Bryce Canyon NPUnited StatesZion NP

Our favorite things to do in Utah

During our US road trip, we crossed 4 states: California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Although each state has its charms, Utah completely captured our hearts. From stunning landscapes to incredible national parks, Utah has so much to offer, each as incredible as the last! On top of that, gas prices are so cheap compared to California, which is great when you’re on a road trip. Planning a trip to the otherworldly state of Utah? Discover our favorite things to do in Utah!

Zion National Park

Our favorite things to do in Utah: Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the most visited national park in Utah, and we totally get why! It is a bucket list destination for adventurous trail seekers all around the world. From easily accessible day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, this national park really has a lot to offer. The fun already starts when you’re entering Zion. Who hasn’t heard of or seen the amazing Zion Tunnel entrance? It’s the best way to start your time in Zion! 

Pro tip
The entrance fee per vehicle for Zion is a little more than € 30. If you plan on visiting multiple national parks, we recommend purchasing the America The Beautiful pass! For € 70, you have access to a lot of national parks, including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and so many more!

Zion offers some incredible hikes, sweeping overlooks, and majestic waterfalls. It truly is a place like no other! It even has some of the most famous hiking trails in Utah like Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Unfortunately, you must have a permit to hike Angel’s Landing. Due to high runoff, we couldn’t hike The Narrows either! Luckily, we found some amazing alternative hikes:

Emerald Pools Trail (4,8 km round trip)

Emerald Pools Trail

The Emerald Pools Trail was definitely one of our favorite things to do in Utah! This trail promises an incredible adventure with its varying levels of difficulty and enchanting rewards awaiting at each pool. It has 3 main stops: Lower Emerald Pool, Middle Emerald Pool, and Upper Emerald Pool. Our absolute favorite was the Upper Emerald Pool: a majestic waterfall located in a small oasis of serenity, straight out of a fairytale. So magical! When we visited (quite early in the morning), we just had to share the pool with dozens of squirrels. Not a person in sight! We recommend you come early to have the same experience as us. The Lower Emerald Pool is also an incredible place, you can literally walk behind the waterfall and feel the water splashing on your face!

Canyon Overlook Trail (1,6 km round trip)

Canyon Overlook Trail

With its compact distance and unforgettable views, the Canyon Overlook Trail is one of the best hikes with the most reward. The hike is short, fun, and rewarding, making it a must do when visiting Zion. You’ll encounter a lot of beautiful views along the way, but the panoramic views at the end of the trail are simply breathtaking. You can do this trail in under an hour, depending on how long you’re mesmerized by the views at the end, of course. The hike itself is also quite fun. It takes you to all kinds of places, like an alcove and past the edges of the canyon! Some parts have railings, others don’t, so be careful.

Pa’rus Trail (5,6 km round trip)

Pa’rus Trail

Looking for an accessible hiking experience with beautiful views along the way? Pa’rus Trail is an easy and flat trail that follows the Virgin River. It is a perfect option for all skill levels and provides a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty that Zion has to offer. If you don’t feel like hiking, this is the only trail in Zion that is open to bicycles as well. 😉

If you want more info on Zion, be sure to read our unforgettable Zion hiking adventures! You can also find the perfect Airbnb close to Zion here, which has some breathtaking views. 🥹

Bryce Canyon National Park

Our favorite things to do in Utah: Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is not nearly as popular as Zion, but definitely worth a visit as well! This wonderful national park is home to stunning orange and red hoodoos, breathtaking viewpoints, and unforgettable hikes. It is such a unique landscape, we have never seen anything like it! It is just amazing how those hoodoos were formed by erosion over time. Again, the entrance fee per vehicle for Bryce Canyon is a little more than € 30, unless you purchase the America The Beautiful pass. Here are some of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon:

Queens Garden & Navajo Combination Trail (4,7 km round trip)

Queens Garden & Navajo Combination Trail

This remarkable 4,7 km round trip trail offers some breathtaking views at every turn. It is the overall best hiking experience in Bryce Canyon, especially for first-timers! By combining a section of the Navajo Loop Trail with the Queen’s Garden Trail, you experience the best of Bryce Canyon. From panoramic views of the Bryce Amphitheater to hoodoos and natural arches, literally every single thing is so picturesque! If you only have time for one hike in Bryce, make it the Queens Garden & Navajo Combination Trail. You won’t regret it. 😉

Inspiration Point (1 km round trip)

Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point is a series of three beautiful viewpoints in an easily accessible hike. These vista points offer some extraordinary views that you won’t find anywhere else. It is an amazing way to get another shot at admiring those stunning hoodoos. 🤩 If you’re looking for the best views of the whole Canyon, with all its majestic hoodoos, you have to make a stop at Inspiration Point! We recommend starting at the bottom (Lower Inspiration Point) and making your way all the way to the top at Upper Inspiration Point. You’ll notice the views get a little better at every stop. 😉

Bryce Point

Bryce Point

Bryce Point is another fun and unique viewpoint that offers really great views without a lot of effort. The trail of about 300m is completely paved and offers an almost 360° view of the majestic Bryce Amphitheater. When you visit Bryce Point, it feels like you’re standing right in the middle of the Canyon. Amazing! If you don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to go on a long hike, just visit Bryce Point. Great views, no effort.

Make sure to read our ultimate Bryce Canyon guide to unlock the secrets of this extraordinary destination!

Monument Valley

Our favorite things to do in Utah: Monument Valley

Monument Valley, on the border of Arizona and Utah, offers a heavenly collection of buttes, rock creations, and untouched desert landscape. It is probably one of the most iconic destinations in the American Southwest! And with a name like “Monument Valley”, it speaks volumes to the beauty and grandeur that awaits you.

There are two different ways to explore Monument Valley. The first option is to take the scenic loop drive. By going this route, you’ll explore Monument Valley on your own. This comes with a lot of freedom, like stopping whenever you want, but also has its limitations. The main limitation you’ll encounter when visiting Monument Valley on your own, is that you can’t access every area. Some roads are closed off and are only accessible if you take a guided tour. So if you want to see all of it, you’ll have to do it through a guided tour. A guided tour will take you via some private roads, and will also stop at some of the stalls where the locals sell specialties like flatbread and jewelry.

Since driving in Monument Valley is easy to do on your own, we opted for the scenic loop drive. This dirt road will lead you through some of the most popular sites in Monument Valley. It was incredible driving around here, we felt like we were driving through a postcard landscape! We stopped like every 5 minutes to admire the cinematic landscapes and to take a lot of photos. You can find countless other rock formations such as the Three Sisters, The Thumb, Elephant Butte, and many more. Here are some spots you cannot miss:

John Ford’s Point

John Ford’s Point

John Ford’s Point is without doubt the most famous viewpoint. Countless western movies were filmed here, so it’s a familiar scene to most of us. The panoramic vistas perfectly capture the essence of the American West, we absolutely love it! There’s also the option to take a photo on a horse, but we don’t really like that so didn’t go for it. The horse spends a whole day in the heat, so we certainly didn’t want to exploit that poor animal. There are also some stalls where you can buy food and souvenirs, so it’s definitely a “hot spot”.

Artist’s Point

Artist’s Point

Artist’s Point was our favorite viewpoint in Monument Valley. We can’t exactly explain why we prefer Artist’s Point over John Ford’s Point, but the whole setting was just so magical and peaceful! We really get the hype about John Ford’s Point, it’s super beautiful and captures the essence of Monument Valley. But for us Artist’s Point is a lesser known, and (at least) equally beautiful viewpoint that not a lot of people visit. And even if they do visit, they only stay for a couple of minutes. Make sure to stop by Artist’s Point for amazing views, you won’t regret it!

Forrest Gump Point

Forrest Gump Point

Just outside Monument Valley you can find the iconic Forrest Gump Point. If you have seen the classic Forrest Gump, you’ll probably recognize the road! One of the most famous scenes was filmed here. Who doesn’t remember the iconic phrase “I am pretty tired, I think I’ll go home now.” For the most peaceful experience, we recommend coming here before sunrise. You have the whole place to yourself, and no cars or people will be blocking the view! During the day, there are countless tourists and cars on the streets here. You won’t be able to take the perfect photo, and besides, it is dangerous to stand in the middle of the road with so many moving cars!

Good to know

The entrance fee to Monument Valley is € 7 per person for the scenic loop drive. Since it isn’t a national park, this fee isn’t covered by the American the Beautiful Pass. Plan on spending around 2 hours for the scenic loop drive. You’ll want to take a lot of photos since every spot is so picturesque! If you’re looking for a guided tour, make sure to check the official website for tour operators.

Fun fact: numerous scenes from the series Westworld were filmed at Monument Valley, so chances are you’ll recognize the setting!

Valley of the Gods

Our favorite things to do in Utah: Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods is a smaller version of Monument Valley and remains a relatively undiscovered treasure. Similar to Monument Valley, this hidden gem offers numerous buttes, rock formations and wide open spaces that seem to go on forever. The best part about it? It’s completely free!

When we visited Valley of the Gods, there was no one here (apart from some campers). You can truly speak of a hidden gem! That’s why we also included Valley of the Gods in our list of bucket list destinations in the American Southwest. We spent around two hours driving around and exploring this special landscape. It is such a peaceful place, we really didn’t want to leave! Valley of the Gods is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to escape the crowds. 

Still not convinced to visit Valley of the Gods? Besides all the beauty you can admire, it is also one of the few places where you are allowed to drone. Guaranteed to get some incredible shots here. And did we mention it was free? 😉

Looking for more road trip adventures?

Bucket list destinations in the American Southwest
The perfect day trip to Page, Arizona
Our US road trip itinerary

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