24 Best Places to Visit in Utah — Including National Parks, Turquoise Lakes, and Giant Salt Flats

Red sandstone arches, turquoise lakes, and epic skiing are some of the many standout attractions in Utah.

Panoramic landscape view of Zion National Park in Utah
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Utah doesn't get as much attention as some of its neighbors (ahem, Colorado), but anyone who's visited the Beehive State knows that it's in a class of its own. Its motto is "Life Elevated," after all. The landscape goes from desert marked with red sandstone arches to giant, snow-covered ski mountains and bright-white salt flats. In fact, the terrain is so stunning and varied that much of the natural landscape is designated national park, national monument, or national forest land.

It's impossible to check out every site the state has to offer in one visit, but certain places stand out. In addition to housing five phenomenal national parks, there are endless ski areas, state parks, hot springs, lakes, and mountain towns that are all worth exploring.

With that in mind, here are 24 of the best places to visit in Utah.

Zion National Park

The Narrows at Zion National Park in Utah
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Utah has five renowned national parks, but Zion was the state's first — and there's a reason why. Hiking below the steep red cliffs surrounding Zion Canyon is truly awe-inspiring, as are the park's slot canyons, emerald-colored pools, and waterfalls with hanging gardens.

Park City

Aerial view of Park City, Utah
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Park City is one of those places where you can have it all. It's just over 30 minutes from Salt Lake City, but has a mountain town feel that's complemented by a huge network of biking and hiking trails in the summer and two great ski areas — Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort — in the winter.

Goblin Valley State Park

Rock formations at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
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In addition to camping among Goblin Valley State Park's hoodoos, you can spend the day exploring Little Wild Horse slot canyon, which includes a stretch where the walls are so tight that you have to turn sideways to get through.

Powder Mountain

Skier on Powder Mountain in Utah
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With the most skiable acreage in North America, Powder Mountain is the place to be when the snow starts flying in Utah. In addition to cruising down the resort's 154 trails, you can go off piste, exploring the mountain's untracked in-bounds terrain. (Oh, and the area receives an average of more than 500 inches of snow annually.)

Paria Canyon

Hikers in Paria Canyon in Utah
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This natural wonder lies on the Utah-Arizona border, but is still on the Utah side. Paria Canyon is one of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world, found within the wildly beautiful Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.

Arches National Park

Hikers in Arches National Park in Utah
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The reddish-orange sandstone arches of this national park feel like they belong in another world. In addition to hiking under or walking over the arches (there are more than 2,000 of them), you'll find other geological wonders, including Balanced Rock, which towers over the desert landscape.

Salt Lake City

Skyline of Salt Lake City, Utah
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Salt Lake City is unlike any other state capital in the U.S. It sits at the base of the Wasatch Range, providing a mountain backdrop to even the most urban downtown area. To see the two sides of the city, you can walk the Temple Square, headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, before grabbing lunch at the Mark of the Beastro, a vegan diner with a devil theme.

St. George

Aerial view of St. George, Utah
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Unlike other parts of the state, the city of St. George boasts year-round warm weather and easy access to endless recreation — from the dunes and red sandstone cliffs of Snow Canyon State Park to the reservoir of Sand Hollow State Park to the iconic Zion National Park. This destination also has incredible dining and great golfing.

Canyonlands National Park

Sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park in Utah
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The desert landscape of Canyonlands National Park is marked with towering rock pinnacles, remote canyons, and Native American rock paintings. Meanwhile, the Colorado River cuts through the dry scenery, providing whitewater rapids sought out by rafters and kayakers.

Moab

Mainstreet in Moab, Utah
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This city in eastern Utah is a gateway to the red rock wonders of the state — many of which are found within neighboring Arches and Canyonlands national parks. In addition to the parks, Moab is home to myriad petroglyphs and real-life dinosaur tracks.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Natural bridge in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah
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The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is as rugged and remote as it gets, which is why it was one of the last places in the continental U.S. to be mapped. These days, you can view rock art by the ancient Anasazi and Fremont cultures, see dinosaur fossils, and explore the monument's slot canyons, arches, and monoliths.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah
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This state park is as dry as it is immense. With a high-desert landscape of canyons crisscrossed with trails, travelers come to look out over the dramatic Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. Note: When the sun drops, stick around — Dead Horse Point State Park also has stellar stargazing.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
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You don't have to travel all the way to South America to see the Uyuni Salt Flat; you just have to get to northwestern Utah, where the Bonneville Salt Flats sprawl over 46 square miles. The flats, which resemble snow, are actually a blinding-white salt crust that's five feet thick in some areas.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
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The largest concentration of hoodoos (columns of rock jutting out of the ground) can be found in Bryce Canyon National Park. In addition to the red sandstone wonders, the park provides stunning sunrise and sunset views and dark skies perfect for stargazing.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah
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Admiring the sunset on the mounds of red sand in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park should be on every travel wish list. Visitors can hike, drive, and even slide down the dunes, which are estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old. (Sandboards and sleds are available to rent.)

Mystic Hot Springs

Mystic Hot Springs in Utah
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This unique take on natural hot springs funnels the mineral water into a series of reclaimed bathtubs and pools where you can soak the day away. For the full experience, stick around for some on-site live music or sleep in one of Mystic Hot Springs' many buses (including one that followed the Grateful Dead).

Snowbird

Skier at Snowbird in Utah
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Not far from Salt Lake city in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains lies this ski area that boasts 3,240 feet of vertical terrain and around 500 inches of snow annually (it has the longest ski season in the state). In the summer, you can play on Snowbird's alpine slide or take the tram to the top.

Dinosaur National Monument

Fossils at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah
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Dinosaurs once roamed much of Utah, and there's no better place to see and learn about it than at Dinosaur National Monument. The remains of these great wonders are still visibly embedded in the rocks, while petroglyphs showcase the area's first human populations.

Fifth Water Hot Springs

Fifth Water Hot Springs in Utah
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It doesn't get much better than hiking to hot springs. After just over two miles on the trail, you'll come upon a waterfall and the Fifth Water Hot Springs or Diamond Fork Hot Springs. Sit back and relax, but keep in mind you have to hike back to your car.

Homestead Crater

Paddleboard yoga at Homestead Crater in Utah
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One of Utah's lesser-known natural wonders, the Homestead Crater is a geothermal hot spring set in a limestone dome. Inside, under the "natural skylight" created by the dome's opening, you can swim, scuba dive, or snorkel. (Fun fact: This is the only warm-water dive site in the continental U.S.)

Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake State Park in Utah
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Everything in Bear Lake State Park revolves around the park's shining jewel: Bear Lake. This freshwater spot is nicknamed the "Caribbean of the Rockies" because of its bright turquoise color, which is thanks to an abundance of calcium carbonate deposits in the water. In addition to sunbathing on the sandy shores, fishing, jet skiing, and sailing are popular activities.

Mount Timpanogos

Mount Timpanogos in Utah
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One of Utah's most popular and recognizable mountains, Mount Timpanogos tops out at 11,752 feet above sea level. To summit the mountain — nicknamed "Timp" — it's a 14-mile hike round-trip. Along the way, hikers are treated to views of glacial lakes, waterfalls, and wildflowers.

Capitol Reef National Park

Temple of the Moon at Canyonlands National Park in Utah
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Everything in Capitol Reef National Park revolves around a literal wrinkle on the earth that consists of layered sandstone, canyons, and rock formations. Known as the Waterpocket Fold, the geologic monocline extends almost 100 miles and is surrounded by white sandstone domes, towering monoliths, and otherworldly pillars and arches.

Goosenecks State Park

River in Goosenecks State Park in Utah
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Goosenecks State Park is tiny, but mighty. It's renowned for its clifftop vistas over the roaring San Juan River. And the views don't stop when night falls — you just have to look up. The park was recently even given an International Dark Sky designation.

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