Utah’s Outdoor Recreation Gems

People look at petroglyphs at Freemont State Park

With millions of acres of public lands throughout Utah there is unbelievable access to outdoor recreation statewide. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage Utahns to visit parks and recreation areas that are close to home and lesser-known gems.

Check out this information from Utah’s land managing agencies for ideas on some of Utah’s hidden gems.

Division of Parks and Recreation

With 44 state parks and recreation areas to enjoy, the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation manages some of the most stunning outdoor areas in the world. While many of these parks — such as Bear Lake, Goblin Valley, and Sand Hollow — are well-known and popular to many, there remain some hidden gems just begging to be explored. 

Whether you’re looking to take a long bicycle ride, fish with your family, camp under the stars, or learn more about Utah’s rich history, there is something for everyone.

Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail 

The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail is a 28-mile non-motorized trail in northern Utah. Weaving its way from Park City to Echo State Park, this trail is often enjoyed on foot, bicycles, or horseback. The trail also has sections of both paved and non-paved areas.

The Rail Trail first began as a railroad corridor line in the late 1800s where coal was transported on a narrow-gauge track. In 1989, Union Pacific abandoned the railroad line, and plans were launched to turn the corridor into a non-motorized recreational trail. There are currently no fees to enter the Rail Trail. 

Fred Hayes State Park at Starvation

Often called “Mini Lake Powell,” the sprawling waters of Fred Hayes State Park at Starvation offer great fishing and boating opportunities. 

Secluded and beautiful, Fred Hayes State Park at Starvation, located near Duchesne, abounds with natural diversity and recreational opportunities of all kinds. The annual walleye fishing tournament has become a popular event, with trophy fish weighing over 10 pounds caught nearly every year. The scenic beauty of 3,500 acres of park land, the dazzlingly blue waters of the reservoir, remote beaches, and numerous coves makes this a favorite destination for boating enthusiasts statewide.

Camp Floyd State Park Museum

Offering education tours, children’s adventure camps, outdoor concerts, and much more, Camp Floyd State Park Museum, located west of Eagle Mountain, is great for those looking to learn more about Utah’s rich history while having fun at the same time. 

The United States Army arrived in 1858 and constructed Camp Floyd to suppress a supposed rebellion by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The park offers family-friendly events like ghost hunts, campfire programs, concerts, cowboy poetry, and their famous youth history camps showcasing how soldiers lived in the mid-1800s. These campers meet costumed interpreters, play 19th-century games, drill, and march as soldiers, and even observe muskets and cannons being fired. 

Steinaker State Park

Located outside of Vernal, Steinaker State Park is a water recreation park in the heart of Dinosaur land. 

Camping at Steinaker is a perfect basecamp for the many attractions in the area, including Flaming Gorge, dinosaur tracks at Red Fleet State Park, downtown Vernal, and much more. The reservoir offers exceptional fishing, wakeboarding, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding opportunities. There is a nice sandy beach with vault restrooms facilities, picnic tables, and a swim dock. A new 3D archery range opened this year.

Millsite State Park

Looking for a traditional camping experience? Look no further! Come camp in the quaint campground and boat and fish in the blue waters of Millsite State Park. 

Located approximately 165 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Millsite State Park is located near the town of Ferron in Emery County. The park has a variety of different sites, including some with electricity and water hookups. The park also offers Free WiFi for those who need to connect. Popular activities also include golfing at the nearby Millsite Golf Course, as well as off-highway vehicle riding and mountain biking in Ferron Canyon. 

Yuba State Park

A true hidden gem, the camping, beaches, and warm waters of Yuba State Park are a favorite to many Utah locals. 

Developed and primitive camping is available at Oasis and Painted Rocks campgrounds and at designated beach areas. Cabins are also available for reservation for those looking for a little extra glam in their camping experience. Anglers can fish for northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, wiper, and catfish year-round. Did we mention there’s a zipline?

Utah Lake State Park

It’s not hidden, but Utah Lake State Park is a gem as the state’s largest freshwater lake. 

Utah Lake provides a variety of recreational activities. Fishing access for channel catfish, walleye, white bass, black bass, and several species of panfish is a popular activity. With an average water temperature of 75 degrees, the lake also provides an excellent outlet for swimming, boating, and paddleboarding. Rentals are also available.

Fremont Indian State Park and Museum

Combining both an unforgettable camping experience with an educational adventure, Fremont Indian State Park and Museum near Richfield is a beautiful. 

Explore artifacts, petroglyphs, and pictographs left behind by the Fremont Indians. The museum preserves treasures from the site, including pottery, baskets, and arrowheads. Spend a day at the museum, take a hike on the trails, and then camp at nearby Castle Rock Campground or Sam Stowe Campground. Stay the night in a teepee or the new pithouse. 

The area also includes access to the world-famous Paiute ATV trail. 

Scofield State Park

A true water paradise! Camp, boat, and fish at this destination situated high in the Manti-LaSal Mountains. Scofield State Park offers amenities for day and overnight use. So whether you’re looking for a campsite ideal for smaller trailers or tents, or for larger sites with electric and water utilities, Scofield has something for you. 

Scofield is known for its variety of trout. Cutthroat, Rainbow and Tiger Trout can be caught from shore or a boat. It’s a spectacular mountain setting. 

Bureau of Land Management

We invite visitors to discover sites through our interactive recreation map. Choose filters, such as the state to visit (Utah) and the kinds of recreation you are interested in (hiking, biking, fishing, etc.). You can also use keywords to search sites, or simply zoom in on the map and explore places to go on the interactive map!

BLM Explore Your Public Lands interactive recreation map: https://www.blm.gov/visit

Please keep in mind that some sites may have restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on the operating status of individual sites, please visit our alerts page, where you can find updated information by field office, as well as links to each office for more information.

National Park Service

We invite visitors to discover national historic trail sites through our Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide for Utah. Find site-by-site driving directions and an overview map of the trail sites you can visit. This guide provides a historical overview of three historic trails: California Trail, Mormon Pioneer Trail and the Pony Express, while sharing the thoughts and experiences of emigrants who followed these routes. It also discusses how westward expansion had an impact on native peoples of what is now Utah. 

Start planning your road trip here.