Must-See National Parks in Utah

March 10, 2023

national parks in Utah

Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ national parks attract the most attention, but a whole lot of other must-see nature spots can be found all over this Southwest state.

Arches National Park is a desert wonderland of spires, thin ridges, and stunning rock arches. Erosion of soft red Entrada sandstone has carved out arches such as Delicate Arch, Double Arch, and Landscape Arch.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah is a stunning place to visit. The park is filled with magnificent arches, soaring pinnacles, massive fins, and towering monoliths.

Its unique landscape is a result of the unusual geology of the area. Salt-filled troughs formed by faults in the earth's surface helped form these impressive arches.

There are many ways to explore the park and its natural features, including hiking. There are short 10 minute walks that are suitable for people of all ages, as well as 4 hour hikes into some of the more remote sections of the park.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is Utah’s largest national park. This southeastern Utah park is famous for its dramatic desert landscape carved by the Colorado River.

Located just outside of Moab, Canyonlands features a variety of geologic formations, including Island in the Sky and the Needles District. Other notable spots include the Maze and Horseshoe Canyon.

This park is a popular tourist destination for hikers and photographers alike. The park’s terrain is incredibly varied, offering limitless photographic opportunities under any weather condition.

The park is also known for its dark night skies, making it a great place to explore the stars and constellations. Rangers lead stargazing events throughout the summer, or you can download a night sky app and check it out on your own.

Hovenweep National Monument

Located on the Utah-Colorado border, Hovenweep National Monument features prehistoric masonry structures reminiscent of medieval castles. These towers, perched on canyon rims and impossibly balanced on boulders, were built by ancestral Puebloans.

Similar in architecture, masonry and pottery styles to Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, the towers were part of a sedentary farming culture that occupied the Four Corners area from about A.D. 500 to 1300.

Six sites are grouped within a 20-mile radius of each other along the Utah-Colorado border. The units include Square Tower, Cajon, Holly, Hackberry, Cutthroat Castle and Goodman Point.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

One of the most iconic natural bridges in the world, Rainbow Bridge is carved into sandstone on the edge of Lake Powell. It has been a sacred site for Native Americans since ancient times.

It was first discovered by white explorers in 1909, and it received national monument status in 1910. The Navajo tribe has long considered it a religious site, and visitors are asked to respect this.

The park is open year-round, but it is a backcountry area and requires extensive preparation. It is accessed by boat or by hiking the 32-mile round trip backpacking trail around Navajo Mountain.

Escalante National Monument

Located in Utah, Escalante National Monument is a vast chunk of land containing canyons, cliffs and rugged backcountry. The 1.9 million acre national park spans across a number of Utah's national parks and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The monument is a major tourist destination, as it features many archeological, geological and biological treasures. It also protects habitats for a wide variety of wildlife such as black bear, mountain lion, mule deer and elk.

Hiking is the most popular activity within the monument, as visitors can hike waterfalls, narrow slot canyons, arches and sculpted slick rock for a memorable adventure. There are also numerous scenic drives to choose from.


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