Snowcapped mountains, forested wilderness, red-rock canyons, and hidden backcountryUtah offers some of the most diverse and breathtaking campground settings in the world.
Best Tent Camping: Utah, by Jeffrey Steadman, provides a guide to the 50 best places in the state to pitch a tent and spend the nightwithout being bothered by the noise of loud portable stereos, large recreational vehicles, and crowds. Jeffrey zigzagged the state to create this in-depth look at Utah’s best tent camping locations, including alternatives to the busy campgrounds in Utah’s five national parks. In addition to providing campers with essential information about each campground (including season, rates, facilities, and how to reserve a site), the full-color guide identifies the best sites at the best campgrounds, offers information on exciting day trips, suggests hikes and activities accessible from the campgrounds, and describes the flora and fauna that campers might encounter on a trip.
Whether campers are seeking a quiet site beside a peaceful stream or a cliffside camp overlooking beautiful canyons, Best Tent Camping: Utah is an indispensable guide for the person who likes to sleep in a tent not far from the convenience of the car.
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Mill Hollow Campground
A combination of great attributes makes this little spot a must-try for Utah tenters.
Beauty: 5 stars
Privacy: 3 stars
Quiet: 4 stars
Spaciousness: 4 stars
Security: 4 stars
Cleanliness: 4 stars
LOCATION: South of FR 054, Heber City, UT 84032
CONTACTS: 435-654-0470, tinyurl.com/uwcnfcamping; reservations: 877-444-6777, recreation.gov
OPERATED BY: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Heber-Kamas Ranger District
EACH SITE: Picnic table, fire ring, grill
ASSIGNMENT: First-come, first-served and by reservation
REGISTRATION: In-site self-registration or online
AMENITIES: Vault toilets, drinking water
PARKING: At campsites only
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Restrooms only
FIRES: In fire rings only
VEHICLES: Up to 50 feet
OTHER: 7-day stay limit; maximum 8 people, 1 vehicle/site; off-road vehicles prohibited
There are no superlatives at Mill Hollowit’s not the highest, biggest, or most beautiful campground you’ll find. But that doesn’t mean it’s mediocre. In fact, it’s the combination of great attributes that makes this little spot a must-see for Utah tenters.
Climbing the dirt road off UT 35 is a lesson in suspense. The road whips back and forth over graded (but washboard) dirt and never lets you see Mill Hollow Reservoir until you’re within spitting distance. Then you take an easy left over the dam and find yourself in this hearty forest campground, on the shores of the light-blue reservoir.
There are two simple loops: the elongated Loop A with sites 1–13, and the rounder, shorter Loop B with sites 14–28. Decidedly more spread out, Loop A has hiking access to the waterfront from a few of its sites. Specifically, sites 1–5 will get you closest, and site 5 is the most exclusive of the bunch.
Some sites accommodate RVs, but there are plenty that don’t have a driveway and are better suited for tenters. The dense forest setting will help screen you from your neighbors. If you’re concerned about getting a site that suits your tenting needs, 11 sites are currently designated as tent-only: 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 18–20, 23, and 24.
In the farming- and ranching-heavy West, where “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting,” Mill Hollow Reservoir is something of an odd duck. Created in 1962, it’s maintained by the Department of Wildlife Resources and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest for recreational use. Where many other reservoirs capture water from early-spring runoff and release it slowly over the course of the summer for irrigation, water is never released from Mill Hollow for agriculture.
As a result, this is a tremendously popular family fishery. Crowds are heavy, but the hatchery truck makes frequent stops to deposit catchable-sized rainbow, brook, and tiger trout. From the end of June through August, the lake is planted about once a week with one or more of those species, which average about 10 inches at planting time. While the reservoir has winter-killed in the past, most years it does not, and any holdovers will start reaching the 14- and 15-inch-plus range. That’s no state record, but when little Tommy cranks in a 15-inch rainbow, he’ll think it’s the biggest fish that’s ever flapped a gill.
Mill Hollow is also well suited to canoes and rafts. There is a crude boat launch, although no motors are allowed. If you just can’t seem to find the fish from shore, or if the kids can’t cast beyond the algae “gunk” that seems to form each season, bring your trusty vessel and paddle around to find an open space.
Explore the Mill Hollow Trail, which leaves from the campground near site 16, to get better views of the surrounding canyon. After a few hundred yards, the trail splits and lets you decide how tough you’re feeling. Both directions will complete the loop, but the one on the left will take you through lodgepole pine and provides a more gradual ascent, while the fork to the right is much steeper and shorter. After you summit near a stand of aspens, the trail descends over steep terrain back down toward the campground, passing a small marshy area and joining a double-track road. While the trail is open to mountain bikes, they’re not recommended because of the rough terrain.
If you continue on Forest Road 054, keep straight until it becomes FR 094 and meets FR 050. You’ll hook around on FR 050 and drop into the very beginnings of the west fork of the Duchesne River. Although it begins as just a trickle, you can follow the river as it picks up momentum from other small tributaries and local springs. By the time you’ve gone a couple of miles, it’s turned into a bona fide waterway, teeming with little trout.
As close as Mill Hollow is to the Wasatch Front and all it has to offer, it’s a surprise that the campground isn’t filled to capacity every night. Take advantage of this resource built for the very purpose of your recreation. You’ll be glad you did.
From the intersection of UT 35 and Bench Creek Road in the town of Woodland, go 11 miles southeast on UT 35 and turn right onto FR 054. Drive south 2.8 miles; then turn left into the campground on FR 281.
GPS COORDINATES: N40° 29.424' W111° 6.223'
Table of ContentsUTAH CAMPGROUND LOCATOR MAP
1. Albion Basin Campground
2. Antelope Island State Park: Bridger Bay Campground
3. Aspen Grove Campground
4. Balsam Campground
5. Botts Campground
6. Bountiful Peak Campground
7. Butterfly Lake Campground
8. Deep Creek Campground
9. Dry Canyon Campground
10. Forks of Huntington Campground
11. Hideout Canyon Boat-In Campground
12. High Creek Campground
13. Hope Campground
14. Jordanelle State Park: Rock Cliff Campground
15. Lodge Campground
16. Maple Canyon Campground
17. Maple Grove Campground
18. Mill Hollow Campground
19. Monte Cristo Campground
20. Pioneer Campground
21. Ponderosa Campground
22. Redman Campground
23. Tanners Flat Campground
24. Timpooneke Campground
25. Tony Grove Campground
26. Yellowpine Campground
27. Clear Creek Campground
28. Clover Spring Campground
29. Loop Campground
30. Simpson Springs Campground
31. Arches National Park: Hittle Bottom Campground
32. Bowery Creek Campground
33. Bryce Canyon National Park: Pine Lake Campground
34. Canyonlands National Park: Hamburger Rock Campground
35. Capitol Reef National Park: Fruita Campground
36. Cedar Canyon Campground
37. Cowboy Camp Campground
38. Dalton Springs Campground
39. Elkhorn Campground
40. Goblin Valley State Park Campground
41. Lonesome Beaver Campground
42. Moonflower Campground
43. Natural Bridges National Monument Campground
44. Oak Grove Campground
45. Oowah Lake Campground
46. Pleasant Creek Campground
47. Red Cliffs Campground
48. Snow Canyon State Park Campground
49. Starr Springs Campground
50. Zion National Park: Lava Point Campground
Appendix A: Camping-Equipment Checklist
Appendix B: Sources of Information
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