Southern Utah is home to some of the most breathtaking national parks in the United States. With its red rock canyons, towering cliffs, and beautiful deserts, it’s no wonder that this area attracts millions of visitors each year. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best outdoor activities, must-see places, and an unusual tip for travelers looking to explore Southern Utah’s national parks.
Southern Utah is a hiker’s paradise, with countless trails that wind through the red rock canyons and cliffs. One of the most popular hikes in the area is Angels Landing in Zion National Park. This strenuous hike takes you up a narrow path with steep drop-offs on either side, but the views from the top are well worth it. Another great hike is The Narrows in Zion National Park, where you’ll be walking through a narrow canyon with walls that tower hundreds of feet above you.
Canyoneering is a unique outdoor activity that combines hiking, scrambling, and even some technical rock climbing. One of the best places to go canyoneering in Southern Utah is in the slot canyons of Escalante National Monument. These canyons are narrow and deep, and offer a chance to explore a part of the desert that few people ever see.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Known for its unique hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock), Bryce Canyon is a must-see destination for any traveler visiting Southern Utah. The park’s main road takes you through the heart of the hoodoos, and there are several overlooks along the way that offer stunning views.
Capitol Reef National Park
This lesser-known park is often overlooked by visitors to Southern Utah, but it’s well worth a visit. The park is home to a 100-mile-long wrinkle in the earth’s crust called the Waterpocket Fold, which provides a unique geological perspective. The park also has several hiking trails, including the Capitol Gorge Trail, which takes you through a narrow canyon with towering cliffs on either side.
Visit the Kodachrome Basin State Park
This state park is located just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park and it is often overlooked by visitors. It is home to 67 monolithic stone spires, which are called sedimentary pipes, and they offer a unique landscape that is different from the hoodoos found in Bryce Canyon. The park also has a campground and several hiking trails, making it a great place to spend a night or two.
Goblin Valley State Park
This state park is known for its thousands of hoodoo-like rock formations called goblins. The goblins are made of a soft rock that erodes easily, leaving behind the whimsical shapes that give the park its name. Visitors can hike through the goblins, and even climb on some of the formations.
This striking sandstone formation is located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. The Wave is a sandstone rock formation with red, orange, and yellow swirls that look like a wave frozen in time. The area is very remote, and access is controlled by a permit system, but if you are lucky enough to secure a permit, it is a must-see destination.
Bryce Canyon Pines – This RV park and campground is located just outside Bryce Canyon National Park and offers a variety of camping options, including RV sites, tent sites, and cabin rentals. It is a great budget-friendly option for those looking to explore the park.
Zion Lodge – This historic lodge is located inside Zion National Park and offers a variety of room options, including standard rooms, cabins, and suites. The lodge is located in a beautiful setting and offers easy access to the park’s many hiking trails.
Amangiri – This luxury resort is located near Lake Powell and offers stunning views of the surrounding desert. The resort features 34 suites and private villas, a spa, and several dining options. It is a perfect option for those looking for a high-end, secluded getaway.
Under Canvas Zion – This glamping resort offers luxurious camping tents with comfortable beds and private bathrooms, located just outside of Zion National Park. It is a great option for those looking for a unique and comfortable outdoor experience without sacrificing the luxuries of home.
Southern Utah’s national parks offer a wide variety of outdoor activities and must-see places for visitors to explore. Whether you’re interested in hiking, canyoneering, or just taking in the breathtaking views, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful and unique part of the country. And, by visiting the Kodachrome Basin State Park, you’ll have the chance to see a lesser-known but equally amazing place, that will make your trip even more memorable.