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Gone Park'n: Discover state parks near the Salt Lake Valley

Starvation State Park is just one of the beautiful state parks in Central Utah.

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Utah is a gold mine of outdoor recreation, scenic sites and historical locations. Visit the central region’s state parks and you’ll find several scenic reservoirs, great fishing, historic sites and incredible year-round recreation. We've already highlighted the state parks in Northern and Southern Utah but shouldn’t we show the other parks some love? Yes, we should. Therefore, here is a bunch of information about the 14 state parks of Central Utah.

Camp Floyd/Stagecoach Inn State Park

In the small, peaceful town of Fairfield, Utah, about 50 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, there are two beautifully restored historic sites: Camp Floyd State Park museum and the Stagecoach Inn.

Camp Floyd was established by then U.S. President James Buchanan to stop a Mormon rebellion, also known as the Utah War, which never actually happened. While you’re there, visit the StageCoach Inn, once an overnight stop for the Pony Express, and see the 100-year-old schoolhouse. Tours are available for the inn, and a small museum houses Army outpost relics. Behind the inn is a nice park with a picnic pavilion, and the Camp Floyd Cemetery is also nearby.

Camp Floyd is open year-round, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Entrance fee: $2 for adults and children over 5 (under 5 are free, seniors $1) or $6 for a group (up to 8 people). Annual passes are available. The park holds several fun events throughout the year, including day camps for children and ghost hunting at Halloween time. There are no camping or overnight facilities.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Deer Creek State Park

Find beautiful Deer Creek State Park in Heber Valley, just a short drive from Provo, Park City or Salt Lake. Popular for its proximity to the Wasatch Front, the lake offers excellent conditions for boating, fishing, water sports and photography. Well-maintained campsites are available at the state park.

The park is open year-round, summer 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and winter 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle, which includes use of watercraft launches ($5 for seniors). Annual passes are available.

Photo credit: http://cdn.allparkcity.com

Flight Park State Recreational Area

If you want to try your hand at hang gliding or paragliding (you know you want to), plan a visit to Flight Park State Recreational Area. Considered one of the world’s greatest places to engage in these sports, this state recreation area partners with Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (UHGPGA) to offer the best experience possible. The area is located at Point of the Mountain, south of Salt Lake, near I-15. West of the parking lot is also a modelport for RC airplanes and helicopters for those who’d rather their feet remain on the ground.

Open year-round, dawn to dusk. Visit the UHGPGA website for pricing and other information. No overnight camping and no off-road vehicles allowed in the area.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Great Salt Lake State Marina

The scenic and iconic Great Salt Lake State Marina is popular for sailing, rowing, kayaking and other boating. The state marina offers launch facilities, including paved ramps. Shoreline access is also available for swimming, bird-watching (over 257 species of birds can be seen, depending on the time of year), picnicking and walking.

The marina includes a visitors center and gift shop. The park is open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Entrance fee: $3 per vehicle ($1 for seniors). No overnight camping is available.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail

The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail is an awesome 28-mile trail that runs from Park City and follows I-80 through Wanship and Coalville to Echo Reservoir. This popular scenic trail is best for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, jogging, Nordic skiing and wildlife viewing.

The trail is open year-round during daylight hours, with no holiday closures. There is no entrance fee and there are no camping sites along the trail.

Photo credit: http://taimages.railstotrails.org

Jordanelle State Park

Looking for an afternoon escape or a quick weekend trip? Head to this pretty little reservoir at Jordanelle State Park, north of Heber, about 35 miles east of Salt Lake City. Jordanelle is a popular go-to for boating, water sports and fishing (trout, bass and perch). A nice campground, good hiking and wildlife watching also draw adventurers.

The park has two recreation areas: Hailstone, the main area on the west side, and Rock Cliff, the quieter east side. Hailstone has a large developed campground and day-use area, including a large event center near the park entrance. The event center offers great views and is used for weddings, reunions and meetings. Rock Cliff offers camping and a boardwalk; no dogs are allowed here.

Entrance fees: Hailstone day-use $10 per vehicle (up to 8 people), $5 seniors. Rock Cliff day-use $7 per vehicle, $4 seniors. Annual passes available. Camping fees range from $16 to $20.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Red Fleet State Park

North of the town of Vernal is picturesque Red Fleet State Park. The reservoir offers great fishing and boating, with a well-kept campground. The park serves as a convenient base camp for exploring the surrounding red rock area and nearby Dinosaur National Monument.

The campground has full RV hookups; reservations are accepted, but there are no group sites.

Open year-round. Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fees: $7 day-use, including watercraft launches; $4 seniors. Annual passes available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Rockport State Park

In winter and summer, Rockport State Park is a great destination. Anglers fish for bass, perch and rainbow trout, and the winter features good ice fishing. Popular snowmobile trails are nearby for more winter recreation. Tent and RV campers are welcome at the five developed and primitive campgrounds.

If you want to bring a big group, a restored church building near the reservoir is available for day use. The park is open year-round, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Day-use fee is $9 per vehicle, including watercraft launches; $5 for seniors. Annual passes available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Scofield State Park

Located near Skyline Drive, Scofield State Park is a high mountain area with many small lakes and streams and with ATV and snowmobile trails. The reservoir is one of Utah’s most important fisheries, offering good fishing year-round for cutthroat and rainbow trout.

The park is open year-round, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Facilities are closed during winter, but access to the water is open. Fees: $7 day-use, including watercraft launches; $4 for seniors. Annual passes available.

Photo credit: http://cdn.net.outdoorhub.com

Starvation State Park

There are various stories around the origin of this parks name, but really, all you need to know is that it has stupidly pretty desert views, and it’s a great choice for water sports and fishing. There are nice, sandy beaches to relax on while you wait for a walleye, trout or perch to take the bait. This state park also has a well-maintained campground. ATV and off-road vehicle trails are nearby.

The park is open year-round. Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A $7 day-use fee is required per vehicle, which includes watercraft launches. $4 for seniors. Annual passes available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Steinaker State Park

Just outside Vernal, you’ll find Dinosaur Country, which includes Dinosaur National Monument. Set up basecamp at beautiful Steinaker Reservoir where you can enjoy watersports, boating, swimming, fishing, and lounge on its sandy beaches. The park offers a secluded campground overlooking the water.

Steinaker is open year-round. Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Day-use fee $7, including launches; $4 for seniors. Annual passes available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

This Is the Place Heritage Park

If you’re looking for a fun place to take young kids, this is the place. The park at the historic location where pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley offers a re-created/restored pioneer village with period-dressed staff, train rides, a new splash pad, an animal interaction and pony ride area, games and demonstrations, a visitors center and a gift shop (phew!). Plan to spend a few hours because there is so much to see and do.

The park holds many fun events throughout the year, including popular Halloween and Christmas events. The park is open year-round, Monday through Saturday, and hours vary by season. Admission is $11 for adults, $8 for seniors and $8 for children 3-11 (2 and under free). For more information, visit thisistheplace.org.

Photo credit: http://www.thisistheplace.org

Utah Lake State Park

For another ideal afternoon or weekend escape, head to Provo to visit the Utah Lake State Park. Utah Lake, a huge freshwater lake, is popular for boating, water sports and fishing. The views of Utah Valley are incredible as you are seemingly surrounded by mountains and the park offers nice campsites and picnic areas.

The campground accommodates tents and RVs, with some sites offering full hookups. Reservations are accepted and a group site is available. The park is open year-round. Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park fees: Day-use per vehicle $9, including water launches; $5 for seniors. To walk or bike in, the fee is $2 per person. Annual passes available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Wasatch Mountain State Park

At Wasatch Mountain State Park, a fave of Utah locals, you can golf, hike, bike, camp, ride horses, snowmobile, cross-country ski and snowshoe. Chose between two golf courses: Wasatch Mountain and Soldier Hollow. The terrain is beautiful and access is easy since the park is only 50 miles east of Salt Lake.

The park includes 139 campsites, some with full RV hookups. Reservations are accepted. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., year-round. Day-use fee (not including golf) is $5 per vehicle, $3 for seniors.

Photo credit: Utah.com