The 30 best places to visit in Utah

 

Built in 2011 just south of the state capital, Salt Lake City, is The Real 'UP' House, a one of a kind perfect replica of the house from the Disney movie. This private residence is not an official attraction, though tourists are free to take photographs.

30. Real Life 'UP' House

 

Completed in 1986, on Interstate 80 west of the state capital, Salt Lake City, near to the Nevada border in the desolate Great Salt Lake Desert is the sculpture known as, Metaphor: The Tree Of Utah, sometimes called the 'Tree Of Life'. Created by Swedish artist Karl Momen and dedicated to the state of Utah, the structure with its six spheres measures 27 metres (87 ft) high.

29. Metaphor: The Tree Of Utah

 

In the south west of the state, straddling the border with Arizona is the 15 square kilometre (5.8 square mile) Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Formed from the erosion of pink coloured Navajo sandstone surrounding the park, the high winds pick up the particles and drop them onto the dunes. The coral pink sand dunes back dropped by red sandstone cliffs makes for a fantastic sight.

28. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

 

North west from the state capital, Salt Lake City, covering some 109 square kilometres (42 square miles) is Antelope Island State Park, the largest island located within the Great Salt Lake. Famous for its large bison population, the island is also known for its natural scenic beauty, especially in the north where visitors should seek out Buffalo Point and White Rocky Bay. These two locations in the central mountains offer views over the pristine beaches and reflective waters of the Salt Lake.

27. Antelope Island State Park

 

In the northern centre of the state is the largest city and capital of Utah, Salt Lake City, sometimes referred to as, 'The Gateway To The West'. Situated between the Oquirrh Mountains, the Wastach Range and the Great Salt Lake from which the city takes its name, it is often associated with being a great starting point for visiting the great outdoors. Famous attractions in the city include the impressive State Capitol Building and Temple Square, the site of the late 19th century Mormon Church, the largest Latter Day Saint Temple in the United States.

26. Salt Lake City

 

In the extreme south of the state, between the more famous Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument is the relatively small 9.1 square kilometre (3.5 square mile) Kodachrome Basin State Park, situated 1,768 metres (5,800 ft) above sea level. Great for photography, wildlife watching and hiking, the parks main features are the 67 sandstone spires known as sand pipes. Ranging from 2 metres (6.6 ft) to 52 metres (171 ft) high, these unusual geological features are so unique they are found nowhere else of Earth.

25. Kodachrome Basin State Park

 

South west from the centre of the state, covering approximately 5,913 square kilometres (2,283 square miles) of protected land is Fishlake National Forest, named after the largest fresh water mountain lake in Utah. Home to elk, black bear, coyotes cougars and bighorn sheep among many other species, the landscape is one of huge aspen forests and rolling grasslands.

24. Fishlake National Forest

 

In the extreme southern centre of the state, just north of the border with Arizona in a strange and desolate bone dry landscape are the Wahweap Hoodoos, giant white sandstone pinnacles that have come to be nicknamed 'White Ghosts'. To get there visitors are required to hike the five hour, 14.8 kilometre (9.2 mile) trail to witness one of the strangest natural landscapes in the United States.

23. Wahweap Hoodoos

 

In the far east of the state, crossing the border with Colorado is Dinosaur National Monument, a protected area of some 853 square kilometres (329 square miles) in the south eastern Uinta Mountains. Though most of the monument area lies within Colorado, Utah lays claim to the Dinosaur Quarry where many of the 800 paleontological sites of dinosaur fossils are found.

 

Pictured is the Green River & Steamboat Rock.

22. Dinosaur National Monument

 

In Grand and San Juan counties along the Utah/Colorado border are the La Sal Mountains, the second highest mountain range in the state. Part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest and the southern Rocky Mountains, the highest peak in the range is Mount Peale, standing 3,877 metres (12,721 ft) above sea level. A favourite among hikers, the trails offer fantastic views over the surrounding mountains, the Colorado Plateau and even as far as the famous Canyonlands National Park.

21. La Sal Mountains

 

In the far south west of the state, covering a mere 30 square kilometres (11.5 square miles) is Snow Canyon State Park, set around a canyon carved from the red and white Navajo sandstone in the Red Mountains. Home to species such as the venomous lizard, the Gila monster, desert tortoise, giant desert hairy scorpion, coyote and Mojave sidewinder snake among many others, the ancient landscape consists of extinct cinder cones, lava tubes and sand dunes in the beautiful Red Mountains.

20. Snow Canyon State Park

 

In the southern centre of the state, east of Cedar City is the 7,645 square kilometre (2,952 square mile) Dixie National Forest, the largest national forest in Utah. Made up of high altitude forests, the plateau of Boulder Mountain is dotted with hundreds of small lakes, whilst at lower altitudes the landscape is one of desert scenery and river canyons of multi coloured cliffs and steep gorges. Highlights of the forest include the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness and Box Death Hollow Wilderness.

19. Dixie National Forest

 

East of the state capital, Salt Lake City, straddling the border with Nevada are the 100 square kilometre (39 square mile) Bonneville Salt Flats, the largest and most famous salt flats west of the Great Salt Lake. Open to the public all year round, the flats host a number of events at the Bonneville Speedway, the location famous for being the site of land speed records.

18. Bonneville Salt Flats

 

In the southern centre of the state, at the western end of Dixie National Forest is Cedar Breaks National Monument, a small area of badlands that takes the shape of a natural amphitheatre. Stretching some 4.8 kilometres (3 miles) with a depth of over 610 metres (2,000 ft), the great cracked earth with its exposed canyons and spires has led many to think of it as a mini Bryce Canyon.

17. Cedar Breaks National Monument

 

Close to the centre of the state, within an isolated desert environment on the back roads of Utah is a viewpoint known as the Wedge Overlook, considered one of the most scenic vistas in the state. The view of the San Rafael River flowing through the cut rock of the Little Grand Canyon makes for a fantastic sight in a less well known area of Utah.

16. The Wedge Overlook

 

In the northern centre of the state, east from Salt Lake City is the 6,504 square kilometre (2,511 square mile) Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest, a landscape of untouched wilderness, large forests and high rocky peaks. The highlight of the forest is undoubtedly within the High Uintas Wilderness, shared with neighbouring Ashley National Forest the area encompasses the high Uintas Mountains, home to some of Utah's highest peaks.

15. Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest

 

Close to the centre of the state, east of the Capitol Reef National Park and the small town of Caineville is the North Caineville Plateau. From Highway 24, visitors can witness a mesmerising view of the rippling earth in the mountainous valley of the Colorado Plateau.

14. North Caineville Mesa

 

In the south east of the state, covering an area of 31 square kilometres (12 square miles) is the Natural Bridges National Monument, featuring a set of natural occurring bridges including the 13th largest in the world. Carved from white sandstone over hundreds of thousands of years, the three main bridges are named Kachina, Owachomo and the largest, Sipapu, measuring 67 metres (220 ft) high and 68 metres (223 ft) long.

 

Pictured is Owachomo Natural Bridge.

13. Natural Bridges National Monument

 

In the southwestern centre of the state, north west from Canyonlands National Park is the small 40 square kilometre (15.5 square mile) Goblin Valley State Park, featuring thousands of naturally forming hoodoos, a tall thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin. Referred to locally as goblins, the mushroom shaped rock pinnacles can reach several metres in height, resulting in a bizarre alien landscape. Goblin Valley State Park along with the nearby Bryce Canyon National Park contain some of the largest occurrences of hoodoos in the world.

12. Goblin Valley State Park

 

In the far north east of the state, covering some 5,594 square kilometres (2,160 square miles) in Utah and a smaller 389 square kilometres (150 square miles) in Wyoming is Ashley National Forest, an area of vast forests, lakes, ravines and rugged mountains. Major highlights in the forest include the High Uintas Wilderness, encompassing the Uinta Mountains, home to the highest peak in Utah, the 4,125 metre (13,534 ft) Kings Peak. Also in the forest is the wonderful Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Divided almost evenly between Utah and Wyoming, the protected area is centred around the 146 kilometre (91 mile) long Flaming Gorge Reservoir. This landscape of red sandstone cliffs rising from the Green River gives visitors great opportunities for camping, biking, rock climbing, canoeing and hiking in absolutely beautiful natural surroundings.

 

Pictured is the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area.

11. Ashley National Forest

 

In the far south east of the state, just off Route 163 near the town of Mexican Hat is Goosenecks State Park, a tiny protected area of land that overlooks a deep meander of the San Juan River. Mostly untouched with no designated hiking trails, this single viewpoint stands above the 300 metre (984 ft) gorge and makes for a fantastic sight.

10. Goosenecks State Park

 

In the east of the state, between Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park is the 21 square kilometre (8.1 square mile) Dead Horse Point State Park, named by cowboys in the 19th century where horses often died of exposure. Situated at an elevation of 1,800 metres (5,905 ft) above sea level, the parks main features are several incredible overlooks that give visitors dramatic views of the cutting Colorado River and fractured landscape of Canyonlands National Park.

9. Dead Horse Point State Park

 

In the southern centre of the state, covering some 979 square kilometres (378 square miles) is Capitol Reef National Park, designated to protect a large stunning desert landscape. Encompassing the Waterpocket Fold, a warp in the Earth's crust, the terrain within the park includes colourful canyons, ridges, buttes and large monolithic rocks, with highlights such as the Golden Throne and the natural Hickman Bridge. For one of the best drives in the country, visitors can attempt to conquer the Burr Switchback Trail, a 109 kilometre (68 mile) dirt road that covers a scenic route through the south of Capitol Reef National Park and the north of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

8. Capitol Reef National Park

 

In the extreme southern centre of the state, covering some 4,062 square kilometres (1,568 square miles) is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the last area to be mapped in the United States outside of Alaska. The three main regions include the Kaiparowits Plateau, the Canyons Of The Escalante and a part of the Grand Staircase, an immense sequence of sedimentary rock that stretches from Bryce Canyon, through Zion National Park and into Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. In an immense area of rugged terrain, mountains, valleys, canyons, hoodoos, arches and other fantastic natural features, highlights of the monument include Jacob Hamlin Arch, The Devil's Garden and the view of the Cockscomb along the Cottonwood Canyon Road.

 

Pictured is the Jacob Hamlin Arch in Coyote Gulch.

7. Escalante National Monument

 

In the far southern centre of the state, close to the border with Arizona is the 5,075 square kilometre (1,958 square mile) Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, encompassing mostly desert terrain of Lake Powell and the lower Cataract Canyon. Known for its scenic beauty, the red sandstone mountains hold jewels such as the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and the incredibly stunning Reflection Canyon.

 

Pictured is Reflection Canyon.

6. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

 

In the east of the state, north from Canyonlands National Park is the 310 square kilometre (120 square mile) Arches National Park, notable for having more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches within its boundary. Among the highlights of the park are the monolithic courthouse towers, the Balanced Rock, a large balancing rock roughly the size of three school buses, and arches such as the Double Arch, the Wall Arch, the 88 metre (290 ft) long Landscape Arch and the famous Delicate Arch, a freestanding structure that has become the symbol for the state of Utah and the most recognisable feature of the park.

 

Pictured is Delicate Arch.

5. Arches National Park

 

In the south east of the state, covering some 1,366 square kilometres (527 square miles) is Canyonlands National Park, encompassing an incredibly colourful desert landscape of canyons and buttes carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers. The north of the park is known as the Island In The Sky district, a table land terrain of canyons offering many overlooks from the white rim, elevated around 366 metres (1,200 ft) above the river canyons. East of the Colorado River is the Needles district, named after the red and white rock pinnacles which dominate the landscape, as well as a number of arches such as those in neighbouring Arches National Park. West of the rivers is the Maze district, a canyon covered landscape that is among the most remote and inaccessible areas in the United States.

 

Pictured from the Island In The Sky.

4. Canyonlands National Park

 

In the southern centre of the state, between Dixie National Forest and the famous Grand Staircase Escalante is the even more famous 145 square kilometre (56 square mile) Bryce Canyon National Park, named after the incredible Bryce Canyon. Despite its name, it isn't actually a canyon but a collection of huge amphitheatres filled with distinctive geological structures known as hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and water erosion. The distinctive red, orange and white rocks have made for one of the mos famous and spectacular natural scenes in the state.

3. Bryce Canyon National Park

 

In the extreme southern centre of the state, slightly crossing the state border into Arizona is one of the most iconic natural terrains in the United States, Monument Valley, a place the Navajo called, 'Valley Of The Rocks'. This region of the Colorado Plateau is characterised by huge sandstone buttes, the largest of which rises some 300 metres (984 ft) above the valley floor. Synonymous with cowboy movies, the incredible landscape of Monument Valley is certainly one of the most well known and beautiful locations in the United States.

 

Pictured from the Visitor Centre.

2. Monument Valley

 

In the west of the state, covering 593 square kilometres (229 square miles) is Zion National Park, a true jewel of nature. Located between the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert regions, the park has a unique geography of mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons and natural arches. Home to 75 mammal species and 32 reptile species, the parks lowest point is 1,117 metres (3,665 ft) above sea level and rises 2,660 metres (8,727 ft) above sea level at the top of the Horse Ranch Mountain. Among the incredible natural scenery of the park, the most prominent feature is undoubtedly Zion Canyon, its walls of reddish and tan coloured Navajo sandstone creating a canyon 24 kilometres (15 miles) long and up to 800 metres (2,624 ft) deep.

1. Zion National Park

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