Like many of the other Midwestern and southwestern states, Utah is an outdoor adventurist’s playground. The majority of Utah is vast and sparsely populated land, but in these wide open spaces you’ll find some of the most stunning views and geographic formations on the planet.
There are two types of Utah travel destinations: Salt Lake City and everything else. If you have time, plan a visit where you can appreciate both sides of Utah. In Salt Lake City visitors can explore the most important city and buildings. Stepping away from the big city you’ll find natural wonders like sharply etched canyons, rugged natural spires and towers, and artfully swooping arches, all products of Mother Nature, preserved in Utah’s amazing National Parks.
Arches National Park
This Utah masterpiece is home to over 2000 natural sandstone arches that attract visitors by the thousands. The arches and other unique geological formations are known for their bizarre and spectacular formations.
The most popular activity in the park is viewing the arches, the most famous of which, Delicate Arch, is notably solitary and has become a symbol of the park and the entire state. In addition to arches, unique formations like Balanced Rock, the maze-like Fiery Furnace, Petrified Dunes, and the Courthouse Towers are popularly visited and photographed sites.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Another of Utah’s famed National Parks is Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon is formed by features called hoodoos which have been created thanks to frost weathering and erosion. The most popular activity at Bryce Canyon is driving the scenic route which passes 13 viewpoints overlooking the amphitheaters. Various hiking trails also lead hikers to viewpoints, caves, and geologic formations. Like Utah’s other parks, Bryce Canyon is known for spectacular star-gazing opportunities.
Natural History Museum of Utah
The Natural History Museum of Utah is a museum located on the campus of the University of Utah. The museum shows exhibits of natural history subjects, with an emphasis on Utah and the Intermountain West. The Natural History Museum of Utah has ten permanent exhibitions that are worth visiting to continue a learning experience of Utah’s landscapes and cultures. The museums exhibits are interactive The majority of the collections are from public lands within the inter-mountain region of the United States.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a 229 square mile area surrounding the 15 mile long Zion Canyon. The spectacular canyon is known for its deep red colored sandstone and its sheer walls at some places dropping a half mile to the valley floor. Zion is also known for its excellent long hiking trails and rock climbing. The park has several campgrounds and even a lodge and restaurant that are open throughout the year.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park, a beautiful landscape of canyons, mesas, and buttes surrounding the Colorado River. The park’s four districts called the Needles, the Maze, the Sky, and the rivers have distinct characteristics which fascinate visitors of all types. Canyonlands has many trails making it a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, and four-wheel driving, but those who prefer water as their mode of transport will enjoy rafting or kayaking the Green River and the Colorado River below.
Top Things to Do in Utah
Utah’s most popular tourist destination isn’t a breathtaking beauty like a bizarre rock formation or towering canyon walls, it’s Salt Lake City’s main square where the most important building in the Mormon religion is located. Temple Square, as the name implies, is the location of several Mormon churches and other religious buildings.
The most visited site in Temple Square is the Salt Lake Temple, the largest and most well-known Mormon church in the world. In addition to viewing the square and the temple it is also enjoyable to explore the Church History Museum which contains art and artifacts dating from present day to the time of the religion’s creation.
Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake, in northern Utah, is the largest lake in the U.S. other than the Great Lakes, and it is the largest salt lake in the entire Western Hemisphere. The salt content of the lake is more even than is found in sea water earning the lake the nickname “America’s Dead Sea.” It is one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations, but due to the unpredictable weather and water depth, most recreation around the lake is on land in the form of hiking, biking, and sunbathing.
Ski Resorts Deer Valley, Park City, Alta, Snowbird
Utah is well-known for having some of the finest skiing terrain in the world and visitors to the state have a large selection of world-class resorts to choose from. In the north, many of the ski resorts are located close to major cities making for convenient travel. Ski Magazine recognized Utah for having six out of the top ten resorts in the country. A few of the most popular resorts are Deer Valley, Park City, Alta, and Snowbird.
If you’re planning a visit to the famous Four-Corners area while in Utah you’re sure to be near Monument Valley, part of the Colorado Plateau that is known for its large sandstone buttes. Above the green valley floor, rugged rock formations jut upward in various formations to heights reaching almost 1,000 feet.
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument, in the southeastern side of Utah, near the Colorado border covers a region where some of the country’s most impressive dinosaur fossils have been found. The area called the Dinosaur Quarry has a “Dinosaur Wall” a steep rock layer where hundreds of dinosaur fossils have been discovered. Visitors can view the fossils as they have been exposed in the wall and visit the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Within the park boundaries there are also several other prehistoric sites including prehistoric residences.
Things to Do in Utah
Your packing list for your trip to Utah should start with the word camera, after that, you might also consider putting hiking shoes high on the list. Utah is one of the country’s foremost destinations for sightseeing and outdoor adventure.