From vast desert terrains to alpine forests and fascinating lakes, Utah has a pretty well-earned reputation for being an outdoor mecca. This ultimate Utah bucket list for nature lovers will be your state guide.
If you’re looking for the ultimate nature getaway, Utah is one of the best regions to visit in the United States.
Here, you’ll find five national parks and over forty state parks and natural areas, which pretty much means you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking what to see and do around the Beehive State.
Even though it would be practically impossible to narrow down all the beautiful natural destinations to visit in Utah, there are definitely some that are absolute non-negotiables for anyone traveling to the state.
Below you’ll find a list of our favorite natural places in Utah that belong on everyone’s bucket list!
The Ultimate Utah Bucket List For Nature Lovers
Canyonlands National Park
Gravity-defying rocks, expansive canyons, gorgeous rivers, and all sorts of whacky-looking formations are staples of Canyonlands National Park, making it one of the most unique natural parks in the United States.
Canyonlands spans an area of over 300,000 acres, making the park so vast that it would be literally impossible to see and do everything in just one visit.
If you only have time, though, a few of the highlights you can’t miss include Mesa Arch, Shafer Canyon, Upheaval Dome, Buck Canyon Overlook, and Grand Viewpoint.
All of these highlights are located inside Island in the Sky, one of the sections of Canyonlands and the easiest one to explore.
Arches National Park
Home to over two thousand natural arches and other interesting-looking rock formations, Arches National Park offers spectacular Mars-like vistas and epic hiking trails.
Thanks to the fact that Arches is relatively small, you can easily explore it in just a day or two. During your visit, you can choose to hike a few trails or opt to take a scenic drive in order to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.
Highlights include Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch (the longest natural arch in the USA), and Turret Arch.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is another must on any nature lover’s Utah itinerary. Home to a vast array of landscapes that range from desert terrains to meadows and hanging gardens, Zion provides a ton of variety when it comes to choosing what to see and do.
A scenic drive is a great way to explore Zion in a short amount of time, with two gorgeous drives available in order to cover most of the highlights the park has to offer (the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway).
If you’re in the mood to put your hiking shoes on, a few can’t-miss trails include the Narrows, Emerald Pools, and finally, the famous Angel’s Landing if fear of heights isn’t an issue for you.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Made up of needle-shaped red rock hoodoos, sandstone pillars, and all sorts of peculiar-looking rock formations, Bryce Canyon provides one of the most unique landscapes in the world.
Although small, Bryce Canyon has plenty to offer. A few of the hikes you can’t miss include Silent City, Mossy Cave Waterfalls, Fairyland Canyon, and the Queen’s Garden Trail in order to see the humongous hoodoo amphitheater that has made the park so famous!
Capitol Reef National Park
Even though it’s not as popular as the other national parks in Utah, Capitol Reef is a true gem when it comes to splendid landscapes and amazing outdoor adventures.
Capitol Reef is located on the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile “wrinkle” on the earth that was created millions of years ago and gave way to the park’s other-worldly-looking landscape. At capitol reef, you’ll find plenty of unique geological features, which range from canyons to domes, cliffs, and arches.
Some of the best things to do at Capitol Reef include driving down Highway 24, checking out Panorama Point and Sunset Point, walking along Grand Wash, and hiking to Hickman Bridge and Cassidy Arch.
Provo River is a 70-mile lake that flows down into the alluring Utah Lake.
While simply gazing at the lake and its mountainous surroundings is reason enough to visit, the main motive people visit Provo River for is to get the chance to go on a tubing adventure down the river!
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
If birdwatching is your jam, a visit to the Bear River Migratory Refuge is one of the best nature-related things to do in Utah.
This humongous refuge homes over 200 bird species year-round, many of which you can look at roaming in what feels like their natural habitat.
Moreover, the refuge provides a temporary home to American White Pelicans that flock here during the summer and Tundra Swans who come here during the fall months.
Set between Capitol Reef and Canyonlands, Goblin Valley boasts a terrain where you’ll find quirky-looking hoodoos, strange rock formations, canyons, and cavernous formations.
While here, you can follow the Goblin’s Lair, a 2.3-mile out and back trail that will have you walking among some of the strangest landscapes in the park, including hoodoos and mysterious caverns.
Often called The Timp, Mountain Timpanogos is the second-highest mountain in Utah and one of the toughest peaks to conquer in the state.
To summit Mount Timpanogos, you must brave a 13-mile out and back hike. Although challenging, the views along the way will give you plenty of excuses to stop and catch your breath, with common sights of the Wasatch Mountain range, mountain goats, summer wildflowers, and a snow blanket that remains year-round.
Fantasy Canyon is one of the best natural destinations in Utah if you’re a fan of the weird and the wonderful.
This tiny canyon may be small, but it provides plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Here, you can take a short 0.6-mile hike that will have you walking amid rock figures that resemble different characters, including dragons, witches, and bears.
Grand Staircase – Escalante Monument and Lower Calf Creek Falls
Spanning almost 2 million acres in southern Utah, this national monument is home to tons of treasures, including monoliths, slot canyons, natural bridges, rivers, coniferous forests, and waterfalls.
Thanks to its incredibly varied terrain, a visit to this national monument will have you feeling spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing what to see and do.
Some of the best things to see include Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch, Calf Creek Falls, Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyon, Zebra Slot Canyon, and Coyote Gulch.
Have you ever been to any of these natural destinations in Utah? If so, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comment section below!
Pin 11 Places to Visit for the Ultimate Utah Bucket List For Nature Lovers