Utah might not seem like the most obvious choice when thinking of places to visit in the United States, but that’d be wrong! There are so many totally epic and best places in Utah that are dotted all across the state and well worth visiting whilst on a road trip.
Yes, Utah can be overshadowed by its well-known siblings like California, Florida or New York (to name a few). Though, that doesn’t mean you should just brush past Utah without giving it a second glance. It’s one of the best states to visit in the United States if you’re a nature-lover like us!
Trust me, Utah is a gold mine of incredible places and history that you really can’t miss. Plus, it’s so diverse, too. Just be prepared for some pretty big rambles around the state… your feet will be sore!
With that in mind, take a little gander at some of the best places in Utah that we love (and hopefully you will too). Have the best time exploring.
1.) Zion National Park
Nestled within the southwest of the state, you can easily spot a heap of the best places in Utah right within this stunning national park. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the very best national parks in the US, too!
After rocking up, head on over to explore the trails around the Narrows, or take the harder (and steeper) hikes to Angels Landing. Also, if you do love a good hike, follow the Observation Point Trail that’ll lead you to some of the best canyon views around Zion National Park. Just be prepped for a tough hike!
If your feet are begging for a break, hop in the shuttle (which can be cumbersome to organise on the Zion NP app) and follow the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive that’s around 25-miles long. This route will take you through some gorgeous scenic spots.
Finally, be sure to stop for the views over to the watchman and visit Fort Zion (Virgin Trading Post) for some of their tasty gelatos!
Being shy of the Veterans Memorial Highway, it’s really easy to include as part of a wider road trip between Saltlake City and Las Vegas.
2.) Bryce Canyon National Park
For me, one of the things that make Utah so special is its access to incredible parks and reserves; with Bryce Canyon being another gem you can’t miss.
For one of the best sunrises pop over to Sunrise Point (or Sunset Point for, you guessed it, sunset) that’s totally gorgeous. Plus, it’s not too far from Tower Bridge (rock formation) and can be easily included as part of a ramble across the Rim Trail.
Oh, and don’t forget the Navajo Loop Trail and Wall Street that’s totally beautiful.
3.) Arches National Park
On the eastern fringes of the state, Arches National Park is one of the best places in Utah to visit (especially if you’re heading over from Colorado.
So, first off, you’re gonna see a lot of arches… and they’re epic!
After arriving, hop over to the 50-foot high Delicate Arch, spot the Landscape Arch (which is a relatively simple hike from the trailhead) and end your day exploring the Double Arch, too.
The whole region here is stunning.
If you fancy stretching your legs, head out on the Devil’s Garden Trailhead or the Primitive Trail which can be better signposted and easier to follow. Plus, the North Window Arch is closeby so it’s a win-win.
4.) Canyonlands National Park
Around 30-miles from the border of Arches National Park, Canyonlands is pretty easy to visit whilst in this area of Utah.
As you head around the region, be sure to spend some time within the Needles District that’s an easy hike to see the towering pinnacles. Also, you’ve got to take some time to find the Mesa Arch (via the Mesa Arch trailhead), too. It’s really easy to visit as you travel south from Arches NP to the Needles District.
Oh, and don’t forget to Dead Horse Point State Park that’s right on the border. Plus, the views from Dead Horse Point are incredible. Finally, if you’re driving from the south (via Arizona, say), make sure to follow the Indian Creek Scenic Byway, too.
5.) Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
This totally massive area in Utah is, honestly, too big to see in one trip alone. It’s ginormous! This means you’re really gonna have to prioritise whilst heading around the area.
Depending on where you visit, you’ll be able to see the stunning; Willis Creek, the Jacob Hamblin Arch, Lower Calf Creek Falls or the Peek-a-boo slot Canyon. The latter is a few miles north-west of the Red Well Trailhead, making it an easy stop after a morning ramble.
6.) Snow Canyon State Park
Just shy of St George, in the south of Utah, Snow Canyon is a great place to visit if you’re interested in geological history. You see, here you can actually see Lava Tubes and huge petrified sand dunes (especially near the Upper Galoot parking area).
Afterwards, head on over to the Tuacahn Center Amphitheatre that hosts concerts, events and performances in the most magical setting.
Read more: Best hikes in the USA
7.) The Wave
Yes, yes… technically Arizona but hear me out!
Just a few hundred metres over the border in Arizona, you kinda can’t miss the Wave when visiting the southerly points of Utah. You see, you access it via Utah’s Wave Trailhead (starting here).
In my opinion, the hike is almost as incredible as The Wave itself as the whole route is gorgeous. Just be prepared for intense heat at certain times of the year. This place can be beyond toasty!
Finally, don’t forget to get your permit before heading here and plan months in advance! You’ll find all the details on obtaining the permit, here. Now, they do have a few permits available on the day, but it’s something like 10 in total! So plan, plan, plan in advance.
8.) Bonneville Salt Flats
Nestled within the arid mountains, the Bonneville Salt Flats are one of the best places in Utah to visit if you want to see a totally different type of landscape. In fact, it kinda reminds me of the salt flats in Bolivia.
Created after the last Ice Age, the salt flats are such a unique part of Utah and stretches for miles. Oh, and if you fancy a challenge, there are Salt Flat Endurance Runs that take place every year. It’s a toughie!
Just one note, never drive on the salt flats when they are wet! This can be dangerous and you can get stranded.
9.) Goosenecks State Park
Around 20-30 miles north of Monument Valley, Goosenecks State Park is a great little stop to make on your journey through Utah.
Following the San Juan River, you’ll get some incredible views from the end of the road. From this point, you’ll be able to see all across the canyon and it’s only a few minutes from the main highway.
Also, nearby, you’ll come across Forrest Gump Hill, where Forest decides to end his run! It’s about a 20-minute drive from Goosenecks State Park and a 5-minute photo stop.
Read more: Best hikes in the USA
10.) Monument Valley
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is perched right on the Utah and Arizona border and can’t be missed when exploring the area. It’s totally stunning and easily one of the best places in Utah that you can easily explore by car or stay overnight, too.
You see, there’s a 17-mile unpaved road that goes through Monument Valley to see some of the main points. Along the way, be sure to watch out for the Three Sisters, the North Window, the Totem Pole and loads more. It’s all really easy to navigate (which means you can totally focus on having the best time).
Just be aware, you’re not allowed off the unpaved track in your viechle.
Read more: Things to know before visiting Monument Valley
11.) Salt Lake City
Being the capital, Salt Lake City is one of the best places in Utah to visit if you’re fancying a little city break. You see, its got a mix of sights, spots and foodie joints that are too good to miss; especially on the weekend!
After checking into your hotel, be sure to visit the iconic Temple Square, the capitol building and head inside the Natural History Museum, too. It’s huge!
For one of the best bites to eat, head over to Red Iguana. This friendly and unpretentious spot is so delicious and easily the tastiest spot for Mexican food in the city. It’s nothing fancy but so so good! Make sure to try their smothered burritos and the shrimp quesadilla.
12.) Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a pretty vast lake that’s perched right within the south of Utah. This means it’s one of the relatively easy and best places in Utah to visit when travelling along Highway 89 (from Page, Arizona).
Best of all, you can rent the most epic houseboats to sail Lake Powell and meander all its little bays.
Not too far away is the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, which is one of the largest natural arches in the whole world! Plus, you’ve got the Natural Bridges National Monument just off highway 95 near Fry Canyon.
Read more: Best national parks in the USA
10 Best National Parks In The USA To Visit