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25 Best Places to Visit in Utah & Things To Do

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When people think about Utah, they often think of a few general things: Salt Lake City, Mormon culture, Sundance Film Festival, and the great outdoors. But honestly, it would be easier to list what you can’t do in Utah rather than all the possible things to do in Utah.

With five of America’s best national parks and plenty of state parks, Utah has endless outdoor activities, including snowy mountains, boulder-strewn escapes, and flat desert oases. You can visit world-renowned ski resorts, explore petrified sand dunes, or traverse the nearby parks to your heart’s content.

Attractions & Places to Visit in Utah

Whatever you decide to do in Utah, it’s bound to be an exciting adventure. If the prospect of planning an exploration-filled Utah adventure intimidates you, just read on. We haven’t even gotten to the best parts yet!

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Best national park – Zion National Park
  • Best state park – Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Free activity – Monument Valley
  • Activity for kids – Liberty Park
  • Activity for adults – Park City
  • Activity for families – Natural History Museum of Utah

Best Places to Visit in Utah & Things to Do

1. Zion National Park

Canyons at Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in the beautiful state of Utah. Its name, Zion, comes from the ancient Hebrew for sanctuary or refuge. The park is best for canyoneering, hiking, camping, and horseback riding.

In canyoneering Zion Canyon, get details about the permit and local guide services ahead of time. Zion National Park has a thousand-foot-deep red rock canyon nestled in beautiful surroundings. Whether you are trying to catch your breath while climbing the trail or watching the shadows constantly change the Court of Patriarchs’ mood.

Take a relaxing stroll to Weeping Rock, take in the breathtaking views via Canyon Overlook Trail, or take a family trip to the Emerald Pool Trails. If you’d rather take the Zion Canyon scenic drive, the views along Zion-Mount Carmel Highway are unmatched.

Zion National Park is located in the most southern part of Utah, making it a great day trip from Las Vegas, and you can even take a day trip to Grand Canyon National Park from here.

See Related: Things to do in Zion National Park

2. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

The beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park is a must-see location for anybody visiting Utah and is one of the best things to do in Utah. Like Mount Zion, Bryce Canyon is a terrific day trip destination from Las Vegas since it’s close to Sin City.

On any tour of Bryce Canyon, you’ll see its famous red hoodoos and spire-shaped rock formations. These geologic features can be found elsewhere in Utah but not as much excess as in Bryce. Besides admiring the hoodoos, folks love adventuring through one of the horseshoe-shaped Bryce Amphitheaters.

Visit Bryce Canyon National Park, and you’ll see why it’s one of Utah’s most beloved outdoor locations. This will surely be one of your favorite attractions, whether alone or with your family.

It even has a selection of paths and hikes for all levels and preferences, including some that are wheelchair accessible. It’s possible to tour Bryce and Zion from Las Vegas, making it easy to see some of Utah’s natural beauty in a day.

See Related: Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

3. Bonneville Salt Flats

Sunset at the Bonneville Salt Flats

Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats are a fascinating sight to see. The salt flats are all that remains of the Pleistocene ancient Lake Bonneville. These salt flats are the largest ones west of Salt Lake. The water that covers the flats reaches a depth of about a foot and a half. Though they are best seen during the early morning hours with little precipitation.

Bonneville Salt Flats provide terrific opportunities for hiking, fishing, and photography. The best way to see the flats is from a distance by driving on it or from an airplane window. There are also many scenic overlooks on nearby highways to take in the ground-level view.

Aerial airplane views show how this area is almost a vast painting of turquoise and tan with its white salt line across the horizon with green hills dotting the background, framed with dark purple mountains.

See Related: Day Trips from Salt Lake City, Utah

4. Liberty Park

Pond in Liberty Park, Salt Lake City, Utah

Address: 600 Harvey Milk Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

One of Salt Lake City’s scenic parks, Liberty Park is the oldest and second-largest in the capital city. Before becoming a park, the land was used as a grist mill and farm. Part of that mill can still be seen near the Tracy Aviary.

The Isaac Chase Mill is the oldest still-standing commercial building in Utah. Fun fact: The mill was once owned by Brigham Young.

That name should sound familiar as Young remains a name throughout Utah as the successor to Joseph Smith as the second president of the Church of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. You may have heard of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and we’d recommend stopping in for a performance.

This multi-use park space now greets visitors daily to enjoy its plentiful outdoor activities. From imaginative play at the playgrounds, playing bocce ball or volleyball, going swimming, or even playing horseshoes, Liberty Park is an excellent place to enjoy the great outdoors recreationally.

See Related: Things to Do in Ogden, Utah

5. Park City

Summer Day at Park City, Utah

Park City is a beautiful town in Utah, about an hour and a half from Salt Lake City known for having the best powder snow on Earth. Naturally, a visit here is one of the most popular things to do in Utah – and it’s easy to get to know the town on a Park City Scavenger Hunt.

Because of its reputation for snow, it’s also home to some of the best ski resorts in the world and even hosted the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. But before it became known for its many ski resorts, Park City was a silver mining town.

You can even see some of that history and relive extraordinary moments from the Olympic games at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. The city is lively in the winter when the Park City Mountain Resort slopes are packed with skiers and snowsport enthusiasts. But. You don’t have to visit in the cold for a top-notch experience.

Visit Park City Mountain Resort in the summer and watch the mountain bikers rip down the mountain top, or try it out for yourself.

Given that this is one of the best places to visit in Utah and its proximity to downtown Salt Lake City, it’s best to book your hotels early for the best prices. Our favorite ski resorts in the area include the Lodges at Deer Valley, Pendry Park City, and the opulent St. Regis Deer Valley.

See Related: Things to do in Park City, Utah

6. Snow Canyon State Park

Storm Rolling Through Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Address: 1002 Snow Canyon Dr, Ivins, UT 84738

Snow Canyon State Park has been carved over periods from the red and white Navajo sandstone out of the Red Mountains and the Santa Clara Volcano.

It is a sight to behold and the ideal place to head for ancient outdoor adventures. From hiking and biking along the network of dedicated trails to kicking back in its peaceful campground surrounded by ancient lava flows, you’ll not forget once you get there.

This Southern Utah state park is situated nearby the relatively petite city of St. George. If you are visiting Zion National Park from Las Vegas, this state park is a great stopover spot to get your outdoor fix before arriving back in Sin City.

You’ll also get tons of fun experiences from its extinct cinder cones, lava tubes, lava flows, and sand dunes when you visit, along with its epic canyon. This Utah state park has 16 miles of hiking trails, as well as rock climbing, walking, and horseback riding opportunities. In addition, the Snow Canyon features a charming campground open year-round to keep you housed in the midst of it all.

See Related: Where to Stay in Utah to Visit National Parks

7. Natural History Museum of Utah

Dinosaur Bones at the Natural History Museum of Utah
vadiml – stock.adobe.com

Address: 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Opened in 1969, The Natural History Museum of Utah houses approximately 1.5 million relics in Research Park. Since November 2011, the museum has been on campus in the Rio Tinto Center. Although it also showcases a broader range of natural wonders, it focuses on Utah and the Intermountain West — specifically how humans fit into the grander natural world.

Its permanent exhibitions include First Peoples, Past Worlds, Gems and Minerals, and Native Voices. In total, there are a dozen permanent exhibits at the museum. Some of their past exhibitions included Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs, The Power of Poison, Decisions Downstream, and Antarctic Dinosaurs.

If you need a break from exploring billions of years of history, stop by the campus’ Canyon Café. From here, you can refuel while getting panoramic views of the Salt Lake Valley. We think it’s a perfect combination.

See Related: Where to Stay in Park City, Utah: Best Areas & Neighborhoods

8. Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument Quarry

Park’s Visitor Center Address: 11625 E 1500 S, Jensen, UT 84035

Dinosaur National Monument was established in 1915 to protect what remained of these ancient cultures’ finest petroglyphs, pictographs, and archeological sites. The UNESCO World Heritage Center granted cultural heritage importance to numerous prehistoric sites within the Dinosaur National Monument.

The best evidence available on the pre-human, as well as human evolution of this region of North America, is found within these cultural heritage sites, which have been recognized for their exceptional testimony. Dinosaur National Monument is also home to thousands of fossilized dinosaur bones dating back over 160 million years.

There are a variety of activities available for visitors besides taking in ancient artifacts, such as cycling, hiking, rafting, and camping. The best time to visit this national monument is early or late summer.

See Related: Top Restaurants in Moab, Utah

9. Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden at Liberty Park, Utah

Address: 589 E 1300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Found in the middle of Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park, Tracy Aviary and Botanical Garden is a nine-acre public garden and aviary. It is also the largest and oldest free-standing aviaries in the country, of which there is only one more. Tracy Aviary opened in July 1938.

Part of the location’s mission is to develop a strong bond between nature and visitors where it is best to spend the whole family discovering the beauty of nature. For an even more exciting garden day, you may also feed the birds by hand, of which there are 135 different and gorgeous species.

The beautiful vistas around the garden will provide you with a stress-free setting. For decades, this garden has been a beloved family excursion and one of the more popular things to do in Utah besides skiing.

See Related: Friend Vacation Ideas

10. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is an amazing place to visit in Utah. Known primarily for its unique desert landscape created long ago by the Colorado River, the park was designated as a national park in 1964. It is best known for the early 20th-century expeditions of John Wesley Powell, a geologist from the mid to late 19th century.

It has tall sandstone cliffs and impressive arches, notably the Mesa Arch, which are best viewed from overlooks accessible by foot or vehicle. There is also still a large river in the Canyonlands National Park, the Colorado River, which is loved for its rapids and waterfalls.

Another fascinating feature of Canyonlands National Park is its split by the Colorado and Green Rivers. Because of the rivers, the park is separated into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers.

The best time to visit Canyonlands National Park is in April/May or September/October since it’s best not to go when the weather is too hot or cold. Take an ATV tour to see this remote park in its glory.

See Related: Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park

11. Mystic Hot Springs

Hot Tub in Mystic Hot Springs, Utah

Address: 475 E 100 N, Monroe, UT 84754

Mystic Hot Springs is a natural pool of water in Sanpete County and has been in operation for over a century. It remains an excellent destination for those who want to relax and take in the consistent beauty and natural hot spring water. It’s easy to see why this is widely considered one of the best things to do in Utah.

Mystic offers a unique experience with hot springs not easily found elsewhere in the country as you soak in a desert environment. Of course, one of the best things to do at Mystic Hot Springs is take a soak in one of the pools, but there are other things to do, such as hiking on some of the trails or catching glimpses of wildlife as they pass by.

Those who come to enjoy an evening at the springs can also benefit from the night sky viewing opportunities. It is best to visit in the springtime when streams are running high and temperatures are milder for optimum spring enjoyment.

After a long day or week of hiking Canyonlands National Park or Monument Valley, these hot springs make for a great stopover spot.

See Related: Best Hot Springs in Utah & Resorts to Visit

12. Monument Valley

Empty Road in Scenic Monument Valley Utah

See the iconic photos of Utah landscapes and a highway in the middle of nowhere? That’s Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park along the Arizona and Utah border. Known by the Navajo as Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii, this valley is one of the most photographed places in the world.

Why? Because of the iconic, towering sandstone rock formations strewn all over the valley.

Monument Valley is an amazing and huge park, and best of all, it’s free! It’s a perfect place to bring your family for a day of outdoor adventure. Petroglyphs and pictographs tell the local story of the Paiute people who once lived here.

There are 2,000 acres of stunning natural beauty, which creates countless breathtaking moments. You can take one of two scenic drives through this unique desert wonderland to see more of the park. If you want something more active than just driving by, there are 17 miles of hiking trails, or ask about what else is happening at the Monument Valley Visitor Center.

Should you want to stay near the valley, many hotels are available, from the budget-friendly View Hotel Campground or the more moderate Goulding’s Lodge and Campground. There aren’t many hotels nearby, but these two will be a shorter trek.

See Related: Where To Stay In Moab, Utah: Best Areas & Places

13. Arches National Park

Iconic arch of Arches National Park, Utah, Winter

Arches National Park is best known for the impressive red rock formations reminiscent of Pinnacles National Park in California. This is one of America’s national parks that will amaze you with the varying terrain in the country.

One of this park’s most fascinating natural wonders is the Delicate Arch, a natural arch that spans 43 feet wide and rises 211 feet above the ground. The park is also home to the world-famous Balanced Rock.

The best time to visit Arches National Park in Utah is early or late summer when average high temperatures are in the 80s. The best way to explore this unique national park is on foot or by car due to its vast size. If you want to see the most of this park, we highly recommend dedicating at least two days to your adventures, if not more.

When visiting Arches National Park, stop and spend some time in Moab, Utah, a great national park town featuring shops, craft breweries, and excellent restaurants. You could even stay at the charming Aarchway Inn in nearby Moab for easy access to the park.

See Related: Top Restaurants in Ogden, Utah

14. Hole ‘N’ The Rock

Hole N' The Rock Sign, Moab, Utah

Address: 11037 South Highway 191, UT 84532

Hole ‘N’ The Rock, commonly known as Hole-in-the-Rock is one of the main tourist destinations in Utah. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and has remained a testament to the Latter-day Saints’ faith since erecting it. This 5,000-square-foot, unique home was hand-carved out of the rock by owners Albert and Gladys Christensen.

This is a pretty standard roadside attraction. However, the sheer dedication of the Christensens’ carving the rock into a liveable home is a pretty fascinating thing to see.

In addition to the home itself, there are other attractions on-site. While it may not be the most time-consuming itinerary item, Hole is certainly one of the more unique things to do in Utah.

Hole is also home to the largest collection of Lyle Nichols metal and art sculptures. And, speaking of art, you can purchase locally crafted pieces or souvenirs made by indigenous artisans from the shops.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Provo, Utah

15. Capitol Reef National Park

Scenic Road in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is outshone by the insanely popular Arches National Park and Zion National Park. Even so, Capitol Reef National Park is a marvel in its own right for its colorful sandstone layers, buttes, and domes. The park’s best-known features are the brilliantly colored orange hoodoos that form along the watercourse of Fremont Creek.

Before being designated a protected land area and national monument in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, this Capitol Reef area was called Wayne Wonderland because it’s partly located in Wayne County, so that name was fitting.

Capitol Reef National Park is best explored by car or on foot. Numerous hiking trails offer views of cliffs, slot canyons, vistas, and Native American rock art. The Fremont people once lived on this land from around 1000 AD, so ancient artifacts and petroglyphs are preserved throughout Capitol Reef.

See Related: Things to Do in Nephi, Utah

16. Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Gilgal Sculpture Garden Park

Address: 749 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84102

In 1945, Gilgal Sculpture was envisioned, designed, and created by Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. in his backyard. The garden contains twelve grand original sculptural arrangements and over 70 stones engraved with some scriptures, poems, philosophical texts, and more. Each represents a different step in the Child’s lifelong spiritual journey.

The most well-known art in the garden is the Sphinx, which features rough stones that mimic a crouching body and a finely carved face of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One of the most important artistic innovations found in the pleasing Gilgal Garden was Child’s use of an oxyacetylene torch, like those used to cut steel, for cutting the stone.

The torch’s fire melted the waste rock and fused the remaining surface, giving it a polished sheen. Gilgal Sculpture Garden is notable and popular because it is recognized as Utah’s only identified visionary art area.

See Related: Things to Do in Tucson, Arizona

17. Great Salt Lake

Aerial view of Pink Sunset at Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake is about two hours away from the state’s capital Salt Lake City. So it’s one of the top places to visit in Utah. I mean, they named an entire city after it. It is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere and the eighth-largest terminal lake on Earth.

Great Salt Lake is known for its pink tint due to its high salt content. It is also home to one of the best examples of a dry lakebed. Believe it or not, dinosaur bones, ancient brine shrimp, and mollusks up to 11 inches in length can be found at the Great Salt Lake.

It’s just a remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville and could fully dry out in the next few decades. So don’t wait too long to mark this off your list of things to do in Utah.

Besides being an ancient body of water, the Great Salt Lake is also one of the best bird habitats in North America. Some of the best lake viewings can be done from Antelope Island State Park. Its proximity to Salt Lake City makes it an excellent location for boating and fishing.

See Related: Best Hotels in Salt Lake City for Families

18. Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridge National Monument, Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument has been protected since 1908 and is located about 50 miles northwest of the four corners edge of Southeast Utah. This monument protects three massive natural bridges that are believed to be about 5,000 years old that were engraved through the powers of water, frost, wind, and time. It’s also known for being the world’s highest natural bridge.

At Natural Bridges National Monument, three bridges were named Hopi to honor their ancestors, the Hisatsinom, who once made this their home. First is Kachina, which means dancer or rock art marked on the bridge, which is believed to resemble symbols. Then Sipapu means place of emergence and the term Owachomo refers to ancient bridge mounds that are thought to be the first in the country.

Given it’s the best trail in Utah, Natural Bridges is also a fantastic place to visit, especially during the winter and fall seasons, with its moderate temperatures and blossoming wildflowers. On a first-come, first-served basis, you may spend the night among natural bridges, which are home to some of the nation’s darkest skies.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Utah

19. San Rafael Reef View Area

Red Canyon at San Rafael Reef View Area in Utah

San Rafael Reef is a stunning panoramic view located in Emery County, rising to the west of the Green River as one of the main tourist attractions of Central Utah.

Its nature was primarily composed of a sharp layer of Navajo and Wingate Sandstone that later would befall into giant dome-shaped cliffs, multi-colored huge sandstone towers, shale, limestone, and deep slot canyons engraved by water and wind.

The reef got its name from the distinct edge of the San Rafael Swell, also known as the San Rafael Reef Wilderness. This panoramic vista embodies Interstate 70, San Rafael River, and Muddy Creek.

You can’t deny the astounding view of this reef, considering the breathtaking canyons like Crack Canyon, Chute Canyon, and Straight Wash, which have become one of the best spots for hikers, campers, kayakers, and mountain bikers. There’s also a nearby scenic drive as well.

Many people go to San Rafael Reef for its natural beauty and rugged landscape, which depicts how the earth has evolved since 60-40 million years ago. Due to their moderate temperatures, spring and fall are the best places to enjoy.

From here, you can also easily access Goblin Valley State Park. That park is named as such because Goblin Valley State Park is home to thousands of hoodoos, which are called goblins by the locals.

See Related: Unwind in Style: Best Resorts In Arizona

20. Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Cedar Breaks National Monument, near Cedar City, is best seen in the winter. This is because no leaves on the trees can obstruct views from the park’s summit. Cedar Breaks is known for its massive natural amphitheater, which stretches three miles with a depth of over 2,000.

The best way to get an idea of how big Cedar Breaks National Monument driving from one end to the other, which takes about 20 minutes. Along the way, you will see many well-preserved petroglyphs.

Unlike other natural attractions we’ve mentioned so far, this one doesn’t require several days to appreciate fully. Cedar Breaks is more of a break than a full-day excursion.

Consider visiting Cedar Breaks National Monument during sunset for the best views. This perfect vantage point shows off a full range of colors in a beautifully set scene with the spectacular backdrop of Panguitch Lake.

If you’d like a longer stayover near the monument, consider staying nearby Cedar City. We recommend the highly affordable Courtyard Cedar City Marriott, especially for a quick one-night road trip across Utah or the West.

See Related: Things to Do in Page, Arizona

21. Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

Parowan Gap Petroglpyhs

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs is a wonderful archaeological attraction in Iron County and a short drive from Cedar City. It is cut along the horizon and easily visible from Parowan and Interstate 15.

The petroglyphs, as well as dinosaur footprints, can be found one mile east of the Gap. A maze of boulders at the bottom of a towering cliff of conglomerate rock features a tiny set of dinosaur tracks.

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs has a good parking area developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It also has a sidewalk with interpretive signs along the Gap’s north side. The project aims to provide convenience for both local and intentional visitors.

The Parowan Gap’s walls are made up of weathered and eroded Navajo sandstone. There are a significant number of panels with petroglyphs on them. Some resemble animals and humans, but the majority are only shaped.

No one is quite sure of the exact age of the petroglyphs, though they are believed to be over a thousand years old. Some were likely made by the Sevier-Fremont peoples who lived here, however, it’s possible even earlier nomads made some.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

22. Salt Wash View Area

Driving Salt Wash Valley, Utah

Salt Wash View Area is a spectacular exploration destination and one of the best camping spots in Emery. It is the perfect place for tourists looking for incredible outdoor activities like mountain biking or a relaxing scenic drive. Salt Wash View Area is a centerpiece for any Utah vacation itinerary.

Its stunning and picturesque views is what local and international tourist are eager to see. The Salt Wash View Area is also a delightful stop for a tiring and long scenic drive in Utah because of its picture-perfect landscape. You don’t have to venture far from the beaten path for a rest either as Salt Wash View Area is on a lonely stretch of Interstate between the beautiful Green River and Salina, Utah.

It is open 24 hours and welcomes tourists who want to stay for a bit and those who stay the night. While some aesthetic vistas resemble the state’s terrain parks, this viewing area is free. Since it doesn’t cost anything to visit, you can enjoy the less populated stopover for undisturbed photographic moments.

See Related: Most Famous Historic Landmarks in the USA

22. Red Canyon Arch

View of the Canyon through Mesa Arch

Red Canyon Arch is a stunning tourist attraction in Panguitch. It is a popular stop for local and foreign travelers because of its natural rock archways. This land has spectacular scenery, picturesque landscapes, and natural arches.

Red Canyon Arch provides various exciting and fun activities for everyone, including pets, since this is a pet-friendly stop. It’s particularly perfect for tourists looking for an incredible adventure.

One everyday activity in Red Canyon Arch is hiking, where while climbing or canyoneering, you’ll see different arches and twisted pine tree trunks that look as if they emerged from a fairytale storybook.

Besides hiking, tourists can experience horseback riding, camping, mountain biking, fishing, and astronomy activities from the dreamy night skies. Red Canyon Arch has activities that tourists of all skill levels can enjoy.

See Related: Best Southwestern United States Destinations to Visit

23. Little Moab

Rough terrain in Little Moab
Gary L. Quay / Shutterstock

Not to be confused with the town of Moab, Little Moab is a famous hiking and mountain biking trail in the eastern gorge that follows the tip of the Coyote Wall geologic formation and is easily accessible from the Coyote Wall Trailhead. Little Moab is the local nickname for the city named after the vast slick rock expanses of southern Utah.

Little Moab’s white rocks are rhyolitic welded tuff, made up of extrusive igneous rock and volcanic ash that cooled on the surface after an eruption.

The area is filled with dunes and soft sand mountains near the Highway 68 turnoff and has an array of tracks, trails, and open areas to get your adrenaline flowing! This rock formation attracts off-road vehicle enthusiasts worldwide to crawl the surface in specially built Jeeps, trucks, and OHVs.

The terrain’s steepness, narrow lanes, and some trail restoration make it difficult for large motorized vehicles to negotiate.

Visitors wishing to hike, bike, or appreciate Little Moab’s sceneries must follow all signage and closures since some trail construction is underway. Some side trails are being demolished in areas where unauthorized trails could have caused damage to sensitive plants.

See Related: Where to Stay in Phoenix

24. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

One of the best things to do in Utah is to visit the often underrated site of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the most extensive cliff dwelling site in the United States.

President Bill Clinton designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument as a national monument in 1996. If you don’t do anything else of historical value in the state, we can’t undersell this significance, among other things to do in Utah.

This area of Utah is one of the most important archaeological sites in North America, as it was an ancient place of refuge. The Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont peoples lived here for thousands of years.

These ancient peoples lived in cave dwellings and used the cliffs for their homes, storage, and tools. One of the most important features of this site is the large number of dwellings and the sheer size of the cliff dwellings.

In 2021, President Joe Biden restored the boundaries for the monument, which now covers almost 1.87 million acres of land. These many acres are protected for current exploration and many years into the future.

See Related: Best State & National Parks in Utah to Visit

25. Dead Horse Point State Park

View from above of Dead Horse Point State Park
Doug Lemke / Shutterstock

Since it was established as a state park in 1959, Dead Horse Point State Park has offered visitors worldwide dramatic views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. All told the park represents over 5,300 acres of desert. Dead Horse Point Overlook and Meander Overlook are the most iconic viewing spots in the park.

Its name, Dead Horse Point State Park, may seem gruesome to some. It comes from a legend stemming from the days of roaming cowboys. It’s said this area was used to corral wild mustangs along the mesa so the cowboys could herd them away.

This state park has quite a few popular hiking and biking trails. However, the most popular is the challenging loop over 13 miles long. Although popular, Dead Horse Point State Park is still far less populated than other state parks in Utah.

So you’ll still have plenty of space to yourself no matter when you come. Though we highly recommend coming for the sunset views which outshine any other point in the day.

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FAQ

What are the best national parks to visit in Utah?

Utah’s most popular and best national parks are Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. If you want a far less busy one, we highly recommend visiting Capitol Reef National Park.

What outdoor activities can I do in Utah?

Some of the outdoorsy things to do in Utah largely involve the myriad state parks throughout the state. From these areas, you can go hiking, biking, canyoneering, off-roading or even head out for a scenic drive from the comfort of your vehicle.

What is the weather like in Utah during the summer/winter?

Since much of the state is desert, expect unforgiving temperatures at times in the summer. Temps are uncommon to go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

As for the wintertime, the temperatures can go in the opposite direction. They’re frequently under 32 degrees Fahrenheit but rarely dip below 0 degrees.

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