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Utah is well-known for its skiing, hiking, red rock, and welcoming residents. If you’ve already visited or are planning your first trip, consider the following statewide classics before finalizing your itinerary. While the below includes several city-based attractions, Utah is disproportionately known for its great outdoors, so plan on enjoying a few urban delights, as well as plenty of magnificent natural ones.
Ski Park City by day, then enjoy the after party at night
While there are more than a dozen amazing ski resorts in Utah, none come close to Park City in terms of replicating its après ski scene, or accommodating and inviting attitude toward visitors. The skiing is massive at Park City Mountain Resort (the largest in North America), luxurious at Deer Valley (“Pass the Grey Poupon, please”), and always festive when the sun goes down.
Eat fry sauce, funeral potatoes, and local peaches
You know what’s better than fries and ketchup? Fries and fry sauce, which is equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise and found at every local restaurant. Next, try your hardest to find homemade funeral potatoes, which were invented in Utah and indulgently slathered in cheese, sour cream, and—that’s right—corn flakes! If visiting in August or September, enjoy the best peaches in the world (some say even better than Georgia’s famed fruits) at one of the many roadside stands.
Wade in the crystal clear flood waters of the Bonneville Salt Flats
This famous salt desert is known for its eerie beauty and land-based speed records. And while you can drive parts of it, you can get stuck if you don’t know what you’re doing. For the most magical results, and some great Insta fodder, try to time your visit in spring when the flats are often flooded by a foot or two of rising waters.
Gawk at standing rocks in Arches National Park
You’ve probably seen the Utah license plate with that iconic red rock arch on it. That red rock is called Delicate Arch and it’s found here at Arches National Park, the most drivable and accessible of Utah’s five National Parks. The park’s scenic drive will get you everywhere, often right next to the best formations.
Walk among the inanimate “trolls” of Goblin Valley
Great for families with young children as much as young-at-heart adults, here you can roam among two square miles and thousands of mushroom-shaped pinnacles that stand over 10 feet tall. It’s surreal, fun, and full of wonder.
Get claustrophobic in Little Wild Horse slot canyon
After meeting the “goblins,” head right next door to arguably the state’s most accessible, if not best, slot canyon. This eight-mile loop is best seen from the east side, which is a lot more dramatic and easily passed through by adults and children of all sizes, but you’ll need to be in decent shape to enjoy it.
Learn about Utah’s homegrown church
When in “Mormon Land,” you owe it to yourself to freely walk through Temple Square, attend a weekly performance of the Tabernacle Choir, and gaze upwards at the welcoming Christus statue, which is now the Church’s official logo. Do these for remarkability as much as context.
Drive Scenic Byway 12 en route to Zion’s and Bryce’s epic hiking
If you had to see Southern Utah in a single afternoon, this would be the way to do it. Known for being one of the top five most scenic roads in the country, this impressive drive will delight you at every other turn and connect you to two of the state’s most beloved National Parks.
Go boating at Lake Powell, America’s most fun-loving lake
If the Grand Canyon ever flooded, it might look something like this. In summary, Lake Powell is incredibly fun. You can hike canyons by boat, water ski, cliff jump (at your own risk), beach camp, and houseboat to your heart’s content.
Off-road Moab’s world-class trails
Jeep enthusiasts descend on Moab every year for a reason. That’s because its grippy sandstone is ideal for rock crawlers. But it’s not just Jeeps that get in on the red rock fun. Popular trails such as Shafer, Hell’s Backbone, and Slick Rock are just as beloved by mountain bikers as they are motorheads.
See Monument Valley (instead of Four Corners)
Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet, is a tourist novelty, but in reality its a bit flat and drab, and technically doesn’t even mark where the states’ four-corners meet, according to Google Maps. Meanwhile, there’s a place in Southern Utah that sets the visual motif of the American West more than any other location. Monument Valley is that place, as made famous by dozens of Western movies. Take in the breathtaking vistas of the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, hike the Wildcat Trail, and take in a beautiful sunset that sets the whole place aglow.
Get to know your roots at the free FamilySearch Center
Genealogy might not seem like a top vacation endeavor, but you might change your opinion after discovering that you’re related to a famous ancestor at the free FamilySearch Center in Salt Lake City. Point is, we all stand on the shoulders of giants. Knowing your roots can be a powerful way to build confidence and motivate yourself to be better.
About the author: Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his wife, five children, and their Beaglador Bulldog.
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