The secret of Utah’s natural wonders is out, and everyone wants to piece of the magic. The southern end of the state is covered in surreal red rock geology protected in the great American national parks of Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, and others. The hiking, mountain biking, and canyoneering in Utah’s Canyon Country is unparalleled. Running right through it all is massive Lake Powell, one of the country’s most scenic and popular recreation lakes.
Towards the northern end of Utah the Wasatch mountain range takes over, providing ideal conditions for some of the American West’s top powder ski resorts like Park City, Alta, and Snowbird. Throw in the Great Salt Lake and its eerie lunar landscape and it’s no surprise why so many nature and outdoor recreation lovers consider Utah to be the gem of the American Southwest.
The hiking in Utah’s Canyon Country is simply magical. Even the names of the multicolored sandstone formations like The Maze and The Needles evoke a sense of fantasy. Nearly all of this geologic beauty is protected and open to the public in Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Escalante, and Cedar Reefs National Parks. Take on the backcountry yourself or let an outfitter like Wildland Trekking Company lead the way.
All that sheer rock face in Utah makes for some pretty sweet rock climbing and canyoneering. Zion National Park is arguably the most addictive place in the country to scale rock, and certainly one of the most scenic. Firms like Paragon Adventures and Zion Rock Guides handle training as well as guide services for all levels.
The canyons are also home to some of America’s most exciting and unusual mountain biking trails. Moab serves as home base for the state’s extraordinary slick rock riding with the Colorado River below and La Sal Mountains towering above. Bryce Canyon National Park is another hot spot, as is the high alpine riding at Brian Head Resort’s lift-serviced downhill trails. Moab’s Magpie Cycling can arrange anything from bikes to training and overnight adventures.
When the winter arrives it usually dumps copious amounts of light powdery snow on the Wasatch Mountains. This helps ski resorts like Park City, Deer Valley, Alta, and several other hills attract everyone from die-hard powder hounds to families looking to spend time together on the slopes. For a serious backcountry skiing memory let Utah Mountain Adventures take you out.
Despite being mainly desert, Utah has some very nice bodies of water. Lake Powell has hundreds of tiny fingers inlets to explore by lumbering houseboat, zippy powerboat or Zen-like kayak. It’s an absolute wonderland for boating of any kind. The Colorado River also runs through the state, featuring some of the best rafting in America. Outfits like Wild Rivers Expeditions can take you on any kind of river excursion you crave.