Things to Do in Utah
With its steep climbs and deep descents, the Hell’s Revenge Trail offers some of the best views of the Colorado River, La Sal Mountains, Negro Bill Canyon, and the Abyss Canyon. At nearly 7.5 miles long, the challenging trail loops through the sandstone and slickrock of the scenic Moab Valley. It takes those brave enough to walk its roller coaster track through narrow canyons, Navajo sandstone formations, and vast pools of water. Views are often exceptional.
Steep hills and tight turns keep visitors to this trail on edge (literally). Names of spots such as Devil’s Driveway, Hell’s Gate, the Tip Over Challenge, and the Escalator, this trail is not for the faint of heart — but those adventurous enough to take it on will be rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding natural scenery.
According to local legend, this breathtaking mesa with incredible panoramic views of Canyonlands National Park and the roaring Colorado River, was once home to wild mustang herds that old-school cowboys worked tirelessly to break. Today, Dead Horse Point State Park attracts hikers, photographers and mountain bikers seeking out rugged terrain, epic scenery and untouched natural wonder. Intrepid trails offer thrill-seeking bikers a raging shot of adrenaline, while shorter hikes up well-marked paths lead to epic views of some of the country’s most beautiful scenery.
Deep in the backcountry of the northwestern section of Zion National Park, Kolob Arch is a natural wonder that’s worth the all day hike. Spanning 287 ft. Kolob Arch is the world’s second longest naturally occurring arch—and only three feet shorter than Landscape Arch at Arches National Park. The arch is an iconic symbol of the park that encapsulates its rugged beauty, although reaching the arch requires 14 miles of hiking through isolated wilderness. Despite the length of the total journey—which can often take up to 12 hours—the hike to the arch is a revered pilgrimage for backcountry enthusiasts and hikers. Should you choose to hike to Kolob Arch, be sure to pack along plenty of water and be comfortable with hiking at the high altitude. The trailhead begins over 6,000 feet, and spring and fall are the best months for comfort and milder weather.
Even though the Zion landscape was carved by rushing waters, there are a couple of places where the water gathers in crystalline, turquoise pools. At the aptly named Emerald Pools, the iridescent dollops of fresh water create a refreshing contrast to the earthy red cliffs that explode throughout the park. Multiple trails lead up towards the pools from the canyon’s scenic drive, with the half-mile, paved trail to the Lower Pool being the shortest and most accessible. For those seeking a bit more adventure, the Middle Pools trail and the Upper Pools trail climb farther into the backcountry, with the Upper Pools Trail being three miles, round-trip, and gaining 350 feet in elevation. Along the hike, watch as waterfalls spill their way over the slick surface of the rocks, and marvel at the colors and serenity of the pools as they float beneath the cliffs. For fresh views throughout the hike, return along the Kayenta Trail to complete a wilderness loop.
When Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, Brigham Young, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), proclaimed “Here we will build a temple to our God.” The place where this pronouncement was made eventually became known as Temple Square, whose centerpiece is the Salt Lake Temple — the largest of 135+ Mormon temples.
Located in downtown Salt Lake City, Temple Square is the world headquarters of LDS Church, as well as Utah’s number one tourist attraction, drawing in 3-5 million visitors each year. Contained within the Square’s 35 acres are the Salt Lake Temple, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, the Seagull Monument, two visitors' centers and the largest genealogy library of its kind in the world. It is also home to the renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra.
Free guided tours take in historic sites, interactive exhibits, art displays and films, parks.
More Things to Do in Utah
The Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square was built between 1863 and 1875 and originally housed meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church). It was also the location of the semi-annual LDS General Conference for 132 years, before the conference moved to a new center in 2000.
The Tabernacle’s unusual design is said to have come to Brigham Young while he was contemplating a hollowed-out eggshell. After the facility was completed it was considered an architectural wonder of its day, leading Frank Lloyd Wright to dub it “one of the architectural masterpieces of the country and perhaps the world.” Nearly 1.5 million feet of lumber was chopped in the nearby Wasatch Mountains to complete the project. The grand 11,623-pipe Tabernacle Organ, which pipes are made of hand-carved wooden staves, is one of the largest and sonorous organs in the world.
It doesn’t take long to be completely moved by Zion’s natural beauty, and The Court of the Patriarchs is a just a few minutes up the canyon’s scenic road. At this roadside pullout (and 4th shuttle stop), three multi-hued pillars of sandstone erupt from the valley floor, and create an iconic symbol of Zion that encapsulates the rugged beauty. Named after the biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the formation is a favorite with photographers, climbers, and early-morning visitors. Just after dawn, when the sun is first rising, the towers are bathed in morning light and cast a red, radiant hue. The best viewpoint for admiring the spires is up a short trail from the roadside shuttle stop that leads above the trees. Other peaks, such as the red Mount Moroni, also spring from the landscape, and there is even a chance you could see climbers scaling on Isaac’s vertical walls.
Founded in 1894 to gather genealogical records and assist members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) with family history and genealogical research, the Family History Library is the largest library of its kind in the world. Its main purpose is to fulfill one of the LDS Church’s fundamental tenets: to baptize and perform other saving ordinances on deceased family members. However, many individuals use the library simply to research their ancestry and chart their genealogy.
The library’s collection includes more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials and other formats; and over 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources. The library is open to the general public free of charge. It maintains 100 full- and part-time professional staff, as well as some 700 trained volunteers, to assist visitors with their research.
You’ll enjoy your trip to the Great Salt Lake more if you understand the history and science that put it on the map. The Great Salt Lake is what’s left of pre-historic Lake Bonneville. It’s the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River.
Great Salt Lake is salty because it is a terminal lake, meaning its water does not flow to the sea. The only way water can leave is by evaporating. When that happens, the salt gets left behind. Too salty for fish, only algae and brine shrimp live in the lake. Flies in the area are a common complaint, but they are a primary food source for the many birds that migrate to the lake.
Since the water is so salty, it’s easy to float, making swimming a must do for many visitors. White sand beaches, and typically its lack of flies make Antelope Island State Park a popular place to take the plunge.
If you’re a daredevil, an adrenaline seeker, a photographer—or a bit crazy—then there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the trail to Angel’s Landing. Along with the Narrows and the hike to Kolob Arch, Angel’s Landing is a backcountry pinnacle that offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That said, the trail to the top of Angel’s Landing is as controversial as it is beautiful, as the steep drop-offs and uneven footing create a hazardous trail that winds its way up to one of the best lookouts in the park. On the trail’s final half-mile, hikers must navigate a narrow ridge that has vertical drops of nearly 1,000 feet. Thankfully, there is a comprehensive system of anchors, chains, guardrails, and handholds that aid in climbing the ridge, but it’s imperative when hiking to watch your step and have solid footing at all times.
The La Sal Mountains are Utah’s second highest mountain range with nine peaks surpassing 12,000 feet. Their diverse terrain, impressive views and sky-high summits make La Sal Mountains the ideal place for travelers looking to boulder, ice climb, hike, scramble or go canyoneering.
La Sal’s level 2 and 3 climbs attract intrepid travelers year-round, but visitors agree the steep mountain passes may be too technical for novice wanderers. Many of the trails that lead to 12,000 feet peaks require an ice axe to navigate—even in July! The cooling natural pools and quiet waterfalls of Mill Creek, Negro Bill Canyon and Professor Creek canyons make them popular with hikers during warmer months. And because La Sal Mountains are contained almost entirely on public land, visitors can camp almost anywhere before heading out on an early morning climb.
Things to do near Utah
- Things to do in Moab
- Things to do in Salt Lake City
- Things to do in Monument Valley
- Things to do in Colorado
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- Things to do in Grand Canyon National Park
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- Things to do in Wyoming
- Things to do in Nevada
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