Utah National Parks List – an Overview Guide

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Utah is a wonderful, but often undiscussed state to visit. In this Utah national parks list, you will find that this state has a lot to offer in this overview guide. In Zion National Park, you can walk where the Native Americans used to, or you can travel even further back in time to Dinosaur National Monument and see their remains still embedded in the rock. For people of all ages, Utah offers something in its majestic scenery.

Zion National Park

Located in Springdale, Utah in the Southwest of the state, Zion National Park is a marvel to behold. Its deep red cliffs hold an ancient history. They are the oldest geologic layers in Utah at ~150 million years old. Zion means “the heavenly city” and the Kolob Canyons are named after a place in Mormon scripture, making it quite a site to behold.

The top trail to hike is the Narrows. It holds spectacular views and is not too difficult a hike. Depending on the time of year, there could be waist high water, so be careful. Narrow passages like the one on this trail can be fatal during a flash flood. Overall, it is Zion’s most dangerous hike, but also its most worthwhile. Just be sure to get water hiking shoes and walking sticks.

Or if you want something more demanding but less prone to flooding, check out Angel’s Landing. For experienced hikers, this is an excellent choice. Whether you go all the way or only part way, you will be treated to spectacular views of the landscape.

All of this makes Zion National Park a spectacular place to visit.

Arches National Park

Located in the Western part of the state, it is another wonder to behold. As soon as you start driving to Arches National Park, you will be awe struck. The rocks, color, and walls are so unique that they will take your breath away. When you arrive at the visitor center, you will notice the spectacular landscape that towers over the building.

This park contains over 2,000 arches, meaning it has the world’s largest proliferation of arches. No other park compares to the number of arches this one has, making it perfect for structural engineers to study. (That was a joke).

The top trail here is the Delicate Arches trail. It is a 1.5 mile hike up steep terrain. If you plan to hike in Winter, it is a sound investment to get crampons. They will save you from a nasty slip. For most hikers, it can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete this hike, just because of its high gradient.

Another option is the Landscape arch. It is the longest of many arches in this park at 290 ft, making it the fifth longest in the world. It is located in the Devil’s garden, located in the Northern section of the park. The Devil’s Garden is about the journey, while the Delicate Arches trail is more about the destination.

Whether you are new or returning to Arches National Park, there is an arch here for everyone. Each is unique in its own way and possesses its own rich history. Forged by the mighty patience and persistence of Mother Nature, these arches are worth it for each and every visitor to the park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Known for its crimson-colored hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park has the highest concentration of them in the world. Whether you are visiting during the Summer or the often overlooked Winter months, it is a sight that will leave you speechless.

The best trail here is the Rim Trail, offering hikers a view from on top. It can be quite steep and it is 5.5 miles one way. From on top, you will get an overview of the entire park. It connects all the scenic overlooks from Fairyland point to Bryce point.

Another option is the Navajo/Queens Garden loop. In this 2.9 mile hike, you are taken to rock formations that are shaped like Queen Victoria and to her garden, making it perfect for the whole family. If you are looking for stunning hoodoos, then this is the park for you.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Located in Cedar City, Utah, Cedar Breaks National Monument is known as a natural amphitheater. It stretches for 3 miles at a depth of over 2,000 feet. You can explore lush meadows of wildflower and see crystal clear night skies in this spectacular park.

In this park, there are a handful of trails to choose from. Firstly, there is the campground trail, which is a short walk of 1 mile, offering hikers a scenic view. If you want to go farther, then there is the Sunset trail, an extension of the campground trail. At only 1 mile longer, this trail offers the spectacular sunset overlook.

If you want something else, then there is alpine pond trail, where you go on a 2-mile loop through forest and meadows. Halfway through it, there is the alpine pond. It is an easy to moderate hike. If you are looking for something more challenging though, there is the Spectra Point and Overlooks trail. You will be treated to spectacular views in all directions. It can be quite strenuous if you are unprepared. Lastly, there is the Rattlesnack Creek trail. For this hike, you follow the river bead. It becomes the trail.

Throughout the year, there are star parties. On clear nights, you will be treated to wonderful views that can be found no where else. Be sure to bring a star gazing guide, so you can find the constellations.

If you are visiting during the Summer, consider the Wildflower festival. You will find cushion phlox, kittentails, and aspen bluebells that appear in late June. In mid July, there are scarlet paintbrushes, Colorado columbines, little sunflowers, elk weeds, and many more. If you join a specialist at the visitor center at 10:00 AM or 1:00 PM, they will explain it all to you on a guided hike.

Even in Winter, there is plenty to do. You can go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Just be sure to bring plenty of good clothing and hand warmers to keep you toasty.

This park offers a lot. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced veteran, you will be taken aback by this park’s stunning grace and beauty.

Dinosaur National Monument

For the aspiring paleontologist, this is a wonderful site to see. At Quarry exhibit hall, there are over 1,500 exposed dinosaur fossils in the cliff face, making it perfect for any family. Locate different bones and try to name them. You will find that many resemble your own, but are just shaped differently. Try to figure out which is which.

Located in Jensen, Utah and Colorado, this park has more than just dinosaur fossils for you to learn about. There is whitewater rafting, wildlife, and wildflowers. In addition to that, there are petroglpyhs from the people who first lived in the area. There are deep canyons with spectacular views. Watch as mountains appear out of the landscape to astonish your eyes.

If you have your own car, then you should consider driving around the area. It is full of phenomenal geologic formations. Whether you are traveling alone, with friends, or your family, this park is an excellent experience. The volume of fossils will astonish you.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Encompassing over 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area will give you plenty do and explore. There are plenty of opportunities for water based activities and scenic vistas to behold. You can gaze at the famous horseshoe bend or ride a boat across Lake Powell.

For hiking, the number one trail is the Horseshoe bend. From the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, you hike along the canyon for 1.2 miles until you reach the horseshoe bend. Be forewarned though, this is a very popular trail, so it can be quite crowded.

It is also home to know some of the darkest skies in the US, making it perfect for star gazing. If you are traveling here during the night, consider stopping for a moment to stare up the skies. You may experience something you have not felt before.

In Lake Powell, you can go boating, kayaking, swimming, jet skiing, and fishing, making it perfect for the whole family. What you can do in and around a lake is quite spectacular. You can cruz on your boat and look at the phenomenal landscape while you do so.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is quite a relaxing place. If you come here, you will be treated to wonderful views, sunny days, and cool waters.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Managed by the same people who take care of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Rainbow bridge is one of the world’s largest natural bridges. It is massive.

There are two trails to take you to the monument, the north and south trails. For the South trail, you hike from Navajo Mt. Side, so you should brush up on your backpacking skills for it to be a wonderful trip. For the North Trail though, you go on a 32.7 mile hike from Page, Arizona, making it quite a long trail. To backpack either one of these trails, you need a permit.

Most people, though, take a boat to get to the monument. Boat tours are available from Aramark and Antelop Point to reach it. Once the boat is docked, there is a 1.5 mile trail to reach the observation area. From there, you will be treated to a marvelous view.

Capitol Reef National Park

While driving to Capitol Reef National Park, the scenery will keep you busy. All along the road’s numerous pullouts to get to the park, you will find that there are plenty of stunning spots to stop and gaze at the sites. Located in south-central Utah, this park boasts cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges. Photo opportunities abound.

The most scenic portion is Waterpocket fold. The white domes resemble the US Capitol building’s white dome and the rocky cliffs are a barrier to travel known as a reef, giving the park its name. This part is found near the Fremont River, where there is fishing, a waterfall, and fly-fishing, perfect for a family vacation.

The top trail is the Burr trail, sneaking up the mountain side through plenty of switchbacks. It starts from the East and heads West. If you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, then you can access this trail, making it wonderful for off-roading.

Capitol Reef is an excellent place to explore, offering its visitors spectacular sites and activities to keep you amazed with.

Hovenweep National Monument

Located in southeastern Utah, Hovenweep National Monument was once home 2,500 people. It was built between AD 1200 and 1300 and contains 6 prehistoric villages. You will find multistory towers balanced on cliff sides and rocks. It really shows the attention to detail that the builders paid to it.

This is a wonderful anthropological site. There is evidence here of early hunter-gatherers, basket makers, and Pueblos. The primary attraction, though, is the Pueblo buildings. By visiting this site, you will gain an understanding of how ancient Pueblo people lived. The different site names are Cajon, Cutthroat Castle, Holly, Horseshoe & Hackberry, and Square Tower.

The top trail to take here is the Cajo Group Trail. It is an easy .2 miles. While on it, you will see many of the major archaeological sites. It is open year round. Hovenweep National Monument is for those who want to learn about the history of the native peoples in the area.

Natural Bridges National Monument

While this park is small, it is full of wonderful sites to see and things to do, perfect for a day trip. The bridges you will see here were formed by the mighty power of water in a landscape that is not known for having it. You can see them from an overlook or a below view while on a hike.

The scenic 9-mile drive loop is open year round for those who do not like hiking, but still enjoy seeing nature. If you want to experience all the bridges while hiking, then consider the 8.6 mile loop trail. If you do not want to do that, then shorter loops that cover individual bridges are offered.

The monument also presents an opportunity to learn about the history of the native peoples who once occupied the area. At Horse Collar Ruin, you will see one of the best preserved ancient Pueblo sites. Whether you want to see the scenery and/or learn about the history, this is an excellent park to visit.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Located near American Fork, Utah in the central part of the state, Timpanogos Cave National Monument is an excellent place to go spelunking. It offers cave tours, picnics, hiking, and spectacular views. If you want tickets, then it is recommended that you purchase them online. When going on the tour, you will learn about how the caves were formed and how they were discovered. It can get quite cold inside, so bring a jacket.

The trail to get to the cave features an elevation change of 1,092 feet, so it can be quite the challenge if you are unprepared. The inside landscape is incredible, featuring plenty of stalactites and stalagmites. Once outside though, there are plenty of mountains and canyons to gaze at.

This park is a wonderful day trip outside of Salt Lake City.

Canyonlands National Park

Located in southeastern Utah, Cayonlands National Park is full of spectacular canyons and buttes carved by the Colorado river. Rivers divide the park into the Needles, the Maze, the rivers themselves, and Island in the Sky. They are all part of a desert. While all are similar, each has its own character and distinct scenery.

Every year, it continues to be a popular recreation destination. It is perfect for hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, and four wheelers to enjoy the magnificent scenery the park has to offer. If you want to get wet, then you can plunge into Green and Colorado rivers in a kayak or raft.

Out of all the things to do here, Island in the Sky will be your best bet. Compared to elsewhere in the park, this district contains little to no people, offering you the silence to experience the full beauty of the scenery and an introspective moment or two. The White Rim Overlook trail will be your best bet to experience this part fully even though it is only 1.8 miles long.

Canyonlands is a magnificent place to visit. You will be taken aback by the canyons and the buttes in this park. The red will stun your eyes.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to see and do in Utah. Here, there are wonderful waters to swim in and magnificent arches to see. Utah has a lot to offer. You can spend a lifetime there and not see everything. Put on your hiking boots and travel to Utah, where life is elevated.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, please do comment below and share this article. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you make today a great day!

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22 Comments on “Utah National Parks List – an Overview Guide”

  1. Hey Alex wonderful post. I did not know anything about the National Parks of Utah so this was very informative. Your descriptions and photos make me want to go visit Utah sometime soon. I’m in Colorado so it is not a long journey and should be doable. Thanks for posting this.

    1. It is wonderful to hear that you found this article helpful Craig. Utah is quite a beautiful state. Since you are close to it, you should, if you can, stop by and visit a few of the national parks in the state. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  2. Wow! I am normally not an in country traveler or a hiker per se..no more than an afternoon hike. I am not really the camper dude. Having said all of that, this is a great bit of info to some beautiful places. I am an international city traveler but I think I will throw in one of these beautiful parks on a future trip to show one of my international friends! Thanks man!

    1. Hey Thomas, I appreciate you for commenting on this article. Even if you are not much of a hiker, I think you can still appreciate the beauty. There are plenty of short, high quality trails, where you can see a lot without straining yourself. It is nice to hear that you plan on traveling to Utah. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  3. What a fantastic article, Alex. I didn’t know there were such awesome natural arches in the world. I really want to travel to Utah to see these now. Fantastic images and really well written. Thanks for sharing that.

    1. I appreciate the compliment Greg. Utah has a lot of stunning natural arches. It is incredible. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make today a great day!

  4. Love the photos and the info about Utah. Never been there nor have I ever thought about going, but that may have changed my mind. Thanks for the information.

    1. Kris, it is wonderful to hear that you enjoyed the photos and information in this article. Before writing this, I even disregarded Utah, but now I have changed my mind. I was wrong. It is an incredible state for hiking and camping. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make today a great day!

  5. This is a well organized overview of places to hike in Utah’s beautiful parks. I have yet to visit the state, but your post really inspired me to make some plans in the near future! All of these spots are great for rock climbing, too, right? Rainbow Bridge looks heavenly! I’m in! I haven’t heard of Cedar Breaks National Monument, but it looks gorgeous and seems like there is a lot to offer. Which parks have you been to so far?

    1. Yes Ciara, these are all quite beautiful. It is good to hear that you have been inspired by this article. All of these national parks have some form of rock climbing. Unfortunately, I have not been to any of these parks yet, but I do plan to travel there in the near future.

      Thank you for your questions and I hope you make it a great day!

  6. Oh you have done it now! The pictures are lovely. I now have the Dinosaur Park on my bucket list.

    Is there any particular park that would be good for a rock hound? I have a tendency to hunt rocks and walk for miles.

    The way you describe the Bryce Canyon National Park is wonderful. I am making plans to check Utah out, really I had never thought of it being a destination. Thank you for the information.

    1. Hello Dusty, pictures help people to understand what a place is like. That is why there are usually quite a few in the articles here. It is wonderful to hear that you plan on visiting Dinosaur Park. It is an underestimated place. The fossils are incredible.

      When it comes to rocks, all of the parks are good for a rock hound. I did, however, do some research. If you follow this link, you will be taken to an interactive map of Utah and can locate different types of rocks throughout the state, so you prioritize where you want to go. Be sure to brush up on the rules, so you do not accidentally do anything illegal. I hope this answers your question.

      Bryce Canyon is quite incredible. People really do overlook the state. They are missing out.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  7. This article is full of some truly breathtaking photographs! The Bryce Canyon National Park looks absolutely stunning. I am definitely adding it to my list of places to visit.

    What would you suggest is the best time of year to visit such a place? I am not a big fan of getting sweaty, so I would love to go when the weather is nice and not super hot.

    I was shocked to see those little kids hiking on the side of that cliff! They are brave little ones!

    1. Hey Ashley, it is good to know that you liked the pictures. Bryce Canyon is quite beautiful. It is a spectacular place to visit.

      When it comes to visiting Utah, consider going there during middle Spring or middle Fall. It will be not too hot, but not too cold either.

      Yes, those kids are quite brave. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  8. I did not realize how that there are so many beautiful places to visit in Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park is my favorite so far. The view on the picture is just breath-taking! You mention the Navajo/Queens Garden loop which is shorter to reach compared with the Trim Track. Will the view be there as awesome as the one in the picture?

    1. Yes, there are quite a lot of wonderful places in Utah to visit. Bryce Canyon National Park is incredible. When it comes to the Navajo/Queens Garden loop vs the Trim track, the garden loop is just as nice. You cannot go wrong with either. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  9. These Utah National Parks look incredible! I wish I had the money to go there! I love looking at dinosaur remnants and find it interesting that they can be found in such a beautiful scenery:)

    Gonna make a head check of this place 100%.

    Thanks Alex .

    1. Yes, Utah has a lot to offer. When you get the chance, you should take the time to visit Utah. You cannot go wrong with dinosaur fossils and stunning scenery. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  10. Hi Alex, great article! I never knew there were so many amazing national parks in Utah, definitely makes me want to visit sometime in the near future. I love hiking and the outdoors, I just wouldn’t know which one to choose first, they all seem awesome. Any of them stick out as a favorite?

    1. It is wonderful to hear that you found this article helpful Will. Utah is a wonderful place. My personal favorite is Zion. It is incredible any time of the year. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  11. Hi Alex,

    OMG I have never seen such beautiful scenery! Is all this close to you close for your own camping trips? I really need to go out there in the World and seriously start experiencing these natural wonders.

    After reading your article I feel deeply left out from this life experience.

    I ain’t great with heights but I know I can overcome that to absorb such amazing vistas and enjoy the whole experience.

    Thank you for another fascinating article and you are really peaking my interest in planning something like this for the near future.



    1. Yes, Utah is very breath taking Philip. Unfortunately, I have not been to Utah (I’m in California), but these pictures were all found through my research. It is good to know that you found this article helpful. It is good to know that you were moved by this article. Utah is an incredible place. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

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