The Best National Parks in Utah

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Last Updated on: 15th September 2021, 10:57 pm

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The Best National Parks in Utah

Here we go!

Arches National Park

Arches National Park, in southeast Utah, boasts more than 2,000 sandstone arches of different shapes and sizes, the highest number of natural arches in the world.

There are several ranger-led programs where you can drive, camp, stargaze, or hike around the park and take beautiful pictures of the majestic arches like the Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Windows Section, and Devil’s Garden.

The park, which is located due north, five miles off Moab US 191, is deeply connected to several Native American tribes.

There are food and drink services at the park, and visitors are allowed to bring their families and pets. However, when visiting the wonderful park, be prepared for the wide range of weather conditions of the desert.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The view of Bryce Canyon National Park from several lookout positions is a picturesque one, straight out of a fantasy world.

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The park, which has an elevation of 8,000-9,000 feet, consists of looming stone spires and the largest concentration of multi-colored hoodoos in the world.

The best moments to enjoy the view of the canyon are at sunrise and sunset. You can hike along the Rim Trail to the designated sunrise and sunset points, and take magical pictures of the canyon or you can try different lookout points.

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon provides visitors with a place to spend the night and enjoy a three-course meal.

California National Historic Trail

Between 1840-1850, there was a movement of over 250,000 emigrants to the goldfields of California looking to get rich in the gold rush. Hiking the California National Historic Trail will transport back in time as people traveled along the 5,000 mile-long trail.

The trail spans across the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and California.

You can also pay an educational visit to the museums and visitors center, camp, ride on horseback, and birdwatch along the trail.

Entry is free, and the trail is open 24 hours every day, however, you to check the weather forecast before visiting to make better preparations.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park consists of numerous colorful mesas, buttes, fins, arches, spires, plateaus, and canyons that constitute 337,598 acres of the majestic landscape.

The park has a rich and divergent cultural history linked to several tribes including Native Americans, Cowboys, and Mexicans.

There are 5 major attractions in the park, from the easiest to reach to the most difficult, namely: the island in the sky, the needles, the maze, the horseshoe canyon unit, and the rivers.

Another must-see attraction is the Mesa Arch which sits at the edge of a 500-foot drop and provides a perfect background for taking awesome pictures.

Stargazing is especially beautiful in the Canyonlands because the night sky is especially beautiful due to the unpolluted air.

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Capitol Reef National Park

In the past, Capitol Reef National Park used to be the home and hunting ground for Fremont archaic hunters from 7000 BC to 500 BC.

The presence of water in the desert gives rise to the emergence of plant and animal life alike.

Today, the park is one of Utah’s major national parks for the admiration of nature’s beauty in the form of fossils, basalts, and wildlife.

In the evening, you can take enchanting pictures or enjoy the view of the reef as the setting sun gives it a kaleidoscopic appearance.

It is usually less populated than the other major Utah parks, therefore, it is ideal if you want to enjoy nature’s beauty alone in a quiet environment.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks has an evaluation of 10,000 feet, which makes it colder than its surrounding environment.

Even in the summer, the temperature can get as low as 30-40°F, however, the cooler climate makes it suitable for hiking.

In addition, the cooler climate also allows the growth of deciduous trees that make the park even more beautiful, especially in the fall when the leaves change color to bright yellow.

Also, due to the cold temperature of the park, it is usually open when it is at its warmest, from May to October.

Dinosaur National Monument

As the name suggests, Dinosaur National Monument is home to numerous fossils, including the most famous ones.

Additionally, the park boasts interesting river canyons and petroglyphs and the intriguing adventure of hiking and/or river rafting to and through the spectacular sights.

You can journey through the park to find fossils by your lonesome or with a park ranger

However, if you’d rather avoid moving around, you can always enjoy the scenic view of the park with the setting sun as a background.

Although some parts may be inaccessible during the winter, other programs such as overnight camping will remain available.

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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon spans over 1.25 million acres and consists of aquatic and land-based attractions and activities.

The park is family-friendly and opens all year round. There is a myriad of activities to partake in including solo and guided activities, they include biking, hiking around the horseshoe bend, kayaking, and fishing in the Colorado River.

If you visit Glen Canyon with your family, the children can go on ranger-guided tours. You can either rent the equipment for these activities at the park or you can bring yours. Furthermore, you can rent an off-road vehicle and explore the backcountry routes and areas.

Golden Spike National Historic Park

Golden Spike, Brigham, was the location of one of the greatest technological inventions of the 19th century, the first transcontinental railroad across the United States.

Today, you can hike, drive along and observe the original tracks. Furthermore, you can closely observe and admire old Victorian locomotives.

The park is open to visitors every day, from morning till evening. Also, there are several activities and monthly events to participate in such as Mormon Day, the reenactment of the 1869 ceremony, family day, and art day.

So, you can plan your visit accordingly if you’re interested in participating in any of the events.

Hovenweep National Monument

If you’re interested in architecture and tapping into the minds of ancient builders, then you should visit the Hovenweep National Monument in Colorado. 

The park consists of well-designed masonries such as layers of towering structures balanced on boulders and canyon rims.

You can get an eyeful of the amazing stonework by taking a hike around the park. Pets are allowed in the park, so you can perform this activity with your furry friend and take awesome pictures.

Furthermore, after dark, you can camp on the park grounds and name the visible constellations in the night sky. The park opens every day from sunrise to sunset, and entry is free.

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Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

This trail was named after the Mormons who fled Illinois to Salt Lake Valley between 1846-1847.

This particular National Historic Trail spans 1,300 miles across five states, and by hiking the same trail, you can peek through a window back in time to see how they traveled along the trail with their wagons.

There are some interesting stopping points along the trail such as Devil’s Gate (visitor’s center), Hogsback Summit where the first wagons crossed the divide in 1846, North Platte River Crossing, Independence Rock State Historic Site, and Fort Caspar.

Natural Bridges National Monument

The highlights of the Natural Bridges National Monument are the three natural bridges -Sipapu Bridge, Kachina Bridge, and Owachomo bridge, which were formed due to water erosion.

Of the three bridges, Owachomo Bridge is the most popular and easily accessible one. There are other attractions in the park such as the Horse Collar Ruins, which is over 700 years old.

The best time to visit this monument is during Spring and Fall when the flowers are in full bloom and the park is much more lovely. The downside to this is that there are usually more visitors around this time.

In the summer, the temperature may rise to 100ºF, making recommended activities like hiking and climbing difficult to do. However, other activities like camping and stargazing can be done in their place.

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

In the past, New Mexican traders moved their goods for sale along this trail which spans six states from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California.

You can gain access to the park at any time as it is open 24 hours every day. While hiking, you can find several museums and historic sites that let you learn new information about the events that occurred along the trail.

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In addition, there are a host of events and activities organized by the Old Spanish Trail Association such as hiking, biking, and taking captivating pictures of the historic site.

Pony Express National Historic Trail

The Pony Express Trail was used to deliver letters and mail within 10 days to any of the eight states along the trail including Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming Colorado, California.

The mails were delivered by horse riders who traveled along the trail.

Today, you can hike to several museums that have been built along the trail. The museums educate visitors about the history of the park.

In addition, you can ride along the trail on horseback as the ancient mailmen did.

Other activities include making a stop at the visitor’s center to learn more history and becoming a junior ranger after amassing enough knowledge about the park.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge, for which the park is named, is renowned for being one of the largest natural bridges in the world.

Although the bridge shares proximity to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, it offers a much-limited range of activities due to its status as a National Monument and a religious place.

For instance, there is a strict restriction placed on water-based activities such as swimming and fishing.

To get to the bridge, you have to embark on a one-mile hike. However, the scenery is beautiful, so there are no dull moments. In addition, you should bring your water canteen with you because of the arid climate of the area.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument

A lot of information about human history has been found in well-preserved caves. Therefore, Timpanogos Cave is dedicated to honoring and educating people about the aesthetics of caves, their importance, and how to preserve them.

The cave is located near American Fork Canyon and is surrounded by beautiful vegetation and canyons that give it a spectacular view.

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You can go on a guided tour within the cave and twist and turn your way into several educational programs about the cave, the animals that dwell in them, and how to preserve the existence of both.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of the most visited parks in America because of its exceptionally beautiful landscape.

Before entering the park, visitors must first recite the Zion Pledge which states that they must protect themselves and the park.

It boasts tall mountains and a deep, captivating valley. In the spring, a waterfall forms at the top of the mountains which empties into a river that flows through the canyon.

Several hiking trails lead to lookout points from which you can enjoy the park’s beautiful scenery.

You can either hike the trail or go with the park’s free shuttle service on a scenic drive. An entry fee is required to enter the park, however, the rate depends on the number of people and the type of vehicle that is entering the park.

The park is also home to other activities such as birdwatching, climbing, horseback riding, camping, and stargazing.

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