The best places to visit in Utah cover some of the most spectacular natural scenery on the planet, with picturesque red rocks, canyons, and more.
Utah’s national parks are legendary for their scenic beauty.
But other than the Mighty 5 national parks, you will find numerous other naturally beautiful areas to explore in Utah, from the Great Salt Lake to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
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Utah offers year-round outdoor recreation, from hiking and biking in the warmer months to skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
And Utah’s cities are vibrant and make ideal bases from which to explore the state’s mind-boggling natural riches.
While we’ve explored quite a bit of Utah, we have several destinations still on our bucket list.
For this round-up of the best places to visit in Utah, we sought suggestions from our colleagues in the travel blogging community, and we’ve included a diverse mix of places for your Utah itinerary.
Excited? Read on to discover the must-visit places in Utah!
Arches National Park
Arches National Park in Moab is a must-visit in Utah, and a bucket-list destination for many visitors to the state.
Not only is it one of the five amazing national parks to visit in beautiful Utah, but it’s also filled with amazing rock formations which give it the iconic name, Arches.
The best time to visit Arches National Park is in the spring or fall months. Arches features on our round-up of the best national parks to visit in April.
During the summer, temperatures get pretty high, usually well above 100 degrees, which doesn’t create the best conditions for hiking. Instead, this increases the chances of getting heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Winter is also a nice time to visit Arches, but you’ll encounter more snow on the trail, and possible snowstorms on the drive to and from the area.
In the spring and fall months, the temperatures are milder, making them perfect for exploring outdoors, without high chances of snowstorms.
The best thing to do in Arches National Park is to go hiking! Outside of the park in Moab, you can go off-roading and rent either UTV or a Jeep. But inside the park, get out and enjoy some trails.
The hike to Delicate Arch is one of the most iconic and popular hikes in the park. If you want to beat most of the crowds, go either during the week, at sunrise, or at night! Also sunrise and sunset are the best times for photography!
At night, you can shoot the Milky Way with the Delicate Arch. This is a 3-mile round-trip hike.
Also hike to Sand Dune Arch, which is less than a mile round trip, for a stunning sight tucked away in a canyon. From there, take the short walk to the Double Arch, which gives you stunning views of two giant arches next to each other.
Make sure to follow Leave No Trace Principles when visiting this beautiful park.
Contributed by Jenny of Limitless Hiker
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of Utah’s “Mighty 5” national parks. Its incredible natural beauty warrants a spot at the top of your Utah bucket list. From hikes to scenic drives, Bryce Canyon has something for everyone.
Bryce Canyon is most famous for its hoodoos, a type of natural rock formation formed over millions of years by erosion. The largest concentration of hoodoos in the world is found in this part of Utah.
If you’re looking for the best weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting Bryce Canyon from March to May or September to October. Bryce Canyon features on our round-up of the best national parks to visit in May.
For a unique experience and some solitude, you can also visit Bryce Canyon in the winter to snowshoe amongst the hoodoos. Bryce Canyon is one of the most scenic national parks to visit in winter.
The best way to get oriented in Bryce Canyon is on a scenic drive. Along the park’s main road, you’ll find 15 vantage points overlooking Bryce Amphitheater. These viewpoints, like Rainbow Point and Bryce Point, provide unique views of the canyon and its hoodoos.
If you’re looking to hike, the best trail in the park is the Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop. This trail takes you down into the canyon to walk amongst the hoodoos. For a more strenuous hike in Bryce Canyon, consider hiking the Peek-a-Boo Trail instead.
Last but not least, sunrise over Bryce Amphitheater is an essential part of any Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary. From Sunrise Point, you’ll catch the first light illuminating the hoodoos, making them glow.
Contributed by Julia of Well Planned Journey
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a stunningly beautiful national park, and one of the best national parks in the west.
The main section of the park is Zion Canyon, and unlike most canyons, the access road runs along the floor of the canyon, rather than the rim, so you see the walls of the canyon all around you.
At a 2.5-hour drive each way, Zion is one of the best national parks to visit from Vegas.
The park is closed to vehicular traffic most of the year. Instead, a frequent shuttle runs along the length of the canyon, and stops at multiple viewpoints along the way. This is a great way for all visitors to see the park.
There are several legendary hikes in the park. When you hike The Narrows, you actually walk in a shallow river through a narrow slot canyon with towering walls on both sides.
The other famous hike is Angel’s Landing. It’s not for the faint-of-heart (or those with a fear of heights): the last section involves walking on a narrow ledge with a steep drop off on one side, holding on to a chain drilled into the side of the cliff.
At the end, though, you will be rewarded with sensational views the length of the canyon.
For adventure seekers, this is also a great place to go canyoneering. The area around the park has multiple narrow, multi-tiered slot canyons and even beginners can rappel down 200-foot cliffs inside the tubes carved by flash floods. It’s an adventure of a lifetime!
For those seeking fewer thrills, there is also a bike path in the Watchman section of the park that runs alongside a river and provides wonderful views of the surrounding canyon walls.
There is truly something for everyone in Zion. The park is open all year, but the best time to visit Zion is May and September, when the temperatures are lovely and it isn’t too crowded.
Contributed by James of Parks Collecting
Planning to visit more than one national park in the next 12 months? Consider buying the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass!
Valid at over 2,000 federal recreation sites all across the USA, the pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and passengers in a personal vehicle at areas that charge per vehicle, and for up to four adults at sites that charge per person. Children ages 15 or under are free.
The pass is valid for 12 months from the month of purchase.
Canyonlands National Park
As the largest national park in Utah, Canyonlands National Park has all the views and expanse to rival the Grand Canyon National Park but without the crowds, so visitors can enjoy the quintessential Western experience without the teeming tourists.
It is a must-stop on any Mighty 5 road trip itinerary!
The best time to visit Canyonlands is in the spring or the fall when the daytime temperatures are perfect for daytime exploration, and the nights are refreshingly cool.
When deciding on what to do, consider the three different districts. Divided by the Colorado River, each district provides a different experience.
The Island in the Sky mesa is perfect for a scenic drive. Stop at one of the various overlooks for the thrilling experience of standing over 1,000 feet higher than the surrounding area.
The backcountry of the Needles, surrounded by towering red and white banded spires, is ideal for both casual and experienced hikers. Take a break at Cave Spring and experience a historic cowboy camp or follow the cairns to Pothole Point.
For a bit of a challenge, put your hiking and four-wheel driving experience to the test by exploring the wild, remote trails of the Maze.
Difficult-to-navigate terrain, including sharp turns and plummeting drops, make this district a worthy spot for those looking for incredible views and aren’t afraid to work for it.
End your trip by camping under the night sky. The lack of pollution and nearby urban settlements opens the night sky to up to 15,000 stars, providing viewers a breathtaking and otherworldly view.
Contributed by Catalin of Travel Trained
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef might be the smaller and lesser known of Utah’s wildly popular Mighty 5 National Parks, but quieter means fewer crowds and more space to explore a stunning natural environment.
The beauty of Capitol Reef lies within its simplicity. All of the family-friendly highlights can be ticked off in just half a day, before driving ultra-scenic Highway 12 on to Bryce Canyon.
Capitol Reef’s unmissable hike is an easy but picturesque 1.8 mile round-trip trail to Hickman Bridge.
The route is dotted with smooth spherical shaped imprints as though an ice cream scooper has carved out the path, and its conclusion is an impressive natural sandstone bridge similar to those at Arches National Park.
After the hike, pick orchard grown fruit and take pictures of the incredibly photogenic Fruita Barn, before cruising down the National Park scenic drive to Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge.
Fall is the best time to visit Capitol Reef to avoid crowds and enjoy comfortable hiking conditions. But the ace up Capitol Reef’s sleeve is being home to the most vibrant autumnal foliage colors of all the Utah parks.
When planning the perfect Utah road trip vacation, be sure to spend a relaxing half day at Capitol Reef National Park.
Contributed by Mark + Kristen of Where Are Those Morgans?
Monument Valley is one of the more remote areas of Utah. Located in the far southeast corner of the state, this desert region offers scenic roads that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see.
The desolate road through Monument Valley is surrounded by unique rock formations that jut up from the ground, creating a picturesque landscape. The area was made famous after being featured in the movie Forest Gump.
There is even a small roadside stop seemingly in the middle of nowhere called Forest Gump Hill that gives the exact view of Monument Valley that is depicted in the Tom Hanks movie!
A visit to Monument Valley, which sits on the Navajo Indian Reservation, may include hiking or a scenic drive down the Tribal Park Loop. This gravel and dirt road can be explored as a self-drive or with a Navajo guide.
While a bit off the beaten path, Monument Valley is a must for any southwest USA road trip itinerary. Spring and fall are ideal times to visit.
Stay at least one night in this remote area of Utah so you can enjoy some of the best stargazing in the continental USA. The sparsely populated area of Monument Valley has hardly any light pollution, making it pitch black at night and ideal for stargazing.
Contributed by Melissa of Parenthood and Passports
Famous as a western US skiing and snowboarding destination in the winter, Park City hosted several events during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The town is sandwiched between Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, and you’ll find resorts in both places, with powdery slopes that call to winter sports enthusiasts.
But Park City is a four-season vacation destination, so do not overlook it if you are planning a vacation in Utah outside of winter.
And even in the winter, there are many things to do in Park City if you do not ski. The Sundance Film Festival, which occurs annually in January, draws film enthusiasts from all over the country.
The town’s historic district makes for a great wander, no matter when you visit.
A silver boom town that faded into a ghost town before re-emerging as a vacation town, Historic Park City’s Main Street is home to many boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants. Snap a photo of the Egyptian Theater!
The Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway, which connects Park City to Brighton or Midway, is a super scenic drive in the summer (for wildflowers) or fall (leaf peeping).
Contributed by us
The Wasatch Range
On a clear day in Salt Lake City, it is impossible to miss the majestic mountains that line the horizon to the East.
Known as the Wasatch Range, they are the western edge of the Rockies and stretch from the Idaho-Utah border down to central Utah.
For locals and visitors, they provide a year-round, unlimited supply of outdoor activities.
One of the most popular sections of the Wasatch Range contains Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons.
These canyons have shot Utah to fame on the ski circuit, as they contain the world-class ski resorts of Alta and Snowbird, and their smaller neighbors Solitude and Brighton.
These resorts each average 500” of snow a year, ranking them in the top 10 snowiest ski resorts in North America! They are also some of the most accessible, as they are a 20-40 minute drive from the airport in Salt Lake City.
In the warmer months, the Wasatch Range transforms into a mecca for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, and camping.
A few noteworthy hikes in the Cottonwood Canyons area include Cecret Lake (easy), Willow Lake (easy), Red Pine Lakes (challenging), and the summit Mount Olympus (challenging). There are many more trails to discover!
If you find yourself there in the fall months, aspen, oak, and maple trees bring epic fall colors to the Wasatch. You can drive through the area to see some of the most beautiful scenery in Utah.
Contributed by Xin of Xinventure Blog
Salt Lake City
Often overlooked as a mere jumping-off point for a road trip of the Mighty 5, Salt Lake City is a fantastic city to visit and is well worth setting aside a few days to get to know while you’re in Utah.
Known as “The Crossroads of the West,” Salt Lake City is filled to the brim with culture, green spaces, great restaurants, and a fun college culture.
While you’re here, be sure to visit the Utah State Capitol building for its great views and beautiful grounds, and explore the Campus District, home to the “U of U” and a really fun part of town.
Nearby, the Red Butte Gardens is one of the biggest (and best!) arboretums in the U.S., with beautiful nature paths.
No trip to Salt Lake City is complete without checking out Temple Square and its eponymous Salt Lake Temple, with its six spires. The Salt Lake Temple is the headquarters of the Mormon faith, which has many followers in Utah, and is quite a marvel of engineering!
Sports fans should be sure to stop at the Utah Olympic Park, where the 2002 Winter Olympic Games were held. Today it is a large sports complex.
Lastly, outdoors enthusiasts will love visiting the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, for paddle-boating and canoeing, and the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Salt Lake City is a great place to visit year-round, with great skiing options in the winter and mild and lovely summers and shoulder seasons.
Text by Tegan + Alex of Why Not Walk Travel Guides
Snow Canyon State Park
Located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve near Saint George in southwestern Utah, Snow Canyon State Park is a place of spectacular beauty, featuring towering sandstone cliffs. The park offers lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
With several miles of trails winding through the park, hiking is popular in Snow Canyon. Family-friendly hiking trails lead through the main canyon, with options to explore many side canyons as well.
Visitors also enjoy technical rock climbing, rock scrambling, wildlife viewing, photography, biking, and horseback riding. The campground in the park is open all year.
Snow Canyon is home to diverse vegetation, from creosote bush to desert willow. It is also home to many species of animals, including rarities such as desert tortoises and gila monsters.
Look for coyotes, kit foxes, quail, roadrunners, leopard lizards, gopher snakes, and canyon tree frogs.
Spring and fall are ideal times to visit, with pleasant daytime temperatures, although winters here are mild as well. Wildflowers provide carpets of color when conditions are right.
Snow Canyon State Park is close enough that it makes for one of the best outdoor-focused day trips from Vegas you can do.
Contributed by us
Vernal is the gateway to adventure travel in the northeast corner of Utah. The area bills itself as Utah’s Dinosaur Land. The main visitor center (Quarry Visitor Center) for Dinosaur National Monument is less than half an hour from the town.
If dinosaurs bring you to town then you should first visit the Utah Field House of Natural History, where you can see some dinosaurs that were found locally, like the velociraptor.
After you have seen some great dinosaurs, drive to the Quarry Visitor Center, where you can see where many of these dinosaurs were found. You can see these fossils in situ, still half embedded in the rock.
Another great place to visit just outside of Vernal is McConkie Ranch. Here you can see some wonderful pictographs carved into the rocks.
The rock art is from the Fremont people, who were a Native American people that carved these pictures 700-2,000 years ago.
One of the more fun experiences in the area is a rafting trip. Vernal has a number of outfitters that can take you on a rafting trip in the Green River, through Dinosaur National Park.
The best of these trips is the rafting trip through the Gates of Lodore, a 3-day rafting trip.
Text and photo by Chris of Amateur Traveler
Natural Bridges National Monument
Natural Bridges National Monument is one of the most scenic places to visit in Utah.
Located in southeastern Utah, near Four Corners National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument can be conveniently visited along with a trip to stand at the spot where the four US states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet.
The three bridges that give the monument its name are Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu, named in honor of the Puebloans that once inhabited this land.
The main drive through the monument has overlooks and trailheads that facilitate access to the three beautiful bridges.
Also worthy of a visit is Horse Collar Ruin, a well-preserved Pueblo site.
Hiking is a popular activity in Natural Bridges National Monument. Easy walks lead to viewpoints for the bridges and Horse Collar Ruin. Longer, moderate hikes take you up close to each of the three bridges.
Birding, the scenic drive through the park, and night sky observation are other popular things to do here.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Natural Bridges National Monument. Spring and fall offers wildflowers or leaf color respectively, with the most pleasant temperatures.
Since it is located in the desert, summers in the monument are hot and dry, not conducive to outside wandering. Occasional dangerous thunderstorms may also occur in the summer.
Contributed by us
Provo is a small city, home to college students and conservatives—but it is quickly becoming a major music, food, and art hub.
The center of life in Provo is downtown, located on Center Street and University Avenue. Here, you’ll find dozens of restaurants with cuisine from all over the world—Belgian-style fries, sushi, French pastries, and Navajo tacos are just some of the most beloved options.
Between meals, spend time wandering the area looking for dozens of colorful murals painted by local artists.
Whether it’s live concerts on the street in the summer or seasonal events throughout the year, there’s always something to do in Provo. Karaoke, a fish spa, shopping at the Shops at Riverwoods, and a board game café are just a few of the exciting options.
Outdoor lovers will want to visit Utah Lake, Utah’s largest freshwater lake just minutes from downtown, or head into the mountains to go for a drive.
Provo Canyon is where you can see 607-foot Bridal Veil Falls, raft down the Provo River, or reach Sundance Mountain Resort for skiing, hiking, ziplining, and mountain biking.
If you want to learn about Provo’s history and culture, visit Brigham Young University, the private college that put Provo on the map. Attend a sports event, enjoy an outstanding musical performance, or visit one of the museums.
Then, take part in a BYU tradition by hiking to the “Y” on the mountain—it provides one of the best views of Provo and Utah Lake below.
Provo may not enjoy the fame of Southern Utah or have the big city vibes of Salt Lake City, but it is easily one of the best cities to visit in the state.
You’ll want to plan a long weekend discovering what makes this unique college town so interesting and exciting!
Contributed by McKenna of One More Step Travels
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Located in the heart of Utah’s red rock country, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is one of the state’s best kept secrets.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is about one hour away from more touristy Bryce Canyon National Park. However, while Grand Staircase is much larger (about 1.9 million acres), it gets a relatively small number of visitors, compared to some of the most popular national parks in Utah.
It’s a great place for anybody who wants to escape the crowds and do some backcountry hiking and camping.
If you love history, you might also want to know that Grand Staircase boasts an incredible paleontological history.
Researchers have unearthed over 20 species of dinosaurs in the Grand Staircase Escalante, and it’s not uncommon to see excavation projects in this area.
The biggest challenge is the remote location of Grand Staircase. This national monument is located away from cities and airports and it takes hours to get there from most touristy destinations in the southwest region.
However, the long trip is well worth it. This national monument designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 boasts some of the most unique geology with mesas, towering buttes and canyons, as well as some of the most clear dark skies in the country, which makes it a perfect place for stargazing.
Text by Daria of The Discovery Nut
Goblin Valley State Park
One of the most fantastic places to visit in Utah is the stunning Goblin Valley State Park. Goblin Valley State Park is located in central Utah, about an hour and a half away from Capitol Reef National Park.
If you are on a Utah national park road trip, you must definitely make a pit stop at Goblin Valley for a few hours!
The park is filled with hoodoos, which are bright orange and brown formations that resemble mushrooms and spires. It is breathtaking, and unlike anything you have ever seen before.
One of the best things to do in Goblin Valley is to wander and explore it on your own. The park is pretty small, as it is a 3-square-mile valley. You can walk around and climb to the top of the plateau to get a better look from above.
You can also do some official hikes like The Goblin’s Lair, Valley Of The Goblins, Three Sisters, and Goblin Valley Trail. You can also stay in the cutest yurt, surrounded by hoodoos, and all you have to do is make reservations in advance.
Goblin Valley is a small park in Utah and not well known, but it truly is a gem and a great place to explore while on the way to Moab or Capitol Reef.
Contributed by Michelle of The Wandering Queen
The city of Moab is surrounded by beautiful national and state parks, but even without the parks there are many wonderful things to do, ranging from family-friendly activities to high-adrenaline adventure options.
There are also a few choices for museums, including a dinosaur museum, history of Moab museum and film museum. The city of Moab has some great local restaurants and a really fun atmosphere.
Moab has several camping areas. Some sites are in the national parks, but there are also some beautiful campsites along the Colorado River and near town. These camping areas have restrooms and, even better, a great beginner biking trail that leads toward town and a public park.
The Colorado River meanders its way through Moab and the national parks. To get on the river, you have several options.
You can book a jet boat tour: many companies have both intense and scenic versions. Or you can opt for a rafting trip or even a night time tour to explore some of the petroglyphs along the rock faces.
Other active activities include biking, hiking, and off-roading via Jeep or ATV. There are numerous choices for bike trails throughout the area.
Hikes come in all sizes as well. Be sure to bring plenty of water, it’s hot.
Contributed by Lori of Fitz 5 on the Go
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most magical desert destinations in Utah. It tends to be overshadowed by its neighboring national parks, but it’s so worth visiting if you want to explore some of the best hikes in Moab without crowds.
Not only does Dead Horse offer some of the best canyon views in Utah, paired with quiet trails, but you can also go on a mountain biking adventure to reach magnificent viewpoints of the Colorado River down below.
If you’re feeling up for it, you can also take advantage of the campgrounds scattered along the park or opt to sleep in a yurt!
Not only is camping in the desert an experience of a lifetime, but you’ll also get to learn why Dead Horse Point’s night skies are internationally appraised (it’s considered one of the best spots in the world to go stargazing!)
The best time to visit Dead Horse Point is during the fall, as you’ll get pleasant weather and not too many other visitors.
Spring is another lovely time to visit weather-wise, but avoid spring break to ensure you get a more secluded visit.
Avoid visiting during the summer as the scorching heat can really break your trip.
Text by Meg of Fox in the Forest
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
While Utah’s red rocks are renowned, be prepared to be blown away by the beauty of the sand dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
Located just southeast of Zion National Park and just a few miles from Kanab, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State park is convenient to visit along with Zion.
The warm pink sand dunes are made by the erosion of pink Navajo sandstone, and make for great photos. The park also offers great views over Zion.
The top thing to do at Coral Pink Sand Dunes Park is ride an off-highway vehicle over the sand! You can rent ATVs in Kanab.
Other than off-highway driving, the park also offers hiking trails and horse riding trails. Keep your eyes open for wildlife as you explore the park!
Although the only marked trail in the park is the short Nature Trail, you can explore the dunes on foot, keeping an eye out for vehicles.
Climbing to the top of the highest dunes is a great workout. Hiking the dunes gives you lots of stunning photo ops, especially around sunset, when the light is mellow.
You can also rent a sandboard or a sand sled at the visitor center if you want to try sledding or sandboarding down one of the dunes!
There are two campgrounds in the park.
Spring and fall are ideal times to visit, with pleasant temperatures. Summers can be hot, with thunderstorms, and winters cold, with the occasional snowstorm.
Suggested by us
Kanarra Falls is a perfect place to visit in Utah if you want to experience a slot canyon like The Narrows in Zion National Park without the crowds.
Just about an hour away from the park proper, Kanarraville is home to this easy day hike which leads you through a beautiful sandstone canyon to a small waterfall.
The hike to Kanarra Falls is about 3 miles round trip. The trail takes you along Kanarra Creek for a bit, then you will come to the entrance of the slot canyon. Here you begin to hike in the creek itself until you reach the main waterfall.
If you’re having fun, you can continue on past the waterfall itself and eventually climb a cool ladder to the top of the falls and beyond.
Plan for your hike to take a few hours to half a day, depending on how far you go and your fitness level.
The best time to hike to Kanarra Falls is between April and October. Though summer can be quite hot, with the water and shade in the slot canyon, it’s not as terrible as some Utah desert hikes.
A permit is required to hike to the falls, which can be purchased online or at a kiosk at the trailhead.
Also, be aware that flash floods are a serious danger in slot canyons, so do not do this hike if rain or thunderstorms are in the forecast (especially likely in July, August, and September).
Whether you’re on a road trip through Utah or just need a break from the masses of people in Zion, Kanarra Falls is a hidden gem in Utah that you don’t want to miss!
Contributed by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine
Grafton Ghost Town
Grafton Ghost Town is only five miles outside of Zion National Park, and an excellent additional stop while you are in the area. There is a mystery about ghost towns, and Utah has its fair share — the unforgiving landscape left many frontier towns abandoned.
Grafton has a fascinating history and has been faithfully restored so that people can visit and learn about its tumultuous past. It was first settled in 1859 by Mormons who were fleeing religious persecution.
But this spot along the Virgin River was doomed from the beginning.
Grafton was flooded within its first three years of settlement, and as a result moved further away from the river. It was difficult land to irrigate and therefore farming was a constant struggle.
There were also initial and understandable difficulties with the native Indian population. While friendship and acceptance were eventually restored, the cemetery is full of settlers lost in these early struggles.
Most subsequent generations moved away to easier pastures, and no one has lived in Grafton since 1945.
You may also recognize Grafton Ghost Town from the 1969 classic western movie, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.
Explore the restored church and schoolhouse, farmers’ cottages, and the cemetery: it’s a fascinating glimpse into how settler communities lived.
Text by Hannah of HH Lifestyle Travel
Buckskin Gulch is one of the best places to visit Utah.
At over 13 miles (21 km) long, Buckskin Gulch is for sure the longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwestern United States.
What makes it special is that Buckskin Gulch is also possibly the longest slot canyon hiking trail in the world. It’s a perfect place for hiking and adventure lovers.
The Buckskin Gulch hike is most often done as a day hike. You decide how many miles you want to hike and when you want to return. Usually, it’s about 5-8 miles both ways in one day.
It’s also possible to do this hike as an overnight backpacking trip and sleep in the tent, but a backpacking trip requires a permit.
Buckskin Gulch is located along the Utah and Arizona border, between Kanab and Page. To start the hike, you need to get to Wirepass Trailhead.
If you drive from Kanab, head east on US89 for 38 miles (from Page, AZ, it will be 35.5 miles). Turn right onto the gravel House Rock Valley Road and continue for 8.4 miles.
The canyon is deep, dark, and narrow. It’s not a strenuous hike, but there are some obstacles and rocks, so hiking boots with good grip are necessary. Take adequate drinking water and snacks.
During the hike, you will see unusual rock formations to admire.
Late spring and fall are best for this hike, but it’s open year-round. However, if it rains, hiking in slot canyons is not recommended, due to high flood risk.
Contributed by Agnes of The Van Escape
One of the most unique places to visit in Utah is Stansbury Island.
Stansbury Island is the second-largest island in the Great Salt Lake, which is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere!
Visit Stansbury Island to experience the beautiful and mystical pink water you’ll find along the island’s shore.
The pink color comes from salt-tolerant bacteria and algae that can only survive in such highly saline environments.
Drive to the north point of Stansbury Island Road for the best spot to see the gorgeous pink water, relax, and take photos.
Another top thing to do on Stansbury Island is to see the beautiful, white, salt evaporation ponds used by Morton Salt that line both sides of the road as you drive onto the island.
Be sure to get out of your car to view them before continuing down the dirt road to explore the rest of the island.
Finally, be sure to hike to the peak of Castle Rock. Castle Rock has large, fun boulders to scramble near the peak and sweeping views of the lake and Antelope Island.
Camping is available anywhere on Stansbury Island’s BLM land but take note that some areas of the island are private property: they are clearly marked.
The best time of year to visit is spring or fall. However, the lake’s pink hue does always depend on the bacteria levels in the water.
No matter when you go, experiencing the Morton Salt ponds, the pink lake, and the sweeping views of Castle Rock will be a memorable experience for everyone.
Contributed by Jenessa of Destination Daydreamer
Blanding is a hidden gem for outdoor lovers in the southeast corner of Utah. It’s great for hiking and history lovers alike and even better, the two can be combined for the ultimate adventure.
There is no bad time to visit Blanding, but summer can get extremely hot, so if you go then, keep that in mind. Spring and fall are ideal.
There are so many amazing things to do in Blanding and the surrounding area, that you could stay busy for weeks, even months, but you’ll likely only have a few days so here are some of the best things to see.
Just on the edge of town you can see the Five Kiva Pueblo ruin and visit Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum. A little further out, you can see the Butler Wash Ruin.
Finally, a little further out than that, you can hike to the House on Fire ruin, visit Natural Bridges National Monument, see the Upper Sand Island Petroglyphs in Bluff, or drive Valley of the Gods.
While the town itself maybe a little, well, bland, it’s definitely worth visiting and makes for the perfect stop between Monument Valley and Moab.
Contributed by Megan of Red Around the World
Antelope Island State Park
One of the lesser known but must-visit destinations in Utah is Antelope Island State Park.
Located only an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, this little haven in the middle of a relatively urban area is home to a large herd of buffalo along with other fantastic wildlife like antelope, coyotes, deer, hare and much more.
Located right on the Great Salt Lake, this beautiful park has hiking trails, a beach and even several campgrounds to be able to enjoy everything the park has to offer.
A trip to Antelope Island State Park is fantastic in any season. In the winter, if in town for a short trip or doing a longer ski road trip itinerary, be sure to include a stop at the park.
During winter time, you get incredible views of snow-capped mountains in the distance and camping is open year round.
For the best wildlife viewing, head down to the ranch, which takes you the furthest into the island. If you have extra time, be sure to try out some hikes or enjoy a picnic by the lake.
If you prefer warmer weather, we suggest visiting during the spring or summer. In the spring with the vegetation and flowers blooming, it is a perfect time to enjoy hiking. Summers can be very hot in the area so be sure to bring lots of water.
Contributed by Lina of Bucket List Places
One of the hidden gems in Utah is Faux Falls near Moab. It’s one of the best places to visit in Utah because of its seclusion. A short, easy hike will lead you to a waterfall where you can swim.
Faux Falls is a man-made waterfall connected to Ken’s Lake right outside the city of Moab. In an area full of visitors looking to see magnificent national parks, visiting Faux Falls is an escape from the crowds.
It’s a refreshing break in the heat of the desert to cool down in the pools created by the waterfall.
Just a ½ mile hike along the creek takes visitors to the lower falls. Once there, wade in the water at the base of the waterfall or walk behind the falls. Prepare to get wet! Swimming gear and water shoes are recommended.
There’s a secondary pool, about the size of a large hot tub, near the base of the falls as well.
While you’re in the area, Ken’s Lake has a lot to offer: swimming, paddle boarding, fishing, or lounging with inflatables in the water. There are campgrounds adjacent to the lake, but book them early as spots are limited.
The best time to go to Faux Falls is spring through fall when the weather is the warmest and the water is most enjoyable.
Contributed by Nikki of She Saves She Travels
We hope you enjoyed this round-up of the most exciting destinations in Utah. Which one will you pick for your next trip?
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