Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or someone entirely new to hiking, you’re bound to love visiting Utah. With thousands of trails for all skill levels and trail preferences, the state has something in store for absolutely everyone.
You can spend days backpacking and exploring some of the world’s most impressive views. Or you can be in and out for a quick nature walk that’s sure to boost your serotonin levels and give you a great deal of other benefits. Whichever your preference, you’re sure to love the following Utah hiking destinations, all of which are worth exploring.
In this article, we will lay out some really amazing destinations, though it is worth noting, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Utah is incredible, these are just some of the best and most well known, but many more destinations exist.
Zion National Park
Exploring Utah hiking destinations would be nearly impossible without starting with Zion National Park. As the state’s first national park, it spans a surface of 229 square miles. It’s home to sediment formations over 150 million years old, and it’s also home to a diverse mix of plants and animals, including cute rock squirrels, collared lizards, as well as bobcats, coyotes, and cougars.
As for trails, you won’t go wrong choosing any of the available options. Still, if you’re looking for a unique experience, make sure to check out the following ones:
You may also want to check out our guide on the best hikes in Zion National Park.
The perfect hike for the warmer months (but still doable with waders in the winter), the Narrows is an excellent choice for those looking for a day hike. Hikers walk through a river for miles between incredibly stunning narrow canyon walls. Note that you can also utilize one of the 12 campsites, so you can turn things into an overnight hike.
This hike can be made very simple, or turned into a longer adventure by simply hiking deeper into the canyon until reaching a waterfall that marks the end point for upstream travel.
Looking for a hike not many people get to experience? The Subway may be the perfect option for you. With a 5-8 hours hike time and intermediate difficulty, this day hike will definitely be one you remember for life. Especially if you take the more challenging top-down trail that’ll have you rock rappelling and swimming to reach your destination.
This trail requires a permit that can be hard to come by during peak season, but well worth it. Especially if hikers can make it to the famous waterfall room.
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Whether you’re into backpacking, canyoneering, photography, or just getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, you’ll love the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.
Paria Canyon Backpacking Trail
If you’re looking for a 4-5 day backpacking trip that takes you from Utah to Arizona, then the Paria Canyon is the perfect choice for you. It’s best to visit from April to June and in September-October, seeing as it takes you hiking through water. Make sure that you’ve got the right gear and are down with going through water and mud.
Also, note that you need a permit for overnight stays in the canyon and that the number of visitors is limited to 20 per day. This means that you’ll have to reserve one in advance.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
While you’re in the area near the Arizona border, you could extend your trip to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Spanning over 1.8 million acres of land, it’s a definite favorite amongst nature enthusiasts – especially those who love hiking and fly fishing.
Lower Calf Creek Falls
The perfect easy hike and a great opportunity to take some amazing photos, the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike is the ideal starting point for those who are still new to hiking. It’s flat, dog-friendly, and easily accessible. The downside is that it can get quite crowded. So, make sure you’re there early if you want to avoid the masses.
If you’re looking for a bit of a longer adventure, the Coyote Gulch might be the better option for you. It’s the perfect backpacking trip if you have a couple of days and are looking for relatively flat ground that’s easy to navigate.
Arches National Park
With more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, few hiking destinations in Utah are as impressive as Arches National Park. Spanning a relatively small surface of 119 square miles, it’s a great place to visit for those who don’t have too much free time on their hands. It’s also the perfect place for night photography due to the low light pollution.
Delicate Arch Trail
This is one of the more famous trails at the Arches National Park, and it’s great if you only want to spend a few hours hiking. The trail offers the perfect opportunity to see (and photograph) the famous Delicate Arch. It also allows you to see Ute Indian petroglyphs and takes you by the Frame Arch, giving you a two-for-one kind of experience.
To be fully transparent, it is really pretty easy to see a very large potion of Arches National Park in a short period of time by combining hikes, and jumping from trailhead to trailhead. Much of them are incredibly awesome. Taking the trailhead from Delicate Arch allows visitors to hike to tons of different arches on only a few short hours.
Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a spectacular destination made famous by the impressive hoodoo rock spires it’s home to. It offers several hiking trails, most of which can be combined for longer stays.
Queen’s Garden & Navajo Loop Trail
By combining these two trails, you get the perfect day hike that takes approximately 2-3 hours to cover. It is great for viewing scenery, with impressive overviews of the Bryce Amphitheater. If possible, don’t pass up the opportunity to hike the Wall Street Section of the hike, which is a short slot canyon ideal for taking Instagram-worthy photos.
If you’re not afraid of getting sweaty, you might also want to consider hiking the Fairyland Loop. This is an 8-mile trail that takes you through the spectacular northern part of the park. For an easier hiking experience, go counter-clockwise so that you leave the climbing for the end of your hike.
Canyonlands National Park
Finally, if you’re into more than just hiking, you will definitely enjoy Canyonlands National Park. With an area spanning over 500 square miles, it’s an excellent choice for those who enjoy backpacking, mountain biking, rafting, and kayaking. Visitors can also get incredible views only a couple hundred feet from the car by stopping at various locations within the park.
Requiring less than a mile of hiking to get to, the Mesa Arch is a popular Utah destination for a reason. In addition to the quick nature-fix, it also provides one of the most spectacular views and photo ops in the state. So, you definitely don’t want to miss it. Just make sure you go early or late in the day to avoid the crowds.
Planning Your Visit
As you can see, there are plenty of amazing places to visit in Utah if you’re a hiking enthusiast. But remember, the six destinations covered in this guide are only just the beginning.
With Wasatch Mountain Range, Diamond Fork Hot Springs, Uinta Mountains, Bell Canyon Trail, Kanarra Creek Canyon, and others, there’s a lot of ground to cover and nature to explore. So don’t feel like you have to save it all up for one big trip.
Instead, look for as many opportunities to do shorter hikes. This approach will give you something to do almost every weekend of the year and ensure that you spend as much of your free time doing what you love best – hiking. With that being said, sometimes a big outing is just what you are looking for, and Utah has plenty of that!
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about