Camping is the perfect vacation with your family. It is sure to promote family fun, adventure, relaxation, nature’s beauty, and a time to unplug from the world. Set up your tent, unroll your sleeping bags, and kick back in your favorite camping chair. Sitting around the campfire at night roasting marshmallows with your kids is the best entertainment in the world.
Camping provides a rare chance for them to just be a kid, using their imaginations with sticks and dirt and getting away from technology. These are simple times to recharge and have a ton of fun. Whether you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned ranger, these five campsites are sure to offer a great time for the family.
What to Look for in a Campsite for Families
My husband teases me about how much I plan and prepare for our outings, but I assure him that thinking through details beforehand makes the experience much smoother and enjoyable for the whole family.
When it comes to camping, it certainly doesn’t hurt to invest some time into finding the perfect site that will work best for your family. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for some features to look for when selecting a family-friendly camp site.
Personally I prefer to camp near a natural attraction because it provides entertainment for the kids (and me!). Whether you’re drawn to the desert or the mountains, there are plenty of stunning outdoor destinations in Utah. I love to camp near water so my family has a place to cool off and play during hot afternoons! We often look for rivers, lakes, or waterfalls to camp near.
On that note, look for things to do within an hour of your campsite. It could be fun for your family to spend a day away from camp exploring a landmark, historical site, or museum.
Before we had kids, my husband and I loved to “rough it” and camp in dispersed sites. While I still love going off the beaten path, I’ve learned that’s difficult with children. We quickly learned about the benefits of camping near toilets when you have toddlers. It is convenient, cleaner, and more comfortable for them than going behind a tree. And we discovered that flushable toilets are preferred since our young kids feel a little nervous sitting on a fault toilet!
Although I could spend all day relaxing and reading in the hammock around camp, my kids get restless and bored after a while. This is why I highly recommend going to a campground with a playground. If your kids are like mine, they’ll love it and spend a lot of time there!
One more thought regarding campground amenities: make sure there are picnic tables. If not, plan on bringing your own table to eat on. Doing so will make meal time much easier for your little campers.
Picking the Best Site
Next, make sure you check out the campground’s map before selecting a site. Especially if you have a little one who wakes up at night, you’ll want to pick a site away from other campers. This is also a good idea so that you aren’t too close to other groups who may stay up later longer than your family. Trust me, you’ll be happy to have some space to yourself!
Also, look for a camp site with trees and is close to the bathrooms. The trees will provide valuable shade so your kids don’t overheat. And you will want to be close to the bathrooms since you’ll likely be making late-night trips there with your little ones.
Wasatch Mountain State Park
Wasatch Mountain State Park is in the beautiful Heber Valley. It is both a summer and winter destination. Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Olympic winter venue, is located at the park’s south end and is open year-round for summer and winter activities, including biathlon, cross-country skiing, tubing, mountain biking, and hiking. The site is perfect for kids and families. Of course, it has bathrooms, showers, and picnic tables.
They have a concessions area and great bathrooms that are really nice and clean. It has easy hiking trails and creeks. It is close to Park City Outlet mall, so you can even sneak out to spend the day shopping or get out with the kids for dinner to make it easy. Grab your fishing poles and head out for a great adventure!
Nightly rates $35-70
Wasatch Mountain State Park
1281 Warmsprings Rd
MIDWAY UT 84049-0010
Phone Number: (435) 654-3961
Deer Creek State Park Campground
This is a great one for kids. It’s close to Park City so it’s easy to go into town for food, fun, and shopping or any emergency. There are great bathrooms, and it’s the perfect campsite for a boating trip. Even if you’re not boating, it has a great beach area with nice shade trees, which are the perfect combination for kids.
Deer Creek State Park is super easy to get to. The trip takes about 30 minutes from Provo and an hour from Salt Lake City. It’s located in Heber Valley at the base of Mount Timpanogos. The lake is extremely popular for water sports and camping. Our family’s favorite activities are mostly water-based: we love boating, water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, swimming, and fishing. You can even fish year round!
Deer Creek Island Resort at Deer Creek State Park provides many services like boat rentals, wakeboard clinics, a restaurant, store, and catering services. And don’t forget to take your sand toys, life jackets, and swim floaties!
Nightly rates are $25-$40
Phone Number: (435) 654-2155
Strawberry Bay Campgrounds
Strawberry Bay Campground is located on the shore of the beautiful Strawberry Reservoir at an elevation of 7,200 feet. Visitors love to go to Strawberry for its great boat fishing and hiking trail opportunities. Strawberry Marina is within 1/4 mile and offers a boat ramp, power and pontoon boat rentals, slip rentals, fuel, and a small general store with fishing supplies.
Strawberry Reservoir is Utah’s premier trout fishery. If you want to catch big trout and lots of them, be sure and make Strawberry your fishing destination. The best part? Many of the areas are kid-friendly.
It has flush toilets and covered picnic tables at the boat launch area. That area provides hours of fun for catching crawfish if you’re brave. My son loves to catch them.
Nightly Rates $24-$48
Phone Number: (801) 226-3564
Granite Flat Campground
Granite Flat Campground is located not too far up American Fork Canyon. It’s less than a mile from Tibble Fork Reservoir. You’ll love the beautiful drive getting there. There are so many great activities to do such as fishing, canoeing, and tons of hiking for all different hiking levels from experienced hikers to the beginner.
It has bathrooms, hot showers, and picnic tables. Kid-friendly activities include baseball fields, canoeing, and a horseshoe pit. For the ultimate adventure, you could even hike and/or tour the Timpanogos Cave.
The Timpanogos Caves are a National Monument located a few miles down American Fork Canyon. They give 55 minute guided tours where you can see all three different rooms that are in the caves. It’s truly a spectacular sight to see.
The trail leading up to the cave entrance overlooks beautiful views of American Fork Canyon. The hike to the cave is fully paved and is 1.5 miles. It’s kid and stroller friendly, but it’s a little steep so you may want to go slow and take your time.
Prices for the tour are $8 for adults, $6 for kids 6-15 years old, and kids ages 3-5 are $4. Kids 2 and under are free.
Nightly Rate $26-$52
Phone Number: (801) 226-3564
For Timpanogos Cave: (801) 756-5238
Bear Lake State Park
Bear Lake is on the Utah-Idaho border. It’s called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because the water is turquoise blue and you feel like you’re in the Caribbean. Super cool. I call it the Hawaii of Utah.
It’s absolutely beautiful with the emerald blue water, and it’s very kid friendly due to the shallow water. While you’re there be sure to go into Garden City and get a yummy raspberry shake. Bear Lake is known for their Raspberries. Also, go eat at LaBeau’s Drive in. It’s like a fun little resort town with the best vacation beachy vibe.
Bear Lake State Park – Rendezvous Beach is located on the south shore near Laketown on Utah State Road 30. There are tons of campsites that all share Rendezvous Beach. When you camp here you get to use the large beach area and you can reserve a pavilion for the day if you are with a large group. All the campsites have bathrooms and showers which are a great plus after playing in the sand all day.
They offer boat and Sea-Doo rentals, large trampoline floats, plus you can rent other fun water toys, boating and fishing supplies, and other accessories. There’s a small fast food grill that has THE BEST corn dogs as well as shopping for anything you might need from buckets, rafts, sun block, bathing suits, and more. The campsites have large shade trees, which is perfect for everyone to stay cool. This is an amazing campsite! How fun is it to spend the day at the best beach and then have a campfire at and roast s’mores at night.
Nightly rate $25-$40
Phone Number: (435) 946-2900 / (435) 946-3200
Bear Lake State Park
1030 N Bear Lake Blvd
Garden City, UT 84028
Phone Number: (435) 946-3343
Mirror Lake Campground
Your family will love camping at Mirror Lake for so many reasons. First of all, the scenic beauty can’t be beat. Nestled in the High Uinta Wilderness, Mirror Lake is surrounded by tall, majestic pine trees. The lake itself is one-of-a-kind with its glossy, clear water and a mellow nature trail going around the perimeter.
There is so much to do in the Mirror Lake area! There are countless lakes and trails within minutes so you can go hiking or fishing all day long. I recommend checking out the Provo River Waterfall while you’re in the area since it’s only a few miles away.
Camp sites have fire pits, tables, and of course restrooms. In short, they have everything you need to have a successful camping trip! Certain campsites are even equipped with hitching rails and feedboxes for equestrian use so you can bring your horses or mules with you.
Just keep in mind that the Mirror Lake area can get quite crowded, especially on weekends and around holidays. Also, since it is at a high elevation the nights can get cold, even in the middle of the summer. Make sure to pack plenty of extra blankets!
Nightly Rate: $23-$70
Phone Number: (435) 783-4338
Address: UT-150 Kamas, UT 84032
Payson Lakes Campground
Payson Lakes certainly deserves a spot as one of the best campgrounds in Utah for families! My family loves it so much that we’ve been back several times, which is unusual for us since we typically like to explore new places. Trust me: you want to check this place out!
This is one of my favorite places to go paddleboarding and canoeing! It is such a quiet, serene lake that is small enough to paddle all the way across. Payson Lakes is also a great place to fish, boat, and swim. There is even a paved trail that goes all the way around the lake. Kids will love the nice beachy area too.
Since the lake is within walking distance from the campground, you can easily come and go. However, if you have young kids with you it may feel like a hassle to haul all the gear to the lake. But don’t worry because there is a parking lot at the lake so you can drive if that’s easier for your group.
One of the best parts of this campground is all the aspen and fir trees. The campsites themselves are surrounded by tall, leafy trees which provide plenty of shade, making it pleasant even in the middle of the day. Another advantage of all the vegetation is that you feel secluded from your neighbors.
It doesn’t feel like it, but the town of Payson is only 12 miles away from the campground. This means that you can quickly run into town if you’ve forgotten something important like matches, soap, or eggs.
You can get a single, double, or group camp site at Payson Lakes. The single sites accommodate eight people, the double sites sixteen, and the group up to 100! But I recommend making reservations early as they go fast at this local’s favorite camp ground.
Nightly Rate: $23-$46
Phone Number: (801) 798-3571
Address: Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest Salem, UT 84653
Some people might think camping with kids is stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. All of these are kid-friendly and all equipped with hot showers, flushable toilets, and picnic tables. They all have fun activities for kids, and you are sure to be as busy or as relaxed as you want to be.
Unwind and unplug and get out it in the great outdoors. Hear the crunching sound of the aspen trees in the wind and the crackling fire at night. It won’t cost you a fortune, and your kids will remember these times forever. Those are priceless memories you will share with your family while camping. Enjoy and here’s to having Happy Campers!
What makes a good camping location for families?
Families will be comfortable camping in many different settings as long as bathrooms, tables, and shade are available. The best camping spots for families will be near natural attractions and popular destinations. It is also crucial to select a campsite that is shaded and at a reasonable distance from other nearby campers.
Is camping with young kids dangerous?
As long as you take precautions and pack the appropriate supplies, camping with young kids is not dangerous. Make sure to talk to your children about what to do if they get lost or encounter wildlife beforehand. Also, stress the importance of practicing safety around fires. And as with any outdoor activity, you’ll want to bring plenty of water and sun protection gear.
What are important items to bring camping?
Proper packing ensures that a camping trip goes smoothly. In addition to essentials such as camp chairs, sleeping bags, and dutch ovens, I recommend bringing activities to entertain the kids. For instance, pack roasting sticks to make s’mores, bikes to explore the campground, and yard games such as corn hole or horseshoes.