Utah is possibly the most epic of all the Southwest states for outdoor adventure.
While major national parks such as Zion and Bryce Canyon are well recognized in this part of the country, many people overlook the vast array of Utah State Parks, especially those close to Salt Lake City.
Utah’s State Parks are the ideal destination for enthusiasts of the American west, with spectacular wilderness outstanding recreation areas ripe for mountain biking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.
We found the six best state parks near Salt Lake City, all less than two hours away ready for visitors.
Guests can drive in for just $15 a day or buy an annual pass for $100 and lower fees for seniors or walk-ins. Camping prices are quite reasonable too, as are camp amenities.
Utah State Parks are the perfect place to get away from the city’s lights and switch to the night sky for a relaxing vacation perfect for the whole family or single adventurers. Find your favorite park below.
Map of State Parks Near Salt Lake City UT
Here is a map of the Utah parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Salt Lake City
Here are each of those state parks with distance from Salt Lake City and what is special about each.
1. Great Salt Lake State Park
Location: 13312 West 1075 South, Magna, UT 84044
Utah offers incredible beauty, especially at the Great Salt Lake State Park, featuring the salty water known as “The Coney Island of the West.”
The park offers an oasis with picturesque views and tons of water recreation just under twenty miles away from the city. There are plenty of activities in this famous tourist location, with something for everyone.
Nature lovers will revel in the area’s diversity and abundant wildlife, and sightseers will marvel at the natural beauty of the Great Salt Lake’s beautiful aquamarine waters and distinctive geography.
Outdoor adventurers will fall in love with fishing, sailing, kayaking, swimming, and mountain biking at this park with the abundance of options. You can swim in the lake, and the water is so buoyant due to its salinity that you can float on the surface.
The park offers partial hookup sites near the small visitors center, or you can try your hand at primitive beach camping, although only tents are allowed on the beach with showers nearby but few other amenities.
Finally, visit the park for the immense beauty of the white beaches with mountains in the distance for a great family vacation and tons of unique options nearby.
2. Antelope Island State Park
Location: 4528 W 1700 S, Syracuse, UT 84075
While harder to get to, Antelope Island State Park offers the best beaches and swimming on this side of the Great Lakes.
Keep in mind, this desolate park offers great views of the water but few trees, and you will need protection from the sun to enjoy the park properly.
The Great Salt Lake’s very saline, calm, and shallow water prevents you from sinking. You can wade out wherever you like for a leisurely float, all just forty miles from the big city.
Bridger Bay is a good swimming spot since it features white sand beaches, showers, restrooms, and picnic tables. When done with the water, hike the many trails, including late in the day, to view a glorious sunset.
Take your bike if you prefer a cool breeze; you can even bike from the Great Salt Lake State Park.
Antelope Island offers several campgrounds but brings a canopy as you will not find a lot of shade; but you can bring an RV for your adventure, but you cannot hook it up. The amenities are sparse; however, adventure is ample, but you will find showers and a restaurant.
3. Jordanelle State Park
Location: 515 UT-319, Heber City, UT 84032
Jordanelle State Park is located near Heber City, about forty miles away from Salt Lake City, in a beautiful mountain setting.
The reservoir flows from the Provo River and the Deer Creek Reservoir, providing various water activities, including boating, swimming, paddle boarding, and fishing. Find the best water spots in the Hailstone area as it’s a wake-free zone with a premier waterfront, including cabanas and beach access.
You will find hiking trails nearby and a nature center perfect for a day outing or a vacation. The area is an outdoorsman’s dream due to the abundance of wildlife and outdoor activities year-round.
The Rock Cliff Recreation Area provides a more tranquil experience for guests with campsites, a boardwalk, and a wildlife center. Also, the Hailstone area provides a fantastic campground and day-use facility popular with boaters and RV campers as it has water and power hookups at several of the campsites.
4. Utah Lake State Park
Location: 4400 W Center St, Provo, UT 84601
Utah Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the west, located at the mouth of the Provo River, a little shy of fifty miles from Salt Lake City.
While the park offers camping, you can also stay at one of several resorts pepper the shoreline when taking a break from the plethora of outdoor activities. The activities extend to every season with winter recreation and summer options, making this an excellent option for explorers year-round.
Stunning views set this park apart with crystal clear water surrounded by mountains in a wide-open sky.
Additionally, the park offers boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. Water lovers will enjoy swimming in the outer marina while land-goers will enjoy picnicking under one of the beach cabanas, and disc golf are all available in the day-use area.
Bring a boat to fish or camp at the well setup campground. Find a loop for RVs with power and a tent loop with access to showers and bathrooms. Take a cruise or boat tour around the lake or sailing lessons to round out your new favorite vacation spot with a little bit of excitement.
5. Wasatch Mountain State Park
Location: 1281 Warm Springs Rd, Midway, UT 84049
Try your hand at Utah’s rapids at Wasatch Mountain State Park, about fifty miles away from the city. With so many activities, this park seems more like an outdoor resort with options for everyone.
Explore the trails on foot, bike, or ATV, enjoy the beautiful landscape along with wild turkeys, moose, and elk. Families can enjoy kid-friendly trails and activities, while adults can enjoy 18-hole golf courses, horse trails, and skiing in the winter.
The state park offers over one hundred camping spaces, contemporary restrooms, hot showers, and utility hookups. Larger crowds can enjoy the group-use pavilion and four overnight group areas. A few cabins are available too for families looking for a less primitive stay.
Enjoy the beauty of Utah at the same location where the 2002 Olympic Winter Games were held, along with the Huber Farmhouse and Creamery for a fantastic time spent outdoors.
6. East Canyon State Park
Location: 5535 South Highway 66, Morgan, UT 84050
Explore East Canyon State Park to retrace the steps of pioneers through a rugged canyon with stark contrasts.
The park sits sixty miles northeast of Salt Lake City, making it a comfortable day drive for those who wish to seek solitude from the day-to-day worries and hustle of the city. The reservoir is the beating heart of the park, with a snow-fed water lake by the mountains.
Climb the rocks and canyons or rent a water vehicle to enjoy the lake to fish.
Head a few miles south to Mormon Flat for land-based activities such as picnicking, hiking, or biking.
The park’s largest campground, Dixie Campground, has over thirty full and half hookup campsites and a few yurts. Sleep under the stars in the 8-person hammock camping spot at Big Rock campground for a unique experience, or rent a cabin to enjoy air conditions and a kitchen.
Lastly, the East Canyon Resort offers a true vacation with many amenities, including condo rentals, a swimming pool, and tennis courts for a perfect getaway.