The great state of Utah is where you’ll find some of the most visually stunning natural landscapes in the United States, with five national parks showcasing the best of what the state offers. From towering sandstone cliffs to otherworldly hoodoos, each park has unique features and attractions that make it worth visiting. Here are Utah’s five best national parks, each with breathtaking vistas and outdoor experiences.
Zion National Park
You’ll find Zion National Park in southwestern Utah and is known for its steep sandstone cliffs, deep canyons, and narrow slot canyons. The park is also home to popular hiking trails in the country, including the Narrows, a hike that takes you through a river canyon, and Angel’s Landing, a steep climb with breathtaking views from the top.
The park also features diverse wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and golden eagles. One of the most popular attractions in Zion National Park is the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, a 6-mile road that takes you through some of the park’s most scenic areas. Visitors can also enjoy rock climbing, canyoneering, horseback riding, camping, and backpacking in the backcountry.
Bryce Canyon National Park
One of our favorites, Bryce Canyon National Park, is found in southwestern Utah and is known for its unique geological formations known as hoodoos. These spire-like structures, formed by erosion, create a stunning and otherworldly landscape. Visitors to Bryce Canyon can enjoy hiking trails that wind through the hoodoos and scenic drives that offer breathtaking views of the park’s many natural wonders.
Undoubtedly the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon is the Queen’s Garden Trail, which takes you down into the heart of the hoodoo-filled amphitheater. Another popular attraction is the Sunrise Point overlook, which offers stunning views of the park’s unique landscape. Visitors can also enjoy camping, horseback riding, and stargazing in this beautiful park.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is in south-central Utah, known for its towering sandstone cliffs and colorful rock formations. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, including the famous Cassidy Arch Trail, which takes you to a natural arch with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Another popular attraction in Capitol Reef is the historic Fruita district, where visitors can see the remains of a 19th-century Mormon settlement and pick fresh fruit from the orchards. The park also offers a range of outdoor activities, including rock climbing, horseback riding, and camping in the backcountry.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park sits in eastern Utah and is known for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch. The park’s unique landscape was formed by millions of years of erosion, resulting in a stunning and otherworldly collection of rock formations. Visitors to Arches can explore the park’s many hiking trails, including the famous Devils Garden Trail, which takes you to several of the park’s most famous arches.
Another popular attraction in Arches is the Fiery Furnace, a maze-like area of sandstone fins that you can explore with a ranger-led tour. The park also offers a range of outdoor activities, including rock climbing, canyoneering, and camping in the backcountry.
Canyonlands National Park
Hike a bit further and you’ll find Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah, which is known for its deep canyons and stunning views of the Colorado River. The park is divided into four districts, each offering unique outdoor experiences and stunning vistas. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, including the famous Mesa Arch Trail, which takes you to a natural arch with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
Another popular attraction in Canyonlands is the Island in the Sky district, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding canyons and the Colorado River. Visitors can also enjoy rafting on the Colorado River, mountain biking, and camping in the park’s many campgrounds.
Utah’s five national parks are some of the most stunning and unique natural landscapes in the United States. Each park offers special features and attractions, from the sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park to the otherworldly hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park. Whether you’re an avid hiker, rock climber, or simply looking for a scenic drive, Utah’s national parks have something for everyone.
Visitors to these parks should remember to follow Leave No Trace principles, respect wildlife and natural habitats, and prepare for the often harsh desert environment. With its stunning vistas, diverse wildlife, and unique geological features, Utah’s national parks are a must-visit destination for any outdoor enthusiast or nature lover.