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UTAH TRAVEL GUIDE


Corona Arch, Utah Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah Devils Garden, Utah

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Utah! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Utah.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons


OVERVIEW



Ahhhhhh, Utah. The state that holds my heart. Anyone who visits southern Utah will fall in love. There's nothing quite like it on earth. The desert scenery is so stunning it can change a person. There's five national parks there, and any one of them can drop your jaw. The northern half of the state is great too, with beautiful forests and many gorgeous mountains and wildflower fields. If you haven't been to Utah yet, make it your next vacation.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN UTAH



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Utah. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Utah bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Northern Utah (including Park City and Salt Lake City)
Alta Ski Area, Little Cottonwood Canyon - one of the 5 best ski resorts in Utah; 119 trails; 11,068ft summit; 2,538ft vertical drop
Bonneville Salt Flats - desert driving with no speed limits! be careful!
Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon - my 2nd favorite waterfall in Utah
Deer Valley Resort, Park City - one of the 5 best ski/snowboard resorts in Utah; 103 trails; 9,570ft summit; 3,000ft vertical drop
Dinosaur National Monument, near Vernal - dramatic canyons; awesome hiking and river rafting
Family History Library, Salt Lake City - the world's most comprehensive genealogical library
Fantasy Canyon, Vernal - unique geological formations
Hill Aerospace Museum, Ogden - one of the best aviation museums in the U.S.
Mirror Lake Scenic Byway (UT 150 - one of the best scenic drives in Utah; many outstanding hiking trails stem from this road
Mormon Tabernacle Choir / The Tabernacle, Salt Lake City - famous choir
Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City - excellent natural history museum
Park City Historic District - great shops, art galleries, restaurants, bike paths, and museums
Park City Mountain Resort, Park City - the largest lift-serviced ski resort in the U.S.; 330 trails; 10,026ft summit; 3,226ft vertical drop
Salt Lake Temple / Temple Square, Salt Lake City - home of the Mormon church
Snowbasin Ski Resort - one of the 5 best ski/snowboard resorts in Utah; 107 trails; 9,350ft summit; 2,900ft vertical drop
Snowbird - one of the 5 best ski/snowboard resorts in Utah; 140 trails; 11,000ft summit, 3,240ft vertical drop
Timpanogos Cave National Monument, American Fork - excellent guided underground cave tours
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest - outstanding scenery, hiking, backpacking, backcountry skiing, and other outdoor adventures
Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City - one of the most beautiful state capitol buildings in the U.S.

Southwestern Utah (including Kanab, St. George, and Zion National Park)
4x4 driving in/near Kanab
ATV/ORV-ing near Hurricane
Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab - world-class animal sanctuary
Cedar Breaks National Monument - similar scenery to Bryce Canyon National Park, but without the crowds
Kanarra Falls, Kanarraville - gorgeous and photogenic slot canyon with waterfalls; permits required
Pioneer Park, St. George - attractive town park with fun rock scrambling and natural arches; kids will have an absolute blast here
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, near St. George - beautiful red rock scenery; excellent desert hiking; slot canyons
Snow Canyon State Park, near Kanab - one of the most beautiful state parks in the U.S.; two days' worth of hiking trails to explore
St. George Temple, St. George - beautiful Mormon temple
Thunder Junction All Abilities Park, St. George - one of the best children's playgrounds in the U.S.
Tuacahn Amphitheater, Ivins - beautiful outdoor theater/concert venue
Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City - Tony Award-winning theatre; held summer and fall on the campus of Southern Utah University
Zion National Park - one of the premier U.S. national parks; world-class desert scenery, hiking, backpacking, and canyoneering

Southcentral Utah (including Escalante, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park)
4x4 driving in/near Capitol Reef National Park
4x4 driving in/near Escalante
Bryce Canyon National Park - see the most famous hoodoos in the world
Canyoneering in Escalante - several guide companies are based in Escalante
Capitol Reef National Park - wonderful desert scenery; outstanding scenic drives and hiking
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - some of the best boating adventures in the U.S.; many impressive geological sites
Goblin Valley State Park, near Green River- weirdly eroded rock formations; one of the best and most unique state parks in the U.S.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - holds a lifetime of off-the-beaten-path adventures (on and off-trail)
Hole-in-the-Rock Road, near Escalante - unpaved and often rough gateway to a myriad of outdoor adventures (e.g. canyoneering)
Little Wild Horse Canyon, near Goblin Valley State Park - one of the most accessible slot canyons in Utah
Lower Calf Creek Falls near Escalante - easily the most beautiful waterfall in Utah, and probably top 10 in the U.S.
Old Paria, near Kanab - beautiful, colorful badlands; do not drive the dirt road when wet!
Red Canyon (Dixie National Forest), near Bryce Canyon National Park - gorgeous scenery; hiking trails; natural arches; ORV driving
UT State Highway 12 (UT 12) - easily the most scenic paved drive drive in Utah; connects Panguitch/Bryce Canyon area to Torrey
Rainbow Bridge National Monument - one of the world's most spectacular natural arches; access via boat or a long backpacking trip

Southeastern Utah (including Moab, Arches National Park, Bears Ears National Monument, and Canyonlands National Park)
4x4 driving in/near Canyonlands National Park
4x4 driving in/near Moab (many guided tours are available)
ATV/ORV-ing in/near Moab
Arches National Park - the largest concentration of natural arches in the U.S.; world-class scenery and day hiking
Bears Ears National Monument - thousands of archaeological sites/ruins, petroglyphs, and pictographs
Canyonlands National Park - the three districts (Needles, Islands in the Sky, Maze) hold a lifetime of on and off-the-beaten-path adventures
Corona Arch, on BLM land near Moab - my favorite natural arch in Utah
Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab - one of the most beautiful state parks in the USA; outstanding desert scenery
Downtown Moab - tons of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and lodging
Hot air ballooning in/near Moab
Moki Dugway
Mountain biking in/near Moab - world class mountain biking trails (e.g. Slickrock Trail and Whole Enchilada)
Natural Bridges National Monument - three large natural bridges and hidden archaeological sites/ruins
Rafting the Colorado River
Rafting the Green River
Skydiving in Moab
US-163 / Forrest Gump Highway, near AZ border - iconic views of the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley
Valley of the Gods - impressive desert scenery
Wilson's Arch, near Moab - huge arch with easy access off US-191 just south of Moab

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Utah? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN UTAH



Are you short on time and struggling to choose something to do or see in Utah? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Utah, in no particular order:

Spend a few days hiking the sandstone trails of Arches National Park
Explore the sites of Zion National Park using their shuttle bus system
Marvel as you walk around the odd rock formations in Goblin Valley State Park
Drive the UT-12 scenic byway all the way from Panguitch to Torrey
Enjoy the jaw-dropping views from Dead Horse Point State Park
Go skiing or snowboarding at one of the famous resorts of northern Utah (e.g. Park City, Alta, Snowbird, etc.)
See the famous hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
Hit the world-famous mountain biking trails of Moab
Go offroad driving pretty much anywhere in southern Utah
Try canyoneering in one of Utah's slot canyons (guides available in select towns)

If I could pick only one place to visit in Utah, it would be Moab. The access to outdoor activities from Moab is outstanding. Tourism is huge business there, and so there's tons of lodging, restaurants, and other tourist attractions too. Plan a 7 day (or more) trip there and you won't be disappointed.

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN UTAH



These towns and cities in Utah are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Kanab - desert scenery; hiking; adventure/photography tours; slot canyons; Best Friends Animal Sanctuary; access to BLM public lands
Moab - desert scenery; hiking; mtn biking; 4x4 driving; ATV/off-road tours; gateway to two national parks; access to BLM public lands
Park City - mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hiking and mountain biking trails; fine restaurants; boutique shops & art galleries
Salt Lake City - Mormon culture; gateway to several outstanding ski/snowboard resorts and also the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Springdale - desert scenery; boutique shops & art galleries; ATV/offload tours; gateway to Zion National Park
St. George - desert scenery; beautiful city parks; year-round outdoor activities; gateway to Snow Canyon State Park & Red Cliffs NCA
Torrey - desert scenery; scenic drives; gateway to Capitol Reef National Park; the northern end of UT 12 scenic byway

My favorite city in Utah is St. George - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 2-3 nights here
My favorite small town in Utah is Moab - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 4-5 nights here
My favorite ski town in Utah is Park City - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 2-3 nights here

If you want to visit Arches National Park, stay in Moab.
If you want to visit Bears Ears National Monument, stay in Blanding or Monticello.
If you want to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, stay within the actual park or in Bryce City or Panguitch.
If you want to visit Canyonlands National Park, stay in Moab.
If you want to visit Capital Roof National Park, stay in Torrey or Teasdale.
If you want to visit Zion National Park, stay within the actual park or in Springdale.

Moab is my favorite town in Utah and it's probably the best adventure town in the United States. The world-class hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, and 4x4 driving trails can keep people busy for years. There's also many great hotels/resorts and places to eat in town.

Tourism continues to grow rapidly in Kanab, although the tourist traffic is still only a fraction of Moab or Springdale. If you perform some research, you can identify endless opportunities for outstanding outdoor adventures using Kanab as a hub.

Escalante isn't listed on my list above, but it's also a nice place to visit. Although it is very small with limited services, Escalante does serve as a great base camp for exploring nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and parts of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Stay there if you plan on exploring the Hole-in-the-Rock Road, an unpaved road with many hiking and climbing adventures to be had.

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS UTAH FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Utah is famous or well-known for:

4x4 roads / off-road driving
alpine lakes
archaeological sites
aspen trees
ATV/OHV-ing
BLM public lands
canyoneering
deserts / desert scenery
dinosaur fossils / dinosaur footprints
float trips
Great Salt Lake
hiking / backpacking
hoodoos
moose
Mormons
mountain biking
national forests
national monuments
national parks
natural arches
natural bridges
outdoor recreation
overlanding
petroglyphs/pictographs
salt flats
sandstone
scenic drives
skiing/snowboarding
slot canyons
tight alcohol regulations
unique geology / rock formations
wildflowers

Click here if you'd like to learn what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN UTAH



Utah has five national parks and all five are world-class. There are also many other federally managed parks and properties in the state, including:

National Parks (also known as "the Mighty Five")
Arches National Park - natural arches; balanced rocks; sandstone towers; day hiking; desert scenery; 4x4 driving
Bryce Canyon National Park - hoodoos; day hiking; backpacking; horseback riding; historic cabin rentals
Canyonlands National Park - buttes; mesas; pictographs/petroglyphs; day hiking; backpacking, 4x4 driving; mountain biking; canyoneering
Capitol Reef National Park - natural arches; scenic driving; day hiking; 4x4 driving; rock climbing; historical sites; canyoneering
Zion National Park - scenic driving; day hiking; backpacking; rock climbing; horseback riding; road biking; canyoneering

National Monuments
Bears Ears National Monument - archaeological sites; day hiking; backpacking; pictographs/petroglyphs; slot canyons
Cedar Breaks National Monument - geological attractions; bristlecone pines; colorful desert scenery
Dinosaur National Monument - river rafting (Green & Yampa Rivers); hiking; petroglyphs; dinosaur fossils; camping
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - geological attractions; archaeological sites; day hiking; backpacking; 4x4 driving; camping
Hovenweep National Monument - archaeological sites; hiking; camping
Natural Bridges National Monument - natural bridge; archaeological sites; day hiking; camping
Rainbow Bridge National Monument - natural bridge; boating; backpacking
Timpanogos Cave National Monument - guided cave tours

National Recreation Areas
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - geological attractions; hiking; backpacking; slot canyons; 4x4 driving

National Forests
Ashley National Forest
Dixie National Forest
Fishlake National Forest
Manti-La Sal National Forest
Uinta National Forest
Wasatch-Cache National Forest

National Historical Parks / Trails
California National Historic Trail
Golden Spike National Historical Park
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Poney Express National Historic Trail

My favorite national park in Utah is Arches National Park. It has the best cluster of natural arches of anywhere on the planet. Every official hiking trail in the park is absolutely worth doing.

My favorite national monument in Utah is Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument. If you do some heavy research, you will find many amazing surprises in this park. This national monument is better than most of the official US national parks.

You can easily visit all five official Utah national parks on a 2-week trip. If you only have 1 week to travel, I would pick 2 or 3 of the national parks to visit and focus on those. Most people would say that April-June and Sept-Nov are the best times to visit Utah's national parks, but you can visit them year-round (although snow/ice/bitter cold can be a factor in winter). Heat can be unbearable in the summer at the national parks, especially in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Zion National Park. Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef are usually cooler than the other three parks.

Several of Utah's national parks now require timed entry, parking, and/or hiking permits. Make sure to do your research on when and where permits are required, ideally 6-12 months in advance. Most of the permits now sell out well in advance.

Here are my recommendations for the minimum amount of time a first-time visitor should spend at each of Utah's five national parks:

  • Arches National Park - 2-3 days
  • Bryce Canyon National Park - 1-2 days
  • Canyonlands National Park - 1 day for the Needles District plus 1 day for the Islands in the Sky District; skip the Maze District
  • Capitol Reef National Park - 1-2 days
  • Zion National Park - 2-3 days
For more information on Utah's national parks, visit the Utah page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN UTAH



Utah has dozens of state parks. Many would agree that these represent Utah's finest state parks:

Flagship / Premier State Parks:
Dead Horse State Park - desert scenery; scenic views; camping
Goblin Valley State Park - desert scenery; rock formation; hiking; camping
Snow Canyon State Park - desert scenery; lava flows; sandstone cliffs; hiking; horseback riding; camping

Other Notable State Parks:

Antelope Island State Park - desert scenery; wildlife (e.g. buffalo); hiking; mountain biking; horseback riding; views of Great Salt Lake
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park - sand dunes; hiking; ATV riding
Goosenecks State Park - desert scenery; scenic views; camping
Kodachrome Basin State Park - desert scenery; rock formations; hiking; horseback riding; mountain biking; camping
Sand Hollow State Park

My favorite state park in Utah is Snow Canyon State Park, although Goblin Valley State Park and Dead Horse State Park are also both outstanding.

Goblin Valley State Park is one of the best state parks in the U.S. for families with kids. Every kid loves running around the rock formations there. You can also hike nearby Little Wildhorse Canyon while you are in the area (Warning! avoid that slot canyon if rain is in the forecast).

I would plan on spending a few hours each at Dead Horse State Park and Goblin Valley State Park. You can easily spend 1-2 full days exploring Snow Canyon State Park since it has many interesting hiking trails.

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN UTAH



Utah boasts roughly 100 natural waterfalls. Here are some favorite waterfalls in Utah:

Northern Utah
Adams Canyon Falls
Battle Creek Falls
Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon
Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon
Fifth Water Hot Springs Waterfall in Diamond Fork Canyon - small but also includes hot springs you can soak in
Stewart Falls

Southwestern Utah (including Kanab, St. George, and Zion National Park)
Archangel Falls in Zion National Park
Cascade Falls in Dixie National Forest
Emerald Pools in Zion National Park - seasonal flow
Kanarra Falls in Kanarraville - hiking permits required

Southcentral Utah (including Escalante, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park)
Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Mossy Cave Waterfall in Bryce Canyon National Park
Upper Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Southeastern Utah (including Moab, Arches National Park, Bears Ears National Monument, and Canyonlands National Park)
Faux Falls near Moab

I would consider Bridal Veil Falls, Lower Calf Creek Falls, and Stewart Falls to be the finest three waterfalls in Utah. My favorite waterfall in Utah is Lower Calf Creek Falls. It's a world-class waterfall in a beautiful desert setting. A 6.0 mile moderately difficult round-trip hike is required to reach it, and it can be quite hot in summer. The trailhead for these falls is on scenic UT 12 about 65 miles from the access road that leads into Bryce Canyon National Park.

Horsetail Falls is another good waterfall, but some route-fnding and rock scrambling is likely required. Mossy Cave Falls in Bryce Canyon National Park is also worth stopping at, but the water-flow is man-made. Provo River Falls along the Mirror Lake Highway is a very popular waterfall with easy access.

For a listing of all known waterfalls in New Mexico, visit the World Waterfall Database website.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN UTAH



Utah has many excellent paved scenic drives, including:

All-American Road / Scenic Byway UT 12 - 123 miles from Panguitch to Torrey via Escalante
Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway/National Scenic Byway - 512 mile loop that includes Moab, Vernal, and Dinosaur, Colorado
Flaming Gorge-Uintas National Scenic Byway - 82 miles from Vernal, UT to the Wyoming/Utah state line at Flaming Gorge NRA
Mirror Lake Scenic Byway / UT 150 - 56 miles from Kamas to the Wyoming/Utah state line
Potash Scenic Byway / UT 279 - 17 miles beginning at US-191 in Moab
UT 9 - 45 miles from La Verkin to Mt. Carmel Junction via Zion National Park

For more scenic drives, visit Travel Utah's scenic byways website.

In addition to the paved scenic drives, Utah has hundreds, if not thousands, of excellent unpaved scenic drives. In fact, Utah is probably the off-road driving capital of the United States. For starters, look into Cottonwood Canyon Road, Hole-in-the-Rock Road, and the Burr Trail.

My favorite scenic drive in Utah is Scenic Byway UT 12 (also known as the "All-American Road"). This is actually my favorite scenic drive in the entire U.S.

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN UTAH



Here is a list of some of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Utah:

Candy Mountain Express Bike Trail
Denver & Rio Grande Western Rail Trail
Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park
Jordan River Parkway Trail
Legacy Parkway Trail
Moab Canyon Pathway
Murdock Canal Trail
Pa'rus Trail
Red Canyon Bicycle Trail
Virgin River Trail

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Utah, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN UTAH



There are only a few notable amusement parks in Utah. None of these parks would be considered significant or large on a national scale.

Cowabunga Bay Water Park, Drapeg - 20 minutes south of Salt Lake City
Evermore Park, Pleasant Grove - 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City
Lagoon Amusement Park, Farmington - 20 minutes north of Salt Lake City
Splash Summit Waterpark - 45 minutes south of Salt Lake City

BEST MUSEUMS IN UTAH



Utah only has a few museums that I would consider nationally significant. The best museums in Utah include:

Clark Planetarium, Salt Lake City
Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill Air Force Base
Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park, Vernal

BEST DAY HIKES IN UTAH



Utah has thousands of miles of hiking trails, and there is good hiking to be found all over the state. Here are some of the best day hikes in Utah:

Northern Utah (including Park City and Salt Lake City)
Bald Mountain - Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; the trailhead is off of Mirror Lake Highway (UT-150)
Fifth Water Hot Springs - Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; trailhead on Diamond Fork Road
Jones Hole Trail - Dinosaur National Monument
Lake Blanche - Twin Peaks Wilderness Area/Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; trailhead on S. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road in Brighton
Lofty Lake Loop Trail - Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; trailhead off Mirror Lake Highway (UT-150)
Mount Timpanogos via Timpooneke Trail - Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Pfiefferhorn via Red Pine Lakes Trail - Lone Peak Wilderness
Red Pine Lake - Lone Peak Wilderness; trailhead off UT-210
Sunset Peak via Catherine Pass - Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Southwestern Utah (including Kanab, St. George, and Zion National Park)
Angels Landing - Zion National Park; accessed from the "The Grotto" Zion park shuttle stop; permits required!
Buckskin Gulch via Wire Pass - Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness/BLM public lands; trailhead on House Rock Valley Road
Canyon Overlook Trail - Zion National Park
Kanarra Falls - Kanarraville; permits are required!
Observation Point via Ponderosa Ranch - Zion National Park
Red Cliffs Nature Trail - Red Cliffs National Conservation Area; limited parking!
Red Mountain Trail - Red Mountain Wilderness/BLM public lands; near St. George and Snow Canyon State Park
The Subway - Zion National Park; a permit is required if you want to travel through the entire thing
The Wave - Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness/BLM public lands from House Rock Valley Road; permits required!
Wahweap Hoodoos - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; trailhead on Nipple Creek Road off US-89
Watchman Trail - Zion National Park
Zion Narrows - Zion National Park; also known as the "Virgin River Narrows"

Southcentral Utah (including Escalante, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park)
Arches Trail - Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest; near Bryce Canyon National Park
Fairyland Loop - Bryce Canyon National Park
Golden Cathedral / Neon Canyon - Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; trailhead on Egypt Road, which stems from Hole-In-The-Rock Road
Hickman Bridge - Capitol Reef National Park
Little Wildhorse Canyon/Bell Canyon Loop - BLM land near Goblin Valley State Park
Lower Calf Creek Falls - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; trailhead off UT 12 in Boulder
Peekaboo Loop - Bryce Canyon National Park
Peek-a-Boo Canyon & Spooky Gulch Loop - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; trailhead is off Hole-In-The-Rock-Trail Road
Queens Garden / Navajo Loop Trail - Bryce Canyon National Park
Upper Muley Twist Canyon - Capital Reef National Park
Willis Creek - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Willow Gulch / Broken Bow Arch - Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; trailhead is found off Hole-In-The-Rock Road
Zebra/Tunnel Slot Canyons - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; trailhead is found off Hole-In-The-Rock Road

Southeastern Utah (including Moab, Arches National Park, Bears Ears National Monument, and Canyonlands National Park)
Chesler Park/Joint Trail Loop - Canyonlands National Park (Needles district); can also be done as a backpacking trip
Corona Arch - BLM public lands near Moab; well-marked trailhead on Potash Road (UT 279)
Delicate Arch - Arches National Park; this is the official state symbol of Utah
Devil's Garden Loop - Arches National Park; the best all-around hike in Arches National Park
Double Arch - Arches National Park
Druid Arch - Canyonlands National Park (Needles District); this can also be done as a backpacking trip (permits required to camp)
Fiery Furnace - Arches National Park; 99% of visitors will take a guided tour (reserve in advance) since it's a giant maze in there
Grand View Point Trail - Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky District)
Horseshoe Canyon/Great Gallery - Canyonlands National Park (Maze district)
House on Fire - Bears Ears National Monument; trailhead on UT 95
Landscape Arch - Arches National Park; this arch can also be seen as part of the "Devil's Garden Loop" (see above)
Mesa Arch - Canyonlands National Park (Islands in the Sky district)
Moon House Ruin - BLM land; trailhead off Snow Flat Road; hiking permits required!
Natural Bridges Loop - Natural Bridges National Monument
Tower Arch - Arches National Park; 4x4 high-clearance vehicle may be required to reach trailhead
White Rim Overlook - Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky District)
Windows, The & Turret Arch - Arches National Park

My favorite day hikes in Arches National Park: Delicate Arch, Devils Garden Loop, Tower Arch, Double Arch, The Windows/Turret Arch
My favorite day hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park: Navajo/Queen's Garden Loop, Fairyland Loop/Tower Bridge, Peekaboo Loop
My favorite day hikes in Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky District: Mesa Arch, White Rim Overlook, Grand View Point Trail
My favorite day hikes in Canyonlands National Park, Needles District: Druid Arch, Chesler Park Loop/Joint Trail
My favorite day hikes in Capitol Reef National Park: Hickman Bridge, Cassidy Arch, Navajo Knobs, Upper Muley Twist Canyon
My favorite day hikes in Zion National Park: Angel's Landing, Zion Narrows, Observation Point, Canyon Overlook Trail
My favorite day hikes near Kanab: Toadstool Hoodoos, The Wave, Buckskin Gulch via Wire Pass, Sand Caves, Yellow Rock
My favorite day hikes near Salt Lake City: Lake Blanche, Lake Catherine, Sunset Peak, Stewart Falls, Cecret Lake, Frary Peak

The highpoint of Utah is Kings Peak (13,528'), found within Ashley National Forest in northeastern Utah. A backpacking trip is the norm for climbing this exceptional peak.

There are many outstanding off-trail day hikes in Utah as well. If you spend time researching those hikes you will be greatly rewarded. For example, there's a giant rock and it is yellow...

To find more hikes in Utah or to learn more about the hikes I've listed above, I recommend purchasing hiking guidebooks on Amazon (or from your local retailer). Another option is using alltrails.com, but you have to be very careful when using that website as its information is often wrong or incomplete. Published hiking guidebooks will likely always be significantly better than the information you find online.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN UTAH



Utah offers outstanding backpacking opportunities, and there are great options across the state. Some of the premier backpacking routes in Utah include:

Northern Utah (including Park City and Salt Lake City)
Amethyst Lake
Highline Trail
High Uintas Wilderness Loop
King's Peak
Naturalist Basin
Red Castle Lakes

Southwestern Utah (including Kanab, St. George, and Zion National Park)
Buckskin Gulch / Paria Canyon - a permit is required
Hop Valley / Kolob Arch - a permit is required
West Rim Trail in Zion National Park - a permit is required
Zion Narrows / Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park - a permit is required

Southcentral Utah (including Escalante, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park)
Coyote Gulch - a permit is required
Death Hollow / Box-Death Hollow Wilderness
Escalante River
Halls Creek Narrows
Reflection Canyon in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Under-the-Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park - a permit is required

Southeastern Utah (including Moab, Arches National Park, Bears Ears National Monument, and Canyonlands National Park)
Canyonlands National Park, Needles District (e.g. Chesler Park, Joint Trail, Druid Arch) - a permit is required
Grand Gulch - a permit is required

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN UTAH



Utah offers an endless amount of adventures, including these classics:

ATV/OHV-ing in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
ATV/OHV-ing near Zion National Park
ATV/OHV-ing the Arapeen Trail
ATV/OHV-ing the BLM lands surrounding Moab
ATV/OHV-ing the Paiute Trail
ATV/OHV-ing the Sand Mountain Recreation Area
4x4 driving in/near Moab
4x4 driving in/near Kanab
4x4 driving in Canyonlands National Park (e.g. White Rim Road)
4x4 driving in Capitol Reef National Park (e.g. Burr Trail, Cathedral Valley)
4x4 guided tours in Moab
Backpacking Buckskin Gulch / Paria Canyon - a permit is required
Backpacking Coyote Gulch - a permit is required
Backpacking Death Hollow
Backpacking Grand Gulch
Backpacking Kings Peak
Backpacking Reflection Canyon
Backpacking the Highline Trail
Backpacking the Needles District / Chesler Park in Canyonlands National Park - a permit is required
Backpacking the West Rim Trail - a permit is required
Backpacking the Zion Narrows / Virgin River Narrows - a permit is required
Canyoneering in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Canyoneering in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Canyoneering in Zion National Park
Cycling the Bryce Canyon Shared Use Path
Cycling the Candy Mountain Express Bike Trail
Cycling the Denver and Rio Grande Western Rail Trail
Cycling the Jordan River Parkway
Cycling the Red Canyon Bicycle Trail
Day hiking Angel's Landing in Zion National Park - a permit is required
Day hiking Kanarraville Falls / slot canyon - a permit is required
Day hiking Mt. Timpanogos
Day hiking Peek-a-Boo Canyon & Spooky Gulch Loop
Day hiking Pfeifferhorn
Day hiking Zion Narrows in Zion National Park
Day hiking/canyoneering the Subway in Zion National Park - a permit is required
Driving the Burr Trail - 4WD recommended; high clearance is also sometimes needed; avoid when wet!
Driving the Cottonwood Canyon Road - 4WD recommended; high clearance is also sometimes needed; avoid when wet!
Driving the Hole-in-the-Rock Road - 4WD recommended; high clearance is also sometimes needed; avoid when wet!
Hot Air Ballooning in Moab
Mountain biking the Hurricane Cliffs Rim Loop - designated by IMBA as an "epic" mountain biking trail
Mountain biking the Mid-Mountain Trail - designated by IMBA as an "epic" mountain biking trail
Mountain biking the Porcupine Rim / Whole Enchilada in Moab
Mountain biking the Slickrock Trail in Moab
Mountain biking the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park
Rafting the Colorado River (e.g. Cataract Canyon)
Rafting the Green River
Rafting the San Juan River
Rafting the Yampa River
Rock climbing in/near Moab
Rock climbing in/near Springdale
Skydiving in Moab
Via ferrata in Ogden

Utah has the finest canyoneering in the United States. You can buy guidebooks on Amazon to help you discover both technical and non-technical routes. There are also several guide companies based in or near the town of Escalante as well that can take you on amazing technical slot canyon tours. No experience is required for those tours (in other words, you don't need to be a rock climber or even know how to rock climb at all).

Moab, Kanab, and Springdale all have several companies that offer guided offroad driving tours.

BEST SKI RESORTS IN UTAH



Utah has more than a dozen ski resorts, and many are considered world-class. These ski resorts are generally considered the best in Utah:

Premier Ski/Snowboard Resorts:
Alta Ski Area - 119 trails; 11,068ft summit; 2,538ft vertical drop
Deer Valley Ski Resort - 103 trails; 9,570ft summit; 3,000ft vertical drop
Park City Mountain Resort - 330 trails; 10,026ft summit; 3,226ft vertical drop
Powder Mountain - 154 trails; 9,442ft summit; 2,522ft vertical drop
Snowbasin Ski Resort - 107 trails; 9,350ft summit; 2,900ft vertical drop
Snowbird - 140 trails; 11,000ft summit, 3,240ft vertical drop

Other Notable Ski/Snowboard Resorts:
Brian Head Resort
Brighton Ski Resort
Solitude Ski Resort
Sundance Resort

Except for the Brian Head Resort, all resorts that are listed above are fairly close to Salt Lake City.

Park City Mountain Resort is the largest ski resort in the U.S. The town of Park City makes for an outstanding base camp if you want to ski/snowboard ski there. Except for Brian Head Resort, all resorts that are listed above are fairly close to Salt Lake City.

Take note that the altitude of many of Utah's ski/snowboard resorts can have an impact on folks traveling from low elevation areas. For some it may take a few days (or more) to become fully adjusted to it.

UTAH TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Utah attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

If you want to visit southern Utah for the first time, and you have one full week to spend, I would consider this plan/route (in this exact order):
Start in Las Vegas, NV
Valley of Fire State Park, NV - 1 night
St. George, UT / Snow Canyon State Park - 1 night
Springdale, UT / Zion National Park - 2-3 nights
Bryce Canyon National Park - 1-2 nights
Finish in Las Vegas, NV

If you want to visit southern Utah for the first time, and you have two full weeks to spend, I would consider this plan/route (in this exact order):
Start in Las Vegas, NV
Valley of Fire State Park, NV - 1-2 nights

St. George, UT / Snow Canyon State Park - 1-2 nights
Springdale, UT / Zion National Park - 2-3 nights
Kanab, UT / Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument / Vermillion Cliffs - 1-2 nights
Bryce Canyon National Park - 1-2 nights
Torrey, UT / Capitol Reef National Park - 1-2 nights
Moab, UT / Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park - 4-5 nights
Finish in Las Vegas, NV

Utah has very strict (arguably archaic) alcohol laws. Make sure you know the restrictions before you try to buy alcoholic drinks at a retail establishment in Utah.

Southern Utah can be unbearably hot (and potentially dangerous) in summer. To avoid 90-100+ degree temperatures, I recommend visiting April-May or Oct-Nov if you can.

The wildflowers of the canyons and mountains near Salt Lake City are spectacular. Visit in July or August for the best blooms.

Utah's most famous travel writer is Edward Abbey. His best book is Desert Solitaire, but most of his books are fantastic. Many consider him to be the "Thoreau of the West".

There are only a few 4x4/Jeep rental companies in Utah. Book your offroad vehicle months in advance! You can of course also try a personal rental through turo.com.

There are rattlesnakes in Utah, but you are unlikely to see one and they rarely bite. They also tend to give ample warning.

Watch out for poison oak and poison ivy if you are hiking along creeks or rivers in the desert (e.g. Escalante River, Death Hollow, Mill Creek, etc.)

There are a few great towns and attractions that are within 1-2 hours of the Utah border that are worth visiting. This includes:
Durango, Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Monument Valley, Arizona (US 163)
North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (open seasonally)
Page, Arizona (e.g. to visit Horseshoe Bend, Lower Antelope Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, etc.)
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN UTAH



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Utah:

huckleberries
funeral potatoes
Navajo tacos

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Utah (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Utah (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY UTAH INFORMATION



Capital = Salt Lake City
Major airports = Salt Lake City International Airport; take note that many people will fly into Las Vegas, NV and then drive into UT
Largest cities = Salt Lake City (200,478), West Valley City (139,110), West Jordan (116,541), Provo (114,084), St. George (99,958)
Primary U.S. interstates = I-15, I-70, I-80, I-84
State highpoint = Kings Peak (13,528'); an overnight backpacking trip is required to reach this peak
Professional sports teams = Utah Jazz

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.


view from Angels Landing, Zion National Park
view from Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park hoodoos, Utah

Hill Aerospace Museum, Utah
Hill Aerospace Museum, Utah

Double O' Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Double O' Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Druid Arch, Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Druid Arch, Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah
Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Mesa Arch, Islands in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Mesa Arch, Islands in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Corona Arch in Moab, Utah
Corona Arch in Moab, Utah

Antelope Island State Park, Utah
Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah

Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah
Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Olympic Park, Park City, Utah
Olympic Park, Park City, Utah

Lofty Lakes Loop off the Mirror Lake Highway, Utah
Lofty Lakes Loop off the Mirror Lake Highway, Utah

State Capital Building, Salt Lake City, Utah
State Capital Building, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mountain biking the Slickrock Trail in Moab, Utah
Mountain biking the Slickrock Trail in Moab, Utah

Backpacking in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Backpacking in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park, Utah

Backpacking the West Rim Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
Backpacking the West Rim Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Devils Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
Devils Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Willis Creek, Utah
Willis Creek, Utah

Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

Guided canyoneering tour near Escalante, Utah
Guided canyoneering tour near Escalante, Utah

MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this travel guide? If so, here are links to more U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama  |  Alaska  |  Arizona  |  Arkansas  |  California  |  Colorado  |  Connecticut  |  Delaware  |  Florida  |  Georgia  |  Hawaii  |  Idaho  |  Illinois  |  Indiana  |  Iowa  |  Kansas  |  Kentucky  |  Louisiana  |  Maine  |  Maryland  |  Massachusetts  |  Michigan  |  Minnesota  |  Mississippi  |  Missouri  |  Montana  |  Nebraska  |  Nevada  |  New Hampshire  |  New Jersey  |  New Mexico  |  New York  |  North Carolina  |  North Dakota  |  Ohio  |  Oklahoma  |  Oregon  |  Pennsylvania  |  Rhode Island  |  South Carolina  |  South Dakota  |  Tennessee  |  Texas  |  Utah  |  Vermont  |  Virginia  |  Washington  |  Washington DC  |  West Virginia  |  Wisconsin  |  Wyoming

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