A sparsely populated state in the Mountain West subregion in the western part of the United States is home to some of the country’s most fascinating natural treasures.
Even though Utah only has a population of just over 3 million inhabitants, it’s the 13th-largest state as it covers an area of 219,887 square kilometers (84,899 square miles).
About two-thirds of the population also lives in the so-called Wasatch Front, a metropolitan area in the north-central region of the state which is also home to its capital city, Sant Lake City.
The most popular tourist attractions in Utah are natural features and outdoor activities. The state is home to some incredibly pristine feats of nature, as well as multiple popular ski resorts.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best things to do in Utah, sights that you simply have to see when you visit the state.
1. Bryce Canyon National Park
One of the most enthralling national parks in Utah and the entire United States can be found in the southwestern part of the state.
The main attraction of this amazing piece of nature is a natural landmark known as Bryce Canyon, even though it only resembles a canyon despite its name.
This section of the park has features that take on the shape of enormous amphitheaters. These are formed by so-called “hoodoos,” special rock formations in the form of spires that were carved in the landscape through erosion.
These rocks have bright red or orange colors which create spectacular views that turn this national park into a must-visit attraction during your stay in Utah, regardless of its remote location.
Official website: Bryce Canyon National Park
2. Zion National Park
Another national park located in the southwestern corner of Utah is called “Zion National Park,” a park that covers an area of 590 square kilometers (229 square miles).
The main feature of this national park is an actual canyon known as the “Zion Canyon.” This enormous canyon has a length of about 24 kilometers (15 miles) and reaches a depth of 800 meters (2,640 feet) at some points.
The enormous cliffs of this canyon consist of Navajo sandstone and have a reddish color. It was carved into this magnificent Utah landscape by the northern section of the Virgin River.
The most popular ways to explore this magnificent feat of nature are either by hiking one of the seven designated trails or through guided horseback riding trips.
Either way, exploring Zion National Park is an amazing experience in Utah.
Official website: Zion National Park
3. Park City Mountain
One of the most popular ski resorts in Utah is located about 51 kilometers (32 miles) east of Salt Lake City. This iconic skiing and snowboarding paradise is called the Park City Mountain Resort.
Apart from serving as one of the most popular ski resorts in the United States for recreational skiers, it’s also a training ground for the U.S. Ski Team for both slalom and giant slalom runs.
The resort was acquired by Vail Resorts in 2014 along with the nearby Canyons Resort. The company interconnected these two popular ski resorts with gondolas and turned them into the largest lift-served ski resort in the country.
The two main attractions at the resort during the Summer months are an alpine slide and an alpine coaster. These replace the snow-covered slopes which means that the resort is a popular destination around the year.
Official website: Park City Mountain
4. Temple Square
Regardless of your religious beliefs, some attractions are worth visiting just for the sale of admiring the architectural features. One of these attractions is Temple Square in the center of Salt Lake City.
The centerpiece of this complex is the so-called “Salt Lake Temple,” a structure that was erected by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 19th century.
The temple is the largest of its kind in the United States and took 40 years to complete between 1853 and 1893, quite an achievement of the Mormon community.
The entire complex was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964 and is the most popular tourist attraction in Utah today, welcoming an estimated 3 to 5 million visitors a year.
Official website: Temple Square
5. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Utah is home to a wide variety of national parks, and one extremely remote section of the state was designated as a national monument in 1996 as well.
This area is now referred to as the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument and originally covered an area of 7,610 square kilometers (1,880,461 acres) but has been reduced by half since then.
When we say remote, you can take this quite literally because this was actually the final piece of land in the continental United States to be mapped.
The area is divided into 3 distinctively different sections called the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante.
The most famous attractions in this pristine piece of nature are wonderful canyons and mesmerizing rock formations, including but not limited to the arches at an area called “Devils Garden.”
Official website: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
6. Canyonlands National Park
While we already shared several amazing canyons that you can visit in Utah, nothing compares to the canyons located inside the Canyonlands National Park.
This national park can be found in the utmost southeastern corner of Utah and consists of a large number of canyons, mesas, and buttes, carved into the magnificent landscape by the Colorado and Green Rivers, along with their tributaries.
The park covers an area of 1,366.21 square kilometers (337,598 acres) and is divided into 4 regions with their own unique natural features.
These include the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the two main canyons that were created by the rivers flowing through the Colorado Plateau.
One of the most famous frequent visitors of the canyon was an American author named Edward Abbey (1927-1989) who described the region as:
The weirdest, wonderful, magical place on earth. there is nothing else like it anywhere.
That’s reason enough to visit this place, don’t you think?
Official website: Canyonlands