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6 Euphoric Hiking Destinations in Utah’s State Parks

Have I told you that Utah is best when you elevate yourself? Wellness on the mountaintops of Utah’s most euphoric sites gives a sense of calm, peace, and reflection. Utah’s national parks boast some of the most bea-Utah-ful landscapes in the world! Let’s take a look at the top 6 hiking destinations in Utah’s State Parks.

So put on your best hiking boots, grab a stick and come along because I want to take U-tah all the best places in the state’s national parks! This isn’t simply the wild west, it’s America at its wildest!

Arches National Park in Moab

1. Arches National Park in Moab

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Described as a red-rock wonderland, Arches National Park is sure to leave you breathless. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive rock fins, and giant, balanced rocks. Surprisingly, the hiking trails at this park are considered easy to moderate. Moreover, there are sandstone basins called ephemeral pools, a kind of pothole that houses many forms of life. Unfortunately, you cannot swim in these pools no matter how hot you are.

Arches you glad I’m telling you about Arches National Park? Well, the park’s Visitor Centre nature trail is about 45 meters and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Best of all, it leads to the most breathtaking views! Then there’s the Balanced Rock, a viewpoint and trail hike with an elevation change of 11 meters. Guess what? It takes 15-30 minutes to complete.

Next, there’s the Broken Arch trail and the Courthouse Towers viewpoint and trailhead, both moderately easy. However, Courthouse Towers has an elevation of 98 meters! What a workout! As you can see, there are so many trails that Arches National Park offers. Surely no hiker would ever fall short on choices.

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Bryce Canyon National Park hiking to explore the magical Hoodoos

2. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce to meet you, Bryce Canyon National Park! This spectacular park’s beauty is unlike any other canyon in Utah. Visitors have claimed that the views at Bryce are better than that of the Grand Canyon. Better than one of the seven wonders of the world? Sure, it’s easy enough to believe. Thousands of eroded rock columns called Hoodoos decorate the Bryce Canyon landscape. These hoodoos are also found in Canada, South Africa, South America, Turkey, Australia, and China.

However, these Hoodoos are not as concentrated anywhere else on earth as they are at Bryce Canyon. For this reason, over two million visitors come to experience the otherworldly geology of this park. Popular sites include the Bryce Amphitheatre, which is a 1 to 3-hour visit. While there, viewpoints along the first 4,8 kilometres give you access to breathtaking views.

As for dog and cat lovers, pets are allowed on this path. Furthermore, Bryce Point is a must-visit. It’s the most iconic of all the Bryce Amphitheatre’s four major viewpoints. Then there’s Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. Lastly, Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point provide the highest viewpoints in the park at 2.7 kilometres.

Panorama views of the landscape create a mind-blowing experience like no other. What could be better than getting your mind blown by the sheer immensity of what our planet can look like from a bird’s eye view?

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Canyonlands National Park hiking to scenic views

3. Canyonlands National Park

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Located in the southeastern part of Utah lies the primitive and vast Canyonlands National Park. The park is divided into four parts, the Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and The Rivers. Three of these districts are only accessible with four-wheel drives. You could also explore the Canyonlands National Park with Moab Canyon Tours.

All the top places to visit and hike in Canyonlands are impeccable. Mesa Arch is among the more popular spots in the park. The trail to this scenic spot has an elevation gain of 26,9 meters and it is 1,1 kilometres long. Grand Viewpoint Overlook also brags with its spectacular sights. This is the furthest south you could go on the Island in the Sky district.

Hiking to the very tip of the Mesa requires taking a 28,9 kilometres round trip with a 49-meter elevation gain. Upheaval Dome is a 20,9-kilometre hike with a 69-meter elevation gain. Upheaval Dome is at the tip of the Island in the Sky district and is somewhat of a geological mystery. Scientists battle between theories as to how the dome-like formation came to be. Some argue that it’s a meteorite impact structure while others say it’s a salt dome. I just say it’s beautiful!

Then there’s Druid Arch, in the Needles District of the Canyonlands. The hike itself is a 167,3 kilometres round trip with a 492-meter elevation gain. Finally, those who hike the unique Western Whale Rock scrabble to mount smooth sandstone rocks to see the astonishing views.

Capital Reef National Park as top destination for hiking in Utah

4. Capitol Reef National Park

This geological wrinkle on earth provides you with the ultimate experience. It’s a complete hidden gem! Capitol Reef National Park is located in the south-central desert and is one of the most beautiful of Utah’s mighty five. The first point of interest is Chimney Rock Trail. Then comes Gooseneck’s Overloop. The park has a dozen working orchards and during certain times of the year, you could pick the fruit that they grow! A little snack on your hiking trail, how convenient!

Going up to Hickman Bridge is one mile each way. However, there is a longer trail that you could take to the same beautiful arch. Whatever you fancy. The trail leads past Pectel’s pyramid to Hickman Bridge which has a span of 34 meters and is 38 meters high. Essentially, you walk on Mars at Capitol Reef National Park.

Hiking in Zion National State Park top hiking destination in Utah

5. Zion National Park

Utah’s first National Park, there’s no de-Zion to when and if you’re going. You’re going! Towers of the Virgin is one of the many spectacular vistas in the park. Avoid high-traffic trails for the ultimate experience. Fortunately, at Zion National Park, you could easily book a Ranger for trail guidance. On the other hand, Angels Landing in The Narrows attracts 4 million visitors every year! Clearly, it is one of the most popular destinations in Zion.

Angels Landing in The Narrows takes at least half a day to hike. Furthermore, a permit is necessary if you want to start hiking from Scout’s lookout to Angel’s Landing. The unique Narrows offers a hike in the canyon that in places is only 6-9 meters wide, and 609 meters deep. However, taking on this trail means travelling upstream through the Virgin River on uneven, slippery, and rocky river boulders.

Due to the risks, proper preparation is a must. Complimentary shuttle services are provided to and from Zion National Park, making the traffic into the park more manageable and stress-free. Moreover, there are weekly passes, lifetime passes, appreciation passes and even volunteer passes!

You could easily plan a road trip between all of these already mentioned parks. They are reasonably close to one another. Alternatively, you could go to Visit Utah to plan a wellness trip with them and explore Utah’s mighty five.

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Dead Horse point is one of the top hiking destinations in Utah.
Image: Dead Horse Point National Park, 2023

6. Dead Horse Point State Park

The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. 51,5 kilometres from Moab, this state park is sure to blow your mind. Towering 609 meters above the Colorado River, the overlook provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands’ sculpted pinnacles and buttes. Undoubtedly, Dead Horse Point State Park is Moab’s most treasured gem.

There are miles of pet-friendly developed hiking trails in the park, including a paved trail that leads to spectacular views.  Moreover, if you’d like to stay over, there are yurts to stay in. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed. However, fur babies are allowed to camp with you and reservations could be made here. Dead Horse Point State Park was recognised as an international Dark Sky Park in 2016. For this reason, I highly recommend an overnight stay.

Park staff routinely provide programs celebrating the night sky, from walks under the full moon to staring through telescopes at celestial objects. Along with hiking, there are various other activities to enjoy. There’s mountain biking, e-biking, rock climbing, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, golfing and fishing, just to name but a few!  The viewpoints also include the Island in the Sky District, the Potash Ponds, and the LaSalle Mountain range.

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Hike up stream at the top hiking destination in Utah, Zion National Park

Land of the Pioneers, Utah, We Love Thee!

Yes, Utah, we do. So should you because its beauty is rock solid! Where else could you see views like those that resemble Mars and Earth one billion years ago, or the Grand Canyon without the overpowering number of crowds? It’s not in Arizona, that’s for sure!

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Hi there! I’m Megan, an absolute lover of words, literature, books, stories, anything that has to do with writing, reading, imagining. Because of my passion, I decided to make writing my life, and with that, I decided to study BA Languages at the University of Pretoria and am happy to report that I made my dream come true by graduating and becoming a travel writer. During my final year I wrote for my campus newspaper, the PDBY, where I learned to trust my writing voice. Now, as I sit here writing my petit little bio, I feel more in love with writing than I’ve ever been. Turns out, like much of my personality, my writing can equally showcase both the calm and put-together, as well as the crazy.