Last Updated on February 17, 2021
If you love the outdoors, a trip to Utah might be your dream getaway. This list of the best places to visit in Utah will show you exactly why!
With five national parks (AKA the Mighty Five), dozens of state parks, and quite a few hidden gems, you’ll never run out of natural landscapes to admire.
And, if nature alone wasn’t enough to inspire you to book a trip to Utah, the state also has quite a few amazing cities and small towns to add to the mix!
So, whether you’re looking for snow-covered ski towns to striking deserts, here are 15 of the best places to visit in Utah.
15 Best Places to Visit in Utah
1. Arches National Park
As the name of Arches National Park implies, it is known for its natural sandstone arches. There are dozens of arches all around the park, but the Delicate Arch is the most popular.
But, a few other arches that are worth your time include the Landscape Arch, the Double Arch, and the Window Arches.
If you’d like to do something a little more adventurous at Arches National Park, you can hike through the Fiery Furnace. The Fiery Furnace is essentially a maze of red rock spires. It’s actually so confusing that you have to either take a guided hike with a ranger or get a special permit after watching a required orientation video.
That said, many of those who have come out of the Fiery Furnace have described the experience as being absolutely incredible.
2. Canyonlands National Park
With five breathtaking national parks in Utah, it’s inevitable that one or two have ended up being overlooked. One of these under-the-radar parks is Canyonlands National Park.
Canyonlands National Park is actually compared to the famous Arches National Park relatively frequently. But, instead of dealing with Arches National Park’s flocks of tourists looking for the perfect Instagram photo, you can enjoy the beauty of Canyonlands National Park without the crowds.
To see as much of the beauty in Canyonlands National Park as possible, most visitors opt to go on a hike or two. A few of the most popular trails include the Mesa Arch Trail, the White Rim Trail, and the Druid Arch Trail.
But if you’d like to try a little something different, Canyonlands National Park also has places for you to mountain bike, stargaze, whitewater raft, and camp.
While the main highlights of Moab are the two national parks – Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park – there are more things to do in this surprisingly small town of just 5,000 people.
If you feel like getting your adrenaline pumping, you can go whitewater rafting down the Colorado River.
If you’d like to catch breathtaking views without the crowds, you can head to Dead Horse Point State Park (I promise the morbid name is not representative of the gorgeous landscape.).
Or if you’d like to test your dinosaur knowledge, you can spend a few hours at Dinosaur Tracks Trail.
4. Monument Valley Tribal Park
Monument Valley, also known as Monument Valley Tribal Park, actually isn’t a national park, as many people assume. Instead, it is actually a part of the protected Navajo Nation Reservation.
The main draw of Monument Valley are the dozens of towering red rock structures. The Three Sisters, the West Mitten Butte, and the Totem Pole are just a few of the most photographed ones.
As for how to see all the sights in Monument Valley, you have your choice between hiking, driving, taking a Navajo guided tour, or taking a horseback riding tour.
And don’t forget to stay for the sunset! When the sunset paints the red rocks in a warm, colorful light, the scene is absolutely magical.
If you’d like to have the full Monument Valley Tribal Park experience, you can choose to spend the night at The View Hotel — a lovely accommodation owned by a local Navajo woman.
5. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Utah. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most visited national parks in the entire country!
Between the striking red rocks and the bright green plants, the landscape at Zion National Park paints quite an amazing picture.
A few of the highlights of Zion National Park include hiking through the Narrows, admiring the views from the Canyon Overlook Trail, and tackling the challenging Angels Landing.
6. Park City
Park City offers a little something different from many of the other best places to visit in Utah. Rather than hiking through gorgeous red rocks, you can ski down thrilling slopes!
Due to the fluffy white powder that falls in Park City each winter, the city’s signature slogan boasts that it has “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” As a matter of fact, the skiing conditions in Park City are so great that the city actually hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics!
But, there’s more to Park City than just skiing. You can also watch creative movies at the Sundance Film Festival, take a stroll along the Historic Main Street, hop on a bobsled with a professional driver at the Utah Olympic Park, and try a glass of award-winning whiskey at the High West Distillery & Saloon.
7. Bryce Canyon National Park
With all of the breathtaking natural features, you could easily spend days exploring everything that Bryce Canyon National Park has to offer.
So it’s no surprise to find out that Bryce Canyon National Park welcomes over one million visitors every single year!
To see the most natural landmarks with the least amount of effort, you can simply take a scenic drive to all of the main viewpoints, including the Inspiration, Sunrise, Sunset, and Bryce viewpoints.
But if you’d like to take your time exploring the park, you can hike the Rim Trail, the Navajo Loop, or the Fairyland Loop. Or you can even take a horseback riding tour or go cross-country skiing!
8. Escalante National Monument
Just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park lies Escalante National Monument. In 1996, President Bill Clinton named this huge chunk of land a national monument because it is so remote and untouched.
It was actually the last part of the continental United States to be mapped out!
The Escalante National Monument contains three main sections: The Escalante Canyons, the Kaiparowitz Plateau, and the Grand Staircase.
The Escalante Canyons area is perfect for hikers with its many trails and stunning waterfalls.
The Kaiparowitz Plateau is great for paleontology lovers, as it’s filled with hundreds of amazing fossils.
And the Grand Staircase is the most famous of the three and boasts striking cliffs in all colors – from pink to gray to white.
9. Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
The Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness crosses the border between Utah and Arizona. It’s most well-known for the Instagram-famous, striated sandstone section known as “The Wave” — a famous USA bucket list destination.
If you’re hiking through Paria Canyon, you actually won’t see The Wave. Rather, you’ll be surrounded by other towering red rocks.
To see The Wave, the process is rather difficult. Only 20 people are allowed on this natural attraction each day! And these 20 people are all determined by a lottery. But if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the most stunning sight in the area.
10. Salt Lake City
As the capital of Utah, Salt Lake City is one of the most popular places to visit in Utah. Most people have this misconception that everything you can do in Salt Lake City revolves around the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, and that’s simply not true.
While the most popular attraction in the city, Temple Square, is definitely related to the church, that’s far from all that Salt Lake City has to offer.
You can also visit the Great Salt Lake, take in the beauty of Red Butte Garden, and have a picnic in Liberty Park.
11. Capitol Reef National Park
With places like Zion National Park and Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park often gets overlooked. And that’s a shame because it’s just as gorgeous as the other national parks in Utah!
The most popular feature of Capitol Reef National Park is the Waterpocket Fold. This 100-mile-long canyon-like stretch has some of the coolest hikes in the area. The Red Canyon Trail, the Surprise Canyon Route, and the Strike Valley Overlook are a few visitor favorites.
If you’d like to take a less strenuous approach, you can opt for a scenic drive instead. There are so many scenic viewpoints you can stop at on Highway 24, but a couple of the must-sees are Sunset Point and Panorama Point.
12. Bonneville Salt Flats
While many of the best places to visit in Utah boast towering red rock structures, the Bonneville Salt Flats offer a little something different.
These 30,000 acres of hardened salt look like an otherworldly landscape. As a matter of fact, the Bonneville Salt Flats look so cool that it has been used as a filming location for fantastic movies like Independence Day and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
Once upon a time, this landscape was actually a lake. But due to the dry climate, the water evaporated and the salt stayed, creating a unique natural phenomenon.
Today, the landscape is so barren that nothing but the most basic microorganisms can survive there. Instead, it is now used for Bonneville Speedway races and the US Flight Archery Championships – in addition to being a stunning natural landscape, of course.
13. Lake Powell
Situated near Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Lake Powell is another sight that crosses the border between Utah and Arizona. This manmade reservoir in the Colorado River is actually the second-largest manmade reservoir in the entire country!
One of the main highlights of Lake Powell is Rainbow Bridge. It’s a miracle that this large sandstone arch is still standing! You can reach this iconic arch either by hiking or by taking a boat.
After visiting Rainbow Bridge, you can spend your time at Lake Powell experiencing just about any water-based activity you have in mind – from kayaking to waterskiing to stand up paddleboarding.
If you venture away from the main sections of the lake, you’ll even be able to find some secluded sandstone beaches for you to have all to yourself!
14. Midway Ice Castles
With a population of fewer than 4,000 people, the little town of Midway welcomes thousands of tourists each winter, thanks to the Midway Ice Castles.
Once the weather gets cold enough, a bunch of professional ice artists get together and start constructing a frozen castle that looks like it’s straight out of Frozen.
With frozen fountains, slides, and thrones, these Midway Ice Castles are truly something special. They’re even lit up at night with colorful LED lights to add another element to the magical environment.
It is important to note that the Midway Ice Castles are only standing from January to early March, due to weather conditions.
15. Mystic Hot Springs
While the Midway Ice Castles are inevitably quite chilly, Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah is the perfect place to warm up! With a population of just over 2,000 people, the little town of Monroe – including Mystic Hot Springs – is often overlooked, despite the fact that it’s one of the best places to visit in Utah.
Mystic Hot Springs boasts two pools and six vintage cast iron bathtubs, all warmed by natural geothermal activity. These pools range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 111 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll be able to stay nice and warm, no matter what the weather is like.
While most people simply visit the pools of Mystic Hot Springs for a day, you can also extend your time there by staying at one of the adorable onsite cabins. If you’re lucky, there might even be a concert happening during your stay, so be sure to purchase your tickets early!
Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of the best places to visit in Utah? Let me know in the comments below!
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