Top 10 outdoor experiences in Utah
Amazing desert landscapes covered in bright orange sands, impressive natural attractions jutting out of rugged land, unbelievable sunsets painting the sky in bright colours…Utah is a very intriguing destination. With a place so alluring and off the usual beaten track, venturing to Utah makes for a very unique and adventurous trip – but where should you start? Our top 10 things to do in Utah's outdoors really hone in on what a trip to Utah is truly about: adventure, rich culture and natural beauty, giving you inspiration for your next once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Follow in dinosaurs’ footsteps at Dinosaur National Monument
There is plenty of opportunity to get prehistoric in Utah and learn about the mysterious world of dinosaurs. Head to St. George to spot preserved footprints, or Salt Lake City to the Natural History Museum for life-size recreations using real dinosaur skeletons. But one of the most amazing sites is Dinosaur National Monument. Perfect conditions here have left a huge collection of fossils and bones in the earth’s crust, with around 1,500 bones, some of which are 149 million years old! Take a ranger-led tour along the Fossil Discovery Trail or head inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall to get a view of the amazing Wall of Bones.
Hold your nerve at Goblin Valley
Hundreds of sandstone goblins fill the valley in this unique state park. The Valley of the Goblins is full of fascinating rock formations which create a maze of trails and hikes. Take it easy and stick to the flat, or head out on a guided hike into the Goblins Lair, which requires an almost 90ft abseil into the cave below. Once your feet hit solid ground check-out the views across the San Rafael Desert and buttes that dot the landscape.
Take a stargazing tour at a Dark Sky Park
There’s nowhere else in the world where you will find so many locations recognised for their exceptional stargazing opportunities and quality views of the night sky. With nine International Dark Sky Parks in the state alone if you love a romantic night under the twinkling stars, or are looking to tick spotting the Milky Way off your bucket list, then Utah is the place to be. Most of the parks offer night sky and astronomy programmes, or run events such as full moon hikes and star parties to make the most of the night-sky spectacles.
Watch the sunset at Monument Valley
Monument Valley is one of the most iconic and memorable settings, synonymous with the Wild West. Giant rock mittens create an impressive back drop and are even more stunning during sunset when you can admire your surroundings as the colours of the rock change with the setting of the sun. Take a guide and hear about the history of the local Navajo tribe and their way of life in the desert climate.
Catch a sunrise at Delicate Arch in Arches
Delicate Arch is a state-wide icon, and arguably the world’s most famous natural arch. Spot it on souvenirs and Utah registration plates. To experience the real thing take a three-mile round-trip hike to peer through the arch towards the mountain range on the horizon. Head out early to find the trails quiet and catch a glorious sunrise over the orange-coloured arch, its spectacular!
Spot the petroglyphs at Capitol Reef
You won’t find many geological features around the world as unusual as in Capitol Reef National Park – an almost 100-mile long water-fold in the earth’s crust. As you drive through the park keep your eyes peeled for the ancient carvings along the towering sandstone walls. Using a pair of binoculars pick out the tiny details of the historic etchings which tell stories of mysterious mythologies, and depict tales of ancient humans and animals. These carvings along with other artefacts discovered in the area were left by the Fremont Tribe who lived a hunter-gather existence and have left their mark across the park.
Hike to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands
Looking down into the depths of Canyonlands’ enormous crevasses is a sight to behold, and for miles the canyons dominate the landscape. Almost as if it was made to be photographed and admired, Mesa Arch helps even the most novice photographer take a gem! Only 10-minutes’ walk from the car park this beautiful site is super-easy to reach.
Test yourself at Zion
Zion National Park is an adventurers dream. The park resembles another world, featuring gigantic rock walls, with waterfalls and meandering rivers running through the red-rock. If you’re after a challenge then it will certainly be found here. Angels Landing is not for the faint-hearted or those with a fear of heights, but hikers of the 1700m plus ascent, with steep drop-offs will be rewarded with spectacular aerial views of the park. Alternatively stay out of the clouds but in the water, by hiking the Narrows. Pull on your waders and start easily along the banks of the Virgin River, but for an adventure continue up-river into the slot canyons.
Mule ride into Bryce Canyon
When visiting Utah there will be plenty of opportunities to explore the incredible scenery. For example Bryce Canyon is a red-rock-amphitheatre, full to the brim with tall hoodoos. Naturally, to explore the pine forests and glimpse the cute chipmunks at the base of the canyon, there is an uphill trail back to the rim. Luckily for those wanting to rest their legs there are fun mule rides available, so you can soak in the amazing landscape from the comfort of mule-back!
Head out on a roadtrip
If you are looking for an all-encompassing road trip then look no further than Utah. With the awesome Mighty 5 national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Zion), over 40 more hidden state parks, and incredible scenic byways connecting much of the state. Along the way stay in authentic and homely B&Bs, fabulous luxury resorts or under the stars in a traditional yurt.