Hughes: For safety’s sake, broaden your horizons for spring camping

May 1, 2023, 12:00 PM

fruita overlook in capitol reef -- a national park is just one place to go on vacation in utah...

The view from the South Fruita Overlook in Capitol Reef National Park. Fruita is one of the many spring camping spots in Utah. (Kira Hoffelmeyer/KSL NewsRadio)

(Kira Hoffelmeyer/KSL NewsRadio)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah skiers continue to celebrate more opportunities to get on the mountain. But at the same time, spring campers may find it difficult to access their favorite getaway. This is because a record winter snowfall is resulting in a shorter spring-camping season.

KSL Meteorologist Matt Johnson told Utah’s Morning News this week that close to 90% of our snowpack is still in the mountains.

While this week’s warming forecast will speed up the runoff process, some of the higher-elevation camp spots may struggle to open even by Memorial Day.

So, if you decide on spring camping, here’s what you should know.


Safety for you and your family should always be a consideration. Especially when picking the right place to call home for a weekend or longer.

Priority one? Avoiding rivers and streams for the next month or so as all of that white stuff melts and turns into a torrent of H2O.

Children and pets are instinctively curious about water. The flows are sure to be fast, high, and very cold making any rescues difficult. And think about this: a dam of debris can quickly turn your tent’s high ground into a muddy mess or worse.

Expand your horizons

We’ve heard that “necessity is the mother of invention” right? Well, necessity may lead you and your family to new discoveries. Or, a newfound love for camp spots in lower elevations or drives to southern Utah.

Spring is the perfect time to head south as far as temperatures go. At the end of the day, although the views may be more desirable in one place or another, the lifelong memories of time spent together away from electronic interference and distractions will be exactly the same.

Where to go

There are many great resources for spring camping options in Utah. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Sand Hollow State Park is just 20 minutes from St. George with 70 total campsites, 42 with full hookups. Spots on the beach around the reservoir are primitive.
  • Sunset Campground at Bryce Canyon National Park is obviously surrounded by beauty with 99 total sites all on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Plan on arriving by 8 a.m. to get a spot. And know that it can still be chilly at that elevation this time of year, so plan accordingly.
  • Fruita Campground at Capitol Reef has 71 total sites but there are also 2 primitive sites in more remote areas of the park. Reservations are required for all of the Fruita spots for just $25 per night.
  • West Desert Camping should NOT be overlooked for access and availability! Great Basin National Park and Little Sahara Recreation Area are favorites west of Beaver and Delta with many recreational opportunities.

The bottom line is that even when Mother Nature throws us a curveball in Utah, we are blessed with other options. We have so many recreational opportunities at our disposal to help create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Hughes: For safety’s sake, broaden your horizons for spring camping