RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST NATIONAL PARKS IN UTAH


Let’s Find and Explore the Best Parks in Utah!

Do you relish the great outdoors, communing with nature, and camping under the stars? Then you’ll definitely want to check out what Utah national parks have to offer. From red rock wonderlands to sparkling lakes, you can find some of the top places to visit in Utah.

Utah is number three on the list of the states that have the most national parks, behind California (9) and Alaska (8). Although, technically there are five national parks in Utah, on our list we’re also including a national recreation area (that’s pretty much a park!) that stretches hundreds of miles across Utah and Arizona.

Annually, over 8 million people visit the best Utah national parks, with nearly 5 million visiting other national places like monuments. Another part of the draw for nature lovers, hikers, and explorers are 43 of best state parks in Utah.

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best National Parks in Utah

There is no denying that The Beehive State has a lot to offer when it comes to Utah parks. There are so many too choose from! So to make the most of the beautiful national parks in Utah, you’ll want to take your time and make a plan.

In our ranking and review article, we’ll take a look at the highlights of each of the national parks of Utah along with other nearby places to visit in Utah, so you’ll have everything you need to make your awesome vaction bucket list.



AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best National Parks in Utah

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the park names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that park):


Top 6 Best Parks in Utah | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Best Utah National Parks

Location

Utah National Parks Fees

Arches National Park

Moab, Utah

Directions

Private Vehicle – $25

Motorcycle – $15

Per Person (no car) – $10

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce, Utah

Directions

Private Vehicle – $30

Motorcycle – $25

Per Person (no car) – $15

Canyonlands National Park

Moab, Utah

Directions

Private Vehicle – $25

Motorcycle – $15

Per Person (no car) – $10

Capitol Reef National Park

Torrey, Utah

Directions

Private Vehicle – $10

Motorcycle – $10

Per Person (no car) – $7

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Lone Rock Beach, Utah, Bullfrog, Utah, Halls Crossing, Utah, Hite, Utah

Directions

Private Vehicle – $25

Motorcycle – $20

Per Person (no car) – $12

Boating Entrance – $30

Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah

Directions

Private Vehicle – $30

Motorcycle – $25

Per Person (no car) – $15

Table: Top 6 Best National Parks in Utah | Above list is sorted alphabetically



Best Parks in Utah FAQ | Where Are Other Best Places to Visit in Utah?

While the national parks of Utah are pretty amazing, you may naturally be wondering what other parks and top places to visit in Utah while you’re there.

As we mentioned, besides these Utah national parks on our review list, there are 43 of the best state parks in Utah to explore. But Utah parks and natural wonders aren’t the only big draws, there are plenty of other great things to see while you’re there.

We’ve got a summary below of some of the great places to visit in Utah beyond just the Utah parks, so you can be sure not to miss a thing on your next trip to the state.

Top Places to Visit in Utah Besides State & National Parks Utah

Now, you may be thinking, “What about national monuments?” Yes, there are some really cool ones there, and many are near national parks in Utah, so we cover those in their very own FAQ below.


Best Parks in Utah FAQ | National Monuments & Historic Trails to See in Utah

While looking through the National Park Service page for the best Utah national parks, you’ll see that they have a whole treasure trove of other historic national places to see. From traveling on the Pony Express Trail to seeing where dinosaurs once roamed — there is never a dull moment.

As you’re vacationing at some of the best state parks in Utah and exploring the other best places to visit in Utah, you may want to stop by a few of these national sites.

National Historic Trails

National Monuments



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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best National Parks in Utah

Below, please find a detailed review of each park on our list of best Utah national parks. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these top places to visit in Utah to score so highly in our selection ranking.

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Arches National Park Review


If you love a landscape of majestic red rocks with a truly southwestern feel, then Arches National Park is one of the places to visit in Utah that will be on the very top of your list. The park has more than 2,000 natural stone arches and pinnacles of massive rocks that jet into the sky.

This is one of the national parks in Utah that first became popular due to a local newspaper editor in Moab, Utah, back in 1911, who lovingingly described the area in print. After the word spread, President Herbert Hoover signed a proclamation in 1929 that set aside the park land.

Best National Parks in Utah | Main Things to Do Here

  • Auto Touring
  • Backpacking/Hiking
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Horseback Riding
  • Photography
  • Ranger-led Programs
  • Rock Climbing
  • Star Gazing

Highlights That Make Arches National Park Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Parks in Utah

Parks as Classrooms

If you have or teach school-aged children, then this one of the national parks of Utah that is going to give you some great educational resources to share with them.

Their Parks as Classrooms program includes curriculum materials for field trips and lesson plans. They also have materials to loan in their “Field Trip in a Box” to ensure children learn how awesome national parks Utah style can be.

Hiking to the Delicate Arch

The option of four different gorgeous routes for hiking makes this one of the best places to visit in Utah if you’re a hiker or backpacker. One of these four routes, up the sloping slickrock, takes you to popular natural wonder Delicate Arch.

This free-standing arch has become considered a symbol of the state of Utah, and of the many national parks Utah has to offer.

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Bryce Canyon National Park Review


Bryce Canyon is one of the best national parks in Utah that has a “Hoodoo” of a different kind than they do in New Orleans. Their hoodoos are actually odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing free from erosion, and they have the world’s largest collection.

This is one of the Utah parks that owes its national parks of Utah status to a man named J.W. Humphrey who sent still photographs and movies of the canyon to Washington D.C. in 1916. Bryce Canyon earned its spot among the best Utah national parks in 1928.

Best National Parks in Utah | Main Things to Do Here

  • Annual Astronomy Festival
  • Annual Geology Festival
  • Backpacking/Hiking
  • Camping
  • Utah Prairie Dog Day
  • Winter Outdoor Activities

Highlights That Make Bryce Canyon National Park Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Parks in Utah

Great Campground Choices

Love to take your RV, tent, or camper on trips? Then this is one of the national parks Utah offers with some great campground choices that have restrooms, available water, laundry and shower facilities (coin-operated), and more.

You’ll find that this is one of the top places to visit in Utah where you can choose from the North Campground, Sunset Campground, or Sunset Campgound Group Site.

Be a Junior Ranger

Families will love their Junior Ranger program that introduces kids to the duties and responsibilities of being a park ranger. As places to visit in Utah go, this will be one that instills a sense of pride and wonder as your Junior Ranger completes their training and earns a special badge.

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Canyonlands National Park Review


Whether it’s beautiful rivers, pristine desert, or rock spires colored by nature that you seek from visiting Utah national parks, Canyonlands has it all in one of the top places to visit in Utah for multiple sights and experiences.

This is one of the best parks in Utah that was enjoyed for many years before it was officially designated a national park. President Lyndon B. Johnson established it as a one of the Utah national parks in 1964.

Best National Parks in Utah | Main Things to Do Here

  • Auto Touring & 4WD
  • Backpacking/Hiking
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Climbing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Ranger-led Programs
  • Star Gazing

Highlights That Make Canyonlands National Park Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Utah National Parks

It’s Like 4 Parks in One

This is one of the best Utah national parks for lots of different activity options. The rivers, which are their own separate place to explore, divide Cayonlands into distinct districts.

You can visit:

Bring Your 4-Wheeler

Not all of the national or best state parks in Utah give you the opportunity to kick your vehicle into 4-wheel drive and just let loose. Canyonlands is one of the best national parks in Utah to visit if you enjoy challenging roads and 4-wheeling.

Note: ATVs, UTVs, and OHVs aren’t permitted, and they warn that experienced drivers only should attempt the roads. But if you’ve chosen Canyonlands as one of the top places to visit in Utah because you love 4-wheeling, you have two roads to choose from (Maze, and Needles).

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Capitol Reef National Park Review


If you dream of being able to look up at the night sky to gaze at the stars without a bunch of light pollution, and want to see a cool earth wrinkle called the Waterpocket Fold, then you’ll find Capitol Reef one of the best Utah national parks for both.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the area as a national monument in 1937 after Mormon Bishop, Ephraim Portman Pectol began a promotional campaign. After several more years and visitors, in 1971 it was included among the national parks in Utah.

Best National Parks in Utah | Main Things to Do Here

  • Backpacking/Hiking
  • Backcountry Horseback Riding
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Road Tours
  • Rock Climbing
  • Star Gazing

Highlights That Make Capitol Reef National Park Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Parks in Utah

Orchards

A unique feature that you won’t find at many Utah parks are the vast historic orchards, which include over 2,700 trees including cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond, and walnut.

This is one of the top places to visit in Utah if you love to pick fresh fruit and nuts. The park welcomes picking during designated harvest times and offers a self-pay station with scales and bags.

International Dark Sky Park

Do you want to see the stars the way our ancestors did before electricity was invented? This is one of the national parks in Utah where you can get pretty close to that because of the park’s commitment to reducing light pollution.

Capitol Reef was designated as a “International Dark Sky Park” in 2015 by the International Dark-Sky Association, making it one of the best national parks in Utah for star gazing and astrophotography.

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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Review


A national recreation area is not that different at all from the Utah national parks, one main differentiator is that a national recreation area (NRA), such as Glen Canyon, typically is centered on a large reservoir and emphasizes water-based recreation, so it’s really just a slightly different type of the national parks in Utah.

Established as a NRA in 1972, Glen Canyon includes Lake Powell and over 1.25 million acres between Arizona and Utah. If you love mixing boating and fishing with camping and hiking, then you’ll find this one of the best parks in Utah to vacation.

Best National Parks in Utah | Main Things to Do Here

  • Backpacking/Hiking
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Ranger-led Programs
  • Scenic Drives
  • Star Gazing
  • Swimming

Highlights That Make Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Parks in Utah

Lees Ferry Historic Site

If you think this is one of the best Utah national parks only for water sports, then you couldn’t be more wrong, There is plenty of land-based exploration to be had, and exploring the Lees Ferry Historic Site is just one of those options.

It’s like an outdoor museum of several historic buildings that were used by pioneers, miners, Indians, and passers by between 1872 and 1928. So if you enjoy walking through a bit of history, then this is one of the top places to visit in Utah.

Lake Powell Marinas

Boaters will find Glen Canyon one of the best national parks in Utah for them due to the easy access to Lake Powell. There are a total of five marinas, four of them with launch ramps, and you can even watch one of their live web cams to check launching conditions.

Their marinas include:

  • Antelope Point Marina
  • Bullfrog Marina
  • Dangling Rope Marina
  • Halls Crossing Marina
  • Wahweap Marina

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Zion National Park Review


The last site on our list of the best Utah national parks includes a unique collection of plants and animals, making Zion, which is Utah’s first national park, one of the top places to visit in Utah for a family trip.

Zion was the very first established of all the best national parks in Utah, becoming a national park in 1919. The park got quite a facelift after 1933 when during the Great Depression the Civilian Conservation Corps was started to both enhance the best places to visit in Utah and throughout the country, and put young people to work.

Best National Parks in Utah | Main Things to Do Here

  • Backpacking/Hiking
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Canyoneering
  • Climbing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Ranger-led Programs
  • River Trips

Highlights That Make Zion National Park Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Parks in Utah

The Narrows

The Narrows is named that because it is the narrowest area of Zion Canyon. This is one of the great Utah parks to visit if you enjoy hiking and canyoneering.

The Narrows is one of the most popular areas in Zion national park and it includes paved and wheelchair accessible areas, along with river wading and hiking in the Virgin River, making it one of the best places to visit in Utah where everyone can be included.

Kolob Canyons

Are you looking for some tranquility and solitude in a gorgeous desert setting? Then Kolob Canyons make this one of the best parks in Utah to explore.

The area is designated as Wilderness and offers a quiet setting for hiking among beautiful sandstone peaks, canyon streams, and cascading waterfalls. Want to feel like you’re the only explorers forging a new path? Then this is one of the best Utah national parks to do that.


Conclusion – Top 6 Best National Parks in Utah

Whichever type of outdoor activities you enjoy, hiking, rock climbing, camping, or just gazing at a brilliant starry sky, these top 6 are the best parks in Utah that offer all those pursuits and more.

As you can see, national parks of Utah offer an unending array of beautiful scenery, unique history, and many are connected to historical sites.

So, when you’re planning that next vacation or road trip, you may want to check out the state and the Utah national parks because they offer some of the top places to visit in Utah and anywhere else in the world.


Images sources:

  • https://www.nps.gov/care/index.htm
  • https://www.nps.gov/media/photo/gallery.htm?id=5A8FDC48-155D-451F-67C9E40431D3DFDF


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