10 Best Things to Do in Utah National Parks

Be sure to hit one, or all, of the Top 10 Things to do and see in Utah Parks. There’s slot canyons, arches, museums, dinosaurs and more.
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1. Hunt for Natural Rock Arches

North Window overlooking Turret Arch at sunrise

North Window overlooking Turret Arch at sunrise in Arches National Park

Standing on the desert floor, looking up at the sheer magnitude of these natural stone bridges, one can’t help but think, I see sky where there should be rock.

2. Explore a Slot Canyon

The "Subway" slot canyon in Zion National Park

The "Subway" slot canyon in Zion National Park

Utah possesses one of the areas richest treasure troves for intrepid explorers willing to match their wits, their legs and their fingers against Mother Nature's tall and narrow canyons.

The Narrows in Zion National Park is easily accessed by everyone. The hike begins at Temple of Sinawava, then winds along the paved pathway of Riverside Walk to the beginning of the area where the canyon walls narrow.

3. Delve into Utah History

Newspaper Rock petroglyphs near Canyonlands National Park

Newspaper Rock petroglyphs near Canyonlands National Park

There are tens of thousands of ruins, artifacts, petroglyphs and pictographs throughout the state. One of the most fun things you can do is find an ancient artifact on your own.

4. Go on a Guided Tour

Boat tour on the river near Canyonlands National Park

Boat tour on the river near Canyonlands National Park

Follow the experts in a helicopter, on a horse, in a boat or a raft. Prefer to take it on foot? Ranger tours are available in all five Utah national parks.

5. Watch Wildlife 

Bighorn Sheep in Zion

Bighorn Sheep in Zion

Utah has some amazing animal populations– big cats, buffalo, bears, and more. With a little persistence you can catch a glimpse of many of Utah’s native residents.

6. Drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway

Mt Carmel Highway in Zion

Mt Carmel Highway in Zion National Park

With switchbacks, slickrock and sweeping views with seasonal waterfalls, the approach on the Mt. Carmel Highway has numerous spots where you can pull off the road for a better view or to take a short hike, encapsulating many of the highlights seen elsewhere in this most scenic of areas.

7. Soak in Fabulous Scenery

Photographers in Bryce Canyon National Park

Photographers among the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park

Utah is know for its striking scenery, but the national parks stands above the rest. With breathtaking waterfalls, towering cliffs, arches, narrow canyons and numerous water features, it is hard to image a place more beautiful. Have you ever seen a hoodoo? These weirdly shaped rock spires that look somewhat like totem poles, are carved by water in arid environments. They can be found in Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks.

8. Visit a Museum

A life-size feathered dinosaur model in front of the international display of dinosaur movie posters at The Dinosaur Museum.

A life-size feathered dinosaur model in front of the international display of dinosaur movie posters at The Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah.

The Southwest is dotted with small museums set up by an individual or a small group who really wanted to tell people about something. These mini-gems of museums are worth the time and money.

9. Go Where the Locals Go – Kanab, Snow Canyon, Red Cliffs 

Snow Canyon State Park of Utah

Snow Canyon State Park of Utah

With 15 miles of trails through coral-colored Navajo sandstone interspersed with snow white cliffs, dark lava flows and bright red sand dunes, the five-mile Snow Canyon Park draws rock climbers, photographers, spelunkers, RVers and hikers.

10. Explore Dinosaurland

Dinosaur Skull at Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah

Dinosaur Skull at Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah

From Dinosaurland at Vernal, Utah to the Dinosaur National Monument and a multitude of museums, you can track ancient animals throughout Utah.

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Need maps? Download free Utah national park maps PDFs for general roads and attraction locations. Or buy the detailed, topographic Trails Illustrated Utah National Parks Trail Map Pack, including Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion national parks, at REI.com. 

If you buy from shopping links on this website, National Park Trips may receive an affiliate commission.

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