Top 10 Things to do in Utah

Many people think there aren’t many things to do in Utah and you’re probably surprised that there is an article about the Top 10 things to do in Utah. But Utah vacations can be more fun than you think. We’ve researched fun things to do in Utah and described them so you can get the most out of your Utah visit.

National Parks in Utah

Arches National Park
Perhaps the most breathtaking of Utah’s many spectacular parks, Arches National Park is home to over 2,000 natural arches.  The park lies atop an underground salt bed, some 300 million years old and as much as several thousand feet thick in places, which caused the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, and eroded monoliths in the area. Occupied by humans for over 10,000 years, including Ute Indians, whose Petroglyphs may be found in several locations.  Popular with hikers, campers, and mountain bikers, it is one of the places you’ll want to visit in Utah.

arches national park utah

Salt Lake City
Founded in 1847 by Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young Salt Lake City is still home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church.  Today Mormons still comprise over 50% of the population of 200,000 in the city proper, and over one million in the metropolitan area.  Capitol of the State of Utah, SLC is the 126th largest city in the USA.

As a center for mining and a stop on the first transcontinental railroad, early prosperity to SLC.  Today tourism centers around outdoor recreation and sight seeing, especially skiing in the winter months.  SLC even hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Bryce Canyon National Park
Not truly a canyon, but a spectacular geological formation sculpted by the forces of nature.  Bryce Canyon National Park like many places in ruggedly beautiful Utah is a place that no description can do justice.  Named after a Mormon explorer Ebenezer Bryce offers views of three states with visibility that reaches up to 200 miles!

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park contains a maze of Canyons carved by the Colorado River, and other rivers which feed into it.  A wonderland for outdoor activities, the park is home to world famous white water rapids on the Colorado river, great mountain biking trails, great off-roading courses and other fun things to do on a Utah vacation.

Capitol Reef National Park
Given the status of National Monument by President Roosevelt in 1937, Capitol Reef National Park has some of the most stunning natural views in the world.  Including a bulge in the earth 100 miles long (which is called Waterpocket Fold) the rare and unique geological formations here are truly scenic masterpieces.  The campsite at Fruita has only 53 lots so book your stay here early. A great stop on a Utah road trip.

Zion National Park
One of the favorite Utah vacation spots, located in southwestern Utah, the 229 square mile spectacular Zion National Park features canyons, soaring towers, and monoliths, rock formations, and streams.  Horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, nature walks, and camping are featured for the active nature lover’s vacation. Don’t miss it when you travel to Utah.

The varied topography is created by the convergence of the Great Basin, Mojave Desert, and Colorado Plateau at Zion (all great Utah vacation spots).  Nine exposed geologic formations are part of a super-sequence of rock units called the Grand Staircase. Together, these formations represent about 150 million years of evolution.  The earliest human presence dates back 8,000 years ago.  Permanent villages called pueblos date back 500 years. Today it is home to several of the top 10 things to do in Utah for the outdoorsy type.

Zion contains a diverse selection of wild life, including mule deer, lizards, jackrabbits, cougars, coyotes, and foxes.


Things to do in Utah: In Utah that means outdoor adventure

Native American Tent Camping in Utah
Ever wanted to experience life as a Native American (without the European setters)?  In Utah you can spend a weekend camping in Teepees designed by the same people who designed the Teepees in the film Dances With Wolves.  Teepees are furnished comfortably yet authentically.  Breakfast is complimentary and in the evening the staff will build a camp fire for you to gather around.  A great historical vacation activity in UT.

Rock Climbing at Capitol Reef National Park
One hundred miles long and averaging only four miles wide, Capitol Reef National Park follows the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic landform that was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks similar to the United States Capitol building. Reef is a local word that refers to any rocky barrier, thus its name.  This area is prized for hiking and rock climbing in Utah style and beauty.

Lift-Serviced Mountain Biking
Lift-serviced access allows a doable down hill ride.  Try Deer Valley, rated one of the 10 Best, Park City Mountain Resort, or the Canyons Resort.   Trails run from 10 to 50 miles, and wind through mountains, historic towns, and abandoned rail lines.

Moab Mountain Biking
Probably the most popular mountain bike trail in the world, Slickrock Trail is one of the first trails ever developed.  Try October for the 24 hours of Moab event; a great time on a Utah road trip.

Fiesta Fun Family Center Amusement Park
A family friendly amusement park offering an amusement park plus go-karts, mini-golf, bumper boats, an arcade, and a soft play area for kids under 10.  Stop in the Back Porch Café for a tasty meal.  Located in St. George it is a great spot on a family vacation in Utah.

Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake is one of the first things you’ll want to see on your Utah vacation. You can float high on the water in the Great Salt Lake, due to its unusually high salt content, far saltier than sea water.  The width of the Great Salt Lake varies widely due to its shallowness and the fact that it has no outlet (besides evaporation); from a recent high of 3,300 square miles in 1987 to a low of 950 square miles in 1963.  In spite of its saltiness the lake attracts a large variety of birds and waterfowl.  In winter, fall, or spring the lake’s shallow, warm waters can cause frequent, heavy lake-effect snows.   A visit to the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah is a great free thing to do in Utah and likely one of the best experiences you’ll have there.


Ideas for Day Trips from Utah

Great Basin
The Great Basin is a 200,000 square mile desert that covers most of Nevada, half of Utah, and parts of California, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming. It contains mountain ranges and dried up salt lakes, including the famous Bonneville Salt Flats where automobile land speed records are set.  Surprisingly, evidence of human habitation dates back 12,000 years.

Jacob Hamblin Home
Fronted by an immense green lawn, the two story house was built in 1863 of adobe, sandstone, and ponderosa pine. It is one of the few remaining early pioneer homes in the West.  In an early case of woman’s liberation, Hamblin acquiesced to his daughter’s demands for privacy (they had been sharing an area with the boys) and added a large bedroom, today referred to as the “girls’ dormitory.”

In 1847 Hamblin was one of the first Mormon pioneers to cross the Plains to Utah.  He became known as a peacemaker who could settle disputes between Mormon pioneers and Native Americans, utilizing compromise and understanding rather than violence.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Located in southern Utah in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Rainbow Bridge is the world’s largest natural bridge.  Made of sandstone, it has a span of 275 feet, is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide at the top, and is 290 feet high.  Note the world’s tallest arch, Tushuk Tash in China, is 1,200 feet long. Difficult to access, the choices are a two-hour boat ride on Lake Powell or by hiking several hours overland, it is an out of the way place to visit.

Golden Spike National Historic Site
With a golden spike driven into the last railroad tie plate, the nation’s first transcontinental railroad across the United States was complete.  The Union and Central Pacific Railroads joined on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah, where the event is now commemorated at the Golden Spike National Historic Site.

Golden Spike National Historic Site

Brigham Young Winter Home
When Mormon Church leader Brigham Young suffered from arthritis in his later years, he built a winter house at St. George where southern Utah’s warm, dry and snowless winters eased his pain.  Completed in 1871, the house is a prime example of how the well-to-do lived of the late 19th century.

Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum
The museum features displays of pioneer furniture, clothing, quilts, tools, guns, and art from the nineteenth century. It is FREE to visit.  Provo, Utah.

Silver Reef Ghost Town
Established in 1876 Silver Reef grew from nothing to a town of 2,000 with a main street over a mile long after the discovery of silver nearby.  Remnants of some of the hotels, stores, saloons, bank, restaurants, hospital, dance halls, newspaper offices, cemeteries, and mines may be seen today.  Even a China town section. By the time the silver played out in 1891, about 25 million dollars worth of silver had been mined.  The old Wells Fargo Express office is now an art gallery and museum. The old bank building is now a gift shop.

Fun for All in Utah

St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm
Some 200 million years ago dinosaurs roamed Utah, evidenced by the well preserved tracks at the Johnson Farm.  Hundreds of fossils include not just dinosaurs but also fish, plants, and invertebrates.  Rarer still are a dinosaur swim tracks and the sitting impression of a large, meat eater.

St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm

Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum
At the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum, more than 300 species of wildlife (stuffed of course, it’s a museum not a zoo) from around the world are displayed in scenes from their native habitats.  Waterfalls cascade from a two-story mountain and hidden speakers provide wildlife and nature sounds.   The Rosenbruch also contains an art gallery.  Located in St. George.

Tonaquint Nature Center
Surprisingly located in the city of St. George, Tonaquint Park puts the visitor in touch with ducks, insects, rabbits and foxes as well as the plant life along Santa Clara Creek.

Mystic Hot Springs Utah Camping Sites
Come and enjoy a hot tub designed and built by Mother Earth, at Mystic Springs a camp site with your own natural hot springs and hot tubs.  A great outdoor camping setting that is somewhere between Mars and the Wild West.  With two large group pools and five small personal tubs Mystic Hot Springs provides a unique vacation spot.  A reason in and of itself to visit Utah.

Fly Fishing
Fly fishing is one of the many fun things to do in Utah.  Hundreds of streams run down from the mountains, making fly fishing possible any time of the year.  The Sevier, Beaver, Provo, Logan, Weber, and Green Rivers are popular.  Rainbow and Brown trout are the best catches.

Best Places To Visit Nearby Utah

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is nothing less than breathtaking.  The jewel in the National Park System, the Grand Canyon extends for 277 miles, ranging from 4 to 18 miles wide and is as much as a mile deep.  The steep sided gorge was cut by the Colorado River over 20 million years.

Best viewing is from the South Rim near the Grand Canyon Village, AZ, with its many observation points, a camp ground, and a visitors center.  Wildlife is also a normal sight with soaring hawks, eagles, vultures, and crows, as well as elk, rabbits, deer, lizards and many other creatures.

The ever changing light and shadows reflect on the canyon’s cliffs and rock formations, constantly evolving colors, textures, and the visitor’s experience.  Early morning is a good time to visit, afternoon is nice, and sunset is a must see.

The Grand Canyon

Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Located in Colorado near the Four Corners border, Mesa Verde National Park occupies over 80 square miles and features numerous cliff dwellings and artifacts of the ancient Pueblo people known as the Anasazi.  The spectacular cliff dwellings were built in caves, under outcroppings in cliffs. They were constructed of carved stone blocks around 1200 AD.  The translation for the Spanish term Mesa Verde is “green tableland”.

Take the hike and walk the grounds of the amazing cliff dwelling know as Cliff Palace, thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America, an impressive must see experience.

Best Places To Stay in Utah

Dinosaur Land Camping in Utah
Whether you’re an amateur archaeologist, or you just find dinosaurs neat, Dinosaurland Camping is your dream come true.  The Dinosaur Land monument includes a sandbar from an ancient river that has become sandstone and encased over 2,000 fossils.  With one of the richest deposits of fossilized dinosaur skeletons, Dinosaurland could be that vacation that pays for it’s self if you make a lucky find. Camping at Dinosaur Land monument is one of the top 10 things to do in Utah for Dinosaur enthusiasts.

Travelodge Cedar City
This low cost hotel will provide you with clean room accommodations at a low rate.  Rooms are not great; they contained the standard bathroom, TV, and bed.  The pool is nice but hardly unusual today.

Utah Restaurants

Don Pedro’s Family Mexican Restaurant
Located in Heber City, Don Pedro’s provides good Mexican food with large portions for a low price that everyone can afford.

The Egg and I Restaurant
The Egg and I Restaurant does American food right and interesting.  With great egg dishes for breakfast, (as might be expected considering their name) as well as great sandwiches all for reasonable prices, they will please even the most discerning pallet.

Boasting wins at Buffalo Wing festival three years in a row Wingstop has some chefs that really know their way around a chicken wing, however as we all know with wings it’s about the sauce and there they really excel.  This UT buffalo wing restaurant is a must taste for hot sauce addicts. Whether you like them hot or mild, Wingstop has delicious wings to suit your tastes.

wingstop utah

Log Haven (Great American Cuisine)
Using local ingredients and preparing all of the meals fresh, Haven follows the first rule for great food and that is fresh fresh fresh.  Quite possibly one of the best restaurants in the state, Log Haven is a must taste for all foodies traveling through Utah.

Irmita’s Casita – Authentic Mexican Food
A real local St. George gem Irmita’s Casita Authentic Mexican Food is cheap and delicious!  The new location (now inside a Shell station) is less than desirable, however the quality of the food more than makes up for the unordinary place to get a meal.

Pancho & Lefty’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
Pancho & Lefty’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina is a decent restaurant if you like Mexican food.  No single thing about the place stood out as spectacular, however it was all good.

About Kyle McMillan 80 Articles
Even as a child, Kyle had an inquisitive mind and a deep passion for writing. After completing high school,  he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism that gave him the opportunity to combine his passions. Today, Kyle is a top writer for Noble Nashville where he contributes pieces in a variety of genres. In his spare time, he enjoys being home with his wife of five years and the couple’s two children.

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