Southern Utah has many cool places to explore in all directions. Utah is filled with wilderness and much of it is public land. Where can you go to explore, and can you camp overnight in these areas? Can you camp on BLM land?
The answer is, yes, most places you can.
The BLM has many campsites that you can pay to stay in. These are nice places with water and other amenities. Often a camp host keeps an eye on things and the fee is pretty reasonable. It is posted on these sites how long you can stay and any other rules like leaving your belongings unattended for longer than a day.
You can also camp in the wilderness unless there are signs saying that camping is prohibited. The BLM recommends using sites that have been used for camping by others and avoid making new sites if at all possible.
You should also practice no-trace camping where you leave the area as good or better then you found it. You can camp for two weeks, and you should not leave your campsite abandoned for longer than a day. Also, be aware of fire restrictions at the time you go.
There is an organization called Tread Lightly that educates people online and in person on how to leave as little impact as possible on public lands. They also hold events where they clean up trails and maintain camping areas, restoring them to a clean more pristine condition.
There is so much to explore in Utah. There are also many outfitting companies that can take you to amazing spots on public lands. The BLM website is really well put together and has a ton of information.
So, this weekend rather than heading towards Vegas, go the other way, into the wild.