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If you have always considered planning a visit to Utah, you will join a million others who come to see the national parks and other great places to enjoy. A Utah travel adventure is one of the most exciting in the USA or even the world. International visitors from Canada and other countries across the world come to visit the canyons and national parks.
Places like Bryce Point and Rainbow Point have some of the most lucrative views spanning the red rock and unique formations in Utah. Even a part of the Grand Canyon is located in the state. Planning to visit Utah means knowing all the ins and outs and what you can expect when you travel to the area.
Below is a travel guide to Utah that will help you plan your itinerary on things to do, where to stay, and how to get around the state.
- Best Things to Do in Utah
- 1. Bryce Canyon National Park
- 2. Zion National Park
- 3. Capitol Reef National Park
- 4. Salt Lake City
- 5. Canyonlands National Park
- 7. Arches National Park
- 8. Burr Trail
- 9. Monument Valley
- 10. Park City
- 11. Moab
- 12. Dead Horse Point State Park
- 13. Temple Square
- Where to stay in Utah
- How to Get Around in Utah
- Travel Tips for Visiting Utah
- 1. Invest in Travel Insurance
- 2. Have Rain Protection Out On The Trails
- 3. Be Prepared To See Wildlife
- 4. Pack For All Seasons
Best Things to Do in Utah
1. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is a stunning natural wonder located in southern Utah. It is known for its unique geologic features, including the famous hoodoos and colorful rock formations. The park features miles of hiking trails, stunning vistas, and camping spots for visitors.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, and a variety of birds. And with the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument just a short drive away, Bryce Canyon National Park is a great addition to any southwestern road trip. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful weekend away or an adventurous getaway, Bryce Canyon National Park will exceed your expectations.
2. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is an incredible place to visit. Located in southwestern Utah, it is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. From its towering red rock cliffs and sheer sandstone walls to its lush green meadows and cascading waterfalls, Zion has something for everyone.
The park is also home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including deer, bighorn sheep, and even the occasional mountain lion. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful hike or an adventurous climb, Zion National Park has something for everyone. With its spectacular views and a wide array of activities, it’s no wonder that Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Zion National Park
3. Capitol Reef National Park
In southern Utah, Capitol Reef National Park spans 60 miles long while only six miles wide. It came into the park in 1971 and has remained that way since as a great place to explore and hike when the weather is good.
The ridges in this park are some of the most colorful in the state, and there is a distinct need to protect them from the growth and construction that has happened to nearby cities. This park received its name for having a similar dome shape that mirrors the Capital building in Washington, DC, because it is unlike any other formation in the world.
There is lots of opportunity to hike and enjoy wildlife photography in this park. Keep in mind that it is elevated, full of canyons, and the park has the potential to rain at any given time. It is essential to prepare for the rainfall and have enough water and snacks for hiking.
The trails are long and strenuous, so you must keep your energy up until you can return. Many of these are long-day hike experiences and require you to carry a map while on the trail.
4. Salt Lake City
If you want to experience some of the outdoors and a few urban experiences, consider staying in Salt Lake City. Just outside the city limits is access to national and state parks.
You can enjoy white water rafting, hiking trails, and the wildlife found in all these locations throughout the day just outside the city. This area is also great for skiing in winter; you need to pack and prepare for the changing weather conditions.
Salt Lake City is constantly experiencing some events and attracting visitors because of its solid economic presence.
However, it is not as remote or rural as other parts of the state. If that is what you are looking for when it comes to vacation, you may want to stay in a quieter location that isn’t as busy.
However, if you are uncomfortable being very remote, Salt Lake City is your place. It is located further north than other locations and is great for those heading back north at the end of the visit.
5. Canyonlands National Park
Another great place to visit is Canyonlands National Park, known for its Island in the Sky view. Overlooking this park, there are canyons as far as the eye can see, with rivers separating the different parts of the park.
Between each river is an area with an atmosphere that gives different views than what you see in other places. The scenery that includes the canyons isis a big part of local tourism and is quiet in the desert.
You can visit this Canyonlands National Park all year, but you must be mindful when traveling in winter. Some more elevated areas in the park will not be accessible, and there is almost always snow on the ground from October through April.
If you want to get the full experience, it is best to come in late Spring or early summer when the snow has gone but the temperatures have not risen to their highest.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
7. Arches National Park
One of the most visited locations in Utah is Arches National Park because of the unique arch stones that fill the hundreds of acres within this park. This red-rock area offers numerous trails so that you have a less crowded experience hiking out in Utah.
These trails at Arches National Park are popular at sunrise and sunset because this park captures the essence of the sun over the red rock formations. Professional photographers are found in the Arches National Park yearly, hoping to catch the best shots. Many of these pictures are later found in publications.
If you want to visit Arches National Park, it is essential to know reservations are required during the peak season. Limiting the traffic into the park is necessary to maintain the formation and protect the natural desert environment, so you must schedule when you are coming.
If you want to visit in the winter, you will not need reservations, but you will need to pack for a cold experience. Also, the wildlife is not as active in the park during the winter.
8. Burr Trail
If you are driving yourself through Utah on this trip, bring your family through the Burr Trail at Glen Canyon. This trail connects Utah to Arizona and gives some of the best backcountry views from the comfort of your vehicle. You may have seen some of these views from publications over the years.
This was once a cattle road by ranchers in that area, and the federal government has since protected it by giving guests an undeveloped view of the desert for 66 miles on the highway.
Before you head off to Burr Trail, make sure you gas up and have enough water and snacks for the experience. Sometimes the flooding and harsh weather conditions can make traveling difficult even with your average four-wheel-drive.
You must check road conditions first and determine if you should travel based on any recommendations from the National Park Service.
9. Monument Valley
If you want to enjoy the comforts of a guide and tour one of the parks with numerous formations, consider adding Monument Valley to your schedule while in Utah. This park is located right on the state line where Utah meets Colorado and is also in the heart of the Navajo Nation, so thousands of visitors are in this area each year to see the heritage of this culture.
Monument Valley gained its name from the unique land formations that stand like monuments in the middle of the desert. The community’s heritage has been built around these formations.
One of the best views of this area is the sunset view between the monuments. The sky goes on for miles when you are out on a hike.
You can enjoy several different tours and experiences in Monument Valley with others who are also traveling and want to take advantage of these specific moments. It is cold in this area in the winter and then super hot in the summer because of its desert environment.
When you travel to this area, all visitors should pack for one extreme or another, depending on the time of the year. You do not want to find yourself in the middle of winter without the proper clothing or essentials, as that can impact your ability to explore.
10. Park City
If you are looking for a great place to stay in Utah, having access to the outdoors and a quieter experience than Salt Lake City, Park City is a great location to consider, with at least two national parks nearby. In the winter months, visitors and locals take on the slopes on skis or a snowboard in the city.
Olympic Park is nearby Park City and hosts thousands of visitors each year. When the weather warms up, ample fishing, hiking, and even hot air balloon rides are happening throughout the mountains and canyons.Tourism is a big part of this area, with Utah travel focusing on Park City.
If you decide to stay in town at one of the hotels or lodges downtown in Park City, there is access to some of the best dining in the state and shopping and entertainment options throughout the night to keep everyone at your party happy.
The downside to staying in Park City is that it is more expensive than some other cities you could stay at. The quieter experience comes at a price, and you must determine if it is worth it.
When visiting Eastern Utah on your trip, you should plan to spend time or even stay in Moab for a night or two. Those who are enthusiasts for adventure and outdoor fun find Moab to be the best city location.
This area has that slight town feeling that has embraced the Native American culture. You will find museums, local art, and other experiences that embrace and appreciate the city’s local culture.
You can also rent a bike in Moab and take it to enjoy several adventures nearby just outside of the town. Mountain biking is a favorite activity in Moab.
There is a downside to staying in Moab, however. While some nightlife exists, it is nothing compared to the larger cities. The nightlife is nonexistent in the winter, and nothing much happens after taking a ski trip.
You are getting a more rustic and outdoor experience, so if you need to balance your trip, you may want to consider visiting Moab on a day trip instead of staying there.
12. Dead Horse Point State Park
Outside Moab is the Dead Horse Point State Park, which has some of the most magnificent views of the Colorado River. Outdoor and wildlife photographers spend days in this park, taking pictures and getting some of the most picturesque shots at one of the overlooks.
Pack a picnic lunch when you come so you do not have to leave, as there are several shelters and designated areas to enjoy your lunch. You can make this park a one-day trip.
Lots of wildlife are out and about in Dead Horse Point State Park. You want to ensure you protect yourself and others by enjoying food in the designated areas and discarding your trash correctly. You should also stay close to other visitors and try not to wander too far alone.
This park spans over 5000 acres, so getting lost could take some time before help comes. You must be prepared with enough supplies and a way to communicate if you are lost.
See Related: Most Beautiful Places in the World to Visit
13. Temple Square
Embracing history and monuments is a big part of Utah, so Temple Square should at least be a stop on your list of places to visit. Located in downtown Salt Lake City, this makes for a tremendous after-lunch walk to explore the different churches and temples that populate this area.
You can see Utah’s history in these buildings as you walk through them. They give an account of Christianity as it has impacted the state. These tours usually last an hour or just a little more.
You can enjoy your lunch in this area and even book a private tour to ensure you see all the different locations. However, if you plan to pursue a guided tour, reserve them, as they fill up quickly, and have your tickets ready when it is your time to visit.
Where to stay in Utah
A location central to the places you want to visit is essential in Utah, especially if you visit multiple national parks. Because the state is so large, and things to do are spread out, you may need to choose different lodging options throughout your trip.
This is to get close to what you want to do and visit without sacrificing quality lodging when considering what is listed in your Utah travel guide. At the top of this list is Bryce Canyon Lodge Resort.
- Bryce Canyon Lodge Resort
- Goulding’s Lodge
- Stone Lizard Lodge
- Scenic View Inn & Suites Moab
- Zion Glamping Adventures
- Condos at Canyons Resort
- Grand America Hotel
- Duchesne Suites
- Countryside Cabins
- Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley
How to Get Around in Utah
If you want to travel to Utah, you have a few options to consider if you are not planning to drive your vehicle to the state. You can always fly into one of the airports throughout the state. One international airport and some regional airports bring in connecting flights.
Once you make it to Utah, you rent a car and drive around the state to the places you want to visit. You can also join a tour before you arrive and tour these locations on a tour bus.
These packages ensure you return to your room and will be your transportation throughout the trip. They are often mentioned and highly rated through Utah travel guide mentions.
Travel Tips for Visiting Utah
Before you start planning your trip to Utah, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind so that you have the best travel and enjoy all the different parks and things to do while you are in Utah.
These tips range from financial protection to having the right items for the weather difference you may not be prepared for when you get to Utah. This is why you should have that Utah travel guide handy during your planning.
1. Invest in Travel Insurance
Once you start securing travel plans for your trip to Utah, you should also ensure you book travel insurance to be compensated for the money you have spent if your plans change for any reason.
Unfortunately, flight cancelations and unpredictable weather happen in Utah, and you may not be aware of either until it is time to board the plane and find out you have nowhere to go.
Without travel insurance, you will not be able to get all of your money back and have no choice but lose money on a trip you did not get to enjoy.
2. Have Rain Protection Out On The Trails
The weather in Utah can be unpredictable, especially as you travel to higher elevations. If you are an avid hiker and plan to take on some of the more strenuous trails that rise, ensure you have the rain protection you need to keep yourself from getting sick and destroying everything with you.
Patagonia brand is one of the most recommended by hikers and other outdoors people, so look at their options. They have a variety of rain jackets and accessories to consider before you finalize packing for your trip.
3. Be Prepared To See Wildlife
If you plan to visit at least one of Utah’s state and national parks, you can expect to see some wildlife. Utah has been protecting these species for decades, and they have become accustomed to roaming in these parks where they are protected.
Whether traveling in your car or on a trail in one of the parks, you will see wildlife at some point. This means that even dangerous animals like bears can make themselves known while hiking and put you in scary situations.
Before you head out on your first hike, you may want to speak with a park ranger to understand what animals you may encounter and how to keep those encounters safe until you can get back to safety.
4. Pack For All Seasons
The weather in Utah can be unpredictable so you might want more than just a raincoat for the mountaintops. Make sure you pack layers of clothes so that you can add as you need when the weather drops or so that you can remove layers if the weather gets too warm.
While you can look ahead on your app, it is not always precisely correct, and Utah’s weather tends to surprise those living or visiting the area. Parks like Bryce Canyon National Park tend to experience different temperatures.
- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.