Spanned by the Wasatch Range mountains and vast tracts of arid desert,Utah boasts some spectacular natural landscapes and wild terrain, all of which can be experienced at a wealth of state and national parks. Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks and not to be missed.
1.Antelope Island State Park
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Antelope Island State Park is a beautiful park and recreation area on a 42-square mile island in the Great Salt Lake. The largest of ten islands in the lake, Antelope Island State Park lies in the southeastern portion of the lake near Salt Lake City and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels. The lake has extremely salty that do not support fish but is home to large numbers of brine shrimp which attract a variety of waterfowl, making for excellent bird-watching. Antelope Island is renowned for its scenic beauty with majestic mountains and rolling hills, pristine beaches, and shimmering waters, particularly at Buffalo Point and White Rock Bay. Activities in the park include swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, canoeing, bird and wildlife watching, visiting the historic Fielding Garr Ranch, horseback riding and photography.
4528 West 1700 South, Syracuse, Utah 84075, Phone: 801-773-2941
Arches National Park is a national park next to the Colorado River just north of Moab that features more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-renowned Delicate Arch. The aptly named park spans 76,679 acres also boasts a wealth of significant geological resources and formations, hoodoos, gargoyles, craggy sandstone towers and turrets, and spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness and distant snowcapped mountains. A notable feature in the park is Landscape Arch, which measures 306 feet with the second-longest span in the world. Activities in the park include exploring the Visitor’s Center which features a wealth of information on the history of the area and the formation of the unique arches, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, scenic drives, camping, and photography.
Moab, Utah 84532, Phone: 435-719-2299
3.Bear Lake State Park
Bear Lake State Park is set along the shores of Bear Lake on the Idaho border and features three recreation areas, namely East Side, Bear Lake Marina, and Rendezvous Beach. Formed 28,000 years ago by earthquake activity and resting at an elevation of 5,923 feet, Bear Lake is 20 miles long and eight miles wide covers 112 square miles and offers a wealth of family-friendly activities and watersports. Renowned for its striking green-blue waters which are the result of calcium carbonates suspended in the lake, the lake provides land and water-based activities all year round from swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking and waterskiing to hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking and camping.
940 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028, Phone: 435-946-3343
4.Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is a sprawling reserve in southern Utah that is famous for its crimson-colored, spire-shaped rock formations known as hoodoos, which are formed by frost weathering and stream erosion, as well as other unusual geological formations. Bryce Canyon is the main feature of the park, which is a collection of several giant natural amphitheaters found along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Spanning 35,835 acres, the park has several excellent lookout points, including Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point, which offers great photographic opportunities, with prime viewing times at sunrise and sunset. Activities in the park include hiking, backpacking, camping, scenic driving, stargazing, and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Unnamed Road, Bryce, Bryce, Utah 84764, Phone: 435-834-5322
5.Canyonlands National Park
Famed for its dramatic desert landscapes carved by the Colorado River, the southeastern Utah preserve of Canyonlands National Park is home to breathtaking rock formations, remote canyons, and towering rock pinnacles. Notable features in the park include the huge, flat-topped mesa with panoramic overlooks known as Island in the Sky, the remote canyons of the Maze, the white-water rapids flowing through Cataract Canyon, the soaring pinnacles known as the Needles, Horseshoe Canyon’s Native American rock painting. Canyonlands National Park is a popular recreational destination offering a wealth of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, camping, climbing, four-wheel driving, kayaking, canoeing, and white-water rafting.
Utah, Phone: 435-719-2313
6.Capitol Reef National Park
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Located in Utah's south-central desert and surrounding a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles known as the Waterpocket Fold, the Capitol Reef National Park spans 378 square miles and boasts some spectacular landscapes of golden sandstone, beautiful canyons, and striking rock formations. Notable features in the park include the Hickman Bridge arch, the Chimney Rock pillar, the white sandstone domes of Capitol Reef, and the towering monoliths of Cathedral Valley in the north. Capitol Reef National Park offers a variety of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, camping, climbing, stargazing, and ranger programs.
Torrey, UT 84775, Phone: 435-425-3791
7.Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a natural amphitheater, three miles in diameter and over 2,000 feet deep with a rim elevation of over 10,000 feet above sea level. Tucked away in the mountains above Cedar City, the U.S. National Monument boasts a variety of interesting things to see and do from high elevation camping and excellent hiking trails to groves of ancient trees and out-of-this-world views along the Circle of Painted Cliffs. Cedar Breaks’ majestic amphitheater is situated on the western edge of the Markagunt Plateau and provides spectacular photographic opportunities, while a modern campground located on the edge of an alpine meadow in the dark-sky park is the best place for astral viewing and stargazing.
UT-143, Brian Head, UT 84719, Phone: 435-586-9451 or 435-586-0787
8.Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park is a state park near Moab that covers 5,362 acres (2,170 ha) of breathtaking desert landscapes and dramatic panoramic vistas of the Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River. Named after a natural corral by cowboys in the 19th century, where horses often died of exposure, Dead Horse Point rests 2,000 feet above a gooseneck in the Colorado River and features several incredible overlooks, picnic areas, a campground, visitor’s center and a 9-mile (14 km) loop hiking trail. The park also features a mountain bike trail called Intrepid Trail with loops of varying levels of difficulty and is famous for being featured in the final 'Grand Canyon' scene of the 1991 film Thelma & Louise.
1594 W. North Temple, Suite 116Salt Lake City, Utah
9.Dinosaur National Monument
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Located on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers, Dinosaur National Monument is a United States National Monument that preserves a treasure trove of fossils in the area. Located on the Utah border with Colorado, Northeastern Utah’s dinosaur legacy comes to life in the park with a variety of activities to enjoy from touring the dinosaur quarry which features an array of ancient bones and fossils, hiking the nature trails, heading on driving tours around the park, white-water river running, backpacking, fishing, mountain biking, bird-watching and photography. Dinosaur National Monument is also a dark park, offering some of the best stargazing and astral viewing in the state.
11625 E 1500 S, Jensen, UT 84035, Phone: 970-374-3000
10.Fremont Indian State Park
Located in the Clear Creek Canyon in Sevier County, Fremont Indian State Park and Museum is a state park that preserves and protects the archaeological remains of the Fremont culture. Opened in 1987, the park features a museum that preserves treasures from the site, including arrowheads, baskets, and pottery, as well as informative exhibits and a film about the Fremont Indian village that was uncovered, hands-on activities, and guided rock art tours. There are several hiking trails around the park as well as two campgrounds, Castle Rock Campground, and Sam Stowe Campground.
3820 Clear Creek Canyon Rd, Sevier, UT 84766, Phone: 435-527-4631
11.Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a state park and recreation area around Lake Powell and the lower Cataract Canyon. Spanning 1,254,429 acres of mostly desert, the park is also a conservation unit of the National Park Service and borders several notable parks and monuments, including the Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park, the Navajo Nation, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The park was established for preservation and recreation and features four camping grounds, five marinas, two small airports, and houseboat rentals on Lake Powell.
4304 Bullfrog, Lake Powell, UT 84533, Phone: 928-608-6200
12.Goblin Valley State Park
Located along the San Rafael Reef, Goblin Valley State Park is a state park that features thousands of formations of towering, mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles known hoodoos and referred to locally as goblins. Spattered with sandstone goblins and fascinating rock formations, the landscapes in the park are often compared to those on Mars, offering an other-worldly and unforgettable experience for the whole family. In addition to exploring the nooks and gnomes, other activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, camping, canyoneering in the nearby Little Wild Horse Canyon, nature study and soaking up the incredible views from lookout points along the Wild Horse Mesa Mountain Bike Trail.
Goblin Valley Rd, Green River, UT 84525, Phone: 435-275-4584
13.Golden Spike National Historic Site
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The Golden Spike National Historic Site is a National Historic Site at Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake that commemorates the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad and the place where the final joining of the Central Pacific Railroad and the first Union Pacific Railroad was signified by the driving of the ceremonial Golden Spike. Encompassing 2,735 acres, the park has several notable features and activities, including a visitor’s center that displays the original tracks and numerous railroad-related relics, as well as two life-size, fully operational, replicas of the Jupiter and No. 119 steam locomotives on the tracks. The Golden Spike National Historic Site also offers two short auto tour routes – the West Grade Auto Tour and the East Grade Auto Tour which explore the railroad routes and shouldn’t be missed.
6200 North 22300th Street West, Corinne, UT 84307, Phone: 435-471-2209
14.Goosenecks State Park
Goosenecks State Park is a state park and recreation area overlooking a broad meander of the San Juan River near the southern border of Utah and boasts spectacular landscapes that highlight 300 million years of geological activity. Located a short distance from Mexican Hat, the primitive state park is named after the deep canyon above the sinuous river meander known as a gooseneck and affords impressive views of one of the most striking examples of an entrenched river meander on the continent. The San Juan River, which begins in the mountains of Colorado and travels to its junction with the Colorado River, twists and turns through the meander on its way to Lake Powell, carving its way through the desert 1,000 feet below. Goosenecks State Park is one of the best spots to see such magnificent erosional feats from high above the river while enjoying a picnic or camping. The park also offers spectacular star-gazing and astral viewing.
UT-316, Mexican Hat, UT 84531, Phone: 435-678-2238
15.Hovenweep National Monument
Located on the Cajon Mesa of the Great Sage Plain between Cortez, Colorado, and Blanding in southeastern Utah, Hovenweep National Monument is home to some of North America's most ancient and remarkable ruins. The park was established to protect several abandoned towers structures that were built by ancestral Puebloans for either storage, defense, celestial observation, or as homes and have stood for over 700 years. The park has a visitors center which offers a host of information on the structures, the ancient Puebloans, and the history of the region, as well as several hiking trails and roads leading to and around the structure. Visitors can also enjoy ranger-led talks, tours, and interpretive programs during the spring.
McElmo Route, Cortez, CO 81321, Phone: 970-562-4282 x 5
16.Kodachrome Basin State Park
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Resting 5,800 feet above sea level, Kodachrome Basin is situated 20 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park and features geologically significant sandstone spires and columns called sand or sedimentary pipes, believed to be found nowhere else on earth. Home to more than 67 of these monolithic stone spires ranging from two to 52 meters that accentuate multihued sandstone layers revealing 180 million years of geologic time, the area and park was named Kodachrome after the popular color film by the National Geographic Society due to the spectacular natural colors and beauty. Activities in the park include hiking, guided horseback riding, mountain biking, and visiting the intricate double arch known as Grosvenor Arch, one of the most impressive in the state.
Cannonville, UT 84718, Phone: 435-679-8562
17.Natural Bridges National Monument
Located at the junction of White Canyon and Armstrong Canyon about 50 miles northwest of the Four Corners boundary of southeast Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument features a magnificent naturally carved bridge of white Permian sandstone from the Cedar Mesa Formation that gives White Canyon its name. The bridge, which is the 13th largest natural bridge in the world and called Sipapu, is one of three bridges in the park, including Kachina and Owachomo, which are all Hopi names. Formed through erosion by water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon, the bridges can be viewed from Bridge View Drive, a road that winds through the park past the bridges, as well as from several hiking trails leading down to the bases of the bridges.
Lake Powell, UT 84533, Phone: 435-692-1234
18.Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Rainbow Bridge National Monument is the largest natural bridge in the world, spanning 290 feet in height and 270 feet in width. Managed by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Rainbow Bridge is a sacred Navajo symbol considered to be one of the deities responsible for creating clouds, rainbows, and rain - the essence of life in the desert. Rainbow Bridge National Monument can be explored by way of two hiking trails which traverse through rough canyon country on Navajo Tribal Lands and terminate at Rainbow Bridge National Monument. The trails feature homes, hogans, sweat lodges, and archeological sites along the way and respect should be paid to the ancient Navajo Indian history and culture.
Lake Powell, UT 84533
19.Red Fleet State Park
Red Fleet State Park is a state park and public recreation area that features a 750-acre reservoir and a fossil trackway of dinosaur footprints. Located 10 miles north of Vernal, Red Fleet State Park is surrounded by red slick rock formations and was named after three large Navajo sandstone outcrops that jut up from the reservoir and look like a fleet of ships. Resting at an elevation of 5,500 feet, the park boasts some interesting fauna and flora, including various cacti, juniper, and sagebrush, along with bobcat, coyote, badgers, and several species of raptors such as the golden eagle. Year-round park facilities include a sandy beach, a boat launching ramp, and fish cleaning stations, picnic areas, campsites, and restrooms.
8750 North Highway 191, Vernal, UT 84078, Phone: 435-789-6614
20.Sand Hollow State Park
The 20,000-acre Sand Hollow State Park surrounds the 1,322-acre Sand Hollow Reservoir and features a vast recreation area on Sand Mountain for off-road vehicles. Located near Hurricane and mostly resting on BLM land, the park is renowned for its visually stunning red rock formations, amazing red sand beaches, and excellent hiking trails. This easy-to-access park offers a variety of activities for adventurers, ranging from water-based recreation such as swimming, kayaking, boating, fishing and waterskiing to hiking, mountain biking, camping, and off-road driving ATV and OHV driving on more than 6,000 acres of dunes. Sandpit Campground offers 19 campsites, five group sites, six power sites with standard hookup amenities, and ATV access.
3351 Sand Hollow Rd, Hurricane, UT 84737, Phone: 435-680-0715
21.Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park is a state park near Ivins that features a spectacular canyon carved from the red and white Navajo sandstone in the Red Mountains, along with other awe-inspiring geological features such as lava flows and tubes, cinder cones, and dunes. Named after early Mormon settlers, Erastus and Lorenzo Snow, the state park boasts two stunning canyons, West Canyon and Snow Canyon, that gouge deeply into the sandstone of the Red Mountains and run southwards before converging in the middle of the park, offering visitors breathtaking views. Snow Canyon State Park is open all year round and features facilities such as campsites for tents and RVs, hiking and mountain biking trails, and bird-watching spots.
1002 Snow Canyon Dr, Ivins, UT 84738, Phone: 435-628-2255
22.Starvation State Park
The 3,500-acre Starvation State Park Starvation State Park is a state park and recreation area in northeastern Utah featuring the 3,495-acre Starvation Reservoir. Located four miles northwest of the town of Duchesne, the year-round park lies at an elevation of 5,712 feet and features several recreational facilities, including a marina with RV and primitive campgrounds, a boat launching ramp and dock, fish cleaning stations, a sandy beach, restrooms with showers, a group-use pavilion, and sewage disposal. Popular activities include fishing, boating, swimming, sunbathing, waterskiing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and camping.
24220 W 7655 S State Park Rd, Duchesne, UT 84021, Phone: 435-738-2326
23.Timpanogos Cave National Monument
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Timpanogos Cave National Monument was established to protect the Timpanogos Cave Historic District and unique system on Mount Timpanogos in the Wasatch Mountains. Located in American Fork Canyon near American Fork, the National Monument site is managed by the National Park Service and is accessed by a steep 1.5-mile trail and three caves, one of which is called Timpanogos Cave, and can only be viewed on guided tours from May through September. The caves boast a hidden underground world which guided tours explore, taking visitors into beautifully decorated caverns, while providing information on the science behind the formations and relaying stories of cave exploration and preservation.
2038 Alpine Loop Rd, American Fork, UT 84003, Phone: 801-756-5239
24.Wasatch Mountain State Park
Wasatch Mountain State Park is a 23,000-acre preserve and state park within the Wasatch Back area in northern Utah that boasts spectacular natural scenery and provides year-round recreation. Located on the north and western edges of the Heber Valley in Wasatch County, the Wasatch Mountain State Park has two historic areas, namely the Historic Tate Barn and Huber Grove, which are essential architectural landmarks and symbols for the Heber Valley. Activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, camping, picnicking, off-highway vehicle, horseback riding, and golf at one of four popular 18-hole golf courses.
1281 Warm Springs Rd, Midway, UT 84049, Phone: 435-654-1791
25.Zion National Park
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Zion National Park is nature preserve and national park distinguished by the magnificent steep red cliffs of the Zion Canyon. Located in southwestern Utah near the city of Springdale, the 229-square-mile park surrounds the Zion Canyon, a 15-mile long and 2,640-foot deep chasm with steep reddish and tan-colored walls of Navajo Sandstone that have been eroded by the North Fork of the Virgin River. Due to its unique location at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert regions, the park is home to a diverse range of life zones, ranging from desert and coniferous forests to riparian and woodlands. The park can be explored by the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive which boasts beautiful views of the Virgin River and Emerald Pools, which have waterfalls and a hanging garden. Popular activities include fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and camping.
1101 Zion Park Blvd, Springdale, UT, 84767, Phone: 435-429-1555
25 Best Utah State & National Parks
- Antelope Island State Park, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Arches, Photo: Gang/stock.adobe.com
- Bear Lake State Park, Photo: mycteria/stock.adobe.com
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Photo: MNStudio/stock.adobe.com
- Canyonlands National Park, Photo: dfikar/stock.adobe.com
- Capitol Reef National Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Cedar Breaks National Monument, Photo: Wirepec/stock.adobe.com
- Dead Horse Point State Park, Photo: tharathepptl/stock.adobe.com
- Dinosaur National Monument, Photo: Krzysztof Wiktor/stock.adobe.com
- Fremont Indian State Park, Photo: Tupungato/stock.adobe.com
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Photo: Lukas/stock.adobe.com
- Goblin Valley State Park, Photo: amadeustx/stock.adobe.com
- Golden Spike National Historic Site, Photo: Steven Miller/stock.adobe.com
- Goosenecks State Park, Photo: Paulista/stock.adobe.com
- Hovenweep National Monument, Photo: Dominic/stock.adobe.com
- Kodachrome Basin State Park, Photo: Lajana Fölsche/stock.adobe.com
- Natural Bridges National Monument, Photo: Fyle/stock.adobe.com
- Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Photo: Alysta/stock.adobe.com
- Red Fleet State Park, Photo: sdbower/stock.adobe.com
- Sand Hollow State Park, Photo: amadeustx/stock.adobe.com
- Snow Canyon State Park, Photo: tiva48/stock.adobe.com
- Starvation State Park, Photo: Baronb/stock.adobe.com
- Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Photo: Linda J Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Wasatch Mountain State Park, Photo: jiawangkun/stock.adobe.com
- Zion National Park, Photo: Fotos 593/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: James/stock.adobe.com