If you’re looking for convenient access to a wide variety of outdoor recreation close to Salt Lake City, look no further than Spruces Campground. Nestled about mid-way up Big Cottonwood Canyon, Spruces has lots of hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and fishing nearby.
At an elevation of 7,500 feet, it’s easy to find relief from the heat of summer at Spruces. This campground is aptly named for the plentiful spruce and fir trees in the area, so most of the campsites are shaded. This wasn't always the case, however; the northern Utah canyons had been almost totally clearcut by the beginning of the 20th century, and from 1905 to about 1921, the site was the location of a nursery dedicated to Forest Service reforestation efforts throughout the Wasatch. Years of work restored the canyons, bringing back the lush forests that continue to provide clean water and recreational opportunities today. The Forest Service later established a popular community camp at Spruces using tents supplied by the Utah National Guard. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps added the shelter that still stands on the site in addition to an amphitheater, a toboggan run, and a ski jump.
Hiking opportunities abound nearby, pristine lakes and jagged peaks are accessible from trailheads throughout Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Big Cottonwood Creek is popular for fly fishing. A trail to Donut Falls begins right in Spruces Campground, and hikes starting across Big Cottonwood Canyon Road head up Mill D North Fork to Dog Lake, Reynold’s Peak, and Desolation Lake. The campground is closed in the winter, but parking is free and the area is great for a short snowshoe jaunt.