Known as a paradise for outdoor lovers and one of the most beautiful places to visit in the USA, Utah is nothing short of extraordinary. The jaw-dropping Western state offers some of the most incredible and diverse terrains on the planet from colorful desert sands and canyons, to red-rock ridges and snow-covered mountains. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Utah…
1. Moab and the Arches National Park – one of the most stunning places to explore in Utah
Utah’s beloved city known for its dramatic landscape, Moab is the largest city in Grand County. A playground for thrill-seekers and anyone into water sports, the scenery in this region is beyond imagination with incredible sightseeing opportunities.
One of the most famous sites near Moab is Arches National Park.
A 73,234-acre wonderland of striking contrasts with giant balanced rocks, sandstone towers and soaring pinnacles, the Delicate Arch of the park offers a spectacular view of the red rock scenery.
Explore the park’s viewpoints, hiking trails, see the night sky or take a scenic drive, it is a journey into another world. A few miles northeast of Moab is the Slickrock Trail, a haven for mountain bikers.
2. Salt Lake City – one of the best places to visit in Utah
A thriving cosmopolitan hub of culture and business, Salt Lake City is the phenomenal capital of Utah. Sitting on the city’s center block is the majestic Salt Lake City Temple.
The largest temple of the Mormon Church, the holy temple is a religious icon. A beautiful marker of the city, the Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake is a collage of striking history and singular architecture.
From visiting the museum to shopping around town, you’ll never run out of things around this historic building. Step back in time in the city’s first mansion, the Devereaux House and the Natural History of Museum of Utah to know more about the evolution of this mystical land.
3. Midway – a diverse and gorgeous destination offering natural beauty and history
Ranked as Utah’s best small city, Midway is tucked away in the Heber Valley just 28 miles from Salt Lake City. A paradise for mountain bikers, hikers and campers, the Wasatch Mountain State Park offers beautiful scenery in the alpine terrain.
One of the most peaceful places in Midway, Memorial Hill offers picturesque vistas of the Heber Valley.
Perched high on the peak is a dedicated memorial honoring U.S. veterans. A snowy site out of a fairytale, Ice Castle offers hand-built ice castles, slides, tunnels and other fun features.
Scuba dive in the Homestead Crater or swim in the cool waters of Deer Creek Reservoir, Midway is must family destination when in Utah.
4. Zion National Park – Utah’s famous enchanted landscape with a myriad of beautiful natural attractions
A magical land near southwest Utah, the Zion National Park offers a unique array of landforms including mountains, canyons, rivers, mesas and monoliths.
The most dramatic section of the park is the Zion Canyon. Accessed along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the road offers the best views of the signature features Angels Landing, Weeping Rock and the Narrows.
Winding high above the valley is the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway with scenic views. Hit the trails on a day hike at the Riverside Walk or Lower Emerald Pools, the park offers a unique landscape for rock climbing and canyoneering.
On the east side of the park is a unique Checkerboard Mesa, a swirling white mesa with pine-dotted hillsides.
5. Park City and Wasatch Mountains – a scenic mountain town to explore with year-round recreation
Framed by the craggy Wasatch Mountains, Park City lies east of Salt Lake City in western Utah. An epicenter of recreational activities, Park City strikes a perfect blend of a silver mining town with wonderful outdoors.
Indulge in winter activities along the lovely slopes or explore the mountains and nearby state parks for beautiful hiking, biking and camping experience.
Lined up with boutiques, shops and exquisite dining strips, the charming Main Street offers engaging attractions to wind down after a long day. Learn about the vibrant mining history of this alluring town in the Park City Museum.
6. Dead Horse Point State Park – Utah’s photogenic state park to visit offering incredible formations
Utah’s most spectacular state park, Dead Horse Point State Park is located 32 miles from Moab. Towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, the park features immense vertical cliffs, sculpted pinnacles, canyons and buttes.
Carved by the ancient oceans & freshwater lakes, the park gives you a glimpse of the meandering Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.
Drive onto the park’s many outlooks to view some of the best sunsets in Utah’s Canyons. With miles of hiking trails in the park including the Intrepid Trail System and the East Rim Trail System, the park provides a great taste of the Utah Mountains.
7. Great Salt Lake – the largest saltwater lake in Western Hemisphere
A shrunken remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, Great Salt Lake is one of the most saline inland water body in the world. Nicknamed as ‘America’s Dead Sea’,
Great Salt Lake exists within an arid environment in Northern Utah. Surrounded by 10,000 miles of shorelines, marsh and salt land, the lake is a popular beach destination with myriad-water sports.
Kayak along the vast shorelines, take a dip in Antelope Island and Stansbury Island or watch the wildlife in Bear River Bird Refuge, there are many places to explore around the lake with excellent facilities for picnicking and camping.
8. Bryce Canyon – a wonderful natural beauty spot to visit in Utah
Home to some of the most beautiful rocky terrains on the globe, Bryce Canyon hosts some of the largest collection of hoodoos. Located in Southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is filled with numerous irregularly eroded rocks, sandstone cliffs and eerie vistas.
Marvel at the captivating viewpoints of Bryce Point, Sunrise Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Rainbow Point for beautiful scenery.
Explore the forests of the plateau by taking a hike to the Bryce Amphitheater, Peek-A-Boo trail or Mossy Cave Trail to get lost into a mystical land. Go Mountain Biking, camping, or stargazing, Bryce Canyon is a stunning natural playground of Utah’s rugged landscape.
9. Capitol Reef National Park – a beautiful Utah oasis with a remarkable history
A diverse landscape with white sandstone cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges, the Capitol Reef National Park is located a few minutes west of Torrey in south-central Utah.
The centerpiece of the park is the Waterpocket Fold, the largest exposed monocline in North America. Ramble down the 22-mile Capitol Reef Scenic Drive with breathtaking viewpoints.
Wander along the Hickman Bridge, explore the towering monoliths of Cathedral Valley or hike the Chimney Rock Pillar, the park offers a variety of outdoor activities amid the bright blue sky and lush green riverbanks.
10. Route 163 – the famous highway offering panoramic scenery
One of the most iconic roads of the world, Route 163 will take you into a typical world of Wild West. Built-in 1970, the 64-mile road of Route 163 cuts through the red rock desert of Utah extending to Arizona’s Navajo County.
Traversing the San Juan River, magnificent spires and Monument Valley, the beautiful drive with fascinating spires, buttes and red rock creations has something for all riders.
The two-hour drive will lead to the historic community of Bluff, a beautiful town with prehistoric rock art and ruins. Be it sunrise or sunset, you will marvel at the stunning scenery of this scenic byway on your drive.
11. Monument Valley – one of the most famously beautiful places to visit in Utah
One of the legendary landscapes of the U.S, Monument Valley is located within the Navajo Nation Reservation. Located along the Utah-Arizona border, Monument Valley is about 25 miles from Mexican Hat. Once a lowland basin, the valley has been carved by the sands of the meandering river.
Drive along to watch the famous panorama of the Mitten Buttes, Merrick Butte from the John Ford’s Point, or hike the Wildcat Trail, this majestic land makes for a truly wondrous experience.
Venture down deep into the valley to the mythical formations of the Ear of the Wind and Mystery Valley with guided tours.
12. Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway – a beautiful mountain pass to explore in Utah
A picturesque drive into the Wasatch Mountain Range, Guardsman Pass connects Park City with Midway & the Big Cottonwood Canyon. A scenic 14-mile paved drive winds through alpine meadows, summits, and blooming wildflowers.
On the top, the pass elevates at 9,700 feet above sea level with majestic views in all directions.
A popular area for wildlife viewing and fall foliage, the pass is flanked by evergreens and beautiful aspen trees. With scenic turnouts around every bend, the Guardsman Pass offers a soothing drive in Utah’s most scenic roads.
13. Natural Bridges National Monument – a stunning spot that features some of nature’s finest work
Utah’s first National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument is located 42 miles west of Blanding in Southeastern Utah. Ponder over the power of nature as you observe the three majestic natural bridges of Kachina, Owachomo and Sipapu.
Once home to ancestral Pueblos, the national monument offers a nine-mile scenic drive through the canyons.
Hike the rocky terrains of the canyons, camp under the darkest skies or explore the historic Pueblo cliff dwellings, the Natural Bridges offers a grandeur experience at every visit.
14. Flaming Gorge Reservoir – one of the best and most popular attractions in Utah
Straddling the borders of Utah & Wyoming, Flaming Gorge Reservoir presents vivid geology with terrific contrasts. With the rugged Uinta Mountains nearby, beautiful alpine forests and dramatic Green River gorge, the 91-mile reservoir is a favorite spot for recreationists and naturalists.
Part of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Flaming Gorge is a scenic playground for hikers, boaters, windsurfers, cross-country skiers and campers.
Tour the Flaming Gorge Dam or hike the Canyon Rim Trail, there’s plenty to do at this little paradise.
15. Canyonlands National Park – a magical place with unique natural scenery
Utah’s biggest national park, Canyonlands National Park is located about 32 miles from Moab. Preserving the tremendous expanse of rock formations, arches, mesas, buttes, and arches, Canyonlands offers an unmatched experience.
Comprised of the districts namely The Needles, the Maze, Island in the Sky, and the Colorado and Green River, each region offers diverse scenery and adventure.
With lofty viewpoints and paved scenic roads, the park offers epic hiking, climbing, and backcountry exploration of Utah’s mighty national park.
16. Red Butte Garden – a pretty garden retreat in Salt Lake City
Nestled in the foothills of Wasatch Mountains in the Salt Lake City, Red Butte Garden in the Intermountain West. Known for its exotic plant collections, themed gardens, springtime blooms, and extensive natural area, the garden hosts several events around the year with beautiful exhibits.
With miles of lovely hiking trails and educational programs, the garden offers a serene and peaceful time in the lap of nature. Take a leisurely walk through the garden or tour by tram, there’s so much to do and learn in this pretty garden
17. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – an incredible place to visit in Utah with gigantic rock formations
Filled with some of the wildest and dramatic terrains in the U.S., Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument spans miles and miles across Southern Utah.
Speckled with countless canyons, monoliths, badlands, cliffs, hoodoos and natural bridges, the rocky landscape of the region makes it a geological treasure.
The heart of the monument is the Escalante Canyons section with active waterfalls, arches, narrow canyons and much more. While the Grand Staircase area is a remote region with an extensive network of slot canyons, the Kaiparowits Plateau makes for phenomenal vistas in this crown jewel of Utah’s monuments.
18. Bonneville Salt Flats – visit one of the most unique natural features in Utah
One of the flattest places on the earth, the Bonneville Salt Flats is found west of the Great Salt Lake in western Utah. Stretching over 30,000 acres, the salty region offers an otherworldly landscape with a unique environment.
A popular spot for photography, the salt flats provide a perfect backdrop to capture the sunrise and nighttime sky far from the lights of the city. Apart from scenic views, the salt flats have also witnessed international car racing and many other events around the year.
19. Brigham City – a charming town in a gorgeous location
Tucked away on the slopes of the Wellsville Mountains, Brigham City is located in Box Elder County. A quaint town established by the Mormon families, Brigham City is known for its innate natural beauty and some of the best peaches.
A gateway to Utah’s greatest wild bird refuge, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge near Brigham is a resting place for millions of migratory birds.
Visit the neo-gothic Brigham City Tabernacle or delve deep into the history at the Brigham City Museum, you’ll savor the small-town charm in this modern city.
20. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park – venture onto a beautiful shifting sea of red sand
A remarkable region just southeast of Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park features unique pink-hued dunes beside red sandstone cliffs.
Formed due to erosion of the nearby Navajo sandstone, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes has become a favorite place to ride off-highway vehicles in the warm, pink sands.
Walk amidst the old juniper and pinion trees, camp, photograph, or simply play in the sand, the park is a wonderful place to leave your footprints in this striking land.
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Michael Cowley – writer and photographer
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always had an affinity for adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued seeking out new places and cultures. In his spare time he explores everywhere from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, trying all kinds of street food, playing carrom with random strangers, and fine wine – he knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Goa, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations. Find Michael on Instagram or Twitter.