Southern Utah’s vast landscapes, canyons, and red rock formations are some of the most beautiful sights in the western United States. Looking for the best things to do in Southern Utah? Here are the things you shouldn’t miss.
The region has been a popular destination for travelers since the 1860s when explorer John Wesley Powell first descended the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and into Utah’s Glen Canyon.
Ready to explore the must-see spots in southern Utah? Let’s go!
Top 5 Things to Do in Southern Utah
Explore Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of Southern Utah’s most popular tourist destinations. The park is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and many other unique geological features.
Visitors can hike, climb, and camp in the park, and it also abounds with various hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes.
Popular trails include the Delicate Arch Trail, which leads to the iconic Delicate Arch, and the Devil’s Garden Trail, a longer hike with several different arches to see along the way.
Climbing is also popular in the park, with several routes ranging from easy to difficult, depending on your experience level.
See The Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park
The hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park are some of the most popular attractions in Southern Utah.
Wind and water erosion created these unique rock formations over millions of years. Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah near the town of Bryce. The park is open all year round, but the ideal time to visit is when the weather is cooler.
Several hiking trails wind through the hoodoos, and visitors can also take horseback rides or Jeep tours. The views from the canyon are breathtaking, so be sure to bring your camera!
Hike Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a must-see for any traveler in Southern Utah.
The park is famous for the white-knuckle Angel’s Landing hike, which offers stunning views of Zion Canyon and the Great White Throne Mountain Range. The park also features a variety of other attractions, like the Temple of Sinawava and The Narrows.
Another great thing to do in Zion National Park is to hike along the Zion Canyon Trail. This trail offers a challenging but rewarding hike through some of the most beautiful scenery in Utah.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a 1.9 million-acre stretch of land in southern Utah that was designated a National Monument by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
The monument is known for its unique geology, including the Grand Staircase, a series of cliffs and plateaus descending from Bryce Canyon National Park all the way to the Grand Canyon.
Other features include the Canyons of the Escalante, an intricate network of canyons and gorges, and the Kaiparowits Plateau, a vast expanse of wilderness.
The monument is popular with hikers and backpackers who explore the many trails and backcountry camping opportunities including the Escalante River Trail – a popular multi-day hike that follows the river through the canyons.
Other popular trails include Spooky Gulch, Zebra Slot Canyon, and Peekaboo Loop. With its remote location and limited services, visitors should be prepared for a backcountry experience.
Tackle The Hell’s Revenge Trail
The Hell’s Revenge Trail is one of the most popular trails in Southern Utah. The trail is located in the Moab area and is a great place to hike or mountain bike.
Why’s it so popular? The views from the trail are incredible and include Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and the Colorado River.
The trail is 6.5 miles long and has an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. Many different sections of the trail offer different challenges. Ready to go? Just beware that the trail is rated as difficult due to its rocky and uneven terrain.
Brilliant Things to See & Do in Southern Utah
From picturesque mountains and awe-inspiring red rock formations to bustling cities and small towns, this southern region has something for everyone.
Let’s explore more brilliant things to see and do in Southern Utah!
Stargazing in Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best places in the world to stargaze – not to mention one of the places in Utah that you simply have to visit.
Still, while so many people flock to the canyon during the day, plan to spend some time at night in Bryce Canyon and you’ll be richly rewarded. The night skies are incredibly clear and full of stars. The Milky Way is often visible, and you might even see a shooting star!
There are several great spots for stargazing in Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the best is the Inspiration Point overlook. This spot offers stunning night sky views and is also a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Another excellent spot for stargazing is Sunset Point. This overlook provides panoramic views of the canyon and is a great place to watch the sunset.
Mountain Biking in Moab
Mountain biking is a great way to see Moab. There are many different trails to choose from, so you can find one that’s right for your skill level.
Be sure to wear proper safety gear, including a helmet and protective pads, and follow all trail signs. Some of the best mountain biking trails in Moab include:
Slickrock Trail: This 10-mile trail is considered one of the best mountain biking trails in the world. It’s challenging, but the views are worth it.
Amasa Back Trail: This trail is shorter than Slickrock, but it’s just as scenic. It’s an excellent option for a less strenuous ride.
Magnolia Lane Trail: This trail is perfect for beginner mountain bikers. It’s gentle and has beautiful views of Arches National Park.
White Water Adventures on the Colorado River
Few rivers are as mighty as the Colorado River. Wending its way through Southern Utah, it’s known for its challenging whitewater rafting and kayaking, as well as its beautiful scenery.
Ready to tackle some rapids? Head to Westwater Canyon – a 17-mile stretch of river punctuated by some of the most exciting rapids in the state.
The canyon offers Class III, IV and V rapids, so there is plenty of excitement and challenge for even the most experienced rafters or kayakers. It’s not possible to do Westwater Canyon independently, so you’ll need to book onto a tour.
Take a Peek at the Emerald Pools
The Emerald Pools are among the best things to see in Southern Utah. They are located in Zion National Park and offer a stunning view of the surrounding area.
There are three different pools to choose from, each with unique features. The Upper Emerald Pool is the largest and most popular, offering a beautiful view of the canyon below.
The Middle Emerald Pool is smaller and more intimate, surrounded by cliffs that make it feel like you’re in your own little world. The Lower Emerald Pool is the smallest – and still very pretty – though often the busiest of the three.
Unique Things to See & Do in Southern Utah: Hidden Gems That are Off the Beaten Track
Let us take you through some of our favorite hidden gems in Southern Utah!
In the heart of Southern Utah’s red rock country lies a hidden gem known as Warrior’s Walk. This secluded spot is located in the town of Kanab and is the perfect place to explore the area’s natural beauty.
The trailhead for Warrior’s Walk is located just off Highway 89 and is marked by a small sign. The trail is only about a mile long, but it packs a lot of punch in the scenery.
The trail winds through towering red cliffs and provides breathtaking views of the desert landscape. Along the way, you’ll also have the chance to see some petroglyphs carved centuries ago by the area’s Native American inhabitants.
If you’re looking for an adventure that will take you off the beaten path, look no further than Warrior’s Walk. This hidden gem will leave you with lasting memories of Southern Utah’s stunning red rock country.
Natural Bridges National Monument
Natural Bridges National Monument is home to three natural bridges, all formed by the erosion of rivers.
The first bridge, Kachina Bridge, is named after the Native American kachina dolls found near the bridge. The second bridge, Owachomo Bridge, is the thinnest of the three bridges and spans 275 feet.
The third and final bridge, Sipapu Bridge, is the largest of the three bridges, spanning 290 feet.
All three bridges are accessible via hiking trails and offer breathtaking views. If you’re looking for a fun and adventurous way to spend a day in Southern Utah, check out Natural Bridges National Monument!
Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is located in Emery County and is known for its unique rock formations. The goblin-like rock formations result from years of erosion and are popular for hikers and photographers.
The park also has a variety of other activities to offer visitors, including camping, picnicking, fishing, and exploring the many hiking trails.
Goblin Valley State Park is a great place to get away from it all and enjoy the beauty of Southern Utah.
Capitol Reef National Park
Southern Utah is home to some of the country’s most beautiful and unique national parks. Capitol Reef National Park is one of these hidden gems. Capitol Reef is a nature lover’s paradise in the heart of red rock country.
The park has incredible hiking trails, stunning views, and fantastic wildlife. The park is home to various landscapes, including canyons, cliffs, and desert terrain.
Visitors can explore the park on foot, by bicycle, or by car. There are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing, camping, and picnicking.
Like all of Utah’s national parks, Capitol Reef National Park has minimal light pollution, making it the perfect place to stargaze. The Milky Way can often stretch across the sky on clear nights.
One of the most popular attractions in Capitol Reef National Park is Chimney Rock. This towering rock formation is a great place to hike and climb.
There are also several petroglyphs (ancient rock art) near Chimney Rock that are worth checking out!
Things to Do in Southern Utah: Practical Tips for Your Trip
As you plan your trip to Southern Utah, remember that the region is full of natural beauty and adventure. Here are some practical tips to help you make the most of your time in this amazing place:
- Southern Utah can have extreme temperatures, so pack clothes for hot and cold weather.
- Be prepared for hiking and other activities by bringing comfortable shoes and clothing, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.
- Don’t forget your camera! Southern Utah is full of photo-worthy landscapes.
How Long to Visit Southern Utah?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on several factors, including your interests, the time of year you plan to visit, and how much time you have available.
However, we typically recommend spending at least 5-6 days in Southern Utah to get a good sense of the region.
Best Time to Visit Southern Utah
There are a few things to consider when deciding what time of year to visit Southern Utah.
Southern Utah is known for having sweltering summers and cold winters. If you are not a fan of either extreme, you may want to consider visiting during the spring or fall when the temperatures are more moderate.
The second thing to think about is the crowds. Southern Utah is a popular destination for both national and international tourists. If you would like to avoid the crowds, you may want to visit during the shoulder seasons (April-May and September-October).
However, if you don’t mind the crowds and are looking for the best deals, visiting during the off-season (November-March) may be a better option.
Where Should I Stay in Southern Utah?
There are many great hotels to stay in for a while visiting Southern Utah. Depending on your budget and preferences, there are plenty of options.
Quality Inn & Suites in St. George (Mid-Range)
The Quality Inn & Suites in St George, UT is an affordable but great option. This hotel offers comfortable accommodations at a great price, making it a perfect option for budget-minded travelers.
Lake Powell Luxury Home (Luxury)
If you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay in Southern Utah, look no further than the Lake Powell Luxury Home. This five-star resort is nestled in a remote canyon and offers stunning views of the desert landscape.
Recommended Tours in Southern Utah
Some other recommended tours in Southern Utah are:
- Sand Hollow State Park ATV Adventure
- Private 4×4 Tour of Arches and Canyonlands National Park
- Full Day Canyoneering Experience from Moab
- Hiking Tour of The Narrows, Zion National Park