Utah Travel Guide

Discover Utah

Utah is known for its beautiful scenery, including red rock desert canyons, the Wasatch Mountains, and the Great Salt Lake. It is a major tourist destination, offering activities such as skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and hiking. Utah also has a number of national parks and monuments, such as Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Arches National Park. The state is home to several Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Ute, and Paiute. The economy of Utah is largely based on the service industry, as well as manufacturing, mining, and tourism. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, an outdoor adventure, or a combination of the two, Utah has something for everyone.

Map of Utah

When to visit Utah?

The best time to visit Utah depends on what type of activities you plan to do. Generally speaking, the warmer months of June, July, and August make for great outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and water sports. However, the winter months of December, January, and February bring some of the best skiing and snowboarding. In the famous red rock canyons and National Parks, such as Zion, Capital Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands, spring and fall are the optimal times to visit.

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How to get to Utah?

The best way to get to Utah is by plane or car.

By Plane: Most major airlines offer flights to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), the main airport in Utah. Some major airlines also offer service to St. George (SGU) near Zion and Canyonlands Regional (CNY) near Moab.

By Car: Depending on where you are starting from, a road trip may be the best option. From the West Coast, Interstate 15 is the main route to Utah, and from the East Coast, Interstate 70 is the main route. The majority of the National Parks are located in the southern half of the state between St. George and Moab while the famous ski areas are located in the central part of the state just east of Salt Lake City

How to get around Utah?

Being primarily rural, Utah is best explored via rental car or as part of an all-inclusive tour. There are numerous bus tour providers and small-group tour providers with options ranging from sightseeing to high adventure.

How much time do I need in Utah?

That depends on what you plan to do in Utah. If you want to explore the national parks and see some of the amazing scenery, you could easily spend several weeks. If you just want to explore the cities and towns, you could do that in a few days.

What are the top 5 places to visit in Utah?

1. Zion National Park
Hiker traveling in the Narrows in southwestern Utah at Zion National Park

Located in southwestern Utah, Zion is known for its towering red cliffs, diverse and abundant wildlife, and a variety of outdoor activities. The park features canyons, rivers, and mountain peaks, and is home to several iconic hikes, including Angels Landing, The Narrows, and Weeping Rock. At 2,000 feet deep, Zion Canyon is the park’s most iconic feature.

2. Bryce Canyon National Park
hiker in vast hiking trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce is known for its colorful and unique hoodoos. This distinctive landscape was created by thousands of years of erosion, which carved out a vast array of colorful rock formations from the limestone cliffs and spires. There are over 50 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous, offering visitors a chance to explore the many canyons and valleys in the park.

3. Arches National Park
Traveler underneath giant arch in Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a stunning landscape of red sandstone rock formations, canyons, and arches in eastern Utah. It is home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, among other unique geological features, making it one of the most popular national parks in the United States. It also offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, and rock climbing.

4. Great Salt Lake
view of saltwater lake in Utah

The Great Salt Lake is a large saltwater lake located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah. It is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the fourth largest terminal lake in the world. Its salinity is around 13 times higher than the ocean, making it one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. It is home to many species of birds, including the American white pelican, and serves as a major stopover point for migratory birds.

5. Canyonlands National Park
Group of trekkers hiking near the Colorado River in Canyon Lands National Park

Carved by the Colorado River, Canyonlands National Park offers visitors hiking, stargazing, camping, and technical rock climbing. Established in 1964, the park preserves 527 square miles of colorful red-rock landscape that has eroded into countless canyons, mesas, arches, and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The Colorado and Green rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration. Hiking, mountain biking, off-road vehicle travel, plus rafting the rivers are common activities.

Couple looking over beautiful Utah in a guided hiking adventure

What are the best Utah adventure tours?

Utah is a great destination for those looking for an outdoor adventure. The state has a wide variety of hiking trails, from easy day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the state’s national parks, including Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. Whether you’re looking for a challenging trek or a leisurely stroll, Utah has something for everyone.

1. Utah National Parks Multi-Adventure Tour
Large group in a guided tour through Arches, Canyonlands. Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion

Hike through five treasured national parks — Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion — in just eight days wade through a scenic slot canyon riverbed on the Virgin River Narrows and hike among labyrinthine spires of Bryce Canyon. Stargaze beneath the Milky Way — four of the five national parks are certified “Dark Sky” parks.

View Utah National Parks Multi-Adventure Tour

2. Utah Cataract Canyon Colorado River Rafting Tour
girl smiling joyously from cataract canyonlands rafting multi-day trip

Go deep into the Southwest’s spectacular desert landscape on this action-packed five-day rafting and hiking adventure, beginning and ending in Moab – Utah’s exciting adventure hub. Following expert guides, you’ll enjoy impressive access to 94 miles of the Colorado River as it flows through Canyonlands National Park. Experience the red-rock wonder of Cataract Canyon as you tackle the “Big Drops,” famed as some of the world’s best rapids, and explore remote riverside hiking trails and archaeological sites.

View Utah Cataract Canyon Colorado River Rafting Tour

Where to stay in Utah?

1. Hyatt Place Moab
hyatt place local overnight stay in Moab

Located just one mile from downtown Moab and five miles from Arches National Park, Hyatt Place Moab is the perfect base camp for adventure. The hotel features spacious, comfortable rooms all with flat-screen TVs, a coffee maker and mini refrigerator, and blackout curtains.

2. Capitol Reef Resort
patio view of capitol reef resort

Located just one mile from the National Park, Capitol Reef Resort is surrounded by natural wonders including natural bridges, sandstone cliffs, magnificent canyons, and domes. The comfortable accommodations feature stunning views of the red-rock cliffs. After a day of adventures, relax in the heated outdoor pool or hot tub.

3. Cliffrose Lodge
local hotel stay in springdale located near Zion National Park

Located in Springdale, Cliffrose Lodge sits on five acres along the Virgin River, just steps from Zion National Park. The manicured grounds feature an outdoor heated pool, riverside hot tubs, and comfortable accommodations. The central location is perfect for exploring the nearby shops, galleries, and restaurants.

4. ULUM Glamping Resort
Glamping opportunities at resort called ULUM Moab

Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, just steps away from Looking Glass Arch, ULUM Moab offers upscale accommodations tucked into an expansive, secluded desert setting south of Moab, Utah, with views across Canyonlands National Park. Immerse yourself in the outdoors with world-class exploration just beyond your tent.

Interesting Things to Know About Utah

Utah is the second driest state in the US, with an average of only 12.7 inches of precipitation per year. Utah is the most religiously homogeneous state in the US, with nearly 60% of the population belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Utah is home to the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere, and it is the most seismically active state in the US, with more than 1,000 earthquakes recorded each year. Utah holds the reputation for having the greatest snow on earth, with an average of 500 inches of mostly dry powder snowfall each year in the mountains.

What to eat in Utah?

While not well known for its unique cuisine, Utah definitely adds some local twists on some American classics.  From special french fry sauce and Utah-style Mexican food to the more unique dishes like fry pies and Navajo tacos, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Of course, no trip is complete without trying the local Green Jell-O, it is the official State snack and Utah residents consume more Jell-o per capita than any other State.

What is the electricity in Utah?

110-120V (60 Hz). A good resource to see images of plug types is www.power-plugs-sockets.com.

What is the time zone in Utah?

Utah is in the Mountain Time Zone, which is seven hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-7).

What to wear in Utah?

Expect warm, sunny days and cool evenings; weather is variable depending on elevation. Daytime highs can range from 60° to 100°F and evening lows from 40° to 60°F.

Spring, late summer, and early fall days generally offer the best temperatures for hiking and exploring. Please keep in mind that we will be exploring high-elevation desert ecosystems where there is often a 30-degree difference between the daily low and high temperature, and where conditions can change rapidly.

Daily activities will start early where possible to limit time out in the hottest afternoon temperatures. While warm-to-hot sunny weather is most common, sudden rain showers and/or drops in temperature are possible throughout the itinerary. If traveling in April, early May, late September, or October, prepare for cold nights and mornings by bringing a warm jacket, thermal underwear, gloves, and a warm hat. While not common, snow is possible at the higher elevations in October.

High in the mountains at the Ski Resorts near Park City, winter will be in its full glory from November through April with temperatures commonly below freezing and frequent snow storms.