Thinking of taking a Utah road trip? If you’re looking for things to do in Utah and amazing places to visit then you’ve come to the right place. There are many places to visit in Utah. The state is diverse making it a great destination for outdoors enthusiasts, hikers, and more. Here are the best places to visit in Utah.
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Best Places to Visit in Utah
If you’re looking for some cool Utah landmarks to visit while on your trip here are some of the most picturesque. These places in Utah can be a quick stop while road tripping or you can stay more a while and explore the area.
Bonneville Salt Flats
This place is an hour and a half outside Salt Lake City. There are different events held at the Bonneville Salt Flats each year including the world-famous SpeedWeek. Each year cars and motorcycles race on the flats at record speeds. This usually happens in August of each year. For more information on SpeedWeek check out the Southern California Timing Association.
If you enter “Bonneville Salt Flats” in Google Maps it’ll take you to a rest stop. This is a good location if you’re looking to take some photos on the flats. It is picturesque with the mountains in the background. The rest stop has restrooms and a wash station to rinse off your salty shoes. However, if you want to take your car onto the flats take the next exit, “Bonneville Speedway.” Either way, the salts flats are one of the coolest things to see in Utah.
TIP: When the salt flats get rain then the ground becomes a giant mirror. This is awesome for photos but not ideal for taking your car onto the flats. In fact, the saltwater is highly corrosive and can cause damage to your vehicle.
NOTE: The Bonneville Salt Flats are remote so plan accordingly. Bring what you need and pack everything out.
Have you visited salt flats? There are salt flats in California’s Death Valley National Park. The largest salt flats in the world are the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
Another big tourist attraction in Utah is Monument Valley. It’s located on the Utah/Arizona border. Monument Valley has been the backdrop for movies such as Forrest Gump, Back to the Future Part III, Easy Rider, and more! This is an easy stop if you just want the iconic photo but you can easily spend a day or more exploring.
Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park. There is a fee to enter and there are plenty of trails to hike. It’s absolutely scenic with miles of mesas and buttes. And the sunsets and sunrises are incredible. There is lodging nearby, and also campsites at the park.
TIP: The famous spot on the highway is called “Forrest Gump Hill” in Google Maps. It’s popular for photos and you’re likely to see more people taking photos than cars on the road. Arrive earlier in the day and avoid weekends.
Valley of the Gods
A short distance from Monument Valley is Valley of the Gods. Valley of the Gods is managed by the BLM, is open year-round, and completely free! You can drive the scenic Valley of the Gods Loop to see many cool rock formations and buttes. The 17-mile loop is unpaved but accessible with just about any car when dry.
Utah National Parks
There are five national parks in Utah and they are often referred to as the “Mighty Five.” Each one is different from the other and collectively make for an awesome adventure. If you visit Utah your trip almost isn’t complete without a visit to one of the parks. Below is a little bit about each of the “Mighty Five” national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches National Park.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is the most popular national park in Utah. They are all located in the southern part of Utah. Zion is located in the southwest part about an hour outside of St. George. If you’re thinking of taking a Utah national parks road trip and starting in the southeast, you’ll start off with Zion.
If you’re looking to experience some of the best of Utah head to Zion National Park. It has thrilling hikes, breathtaking red cliffs, and more. It’s one of the top Utah tourist attractions and a park that is not to be missed.
TIP: You can rent waterproof hiking boots and other gear at Zion Outfitters, located just outside of the park. Or plan ahead and purchase your own gear. Check out my hiking tips for beginners for info on what to bring on a hike. As you can see above the water level changes throughout the hike, it also changes depending on the season and with recent rain.
Bryce Canyon National Park
If you’re looking to visit a national park but have limited time opt to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s the smallest national park in the state and easy to see via the many viewpoints. You can easily drive, park, and take a short walk to many breathtaking vistas. If you’re traveling with someone who has mobility issues and looking for Utah places to visit, Bryce Canyon is a great option!
Bryce Canyon National Park is also perfect for hikers and a dream for photographers. The hoodoos are super cool and you can hike amongst them. There are hikes from just under a mile to eight miles in length.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is quite a unique national park. There’s an orchard that grows apples, peaches, pears, and cherries. The orchard dates back to 1880 and was once used by the frontier pioneers of the Fruita settlement. You can also have the Capitol Gorge Trail to see the Pioneer Registry where the pioneers would carve their name to record their passage.
If you’re looking for places to visit in Utah for stargazing then Capitol Reef National Park is where it’s at. It’s a dark skies park and the night will leave you in absolute awe! You can camp inside the park and there are also nearby accommodations.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is the least visited park of the “Mighty Five.” And it’s so large that it’s actually broken up into three different sections: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. You must enter through different points to reach each section.
Something cool about Canyonlands is that you can see where Thelma and Louise drove off and into the canyon. Yup, the 1991 movie was filmed nearby, although not in the park you can see the point from the park. Use Google Maps to give you the location for “Thelma & Louise Point.”
Arches National Park
One of the coolest Utah places to visit is Arches National Park. It has the largest concentration of sandstone arches in the world. There are lots of cool things to see and you’ll definitely want to check out the best arches at Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is the most popular and a must-see in Utah’s famous park.
Other things to check out are Landscape Arch which is the world’s longest natural arch. Take a pic of Balanced Rock, which is a large rock formation weighing 3,600 tons and is somehow balanced on a 128 feet rock pedestal! The rock defies gravity and is a neat thing to see.
Fun Things to do in Utah
There are many fun things to do in Utah. Whether you like to chill, hike, or seek adventure, there’s something for everyone.
Mystic Hot Springs
There are lots of hot springs throughout the state but Mystic Hot Springs is one of my favorites. It’s also one of the best places to visit in Utah in winter. The warm hot springs are such a delight to soak in.
At Mystic Hot Springs you can purchase a day pass to soak or stay the night at a cabin or even inside a retrofitted bus. The experience is awesome and you have more time to soak in the tubs.
Kanarraville Falls or Kanarra Falls hike is a 4-mile out and back hike along a creek. You will have to hike in the creek for about half the hike so plan accordingly with proper footwear. In the summer months, hiking sandals, or water shoes are a good option. You can wear regular hiking shoes if you don’t mind getting them soaked. In the colder months, waterproof hiking boots and waterproof socks are recommended. You can also opt to wear rain boots to keep your feet dry.
There is a $12 entrance fee which goes towards trail maintenance. There are only 150 spots available for the hike each day. You must either make a reservation in advance online or if spots are available you can pay in person.
There are two waterfalls and the first waterfall is the one you’ll see in most photos. If the water level is high I would recommend stopping at the first waterfall. You’ll need to climb the metal ladder to get to the second waterfall.
Glen Canyon Recreation Area
The Glen Canyon Recreation Area stretches between both Utah and Arizona. It’s over 1.2 million acres and offers both land and water-based recreation. Lake Powell is located within the Glen Canyon Recreation Area and is one of the best boating destinations in the United States.
If you’re looking for Utah nature this area has it all. Lake Powell is popular for kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and more. You can also find an abundance of houseboats on the lake. The land area of Glen Canyon offers space to hike, four-wheel drive, and more.
Hidden Places in Utah
It’s harder to find “hidden” gems now but Utah definitely has some cool underrated spots.
Goblin Valley State Park
Looking for something that beats the crowds? Head to Goblin Valley State Park. This underrated state park is a gem. You can make this either a quick stop or easily spend the day. And if you want to stay longer there are campsites and even two cool yurts. Heads up, the yurts book up quickly!
The “Valley of the Goblins” is a popular spot to explore. There is no marked trail and you can freely walk amongst the goblin-like hoodoos. There are marked trails such as Carmel Canyon and Entrada Canyon. There’s also a trail that leads to a cave but requires some scrambling.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Coral Pink Sand Dunes is one of the more underrated things to do in Utah. It’s a state park located in Kanab. The sand’s hue is what makes the dunes so unique. There’s an observation deck for those who just want to admire the dunes from a distance. You can also hike up the dunes. It’s a workout but so worth the views!
For those who are seeking more adventure opt to rent ATVs and/or boards for sandboarding. Coral Pink ATV Tours offers different packages.
Note: Pets are not allowed to enter Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
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There are so many great places to visit in Utah. There is something for everyone to enjoy! I hope this list helps you when you’re wondering what to do in Utah.
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