A landscape photo of a rock formation on a mountain in Utah. A landscape photo of a rock formation on a mountain in Utah.

Utah Escapade: 12 Spectacular Stops

If hiking or shredding is what you’re looking for, or if you’d like to tame the rapids of some wild rivers, this article is the perfect find for all the adventures you can have in Utah. 

Whatever adventure you seek, whether it is skiing or snowboarding, mountain biking at Slickrock in Moab, rafting down Cataract Grand Canyon, or touring outlaw hideouts and stickups, spectacular sites, Utah has it all. You may find it hard to decide what to leave out of your itinerary when Utah has so much to offer.

It’s logical, too. The Utah tourist industry is worth billions of dollars each year thanks to attractions like Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. They’re amazing.

12 Astounding Things to Do in Utah and Surrounding Area

1. Salt Lake City 

Having trouble deciding how to see Salt Lake City? Get a package experience or guided tour from Utah, and they’ll do the planning. A Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass is the most cost-effective way to visit the most popular attractions.

In addition to serving as the state’s capital and biggest city, Salt Lake City also serves as the seat of Salt Lake County, the state’s most populous county. Skiing and outdoor recreation have helped Salt Lake City develop a thriving tourist industry.

Taking advantage of the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass means no more picking and choosing. By purchasing mobile tickets, you get access to 16 of the best attractions in Salt Lake City at 13 different venues.

Salt Lake City and County Building.
Photo by Michael Hart on Unsplash

1.1 Beers in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake’s award-winning craft beers, lagers, porters, and ciders can only be showcased with the Salt Lake Brewery Mobile Pass, which features the best breweries and brewpubs in Salt Lake City.

Brewers in Salt Lake City have won awards for their award-winning beers for decades and have even surprised first-time visitors by creating some of the best beers in North America.

1.2 Beautiful Views and Activities for Trip

The Oquirrh Mountains are regarded as an eclectic landscape as the sunsets. Nightlife spots, bars, and clubs in Salt Lake City come alive with exciting possibilities.

Whether it’s an intimate piano club, a bohemian scene, or a high-end cocktail bar, you can find your vibe here. Rock the night away to jazz and blues.

Catch some sports on the big screen or play a game of pool. Just north of Conventional is the Great Salt Lake. It’s a fantastic base camp for explorations. Canyon trails are easily accessible from Salt Lake City.

The park or monument nearby is easily accessible on a day trip. An exciting way to explore the desert is to ride a hot air balloon. Horseback riding is also an option for exploring the forest. Next, you can fly or boat to the largest saltwater lake in North America.

There are several salt flats in Tooele County in northwestern Utah, known as the Bonneville Salt Flats. There is still a remnant of the ancient Lake Bonneville – the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake. The flat surface of salt is the result of wind and water combining.

Bonneville Salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake are remnants of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and the region’s largest salt flats.

1.3 Temple Square

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather in Temple Square for worship and history. Temple Square is a historical attraction in Salt Lake City, Utah, containing five city blocks of historic sites, interactive exhibits, and wholesome activities related to the Church’s mission to worship Jesus Christ and serve His children.

Visit this iconic place of worship to enjoy beautiful gardens, majestic architecture, an atmosphere of peace and reverence, and spectacular sights.

1.4 Ski Resorts

People skiing on a snow ground.
By: Timothy Yue on Shutterstock

Skiing and golf are both available in Salt Lake. In the winter, nearby ski resorts offer skiing and snowboarding, as well as snowmobiling. Are you up for an adventure throughout the year?

Guests can stay at guest ranches, go on fishing and wildlife expeditions, and participate in the river and outdoor adventures. In addition to birdwatching areas, the valley is home to the Great Salt Lake, an arid desert, and alpine mountains.

The United States of America’s largest ski resort is in Park City. Despite being known as the “Best Ski Town” in America, the area offers more than just slopes. Skiing and snowboarding aren’t necessary to enjoy Park City. There are lots of fun and interesting activities for non-skiers to enjoy year-round beyond the slopes.

The Park City Area Restaurant Association can point you toward dining establishments that are both tantalizing and entertaining, regardless of whether you are here for skiing or not.

It’s hard not to wonder whether one side held out a little longer to make sure they finished in Box Elder at Promontory Summit in 1869, tying together America by rail. There were already plenty of natural attractions in the county.

1.5 Natural History Museum

One of the nation’s leading research and cultural organizations is Utah’s Natural History Museum. Established in 1963, the Museum houses over 1.6 million artifacts and offers thousands of residents and visitors a wide range of exhibitions, educational programs, and special events each year.

Every year, the Museum offers outreach programs to Utah’s communities and schools to help it reach 300,000 visitors. In addition to its science program, the Museum also presents more than 10 field exhibitions annually.

1.6 La Sal Mountains

Manti-La Sal National Forest, which is 20 miles south of Moab, includes the La Sal Mountains. They rise nearly 13,000 feet tall, making them Utah’s second tallest mountain range.

The mountains around Moab are great places for hiking, mountain biking, and camping. Aspens that quake, pines that whisper, and bubbling brooks that bubble are characteristics of a forest outing for the whole family.

Numerous beautiful lakes and streams can be found in the La Sals that provide excellent trout fishing.

2. Park City Mountain Resort

Park City Mountain Resort offers a refreshing summer climate. There are countless family entertainment options, from scenic gondola rides to exhilarating alpine slides and mountain coasters.

Explore 400+ miles of mountain bike trails after you savor our fine mountain dining. During the Summer Concert Series, sit back, relax, and enjoy live music.

This charming mountain town and large ski resort are worth a visit. At High Meadow Park, you can ski over 3,200 vertical feet of dynamic terrain or cruise the gently rolling terrain. Enjoy modern cuisine and good, old-fashioned s’mores around the fire.

Park City’s historic Main Street can be reached several ways, but they prefer to arrive by skis. There is no other resort/town experience like this, where skiers can access Main Street right away or hop on the Town Lift back out. The High West Distillery serves delicious spirits.

From the chairlifts of Park City Mountain, you can enjoy scenic views of the surrounding area. If you’d rather stay seated, you can enjoy the scenery from the top while hiking our pristine hiking trails. Park City Mountain Village offers scenic rides with PayDay Express and Crescent Express.

They offer the longest luge-like track in the world, stretching for 3,000 feet on our Alpine Slide!

The Utah Mountain Coaster is more than a mile long, with loops and curves that can reach speeds of up to 25 mph. Enjoy the same roller coaster experience in Park City but with refreshing mountain scenery!

3. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park welcomes more than 2 million visitors annually, most between March and October. The majority of visitors will spend an entire day in the museum. Take a drive along with Sunrise and Sunset ridges, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point.

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its main attraction. Explore the rim on foot or hike a short, easy trail. Consider taking a ranger program.

During the hour and a half hour that the park museum plays, you can watch a 24-minute film. Bookstore items available are publications, maps, and souvenirs.

4. Zion National Park

The process of planning and exploring Zion National Park can be challenging. It offers information about trails and campsites, as well as information on getting a backpacking permit. 291 bird species live in Zion National Park. Camping is available in three places.

Aside from sunsets and stargazing, river trips, ranger-led activities, canyoneering, and hiking in Zion National Park.

4.1 The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, 57 miles in length, offers the convenience of experiencing the splendor of Zion National Park from the comfort of your car. There are 54 miles of scenic drive in Zion Canyon. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to make the trip.

5. Horse Point State Park

Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park, located 32 miles from Moab, is one of the state’s most spectacular parks. There are some of the most beautiful views in the world from Dead Horse Point.

The overlook of the Canyonlands offers a breathtaking view of the pinnacles and buttes sculpted into the Canyonlands. The Colorado River is located 2,000 feet below.

From Dead Horse Point State Park, you can see spectacular views created by millions of years of geologic activity. Canyon country’s rock layers were created by sediment deposited by ancient oceans, freshwater lakes, streams, and wind-blown dunes.

The high mountains that rise like cool blue islands from the desert below result from igneous activity.

5.1 Horseback Riding

All of Utah’s destinations offer a variety of trails. The opportunities for trail riding, horseback riding, or horse packing throughout Utah’s stunning scenery are endless, including the canyons of southern Utah’s red rocks and its alpine retreats in northern Utah. Among the best riding areas are Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef.

Several tour guides and outfitters offer horseback riding excursions in Utah’s national parks and other scenic areas.

6. Capitol Reef National Park

Over thousands of years, people have called Capitol Reef home. Ancient hunters and gatherers used the canyons. Food foraging groups and corn, beans, and squash farmers formed the Fremont Culture around 500 CE (the Common Era).

The legends of ancient sagas are preserved in rocks carved with petroglyphs and painted pictographs. Fruita Rural Historic District is located in an area settled in the 1800s by explorers, Latter-Day Saints, and other pioneers.

During this time, they planted apple, pear, and peach trees. Preserving the past is the responsibility of the Capitol Reef National Park Service.

From the Mojave Desert and Zion National Park to the Pine Valley Mountains, George St. George is surrounded by some of the most dramatic natural beauty in the American West.

The mild winters, coupled with its hot summers, make St. George an ideal destination for golfers, hikers, and bikers. A public museum in townhouses Brigham Young’s home where he wintered.

6.1 St. George Children’s Museum

Within the historic Dixie Academy in the heart of downtown George St. George, this museum for children can be found on the lower two floors. Playing medieval dress-up (including having a dragon), flying the airplane, and milking the cow are some of the many things to do here! There are tons of themed areas throughout the museum.

6.2 Dinosaur Discovery Park

Dinosaur tracks exist right on the site where this dinosaur attraction is located. As a result, you will see the original dinosaur footprints right where they were discovered.

7. Arches National Park

The landscape of Arches National Park is unlike anything you have ever seen before, with contrasting colors, landforms, and textures. 

Natural rock arches abound, as do massive rock fins, giant balanced rocks, and hundreds of stunning pinnacles. Its formations and trails will awe you, while its sunsets will inspire you.

Red sandstone and blue skies abound in Arches National Park. Red rock landscapes at Arches may feel ethereal, dreamlike, or otherworldly. It is estimated that there are more than 2,000 stone arches within the Arches National Park boundaries.

Paved roads offer an excellent view of towers, arches, and balanced rocks. Hiking will provide you with even more views.

A trail in the middle of trees and bushes.
Source: Shutterstock

8. Canyonlands National Park

Located just 30 minutes from Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park is just outside Moab, Utah. Despite being one park, Canyonlands National Park is divided into four regional units.

Three districts (Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the Needles) and the Green and Colorado Rivers separate them. People tend to focus on one area per visit because it takes hours to travel between districts.

Deserts are common in Canyonlands, but they’re high deserts, which means temperatures can fluctuate rapidly. Plan your trip and check the forecast before you visit Canyonlands National Park.

8.1 Dead Horse Point State

Dead Horse Point is located 2,000 feet above the Colorado River on the edge of Canyonlands National Park. There is an outstanding view of the river and the canyon country around it.

The location is ideal for taking pictures. Also, it has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park.

9. National Monument

Besides its beautiful attractions, Utah has other attractions that are usually less crowded than those in other states. Utah’s national monuments are a must-see on any road trip. The county of San Juan is a good starting point.

9.1 Dinosaur National Monument

When paleontologist Earl Douglass discovered a formation layered with prehistoric plant and animal fossils in 1909, he looked for fossils for the Carnegie Museum. An 80-acre quarry was created in 1915 for the protection of the Dinosaur National Monument. 

The unique rock formations in this region preserve thousands of years of the earth’s history. To interpret that history, Dinosaur National Monument works to meet its mission. 

As rocks have aged, they have been shaped by rivers and other environments. Besides providing an opportunity to enjoy recreation, the monument’s rocks, fossils, and rivers tell a fascinating story.

It is similar to Bryce Canyon in miniature. Several visitors have remarked that the colors are even more brilliant than Bryce Canyon, like Bryce Canyon on a smaller scale.

This huge amphitheater has been carved by millions of years of erosion and uplift, which is why it was known to Native Americans as Cedar Breaks.

The Colosseum has magnificent stone spires, columns, arches, pinnacles, and canyons that come in a wide variety of red, yellow, and purple hues. In this area, one of the world’s oldest trees, the bristlecone pine, grows.

A rich alpine meadow of ponderosa pines and quaking aspens surround Cedar Breaks within Dixie National Forest. Summertime is a spectacular time for wildflowers.

A bridge and a waterbody underneath it in the National Park.
Source: Shutterstock

9.2 Natural Bridges National Monument

In White Canyon at Natural Bridges National Monument, water has carved three spectacular natural bridges. In Arizona, there are three incredible natural rock bridges named by Hopi Indians: the subtle Owachomo, the massive Kachina, and the second largest, Sipapu.

There is a nine-mile scenic drive that offers views of bridges, canyons, and ancient Puebloan ruins. Each bridge can be reached via moderate to difficult trails, some with metal stairs. All three bridges are connected by a longer trail that follows the stream bed.

The night skies at the park are some of the least polluted in the world. Natural Bridges was designated the world’s first “International Dark Sky Park” by the International Dark-Sky Association.

There’s a one-way loop along here, so you can rubberneck all you want without worrying about head-on collisions, even if you can’t see much from the road. Overlooking three major bridges, the park’s biggest attraction is a 9-mile drive that leads to trails and overlooks.

9.3 Cedar Breaks National Monument

Visitors can participate in sightseeing, photography, hiking, nature study, camping, and picnicking at Cedar Breaks National Monument. A road provides access to two trails, Alpine Pond Trail and Spectra Point Trail, which are 3.2 kilometers long.

Due to the park’s high altitude, trails in the park are not for respiratory problems or poor physical conditions. Snowmobilers and cross-country skiers can access the monument from Brian Head Resort in the winter.

9.4 Monument Valley

There is beauty, ruggedness, and ancient history to Monument Valley. Taking their name from their Rocky Mountain ancestors, these iconic rock formations of Utah’s desert were formed by sandstone deposition and uplift of rock that were later shaped by wind and water.

Monument Valley occupies 91,696 acres within the Colorado Plateau. Organ Rock shale, the sandstone of De Chelly, and the shale of Moenkopi are the three main layers of many Buttes. A thousand feet above the valley floor, the largest freestanding formation measures 1,000 feet.

A popular tourist destination, Monument Valley has become one of the most iconic images of The West. Visitors will surely recognize it, even if it isn’t referred to by name in the movies.

The spectacular landscape of Monument Valley, located on the border of Utah and Arizona, attracts tourists all year long. There is nothing like the giant sandstone formations strewn across the desert floor.

Rather than mountains or canyons or even just a few big rocks, they are something else. Monument Valley is truly a magical place that must be experienced firsthand! There are monuments there. These include Mittens, an Elephant Butte, a Totem Pole, and a North Window. To describe them isn’t enough.

9.5 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has three distinct features: Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyon. The monument covers nearly 1 million acres in public lands across the western United States.

In addition to its spectacular Grand Staircase and Kaiparowits Plateau, the Escalante River Canyons offer diverse geologic features like monoliths, slot canyons, natural bridges, and arches.

Since the monument is far from the nearest town and has a rugged landscape, it was one of the last places in the continental United States to be mapped.

A group of people walking on a path to see Plitvice lake in the National Park. Things to do in Utah.
Source: Shutterstock

10. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Dunes of warm, pink sand lie in Coral Pink Sand Dunes, a very scenic area. Off-road vehicles are increasingly popular in the dunes. In addition to its location, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes Park has views out over the Zion area.

11. Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges along the Waterpocket Fold, stretching almost 100 miles.

Often comparable to Utah Lake State Park or Snow Canyon State Park. The history of Capitol Reef includes archaic hunter-gatherers, the prehistoric Fremont Culture, and pioneer settlers.

Capitol Reef National Park protects a variety of natural resources. The park is home to more than 230 bird species. Whether you have half a day or more to spare, you can explore Fruita by car or on foot. Hikers will find Capitol Reef a paradise.

12. The Utah Shakespeare Festival

The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s destination theatre provides life and culture-affirming classical and contemporary performances, interactive experiences, and a rotating repertory. All of its work aims to entertain, educate, and enrich local and national audiences.

12.1 Lake Powell

In southern Utah and northern Arizona, Lake Powell is situated. Located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, it forms part of the Colorado River.

The lake is the perfect playground for those who enjoy the sun, warm water, perfect weather, and some of the most magnificent scenery in the West. Take a guided expedition or stay on a houseboat or campground.

12.2 Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

Featuring five distinct ecosystems spanning the globe from South America to Antarctica, the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is an award-winning attraction that has been accredited by the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums).

In addition to penguins and sloths, plus otters and porcupines, the Aquarium has more than 4,000 animals. A Utah vacation would not be complete without a trip to this unique aquarium.

12.3 Red Butte Garden

Red Butte Garden is located at the University of Utah, the biggest botanical garden in the Intermountain West and a state arboretum.

The Garden’s highlights are an award-winning series of outdoor concerts, extensive plant collections, and themed gardens.

Closing Thoughts

Choosing just one of the free things to do in Utah Valley can be difficult. You’ll have a wide choice of free summer or winter activities in Utah Valley, regardless of the weather.

If you’re in the mood for free activities, you can take scenic drives on the Alpine Loop or explore Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort on the Provo Canyon Scenic Byway.

Utah offers plenty of outdoor activities, state parks, wildlife watching, snow-capped mountains, enchanting dunes, national monuments, skiing, and a lot more.

A Perfect Summer Road Trip From California To Utah
USA Tales

Last Updated on December 20, 2023 by ayeshayusuf


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