Uncovering Salt Lake City’s Best-Kept Secrets: Hidden Gems for RVers

Travel Inspiration

Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, is not only known for its rich history and vibrant culture but also for its breathtaking natural landscapes. While famous attractions like Temple Square and the Great Salt Lake are well-documented, Salt Lake City offers hidden gems waiting to be explored by RV travelers and nature lovers. 

While these popular destinations are worth the hype, in this blog we are diving into Salt Lake City’s best-kept secrets, revealing unique hikes, stunning parks, state parks that escape the crowds, serene lakes, and exhilarating outdoor activities that will leave you in awe. Oh, and campgrounds of course! Although there is no right way to discover these locations, RV camping gets you close and connected with these outdoor oases in a way no hotel could ever do. So, join us on this journey of discovery as we uncover the hidden gems that make Salt Lake City a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike!

Campgrounds You’ll Love, Without the Crowds

Utah is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and offers a wide range of campgrounds for outdoor enthusiasts. While many campgrounds in Utah are popular and get crowded during peak seasons, there are several hidden gems that offer a more secluded and tranquil camping experience. If you’re an RV traveler looking for such hidden gems, here are four campgrounds in Utah that you’ll surely love:

Spruces Campground

Located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, approximately 13 miles east of Salt Lake City, Spruces Campground offers a serene and secluded camping experience. Nestled among towering pine trees and alongside a babbling creek, this campground is perfect for those seeking solitude in nature. Amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water, and vault toilets. The campground is also equipped with accessible campsites for people with disabilities. Nearby attractions include scenic hiking trails, such as the Donut Falls Trail, and opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing in Big Cottonwood Creek.

Little Dell Reservoir Campground

Situated near Little Dell Reservoir in Parley’s Canyon, about 15 miles east of Salt Lake City, Little Dell Reservoir Campground provides a peaceful camping environment away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The campground offers picturesque views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains. Amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, vault toilets, and potable water. Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity to catch rainbow trout in the reservoir. Hikers can explore nearby trails, including the Lambs Canyon Pass Trail, offering stunning vistas of the surrounding landscapes.

Echo Island RV Resort

Located just outside of Echo Reservoir, about 40 miles east of Salt Lake City, Echo Island RV Resorts offers a unique camping experience in a beautiful desert oasis. The campground boasts stunning and serene vistas and lush vegetation. Amenities include tent and RV sites, picnic tables, fire pits, portable toilets, and river access for fishing and swimming. Echo Reservoir, just a short drive away, provides opportunities for boating and water sports. Additionally, the nearby Echo Canyon State Park offers hiking trails and scenic overlooks.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Hikes

Standing in line is never fun, especially when you are out in nature. These lightly trafficked hikes avoid crowds but offer in exchange solitude and some beautiful scenery. These hikes are near campgrounds and are a great add-on to any RV trip. Time to get out the hiking boots and pack a snack.

The Terraces to Pipeline Trail Loop

The Terraces to Pipeline Trail Loop is a moderate hike that offers a delightful mix of natural beauty and historical landmarks. This 3.8-mile loop trail, located in Salt Lake City, showcases the remnants of an old aqueduct system and treats hikers to scenic vistas along the way. The trail begins with a moderate uphill climb, leading hikers through a series of terraces, which are historic stone structures that were once part of the water delivery system. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the city below. The trail then descends and joins the Pipeline Trail, a tranquil pathway that follows the path of a historic pipeline. Lined with towering trees and native vegetation, the Pipeline Trail offers a peaceful atmosphere and occasional glimpses of wildlife. 

The loop concludes with a gradual descent back to the starting point, allowing hikers to appreciate the diverse scenery and unique historical features of the area. Overall, the Terraces to Pipeline Trail Loop provides an enjoyable hiking experience that combines both natural and historical elements, making it a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Lake Mary Trail

The Lake Mary Trail, located near Salt Lake City, is a scenic and moderately challenging hike that takes you to the stunning Lake Mary in the Big Cottonwood Canyon. This 2.6-mile out-and-back trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush forests, and alpine meadows. The trail starts at the Brighton Ski Resort and gradually ascends, gaining approximately 940 feet in elevation. Along the way, hikers will encounter rocky sections, switchbacks, and some steeper inclines, adding a moderate level of difficulty to the hike. As you make your way up, the landscape transforms into a picturesque alpine paradise. Beautiful pines provide shade, while vibrant wildflowers add pops of color to the meadows during the summer months. 

Upon reaching Lake Mary, you’ll be greeted by crystal-clear waters reflecting the rugged mountain peaks. The serene atmosphere and breathtaking scenery make Lake Mary a perfect spot for a picnic or a moment of tranquility. Although the hike requires some effort, the rewarding views and the peaceful ambiance of Lake Mary make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and hikers looking for a memorable adventure near Salt Lake City.

The Mount Olympus Pipeline Trail

The Mount Olympus Pipeline Trail is a challenging and exhilarating hike that rewards adventurers with stunning views and a sense of accomplishment. This 7.9-mile out-and-back trail offers a unique perspective of the city and takes hikers through diverse terrain. The trail begins with a steep ascent, testing the endurance and strength of hikers as they navigate rocky sections and switchbacks. The difficulty of the trail is attributed to its elevation gain of approximately 3,000 feet. As hikers progress, they are treated to panoramic vistas of the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding mountain ranges.

The trail follows the path of an old pipeline, which adds a sense of history to the hike. Along the way, you’ll encounter beautiful wildflowers, towering pine trees, and occasional wildlife sightings. Reaching the summit offers a breathtaking reward, with unobstructed views of the rugged Mount Olympus and the expansive valley below. The challenging nature of the Mount Olympus Pipeline Trail makes it a favorite among experienced hikers seeking a rewarding and picturesque adventure.

State Parks

woman in an rv

Next up we are talking about state parks! Parks and recreational areas provide a wonderful way for individuals and families to enjoy the outdoors and experience nature. A state park is a great alternative to busy National Parks. Most often you’ll find that state parks are mini versions of famous bigger parks, with similar if not the same landscapes and amenities. Additionally, state parks offer on-site campgrounds and recreational areas so they are great for both day activities or as a home base for adventures.

Rockport State Park

Rockport State Park is a hidden gem located approximately 45 miles east of Salt Lake City. Nestled around Rockport Reservoir, this scenic park offers a peaceful retreat away from the crowds. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, and paddleboarding on the reservoir’s calm waters. The park features hiking trails that wind through the surrounding hills, providing beautiful views of the reservoir and the surrounding landscapes. With its serene ambiance and lesser-known status, Rockport State Park is a perfect destination for a relaxing day of outdoor recreation.

East Canyon State Park

Situated around East Canyon Reservoir, East Canyon State Park is a tranquil recreational area within 100 miles of Salt Lake City. The park offers a variety of activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming in the reservoir’s clear waters. Hiking and mountain biking trails traverse the park, allowing visitors to explore the scenic surroundings. East Canyon State Park is also a great spot for picnicking and camping, with several shaded areas and campsites available. Designated as a ‘Dark Sky Area’, this park is a fantastic destination for astronomy lovers and stargazing activities. Escape the crowds and discover the hidden beauty of East Canyon State Park.

Echo State Park

Echo State Park is a lesser-known gem located approximately 50 miles east of Salt Lake City. Tucked along the shores of Echo Reservoir, this park offers a serene escape for outdoor enthusiasts. Fishing, boating, and kayaking are popular activities in the reservoir’s peaceful waters. The park features a sandy beach area where visitors can relax, picnic, and soak up the sun. Echo State Park also offers hiking trails that meander through scenic landscapes, offering glimpses of wildlife and stunning reservoir views. For a peaceful day of outdoor recreation, Echo State Park is a hidden treasure worth exploring.

Lakes and Outdoor Activities

fishing cane in a lake at sunset

There is nothing like getting out in the water and enjoying some outdoor activities like fishing or kayaking. Utah is home to several lakes that offer an incredible getaway to recreational water activities. Perfect for those looking for a quiet and picturesque getaway. These lesser-known lakes provide opportunities for boating, fishing, paddle boarding, and picnicking along their scenic shores. Here is our list of must-visit locations, accessible for RVers, where you can enjoy these activities.


Otter Creek Reservoir

Located in Piute County, about two and a half hours south of Salt Lake City, Otter Creek Reservoir is a serene oasis for water sports enthusiasts. The crystal-clear waters of the reservoir are ideal for boating, fishing, and paddleboarding. You can enjoy catching rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and yellow perch. There are several shaded picnic areas where you can relax and soak in the beautiful surroundings.

Fifth Water Hot Springs

Fifth Water Hot Springs is a hidden gem near Salt Lake City tucked away in Diamond Fork Canyon. This natural geothermal hot spring is accessible via a scenic 2.5-mile hike through a picturesque canyon. The trail follows a gentle stream, passing through stunning rock formations and lush vegetation. Upon reaching the hot springs, visitors are rewarded with terraced pools of varying temperatures, surrounded by beautiful cascades and lush greenery. The serene atmosphere and soothing waters make Fifth Water Hot Springs a perfect spot for relaxation and rejuvenation in nature.

Silver Lake

Located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Silver Lake is a lesser-known recreational area near Salt Lake City that offers a peaceful escape for nature lovers. Silver lake is nestled amidst a tranquil alpine setting, surrounded by towering pine trees and wildflower-filled meadows during the summer months. Visitors can enjoy opportunities for bird-watching and wildlife spotting around the lake on a well-maintained boardwalk trail. The area is also home to a nature center that offers educational exhibits and guided nature walks, making Silver Lake a hidden oasis for those seeking a serene and informative outdoor experience.

Tony Grove Lake

Nestled in the Bear River Mountains, Tony Grove Lake is a hidden gem that offers a serene mountain escape. Accessible via a scenic drive from Logan Canyon, this alpine lake is surrounded by dense forests and picturesque meadows. Visitors can hike along the shoreline or explore the network of trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints and nearby peaks. Tony Grove Lake is a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, and camping, with campsites available for overnight stays. With its serene ambiance and stunning natural beauty, Tony Grove Lake provides a lesser-known recreational area for those seeking tranquility and outdoor adventure.

In conclusion, Salt Lake City offers a plethora of hidden gems for RV travelers, waiting to be explored.

Final thoughts

From off-the-beaten-path hikes and state parks to breathtaking lakes and a wide range of outdoor activities, this vibrant city guarantees a memorable adventure. Throughout this blog, we have highlighted the diverse options available to visitors, showcasing the unparalleled beauty and attractions that Salt Lake City has to offer. And why RV camping is the best way to get close and experience these locations like no other. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone seeking to uncover the city’s best-kept secrets, now is the time to pack your bags, rent an RV, and embark on an unforgettable journey.

Happy travels!

For more Salt Lake City information check out these blogs:

Thrill-Seeker’s Paradise: 5 Extreme Sports Adventures Near Salt Lake City

Escape the City: Top 9 Weekend RV Trips Near Salt Lake City