If adventure is what you’re after, then you should definitely be planning a trip to the state of Utah. Made up of vast mountain ranges, canyons, valleys, and five national parks within its borders you could spend months exploring all the state has to offer.
With so much beauty and excitement, it can be hard to figure out where to begin. Keep scrolling for a list of 20 places you don’t want to miss when planning your next trip!
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1. Snowbird Resort
Located in Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird is most popular for its skiing and snowboarding – but the fun doesn’t stop there.
Take a free tour of the canyon to learn about the history of its geological features.
In summer months, Salt Lake Fly Fishing Company offers guided tours and provides all needed equipment (and some snacks!) to make the most of your fly fishing experience. The aerial tram provides gorgeous views as it climbs the canyon, and many get off at the top and take the journey back down by foot to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
During the winter months, the resort comes alive with skiers hitting the various slopes.
Choose from one of four restaurants to refuel after a long day of exploring.
2. Bear Lake
Known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies”, Bear Lake’s inviting aqua blue waters draw travelers in from near and far. The water isn’t deep; the lake is on the warmer side – making it a fan favorite for swimming.
One of the many beaches to choose from is Rendezvous Beach, which is primarily used for launching boats and can be on the muddier side. If you’re looking for more California beach vibes, head over into Idaho for North Beach State Park where the sandy beach seems to go on forever.
For something different, drive out to the Paris Ice Cave or venture through Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
3. Cedar City
Nicknamed “The Festival City”, there is always a fun event happening – so be sure to check their calendar to get in on the fun. The small city is jam-packed with attractions and adventures just waiting to be explored.
- Utah Shakespeare Festival: To get the full experience, check out one of the most popular events, where there is no shortage of activities and shows.
- The Southern Utah Museum Of Art: Designed to look like a slot canyon, the museum houses breathtaking landscape art and art pieces created by up-and-coming artists from all over the country. Bonus: admission is free.
- Cedar Breaks National Monument: See the stunning views of the amphitheater that is half a mile deep, and is made up of red rock formations and ancient bristlecone pine trees.
4. Sundance Resort
Located in Provo Canyon at the base of Mount Timpanogos, the four-season resort has something to do for the whole family.
Hit the slopes and choose between 42 runs spread across 420 acres of powdery snow, each varying in experience level from beginners to expert.
The Sundance ZipTour is unlike any other in the country with the longest vertical drop, breathtaking views of Mount Timpanogos, and the complete control to speed up or come to a halt to take pictures.
Hike to Stewart Falls, take a scenic lift ride, and dine at one of three restaurants; the list of options goes on.
Fun fact: The resort is owned by famous actor Robert Redford who named the area after his movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
5. Bonneville Salt Flats
Enter what feels like a whole other world thanks to the unique geological features that make up the Bonneville Salt Flats. Occupying 300,000 acres in the western desert of Utah, you can spend the entire day exploring the flats.
Many events are held here in summer and fall, so plan your trip for winter or spring if solitude is what you are after. However, if you don’t mind a crowd and a bit of excitement, the flats host many car racing and endurance events that are bound to get your heart racing.
It is important that you bring a ton of water, wear proper sun protection, and be advised that there are no restrooms on-site.
6. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a great place to explore for a couple of hours – but there is enough to do here to keep you busy for weeks. If you have extra time on your hands, dedicate a few days to the park to see all of what Utah has to offer.
- Take in the views as you drive the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
- Work up a sweat on the strenuous, 5-mile Angels Landing trail for breathtaking views overlooking Zion Canyon.
- Wear some waterproof hiking boots to take on The Narrows. The 9-mile trail is relatively flat but it takes you through the running river between a slot canyon – a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
There is a total of 46 hikes ranging from 0.7 to 19 miles, so there is a hike suitable for everyone.
7. Antelope Island
Home to free-range bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, antelope, and many more desert animals, Antelope Island is a great place to admire the Utah’s collection of wildlife.
The white sandy beaches are the perfect place to lay out in the sun and picnic tables are nearby when you are ready to eat lunch.
Grab your bike and choose from one of 9 bike trails, varying in difficulty, for a faster way to take in more of this wonderful island.
Trek to the highest point of the island via the Frary Peak Trail for awe-inspiring views of Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island, and Wasatch Mountains.
8. Park City
Park City has an adventure waiting around every corner, so you’ll never have a dull moment.
Check out the Utah Olympic Park, home to many of the 2002 Winter Olympic events, for some unique experiences like speeding down the mountain Olympic style, in a comet-bobsled.
Deer Valley Resort hosts skiing in the winter months and transitions to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking come summertime.
Take a ride on one of the world’s longest alpine coasters, located on Park City Mountain, and control the speeds as you zig-zag down the mountain and take in the awesome views.
History buffs will be drawn to the city’s historic buildings, nature enthusiasts to its large selection of hiking trails, and shoppers to its never-ending line of stores.
Travel back in time to the 1930s as you admire the well-preserved art deco architecture on 25th Street and stop into one of the many museums along the way. It’s also lined with unique mom-and-pop shops and boutiques, while Newgate Mall is just a short drive away.
Hidden Valley Trail is a local favorite, and the short 3-mile hike packs a punch with an elevation gain of over 1,000 ft. The views of Mt. Ogden and Taylor Canyon make it all worth it.
The city of Midway may be on the smaller side, but the one-of-a-kind opportunities here will definitely have you coming back for more.
It is not every day that you get to swim inside a crater, but Homestead Crater provides access into a 55-foot tall, hollow limestone rock with warm, mineral waters waiting to be soaked in. Scuba diving and snorkeling are also available to add to the excitement.
After a day of relaxing in the mineral-rich waters, walk through the out-of-this-world Midway Ice Castles before grabbing a bite to eat at Fanny’s Restaurant.
11. Diamond Fork Hot Springs
If you’re looking for a scenic hike, natural hot springs, and a lack of crowds, Diamond Fork Hot Springs has it all.
The 2.5-mile hike to the hot springs has an elevation gain of 700-ft and a clear trail to follow along a running creek.
You know you are getting close to these wonderful springs when the water turns bright blue in color and the smell of sulfur begins to rise in the air. Then you’ll reach a group of soaking pools – some bright blue and others green – all varying in temperatures.
As tempting as it is to hop right in, head up a bit further to the waterfall to see another group of pools before deciding which pool is calling your name.
Then, of course, relax and rejuvenate!
12. Nancy Holt Sun Tunnels
Located in the Great Basin Desert, the tunnels were built in 1976 to compliment the sun on the horizon.
Four massive concrete cylinders are perfectly placed to draw in light from sunrises and sunsets and create a magnificent show of light. Artist Nancy Holt, stated that the idea behind this piece is to “bring the vast space of the desert back to human scale.”
So, grab your camera and plan a visit at sunrise or sunset to see this unique piece of art in action.
13. Kanarraville Falls
Grab your waterproof boots and head out on an adventure through creeks and canyons that lead to the stunning Kanarraville Falls.
The Kanarra Creek Trail that guides you to the falls is quite popular, so arrive early for a better chance of having the area to yourself.
The start of this 6-mile trek is a steady incline but it eventually levels out as you enter a beautiful canyon. From here on, you will be ankle-deep in water with some areas being slightly deeper.
Once you reach the mouth of a wondrous slot canyon, you are just moments away from the spectacular falls of Kanarraville.
It is important to note that you will need to purchase a permit before starting your journey.
Home to more than one national park, Moab is a popular destination for adventure seekers.
- The Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park leads to a 64-foot tall and 45-foot wide arch.
- Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park is a scenic driving loop with various viewpoints to take in the Grand Canyon-like views.
- Dead Horse Point State Park is a great place to watch the sunset, as the golden rays of light bring the canyons to life.
- Go on a white water rafting adventure along the Colorado River – especially in summer months, when a cool down is much needed in the 100+ degree temperatures!
15. Goblin Valley State Park
Let your imagination run wild as you venture through the Mars-like landscape of Goblin Valley State Park. The park was named for its sandstone rock formations, many having an odd resemblance to goblins.
Walk 3 miles amongst the formations along the Valley of Goblins, examine their different shapes, and see what they look like to you. There are over a dozen different trails to choose from, ranging in lengths from 1 to 4 miles.
The park is also certified as an International Dark Sky Park, providing some of the best stargazing opportunities the country has to offer.
Perfectly located between sandstone buffs and the San Juan River, Bluff has an abundance of outdoor adventures, attractions, and breathtaking views around every corner.
Puebloans were the first to settle on the land, and remnants of their culture can be found amongst ancient rock art, abandoned buildings, and discovered artifacts. Visit the Bluff Fort Historic Site to learn more about the town’s history and get up close and personal with artifacts found in the area.
Get out on the water with Wild River Expeditions for a unique white water rafting experience that takes you through ruins and walls covered in petroglyphs. A 17-room ruin, preserved thanks to the protection of a natural shelf, lies along the river and can be explored on foot.
17. Capitol Reef National Park
One of the most underrated national parks in the country, Capitol Reef is usually forgotten in the shadow of Zion but there is so much beautiful scenery to be explored.
Drive down the scenic Highway 24 and be prepared to stop every few miles and take in the striking geological features. Some of the best pull-off areas include Panorama Point, Sunset Point, and Goosenecks Overlook.
Center your day around the historic Fruita district where you can stop by the visitor’s center, venture off on different trails, and check out some antiquated buildings.
18. Toquerville Falls
Take the 11-mile trek or drive a 4×4 vehicle (anything less will not make it along the extremely rugged terrain) to the stunning views at Toquerville Falls.
Once you arrive you will be mesmerized by the two sets of cascading falls that pour into a lovely swimming pool. There is even a ladder for easy access.
Bring your furry friend along for the journey as the falls are pet-friendly, and the flowing waters are any pup’s dream! The current can be strong, so be sure to keep a close eye.
Known as the sixth oldest town in Utah, this small city is filled with historic attractions to explore.
Visit the Lehi Railroad Depot Museum which is housed in the oldest depot in the state.
Stop by the John Hutchings Museum of Natural History to learn about the state’s important history through artifacts and specimens that go as far back as the Mesozoic Era.
Thanksgiving Point has a large variety of exhibits to explore:
- Check out the world’s largest collection of mounted dinosaurs at The Museum of Ancient Life.
- Take a milk processing tour at Farm County.
- Explore 15 unique gardens at The Gardens at Thanksgiving Point.
20. Badlands National Park
Established as a National Park in 1978, the park is broken up into the North and South Units.
The South Unit was once used as a bombing range in World War II. Rangers advise to stay clear of this area, as there may still be unexploded bombs in the vicinity.
The North Unit, however, is free-range – and filled with short yet rewarding hikes through the badlands. The intense landscape is home to a variety of wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, bison, prairie dogs, and more.