Below we have organized the campsites that we used while visiting the Moab, UT area and hope that you find them useful alternatives to paying high dollar for other spots in Moab.
Manti-La-Sal National Forest
GPS: 38.486044, -109.322178
This site ranks in the Top-10 campsites that I’ve ever stayed in. Thick pine forest, snowcapped alpine peaks in the distance, and a great view of the Moab area from around 8500 feet of elevation.
To get here you take the Manti-La-Sal Loop Road off of 191 and follow it around. It loops back to the Colorado River some 60 miles later. Only 15-20 miles from Moab, you enter the National Forest and begin seeing pullouts and campsites along the road. The site that we stayed in was a few hundred feet off the road and extremely flat and easy to get to.
The site is fairly short on downed wood so I would bring your own. Also, there is not a water source nearby, so pack in plenty of water. Don’t be the guy that cuts down green trees and leaves trash. Pack it in and pack it out.
Old Airport on 191 (Easter Time Frame ONLY)
GPS: 38.487989, -109.451691
This is a unique campsite as it is only available the week before and the week after Easter Weekend. These spots are intended for the influx of Jeeps that come into town for the Moab Jeep Safari on Easter Weekend. By the time we got there the following week, it was a ghost town. A few rigs stayed behind to ride some more trails, but there were hundreds of spots left. We camped on a nice level slab away from everyone else.
To get there, take 191 South out of town and turn at the Ken Lake turn. Once past the cement plant, continue straight instead of turning to Ken Lake. You will cross a cattle guard and have your pick of the lots.
Willow Flat Campground- Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky)
GPS: 38.384107, -109.888016
We typically don’t pay for camping. In this case, we did. We simply wanted to be closer to all of the attractions in Canyonlands National Park and we would have almost spent the $15 that it costs to camp, in fuel waiting to get in the park in the morning.
This campground is pristine. Even the vault toilets are the cleanest that I have seen. Each spot has a pull-in, fire ring, and pergola over a handicap accessible picnic table. The campground got very quiet around nightfall and was very calm all night.
It is a short walk (or drive) to the Green River Overlook and a short bike ride of car ride to a ton of the attractions in the park. These are first-come, first-served campsites and there are only 12, so get there before the 10AM checkout to stake your claim.
Willow Springs Rd. BLM
GPS: 38.695904, -109.681283
When people talk about free camping in Moab, they talk about BLM land on Willow Springs Rd. It is a little out of town (~15 minutes), but what you give up in convenience, you make up for in community and scenic beauty.
There are hundreds of spots along Willow Springs Road that can accommodate big rigs and small rigs alike. Get there early in the day and on a weekday if able to ensure that you get a good spot. When we were there in Early April, after Jeep Safari, there were hundreds of rigs scattered through the desert.
This spot has no facilities and you are required to have a portable toilet to camp there due to the sensitive nature of the desert soil. Be sure to pack out any trash or waste.
*The bonus to this site is its proximity to the Klonzo Mountain Bike Trail System. Klonzo is less than a mile down Willow Springs Road and was an absolute blast to ride.
Castleton Tower BLM-Castle Valley, UT
GPS: 38.642299, -109.376715
If your style is to get out of town and meet new people than the Castleton Tower BLM access point is a great choice near Moab. The Tower is popular with climbers, but there were plenty of non-climbers there as well.
The best way to get here is to take a day and drive the scenic La-Sal Loop Road from 191 in Moab and follow it 60-ish miles until it terminates in Castle Valley. You will see the campsite at the base of the tower. Another option is to take 128 out of Moab and turn South toward Castle Valley.
There are several tent sites scattered throughout the hillside below the tower, and enough parking for 10-12 normal sized rigs (sprinter van or smaller). There is a vault toilet, but as always, bring your own TP. This is a very popular climbing area, so be prepared for climbers to stumble into the site at any given point in the evening. It was a very quiet site with beautiful views of the stars.
Yellow Circle Rd. BLM
GPS: 38.426955, -109.419636
Similar to the spots on Willow Spings Rd., this location has a spot for everyone. It is the last left turn on 191 heading South out of Moab and the road climbs several different levels of camping. There are large spots at the bottom for big rigs and tent sites at the top, plus everything in between. The higher you drive, the more difficult the spots are to get to.
These spots boast great views of the La-Sal’s and of Moab. Like most areas in Moab, this is the desert and extreme caution should be had with the disposal of human waste.
That’s the list! We will be preparing one of these for each of the regions that we travel to as an aid to other travelers coming to a new area. Let us know if we missed any good ones, we would love to add them to our list when we come back through town.