Add family camping to the list of reasons why Utah is considered an outdoor paradise.
ReserveAmerica, an access point for family recreation headquartered in Los Angeles, has released its first "Top 100 Family Campgrounds" ranking for the U.S. And with seven campgrounds ranked, Utah ties with California for seventh in the total number of listings.
Only 16 of the 50 states were included on the list. Idaho tops the rankings with a total of 12 campgrounds in the top 100.
Five state parks in Utah — Green River State Park, Escalante State Park, Fremont Indian State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park and Otter Creek State Park — were listed among the top 100. Also ranked were Anderson Cove at Pineview Reservoir and Mustang Ridge Campground at Flaming Gorge.
"I'm delighted to hear that," said Kent Hansen, communications director for the Utah Travel Council. "The only thing that would surprise me is if we weren't listed."
With so many people likely staying closer to home this spring and summer in light of economic and terrorist uncertainty, he said the news couldn't come at a better time.
"Utah is a state you want to drive through because there's so much to do here," Hansen said.
Courtland Nelson, director of Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, was pleasantly surprised that five state parks made the list.
"While they're not well-known state parks, they are wonderful facilities in some of the most beautiful parts of Utah," he said.
He also said the state has worked hard to improve the facilities of these parks, adding they make great base camps to explore different sections of Utah.
Utah has more than 400 campgrounds and 7,000-plus improved campsites to choose from.
"Whatever your level of interest, location, age or size, Utah's camping opportunities beckon you 365 days a year," Gaylen W. Webb wrote in the "Utah Camping Guide."
He listed Kodachrome and Flaming Gorge among his top 12 spots for family reunions.
The ReserveAmerica list was developed by a combination of park rangers, regional park managers and campers who wrote comments, rated campgrounds and provided feedback throughout the year.
More than 2,500 parks were reviewed and the final 100 were chosen based on specific criteria ranging from educational programs and visitor centers to camping amenities and overall beauty and scenery.
High marks went to parks that offer hot showers, laundry facilities, hiking trails, family beaches, radio-free zones, visitor centers, educational programs, children's events and locations within 100 miles of a metropolitan area.
The ranking was "created as a resource to the camping consumer looking to plan and reserve a family camping trip for this spring or summer," said Brock Weatherup, president of ReserveAmerica. "We are proud to honor these outstanding public parks that provide such a high level of service and dedication while protecting our beautiful natural areas for future generations."
Behind Idaho's 12 campgrounds, Virginia had 10 listed and four states — Colorado, New York, Florida and Wisconsin — had nine each. After Utah and California's seven campgrounds each, Texas and Connecticut had six apiece.
More information on ReserveAmerica is found on-line at: www.ReserveAmerica.com.