KOA

Nestled near the shimmering waters of the Great Salt Lake and at the base of Willard Peak, the vistas from the Brigham City/Perry South KOA campground are just amazing. A wonderful oasis for nature lovers and a bird watchers’ haven, with nearby Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, the Brigham City/Perry South KOA is in one of the best birding areas in the world. Amenities include a seasonal pool, Wi-Fi, snack bar, dog park, and pavilion. Fifty-amp electric is available at most of the RV pull-through sites, and there is firewood for sale.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Willard Bay State Park

In-Season

Boating

The 9,900-acre reservoir that makes up Willard Bay offers water lovers and boating enthusiasts an opportunity to enjoy their favorite boating-related activities. All types of boats are allowed on this reservoir, from canoes to motorboats. Bring your favorite water vessel along with you when you visit Willard Bay State Park or rent a boat when you arrive. Boat rental facilities at the lake offer anything from family-style pontoons to high-end wakeboards and ski boats. Guests can rent personal watercraft, such as jet skis and wave runners. If you bring your own boat, it must be registered in Utah and certified as mussel-free before launching. Children 12 and under are required to wear fastened, properly fitted life jackets while on a boat or in the water. Wakeless speeds are enforced within 150 feet of other boats, docks, launch ramps, and people in the water.

FIshing

Willard Bay Reservoir, at an elevation of 4,200 feet, is one of the best warm-water fisheries in Utah. There are several species of fish that populate this large reservoir, such as walleye, crappie, catfish, wipers, and smallmouth bass, but the most sought after species in the summer are walleyes and wipers. It’s important to note that the fishing here may follow a different pattern than what many anglers are used to, a pattern driven by the gizzard shad in the lake. When the shad begin their spawning activity around mid-June, the predatory walleyes and wipers change their hunting tactics, and anglers have better luck with smaller sized baits in the top 10 feet of the water. Large parking lots are located near the fishing areas so that you can just park your rig and dive in!

Nature Photography

Make sure that your camera is packed in your campervan, and remember to pack your specialty lenses. The wide-open country that surrounds Willard Bay State Park provides stunning panoramic views of the mountains that frame the nearby Great Salt Lake. This state park is awash with beautiful trees and vegetation that you will want to capture, such as flowering plants like desert paintbrushes and oriental poppies, trees like cottonwood, maple, and Russian olive, and a wide variety of grasses and thistles. What’s more, while you’re enjoying the beautiful flora in the park, you may be able to snap a photo of the park’s wildlife. Deer, fox, squirrels, and muskrat are commonly seen here, and if you are alert and lucky, you may get a picture of one of the parks threatened or vulnerable species, such as bison, river otters, or black bears.

Off-Season

Bird Watching

Be sure to pack your binoculars in your trailer on your next RV trip to Willard Bay State Park. No matter what time of year you visit, you will find a variety of bird species, upwards of 200, that live in and near the park. The fall and winter months offer the best opportunities to spot fish-eating species such as Bonaparte's gulls, common terns, hooded mergansers, and loons, as well as a few threatened and endangered raptors that prefer fish such as bald eagles and osprey. Don't forget your bird guide and your camera; you won't want to forget the different birds you spot.

Ice Fishing

While many people associate the activity of fishing with the summer months, avid anglers will often bundle up so that they can enjoy the experience of ice fishing as well. It is essential to check the depth of the ice before setting up your station as many factors can affect the thickness and strength of the ice. The ice should be a minimum of four inches thick for a single individual and between six to eight inches for multiple people. This lake has a healthy population of perch, a favorite species for ice fishers.

Park Programs

RV campers who are visiting Willard Bay State Park may be able to enjoy one of the park's engaging and fun programs. These programs help to make off-season camping memorable and exciting. Programs and events that traditionally occur in the off-season months include Easter egg hunts, or trick-or-treating. The spectacular Fantasy at the Bay Holiday Light Festival, a trademark festival at this park, also runs in the winter, typically from Thanksgiving through New Years Day. These programs are open to all RV campers and enhance participants’ level of appreciation and understanding of the park’s features.

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