National and State Parks in Utah | Free Travel Guide

  • By: Joseph Benson
  • Time to read: 10 min.

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National and state parks in Utah, Utah has a number of national and state parks. It has Zion National Park and Canyonlands National Park… Bryce Canyon and the Arches aren’t even on the list since Utah has so many wonderful parks. Here is our list of the greatest spots to get away from the throng.

Except for the summer, Utah is a year-round destination. Utah’s famed canyon area is hot and busy from June to August, but if you come in the fall, winter, or spring.

You’ll discover pockets of desert quiet amid the bright yellow cottonwoods, snow-covered red cliffs, and vibrant spring wildflowers.

National park of zion

In a state where there are more parks than major towns, Zion stands out as Utah’s first and most visited national park.

Although the valley floor may get congested, private automobiles are prohibited in favor of free buses, which helps to reduce the congestion. From the road, just a small portion of the park is visible.

More than 100 miles of paths go from the valley to the small river canyons to the north and up the towering red and tan Navajo sandstone cliffs to the east and west, respectively.

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Zion National Park is a haven for canyoneers and rock climbers, with granite formations dating back over 150 million years.

Backpackers may camp in the park’s wilderness, which includes three constructed campsites. You may also stay at the Zion Lodge (reservations are advised), as well as at neighboring Springdale and St George.

Top tip: The climb to Angels Landing is hard for the faint of heart, but it is well worth it. The route climbs a series of chains over a small sandstone ridge to a stunning top with a view straight down into Zion’s heart.

This path is best undertaken in the spring or autumn, when it is less likely to be clogged with summer tourists or covered in snow and ice during the winter.

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Canyonlands national park is a national park in Utah

The southwest desert is renowned for its strange scenery some locations resemble the moon, while others resemble Mars but Utah’s Canyonlands is unlike any other.

Numerous canyons, buttes, and mesas have been sculpted into the geography, and you’ll find yourself roaming through areas like the Maze, the Needles, and the Island in the Sky.

The biggest park in Utah is Canyonlands. You could spend your whole life exploring the terrain between the Colorado and Green Rivers and yet not get to the park’s crimson depths.

Jeep excursions, hiking, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, canyoneering, mountain biking, BASE jumping, skydiving, hang gliding, extreme rope swinging, and more are all available via tour companies established in Moab.

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Whatever excursion you choose, make sure to stay overnight to see the sunset, stars, and daybreak over the huge labyrinth of red rocks.

There are two built campsites in the park, as well as free scattered camping nearby. Stay in Moab or Blanding for hotels and hostels.

A helpful hint Upheaval Dome is a geologic puzzle. This gigantic, nearly perfectly spherical rock feature is either an elevated, eroded salt dome or a meteor impact crater.

In any case, it’s a great spot for a trek in Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky neighborhood.

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National park of Capitol reef

Capitol Reef is a long, narrow park that preserves the Water pocket Fold, an enormous S-shaped rift in the Earth’s crust generated 65 million years ago by the same forces that created the Rocky Mountains.

Capitol Reef’s stunning rocks are the world’s longest exposed “monocline,” but you don’t have to be a geologist to enjoy them.

The park is called for a sequence of eroded white Navajo sandstone domes and cliffs that resemble the US Capitol building in Washington, DC.

The name’s reef is a throwback to the days of the pioneers, when settlers were forced to detour all the way around the Water pocket Fold, which is still almost impassable today.

Although there are a few four-wheel-drive roads that go into the park, the best way to view it is on foot.

Begin your journey at the tourist center (which is open all year) and proceed north to Cathedral Valley or south to the Water pocket Fold region.

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The park includes a campsite, while neighboring Torrey and along Highway 12 towards Boulder have hotels.

A helpful hint The Upper Muley Twist Canyon runs longitudinally over the Water pocket Fold’s slanted spine.

Providing for a challenging but beautiful 15-mile overnight circle trip. The tourist center offers free backcountry camping permits.

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State park of dead horse point

The majority of visitors come to Moab to see Arches National Park, but this morbidly titled jewel of a state park is calmer and probably even more picturesque.

Dead Horse Point, located south and west of Arches, is a narrow 2,000-foot high point that views Canyonlands National Park’s northern expanses.

Cowboys exploited the point as a natural corral in the 19th century, herding mustangs out to the tip and constructing a fence across the point’s bottleneck.

They may then choose and choose the best horses from the group and release the others.

According to legend, the cowboys failed to open the gate one day, and the surviving horses perished of thirst out on the point, within sight of the Colorado River below but hemmed in by cliffs.

The Dead Horse Point campsite allows tents and RVs, and scattered camping is available outside the park. In Moab, 30 miles away, you may find hotel rooms and hostel beds.

Top tip: You can drive all the way to the edge of Dead Horse Point, but why would you want to when the walk is one of the most beautiful in the south-west?

The three-mile Rim Trail begins at the visitor center and winds its way around the edge of the cliff, providing views of the flowing Colorado River, Canyonlands, the La Sal mountains, and, on a clear day, much of south-east Utah.

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National and State Parks in Utah

State park kodachrome basin

With a name like Kodachrome, you know you’re in for a picture opportunity.

Kodachrome Basin.

Named by members of a National Geographic expedition in 1949, resembles Yellowstone National Park if all of its thermal water features dried up.

Ancient hot springs and geysers have crystallized into a variety of magnificent and unusual rock formations known as sand pipes.

Kodachrome Canyon is a calmer alternative to the more renowned (and frequently busy) Bryce Canyon. The night sky here is recognized for being one of the greatest in the west due to its isolated position and limited light pollution.

Plus the area’s high elevation frequently means lower temperatures than elsewhere in Utah, making this park a popular option for summer excursions.

The Grosvenor Arch, a remarkable double arch high up on a colorful canyon wall that serves as a symbolic entryway to Grand Staircase Escalante national monument, lies just down the road from Kodachrome Basin (see below).

Natural Bridges National Monument is a national park in the United States. The difference between an arch and a natural bridge in geologic terms is water.

Wind and ice shaped the former, while a canal molded the latter. Natural bridges national monument is located in south-east Utah, approximately west of Blanding, and has three of the most outstanding examples of natural bridges.

The White and Anderson valleys are crossed by three spectacular bridges called Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu. The biggest of the three and one of the world’s longest natural bridges is Sipapu.

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A Hopi term that commemorates the traditional doorway through which the First People entered the current world. Within the park, there is evidence of at least two bridges that have fallen.

Trails run down to each of the three bridges, which may be seen from overlooks. The route to Owachomo is a simple half-mile round trip.

But the descent to Sipapu is much more difficult, requiring the use of steps and three ladders. Inside the park, there is camping.

Top tip: A 812-mile circle that follows through the bottoms of the White and Armstrong valleys connects all three bridges, making for a fantastic full-day hike.

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The state park near the edge of the Cedars

As shown by ruins, petroglyphs, and artifacts left behind by the Ancestral Puebloan, Hopi, Ute, and Navajo peoples, Utah has a long and colorful history of human occupancy.

In Blanding’s Edge of the Cedars state park, there’s a museum with a remarkable archaeological repository and the remnants of a Puebloan settlement.

The park’s name comes from its position, which is sandwiched between the highly wooded Manti-La Sal national forest to the west and the treeless desert to the east, an ideal environment for early human habitation.

Many riddles and local stories surround the Bears Ears location, which is centered on two circular humps of granite fashioned like a bear’s ears.

The Blanding Dinosaur Museum, which offers rotating exhibits on Utah’s rich Mesozoic past, including fossilised eggs and infant dinosaurs, is also located in Blanding.

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Blanding, being the biggest town in south-east Utah, is a fantastic place to start exploring the area.

Top tip: Keep an eye out for talks, festivals, and other events on the Edge of the Cedars museum’s website.

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National and State Parks in Utah

State park goblin valley

Goblin Valley state park, near Hanksville, sets a high standard for weird rock formations in a state filled with them. Thousands of mushroom-shaped hoodoos gather in a remote valley near the beautiful San Rafael Swell.

Entrada sandstone, a reddish rock that goes back to the dinosaur era and underpins most of south-east Utah, has been worn into the oddly formed boulders.

In this arid desert area, Goblin Valley has a campsite with hot showers, which is a rarity. On weekends, campsites tend to fill up quickly, so making reservations is a good idea.

Is the campground completely full? Stay outside the park, along the swell, at one of the numerous free campsites. A helpful hint Goblin Valley has three well-marked hiking paths, but it’s also a great spot to get lost.

Keep your bearings the visitor center is visible from every vantage point – and let yourself to become lost among the hoodoos.

The Green, Colorado, and San Juan rivers carve sinuous and magnificent channels through red, white, and orange bedrock in south-eastern Utah, including Goosenecks State Park and Valley of the Gods.

Near Mexican Hat, Goosenecks State Park has one of the finest views for seeing the strength of rivers over rock. The San Juan River’s deep twists virtually double back on itself here, revealing millions of layers of geologic history.

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The Valley of the Gods, to the east, is an enclave of stunning landscape with mesas and buttes reminiscent to Monument Valley, to the south. Between roads 261 and 163, a 17-mile route circles across the region, hilly yet usable to most cars when dry.

Goosenecks State Park is quite rustic in comparison to other state parks, but the view more than compensates for the lack of facilities, including no running water. The surrounding communities of Bluff and Blanding have more developed accommodations.

Top tip: Looking for some peace and quiet? Park at Goosenecks’ main viewpoint then trek south and west for roughly a mile to the mesa’s tip via the ancient, increasingly rutted path.

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National and State Parks in Utah

National recreation area of flaming gorge

In the summer, visit the Flaming Gorge, located north of Vernal near the Wyoming border. The Flaming Gorge dam keeps the Green River back, producing a large cold, blue reservoir ringed by towering red walls.

Year-round, fishing, boating, swimming, and water activities are popular, with five marinas renting kayaks, canoes, and rafts.

The Flaming Gorge is also well-known for its extensive backpacking opportunities. The surrounding Uinta Mountains, Ashley, and Wasatch-Cache national forests.

Which include 13,528-foot Kings Peak, Utah’s tallest peak, provide hikes ranging from simple overnights to multi-week expeditions.

There are a variety of camping options available, from all-inclusive RV resorts to rustic cabins and secluded tent sites.

Hotel rooms and other lodging options are available in Vernal, which is home to the Utah Field House of Natural History and is adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument, another must-see for dinosaur enthusiasts.

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A helpful hint The Flaming Gorge reservoir is known for producing gigantic trophy fish, some weighing up to 13 kilograms! Book a local guide or tie a fly on yourself.

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance writer and photographer who lives and works out of a modest solar-powered camper on the back roads of North America.

National and State Parks in Utah


There are a number of other great national parks in Utah, from the Bryce Canyon National Park to the Cedar Breaks National Monument. The state has a vast number of national and state parks, so you’re bound to find one that fits your interests.

There are tons of National and state parks in Utah, including Arches National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Antelope Island State Park.

Need more information about these wonderful parks? Contact us for a free consultation on how we can assist with your vacation/tour needs.

Utah is a great place for camping and hiking, going to the beach and enjoy other outdoor activities , you can find these iconic parks Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and more.

Utah residents are very fortunate to have these amazing places just outside their front door. There is also a list of state parks in Utah.

So there is definitely no doubt that this state has some of the most beautiful parks in the country. Utah is a place for adventure with national parks and other outdoor events.

Utah’s state parks offer something for everyone in the family, from hiking and horseback riding to skiing and water sports on the Great Salt Lake.

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National and State Parks in Utah | Free Travel Guide

Joseph Benson

Hi, my name is Joseph Benson, and I am a traveler who is always on the go. I love to try new things and see different places. Never miss an adventure follow me.

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