State Park Secrets


Some of the best-kept travel secrets are hidden in and around Utah state parks.

We reveal unexpected attractions and little known destinations, worth discovering on your next road trip.

Studio 5 Contributor and outdoor enthusiast, Sheryl McGlochlin, shares a few secrets about her favorite Utah State Parks.

Choosing just 5 out of 43 Utah State Parks to feature is a hard thing! I been either visited or camped at most of them and have never been disappointed. They all have their own unique personalities. One thing they all have in common – they are all clean and very well maintained!

Sheryl’s picks:

1. Bear Lake State Park:

Bear Lake is a large scenic lake often called “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its intense turquoise blue water

Located in Northern Utah

Half of the lake is in southern Idaho

Approx. 2 hours from SLC

Lots of white sandy beaches

Camp at Rendezvous Beach, near Laketown, south end of Bear Lake

Bear Lake Loop Bicycle Trail: From May to October, bicyclists can see Bear Lake from every angle on this easy 45-mile loop with interpretive signs discussing the history and geology of Bear Lake.

The loop begins and ends in Garden City.

Raspberry Days in August are the BEST! Enjoy delicious Bear Lake raspberry shakes all summer long.

Water sports include sail boating, speed boating, water skiing, jet skiing, rafting, fishing, kayaking, and stand up paddle surfing

Scenic byway Logan Canyon – One of the prettiest canyons in Utah to drive through

Camping at Tony Grove Lake, just 24 miles from Bear Lake

Hike to Naomi Peak, the highest peak in the Bear River Mountain Range and Mount Naomi Wilderness.

Visit Minnetonka Cave, near Bear Lake State Park

Some favorite hiking trails fairly close to Bear Lake:

Garden City Park Walkway

A raised wooden walkway to the lake at Garden City Park.

Limber Pine Trail

A relaxing one-mile loop to the 2,000-year-old limber pine.

Great Western Trail

A trail that extends from the Arizona border all the way to the Canadian border. The trail passes through the Wasatch/Cache National Forest and Bear Lake area.

Bloomington Lake Trail

Less than 20 miles from Garden City

Hike or drive via a rough, unpaved road. This small glacial lake is located in a spectacular setting of cliffs and waterfalls. During the summer, wildflowers surround this clear mountain lake. Watch for moose!

Highline Trail

A 55-mile trail accessible from Bloomington Canyon, Paris Canyon, Emigration Canyon and Logan Canyon. Open to hiking, horseback riding, motor bikes and mountain bikes.

Wind Cave

A 3.5-mile RT hike in Logan Canyon. Millennia of wind and water erosion have created a delicate triple arch and natural cave in the limestone outcropping at the end of this 1.9-mile trail. Also known as Witch’s Castle, the location of this interesting formation provides a clear view of the China Wall, a limestone rock formation, as it winds through most of the canyon’s midsection.

2. Kodachrome Basin State Park
Showcases 67 rock spires and other geologic wonders in a basin so photogenic it was named after Kodachrome film.

Hiking paradise

Find the hidden arches on some of the trails

Incredible photography opportunities, especially at sunrise and sunset

Located in Southern Utah – approx. 4 hours from SLC

Giant crazy creatures made of bright red sandstone

Giant “Fred Flintstone” sandstone geologic wonder

Willis Creek – A favorite slot canyon not far from Kodachrome Basin

Romantic hiking and camping getaway

Close to Bryce Canyon National Park and Red Canyon

Horseback riding tours out of Tropic

Handprints in the soft sandstone

3. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Located in Southern Utah

Camping in single sites or book the newly built group campsite

Kayak or canoe in the park reservoir

Hike in a Petrified Forest

Hike to one of Utah’s most spectacular waterfalls: Calf Creek Falls, just 15 miles away

Explore and climb all over Devil’s Garden. It’s also a great photo shoot.

Rock Collecting

Hike in nearby Slot Canyons down Hole in the Rock Road

Take a “Canyoneering Class” with The Best Canyoneering Guides in America, located in Escalante

Visit Anasazi State Park, less than 30 miles away

Driving over the Hogback to Anasazi State Park is a thrill by itself

Enjoy Utah’s ONE and ONLY All American Scenic Highway, Hwy 12, which runs through Escalante!

4. Green River State Park

This is the BEST place to camp on your way to or from Southern Utah. You are not far from the San Rafael Swell, Lake Powell, Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, etc.
Located in Central Utah

Approx. 3 hours from SLC

Green River is a calm, quiet, mesmerizing river that provides great photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset, especially with the train going over the bridge in the background!

The park features a shady campground and nine-hole golf course

Great boat launch for a raft, canoe or kayak.

Enjoy a memorable floating trip down the Green River.


Lots of soft grass to pitch your tent

Be prepared to hear a train passing by every night.

5. Fremont Indian State Park

A deceivingly beautiful State Park in Utah! Thousands of people drive past the State Park on I-70 and have no clue how many adventures are just a few minutes away from the freeway! Hike, explore, bike ride, camp and river raft are just a few of the adventures waiting for you.

Located in Central Utah

Walk, run or bike ride along a 7-mile winding, paved trail that follows the Sevier River

Pass by an old train tunnel on the paved trail. Look for old boxcars on the other side of the river

Trail ends at Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort

Fremont Indian State Park has 697 rock art panels!

Utah’s largest Fremont site excavation artifact collection is housed in the museum near the campsite

14 hiking trails, easy to moderate, will take you to hidden Indian treasures

Find the BEST example of how to go “green” and recycle by visiting Cove Fort, just 18 miles from Fremont Indian State Park. This is one of my favorite places to visit in Utah.

From Fremont Indian State Park, take the back roads to Cove Fort rather than I-70 all the way.

Enjoy river rafting down the Sevier River. Start at Big Rock Canyon Mountain.

Award winning family campground among trees and streams

Mini slot canyons that kids will love and fun hiding places inside giant rock columns in Fremont State Park

Photography opportunities are everywhere!

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