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Easy Epics: 17 Drive-up Campsites a Backpacker Will Love

Combine the best of car camping (spacious tents, comfy chairs, frosty margaritas!) and the best of backpacking (deep solitude, outrageous scenery, swimming holes!) with these 17 accessible hideaways.

San Rafael Swell
Behind-The-Reef Road

Explore easy southern-Utah slot canyons from camp.

Car-camping opportunities are wide open along the smooth, packed dirt of 3.5-mile Behind-The-Reef Road. Every double-track spur seems to lead through sagebrush to the shade of juniper and sandstone crags. The available hiking is tight, though. As in tight squeeze. Less than an hour from Green River, this area boasts some of the finest non-technical canyoneering routes in the state. Inside Ding and Dang, Little Wildhorse, Bell, Crack, and Chute Canyons, you’ll slither and clamber narrow slots of swirling sandstone, no ropes or technical gear required (bring Hiking and Exploring Utah’s San Rafael Swell, by Michael Kelsey). After you get your fill, drive 20 minutes (give or take, depending on your site) to Goblin Valley State Park to tour a sea of ghoulish hoodoos. Camping tip: For max privacy, look for pull-offs away from the mouths of canyons, which attract crowds. Local LNT rules: Use a previously compacted spot, and pack out all waste.

Get there From the UT 24/Temple Rd. junction, take Temple Rd. west 7.2 miles to unsigned “Behind-the-Reef-Road” on the left.
UTM 12S 0527136E 4279928N
Map San Rafael Swell ($12, natgeomaps.com)
Contact blm.gov/ut; (435) 636-3600

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