Get ready to go on a family adventure through the breathtaking landscapes of National parks in Utah, promising an unforgettable hiking season. From world-class whitewater rivers to colossal reservoirs and lakes, Utah’s diverse attractions are a for aure bucket list item for every nature enthusiast. Let’s explore the top five national parks in Utah, providing not only awe-inspiring scenery but also valuable insights for an optimal family experience.
Best Time to Visit Utah
Are you planning a family road trip through national parks in Utah and Arizona? Early-mid spring and mid-late fall are fantastic opportunities for visiting Utah. Believe us when we say that finding a moment of solitude on the hiking trails can be as memorable as driving along the way.
Note: Keep in mind that some roads and lodging close during the cooler months so don’t forget to do your research before making your bookings.
Best National Parks in Utah
Here’s a list of national parks in Utah that you must visit if you’re into hiking or are going for vacation in the city soon!
1. Zion National Park – Springdale, UT
Zion National Park was the first national park in Utah towering between hanging gardens and canyon walls. During the peak season, which is March to October, its roads are closed to private vehicles and only shuttle services are available for the visitors to avoid unnecessary traffic. But, visitors can rent bikes and e-bikes to reach the location. For hiking the Angels Landing trail, you will need to apply for a permit two to six months in advance. Visitors can even spend a night at the Springdale or the Zion Lodge for a more extended experience. Explore the Canyons section of the park or the quieter trails off Kolob Terrace Road after you’re done with the tourist circuit.
2. Arches National Park- Moab, UT
Arches National Park is so action-packed that it has a timed-entry system wherein visitors need to make advance bookings from April to October. The park is home to the largest concentration of sandstone arches, offering a mesmerising scenic drive. Several hikes are going around the desert landscape for visitors to get a closer look at the rock formations. It is one of the top national parks in America with a series of cliffs, ridges, and rocks.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park – Bryce, UT
Known for sandstone arches, Bryce Canyon National Park is full of spectacularly colourful and intricate rock forms carved by erosion from the edge of the Pausaugunt Plateau. The fastest and the best way to see hoodoo views is by taking the hiking trails that run along the rim and down among the rock forms. You can go along the Queen’s Garden Loop from Sunrise Point or the Navajo Loop from Sunset Point.
4. Capitol Reef National Park – Torrey, UT
Capitol Reef National Park spans a ridge stretching 100 miles, showcasing a stunning series of vividly coloured rocks in shades of red, orange, tan, and cream. The park, characterised by its isolation and lower visitation, is home to remarkable features and rewarding short hikes accessible from Highway 24 and the park’s scenic drive. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, backpacking or 4WD exploration opens up access to the park’s rugged and remote areas.
5. Canyonlands National Park – Moab, UT
Canyonlands National Park is the go-to place for hikers who love the high desert wilderness. The park is a maze of gorges, canyons, mesas, and other geological formations. It is home to many different types of travel experiences and allows creating your own version of one of the West’s most photographed landforms, Mesa Arch. It also provides great opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, 4WD adventuring, and white water rafting.
The Best Time Of Day To See National Parks in Utah
Visiting all national parks in Utah is a popular thing to do when on a road trip to Utah with family. Deciding which park to visit is as important as deciding what to see there. Take Delicate Arch, for instance. It is a prime sunset spot for people across the entire state. However, those who dare to switch it up and opt for an early morning visit, especially on a weekday, are in for a memorable exploration of one of Utah’s most iconic natural wonders.
Considering a visit on a holiday weekend around late morning? Brace yourself for a crowd, and there might even be restrictions on access. Keep in mind that it is mandatory to get tickets for the Arches National Park during peak travel season, and certain park areas require permits too. Uncertain about the optimal time to explore your “must-see” spots? Strike up a conversation in town; visitor centres are well-versed in suggesting the best times of the day or proposing equally breathtaking, lesser-known alternatives.
What to pick for your trip to National Parks in Utah?
Although most of the parks are well-equipped, visiting Utah means that you will be stepping foot in the wild, even within a packed national park. You will have the most fun on your vacation if you are well-prepared. It is best when you spend less time worrying about having the right equipment and focus more on enjoying your holiday.
Check the weather conditions when you’re stepping out. Bring jackets and more layering clothing in case it gets chilly and sunscreen, sunglasses and hats to keep yourself baking in the hot sun. You can also check with the park ranger or the BLM office before stepping out for the day in case you are not sure about your travel gear.
What to buy locally in between park visits
You are never too far away from a market or restaurant while touring your way through National parks in Utah. Anything that you might need to enjoy your exploration is available for purchase locally. Always check before you leave to see what is open and don’t hesitate to ask a local for any recommendations.
What’s more to Explore in Utah?
Dark Sky Parks
Of the vast number of certified International Dark Sky Parks and Communities that are part of a catalogue of the finest dark skies in the world, the highest concentration is in Utah. Explore the statewide locations and make plans with your family to experience natural wonders after the sun sets.
Lakes & Reservoirs
Utah has plenty of great bodies of water. Their whitewater rivers are renowned globally; the reservoirs and lakes rank among the largest in the country; and the blue-ribbon fishing streams draw anglers from all over the world. In fact, Utah ranks as one of the top ten states in surface acres of navigable waters.
Utah is known for the abundance and proximity of incredible mountain ranges. Mountains tower over the capital city’s skyline, and across the state, these ranges are the playgrounds and escapes of the locals. 85% of the state’s residents live within 15 miles of the Wasatch Mountains. The top activities to do at this mountain are Hiking, Biking, Rock Climbing, Camping, and Skiing.
Utah is home to some of the best ski resorts around. Visitors find here snowy red rock views, endless pockets of powder, welcoming slope-side culture, and the unmatched accessibility of it all.
- Brighton Ski Resort: Known for its terrain park, accessible backcountry, snow totals and family discounts.
- Snowbird: Known for its snow totals, views, and tram, it attracts several professionals and advanced skiers who love steep terrain.
- Solitude Mountain Resort: Known for being the least crowded Cottonwood resort and the locals’ favourite for everything from chutes and groomers.
- Park City Mountain: This resort is known as the largest lift-served ski resort in the US, and is an excellent ski school and terrain park.
- Woodward Park City: This resort is known as a unique training facility with activities on and off the slopes. You are in for a great adventure at this ski resort!
With more than 40 state parks across Utah. Visitors are in for an adventure from the rich blue waters of Bear Lake to the hot, orange, and pink sands of Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The state parks also offer campgrounds, staffing, and other amenities to make it easy to take in scenic vistas and recreation. Some popular state parks in Southern Utah and Northern Utah are as follows:
- Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park: It is open for hiking and is kids-friendly. The park has become popular for OHV for which about 90% of the dunes are open.
- Dead Horse Point State Park: This park specialises in the type of sweeping, jaw-dropping views that make visitors try and capture the moment with their cameras.
- Antelope Island State Park: 25 miles to the north of Salt Lake City, this island is situated in the Great Salt Lake, featuring antelope herds and free-roaming bison.
- Bear Lake State Park: This 20-mile long and 8-mile wide natural lake matches the tranquil pace of the towns on the shores. The northern half of it is in Idaho and the southern half is in Utah, dividing the state lines.
National parks in Utah stand as testaments to nature’s grandeur. Whether you’re captivated by the towering rock formations, the serenity of high desert wilderness, or the thrill of outdoor adventures, Utah has it all. Plan your family’s road trip wisely, pack essentials, and embrace the magic that awaits in the heart of these extraordinary landscapes.
For more information, visit HeyBucketList.