Some of the best things to do in Utah include hiking, wandering through Utah’s national parks, canyoneering, exploring Utah’s big cities, soaking in the state’s hot springs, and viewing archaeological sites. The sheer number of fun Utah activities equates to thousands; each as incredible as the last.
I was born a Southwestern gal and have explored the deep trenches of the sandstone state. As a result, I’ve devised this ultimate guide to help you narrow down which epic Utah activities to do on your next trip.
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47 Best Things to Do in Utah
Zion National Park
Wade through waist-high water at one of the most popular national parks in the U.S.
Zion National Park is the most visited national park in Utah and one of the top national parks in the United States. Most visitors travel to the Southwestern desert state for the sole purpose of visiting this small, but dense, national park.
Zion National Park is characterized by stunning red rock canyons and sweeping overlooks. It even has some of the most famous hiking trails in Utah like The Narrows and Angels Landing.
Due to its popularity, the best way to visit Zion is to check out one of these hotel options in the nearby town of Springdale. There is also free BLM camping on the outskirts of town and an official national park lodge in the heart of Zion.
Arches National Park
Discover some of the 2,000 natural arches at this Moab national park.
One of my personal favorite national parks in Utah, Arches National Park is a sandstone paradise. There are over 2,000 natural arches residing in the national park, making Arches one of the most unique desert parks in the west.
I recommend hiking the Delicate Arch trail, one of the most popular things to do in Moab. This quintessential looming arch is on the Utah license plate and is perhaps the most recognizable site in the state. Hike under the light of the moon for a chance to see the sunrise through Delicate Arch.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Hike among unique geological formations known as hoodoos for an extraterrestrial-like experience.
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the top national parks in Utah. Erect geologic formations called hoodoos dot the horizon in Bryce Canyon, the postcard feature of the park.
Throughout the national park, there are various hiking trails suited for both novices and expert hikers. I recommend visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter, but you must bring a warm down jacket. There are fewer crowds at this time and the snow-adorned hoodoos are quite a site.
Drive through a postcard landscape of the American Southwest.
If you’re visiting eastern Utah on an ultimate Utah road trip, then a trip to Monument Valley must be arranged. Situated on Navajo land 3 hours outside of Moab on the Arizona border, Monument Valley is a heavenly collection of red rock spires, buttes, mesas, and untouched desert landscape.
Bears Ears National Monument
Explore ancestral dwellings at this desert monument.
Bears Ears National Monument is one of the densest archaeological sites in Utah. Recently designated a national, protected monument under the Obama administration, the politically-charged fights to protect this site are an inseparable part of the monument’s history.
There is an abundance of hiking trails in Bears Ears, as well as slot canyons, backcountry camping, and rock climbing. This monument is the ultimate outdoor playground.
Mystic Hot Springs
Arguably the most popular hot spring in Utah with natural mineral deposit walls.
Arguably the best hot springs in Utah, Mystic Hot Springs is unlike any other springs site in the state. Choose from a large communal pool with a natural mineral arch or private soaking bathtubs backdropped by sandstone walls.
Located in Monroe in middle Utah, Mystic Hot Springs also boasts a campground and hosts summer concerts that can be viewed from the soaking tubs. Mystic springs are sure to be your new favorite soaking site in Utah and I cannot recommend them enough!
Meadow Hot Springs
Drive down a short dirt road to arrive at a free, open hot spring in the middle of expansive Utah country.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free
Meadow Hot Springs is my favorite natural hot spring in Utah. A bit off the beaten path, this is one of the best things to do in Utah for travelers who like an adventurous challenge.
There is a 5-mile dirt road required to access the springs, which is doable in a sedan. The Meadow hot springs are located on an open expanse of country, backdropped by beautiful rolling hills. I recommend visiting in the winter when the snow has entirely transformed the landscape and hot spring crowds are scant.
Mountain Biking Moab
Don’t lose the grip on your mountain bike as you daringly ride a thin ledge across red sandstone.
Moab is the mecca of outdoor activities. From rock climbing and canyoneering to hiking and mountain biking, the outdoor recreation possibilities are endless in this red rock hippie town.
The Slickrock Bike Trail is among the top mountain biking trails in Moab. Put your balancing skills to the test as you straddle this ridge biking trail in the heart of the red rock canyon lands. This trail can be enjoyed at any time of the year but it is advised to steer clear of the slippery trail after a fresh rain or snowfall.
Sundance Film Festival
Watch one-of-a-kind Independent films at this huge film festival in Park City.
The largest independent film festival in the world, the Sundance Film Festival is a must if you find yourself in Utah during the winter. This Park City festival is one of the best things to do in Utah for film connoisseurs and is within close proximity to top Utah ski resorts.
Witness some of the best independent Southwestern films at this 10-day festival. Sundance is one of my favorite events in Utah and you’ll often find me at the winter event each year.
Cataract Canyon Rafting
Hang on tight as you raft down roaring rapids.
Race down river rapids at Cataract Canyon in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Not only is this the best spot to go river rafting in Utah, but it’s also a hot spot for fishing, lounging riverside, and paddle boarding.
Several guided tours specialize in both single-day and multi-day rafting adventures, most operating out of Moab, Utah.
Canyonlands National Park
Drive or hike to a viewpoint almost as grand as the Grand Canyon at this Moab canyon oasis.
The second of Moab’s national parks, Canyonlands National Park often slips under the radar but should be high on every Utah itinerary.
White Rim Overlook Trail showcases some of the most impressive scenery in the Southwest. The Colorado and Green rivers carve through the canyon and have completely transformed the layered sandstone environment below.
Backdropped by the snow-capped La Sal Mountains in nearby Moab, every inch of Canyonlands National Park is photogenic.
Capitol Reef National Park
Get away from national park crowds with an escape to this southern Utah park that’s rich with archaeological sites and generous with hiking trails.
The least visited of Utah’s five national parks, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden Southwestern gem. Located near the tiny town of Hanksville, just two hours from Moab, Capitol Reef offers travelers tranquility away from heavy crowds.
Remnants of ancient life define Utah’s national parks and monuments, including Capitol Reef. Visit ancient Indigenous petroglyphs, historic cabins, and other dwellings of the past.
Four Corners National Monument
Stand in four U.S. states at the same time.
Stand in four U.S. states at one time at this rare site. One of the top national monuments in New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, Four Corners National Monument is a most unique national monument.
With nothing around but stretches of open country, Four Corners is best visited if traveling between U.S. states. I visited the monument while traveling from top Colorado national parks to eastern Utah.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Search for artifacts along the trails or wiggle your way through one of the park’s slot canyons.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is one of the most archaeologically-rich sites in Utah. Hiking throughout the desert landscape of Grand Staircase, hikers are sure to encounter rock art, dwelling sites, granaries, and more.
Located in southern Utah adjacent to Bears Ears, Escalante retains a special desert charm away from tourist crowds. It’s also possible to camp almost anywhere in the national monument, as long as you snag a permit from the visitor center beforehand.
Dinosaur National Monument
Learn about dinosaurs while observing their fossils at this cool national monument.
Located in northeastern Utah, Dinosaur National Monument is a place to view Jurassic Period fossils embedded in rocks. Kids in particular will love wandering through the dinosaur sculpture garden at Dinosaur National Monument. Don’t forget to snag a photo with your favorite giant lizard.
There are also various campgrounds throughout the monument, giving visitors a chance to explore the monument and the surrounding desert-scape at a slow pace. It’s the perfect way to truly enjoy the beauty of the desert.
Dark Canyon Wilderness
Photograph cliffside Indigenous dwellings high in sandstone walls.
Dark Cayon Wilderness area is technically located inside of Bears Ears National Monument but is one of the best things to do in Utah for history lovers.
Ancestral Puebloan structures define the landscape. You’ll find cliffside dwelling structures perfectly embedded in the sandstone terraces, as well as ceramics dotting the soil, hidden from the untrained eye. There are various camping areas in the Dark Canyon Wilderness, as well as horse campsites.
📚 Related Reading: Chaco Canyon National Historical Park Guide
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Explore southern Utah hoodoos amid deep gorge expanses.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is located in southern Utah just north of St. George. It’s a great stop on an ultimate Utah road trip, especially if traveling north from Zion National Park.
2,000-foot gorges give this monument a monumental feel and the hoodoo spires make the environment a whimsical playground. Photograph ancient Bristlecone Pines at Cedar Breaks National Monument, hike into the gorge, or camp under the millions of stars.
Hovenweep National Monument
Discover ancient dwellings centuries of years old at this sandstone monument.
Hovenweep National Monument sits right on the state border and is also one of the top things to do in Colorado. The ancient architecture at the monument has inhabited the Hovenweep National Monument land for centuries and was once home to over 2,500 residents.
Six prehistoric villages once thrived in the area and their remains are one of the top sites in the monument. During the day, view dwellings up to 800 years old, and then camp overnight for a chance to view millions of Southwestern desert stars.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Boat to one of the longest natural arches in Utah.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument is only accessible via boat on Lake Powell. While getting to this monument isn’t the easiest, it’s sure one to remember.
Rainbow Bridge is one of the highest naturally-forming arches in Utah and is well worth the aquatic excursion. Straddling the AZ border, Rainbow Bridge is located on one of the top lakes in Arizona and is frequented by Southwestern locals from both border states.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Spend the day floating on the Colorado River or try your luck water skiing.
Cataract Canyon is one of the highlights of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This national recreation area is also an ideal place to ski and set up a home base for exploring Escalante.
For a unique experience, go white water rafting on the Colorado River at the bottom of the area’s 1,000+ foot-high sandstone gorge walls.
Golden Spike Historical Park
Visit the site of the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S..
Golden Spike Historical Park marks the completion of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States in 1869. The park features a visitors center that includes an informative film, the Big Fill Loop hiking trail, two auto tours, and Victorian-era replica locomotives.
Located 1.5 hours north of Salt Lake City, Golden Spike Historical Park makes a great day trip from the big city.
Visiting hot springs is definitely one of the top things to do in Utah. Scroll for my top picks or check out my full list of the best hot springs in Utah.
Red Hill Hot Springs
An acropolis of red rock looms over free hot springs in Monroe, Utah.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 5 am-10 pm | Entrance: Free
Located just up the hill from the Mystic Hot Springs, Red Hill Hot Springs is free of charge and is the perfect place to spend an entire day soaking under the red sun.
Choose from four different pools at Red Hill Hot Springs, all varying in temperature. Protruding red rock melts in place above the springs, providing soakers with a trippy, dazed experience.
👉 Pro Tip: Soaking in hot springs can quickly dehydrate you. Be sure to bring a big water bottle with you for the safest possible soaking experience.
Fifth Water Hot Springs
Milky turquoise pools spill into each other deep into the Utah wilderness.
Also known as Diamond Fork Hot Springs, Fifth Water Hot Springs consists of a series of spilling pools in the middle of deep wilderness. The turquoise pools are one of the most photogenic hot springs in Utah, and I recommend bringing a waterproof phone cover so you can document the experience.
The Fifth Water Hot Springs requires a 4.5-mile out-and-back hike through beautiful backcountry trails. Follow Fifth Water Creek to the hot springs at the base of two waterfalls for an exceptional experience.
Homestead Crater Hot Springs
Soak up the steam at this beehive-shaped hot spring.
Soak up soothing minerals at this hot spring inside of a beehive-shaped rock dome just south of Salt Lake City. The unique geological features of Homestead Crater Hot Springs formed gradually over 10,000 years and now host an array of relaxed visitors.
Homestead Crater Hot Springs is also one of the only warm water scuba diving sites in the U.S. and offers guided tours at the Homestead lodge reception desk.
Inlet Park Hot Springs
Large, free hot springs big enough to host a party.
Also known as Saratoga Hot Springs, the Inlet Park springs are located on free, open land in northern Utah. The main pool at Inlet Park Hot Springs is large enough to host the whole family, just be sure to pack out all of your trash.
These springs are day-use only but there is a nearby Walmart parking lot that allows campers. I still recommend checking with management beforehand, however, to ensure the rules haven’t changed.
Gandy Warm Springs
Soak in warm springs year-round.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free
The Gandy Warm Springs is the perfect place to hit up during the summer months in Utah. Located on the very eastern border with Nevada, these springs are lukewarm and are best accessed when summer nights finally cool down.
Be sure to bring your trusty hiking boots when visiting this relaxing oasis, as there are many surrounding hiking trails.
Outdoor Activities in Utah
Park City Mountain Resort
Ski or snowboard at the largest ski resort in the U.S..
You must hit up at least one ski resort if traveling to Utah in the winter. Located just east of Salt Lake City, Park City Mountain Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in Utah.
Park City is the largest ski and snowboard resort in the United States with over 7,300 skiable acres, over 330 trails, and 6 terrain parks. It’s safe to say that Park City has absolutely everything you were looking for in a winter sports resort.
📚 Related Reading: Best Colorado Ski Resorts
Antelope Island State Park
Hike, mountain bike, and horseback ride around the Great Salt Lake shore.
Antelope Island State Park is located on the southern shore of Great Salt Lake just outside of Salt Lake City. The state park is most often frequented for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding on the park’s backcountry trails.
The backcountry grassland ecosystem invites buffalo and other wildlife to graze near the lake, making a trip to Antelope Island State Park a peaceful yet eventful outing.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Mirrored salt flats set the stage for one of the most dramatic landscapes in Utah.
No, it’s not in the Atacama Desert in Chile or Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, it’s the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah! These reflective white salt flats open up to an eternal stretch of barren land, with evidence of habitation dating back more than 10,000 years.
This is one of the best things to do in Utah for aspiring photographers, so be sure to bring your professional camera or dress up for one of the best photoshoots in Utah.
Utah Lake State Park
RV camp right on the lake and spend the whole day fishing, water skiing, or lounging lakeside.
This west Provo state park encompasses Utah’s largest freshwater lake. It’s a top spot for fishing and other water activities, including year-round swimming in the 75-degree water.
There is also an RV park inside the state park that can accompany rigs of all sizes. However, there are only 31 sites with water and electricity, so be sure to reserve a spot ahead of time.
Red Butte Garden
Enjoy an outdoor concert in the heart of a northern Utah botanical garden.
Enjoy the solitude of the botanical garden, arboretum, and amphitheater at Red Butte Garden just east of Salt Lake City. The peaceful atmosphere of the gardens is due to its location at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and surrounding foothill scenery.
I recommend visiting the Red Butte Garden during one of the Outdoor Concert Series hosted by the University of Utah.
Utah Olympic Park
Winter sports heaven is embodied at this park that was established for the 2002 Olympic Games.
The elaborate Utah Olympic Park was built for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Park City, just 25 miles from Salt Lake City. The enormous 400-acre venue houses one of only four sliding tracks in North America and is a must-visit for winter sports enthusiasts.
The Utah Olympic Park also boasts six Nordic ski jumps, a 2002 Winter Games museum, and other adventurous outdoor activities. If skiing or snowboarding is your forte, you’ll truly feel at home at this huge park.
Snow Canyon State Park
Explore an expansive nature park with resident desert tortoises.
Discover a 7,400-acre nature park laden with lava flows and sandstone cliffs in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. The majestic desert environment gives way to striking hues and was established to initially protect the endangered desert tortoise and its fragile habitat.
There are 38 miles of hiking trails, 15 miles of equestrian trails, and 3 established equestrian paths at Snow Canyon State Park, an area that was formed 183 million years ago.
Goblin Valley State Park
Photograph the unique geologic formations at this state park that predates the arrival of Utah cowboys.
Goblin Valley State Park resides between Capitol Reef National Park and Moab, Utah. First discovered by cowboys looking for cattle, Goblin Valley is survived by five buttes and unusual rock formations surrounding walls of eroded cliffs.
Peak geologic history is present in the state park, a place that’s prime for stargazing, hiking, mountain biking, and some of the best camping in Utah. Be sure to bring your binoculars or celestial telescope for a grand view of the night sky.
Dead Horse Point
Go glamping in a glamorous yurt just outside of Arches National Park.
The immense desert landscape of Dead Horse Point exists right on the banks of Moab, Utah. Sweeping canyons, high desert woodland terrain, and miles of trails give Dead Horse Point its sought-after reputation among outdoor enthusiasts.
Most visitors opt to camp in either the tent campgrounds or the yurt glamping areas for easy access to witness an early sunrise.
Donut Falls Trail
A unique waterfall breaks through an enclosed cave hole.
Explore a 3.3-mile trail to one of the most unique waterfalls and coolest hikes in Utah. The Salt Lake City Donut Falls Trail brings eager hikers to an enclosed cave with an opening just big enough for a gaping waterfall to seep through.
There may be an accumulated pool at the bottom of the falls in the summer months, so don’t forget to bring your bathing suit! If visiting Donut Falls in the winter, you may want to bring microspikes, as the snow can be as deep as a few feet.
Deer Valley Resort
Shred down some serious slopes at one of Utah’s most popular ski resorts.
Avid skiers and snowboarders don’t want to miss out on Deer Valley Resort. One of the most popular ski resorts in Utah, Deer Valley is within driving distance of Salt Lake City and is one of the best things to do in Utah during the winter.
Deer Valley limits the number of skiers per day so the experience isn’t overcrowded and overwhelming. There are over 2,000 skiable acres at Deer Valley Resort as well as an accredited ski school for novice winter sports athletes.
Sand Hollow State Park
Hold on tight as you off-road on the state park sand dunes.
One of Utah’s newer state parks, Sand Hollow encompasses the Sand Hollow Reservoir with boating and fishing opportunities as well as a prime landscape for off-roading and riding ATVs across the sand dunes.
Both tent and RV camping is available at either the campground or right on the beach at Sand Hollow State Park. This is one of the best things to do in Utah if you have a lot of leisure time to kick back, relax, and stay for a few days on the shores of the park.
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
Explore a huge, public desert landscape that embodies several unique ecosystems.
The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is a southern Utah gem. Located on BLM land just outside of St. George, this conservation area includes 60,000 acres of desert ecosystems, unique landscapes, and protected species unique to this area alone.
The area is a transition zone between the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert and showcases unique features from each. City Creek is a great area to explore with kids and Red Mountain provides adults with more of a physical fitness challenge.
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City Activities in Utah
Natural History Museum
Learn about the natural Southwestern world through interpretive exhibits.
This Salt Lake City museum showcases exhibits of natural history, focusing on Utah and the Southwest. Get to know local Utah flora, fauna, and the past and living inhabitants at this informative museum.
Collections include paleontology, anthropology, entomology, mineralogy, zoology, botany, and malacology. This is the perfect activity to supplement the ideal trip to Utah’s capital city.
Salt Lake Trolley Tours
Sightsee in the big city by way of a theatrical trolley car.
Explore Salt Lake City in a fun, open-air way on the SLC trolley. The Salt Lake City Trolley Tours are the best way to sightsee in the big city. Cruise through the historic districts in early 20th-century style.
This 1.5-hour “show tour” is led by theatrical guides and the charismatic conductors keep things light-hearted yet informative.
Utah Shakespeare Festival
Hear ye, hear ye, you mustn’t miss the oldest and largest Shakespeare Festival in North America.
Every summer, this unique Utah festival pays homage to the late but great sixteenth-century writer. The tony-award winning performances are a must if traveling from southern Utah to the north.
Take a seat in the grand outdoor theater as you experience a wrinkle in time through performances under the stars. Fans of theater arts must be a part of North America’s oldest and largest Shakespeare Festival.
Heber Valley Music & Cowboy Poetry Festival
Yeehaw, the rootin’ tootin’ cowboy festival in Heber is sure to educate the masses about Utah cowboy culture.
Giddyup partner, you’re about to learn all about cowboy culture through poems and songs at the annual Heber Valley Music & Cowboy Poetry Festival.
Held in northern Utah every October, Herber’s gathering attracts cowboy enthusiasts from all over the country. It’s a rowdy weekend of Western rendezvous and the celebration of cultures.
Moab Jazz Festival
Listen to acoustic masterpieces surrounded by red rock amphitheater walls.
A grand sandstone amphitheater sets the stage for the Moab Jazz Festival. Rich acoustic performances are amplified by the echo of the towering canyon walls, sending shivers down listeners’ spines.
The Moab Jazz Festival also hosts a series of concerts at its floating river venue, one of the coolest activities in town. Board a canoe and set sail with a serenading band of classical, jazz, or global traditional musicians.
Living Traditions Festival
Be a part of Salt Lake City’s ethnic celebratory festival.
Celebrate the diversity of Utah at the Living Traditions Festival, held every spring in Salt Lake City. Cultural songs, dances, food, and practices are displayed at this 32-year-old festival.
More than 70 ethnic performances grace the stage, the hallmark event of the Living Traditions Festival. View Bulgarian dances, Scottish music, and a Native American Pow Wow, among other multiethnic performances.
Hole ‘N’ the Rock
Venture inside a gigantic rock to view an old historical home and museum in Moab, UT.
Hole ‘N’ the Rock is one of the most unique museums in Utah. Located on the eastern end of Moab, this historic house was once home to a miner and his wife who dynamited a gigantic rock to establish residence inside.
The historic artifacts of the home have been perfectly preserved since the passing away of the couple and the museum offers tours throughout the wacky museum today.
Witness a historic home that once housed major Mormon figures.
This 1854 home was once the residence of Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, and Lorenzo Snow – prominent presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today, it’s a historic Utah landmark and receives its beehive name from the beehive sculpture on the roof.
FAQs About What to Do in Utah
What is the number 1 attraction in Utah?
Zion National Park is the number 1 attraction in Utah. It’s the top national park in the state and one of the top 10 most visited parks in the United States.
What do people in Utah do for fun?
For fun in Utah, explore all 5 big Utah national parks, go fishing on Great Salt Lake, and float down the Colorado River.
What is Utah best known for?
Utah is best known for its 5 national parks, archaeological sites, and quintessential Southwestern sandstone beauty.
What are the best things to do in Utah with kids?
Exploring the national parks and enjoying the museums in SLC are the best things to do in Utah with kids.
Thanks for reading my guide on the top things to do in Utah!
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