Super useful & totally free Utah travel guides, written by expert travelers who love Utah

View of the snow crests into sandstone mesas in Moab, Utah
Snow crests sandstone mesas in Moab, Utah

Why We Love Utah: Utah is a Southwestern desert paradise. The sandstone red rocks invite climbers, hikers, and off-roaders to explore its deep valleys and flat plateaued buttes. The “Big Five” national parks of Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef represent quintessential Utah terrain and peak desert scenery. Utah winters often experience below-freezing temperatures, which is ideal for prime ski conditions in the Wasatch or La Sal Mountain ranges. The Southwestern state also boasts a metropolitan atmosphere in big cities like Salt Lake City, where city folk can enjoy a booming nightlife scene and shopping excursions.

Best of Utah

🏙️ Places to Visit

Painted greetings from Moab on a cemented wall
Also known as a “hippie town,” Moab is a quaint village in eastern Utah

From north to south, most Utah cities are geared around outdoor recreation activities like skiing in mountainous areas and canyoneering out in the open desert.

  • Salt Lake City – Utah’s capital city has something for everyone. Enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene or a live sports game.
  • St. George – The gateway town to Zion National Park has a small-town vibe and hundreds of outdoor recreation activities.
  • Moab – An outdoor adventure town with a free spirit and two Utah national parks; Arches and Canyonlands.
  • Park City – Ski or snowboard down hundreds of slopes at this winter sports haven in northern Utah.
  • Logan – Escape big city crowds in this green college town, only an hour from fun water activities at Bear Lake.

✨ Read the full list of best places to visit in Utah.

Things to Do

Outdoor enthusiasts: look no further for your new favorite US state. Utah has suitable terrain for most adventurous activities like hiking, mountain biking, canyoneering, rock climbing, cycling, and more!

  • Hike in Zion National Park – The most popular Utah national park boasts some of the most beautiful geologic formations in the state.
  • Discover Arches in Arches National Park – Go on a scavenger hunt to find some of the 2,000 arches in this Moab desert park. 
  • Ski in the Wasatch Mountains – Shred down some gnarly runs in northern Utah or ski mountaineer in the backcountry.
  • Explore Hot Springs – Choose from over 100 natural hot springs to soak in after a long day of hiking.
  • Raft the Colorado River – Hang on tight as you crest roaring rapids on the Colorado River – the same river that resides in the Grand Canyon basin.

✨ See the full list of things to do in Utah.

The author McKenna Mobley posing in Arches National Park at sunrise
Travel Lemming writer McKenna posing in Arches National Park just as the sun breaks the horizon

🗺️ Where to Stay

A tent and a car on BLM land just outside of Zion National Park
Tent camping on BLM land just outside of Zion National Park

Most Utah accommodations are surrounded by nature or are within close driving distance of fun recreational activities. Stay near a Utah national park or monument for the best experience.

  • St. George – The perfect location for exploring both Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks that has a small-town feel.
  • Moab – This inclusive funky community offers hotels, lodges, and an affordable hostel for travelers of all types.
  • Escalante – The ideal location to stay for exploring both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
  • Salt Lake City – There’s no shortage of accommodation options in Utah’s capital city.
  • Bryce – The best outdoorsy place to stay for exploring Bryce Canyon National Park away from hectic Zion crowds.

🗺️ Read the full guide to where to stay in Utah.

🛎️ Best Hotels

Take your pick between luxury resorts, extravagant cabins, glamping tents, and national park lodges next time you’re in this beautiful Southwestern state.

  • Zion National Park Lodge – Perhaps the most popular accommodation in Utah, this lodge rests in the heart of Zion National Park.
  • Amangiri – A 5-star resort that blends in perfectly with its natural rock surroundings and has room views of nearby mesas.
  • Sundance Resort – A Provo city ski lodge that provides winter sports athletes close access to ski runs.
  • Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley – One of the most popular ski resorts, this luxury lodge is in a prime Utah ski terrain location. 
  • Under Canvas Moab – Sleep the night under the stars in an aesthetically-pleasing yurt by Arches and Canyonlands national parks.
Aerial winter view of the hotels and rentals near the Park City ski area
Hotels and rentals near the Park City ski area

🚗 Best Road Trips

A motorhome along the highway with scenic views in Utah
Motorhome road trips throughout Utah are some of the most scenic in the Southwest

Utah is the best road trip destination. Explore an unlimited number of touristy, local, or hidden spots at your own pace with your own vehicle.

  • St. George/Zion – After exploring one of the top national parks in Utah, head out to the surrounding areas to discover hidden hiking gems. 
  • Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante – The two most popular national monuments in Utah neighbor each other in southern Utah.
  • Monroe to Moab – Relax in beautiful Monroe Hot Springs before you head to Utah’s “hippie town.”
  • Monument Valley – A quintessential desert postcard location, Monument Valley is 3 hours from Moab.
  • Salt Lake City to Logan – Explore Utah’s capital city before heading north to experience the state’s best ski resorts.

⛰️ Best Hikes

View of the small waterfalls and lake on Mill Creek Trail
Mill Creek Trail in eastern Utah

Lace up your boots because hiking is the top Utah activity! Hike through thick forests, to the base of desert arches, or through waist-high water in the outdoorsy state.

  • The Narrows – This Zion National Park water hike is the most popular in Utah, be sure to get there early.
  • Angels Landing – With a permit, you too can summit one of the highest and most narrow summits in Zion NP.
  • White Rim Trail – This Canyonlands National Park hike takes you to a surreal lookout of a meadow of canyon gorges.
  • The Wave – Experience ocean waves in the desert at this incredibly popular photography spot.
  • Lower Calf Creek Falls – Hike to an ancient-use waterfall in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

⛰️ Read the full list of best hikes in Utah.

⛷️ Best Ski Resorts

An empty chairlift at a Utah ski resort
A lone chairlift makes the rounds at a Utah ski resort

Winter welcomes below-freezing temperatures and prime snow conditions for skiing. If backcountry skiing isn’t your cup of tea, Utah ski resorts offer plenty of opportunities for powdery fun.

  • Deer Valley – Just outside of Salt Lake City, this resort offers over 2,000 acres of award-winning terrain.
  • Snowbird – Welcome to the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. Backcountry ski, shred down resort slopes, or ski mountaineer.
  • Park City Mountain Resort – One of the most popular ski resorts in Utah, explore over 330 trails in the heart of ski country Utah.
  • Alta – One of the only ski-only resorts in Utah is located deep in the Wasatch Mountains and is revered for its powder skiing. 
  • Powder Mountain – This is the largest ski resort in the U.S. in terms of skiable acreage with an endless supply of powder.

♨️ Best Hot Springs

View of the steaming hot spring in winter at the Mystic Hot Springs
The Mystic Hot Springs are completely empty during winter snowstorms

Few things beat relaxing in a natural hot spring after a long day behind the wheel or a grueling day hike. Utah hot springs welcome the ultimate chill experience.

  • Mystic Hot Springs – Easily the top hot springs experience in Utah, this natural oasis boasts several bubbling pools.
  • Meadow Hot Springs – Choose from three different springs, all ranging in temperature and size.
  • Diamond Fork Hot Springs – The milky blue pools of these spilling consecutive springs require only a 2.5-mile hike.
  • Saratoga Hot Springs – Soak in a natural hot tub located right on the edge of Utah Lake. 
  • Homestead Crater – Springs that are hidden inside a beehive dome, naturally formed 10,000 years ago.

♨️ Read the full list of best hot springs in Utah.

🧗‍♀️ Best Canyoneering

View of the slot canyon in Utah
Semi-slots and slot canyons are among the most popular recreation activities in Utah

Slots provide adrenaline fiends with just what they’re looking for. Squeeze your way through slots found all over Utah.

  • Spooky/Peekaboo Canyons – Infamous southern Utah slots inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
  • Antelope Canyon – The most photographed slot canyon in northern Utah is located on Navajo Nation land and requires a guide to visit.
  • Buckskin Gulch – A 20-mile hike with multiple slots that straddles the Arizona/Utah border.
  • Zebra Slot Canyon – Take your time enjoying the short, striped canyon in Grand Staircase Escalante.
  • Red Hollow Slot Canyon – A picturesque red and white slot just outside of Zion National Park.

🏜️ National Parks

The author McKenna Mobley posing in the Zion National Park Narrows
Travel Lemming writer McKenna posing in the Zion National Park Narrows

No trip to Utah is complete without hitting at least one of the “Big Five” national parks. Experience peak Utah scenery at these protected natural areas.

  • Zion National Park – Utah’s top national park has incredible vistas, fun hiking trails, and camping under the stars.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park – Explore the unique rock formations known as hoodoos at this surreal-looking abyss.
  • Arches National Park – One of the coolest national parks in Moab boasts over 2,000 naturally-forming arches.
  • Canyonlands National Park – A dramatic desert landscape carved by the Colorado River with panoramic overlooks. 
  • Capitol Reef National Park – A southern Utah park that’s an outdoor oasis for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.

👉 Read the full guide to all the national parks in Utah.

Utah Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

There are perks to visiting Utah every season. While the best weather months are from April-June and October-November, the off-season months see fewer crowds.

  • 🍂 Fall –  Vibrant autumn hues come alive in the fall in desert areas. Fall also experiences the best weather.
  • 🌼 Spring – Although Utah may still be chilly at this time, hiking among spring wildflowers in deep desert gorges is worth it!
  • ❄️ Winter –  The most convenient time for winter sports in Utah. There are also fewer crowds at this time.
  • 🌞 Summer –  Try to visit Utah in the early summer, as temperatures frequently reach triple digits in mid-late summer.

🗓️ Read the full guide to the best time to visit Utah.

🚌 Getting In & Around

Most modes of transportation will get the job done in Utah for short distances. Renting your own car is the more ideal option for moving around remote nature parks and landmarks.

  • ✈️ Airports – Most visitors fly into Salt Lake City or St. George to be close to the main Utah attractions.
  • 🚗 Driving – Having your own car is the best way to experience all the best Utah sites.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – This is only available in major cities like Salt Lake City or Park City.
  • 📲 Ride Share – The best way to get around in mid-size and big cities.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Biking is a healthy alternative to automobiles in most places in Utah.
  • 🛴 Scooters – Public-use scooters are only available in major cities like Salt Lake City.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – This is the best way to experience grand Utah sites on a personal level.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🏨 – Save money on accommodation – Glamping in a yurt or staying at a hostel in Utah won’t break the bank like luxury hotels.
  • 🥾 – Don’t forget your hiking boots – Hiking is one of the best activities to do in Utah. Be sure to pack your comfy pair of hiking boots.
  • 🧥 – Dress for the season – Layering is your best bet in Utah during any season; always be prepared with a rain jacket. 
  • 🚗 – Rent a car – Renting a car is the best way to explore Utah’s best national parks and monuments. Look for deals online before your trip.
  • 🧗‍♀️ – Get out of your comfort zone – Try an outdoor activity you’ve never done before while in Utah. This includes river rafting, rock climbing, and canyoneering.

🧳 What to Pack

  • ☔ – Rain jacket – Rain can be expected in all seasons in Utah. Be prepared with a rain jacket in the spring and even during the summer months for a comfortable trip.
  • 🌲 – Hiking sandals – Hiking sandals come in handy when hiking in sandy or watery areas like the Zion Narrows.
  • 🩱 – Bathing suit – Be prepared for the best Utah hot springs and summer waterholes and bring your bathing suit!
  • 👒 – Sun hat – The blistering desert sun is no joke. Bring a sun hat to prevent nasty sunburn on your face, neck, and shoulders.
  • 🧴 – Sunscreen – Paired with a sun hat, sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent heat stroke during a desert summer.

🧳 See the full Utah packing checklist.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 3.338 million
  • Capital – Salt Lake City
  • Largest Metro Areas – Salt Lake City, Park City, Provo, Ogden
  • Time Zone – Mountain Standard Time (GMT-7)
  • Airports – Salt Lake City International (SLC), Provo Municipal Airport (PVU), St. George Municipal Airport (SGU)
  • Colleges & Universities – The University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Utah State University, Southern Utah University
  • Nickname – Beehive State
  • Demonynm – Utahn, Utahian
  • USPS Abbreviation – UT
  • Governor – Spencer Cox (Republican)
  • Country United States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • MERIC Cost of Living State Rank – 30th most affordable U.S. state
  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $80-100+/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $60-250+/night
  • Rental Car – $65-100/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$3-5
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-30
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $40-50
  • Draft Beer – $7-10

FAQs About Visiting Utah

Is Utah safe for tourists?

Utah is one of the safest places to visit for tourists in the US. There is a low rate of petty theft and most of the danger in Utah comes from extreme sports like mountaineering, skiing, and canyoneering.

What is the best month to visit Utah?

April-June and August-October are often regarded as the best months to visit Utah. Utah experiences the most pleasant weather at this time although the winter months have fewer tourist crowds and beautiful snow-capped sandstone mesas.

What is the number 1 attraction in Utah?

Zion National Park is the number 1 attraction in Utah. This southern park experiences the highest volume of Utah tourists in any given year.

Is it worth visiting Utah?

Utah is every bit worth visiting. From hiking in the national parks and soaking in natural hot springs to exploring Salt Lake City and Indigenous archaeological sites like Bears Ears, there’s so much to do in Utah.

What is the prettiest place in Utah?

Most places in Utah are pretty but Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Moab are known as the top beautiful places.

Meet Our Utah Travel Expert

McKenna Mobley

McKenna Mobley is an avid adventurer, traveler, mountaineer, and writer from Southern California. Her goal is to climb some of the world’s highest mountains and visit as many countries as she can. She loves Latin America and has been to almost every Latin country. She also has a thirst for solo adventuring and has hiked 400 consecutive miles by herself through the Arizona desert. You can also find her on her blog.

👉 Read McKenna’s Articles

📰 Utah Travel Guides

Travel Lemming has multiple Southwestern writers who are eager to publish as many helpful Utah guides for contemplative travelers as they can. Here are some more helpful travel guides that were written from a first-hand travel experience.

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