Utah might not seem like the most obvious choice when thinking about places to visit in the US, but that would be wrong! There are so many totally epic and best places in Utah scattered across the state that are well worth a visit while on the go.
Yes, Utah can be overshadowed by its well-known siblings like California, Florida, or New York (to name a few). However, that doesn’t mean you should just pull past Utah without taking a second look. It’s one of the best states in the United States if you’re a nature lover like us!
Trust me, Utah is a gold mine with incredible locations and history that you really cannot miss. Besides, it’s so diverse too. Just be prepared for some pretty big forays into the state … your feet will be sore!
With that in mind, take a look at some of the best places in Utah that we love (and hopefully you, too). Have fun exploring.
1.) Zion National Park
Nestled in the southwest of the state, you can easily discover a bunch of the best spots in Utah right in this stunning national park. I would even say that it is one of the best national parks in the USA too!
After the rocking, you can explore the trails around the Narrows or take the harder (and steeper) hikes to Angels Landing. If you love a good hike, follow the Observation Point Trail which will take you to some of the best views of the canyons around Zion National Park. Just be prepared for a tough hike!
When your feet beg for a break, hop on the shuttle (which can be awkward to organize in the Zion NP app) and follow the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is approximately 25 miles. This route takes you through some beautiful viewpoints.
Finally, be sure to take a look at the security guard and visit Fort Zion (Virgin Trading Post) to enjoy some of their delicious gelatos!
Since you’re unfamiliar with the Veterans Memorial Highway, it’s really easy to include it on a wider road trip between Saltlake City and Las Vegas.
2.) Bryce Canyon National Park
For me, one of the things that make Utah special is access to incredible parks and reserves. Bryce Canyon is another gem not to be missed.
For one of the best sunrises, head to Sunrise Point (or Sunset Point for, you guessed it, sunset) which is absolutely adorable. Plus, it’s not far from Tower Bridge (rock formation) and can easily be included as part of a hike along the Rim Trail.
Oh, and don’t forget the Navajo Loop Trail and Wall Street which are totally beautiful.
3.) Arches National Park
On the eastern edge of the state, Arches National Park is one of the best places to visit in Utah (especially if you’re traveling from Colorado).
The first thing you will see are lots of arches … and they are epic!
Upon arrival, jump to the 50-foot tall Delicate Arch, discover Landscape Arch (a relatively easy hike from the trailhead), and end your day exploring Double Arch.
The whole region here is breathtaking.
If you feel like stretching your legs, head to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead or the Primitive Trail, which is better signposted and easier to follow. Also, the North Window Arch is close by and is a win-win situation.
4.) Canyonlands National Park
About 30 miles from the border of Arches National Park, Canyonlands in this area of Utah is pretty easy to visit.
As you drive through the region, be sure to spend some time in the Needles District to see the towering peaks. Plus, you’ll need to take some time to find Mesa Arch (via the Mesa Arch Trailhead). It’s really easy to visit when traveling south from Arches NP to the Needles District.
Oh, and don’t forget Dead Horse Point State Park, which is right on the border. Plus, the view from Dead Horse Point is amazing. If you are driving from the south (e.g. via Arizona) you should also follow the Indian Creek Scenic Byway.
5.) Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
This totally huge area of Utah is frankly too big to see in one trip alone. It’s gigantic! This means that you really need to prioritize as you move around the area.
Depending on where you visit us, you can see the breathtaking view. Willis Creek, Jacob Hamblin Arch, Lower Calf Creek Falls or Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon. The latter is located a few miles northwest of the Red Well Trailhead, making it an easy stop after a morning foray.
6.) Snow Canyon State Park
Located just south of St. George in southern Utah, Snow Canyon is a great place 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 lot).
Then visit the amphitheater of the Tuacahn Center, where concerts, events and performances take place in the most magical setting.
Read more: Best Hikes in the US
7.) The wave
Yes, yes … technically Arizona, but listen to me!
Just a few hundred feet over the Arizona border, the wave cannot be missed when visiting the southern points of Utah. You see, you’re accessing it from Utah’s Wave Trailhead (from here).
In my opinion the hike is almost as amazing as The Wave itself as the whole route is beautiful. Just be prepared for intense heat at certain times of the year. This place can be beyond toast!
Don’t forget to get your permission before going here and plan months in advance! You can find all the details on obtaining the permit here Now they have a few permits a day, but it’s around 10 in total! So plan, plan, plan ahead.
8.) Bonneville Salt Flats
Nestled in the arid mountains, the Bonneville Salt Flats are one of the best places in Utah if you want to see a whole different type of landscape. In fact, it kind of reminds me of the salt flats in Bolivia.
Formed after the last ice age, the salt flats are a unique part of Utah and stretch for miles. Oh, and if you fancy a challenge there are Salt Flat Endurance Runs every year. It’s a blast!
Just one note, never go on the salt flats when they are wet! This can be dangerous and you can get stranded.
9.) Gooseneck State Park
About 20 to 30 miles north of Monument Valley, Goosenecks State Park is a great stop on your trip through Utah.
If you follow the San Juan River you will get incredible views from the end of the street. From this point you can see the entire canyon and it is only minutes from the main drag.
You’ll also come across Forrest Gump Hill nearby, where Forest decides to end his run! It’s about a 20-minute drive from Goosenecks State Park and a 5-minute photo station.
Read more: Best Hikes in the US
10.) Monument Valley
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located right on the Utah-Arizona border and cannot be missed when exploring the area. It’s absolutely breathtaking and easily one of the best places in Utah to easily explore by car or to stay overnight.
You see there is a 17 mile long dirt road that goes through Monument Valley to see some of the main points. Look out for the three sisters, the north window, the totem pole, and more. It’s all very easy to navigate (which means you can fully focus on having the best time).
Just be aware that you are not allowed to leave the unpaved route in your Viechle.
Read More: What To Know Before You Visit Monument Valley
11.) Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is the capital and one of the best places in Utah if you fancy a small city break. You see, it has a mix of sights, spots, and foodie places too good to be missed. especially on the weekend!
After checking into your hotel, be sure to visit the famous Temple Square, the Capitol and also visit the Natural History Museum. It is huge!
If you want to have one of the best bites out there, go to Red Iguana. This friendly and unpretentious place is so tasty and easily the tastiest place for Mexican food in town. It’s nothing special, but so good! Make sure to try the smothered burritos and the shrimp quesadilla.
12.) Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a fairly large lake located just south of Utah. This means that it’s one of the relatively easy and best places in Utah to visit on Highway 89 (from Page, Arizona).
Best of all, you can rent the most epic houseboats to sail Lake Powell and meander through all of its little bays.
Not far away is the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, one of the largest natural arches in the world! Plus, you have the Natural Bridges National Monument just off Highway 95 near Fry Canyon.
Read more: Best National Parks in the US
10 best national parks to visit in the US