TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN UTAH (That Aren't National Parks)
Updated: Jun 13, 2021
Okay look, we get it, we all know Utah is FREAKING AMAZING. Utah is probably the most unique state in the entire United States, it is so amazing and definitely holds a special place in my part. I have probably been 1-2 dozen times with all of my cross- country road trips, and I don't intend on halting my visits anytime soon. I can't wait to get back.
Utah has a handful of national parks, and they are unbelievably cool. But in this blog, I want to dive deeper. I want to go over my Top 10 Favorite Places to Visit in Utah, that aren't national parks.
1. QUAIL CREEK
Quail Creek State Park completely blew me away. Brian and I were road tripping and we had been going pretty hard, sleeping in my 2016 Corolla most nights with little sleep, we almost didn't come here. Photos online just didn't look that great, it was only 15 minutes from our hotel so we ended up going and I am so glad we did. There aren't many places where you get so many diverse geological things in one place. Quail Creek has it all, beautiful and pristine green water, white sand beach shores, and insane red rock formations and patterns that you could expect in the deserts of Utah.
Our hotel was in St. George and it made this place super accessible, just a short scenic drive away. We came here about 1-2 hours after sunrise so we were welcomed with some beautiful morning light. There were already people on the water too.. this is a great place for fishing, boating, paddle boarding, wake boarding, and so much more. The morning we went we were welcomed with some wake boarders that were absolutely killing it! It was awesome to watch and we got some great footage from it.
2. SNOW CANYON
(Snow Canyon from above)
Snow Canyon is also one of those just incredible under rated places. Not far from St. George, it is a must. It really reminded me of like a smaller lesser known Zion NP. While nothing can compare to Zion itself, Snow Canyon was breathtaking. Beautiful white rock formations, red rock formations, patterns and waves in the rock, and even a freaking VOLCANO. This place is epic and definitely deserves a visit.
3. GOBLIN VALLEY
Goblin Valley is in central Utah, and while it is not near any major highway... it is not far from places like Moab, or Hanksville. Goblin Valley got its name most likely from the fact that it looks like goblins could live here, it's such a wild place. It has crazy red rock patterns and formations that you could expect in Utah, but a few things I like that are unique to this park are: 1. They have yurts that you can stay in overnight that look like they belong on Planet Mars, and 2. The red rock has a very distinct line in the rock where the red changes to white, and it is uniform across all of the rocks, it looks almost like it was painted.
4. SAND HOLLOW
Sand Hollow is very close to Quail Creek (#1), just a few minutes outside of St. George. Again, this place just feels like it shouldn't be real. The red rocks look like they belong in Utah, as they are everywhere. But the pristine translucent aqua blue water just feels unheard of for Utah. It seems like it is more fitting for a place like Cancun or Cabo haha. Sand Hollow is also a great place for kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating. Tons of great activities and endless beauty to explore here.
5. BADLANDS REGION
The badlands region of Utah, this is definitely the most unique place in Utah. However, unlike the other spots on this list, this is not an exact location. It is more so an entire region of Utah where there is just endless rock formations, patterns, and abstract views to explore.
6. BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS
The infamous Bonneville Salt Flats, just an hour and a half outside of Salt Lake City in northern Utah, this place is insane. It is practically a giant mirror. I have only been once, but when we went there was a few inches of water on top of the salt flats, and it created a giant mirror. I loved the conditions we had, but I think if it wasn't so moody of a day and maybe had some more clouds, the reflections would have been insane. I feel like this is one of those places where the conditions and weather of when you go totally affects your experience. There are also some seasons where the salt dries up and creates crazy shapes and patterns, so I personally can't wait to go back.
7. DEAD HORSE
Dead Horse is a super cool spot, I'm personally surprised it's not a national park, it's practically the Grand Canyon. Dead Horse looks just like the Grand Canyon, except in certain angles the canyon is backed by beautiful snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. This is an awesome place to spend a relaxing afternoon, a picnic, and just enjoying endless views. (*Just a note- while these photos look dangerous that is mostly due to the vantage point and angle that I took the photo, and these weren't actually dangerous)
8. KANARRAVILLE FALLS
There's not much that needs to be said about this place, other than it is incredible. This waterfall is a hike through slot canyons and beautiful rapids and on this hike you will get to see two very unique waterfalls. It's incredible, and in the summer it is a very enjoyable water hike. But in the winter, this is a nightmare, and if it wasn't for us being landscape photographers wanting photos with the snow, I do not recommend lol. Also, I'd like to add a note that this is the local towns water source, so PLEASE be extra respectful, and as always... pack out what you pack in.
9. CORAL PINK SAND DUNES
Coral Pink from somewhat far away, and close up, so you can see how massive these sand dunes really are!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes are in southwest Utah, and is a super easy stop to add to your road trip. It's beautiful and the perfect place to enjoy a sunset. Yes you will get sandy, but it's worth it! I will add there is a viewpoint for those not able to hike in the sand. It's also a fun adventurous place, you can rent sand boards, and venture out on 4x4's, it's epic.
10. Monument Valley
How could I not include Monument Valley on the list, it's such an awesome place and is so unique! I will say that this is on the Arizona/ Utah border, so it's hard to declare which state it lies in, because depending on where you are in the park, will differ the state your technically standing in. What matters more, is that it is lies in Navajo Tribal area, so please be respectful.
There are tons of viewpoints and places in Monument Valley that are super accessible, including the very, very, famous 'Forest Gump Road.' But if you'd like to venture or hike, there's tons of awesome stuff to explore. Monument Valley is one of those places that I think everyone should try visit at least once in their life, it's just one of those ultimate bucket list destinations.
I hope you enjoyed this Top 10 of Utah! If you'd like to see footage from each of these places check this out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y36MFHuKeZc&t=382s