Attractions and Places to Visit in Utah

17 Top-Rated Attractions and Places to Visit in Utah

Utah is one of the nation’s great outdoor states, with incredible national and state parks, top-rated ski resorts, and natural wonders like you won’t find anywhere else in the world. A Utah road trip is one of the best ways to see the sites and there are beautiful drives all over the state. For cultural highlights or skiing nearby, head to Salt Lake City. If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, from hiking, mountain biking and camping to ATV motorcycling and off-road activities, be sure to visit Moab and St. George. Keep in mind that Utah’s elevation varies considerably, and while it may be warm and sunny in some areas, it can snow in others. Some parks have limited accessibility in winter and some cities are almost closed during this season. But most of the best places to visit are open all year round.

Read also: Top-Rated Attractions and Places to Visit in Arizona

1 Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park, less than a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, offers some of Utah’s most remarkable landscapes, with red rock cliffs, waterfalls and beautiful vistas. Many of the park’s most impressive sites are found in Zion Canyon, along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive , which follows the valley floor. From spring through fall, a sightseeing bus takes visitors around the park along this route, stopping at all the major attractions and trailheads, making it very easy to explore the park. In winter you can drive this route in your own vehicle. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highwayruns east-west through the park and is also a must to drive. This self-drive route takes you high above the valley and offers incredible views from the viewpoints.

Also called a vertical park because of its vertical side walls, Zion is a hiker’s paradise. The most popular hikes in Zion are accessed via the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. Here you’ll find everything from easy walks along the valley floor to rock-climbing trails, like the famous Angel’s Landing trail, which is not for the faint of heart or anyone afraid of heights. If you’re here to truly experience the outdoors, you’ll find quality campgrounds and RV parks in and near Zion National Park.

Where to Stay: Where to Stay near Zion National Park

2 Arches National Park

Arches National Park
Arches National Park

Beautiful stone arches and rolling petrified dunes, backed by the often snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Mountains, make this one of the most scenic parks in Utah. Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural stone arches. The most famous and most photographed is Delicate Arch , standing like a horseshoe protruding from the ground and framing the mountains in the distance. Numerous hiking trails and walks lead to the most popular arches and other interesting rock formations. But many of the highlights can be seen from the scenic drives through the park and easily reached from the parking lots. The top attractions in the park are Devil’s Garden, Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Double Arch, Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, the Windows, Broken Arch and Sandstone Arch.

Arches National Park is located just outside Moab, a city known to mountain bikers and outdoor adventurers. The park is considerably higher than the city and reached via a winding road with impressive views. You will find several other scenic parks in the area and a variety of good campsites in the area.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Arches National Park

3 Monument Valley

Monument Valley
Monument Valley

Like a scene from an old Western movie, red rocks rise from the orange desert floor and occasionally a horse and rider even wander past. This is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in southeastern Utah, near the Arizona border. Numerous films and commercials have been shot in this natural area, known for its spectacular red mesas and rock pinnacles. Within the park is Valley Drive , a 17-mile, self-driving dirt road that runs between the buttes and through the dramatic landscape. Pull-outs along the route provide great opportunities for photography and enjoying the scenery.

If you want to go beyond this one path to explore the park more fully, you will need to use a guide which can be arranged at the visitor center. If you don’t have time for the drive, which is usually done at a snail’s pace due to the turns and sights, the views from the Monument Valley Visitor Center are spectacular and one of the best vantage points in Monument Valley.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Monument Valley

4 Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is Utah’s version of the Grand Canyon, without the crowds. The park has three sections, but the largest part, which attracts the majority of tourists, is Island in the Sky . This area offers incredible views over sculpted canyons and beyond to the snow-capped mountains. It is arguably just as impressive as the Grand Canyon in its own unique way, and much less visited. The other two parts of the park, the Needles District and The Maze , offer a slightly different type of scenery, but are also impressive. These areas are more remote.

One of the main attractions in Island in the Sky is Mesa Arch . This beautiful stone arch, especially stunning in the early morning hours or late afternoon, provides a window to the canyons, buttes and rifted landscape below. Also of note in this section is the White Rim Road, which runs from the park to the valley below, along an unpaved road of hairpin bends along steep rock walls. This road is only for the brave. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the White Rim Road, just across the road from the island at the Sky Visitors Center.

The Canyon in the Sky section of Canyonlands is located not far from the city of Moab. The main access point is reached by heading north along Highway 191, past Arches National Park. The Needles district is in the opposite direction, along Highway 191 towards south Moab and takes about two hours to reach.

Where to Stay: Where to Stay near Canyonlands National Park

5 Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park

The brightly colored and tightly packed hoodoos that dominate the landscape of Bryce Canyon have set this national park apart from the rest of Utah’s spectacular sites. These stone pillars, glowing in shades of orange, pink, cream and cinnamon, protrude from the floor of a huge natural amphitheater, creating a magical landscape that almost begs to be explored. A scenic drive runs through the park and offers numerous lookouts along the entire gorge. However, it is worth walking into the forest of hoodoos on one of the park’s many trails to fully appreciate the size and unique shapes of these formations. Bristlecone pine trees are another surprise attraction found in Bryce.

Bryce Canyon National Park is located at elevations of 8,000 to over 9,000 feet and receives snowfall during the winter months and into the spring. Temperatures here, even in summer, can be cool to very cold. The best time to visit is from April to October, especially if you plan to stay at one of the campsites in the area.

Where to Stay: Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon National Park

6 Salt Lake City a de Mormon Temple

Salt Lake City a de Mormon Temple
Salt Lake City a de Mormon Temple

Salt Lake City is often associated with skiing and winter activities, and certainly many of Utah’s best ski hills are within an hour’s drive here. But this is a city worth visiting no matter the season, offering plenty of attractions and things to do. Standing on Temple Square is the late 19th century Mormon temple , the largest Latter-day Saint temple and one of Salt Lake City’s most important sites. The temple may only be entered by Mormons, but it is definitely worth stopping by to take a look. Other sites in the city include the Mormon Tabernacle and the State Capitol.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Salt Lake City

7 Park City and nearby ski resorts

Park City and nearby ski resorts
Park City and nearby ski resorts

Park City is a fun mountain town about 45 minutes southeast of Salt Lake City and home to two great ski resorts. On the town’s doorstep is Park City Mountain Resort , with lifts operating directly from town, and just down the road is Deer Valley Resort , one of Utah’s fanciest ski resorts. Both offer excellent terrain for all levels of skiers.

Utah Olympic Park , also located nearby, was used as the site for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Today, it offers year-round activities for children and adults, from ziplining and hiking in the summer to bobsledding in the winter. Also of note is one of Park City’s most famous events, the annual Sundance Film Festival , held in late January.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Park City

8 Moab

Moab |  Photo copyright: Lana Law
Moab | Photo copyright: Lana Law

For outdoor adventures in the Southwest, it’s hard to beat the city of Moab. As the closest town to Arches National Park , Canyonlands National Park , and Dead Horse Point State Park , this area offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, rafting, off-road adventures, and more. The rolling petrified dunes and surrounding mountains offer breathtaking scenery and provide a playground for all kinds of outdoor activities.

Mountain bikers come here in the spring and fall for the excellent riding. Although the city is known among mountain bikers as the home of the famous and challenging Slickrock Trail , you can find trails for all levels of cyclists here. When it comes to hiking, the trails in nearby parks offer beautiful scenery, including the famous Utah Delicate Arch . You’ll also find some incredible campsites near Moab.

In winter, this area gets snow and the adventure options diminish. The best time to visit is in spring (March to May) and fall (September to October). You can still enjoy it here in the summer, but the daytime temperatures get very hot.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Moab

9 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a vast area of ​​rugged terrain, with a landscape of canyons, arches, hills, waterfalls, forests and scrubland. It offers a sense of remoteness that is hard to find in other parks. Dirt roads, where you can travel great distances without ever having to pass another vehicle, are all part of the experience. At 1.9 million acres, it is the largest national monument in the United States and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, not the National Park Service.

Hiking is a popular way to explore the region. Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail offers fantastic scenery and is one of the most photographed locations in Grand Staircase-Escalante. In the southern part of the monument is Paria , a town near the Paria River, founded in 1865 but abandoned by 1920. Remnants of the town and nearby areas have been used in a number of Western films.

10 Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park, just outside Moab , provides one of the best viewpoints of any state park in Utah . The main viewpoint overlooks a Colorado River gooseneck that cuts through the colorful landscape. Cliff walls rise 2,000 feet and plateaus at varying levels stretch into the distance. On a shelf of land below the viewpoint, the Potash Road runs along a ridge. If you look to the left along this road you can see Thelma and Louise Point , where the final scene of the movie Thelma and Louise was filmed. The best way to see the sights of Dead Horse Point State Park is to take a stroll on the walking trail along the edge.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Moab

11 Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is another great place to explore Utah’s interesting landscapes. Located directly west of Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef reveals a massive wall of sandstone towering above the Fremont River. Canyons, rock pinnacles, cliff walls, arches and gorges dominate the landscape and are an inspiration to anyone interested in photography. In the distance, the wall dominates the landscape, glowing an almost purple color in the late day sun.

Most people come here for sightseeing, but you’ll also find a variety of hiking trails in the area. This park sees far fewer visitors than most other major parks in Utah, which can be a refreshing treat.

The closest town to Capitol Reef is Torrey, west of the park, where you can find lodging and camping options. The park’s visitor center is 15 minutes from the city and is located at the start of the beautiful Capitol Reef Scenic Drive , one of the main highlights of a visit to the park.

Where to stay: Where to stay near Capitol Reef National Park

12 Sint George

St George |  Photo copyright: Lana Law
St George | Photo copyright: Lana Law

St. George’s position in southern Utah, near some incredible parks, makes it a convenient city to base yourself in if you’re interested in outdoor activities. But even if you’re not, the city has its own attractions and is worth a visit. Zion National Park is just an hour away and one of Utah’s great undiscovered natural areas, Snow Canyon State Park , is less than 20 minutes away. Within a half-hour drive of St. George you will find excellent hiking trails and beautiful areas for camping.

The town of St. George has a number of attractions related to Mormon history, including the St. George Temple and the Brigham Young Winter Home Historical Site . Pioneer Park and the adjacent Red Hills Desert Garden are also must-see sites.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in St. George

13 Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument

The same forces of nature that formed Bryce Canyon were at work in Cedar Breaks, creating a smaller but equally dynamic-looking amphitheater. Dominated by colorful hoodoos, the amphitheater is more than 2,000 feet deep and three miles in diameter. Located at an elevation of 10,000 feet, the park sees full winter conditions, with snow covering the monument from fall to spring. Cedar Breaks is open year-round, but the scenic drive through the park (Highway 148) is closed from about mid-November to late May or June.

The best views can be seen on the Rim Drive . A number of short walks along the rim and through alpine meadows and forests provide good views of the gorge and access to a few pines and pines.

The Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook Trail is a popular four-mile route along the edge of the plateau that leads to an overlook of the spectacular Cedar Breaks Amphitheater. Less spectacular, but interesting nonetheless, is the Alpine Pond Trail, a two-mile circular hike to a subalpine forest clearing and pond at the end of the trail.

Where to Stay: Where to Stay near Cedar Breaks National Monument

14 Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument
Natural Bridges National Monument

South of Canyonlands National Park, but a bit out of the way, is Natural Bridges National Monument, which protects a number of excellent formations. If you’re in the area, or if you’ve never had the chance to check out a natural bridge, this park is definitely worth a stop. The main tourist attractions are three natural bridges; Kachina, Owachomo and Sipapu, all of which can be reached via short walks.

If you’re only going to visit one, make it Sipapu , the largest and most impressive of the three. The hike is a moderately strenuous, 1.2-mile trek that involves traversing steep sections and climbing a few stairs and ladders. Kachina Bridge is reached by a 1.5 mile round trip hike, but the trail is easier, although it still has some steep sections. Owachomo Bridge is the easiest to reach, requiring less than a half-mile round trip walk. It’s the smallest of the three, but still worth seeing.

Also of interest in the park are the Horse Shop Ruins , revealing the remains of ancient Native American buildings lived in more than 700 years ago.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Natural Bridges National Monument

15 Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument is known not only for the large number of Jurassic-era fossils discovered here, but also for the surrounding terrain. The main highlight is the collection of more than 1,500 dinosaur fossils, which can be seen embedded in the cliff wall of Carnegie Quarry. The new Quarry Hall is built on top of part of the rock, providing close access for visitors and comfortable conditions. Hiking, rafting and camping are also popular activities at Dinosaur National Monument.

Where to Stay: Where to Stay near Dinosaur National Monument

16 Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake, a half-hour drive northwest of Salt Lake City, is the largest inland lake west of the Mississippi, measuring 72 miles long, 34 miles wide and up to 160 feet deep. It is a remnant of a much larger freshwater lake, Lake Bonneville. After the water table fell, this lake was left without an outlet and shrank due to evaporation, leaving the Great Salt Lake Desert. The combination of evaporation with the influx of surface waters rich in minerals led to the lake’s salinity steadily increasing, at one point reaching 27 percent (eight times higher than the world’s oceans). On the south side of the lake there are bathing beaches and a recreational park.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Great Salt Lake

17 Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats |  Photo copyright: Lana Law
Bonneville Salt Flats | Photo copyright: Lana Law

About 90 minutes west of Salt Lake City along I-80, near Wendover, is an unassuming area of ​​flat land, stretching into the distance as far as the eye can see. But at certain times of the year this area becomes the world’s fastest racing course . This natural salt flat is perfectly flat, devoid of any vegetation and usually has a hard surface, making it perfect for high speed riding. Speed ​​Week is held here every year in August and World of Speed ​​is held in September. These races have produced land speed world racks.

Usually it is completely empty and you can try it out yourself. If you head here when there isn’t an event happening, you won’t find much more than a sign on the side of the road and endless miles of salt flats. Take exit 4 off I-80, turn right and drive past the truck stop. There’s nothing else here. Eventually you come to a sign and an area where you can drive to the flats at your own risk. In winter, some areas of the salt flats are covered with a thin layer of water.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Salt Lake City

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