A Rainbow Desert

Utah is home to a wealth of natural beauty to overwhelm any outdoors person.  The challenge is not in finding amazing outdoor destinations but in picking which ones to prioritize.  From the mountainous slopes of Park City to the whimsical red sandstone formations of Arches National Park, Utah offers year-round adventure.

Things To See In Utah

Hike the Delicate Arch
Drive the Rimrocker Trail
Explore Bonneville Salt Flats
Camp outside of Moab
Boondock in Dixie National Forest
Hike Zion's Angel's Landing Trail
Take a selfie in from Bryce Canyon's Sunrise Point
Drive Shafer Trail in Monument Valley

Visiting Parks In Utah

They are called “the Big 5.” Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands are all National Parks in the Beehive state.  All host remarkable rock formations from Arches’ Delicate Arch to Zion’s Angel’s Landing.  And who can overlook the impressive amphitheater of pink hoodoos in Bryce Canyon?

For all those attractions, it’s worth noting that even the massive acreage of each National Park cannot contain all that Utah has to offer.  Some of the smaller state parks and other public lands offer less crowded and more intimate opportunities to commune with nature.  Consider making time to relax around Lake Powel, marvel at the cinematic formations of Monument Valley, and camp out in the Valley of the Gods.

Hiking In Utah

One of the best ways to explore Utah’s amazing outdoors is on foot.  Utah’s scenic parks are full of hiking trails that allow visitors to get up close and personal with the stunning landscape.  Hike among the hoodoos in Bryce National Park or wander under a natural bridge in Arches.

Whether it’s snowy mountain trails or colorful desert routes, the right equipment is going to be critical.  More likely than not, you will be hiking through the desert. Be sure to travel in solid hiking boots, apply sun protection, carry plenty of weather, and be alert for snakes and other venomous wildlife.

For popular trails like Zion’s Angel’s Landing or Arches Delicate Arch, time of day is an important consideration.  Both trails are exposed and can be dangerous in extreme weather conditions.  But regardless of weather, they are also incredibly popular. Arriving early won’t only allow hikers to catch a photo in the soft morning light but also means avoiding the crowds that build up later in the day.

Camping In Utah

Given the impressive draw of Utah’s parks, it is worth thinking ahead when planning a place to camp. Campsites inside of parks are limited and often booked in advance.  Even BLM camping outside of Arches fills up surprisingly early. So, if you want to be guaranteed a convenient campsite, make a reservation.

That said, local rangers and outdoor guides are often knowledgeable about alternative locations.  For example, Dixie National Forest has some choice boondocking outside of Bryce Canyon or Lone Rock on Lake Powell.  Just keep in mind that these unreserved sites are open to everyone, so make sure to have a backup just in case.

Overlanding In Utah

In the noble tradition of many southwest states, Utah caters to those with a wanderlust and 4-wheel drive.  Trails like the Rimrocker connect remote forest roads to create challenging but scenic trails.  Even National Parks such as Canyonlands have designated dirt trails—including Shafer Trail or the White Rim Trail—to explore the more remote stretches of the parks.

As with any overland adventure, it is important to research these routes ahead of time.  The White Rim Trail, for example, is a multi-day trip and requires camping permits in advance.

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  • Explore the sandy west shore of Lake Powell paddling Lone Rock Beach by raft, kayak, canoe, SUP, or other watercraft.
  • Have your pick of forested campsites or open RV sites with hookups, dump station, and showers at Coral Pink Sand Dunes Campground(s) in Southern Utah.
  • Hike, sled, ATV, camp, and explore the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab in southern Utah.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.