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10 Breathtaking Natural Wonders in Utah

Mar 30, 2006  Frequent traveler through Utah
4.0 of 5 bubbles based on 12 votes

Utah is home to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes that the United States has to offer. Here is a list of ten places in Utah where you can find the most amazing hoodoos, canyons, rock formations and other terrain to delight the senses.

  • 1. Monument Valley
    Monument Valley, Utah

    The site of numerous movies and commercials, this valley is full of beautiful rock landscapes and monuments. Rock formations such as the Mittens, Merrick Butte and John Ford's point are popular with travelers. Arranging a guided tour through the Navajo Tribal Park will give you access to the breathtaking backcountry of the valley, as well offering easy viewing of the Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chai.

  • 2. Arches National Park
    Arches National Park, Utah

    As suggested by its name, this national park is home to the world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches. There are numerous gorgeous hiking trails, from the easier Park Avenue Trail to the labyrinth of the Fiery Furnace. Along with hiking, mountain biking, climbing, horseback riding and off-roading are popular activities in the region.

  • 3. Canyonlands National Park
    Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    Utah’s largest national park is divided into three parts: The Maze, The Needles and The Island in the Sky. Only accessible by off-road ATVs, The Maze is a remote area named for its winding channels through tall rocks and sandstone fins of multiple colors. The Needles are a dense concentration of arches, rocky spires and canyons marked by ruins and pictographs remnant of early Native American communities that once inhabited the land. The Island in the Sky makes for a grand observation point from which you can view hundreds of miles of landscape. Activities in the area include hiking, biking, whitewater rafting and four-wheel driving.

  • 4. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
    Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah, United States

    Along the Scenic Byway 12 near the Utah-Arizona border, this breathtaking succession of cliffs and plateaus rises up from the Grand Canyon toward the Aquarius Plateau. From its deep, winding canyons to its red cliffs, blue bluffs and rolling plains, this area offers some of the most diverse and inspiring scenery in the United States. The monument attracts hikers, climbers, campers and sightseers interested in the unique and fascinating natural history of the land.

  • 5. Slickrock Trail
    Slickrock Bike Trail, Moab, Utah

    These nine miles of bare sandstone offer traction to mountain bike tires that can sustain angles that seem to defy gravity. Attracting over a hundred thousand riders a year, this trail is one of the most popular, challenging and exciting mountain biking destinations in the world. In addition to the fantastic riding, however, the trail is also the site of some of Utah’s astounding beauty, with delicate desert plants, cliffs and petrified sand dunes.

  • 6. Cataract Canyon
    Cataract Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    Most famous as a whitewater rafting destination, this stretch of the Colorado River is known for 18 miles of intense rapids that attract experienced rafters from all over the country. The entire canyon is actually 112 miles long and offers absolutely spectacular scenery of the surrounding Canyonlands National Park. Guided tours often include hikes to cliff dwellings and rock art along the way.

  • 7. Zion National Park
    Zion National Park, Utah

    With its sheer red and white sandstone cliffs rising 2500 feet above the Virgin River and narrowing to passages less that thirty feet wide, the Zion Canyon is the most popular and breathtaking draw to this national park. The Kolob Canyons to the north of the park and the Narrows Trail along the upper stretch of the Virgin River offer great opportunites for hiking and sightseeing as well. Canyoneering and climbing are very popular in this park.

  • 8. Bryce Canyon National Park
    Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

    Bryce Canyon is actually not one canyon but a series of small ravines eroded into the side of a ridge. Forming part of the Grand Staircase, the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are vivid and colorful, ranging from pink and reddish to white and yellow in areas. A series of lookouts and trails make for great sightseeing and hiking opportunities.

  • 9. Capitol Reef National Park
    Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

    Named for the white sandstone domes that resemble the US Capitol buildings, this national park is filled with layered rock, multicolored cliffs, arches, spires, domes, immense natural bridges and deep, narrow canyons. Because it is more remote than some of the other national parks in Utah, Capitol Reef tends to be less busy and more tranquil. The many trails provide ample opportunity for hiking, mountain biking and four-wheel driving.

  • 10. Bonneville Salt Flats and Great Salt Lake Desert
    Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Along the I-80, stretching out toward purple silhouetted mountains in the distance, lies the Great Salt Lake Desert, the startling remainder of what was once Lake Bonneville, its hundreds of miles of packed salt sparkling like a billion jewels in the sunlight. The great expanse of Salt Flats is so level that some claim to be able to see the curvature of the Earth at the horizon. A rest point outside of Wendover on the Utah-Nevada border affords a place to stop, take photographs, and explore the vast desert.