I went out to Clover Spring for a campout with my daughter and niece and nephew because we didn’t have time or money to get up into the Wasatch.
I thought to myself, Where is a place that is close to Tooele that we could go and have a good time and not just roast in the sun and sand? I needed to find somewhere guaranteed to have some flowing water to keep it cool, and that is when I thought about Clover Creek Campground.
The campground is about 27 miles southwest of Tooele City, so it’s convenient to reach. To get there, follow State Route 36 south for approximately 14 miles through Stockton to the junction with SR-73. At this point, continue southwest on SR-36 across the railroad tracks for another 4.5 miles to where SR-199 heads off to the west and the sign states “Dugway.” Turn right off of SR-36 and follow SR-199 through the tiny town of Rush Valley (Clover) for about 8.5 miles. The Clover Spring Campground will be on your left-hand side at the foot of the mountains.
The bulk of the following details are taken from the Bureau of Land Management’s website at http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/salt_lake/recreation/camping/clover_creek.html
There are 10 individual camping units along the creek and in the field, and one large group campsite under the cottonwoods that can accommodate up to 50 people. The cost is reasonable at $6 per individual site and $20 for the group site. The individual sites are on a first- come, first-serve basis, while the group site must be reserved.
There is no trash pick-up service, so make sure if you bring it in, take it with you. The one unpleasant aspect of this campsite is that some fools like to litter around the camp — beer cans on the slope down to the creek and Gatorade bottles in the stream. Don’t be an inconsiderate fool. Pick up after yourself so the environment is protected as well as the experience others might have.
There is a vault toilet in the middle of the campground. Potable water is unavailable, but there is plenty of water for other purposes in the spring and creek. The entire campground is bordered by private land, so be respectful of the property owners’ rights and stay out of no trespassing areas.
No OHV vehicles are allowed in the campground but there are several equine camp spots complete with horse corrals. This campsite is closed in the winter months and is typically open from May to October depending on snowfall.
The following is an account of a fun trip that my family and I made to this campground on July 14:
The forest looks black under a star lit sky, with a super moon breaking through the clouds. There are sounds of crickets in the field and from the gurgling spring. A slight breeze is blowing as I look to the west into the mysterious black of the mountains. Walking up the path in the dark, I hear the crunch of my boots on gravel and can smell campfire smoke. The star sky is streaked with cotton candy clouds. It is dark down by the creek. My nephew, Matthew, and I, walk down to the creek so that I could show him that your eyes will adjust to the ambient light.
After a few moments at the creek side under the trees, our eyes adjust and you could see faint starlight reflecting off of the water. Looking up, the scraggly cottonwoods looked like grotesque monsters silhouetted against the sky. I told Matt how you feel with your feet while walking in the dark in the mountains and the desert when you can’t see well. You don’t commit your weight to the step until you are sure it will support you and won’t turn an ankle. Similarly, you ever so gently roll your foot down so as to not make noise and give away your position to anyone or thing that might be out in the woods.
After our hike along the creek and trail, Matt and I sat down around the fire, which was burned down to gray ash and a few dull red coals. Matt started whittling and I could hear his knife blade strike the wood with a metallic scrape and click. It was relaxing to sit there by the dark fire ring under the stars listening to the creek. My worries, stress and troubles melted away.
It was a wonderful night there at Shambip. That is what the Indians called this place. I can see why the Indians revered it so much. At the spring the water bubbles straight up from the ground and it’s ice cold.
For 150 years this cold creek and spring have been the life blood of Rush Valley. Captain Simpson and his exploring party camped here back in 1858 on his first foray into the desert. The Lincoln Highway passed by this way and I imagine travelers filled their water barrels and radiators here before continuing over the pass and out into the desert.
The Civilian Conservation Corps also had a decent camp here back in the 1930s, and now hundreds of employees at Dugway Proving Ground whiz by this place Monday through Thursday on their way out into the desert. I wonder how many of them know about this little gem of a place.
The next morning we explored the spring and waded in the stream and then we packed up and went home. Clover Creek Campground is a great, little convenient adventure that is well worth the trip.
For more information, contact the BLM Salt Lake Field Office who administers the site at 801-977-4300.
Jessop grew up exploring the mountains and deserts of Utah. He has a bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of Utah, and has traveled to all 50 states, U.S. Territories and a dozen foreign countries. He, his wife and daughter live in Stansbury Park. Follow him on Facebook (JD Jessop) for more hikes and travels.