The Best Hiking Trails in Utah
Utah is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering breathtaking landscapes and a variety of hiking trails. From the stunning red rock formations of Arches National Park to the majestic canyons of Zion National Park, there is something for everyone in this beautiful state. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for an adventure, Utah has it all. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best hiking trails in Utah, highlighting the unique features and natural wonders of each destination.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is a natural wonderland, known for its stunning red rock formations and iconic stone arches. With over 2,000 natural arches, this park offers a unique and awe-inspiring hiking experience. The most famous arch in the park is the Delicate Arch, which has become a symbol of Utah and is featured on the state’s license plates.
- Delicate Arch Trail: This trail is the most popular in Arches National Park and leads you to the iconic Delicate Arch. The trail is 3.2 miles round trip and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
- Devil’s Garden Trail: This trail is a longer and more challenging hike, spanning 7.2 miles round trip. It takes you through a stunning landscape of rock formations and arches, including the Landscape Arch, which is one of the longest natural spans in the world.
- Fiery Furnace: This trail is a guided hike that takes you through a maze of narrow canyons and towering rock formations. It requires a permit and is recommended for experienced hikers.
- Make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and comfortable hiking shoes when visiting Arches National Park.
- The park can get crowded, especially during peak season, so arrive early or consider visiting during weekdays to avoid the crowds.
- Stay on designated trails and respect the fragile desert ecosystem of the park.
- Check the weather conditions before your hike and be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its unique geological formations known as hoodoos. These towering rock pillars create a mesmerizing landscape that is unlike anything else in the world. The park offers a variety of hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the stunning amphitheaters and discover the hidden treasures of Bryce Canyon.
- Navajo Loop Trail: This trail is one of the most popular in Bryce Canyon and takes you down into the heart of the amphitheater. The trail is 1.3 miles round trip and offers incredible views of the hoodoos.
- Queens Garden Trail: This trail is a moderate hike that takes you through a magical garden of hoodoos. The trail is 1.8 miles round trip and offers stunning views of the rock formations.
- Fairyland Loop Trail: This trail is a longer and more challenging hike, covering 8 miles round trip. It takes you through a less crowded area of the park and offers breathtaking views of the canyon.
- The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller.
- The park is located at a high elevation, so be prepared for cooler temperatures, even in the summer months.
- Take advantage of the park’s ranger-led programs and guided hikes to learn more about the unique geology and wildlife of Bryce Canyon.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas and vibrant colors of the park.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is a vast and rugged landscape that is divided into three distinct districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. Each district offers its own unique hiking opportunities and breathtaking views. From towering mesas to deep canyons, Canyonlands is a paradise for outdoor adventurers.
- Mesa Arch Trail (Island in the Sky): This short and easy trail takes you to the iconic Mesa Arch, which offers stunning views of the surrounding canyons. The trail is 0.5 miles round trip and is perfect for all skill levels.
- Chesler Park Loop (The Needles): This moderate to strenuous hike is a 10-mile loop that takes you through the unique rock formations of The Needles District. The trail offers panoramic views of the canyons and is a favorite among experienced hikers.
- The Maze: The Maze is the most remote and challenging district of Canyonlands, with limited access and rugged terrain. Hiking in The Maze requires advanced planning, navigation skills, and backcountry camping experience.
- Canyonlands National Park is a desert environment, so be prepared for hot temperatures, limited water sources, and rugged terrain.
- It is recommended to carry a map, compass, and GPS device when hiking in the park, as the trails can be challenging to navigate.
- Check with the park rangers for current trail conditions and closures, especially during the rainy season when flash floods can occur.
- Respect the fragile desert ecosystem of the park and follow Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the environment.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem in Utah, known for its stunning rock formations, colorful cliffs, and historic orchards. The park offers a variety of hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the rugged landscape and discover the rich history of the area. Capitol Reef is less crowded than some of the other national parks in Utah, making it a perfect destination for those seeking solitude and tranquility.
- Hickman Bridge Trail: This easy 1.8-mile round trip trail takes you to the impressive Hickman Natural Bridge, a massive rock formation that spans across a canyon. The trail offers beautiful views of the surrounding cliffs and is suitable for all skill levels.
- Cassidy Arch Trail: This moderate 3.4-mile round trip trail takes you to the stunning Cassidy Arch, named after the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy. The trail offers panoramic views of the park and is a favorite among photographers.
- Fruita Historic District: Explore the historic orchards and buildings of Fruita, a former Mormon settlement within the park. Take a leisurely stroll through the orchards and enjoy the seasonal fruits that are available for picking.
- Capitol Reef National Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the fruit orchards are in bloom.
- The park offers a variety of camping options, including developed campgrounds and backcountry camping. Make sure to obtain the necessary permits if you plan on camping in the park.
- Take advantage of the ranger-led programs and guided hikes to learn more about the geology, history, and wildlife of Capitol Reef.
- Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the delicious homemade pies at the Gifford Homestead in Fruita.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a true gem of the Southwest, with its towering sandstone cliffs, lush valleys, and winding rivers. The park offers a wide range of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels, from easy walks along the Virgin River to strenuous hikes up steep canyons. With its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife, Zion is a must-visit destination for any outdoor enthusiast.
- Angel’s Landing Trail: This challenging 5.4-mile round trip trail is not for the faint of heart. The trail takes you to the iconic Angel’s Landing, a narrow rock formation with sheer drop-offs on both sides. The trail offers breathtaking views of Zion Canyon but requires caution and a good level of fitness.
- The Narrows: This unique hike takes you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, where you wade through the Virgin River. The length of the hike varies depending on how far you choose to go, but even a short walk in the Narrows is a memorable experience.
- Emerald Pools Trail: This moderate 3-mile round trip trail takes you to a series of beautiful pools and waterfalls. The trail offers a refreshing escape from the desert heat and is perfect for families and beginners.
- Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Utah and can get crowded, especially during peak season. Consider visiting during weekdays or early mornings to avoid the crowds.
- The park operates a shuttle system to reduce traffic congestion, and private vehicles are not allowed on the main scenic drive during peak season. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly and check the shuttle schedule.
- Some trails in Zion require permits, such as the Subway and the Mystery Canyon. Make sure to obtain the necessary permits in advance if you plan on hiking these trails.
- Respect the wildlife and natural environment of the park by staying on designated trails and minimizing your impact.
Grand Canyon National Park
Although primarily located in Arizona, a small portion of the Grand Canyon extends into Utah, offering a unique perspective of this natural wonder. The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic destinations in the United States, known for its awe-inspiring size and geological formations. While the majority of the park is in Arizona, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon can be accessed from Utah and provides a quieter and more secluded experience.
- North Kaibab Trail: This challenging trail starts at the North Rim and descends into the canyon. The full trail is 14 miles round trip to the Colorado River, but shorter hikes to various viewpoints are also available. The North Kaibab Trail offers breathtaking views of the canyon and is a favorite among experienced hikers.
- Cape Final Trail: This moderate 4-mile round trip trail takes you to Cape Final, a viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the Grand Canyon. The trail is less crowded than some of the more popular trails in the park and is perfect for those seeking solitude.
- Bright Angel Point Trail: This easy half-mile trail takes you to Bright Angel Point, a stunning viewpoint that offers a bird’s-eye view of the canyon. The trail is accessible for all skill levels and is a must-visit for any visitor to the North Rim.
- The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is only accessible during the summer months, as it is closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall. Make sure to check the opening dates before planning your visit.
- The North Rim offers a more secluded and less crowded experience compared to the South Rim. If you prefer a quieter visit to the Grand Canyon, the North Rim is the perfect choice.
- Consider camping at the North Rim Campground to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the park. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.
- Take advantage of the ranger-led programs and educational talks to learn more about the geology, history, and wildlife of the Grand Canyon.
Bears Ears National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument is a vast and diverse landscape that is rich in natural and cultural history. This national monument is home to stunning red rock formations, ancient cliff dwellings, and rock art sites. Bears Ears is a sacred place for Native American tribes, and its preservation is of utmost importance. While the monument faces ongoing challenges, it remains a remarkable destination for those seeking to connect with the land and its history.
- House on Fire Ruins: This short and easy trail takes you to the House on Fire Ruins, a well-preserved cliff dwelling that appears to be on fire when the sun hits it at the right angle. The trail is less than a mile round trip and offers a glimpse into the ancient history of the area.
- Valley of the Gods: This scenic drive takes you through a stunning landscape of towering buttes and mesas. While not a hiking trail, the Valley of the Gods is a must-visit destination for those exploring Bears Ears National Monument.
- Mule Canyon Ruins: This moderate 2-mile round trip hike takes you to the Mule Canyon Ruins, a complex of ancestral Puebloan dwellings. The trail offers opportunities to see ancient rock art and explore the history of the area.
- Bears Ears National Monument is a remote and undeveloped area, so make sure to come prepared with plenty of water, food, and navigation tools.
- Respect the cultural significance of the monument and refrain from removing or disturbing any artifacts or rock art.
- Camping is allowed in certain areas of the monument, but make sure to obtain the necessary permits and follow Leave No Trace principles.
- Be aware of the fragile desert ecosystem and the potential for flash floods during the rainy season. Check the weather conditions before your visit and plan accordingly.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a hidden gem located in the Markagunt Plateau of Southern Utah. The monument is known for its stunning amphitheater, which is similar in appearance to Bryce Canyon but on a smaller scale. With its vibrant colors and unique rock formations, Cedar Breaks offers a breathtaking and less crowded alternative to its more famous neighbors.
- Ramparts Trail: This moderate 2-mile round trip trail takes you along the rim of the Cedar Breaks Amphitheater, offering panoramic views of the colorful cliffs and rock formations. The trail is a great option for those looking for a shorter hike with incredible scenery.
- Alpine Pond Trail: This easy 0.9-mile loop trail takes you to a serene alpine pond surrounded by wildflowers and pine trees. The trail is perfect for families and those seeking a peaceful nature walk.
- Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook Trail: This challenging 6-mile round trip hike takes you to both Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook, offering stunning views of the monument. The trail is less crowded than some of the other hikes in the area and is a favorite among experienced hikers.
- Cedar Breaks National Monument is located at a high elevation, so be prepared for cooler temperatures and potential changes in weather.
- The monument is open from late spring to early fall, as heavy snowfall during the winter months makes the roads impassable.
- Consider visiting during sunrise or sunset for the most dramatic lighting and colors in the amphitheater.
- The monument offers a variety of ranger-led programs and astronomy events, providing opportunities to learn more about the geology and natural history of Cedar Breaks.
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument is a unique destination that preserves an incredible collection of dinosaur fossils and offers stunning landscapes. The park spans across both Utah and Colorado, with the Quarry Exhibit Hall being one of the main attractions on the Utah side. Dinosaur National Monument is a paradise for paleontology enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and those seeking to connect with the ancient history of the Earth.
- Fossil Discovery Trail: This easy 1.2-mile round trip trail takes you to the Quarry Exhibit Hall, where you can see hundreds of dinosaur fossils embedded in the rock. The trail offers informative exhibits along the way, providing insights into the park’s paleontological treasures.
- Harper’s Corner Trail: This moderate 1.5-mile round trip trail takes you to Harper’s Corner, offering panoramic views of the Green and Yampa Rivers. The trail is a favorite among photographers and nature enthusiasts.
- Sounds of Silence Trail: This challenging 3-mile round trip hike takes you through a secluded canyon, offering opportunities for solitude and reflection. The trail is less crowded than some of the other hikes in the park and is perfect for those seeking a deeper connection with nature.
- The Quarry Exhibit Hall is a must-visit destination in Dinosaur National Monument, allowing visitors to see fossils in their natural context and learn about the park’s paleontological research.
- The park offers a variety of camping options, including developed campgrounds and backcountry camping. Make sure to obtain the necessary permits if you plan on camping in the park.
- Respect the fragile desert ecosystem and follow Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the environment.
- Take advantage of the ranger-led programs and guided hikes to learn more about the dinosaurs and ancient life that once inhabited the area.
Four Corners National Monument
Four Corners National Monument is a unique destination where the borders of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. It is the only place in the United States where four states intersect at a single point. The monument provides a fascinating glimpse into the rich Native American history and culture of the region, as well as breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
- Four Corners Monument: While not a hiking trail, a visit to the Four Corners Monument allows you to stand in four states at once. The monument is marked by a granite disk and offers photo opportunities and cultural exhibits.
- Shiprock: Located near the Four Corners area, Shiprock is a towering volcanic rock formation that is sacred to the Navajo Nation. While climbing Shiprock is prohibited without permission from the Navajo Nation, you can admire its beauty from a distance.
- Monument Valley: Although not officially part of the Four Corners National Monument, Monument Valley is a nearby destination that offers iconic red rock formations and stunning landscapes. Explore the valley on scenic drives or take guided tours to fully immerse yourself in its beauty.
- The Four Corners area is remote, so make sure to come prepared with plenty of water, food, and navigation tools.
- Respect the cultural significance of the monument and the surrounding areas, as they are sacred to Native American tribes. Follow any guidelines or restrictions set by the local tribes.
- The Four Corners area offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including camping, hiking, and photography. Make sure to check with the local authorities for any permits or regulations that may apply.
- Take the time to learn about the Native American history and culture of the region, as it adds depth and meaning to your visit to the Four Corners National Monument.
PLAN TO VISIT UTAH FOR THESE GREAT HIKING TRAILS!
Utah is a treasure trove of natural wonders and hiking opportunities. From the red rock landscapes of Arches and Zion National Parks to the majestic canyons of Canyonlands and Capitol Reef, there is no shortage of breathtaking trails to explore. Whether you are seeking challenging hikes with stunning vistas or leisurely walks amidst ancient ruins, Utah offers something for every outdoor enthusiast. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the best hiking trails in Utah.