• 11/16/2023

The Best Utah National Parks That’ll Leave You Awestruck

A mountain range overlooking a river.

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Have you ever stepped outside and admired the beauty of nature? Going to a National Park is much different than walking out into your front yard. You’ll see flora and fauna you don’t typically get to see in your region. When you travel to National Parks, you should aim to find an area that may not reflect where you’re from. The best Utah National Parks reflect beauty you may not see every day — something that is still impressive and can wow you, even if you assume it might not be a breathtaking landscape.

What Makes a National Park?

If you’ve never visited a National Park, you may have the vision in your mind of expanses of greens and blues, bright skies and lush greenery. In Utah, National Parks look a little different, but that’s the fun of it — you should aim to see all the parks you can. A National Park consists of protected land with natural resources, many of which have expansive history from groups that lived there before.

Visiting a National Park is a necessity for anyone who loves the outdoors. You can participate in active exploits, like biking or hiking, or you might enjoy live music or a crafting session onsite. If nothing appeals to you, you can still visit them and drink in all the beauty of the natural world. Each place has something different, but the best Utah National Parks all have something grand to offer.

Some of these parks are more popular than others. For example, over 40% of National Park visitors who stopped in Utah visited Zion National Park. Still, you should give your attention to all these parks. They might display something you never expected out of them.

The Top 5 Best Utah National Parks

Utah’s National Parks tend to be rocky and beautiful. You’ll see warm colors, like red and brown, and unique wildlife that fits in with the landscape. The best Utah National Parks are often popular and may require reservations before your trip. Pay attention to any specific rules certain parks might have. Then, you can design the road trip of your dreams that brings you through each of these beautiful, protected areas.

1. Arches

Arches might just be the most beautiful National Park in Utah. As the sea levels rose and fell, natural rock formations were created via erosion. Even today, the landscape is constantly changing, such as when one structure fell in 2008. When you look at these beautiful rock formations, you can remember that they’ve evolved drastically from millions of years ago — and they’ll look different in the future, too.

Check to see if you need a ticket to enter this National Park before planning to go. These tickets offer a timed entry, allowing you to experience everything you can of the park while leaving no trace. Always remember the vital part of visiting any landmarks: Leave no trace. You want to make no negative impact on the land as you admire it.

2. Bryce Canyon

This National Park is one of the most unique-looking parks you could travel to. You’ll find something to be amazed by, whether it’s the jagged rocks or the 11 species of reptiles that call Bryce Canyon home. The view of the stars at night is incredible, making it a must-see for anyone who loves to see the celestial.

Bryce Canyon is known for having the largest hoodoos anywhere in the world. The grand, irregularly shaped rocks are a major attraction. The plateau has been home to many groups of people over the years, and it has some of the most fascinating parts of nature. It also has clean air, which makes for the best possible views of everything. Plants can contribute to cleaner air, and the ample foliage in this park lends plenty to help you see tens of miles in the distance.

3. Canyonlands

Based in Moab, the Canyonlands is another National Park in Utah that will keep you entertained. With rivers naturally dividing the park into four sections, you’ll have plenty to explore that will quench your thirst for adventure. Bring your camera so you can relive these memories over and over.

The four districts of the Canyonlands are:

  • Island in the Sky
  • The Maze
  • The Needles
  • The Rivers

With 10,000 years of history behind it, the Canyonlands have been home to many people, thanks to its abundant natural resources. Several kinds of people have lived and thrived in this region, from cowboys to officials. The heritage of important sites and attractions has been preserved for years — all the park asks people to do is do their part in protecting history.

4. Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef has a rich history of several groups of humans who once lived there. Many of the attractions in the park belong to the era of pioneers and homesteaders, allowing you to see what life used to be like in these canyons hundreds of years ago. Past records show that this environment was full of natural resources great for settlements and growing crops, which likely led to many groups calling the land home.

This National Park has several attractions to keep both the history and science buffs in your group busy. For example, Capitol Reef’s historic orchards hold around 2,000 trees with various fruits sprouting from them. You can learn much about ancient groups who lived there for a time. Travelers can still see the old pictographs that hunters and gatherers left behind. Overall, it’s a great experience for folks who want to dive into the history of somewhere new.

5. Zion

This park features a rich array of human history, plenty for you to discover, and is quite possibly the most popular and well-known of the best Utah National Parks. Featuring the red-and-white swirls of color that people associate with the area, Zion boasts cliffs and canyons that will remind you how tiny humans are in the grand scheme of things. Indigenous folks and European settlers alike have spent time in this awe-inspiring National Park.

Zion has three campgrounds for adventurous travelers to stay overnight in the beauty of the wilderness. Watchman Campground might be your best bet, as you can camp there year-round and make a reservation up to half a year before your visit. Make sure to plan your travel carefully, as some campsites in this Springdale park allow only a limited number of vehicles, including RVs.

What Is the Most Underrated National Park in Utah?

Of the top five parks in the state, Canyonlands is probably the most underrated. It still features all the beauty of the other parks, but it receives fewer visitors than others, like Zion. Each park offers something unique and incredible, so don’t count any out or think one is less than the other. They are the best Utah National Parks for a reason.

A true park enthusiast should try to visit all the National Parks in a single state when possible. You can make a road trip out of it, spending a day or so in each of Utah’s ten National Parks that are exclusive to the state. Make sure to check the regulations for each park before you set out. You never know what you may encounter out there — be prepared for anything and everything.

The Best Utah National Parks on Your Bucket List

For any avid traveler, seeing all the National Parks is a must. Even if you aren’t big into hiking, just traveling to see some of the most amazing sights in the United States could be worth the lasting memories. The best Utah National Parks are the ones that allow you to see unfiltered beauty, but that’s not all. 

You should explore all the parks in Utah if you get the chance, creating a schedule to help you breeze through all of them. Once you see the beauty of the parks of Utah, you may want to move on to another state.

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