The Best Camping Near Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is the type of eye-candy usually reserved for cartoon feasts held at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Now, there’s no reason to compare this national park–part of Utah’s Mighty 5–with the Grand Canyon, but lets just say that if the Grand Canyon was the world’s largest meatball hoagie, Canyonlands is the deli where you can buy the rest of the sandwiches.
It’s 337,598 square miles of washed out, 360-degree paintings upon the surface of the Earth, and the beauty is only the start of the fun. From backcountry hiking to stargazing, camping in or near Canyonlands National Park is the way to go…especially considering there are no other lodging options directly in the park. The closest town — bustling Moab — is a great place to find society in action, but is not exactly the serene locale most people come to a national park to experience.
While the park itself has two official campgrounds that can accommodate RVs up to 28′ long, there are only 40 sites total, many of which are first-come, first-serve and hard to snag. Don’t expect any hookups, either, though both of the National Park Service campgrounds have amenities like recycling, trash, and vault toilets. Cell service isn’t going to be served in heaping helpings (if at all), but if you’re interested in water, electric, and cell — and don’t mind reserving four months in advance — Dead Horse Point State Park is just outside of the national park’s boundaries.
Free Camping Near Canyonlands National Park
Outside of Canyonlands, free camping is plentiful on BLM and similar publicly-owned lands such as Dalton Well Road (a series of roads, actually, with plenty of space to spread out), Willow Springs Trail (an often densely populated slice of desert where many of the spots are marked off with wire fencing and a vault toilet was installed to help with the human waste issue), and Lone Mesa Campground (technically the closest of the BLM land at the park’s northern Island in the Sky entrance.)
Most of these camping destinations have some amount of cell service, but be aware that due to the nature of why people come to this area, expect a good deal of OHV traffic and a little bit of highway noise, depending on where you end up.
Just outside of the southern Needles area of the park, more free camping exists, some with cell service, some that can accommodate big rigs, and even a few that’ll lead the mice into your rig.
In addition to all of that free camping, there is plenty of BLM campgrounds between Canyonlands and Moab, where for around $15 per night you’ll have access to a dumpster and vault toilets.
Full Hookup RV Camping Near Canyonlands National Park
If you’re partial to a 50-amp connection and somewhere to stick your sewer pipe, Moab proper is going to be your best bet for easiest access to the national park. There are a dozen or so private RV parks in and around the town. Archview RV Resort is the closest to the park’s northern entrance, while Canyonlands RV Resort will put you within walking distance of downtown Moab.
Canyonlands, or rather the entire Moab area, is one of the most popular destinations for everyone from mountain bikers to stargazers to Jeep enthusiasts, and while it’s possible to just show up and find somewhere to camp, it’s advisable to plan ahead so you’re not picking through leftovers instead of living the full slickrock experience.