Imagine towering red rock formations, pristine alpine lakes, and deep canyons carved by ancient rivers. Now add in some of the best hiking and camping in the country, and you have Utah’s national parks.
If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, Utah is the place to be. Here are five of the best national parks in Utah that you need to add to your bucket list:
1. Arches National Park
Arches is one of the most popular national parks in Utah, and for good reason. The park is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, as well as dozens of other unique rock formations. Hiking is the best way to explore the park, and there are trails of varying difficulty levels. The Devils Garden Trail is a great option for first-time visitors; it’s a 7.2-mile loop that takes you past eight different arches. For something a little more challenging, try the 12-mile Fiery Furnace loop.
If you don’t want to hike, you can still see many of the park’s highlights on a scenic drive. The 18-mile round trip road passes by some of the most popular arches, including Delicate Arch, the park’s most iconic feature.
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is one of the best places in the world to see hoodoos, those tall thin rock spires that are formed by erosion. The park has more than 10,000 of them, as well as other colorful rock formations. The best way to see the hoodoos is on one of the park’s many hiking trails. The popular Navajo Loop Trail takes you past some of the most iconic hoodoos, including Wall Street, a narrow canyon with towering red rock walls. The trail is just over two miles long and can be combined with other trails to make a longer hike.
If you don’t want to hike, you can still see Bryce Canyon’s highlights on the Rim Trail, an easy two-mile walk that takes you along the edge of the canyon. For something different, take a scenic drive on the 18-mile loop road that goes through the park.
3. Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is a massive park that covers more than 337,000 acres. It’s divided into four sections—Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers—and each has its own unique landscape.
The Island in the Sky section is the most popular and easily accessible. It has hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, as well as some of the best views in the park. The Mesa Arch trail is a great option for first-time visitors; it’s an easy 0.5-mile loop that takes you to an overlook with stunning views of the canyons below. For something more challenging, try the Syncline Loop Trail, a 6.8-mile hike with steep sections and amazing views.
If you don’t want to hike, you can still see the highlights of Island in the Sky on a scenic drive. The Mesa Point Road offers great views of the canyons, and the Grand View Point Road takes you to some of the best overlooks in the park.
4. Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef is a little-known national park that’s often overshadowed by its more popular neighbors, Arches and Canyonlands. But this park is definitely worth a visit. It’s home to towering red rock formations, deep canyons, and petroglyphs (ancient rock art) left behind by Native Americans.
The best way to explore Capitol Reef is on foot. There are dozens of hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, ranging from easy 0.5-mile loops to strenuous multi-day hikes. The Capitol Gorge Trail is a great option for first-time visitors; it’s a 3-mile round trip hike that takes you past petroglyphs and an old pioneer cabin. For something more challenging, try the 16-mile Cohab Canyon Loop Trail.
If you don’t want to hike, you can still see the highlights of Capitol Reef on a scenic drive. The Capitol Reef Scenic Drive is a 23-mile road that takes you through the heart of the park. Along the way, you’ll pass by petroglyphs, old pioneer cabins, and stunning views of the red rock formations.
5. Zion National Park
Zion is one of the most popular national parks in the country, and for good reason. It’s home to towering red rock cliffs, waterfalls, and hiking trails of varying difficulty levels. The popular Angels Landing trail is a must-do for first-time visitors; it’s a 5-mile round trip hike that takes you to an amazing overlook with sweeping views of the canyons below. For something more challenging, try the 16-mile Narrows hike. This strenuous hike takes you into the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, where walls rise more than 2,000 feet above the Virgin River.
If you don’t want to hike, you can still see the highlights of Zion on a scenic drive. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is a 12-mile road that takes you through the heart of the park. Along the way, you’ll pass by towering red rock cliffs, waterfalls, and stunning views of the canyon.
Now that you know about all the amazing national parks Utah has to offer, it’s time to start planning your trip! And if you want to see all of these parks in one convenient trip, consider booking a private custom tour with Utah Luxury Tours. Their knowledgeable guides will take you on an unforgettable journey through all of Utah’s national parks. Contact them at (801) 285-6713 today to learn more!