Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Campground Review: Pelican Lake Recreation Area Vernal, Utah

About 20 miles southwest of Vernal, UT is the Bureau of Land Management's campground on the southern shore of Pelican Lake.  I traveled there in the Tank to camp for a week in mid-August and came away fairly impressed with what I found.


At an elevation of 4800 feet Pelican Lake is a natural lake lying within Utah's Unita Basin.  The lake has been dammed to store and release water for irrigating the extensive farmland surrounding it.  To keep it from being drained water is diverted via canal from the Unita River into Pelican Lake.

Pelican Lake is a pretty good-sized body of water.
The lake is known for it's bluegill fishing and there were locals fishing from boats and also the BLM built fishing pier every day I camped there.

The pier gets boat-less fishermen out to fairly deep water. 

Here's the data sheet on the Pelican Lake campground:


Hookups:                                             None                                                                          
Fire ring:                                              Yes                                                                             
Water Access:                                     Yes                                                                 
Fresh Water:                                        No                                                                  
Trash Service:                                      Yes                                                     
Toilets:                                                Yes (vault)                                                     
Showers:                                             No                                                                  
Dump station:                                      No                                                      
WiFi:                                                   No                                                      
Level sites:                                          Yes                                                     
Laundry:                                              No                                                                  
Store:                                                  No                                                                              
Pool:                                                   No                                                      
Shade:                                                No                                                      
Verizon reception:                                4G, 2 bars                                           
Internet reception:                                2 bars                                      
Cost:                                                  Free for up to 14 days

Unlike most BLM camping areas the Bureau constructed a campsite loop with gravel back-in driveways complete with fire rings and picnic tables with gazebos covering them.  I didn't stay in the loop because there were sites closer to the lake that had probably been there prior to the more formal campsite loop.

BLM campsites on a road loop.
The Tank's lakeside campsite (with picnic table!)
 The topography of the area around Pelican Lake is almost "high desert" in that there are mostly stunted trees and grass vegetation.  I didn't find trails to hike so I mostly got my daily "steps" in by walking the gravel roads in the area.  Temperatures were in the high 80's during the sunny days and the 50's at night.  I would have considered going for a swim until I read this sign by the boat ramp:

"Swimming is not recommended do to Swimmer's Itch..."
I had wondered why I was the sole camper at the lake my whole time there, thinking that the camping loop would be perfect for family campouts but perhaps the inability to swim precluded parents wanting to bring kids there.

Pelican Lake Recreation Area was a great place to camp and fish and I'd put it on my "Will Return" list.  It's too bad about the Swimmers Itch but, truthfully, I seldom swim when I camp so that wasn't a deal breaker for me.  I recommend camping there especially if you like bluegill fishing.

Thanks for reading!