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Utah is known for its outdoor recreation and stunning natural wonders. Whether you are in the Beehive State for work and only have a few hours for a fishing excursion or you have a week to tour “The Mighty Five” national parks, you will not be disappointed.
Backpacking and Hiking
Thousands of miles of hiking trails wander through alpine forests, along rushing waterways, over mountainous terrain and into the national monuments filled with towering rock formations. If you find yourself near the Natural Bridges National Monument, hike either the 1.4-mile Kachina Bridge Trail or the short Owachomo Bridge Trail – the views of the round rock formations and The Bear’s Ears are incredible from the top. Advanced hikers touring Zion National Park are drawn to The Narrows. This winding path runs for 10 miles (with additional trails available) through the stunning Temple of Sinawava.
The Fremont Culture ruins and Hickman Natural Bridge can be seen from a two-mile hiking trail in Capitol Reef National Park, while advanced trails like the Swamp Canyon Trails and the easier Rim Trail are among the most popular options in Bryce Canyon National Park. Dinosaur National Monument reveals not only fossil beds, but miles of trails with breathtaking views, and Cedar Breaks National Monument gives you a glimpse of an enormous coliseum-like formation.
If you are feeling adventurous, explore Utah’s slot canyons. These narrow gorges can require significant skill, but the sometimes strenuous effort is worth it. Zion National Park is home to The Subway. This is a permit-only slot that combines hiking, rappelling and a stretch of underground swimming as you follow the stream through the tube canyon. Other “must explore” slot canyons include the Spooky Slot Canyon, Little Wild Horse Canyon in the San Rafael area, the easy Willis Creek Slot Canyon and the “Singing Canyon” off of the Burr Trail (so named for its incredible acoustics).
Rock Climbing and Bouldering
Climbers come to Utah from all over the world to prove their skills on the granite, sandstone, shale and red rocks of the Beehive State. Not surprisingly, Capitol Reef has some incredible rock climbing opportunities, but if your passion is bouldering, venture just a bit farther south to Bicknell’s Big Rocks. Climbers take the “Big Walls” of Zion National Park, and the spires like Fisher Towers and Castleton in Moab present genuine challenges. Meanwhile, Big Bend Boulders offer numerous climbable sandstone boulders that require a range of expertise. Don’t forget a visit to Indian Creek’s splitter cracks – considered some of the best splitter climbing in the world.
Logan Canyon in Northern Utah has a broad range of climbs with more than 400 bolted routes available. Visitors near Salt Lake City have terrific climbing opportunities in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Meanwhile, climbers near Ogden can test themselves at the Upper Boulder Field and Castle Rock off Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Price Canyon Recreation Area is just outside of Price, in Central Utah, and offers two major bouldering groups. Excellent bouldering clusters can also be found at the Ibex Well and Crystal Peak area near Delta, in Maple Canyon near Fountain Green and inside Huntington Canyon, home of The Rainbow Wall.
Challenging horseback riding trails can be found in all the state’s national forests, through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in many of the national parks and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, among other public areas. Weather often dictates the best riding options, with the cool High Uinta Wilderness offering an Alpine experience that can’t be beat during the summer months. Of course, canyon country will always call to the adventurer, and there are numerous opportunities to ride through the Southern Utah deserts, particularly near Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.
The legendary mountain biking trails of Moab draw everyone from novices to experts. But while Porcupine Rim, Slickrock and Amasa Back are well-known, visitors to Moab should also try singletrack trails like the Magnificent 7 and other lesser-known options to get a taste for different terrains.
For those in the Park City/Salt Lake City area, the Wasatch Crest Trail offers a singletrack along a mountain range – which means incredible views and the possibility of some steep terrain, depending on where you pick up the trail. Riders near St. George or Zion National Park, might opt for the Gooseberry Mesa National Recreation Trail. How can anyone resist the red rock monoliths in the background or the option of using the novice-friendly, mostly flat dirt road? Trails in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Zions National Park and Capitol Reef National Park are also popular.
Utah also offers ample opportunities to fish, swim, kayak, river raft or water ski while visiting. For people who love to fish, Utah is home to more than 1,000 lakes and an abundance of streams, often fed from the snow-topped mountains. Do you love fly-fishing? The Green River and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area are among the best in the West. Utah Lake State Park, Steinaker State Park, Wasatch Front and Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area lure anglers from around the country.
Utah is also known for some incredible whitewater rafting. Among the legendary runs are the Gates of Lodore and Desolation Canyon on the Green River, Westwater and Cataract Canyons on the Colorado and the Upper and Lower stretches along the San Juan River. If you are looking for a chance to explore the canyons in a different way, there are also numerous flat-water runs that provide unique views, sandy beaches and a chance for leisurely exploration.
In addition, Lake Powell, Utah Lake State Park near Provo and Steinaker State Park, just outside of Vernal, offer outstanding family-fun, sandy beaches and safe swimming spots.
Book a room at a nearby Best Western and start planning your adventures today!