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.
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.
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.
More Things to Do in Utah
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.
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.
Visitors agree that the Corona Arch is one of Red Rock Country’s most spectacular sites. With its swoop of natural sandstone that stretches up towards a thrilling mountain pass, Corona Arch proves a highlight for travelers to the Moab area. The technical trail, which scales smooth rock walls and requires a ladder and cable to ascend, is a difficult but doable adventure that grants visitors epic views and a hard-earned sense of accomplishment. More adventurous travelers and daredevil outdoorsmen can repel from the top of Corona Arch in what can only be described as a serious natural rush. But a visit to this popular destination is still worthwhile for the faint of heart who prefer to take in beautiful views of the arch from the ground up.
Salt Lake City's museum of art, science and technology is aptly named The Leonardo, after Italy's famous Renaissance man. The museum opened in 2011 inside the former Public Library in downtown Salt Lake City. The museum's mission has been to inspire visitors to explore the places where art, science, and technology meet – just as da Vinci himself did. In addition to exhibits, The Leonardo Museum also offers classes and interactive studios. Visitors can check out the Tinkering Studio and Lab @ Leo, an art studio, where there are opportunities to experiment with provided materials or create original art. Temporary exhibits, such as Body Worlds, are also often featured at The Leonardo.
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
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