5 Best National Parks in Utah With Maps (NEW 2022)

Best National Parks in Utah

The National Parks in Utah are Utah are some of the best (if not the) best in North America. 

Utah is home to many national parks, each of which is worthy of praise and admiration. Zion, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef are all stunning sites that should be visited at least once in your life. However, the fifth national park on this list-Canyonlands-is truly one of a kind.

How many national parks are in Utah?

Utah is home to five national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands. We know these as The Mighty 5.

Each of these locations offers something unique and should be visited at least once in your life. So Utah has 5 National Park and within them are 13 National Park Service (NPS) units.

Best Time to Visit the National Parks in Utah

The best time to visit the national parks in Utah is during the cooler months. The temperatures are milder and less likely to cause dehydration or heatstroke (if you’re hiking). This also minimizes the risk of wildfires that can occur during summer. There are also fewer people. 

Best Months of the Year to Visit National Parks in Utah

The best months to visit the national parks in Utah are during the cooler months. This means Late March, April, and May. As well as September, October, November, and December. 

During these months, the weather is milder and less likely to cause dehydration or heatstroke (if you’re hiking). This also minimizes the risk of wildfires that can occur during summer. There are also fewer people.

National Parks in Utah | The Ultimate Guide

Zion Canyon National Park

Zion National Park – Best National Park in Southern Utah

Zion National Park is a stunning destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The park’s location is in the southwest corner of Utah. And makes it a brilliant choice for those who want to experience the best of what southern Utah offers. But without traveling too far away from larger cities like Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Zion is home to not only some of the most scenic hiking trails in the country. But also some incredible geologic formations, (almost as wild as Halong Bay Vietnam). Including sandstone canyons and slot canyons that are truly otherworldly.

Some popular activities at Zion include:

Hiking

There are many hiking trails within Zion National Park. Ranging from short half-mile walks to strenuous multi-day backpacking trips. 

Some popular hikes include Angel’s Landing (a famous trail with steep drops). There is also the East Rim Trail (which offers views of Zion Canyon). 

And don’t forget the Observation Point (a high elevation viewpoint). Lastly, The Narrows (a long hike along the Virgin River)

Camping

If you’re looking for an opportunity to get away from civilization without sacrificing comfortability. 

Then camping might be right up your alley! You can find campsites throughout all four corners of Utah. From beachfront sites overlooking red rock cliffs to hidden alpine cabins nestled among pine trees!

Zion is one of the best national parks in Southern Utah. 

What to See in Zion National Park

Kolob Canyon

Kolob Canyon is a canyon on the west side of Zion National Park in Washington County, Utah. They named the canyon after the Kolob Canyons region, which includes both Kolob Canyons and Cedar Breaks.

Erosion from flash floods, which carved out the steep-walled gorge through the basalt rock that makes up the area formed it. The canyons are within the Kolob Terrace section of the Colorado Plateau.

The area is noted for its red sandstone cliffs and unusual rock formations. Including Balanced Rock and Tunnel Arch. The park service operates two campgrounds that provide access to the Kolob Canyons area. The two grounds are Lava Point Campground and Wildcat Campground.

Dixie National Forest

Dixie National Forest is one of the few forests with a national monument (Cedar Breaks). The high-altitude dry climate makes it ideal for growing ponderosa pine trees. Which are used primarily for lumber production. Other tree species found here include Gambel oak and pinyon pine. This monument is close to cedar city

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a must-see destination for the outdoor enthusiast. The park offers visitors an array of activities. Fun things like hiking, backpacking, climbing, and camping. Hiking through this park can be an exhilarating experience. Imagine as you travel below towering sandstone cliffs. And across Slickrock formations, and past beautiful arches.

The best time to visit Arches National Park is spring or fall when temperatures are milder than in the summer months. But warm enough that you won’t need as many layers on your body (which will make it easier to climb up those big rocks). If you’re planning on visiting during the winter months, then bring extra warm clothing since it gets pretty chilly here!

If you’re looking for an easy hike with magnificent views, then head over to Delicate Arch Trailhead. Here there are plenty more photo opportunities! This short trail takes walkers less than 1 hour round trip. Before they reach the arch itself-perfect if you only have limited time in the park!

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is the second most-visited national park in Utah. And for good reason! The park is home to a plethora of hiking trails, photo spots, and campgrounds sure to please anyone who visits. 

Besides hiking trails, there are several scenic drives throughout Bryce Canyon National Park. Many provide excellent views of the hoodoos. And other geological features found throughout the park. The Rim Drive takes visitors along the rim of Bryce Amphitheater.

From here they can stop at overlooks or trailheads leading down into the amphitheater itself. You can also take Sunset Point Road. And down into Bryce Amphitheater or Sunrise Point Road up onto its rim. Both offer breathtaking views down into this natural wonderland!

Bryce Canyon National Park offers many hiking trails for visitors to explore. 

What to do in Bryce National Park

Queens Garden Trail

The most popular hike is the Queens Garden Trail, which meanders through hoodoo formations and ends at Crystal Peak. 

Bryce Point 

This trail is an easy 1.3-mile hike that will take you from Sunset Point (the highest point in the park). Down into Bryce Amphitheater where you can look out over breathtaking views of hoodoos.

Fairyland Loop Trail 

This 5-mile round-trip trail takes hikers around Fairyland Point. Where they can get magnificent views of Navajo Sandstone formations. Including Queen Victoria’s Palace and Castle Wall. It’s also worth noting that this trail has been closed due to lightning strikes, so check with rangers before heading out!

Peekaboo Loop Trail #12

This 1-mile-long loop trail is fantastic. And will take hikers through stunning red sandstone formations like Courthouse Towers. And Tower bridges and some other shorter trails within the area. Like Vista Arch or Blue Bar Bridge – both of which offer even more amazing views than Peekaboo!

Other popular hikes include Mossy Cave Trail and Bristlecone Loop Trail. If you’re looking for something more strenuous, try Peekaboo Loop Trail or Navajo Loop Trail.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is in the heart of southern Utah, about an hour northwest of Torrey and just south of Moab. They named the park after the white domes and fins of Navajo Sandstone that resemble the United States Capitol building.

The park is home to many Native American petroglyphs, as well as natural arches and bridges. One of these arches. Landscape Arch, measures 275 feet long and spans a distance of 308 feet over the Waterpocket Fold-the longest natural arch in America!

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is a U.S. National Park in southeastern Utah near the town of Moab. The park preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas, and buttes. All by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries.

The Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park is a must. It is named for its lofty vantage point above the confluence of several river canyons on both sides of Shafer Basin. It also offers 360-degree views from atop sandstone cliffs that drop thousands of feet (900 m) to red rock canyons below.

The Needles section contains many arches formed by wind erosion. Along with hoodoos (tall spires resembling totem poles). This area has been called “the most scenic drive” in Utah by several publications. Including Travel + Leisure Magazine’s 2010 America’s Best Driving Tours list. And Sunset Magazine described it as “one of America’s most beautiful drives.”

What to See in Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch is a natural sandstone arch in Canyonlands National Park. They formed the arch by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone, a sedimentary rock deposited on the seafloor about 300 million years ago.

The arch is on the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. They named it after a mesa that it hangs from, which itself resembles an island. Mesa Arch has 93 feet (28 m) and rises 65 feet (20 m) above its base.

Mesa Arch is one of the most popular destinations in Canyonlands National Park. Mainly because it is easy to reach and offers outstanding views of the surrounding landscape. The landscape is almost as scenic as a National Park in Hawaii.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

If you’re planning a trip to Utah, you must visit Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is on the Colorado River near the Arizona border, and it offers some of the best hiking and backpacking in the country.

They divided the recreation area into two sections: Upper and Lower Glen Canyon. Here you can get a great canyon overlook. The lower section holds Lake Powell, while the upper section is a desert region that’s home to many plant species. It’s not as glorious as Lake Louise in Canada, but still worth visiting. 

What should I expect when visiting the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area?

You can expect to see wildlife like bighorn sheep, deer, and birds, including bald eagles. Hiking trails are plentiful throughout the park, but be sure to check out hiking safety tips before heading out on your own.

How long does it take to get there from Las Vegas?

It takes about 3 hours by car from Las Vegas to reach Glen Canyon National Recreation Area from Las Vegas via Interstate 15.

What to See in Glen Canyon

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument is a U.S. National Monument in southern Utah along the Colorado River. 

This world-famous landmark is often referred to as a rainbow arch because of its striking resemblance to a rainbow. This natural bridge is 290 feet, and it’s one of the biggest natural bridges in the world. The erosion of Navajo Sandstone created the formation over millions of years.

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park is a state park in Utah, USA, featuring hoodoos that are said to resemble goblins. Goblin Valley is located approximately 30 miles (48 km) northeast of the town of Green River, Utah, on U.S. Route 191 in Emery County. The park covers an area of about 1,100 acres (4.5 km2). The valley itself is about 1 mile wide and 3 miles long with hundreds of sandstone formations rising from the floor of the valley.

The valley also contains several other arches and rock formations, but its namesake goblins are the most distinctive. These rocks are unusually large freestanding columns. that have eroded into unique shapes over thousands of years by wind, water, and gravity.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a unique place. It’s a place that has inspired people for generations, and it’s a place that will continue to inspire people for generations to come.

Monument Valley is located just south of the Utah/Arizona border on Highway 163. It’s a bit off the beaten path. But if you’re willing to make the drive, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in all of Utah.

Answers to Your Questions About National Parks in Utah

Things to do in Utah National Parks

What is the best national park to visit in Utah?

The best national park to visit in Utah is Arches National Park. This park features spectacular rock formations. Including some of the world’s largest natural sandstone arches. It also offers a variety of hiking trails and other outdoor activities for visitors.

Can You Drive Through the National Parks in Utah 

Yes, You can drive through the national parks in Utah, but there are some places where you have to leave your car behind. The most famous example is Bryce Canyon, National Park. From the park’s entrance, it’s just a few miles to Sunset Point, which offers views of the park’s famous hoodoos.

So just plan a trip with Google Maps and hit the road. 

What are the 7 National Monuments in Utah

Utah has a lot of national monuments. 

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a 1.9 million acre (7,700 km²) national monument. Located in southern Utah in the western United States. The monument’s dramatic landscape is characterized by high cliffs, plateaus, and canyons.

Rainbow Bridge 

dinosaur national monument

bears ear national monument

The monument encompasses the two distinct buttes of Bears Ears, named after their resemblance to the ears of bears

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a geological wonder in northern Utah. This national park’s 1,000-foot-deep amphitheater is one of the most dramatic examples of a glacially carved valley in the world.

Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument is a U.S. National Monument in south-central Utah, on the Colorado River. And near the Four Corners area. The monument features three natural bridges. And offers a variety of hiking trails, including a paved trail to view the Kachina Bridge. This puts the best hiking in San Diego to shame. 

Can You Camp For Free in Utahs National Parks

No, You can camp anywhere in Utah for free. However, if you want to camp at one of the many developed campgrounds in the national parks, you’ll need to reserve a spot ahead of time. But it is worth it. And a great alternative for Airbnb.

The National Park Service manages the national parks and they have their guidelines for camping. Some of them require reservations while others don’t. Just like camping in Big Sur. 

You can’t go wrong visiting these parks in Utah. So whether you’ve checked off everything to do in Moab, or on a road trip from Ruidoso New Mexico. 

Utah National Park is a great place to visit and these are some of the best national parks that you can see. This post covers just a few of the great things to do in National Parks in Utah.

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