Utah — Attractions
Nature rules in Utah, while the urban attractions take a back seat. This state is covered in sublime red rock canyons, towering alpine mountain ranges dotted with ski resorts, and fantastic lakes like the Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell. Salt Lake City is the main urban hub, with plenty of cultural attractions, while smaller towns like Moab and Provo help with tourism and higher education.
Zion National Park
Of the handful of red rock national parks in southern Utah, one can make the case that Zion is the cream of the crop. There are 229 square miles to explore and a superb trail system to access every corner of the park. The way the sheer walls of the canyons rise 2,000 feet from the valley floor is truly surreal. This is nature at its most expressive. The trails here allow for easy hikes like the Riverside Walk and real challenges such as Angels Landing. There is canyoneering, rock climbing, rappelling, and other extreme sports to enjoy or you can just kick back in one of the on-site lodges and soak up the scenery.
Address: Springdale, UT 84767-1099
The most sophisticated ski resort town in Utah is Park City. It’s a cozy little Victorian silver mining hamlet situated at the base of three separate ski areas and overflowing with cool holiday amenities. The dining, nightlife, and cultural arts here is some of the best in the state. Each winter the famed Sundance Film Festival reappears to complement the reliably good skiing. Summers open up the hills to incredible mountain biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and other sports. Simply put, Park City is packed with things to do whether you’re an outdoor junkie or not.
Address: northern Utah
Salt Lake City
Utah’s main city sits between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake, and is the headquarters of the Mormon religion. Far from stodgy, Salt Lake City has a solid cultural arts scene, some interesting museums, and stunning landmarks like the Mormon Church at Temple Square. Recently, the capital has relaxed its Puritan alcohol rules and encouraged the nightlife to evolve. Salt Lake makes a superb base for daily excursions into the Wasatch Mountains, and offers many beautiful city parks and recreation areas right in town. The city is also considered one of America’s premier golfing destinations.
Address: northern Utah
The small, fairly remote town of Moab serves as base camp for outdoor recreation in the eastern red rock canyons of Utah. This tourist town itself is quiet and relaxed, with plenty of amenities for visitors. But Moab is really famous for its red rock mountain biking scene and proximity to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. The options for hiking, camping, climbing, and outdoor recreation in the immediate area is extraordinary. It also sits astride the Colorado River for rafting and fishing excursions and next to the Manta La Sal Wilderness for alpine adventures.
Address: eastern Utah
Canyonlands National Park
The largest national park in Utah is not a place to pop into for an afternoon walk. Canyonlands is a vast maze of sandstone canyons, spires, mesas, and other geological wonders. There are easily accessible portions of the park like the Island in the Sky District that offers scenic drives, vantage points, and short hiking trails. The Needles is an area where people tend to spend a few nights exploring its Salvador Dali spires and ancient Native American remains. The Maze is even more remote, offering a genuine backcountry adventure with virtually no one else on the trail.
Address: 2282 SW Resource Road, Moab, UT 84532
Utah’s second-largest city is best known as the home of Brigham Young University. The university provides much of the city’s cultural and sporting events, along with several nice museums and performing arts venues. Provo is also a good base for trips into the Timpanogos Cave National Monument and the marvelous gardens at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. The Wasatch Mountains are on the doorstep and Utah Lake State Park next door for great boating conditions. Just south of Provo is the small town of Springville, Utah’s Art City, as it likes to be known thanks to its excellent art museum and local galleries.
Address: northern Utah
Covering much of the southeastern corner of Utah is the vast Lake Powell with its deep blue water and countless finger coves that create one of America’s most enjoyable boating destinations. With red rock canyons rising on all sides and more coastline than entire Pacific coast of America, Lake Powell requires about a week to properly explore. Many people rent houseboats to get around, a perfect way to combine accommodation with transport. Plenty of natural attractions await, such as the sacred Rainbow Bridge National Monument, but only if you have a boat.
Address: PO Box 1507, Page AZ 86040