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There’s no need to go abroad when you can find adventure in your own backyard! Get inspired to #HikeYourHomeState with guides to all 50 US states – starting with Utah!
One of the most scenic states in America, Utah is a magnet for millions of tourists from all over the world. The state is famous for its incredible national and state parks, top-notch ski resorts, and otherworldly landscapes.
The Beehive State offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and mountain biking during the summer and skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. With so much to do, there’s little surprise that many travelers include Utah on their West Coast itinerary.
Zion overlook in Zion National Park
10 Best Places for Hiking in Utah
With so many to choose from, it’s hard to narrow down the best parks to explore in Utah. But, this list of the 10 best hiking trails will help you see the most breathtaking spots in the state!
1. Zion National Park
The most popular National Park in the United States, Zion greets millions of visitors every year and is famous for its steep red rock cliffs, incredible vistas, and gorgeous hikes.
And while this park is relatively small (only 229 square miles), it packs plenty of adventure. Some of the highlights are Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (the main road through the park), Mount Carmel Highway (that runs west of the park), and the Narrows (a canyon hike through a gorge with walls thousands of feet tall).
Zion National Park is located less than 3 hours away from Las Vegas, so many visitors go as a day trip. Unfortunately, this popularity has contributed to significant overcrowding of the park in recent years, especially during summer months. If you plan a visit to Zion, make sure to arrive early to beat the crowds.
Bryce Canyon National Park
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
A true wonder, Bryce Canyon is known for its hoodoos, bright orange rock spires that dot its landscape.
These incredible stone pillars grow from the floor of the amphitheater and light up in many shades of red, orange, and pink as the sun goes up. While you can enjoy these majestic views of the park from several overlooks, you can also hike many trails through them as well.
One of the best trails through the park is the Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop, which is suitable even for beginner hikers.
Since Bryce Canyon is located at an elevation of 8,000 feet, this park has cooler temperatures during the summer months. In the winter, the dusting of snow covers the orange hoodoos creating a truly stunning landscape.
Bryce Canyon is located about 108 miles away from Zion Canyon, which is why many travelers decide to visit these two parks in one trip. However, make sure to spend at least a day in each park to enjoy their main highlights.
Arches National Park
3. Arches National Park
Yet another one of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks, Arches National Park is one of the most popular places for hiking in Utah and boasts more than 2,000 natural arches.
The most famous of them, the Delicate Arch, graces the license plates of many Utah cars and is often pictured on tourism brochures. The trail to the Delicate Arch is considered one of the best hikes in the park.
Arches National Park offers numerous hiking trails but the arches can also be seen from overlooks on a scenic drive through the park. Devil’s Garden is the only area where camping is allowed within this national park, and since spots are full every day from April through October, you have to make your reservation in advance.
Canyonlands National Park
4. Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is a close neighbor of Arches National Park. Many visitors combine these two national parks in one trip as they can be accessed from the city of Moab, often called Utah’s gateway to adventure!
The landscape of Canyonlands National Park is somewhat similar to that in Grand Canyon, however, you will not see the monster crowds here. Instead, you will have a chance to experience solitude and enjoy the gorgeous canyons carved out in the middle of the desert.
One of the most photographic features of Canyonlands is the Mesa Arch located in the area called Island in the Sky. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of photographers flocking to this area before the sunset to catch the glimpse of the morning sun rising through the arch.
Dead Horse Point
6. Dead Horse Point State Park
Home to some of the most unique landscapes in Utah, Dead Horse Point State Park has many shorter hikes.
For example, the East Rim Trail begins at the visitor center and takes you along the rim of the park around the Basin Overlook.
When you reach Dead Horse Point, the trail merges with the West Rim Trail and takes you to Meander Overlook and further on to several other vistas worth visiting like the Rim Overlook and more!
7. Sunset Peak
Located about one hour away from Salt Lake City, Sunset Peak is a very popular hike.
While the hike will take you uphill most of the time, you will be treated with a view of the four spectacular lakes. When you do this hike, don’t forget to bring plenty of water and your camera to snap a few photos.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
7. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
If you want to get away from the touristy places and explore Utah’s backcountry, head to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a stunning natural area approximately the same size as the state of Delaware.
This rugged area is one of the most remote places in the United States and is a popular location for paleontological studies. One part of this monument, Kaiparowits Plateau, produced the remains of over 20 species of dinosaurs!
Unlike popular national parks in Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante doesn’t have facilities, marked roads, and clear hiking trails. Many areas of this national monument are designed as wilderness and require a special permit.
One of the most popular hikes of Grand Staircase is Coyote Gulch. The 17-mile hike will take you through the water, and you will see several arches and waterfalls along the way. A hike to Coyote Gulch is often done with an overnight stay as many travelers bring their tents and other hiking gear.
Snow Canyon State Park
8. Snow Canyon State Park
One of Utah’s most scenic state parks, Snow Canyon sits about 15 minutes north of St. George, the largest town in Utah’s southwest corner.
Many visitors compare Snow Canyon to Zion, because of the spectacular red cliffs and vermillion dunes in the area. The park offers over 38 miles of hiking for all levels and a paved bike path that stretches for nearly three miles.
One of the most incredible hikes here is Petroglyph Loop, a moderate 2.5-mile hike that brings you into a maze of stunning rock formations.
Snow Canyon State Park also offers plenty of camping spots, picnic areas, and facilities with hot water and showers.
9. Stewart Falls
Stewart Falls is another great places for hiking in Utah.
This 3.4-mile hike is considered moderate and features stunning two-tiered 200-foot waterfalls in the Utah Valley near Provo. The full hike will take you to the base of the waterfalls, which are a great place to take a dip and cool off.
10. Capitol Reef National Park
The most remote national park in Utah is also the least visited. But don’t think that it has nothing cool to offer.
Capitol Reef boasts unparalleled landscapes and plenty of space to roam around. The park is dominated by sharp cliff walls, arches, and gigantic walls of sandstone above the Fremont River. One of the main features of the park is Capitol Reef Scenic Drive.
Although sightseeing is the most popular activity at Capitol Reef, the park also has many hiking trails and if you decide to spend a few days here, you can find several accommodation options in Torrey, the nearest town to Capitol Reef.
Bridal Veil Falls
Easiest Hikes in Utah
While many Utah hikes offer steep terrain and require navigation skills, the state also has plenty of easy hiking trails that offer a relaxing adventure and are suitable for all hiking levels.
Bridal Veil Falls – This easy hike near Provo takes about 1.4 miles and is perfect for a quick trip to the falls. The hike has a paved trail in both directions and plenty of parking space at the beginning of the trailhead.
Silver Lake – Silver Lake is a mountain lake at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The trail is about 4.2 miles with 1,400 feet of elevation gain.
Angel’s Landing overlook in Zion National Park
Toughest Hikes in Utah
The two toughest hikes in Utah are The Maze in Canyonlands National Park and Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. Are you up to the challenge?
The Maze – Located in Canyonlands National Park, The Maze is a labyrinth comprised of red rocks that are tough to reach and navigate. Roads within The Maze require a high 4X4 clearance vehicle and the area requires superb navigation skills as it has no facilities and lacks cell phone coverage.
To access The Maze, you need to be an experienced hiker and be able to use a topographical map and a GPS. When you come here, you will be completely cut off from civilization.
Angel’s Landing – Angel’s Landing is the highest overlook at Zion National Park.
This 5.5-mile round trip hike has quickly become one of the most famous trails in the world. It is considered strenuous and has many sheer drop-offs and chain-assisted sections where you have to do a lot of rock scrambling.
The trail begins at the Grotto, which is located at bus stop #6 along the Zion Shuttle Route. It takes between 3 and 5 hours to complete the hike depending on your level of physical preparation, however, in recent years, the hike has become so popular that it now has way more people than the trail is meant for.
Consider starting your hike early morning and don’t forget to check Zion’s official website for updates before you go.
Best Time to Go Hiking in Utah
There’s no wrong time to go hiking in Utah.
The state is beautiful at any time of the year, however, most visitors tend to come during the summer months when scores of domestic and international travelers crowd Utah’s national parks.
The temperatures in the southern part of the state often reach 100 degrees F in summer months, while Northern Utah has a cooler climate in the summer but frigid temperatures during winter.
While the weather is generally more suitable for hiking in summer, winter brings crisp temperatures and creates magical landscapes. Another advantage of hiking in Utah during winter is that it’s a lot less crowded than during spring or summer.
Goblin Valley State Park
More Notable Natural Sites in Utah
If you’re not up for a long hike, there are still many great places to get outside and enjoy Utah’s natural sites, like Monument Valley and Goblin Valley.
Monument Valley is one of the most stunning sights in Utah. With one part of it in Utah and another part in Arizona, the entire park is located within the Navajo Reservation.
Monument Valley boasts incredible sandstone buttes and has become one of the symbols of the American Southwest because it has been featured in so many forms of media over the years.
Goblin Valley State Park is another notable natural site in Utah boasting thousands of hoodoos called goblins. These unique rock formations have mushroom-like heads sitting on top of spires and are surrounded by lots of hiking trails and camping spots to explore them!
The Discovery Nut is a travel blog focused on adventurous destinations around the world. Daria created The Discovery Nut to share her favorite places with the audience and to encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and explore more. If it’s a scenic destination with gorgeous nature and amazing culture, it surely sounds like a Discovery Nut kind of place!
Ready to go?
There’s no need to go abroad when you can find adventure in your own backyard! Plan a day trip to the top hikes on this list or browse Airbnbs for a spontaneous weekend away to explore a new corner of your home state.
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