5 Top-Rated National Parks To Visit In Utah (2022)
The beautiful state of Utah is known for its dramatic and unique landscape of canyons, arches, lakes, rivers, and sand dunes. State of Utah is a paradise that has been designed for nature lovers and adventurers. Having five national parks, commonly referred to as the Mighty 5, the state of Utah has many national recreation areas and dozens of state parks. Utah offers a wide variety of vacation options for campers, sightseers, hikers, and road trippers.
The Mighty 5 national parks in Utah are known for their own unique sights, geology, and attractions. All the national parks in Utah are ideal for visitors who are interested in having a scenic drive and sightseeing. Some of them are known for being the best place for hiking, climbing, off-roading, and even boating.
5 Top-Rated National Parks To Visit In Utah
Without any further delay, let us look at the beautiful national parks in Utah you must visit:
1. Zion National Park
The Zion National Park in Utah is one of the most popular and most visited national parks in the US. It is also known for having the most breathtaking landscapes in the entire Southwest of the country. With majestic mountains and massive cliffs that line the valley, this park is often known as the vertical park. In springtime, there are waterfalls that pour off these ledges and feed right into the Virgin River that flows through the canyon.
There are two scenic roads that take you through the park and its main attractions. However, it is best to explore the Zion National Park on foot to be able to see more of this unique terrain. There is an extensive network of hiking trails at Zion that will take you through the many canyons and along the ridges located above. You get a really great view of the scenery when you take a hike below the giant rock walls or decide to venture up the Virgin River through The narrows. Many fearless hikers can experience the grandest views from the lookouts located above 1000 feet from the canyon floor.
There is a free shuttle service that runs from spring until fall and transports visitors along the stunning Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. You can hop on and off at any of the stops along the way. While the shuttle service stops in the winter months, but the road remains open to private vehicles. If you are coming in an RV, you have to pay a fee and obtain a permit beforehand to use the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, especially to pass through a narrow tunnel here.
2. Arches National Park
The Arches National Park has the highest concentration of natural arches in the world, having more than 2,000 sandstone arches. The freestanding horse-shoe-shaped Delicate Arch is one of the most famous sandstone arches in the park, sitting majestically on a cliff wall in front of a spectacularly shaped sandstone bowl.
The arches here are nothing short of awe-inspiring, as you see them in a wide range of shapes and sizes, each seeming to have a character of its own. The Arches National Park is situated high above the surrounding Utah desert and the nearby town of Moab. The park is also home to spires, giant stone fins, Slickrock, sand dunes, and many beautiful views as you stare out to the distant La Sal Mountains. Hiking trails and many short walks will lead you to many fantastic sites. This is one park that is also easy enough to explore with small children.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park
When you first lay eyes on the Bryce Canyon National Park, you will feel like you have been transported to some fantasy world with towering stone spires and many balanced rock formations that are called hoodoos. These hoodoos cover the landscape in shades of gold, orange, pink, and cream. From the lookouts located high above the canyon rim, you get to peek out over this stunning collection of hoodoos into a surreal landscape.
The most stunning views are from the Sunrise and Sunset Points, located along the Rim Trail. If you want to get a different perspective on these fabulous sights, consider taking a walk along one of the hiking trails that snake through the canyon and explore around the bases of these gigantic spires and oddly-shaped rock formations. The park is located at an elevation of 8,000 to 90000 feet, and it is home to many ancient bristlecone pines. This is one of the lesser common sights you will get to see in Utah.
4. Canyonlands National Park
The Canyonlands National Park in the Grand Canyon of Utah. The magnificent view that you get from the famous Island in the Sky area of the park as you look out over the carved out landscape of canyons and plateaus will remain with you for the rest of your life. The Canyonlands National Park is truly one of the most awe-inspiring places in all of Utah.
Take a short hike to check out the Mesa Arch, a must-see attraction at the park. This is a dramatic arch that is sitting on the edge of a 500-foot drop and perfectly frames the distant landscape. The Canyonlands National Park has three separate areas, of which the Island in the Sky and The Needles are the most popular. Both these sections are located just within an hour’s drive from the town of Moab and very close to the Arches National park.
The Needles is one of the best places if you want to go on long hikes and four-wheel driving, while Island in the Sky is more for sightseeing around the park and taking in the grand views it offers. There is also another third area, known as the remote Maze District. Though this area is less visited due to the difficulty of accessing this site, it is perfect for those who want to face the remote and rough terrain.
5. Capitol Reef National Park
The Capitol Reef National Park rounds up the Mighty 5 national parks in Utah. This is another park marked by impressive and stunning rock formations of all sizes and shapes. If you come in from the south, especially later in the day when the sun is already ready to set, the Capitol Reef will appear to be a gigantic wall of pink, orange, and purple hues set off into the horizon.
While the Capitol Reef National Park is less visited than the other major national parks in Utah, it also offers a unique and different experience to visitors with a feeling of tranquility, more solitude, and fewer people. There are some incredible opportunities for camping at this park, and it also has one of the best national park camping grounds in Utah, hedged in by an orchard and surrounded by the beautiful orange cliffs.
The scenic drive that you take through the park will give you a close-up look at the most dramatic section of the park. Don’t forget to check out the Panorama Point and Goosenecks Overlook. You don’t require too much time to check out places at the Capitol Reef National Park as you do at parks like the Canyonlands, Arches, or Zion National Park. However, it is definitely worth stopping at the Capitol Reef National Park.