Tanner’s Flat

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

Little Cottonwood Canyon is home to elitist ski resorts such as Snowbird and Alta, sheer cliffs and one of the closest campsites to Salt Lake City. Just 4.5 miles up, past some of the sheer canyon walls is Tanner’s Flat Campground.

Tanner’s Flat has 42 campsites, and each is equipped with tables, grills and a fire pit. Each site services up to eight people with the exception of three that are double-occupancy. That’s what the travel guide will tell you.

This campsite feels more like a camping community than the woods. Most of the friendly little paths are paved and are densely populated with sycamore trees, which offer the full color spectrum in autumn. The site is typically open from May 17 to Oct. 21, depending on the weather.

Facilities include running water faucets placed throughout the site as well as flushing toilets and central garbage Dumpsters. There is even a place near the entrance to buy ice and wood, making this place truly a spawn of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s ritzy winter resorts.

Most of the campsites allow for relative privacy from your neighbors, and the site is far enough from the city for the star show above to be especially vibrant. Although it’s built for longer stays, the longest allowable duration is a week. Besides camping, nearby activities include hiking, backcountry expeditions, biking and fishing.

Although the site is configured like a neatly groomed, albeit rustic, nudist colony, this place isn’t home. The site still requires you to abide by Leave No Trace practices, which you can learn more about by visiting www.lnt.org. It’s also a watershed area, which means if you leave it, you eventually drink it. That means no domestic animals are allowed. More importantly, no stumbling drunkenly to the side of your tent to take a midnight whizz.

The gate to the site does close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., keeping its paying customers in and folks looking for a late-night place to keep the old sedan a rockin’ out. It costs $6 just to park your car to picnic, but there is no extra charge for staying overnight.

Overall, this is an excellent place to go on your first camping trip alone, to test out your new camping equipment, or to take that bubbly Hello Kitty princess who has always wanted a taste at how those tree-hugging hippies have cheap fun.

If you’d like something a little farther from civilization, Albion Basin Campground is another five or six miles up the canyon.

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