Camping in the Zion National Park

8 Affordable Summer Vacation Spots In Utah

From breathtaking national and state parks to lovely, quiet little towns, Utah has so much to offer anyone looking to break away from the hustle of routine life. Thanks to Utah's many natural splendors, it's one of the most affordable states to plan a summer getaway. The warm and welcoming communities here also make you feel at home. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures or a leisurely vacation in the lap of nature, Utah has it all covered for you, and best of all, you can do it all on a budget! 

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

The spectacular landscape at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah.
The spectacular landscape at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park spans nearly 150 square miles across the Utah-Arizona border. Intense winds and millions of years of weathering have created some of nature's most spectacular views at the park. The sandstone formations dotting the landscape are some of the most photographed backdrops in the world and reach over 400 feet high. This gorgeous site isn't only photogenic and appealing; it's also remarkably affordable. Entrance only costs $8.00 per person per day. You will also find some of the most delicious food at reasonable prices at the roadside stands leading up to the park. 

Just ensure you bring lots of water. The sweltering heat is intense, and many people must wait over an hour to enter the park during peak season. Also, remember the stretches of sandy dunes and never try to traverse the desert on foot, biking, or a motorcycle. 

Zion National Park

Hikers crossing the river flowing through a gorge in the Zion National Park.
Hikers crossing the river flowing through a gorge in the Zion National Park.

Monument Valley and Zion National Park both offer fantastic hiking trails with stunning landscapes. However, Zion National Park offers a more temperate climate, making it better for less-seasoned explorers. The ground is also less sandy, meaning it's a fantastic place for ATVs and bikes.  This lovely park stretches over 220 square miles and houses 35 trails, cliffs reaching 2,000 feet, and much more! It's very affordable, with several price plans available depending on your needs. Individuals without a vehicle pay $20.00 per week, cars pay $35 per week, and annual passes cost $70.00. 

Getting to Zion National Park is easy since the town of Springdale is close to the park. Free shuttles carry tourists from the city into the park and back, making travel even more accessible! Check out the great dining experiences at restaurants like Marv's Drive-In and Bishop's Grill. 

Park City 

Aerial view of Park City, Utah.
Aerial view of Park City, Utah.

Park City offers luxury, affordability, and adventure all wrapped up in one location. This lovely city rests near the Provo River in northern Utah and is an excellent spot for those seeking first-class spas and thrilling ski slopes. While Park City is best known for its high-end resorts, including Hotel Park City, there are better options for those on a budget. 

Plenty of affordable and luxurious sites are available for lodging, so don't worry. The Park City Hostel is one of the best spots for anyone wanting a complete immersion in town without breaking the bank. A room in this hostel only costs approximately $80 per night and provides showers, beds, restrooms, fresh bedding, coffee, tea, and oatmeal. 

You'll have plenty to do in town outside the warmth of the hostel. The Atticus Coffee, Books, and Teahouse has some of the best drinks in town and provides delicious homemade pastries. The Park City Song Summit is a must-see experience for any music and culture lovers who want to know this town even better. The Brighton Ski Resort is just a few miles outside of town and is a great way to spend a few days exploring the slopes. 

Bryce Canyon National Park 

A visitor admiring the beauty of the Bryce Canyon.
A visitor admiring the beauty of the Bryce Canyon, Utah.

If you're planning a trip to Zion National Park, consider putting aside a few extra days to visit Bryce Canyon. Located approximately 72 miles from Zion, this impressive canyon exhibits breathtaking views and experiences. The free shuttle taking guests to and from the park makes the trip more accessible if you don't own a suitable vehicle for the rough terrain. 

Camping on the land is an excellent option for anyone hoping to save money and experience nature. If you feel comfortable camping in tents, you'll only have to pay $20.00 per night. RVs aren't much more expensive and cost only $30.00 a night. Remember, reservations are on a first-come-first-serve basis, so plan accordingly. One of the most stunning aspects of the canyon is the unique Hoodoos. Bryce Canyon contains the largest quantity of these lovely, long, spire-like natural formations. They formed from a mixture of rain and wind erosion over millions of years, with some spires reaching over ten stories. 

Canyon Lands National Park 

The Colorado River running through the canyon in the Canyon Lands National Park, Utah.
The Colorado River running through the canyon in the Canyon Lands National Park, Utah.

Much like Bryce Canyon, the Canyonlands National Park formed over millions of years of rain and wind erosion. Rainfall carved out most of the sedimentary rocks, with the Green River as a prominent source of the canyon wall degradation. 

However, this extraordinary landscape isn't only the reserve of natural history. Many native tribes, including the Hopi, Pueblo, and Navajo, considered this site sacred for years before European arrival. Tourists are welcome to view and admire the stunning artwork these people groups left on the canyon walls. If you're looking for an affordable and clean place to stay outside the canyon park, the Red Canyon Cabins are a great option. These cozy and well-maintained cabins cost approximately $90.00 per night and provide free wifi, clean bedding, and parking. 


The town of Orem in Utah.
The town of Orem in Utah, with the lake and mountains in the backdrop.

Orem is a warm, welcoming community near the majestic Utah Lake and just south of the Great Salt Lake. Even though this town is small, it has so much to offer anyone hoping for a fun time in an affordable environment. The Grove Creek Canyon Trail Head and Battle Creek Falls Trail Head are affordable and exciting excursions in this community. Both sites are ideal hiking grounds that lead into the surrounding mountainous wilderness. However, Orem also offers cost-effective lodging and delicious food! 

The 5th East Hall: Bed & Breakfast is located just outside Orem and is the perfect spot for newlyweds and anyone hoping for a romantic getaway. This spot costs approximately $180.00 per night, which isn't much considering the many luxuries of this fantastic resort. However, if you want a welcoming and affordable place in Orem, the Comfort Inn & Suites Orem - Provo is ideal! Be sure to stop at the local TRUreligion Pancakes and Steakhouse for first-class dining at affordable prices. 


The gorgeous mountain town of Provo, Utah.
The gorgeous mountain town of Provo, Utah.

Located just 15 minutes south of Orem, Provo resembles its northern neighbor with its warm and welcoming community. However, Provo is better known for its wilderness excursions and rugged environment. The Provo Peak Trailhead in eastern Provo offers spectacular views and hiking trails.  The Rock Canyon Campground is an excellent spot for nature enthusiasts to spend a few days exploring this large park. You can reserve a campsite online at the national park's website or by calling 1-877-444-6777. While the closest town on the website is listed as Orem, it is part of Provo. It is nearer to the border of Orem than the downtown region of Provo. 

However, if you're looking for attractions in the heart of town, check out the Peaks Ice Arena. The arena offers classes and reservations; however, you can also freestyle if you register on their website. After a long day hiking or skating, stop by the local Dutch Bros Coffee for some decadent treats! 

Saint George 

Aerial view of the historic area of Saint George, Utah.
Aerial view of the historic area of Saint George, Utah.

Saint George is a gorgeous little town located on the Utah-Arizona border. This beautiful neighborhood is a great place to relax and meet new people. Tourists will enjoy the many small parks, including the lovely Vernon Worthen Park near the town's center. The Sarku Japanese Steak House is close to Vernon Park and the perfect place for dinner. Their exotic taste will surely not disappoint anyone who enjoys sushi and other Japanese delicacies. And their dishes are affordable considering the quality and skill of preparation. 

If you're craving an authentic lodging experience celebrating the local desert terrain, look no further than the Desert Canyon RV Resort. This RV park offers beautiful views of the surrounding wilderness, all while providing modern conveniences like a washroom, restrooms, and wifi. And if you're hoping to save money, this resort only charges $60.00 a night! 

The parks of Utah are some of the most photographed in the world, which is no surprise when you have the chance to gaze upon their beauty. One thing's for sure: try to remember your camera when visiting! You will want to seize every opportunity to capture these splendid sites.


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