The Best of Utah
I have lived in Utah my whole life and there is nowhere else I would rather live. Though the weather can be confusing/frustrating (it can snow, rain, and be 75 degrees in the same week), there are so many things to do and places to go in the Beehive State.
Utah is full of famous National Parks and areas for hiking, camping, boating, skiing, etc. Let’s start with National Parks.
Zion’s National Park
Zion’s National Park is probably my favorite national park in Utah. If you have never seen red rock cliffs, be sure to bring a camera. The landscapes are amazing and the possibilities are endless. The hikes range from easy to experienced so a hike can be found for someone of any age. Angel’s Landing is one of the most famous hikes from here. If you are afraid of heights, do not attempt this one! The final half-mile ascent you are holding onto a chain bolted to the rocks. So Angel’s Landing is not for the faint of heart but the view is breathtaking!
Zion’s has two visitor’s centers with shuttles to the different trailheads. There are weekly or annual passes and the cost is $35/vehicle for seven consecutive days or an annual pass is $50. Check out Zion National Park’s website for discounts, open times, camping details, and places to eat. My favorite place we ate at was family friendly, Oscar’s Cafe.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Wind, water, and time have turned Bryce Canyon National Park into the spectacular place it is today. Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah, just 72 miles from Zion’s National Park. Once you get to the park, you can take the free shuttle to all the must-see viewpoints and trails or drive yourself. If you choose to stay for a while, you can camp or stay in the rustic lodge at the center of the park. During your stay, you can hike, camp, ATV ride, go horseback riding, take tours, backpacking, and mountain biking. Hotels, restaurants, and other accommodations are located in nearby towns, Tropic or Cannonville.
Weekly passes for Bryce Canyon National Park cost $30/vehicle or an annual pass for $35/vehicle. Be sure to check out Bryce Canyon National Park’s website for further information on discounts, prices, and the best time of year to go.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is located in Moab, Utah. The best way to get there is to fly into the Salt Lake International Airport and then drive 3.5 hours to the park. At Arches, you will see natural rock structures as you’ve never seen before. This is a very busy park with many popular trailheads. Rather than try to find a parking spot, it is easier to use a taxi service or commercial touring company that drops you off and picks you up again. The most popular hike you’ve got to do on is to the Delicate Arch. If you’ve seen a Utah license plate with an orange rock on it, that’s Delicate Arch!
There are hotels and campgrounds near the park, not in the actual park. During your stay you can do river rafting, camping, hiking, ATV riding, climbing, mountain biking, and visit the nearby Dinosaur park. A weekly pass costs $30/vehicle or you can get a Southeast Utah annual pass for $50/vehicle. The Arches National Park website has more information on discounts and prices.
Other Noteworthy Mountains to Hike in Utah
Since Utah is part of the Rocky Mountain range, you better believe there are some noteworthy mountains to hike. Mt. Timpanogos in Provo, Utah is a tough one, but one you won’t forget. Two trailheads are used to reach the summit: the Aspen Grove trail and the Timpooneke trail. The Timpooneke trail is the more popular one. You pay a small fee to enter the canyon and park at the trailhead. This hike is 15-16 miles round trip and can be done in one long day or can be an overnighter hike.
My husband has hiked this mountain 11 times, I’ve hiked it twice. One of the things we like to do is after you summit, continue hiking south along the ridge to the top of the snowfield or “the glacier.” We take snow gear and slide down the mile-long glacier to get to Emerald Lake. Visit Mt. Timpanogos’ website to see a map and further information.
King’s Peak, located in northern Utah, is Utah’s tallest mountain at 13,528 ft. This is a strenuous, 23-mile hike and should be done over at least two days. It is a LOOOOOONG and steep hike to the top but the views from up there are amazing. There are different paths you can take to the summit and it is best to figure out your route and decide on camping spots on King’s Peak’s website.
The hike up Mt. Olympus in the east part of Salt Lake City is strenuous because it is so steep. The trail is easy to see and anyone can do it as long as you take it slow and steady. The hike is 7.5 miles up and back and is well worth the trip if you make it to the top. The summit is federally protected wilderness and is one of the prettiest areas you will see during your visit to Utah.
If you are a skier, you will love the many ski resorts Utah has to offer. Since there are over ten ski resorts in the state, it is a good idea to compare the resorts based on what you’re looking for. This website, allows you to compare prices, levels of experience, free skiing for kids, elevation, snowfall measurements, etc. Be sure to check it out if you are coming to Utah to ski.
Even though Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, the Great Salt Lake is NOT a good spot for water activities. It does not smell good, it is swarming with bugs, and it’s just not pleasant. But, Utah does have two very popular water areas, Bear Lake and Lake Powell.
Bear Lake is located in northern Utah on the Utah/Idaho border. It is known as the Caribbean of the Rockies for its intense, turquoise-blue water. It is the ideal place for boating, fishing, water skiing, swimming, and sailing. You can camp at the lake or rent a condo during your stay.
Entrance fees are $8/day/vehicle or $75 annual day-use pass. Look at their website for discounts, further pricing on campgrounds and additional activities.
Lake Powell is actually a reservoir, not a lake. But it is still a great place for water entertainment in addition to camping and hiking. Check out Lake Powell’s website for more information on prices and activities to do.
Other Iconic Places, Not Particularly Outdoors
Oh my goodness that is a lot of outdoor places and things to do. I felt like I had to mention it though because Utah is known for its beautiful landscapes and mountains. If hiking, camping, and those types of outdoor activities aren’t your thing, don’t worry! There are still lots of other cool places you can visit while you’re here.
Nightmare on 13th
Nightmare on 13th, located in downtown Salt Lake City, is perhaps Utah’s most famous haunted house. If you come to Utah around Halloween time, be sure to go here and get your scare on. Ticket prices vary from $25-$45 but there are discounts for groups so check out their website for that. You can still visit this place any other time of year because they turn the haunted house aspects into an Escape Room game. You, and whoever you come with, have an hour to figure out puzzles, use your intuition, and escape to win the game. Nightmare on 13th’s website has all the information you need to know about either activity.
If you and your family aren’t used to large amusement parks like Disneyland or Six-Flags, you will have so much fun at Lagoon. This fun amusement park has rides younger kids will enjoy like the Tea Cups, and rides that will really get your heart-pumping like Cannibal. Gift shops and places to eat are located throughout the park.
Be warned, there is no stroller parking at each ride and you cannot take any bags, sunglasses, water, or anything on the rides with you. All possessions must be stored in a locker at the entrance of the park or left with someone in your party while you ride the ride. Season passports are $62/person. An adult day passport is $64.95 and for kids older than two it’s $46.95. Lagoon’s website has more information on discounts, ride requirements, and parking costs.
Thanksgiving Point, located in Lehi, Utah, has a couple of campuses that consist of the Museum of Natural Curiosity, Farm Country, Ashton Gardens, Museum of Ancient Life, and the Butterfly Biosphere. There are activities and fascinating things to see at each place, every day. Thanksgiving Point’s website has calendars and detailed information about each place along with ticket prices for all of the activities. This is a great place for kids to learn about history, animals, and science. Adults will learn something too!
Living Planet Aquarium
The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, located in Draper, Utah, is home to over 4,000 creatures from around the world. One of it’s coolest features is the 300,000-gallon shark tank with a tunnel where patrons can get an underwater view of the sharks, turtles, stingrays, and other water life. I know this aquarium isn’t as big as some others you may see in other states, but it is pretty impressive for Utah. Adult ticket prices are $19.95, teens and student ticket prices are $16.95, children tickets are $14.95, and under age two is free. Their website has more information about discounts.
You can’t come to northern Utah without visiting Temple Square. If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you probably know Utah as the “Mormon state.” You can learn about the early pioneers and church history right at Temple Square. While only worthy members of the Church are allowed to go inside the Salt Lake temple, the temple grounds are open for anyone to walk around, take pictures, and learn. The visitor’s center has exhibits, tours, informational videos, and just a bunch of neat things to see. You can also tour the Conference Center which seats 21,000 people. Going to these places is free, it is just asked that you be respectful of the grounds and the other people there at the time.
Near Temple Square is the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. You could spend a day there too but I wanted to mention there is a restaurant at the top of the building called The Roof Restaurant. It has gourmet dining buffet food with views that overlook Temple Square. It’s definitely a special experience.
Utah has Something for Everyone
Utah is a family oriented state with activities for everyone. There are numerous things you can do outdoors or inside. This beautiful state has a rich history and is full of great people. As long as the weather holds up for what you want to do, I feel confident in saying you will not be disappointed with your visit.
About the Author:
Hi! Elizabeth here, thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to say. I am a stay-at-home mom to two rowdy boys. My goal with my blog is to give you tips on things that I have realized or learned in my 28 years of life. The topics I discuss will range from adult experiences to kids, to cooking, finances, and everything in between!
Elizabeth there is so much to do in Utah! I want to come visit soon! I enjoy hiking, but sounds like I would need to get in much better shape for some of them. HaHa! The photos are just beautiful so I could only image it is better in “real life!” I know just who I am going to tell about the Nightmare on 13th. I have a friend that is obsessed with Halloween! Thanks for writing!