Mountain Parks

The Top 15 Amazing Southern Utah Attractions That Visitors Should Plan to See When They Visit

Southern Utah is one of the most breathtaking regions of the United States. With five beautiful national parks, many national monuments, and incredible state parks, it’s full of beauty. In fact, there are so many incredible things to see that it is hard to know where to start. That is why I have put together this list of the top 15 most amazing Southern Utah attractions that visitors should plan to see. By using this list to plan your trip, you can be sure not to miss any of Southern Utah’s top sights.

Southern Utah Attractions - Bryce Canyon National Park

Before I start laying out my list of the top Southern Utah attractions, here is a map that outlines where to find each attraction. It may be difficult to visit each spot on one trip, but with some good planning, you can hit many in one visit. For those interested in a Southern Utah road trip itinerary, I would suggest checking out one of my itineraries below. Both of these itineraries include stops at many of the spots on my list of the top Southern Utah attractions.

Southern Utah Attractions - Top Things to See in Southern Utah Map

View Larger Map

READ MORE:
American Southwest Itinerary
7-Day American Southwest Adventure Itinerary
READ MORE:
Zion National Park Road Trip
Ultimate American Southwest Road Trip

Monument Valley

Southern Utah Attractions - Monument Valley

If you like old western movies, then Monument Valley should look very familiar to you. This iconic destination was featured in such movies as Stagecoach (1939), Billy the Kid (1940), and Laramie (1949). It has also been featured in more recent films such as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). However, my favorite use of this beautiful landscape in film was undoubtedly in the movie Forest Gump. With its ruggedly beautiful desert buttes and mesas, it isn’t hard to see why.

Monument Valley isn’t a US national parkland, but instead is part of the Navajo Nation in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. While you can see some of the most famous parts of the valley from a car, there are many hidden treasures that require you to hike to see. If you are interested in visiting Monument Valley during your next trip to Southern Utah, then I have provided a guide you can use for planning below.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Stopping at Forrest Gump Point

For those who have seen the movie Forrest Gump, then you are probably very familiar with which spot I am referring to. Forrest Gump Point is the spot where Forrest Gump stops on his cross country run and decides to stop. In the background, there is a long, straight road thru the desert with the mesas of Monument Valley in the distant. It is arguably the most famous roadway view in the entire American Southwest.

The scene in the movie “Forrest Gump” where Forrest stops running at Forrest Gump Point
READ MORE:
Monument Valley Utah
Monument Valley Visitor’s Guide

Natural Bridges National Monument

Southern Utah Attractions - Natural Bridges National Monument

Southern Utah is famous for its natural rock formations and one of the most popular with visitors are natural bridges. These rock formations are created when water erodes the bottom area of the rock, leaving an arch with an opening underneath. While these natural bridges vary in size, the really big ones are a spectacular sight to behold. One of my favorite of the top Southern Utah attractions to visit is the Natural Bridges National Monument.

With three incredible natural bridges to see in one small area, it is a great place to check out some of mother nature’s most beautiful rock sculpting. At 220-feet tall and spanning 268-feet, the Sipapu Bridge is the monument’s largest bridge. Although it is the oldest, the Owachomo Bridge is also the smallest at 106-feet tall and spanning 180-feet. The last of the monument’s natural bridges, the Kachina Bridge stands at 210-feet tall and spans 204-feet across.

While the hikes to the bridges themselves are classified as moderate, it is a relatively easy 10-minute walk to viewpoints where you can see each of the monument’s natural bridges. If you’d like to hike to more than one of the bridges, there are several loop trails in the national monument that will take you to different combinations of the natural bridges on 5 to 10 mile hikes.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

NEARBY BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT

While you are in the area of National Bridges National Monument, I would also strongly suggest that you check out nearby Bears Ears National Monument. In addition to being a stunning landscape, this area is renown for its rock art sites, pueblo homes, and rock climbing areas. In addition to the well preserved Puebloan sites, the area is also a great place to hike and do some star gazing at night.

Southern Utah Attractions - Bears Ears National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Southern Utah Attractions - Rainbow Bridge National Monument

There are some truly spectacular rock formations in Southern Utah, but the many natural rock archways and bridges are my favorite. While Arches National Park near Moab is famous for having the highest concentration of arches, there are some spectacular ones outside the park. One of the prettiest of these archways is the incredible Rainbow Bridge National Monument near the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Rising 290-feet over the dry bed of Bridge Creek, the Rainbow Bridge National Monument is the sixth longest natural bridge in the world. The easiest way to access to Rainbow Bridge is by taking a boat ride across Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. There is a dock on the other side of the lake and the Rainbow Bridge is less than a mile from the dock. If you don’t want to take a boat, there are several other trails that will take you to the Rainbow Bridge, but each of these hikes are over 15-miles long.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

NEARBY Reflection Canyon

While you are visiting the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, I would also suggest checking out the beautiful Reflection Canyon. It’s not easy to get to, but the views you will see at the canyon are among the most stunning you will find in Southern Utah. It’s a roughly 18-mile out-and-back hike to the canyon, so make sure you start your hike early if you want to visit. Most people who visit Reflection Canyon spend the night by the canyon and do the hike over two days. This also allows you to see the canyon at both sunrise and sunset.

Southern Utah Attractions - Reflection Canyon
The beautiful Reflection Canyon

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Southern Utah Attractions - Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

While a majority of Southern Utah is dominated by desert, canyons, and red sandstone rock formations, they aren’t the only landscapes. One of the top Southern Utah attractions is Lake Powell, which is a large, manmade lake. Lake Powell is the primary focal point of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which also includes the area around the lake. In addition to the Rainbow Bridge and Reflection Canyon, which I covered earlier in this guide, Glen Canyon is also a popular hiking, fishing, and outdoor recreation destination.

One of the most popular things for tourists to do at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is to go boating. Whether by pontoon, fishing boat, kayak, or canoe, there are plenty of incredible things to explore on Lake Powell. While you are there, I would also strongly recommend checking out the Glen Canyon Dam. It is an amazing feat of engineering and getting to see it up close on a tour is a fun experience.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

The Views From Alstrom Point

While there is a seemingly endless number of spectacular viewpoints in which to enjoy the beauty of Lake Powell, my favorite spot is undoubtedly Alstrom Point. While it is accessible by vehicle, the road to get there is not paved and can be very rough in spots. For those who wish to make the drive, I would strongly suggest bringing a 4WD vehicle and going slowly. Believe me, the effort to get there will be well worth it when you see views like the one below.

Southern Utah Attractions - Alstrom Point Glen Canyon
The gorgeous views of the Lake Powell area from Alstrom Point
READ MORE:
Glen Canyon National Recreational Area Utah
Glen Canyon Visitor’s Guide

Goosenecks State Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Goosenecks State Park

One thing that Southern Utah certainly is not in short supply of is incredible canyons. Carved by rivers that run thru the soft red sandstone that makes up most of the high desert plateaus of the area. The sandstone is carried away by the rivers, leaving behind some of the most spectacular canyons. Most travelers are familiar with the Grand Canyon, which was formed this same way, but Southern Utah’s canyons are less well known.

One of the top Southern Utah attractions that travelers must see when visiting is one of the area’s lesser known, but incredible beautiful, canyons. Goosenecks State Park, which sits very near the city of Mexican Hat, features the steep meander of the San Juan River. In many ways, the river bend and the canyon it formed resembles the infamous Horseshoe Bend in Northern Arizona. This spectacular horseshoe turn of the San Juan River has created one of Southern Utah’s most incredible vistas.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Mexican Hat Rock

While in the area, I would strongly recommend stopping to see one of Southern Utah’s most interesting rock formations. Mexican Hat Rock, featured below, is an incredible balancing rock that looks much like its namesake. Located just outside the city of Mexican Hat, it is an easy stop when you are visiting Goosenecks State Park.

Southern Utah Attractions - Mexican Hat

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Southern Utah Attractions - Cedar Breaks National Monument

There are quite a few canyons and amphitheaters amount the top Southern Utah attractions, and each one of them is unique. The Native Americans used to call Cedar Breaks National Monument the “Circle of Painted Cliffs” because of its incredibly beautiful colored cliff sides that drop over two-thousand feet to the canyon floor. While Bryce Canyon and its hoodoos get most of the glory, Cedar Breaks is every bit as beautiful.

One thing that you need to keep in mind when visiting Cedar Breaks National Monument is that it is at a very high altitude. You might not realize it when you are there because it isn’t a mountain destination, but it is high up. In fact, at over 10,000-feet above sea level, it is the third highest national monument in the United States. Only the Sand to Snow and Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monuments in California are higher.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

The Views From the RampartS Overlook

There are a lot of breathtaking views at Cedar Breaks National Monument, but I think the views from the Ramparts Overlook are the best. From this viewpoint, you can see just how incredible the canyon is. The beautiful colors of the canyon walls really shine in the light from this spot. From here, it is easy to see why Cedar Breaks is considered one of the top Southern Utah attractions.

Southern Utah Attractions - Cedar Breaks National Monument
Rampart Overlook in Cedar Breaks National Monument

Dead Horse Point State Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Dead Horse Point State Park

There are a number of incredible state parks that are among the top Southern Utah attractions, but Dead Horse Point State Park is undoubtedly the most popular. The park got its name back in the 19th century when cowboys used the park to round up wild mustangs who roamed the mesa. The cowboys would drive the horses down the neck of the peninsula, using the two-thousand foot cliffs as a natural corral. Unfortunately, some horses would be driven off, giving the spot the name “Dead Horse Point”.

There isn’t any horse wrangling going on in the park these days, but the breathtaking canyon and its sheer cliff walls are still there to be admired. If you are into mountain biking, Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the top mountain biking destinations in Southern Utah. It also has a number of incredible hiking paths and viewpoints for visitors to enjoy. The park is located just outside the Islands in the Sky entrance to Canyonlands National Park, so it is a convenient stop before heading into Canyonlands.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

The Views from Dead Horse Point

With some of the most incredible canyon views in Southern Utah, Dead Horse Point is a must see. While you are there, I would strongly suggest checking out the views from Dead Horse Point. This is the iconic spot that gave the park its name and offers stunning views of the canyon. Legend has it, if you listen closely, you can still hear the horses from here.

Southern Utah Attractions - Dead Horse Point State Park
The view from Dead Horse Point

The Corona Arch

Southern Utah Attractions - Corona Arch

In many circles, the city of Moab, Utah is considered to be the outdoor adventure capital of the United States. It is the equivalent in America to what Queenstown is to New Zealand. Located in close proximity to two of the country’s most popular national parks, it’s easy to see why. However, with so much to see and do in the Moab area, it is easy to overlook some attractions. One such attraction that doesn’t get nearly the acclaim it should is the beautiful Corona Arch. This stunning arch is as beautiful as any you will find inside Arches National Park.

Located just outside the city limits of Moab, Corona Arch requires a short hike for visitors to see. The trail isn’t very difficult and takes you to see the Bowtie Arch as well. While the hike isn’t very long or difficult, there is a lack of shade on the trail. If you are going to hike to Corona Arch, I would suggest doing it either early or late in the day and bringing lots of water.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Seeing the Corona Arch at Sunset

If you think the pictures of the Corona Arch taken at mid day are beautiful, wait until you see the arch at sunrise or sunset. It is an absolutely magical thing to see in the soft light of the golden hours. If you plan on hiking to see the arch at sunset, I would recommend making sure you have a head lamp and proper navigation equipment with you. It is a fairly marked trail, but it can be tricky to navigate in low light.

Southern Utah Attractions - Corona Arch Sunset
The Corona Arch at Sunset
READ MORE:
Corona Arch Utah
Ultimate Corona Arch Hiking Guide

Goblin Valley State Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Goblin Valley State Park

For travelers who are a fan of the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon or the Needles of Canyonlands, you will love the lesser known Goblin Valley State Park. Known for its incredible rock formations that fill several valleys within the park, Goblin Valley is one of the best kept secrets of the Southern Utah attractions. It is only about a 1.5-hour drive for Moab, which makes it a convenient side-excursion if you are visiting the area’s national parks. However, if you plan on visiting, I would do the park justice and spend a full day exploring it.

In addition to a number of great observation points where you can view the beautiful rock-filled valleys, there are some great hiking trails in the park as well. It is hard to appreciate just how beautiful these rock spires are until you are up close. It will feel as though you are hiking on a whole other planet.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Camping Under the Stars

A great way to fully appreciate the remoteness of Southern Utah is to spend a night under the stars camping. I can think of few places better for camping than at Goblin Valley State Park. The silhouettes of the beautiful rock spires and a sky full of bright stars will be an experience you will cherish for a lifetime. For those who have camped beneath the stars at Joshua Tree National Park in California, the experience is just as great in my opinion.

Top things to see in Southern Utah
Camping under the stars in Southern Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Capitol Reef National Park

In my opinion, Capitol Reef National Park may be one of the most under rated national parks in the American park system. Often overshadowed by the other national parks in Southern Utah, is is often skipped by travelers in a rush. It doesn’t help that some of the best features of this park are not as easy to get to as the popular features in the other park. Don’t get me wrong, there are incredible things to see in Capitol Reef National Park that don’t require long hikes. The Hickman Bridge and Cassidy Arch are great examples.

However, there isn’t the extensive park road system in Capitol Reef that you see in some of the other parks. This means that a lot of the park is back country or accessible only by rough road. If you have the time and are willing to put in the work, the views in the back country is breathtaking. For more information on what to see when you visit Capitol Reef National Park, please review my visitor guide that I linked to below.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Seeing the Cathedral Valley

One of my absolute favorite areas within Capitol Reef National Park is Cathedral Valley. This stunning valley contains a number of incredible rock monoliths that rise above the valley floor. In addition to their beauty, they have incredible names. The Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon do look like majestic temples rising from the sand in this gorgeous landscape. If you would like to see the Cathedral Valley, be aware that it requires a lengthy drive on a rough road, so you will need the right vehicle.

Southern Utah Attractions - Cathedral Valley Capitol Reef National Park
Cathedral Valley inside Capitol Reef National Park
READ MORE:
Capitol Reef National Park Utah
Capitol Reef Visitor Guide

Grand Staircase National Monument

Southern Utah Attractions - Grand Staircase

In many ways, the remoteness of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a double-edged sword. Because it is so remote and isolated, it has become one of the most popular destinations for outdoor adventurists. However, this same remoteness means it is less accessible to less experienced hikers, so its incredible sights are less well known. In essence, it is one of the last remaining areas in the continental United States where you really have to work to explore the region.

This is why I am absolutely in love with the Grand Staircase and think it is one of the top Southern Utah attractions. It’s the explorer’s destination in Southern Utah. The land is rugged, the trails are long and unmarked, and the destinations are mind bogglingly beautiful. Whether you are hiking to see one of the many incredible slot canyons or to the infamous “Hole in the Rock”, it’s always an adventure in the Grand Staircase.

However, because of its remoteness and lack of paved roads and marked trails, it does take more effort to plan a trip to see. Before you start planning your trip to the Grand Staircase, I would strongly recommend researching your hikes, printing topographical maps, and making sure you have the right gear. I have individual guides for many of the incredible sights within the Grand Staircase on my blog that you can use.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Hiking to the Zebra Slot Canyon

One of my favorite hikes within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is the hike to the Zebra slot canyon. It is an unmarked trail, so it does take some navigation ability to get to, but the hike isn’t incredible long or difficult. This makes it a fairly accessible landmark to see, even if you aren’t an avid back country hiker. If you would like to hike to the Zebra slot canyon, I have included my guide for you to review below.

Southern Utah Attractions - Zebra Slot Canyon Grand Staircase
Zebra Slot Canyon inside Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument
READ MORE:
Zebra Slot Canyon Grand Staircase, Utah
Guide to Zebra Slot Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Bryce Canyon National Park

You will be very hard pressed to find a more beautiful destination among the Southern Utah attractions than the incredible Bryce Canyon National Park. Unlike the steep canyons that you will find at Canyonlands National Park or the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon is renown for being filled with beautiful, thin rock spires that are called “hoodoos”. These hoodoos give Bryce Canyon a fairytale like look and are absolutely breathtaking to behold in person.

There are remote backpacking trails that you can take within Bryce Canyon, and the area was infamously used by Butch Cassidy to hideout back in his time. However, the park is extremely popular with tourists because of its accessibility. There are many wonderful viewpoints in which to enjoy the beauty of Bryce Canyon located just off the park road. You can see most of this incredible park without having to walk very far at all.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Viewing the Hoodoos From Inspiration Point Viewpoint

One of my favorite viewpoints inside of Bryce Canyon National Park is the amazing Inspiration Point. I can see why they named this viewpoint what they did because every time I visit the views truly inspire me. In my opinion, there is no better place in Bryce Canyon to view the incredible hoodoo filled canyon than from Inspiration Point. When you visit the viewpoint, make sure your camera is out because you will want a lot of photos.

Southern Utah Attractions - Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park
READ MORE:
Bryce Canyon National Park Utah
Bryce Canyon Visitor Guide

Arches National Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Arches National Park

There is a lot of debate about whether the eastern or western half of Southern Utah is best to visit. To be honest, both are incredibly beautiful and filled with some of the top Southern Utah attractions. What most people do agree on is that the city of Moab, Utah is one of the capitals for outdoor adventure in the United States. Located in southeast Utah near the border with Colorado, Moab is near two of America’s most popular national parks.

The first of these two parks is the Legendary Arches National Park. Natural sandstone arches are common in Southern Utah, but Arches National Park has over 2,000 arches for you to see. These arches come in all shapes and sizes, with some that are as tall as a building. Though most of the arches can be seen from the park road, there are some great hikes in the park as well.

If you plan visit Arches National Park, I would strongly suggest planning ahead and arriving early. It is one of the busiest parks in the US National Park System. It is not unusually to see a several hour wait to get in during peak season. In addition, the campgrounds inside the park and hotels in Moab book up very quick. For more information on how to plan your trip, refer to my Arches National Park Guide linked below.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Hiking to See the Delicate Arch

One of the most impressive arches in the park is undoubtedly the Delicate Arch. It is one of the top Southern Utah attractions for good reason. At 52-feet tall, it is one of the largest free-standing arches in Southern Utah. In fact, it is so popular that it is featured on the state license plate of Utah. The hike to Delicate Arch is a 3.2-mile out-and-back that is heavily trafficked. It isn’t a very technical hike, but it can be challenging for some people in the heat. If you are going to pick one hike while visiting the park, this is definitely the one I would recommend.

Southern Utah Attractions - Arches National Park - Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch inside of Arches National Park
READ MORE:
Arches National Park Utah
Arches Visitor Guide

Canyonlands National Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Canyonlands National Park

The second of the big national parks in the Moab, Utah area is the incredible Canyonlands National Park. Known for its breathtaking vistas and incredible slot canyons, it is an absolute must see. If you don’t count the rivers themselves, the park is divided up into three distinct districts, which are separated by the Colorado and Green Rivers. These districts include the Needles, the Island in the Sky, and the Maze districts.

The Needles District is located in the southeast corner of the park and is the most accessible. The district was named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. There are several wonderful hikes and historical sites and petroglyphs for visitors to enjoy in the district.

Conversely, the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park is the least accessible of the park’s districts. Because of the remoteness and the roughness of the roads, the Maze District requires more planning to visit. However, if you put in the work to plan, the reward is very high. The spectacular maze of slot canyons in the area are absolutely incredible to explore.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

The Mesa Arch Viewpoint at Sunrise

The Mesa Arch viewpoint is located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, which is my favorite. This district features some of the most spectacular canyon vistas that you will find in the park. In addition to the Green River Overlook, Grand View Point Overlook, and the Buck Canyon Overlook, there is the Mesa Arch viewpoint. Mesa Arch is a beautiful arch that faces in the perfect spot to view the sunrise over a stunning canyon. When you visit, you can expect incredible views like the one below.

Southern Utah Attractions - Mesa Arch - Canyonlands National Park
Mesa Arch viewpoint in Canyonlands National Park at sunrise
READ MORE:
Canyonlands National Park Utah
Canyonlands Visitor Guide

Zion National Park

Southern Utah Attractions - Zion National Park

Without any doubt, Zion National Park is my favorite of the Southern Utah attractions. This breathtaking canyon is home to two of the most epic hikes that you will find in the park system of the United States. My favorite is the Angel’s Landing hike, which gives visitor’s a bird’s eye view down the canyon and some of the most beautiful vistas you will find anywhere in the world.

The other hike that visitors absolutely must try when visiting Zion National Park is the incredible Narrows Hike, which takes hikers down the Virgin River and thru the slot canyons. With a vast majority of the trail being in the river, it is one of the most unique hikes that you will find in America’s national parks. You will be absolutely blown away by the beauty of the sheer rock cliffs that surround the river as you follow it thru the maze of canyons.

These incredible hikes are just some of the many things that make Zion National Park one of the most amazing places in North America, if not the world. However, if you plan to visit, you need to plan ahead. In addition to being one of America’s prettiest national parks, it is also one of the nation’s busiest. For more information on how to plan a trip to see Zion, please refer to my Zion National Park Visitor Guide linked below.

Don’t Miss When You’re There

Hiking to Angel’s Landing

When it comes to incredible hikes in America’s national parks system, there aren’t many that can compete with the Angel’s Landing hike in Zion National Park. The views from the perch of Angel’s Landing are nothing short of spectacular. However, in addition to being beautiful, it is also one of the most challenging and dangerous hikes in the park system. The trail follows the spine of a 1,488-foot tall rock formation that has sheer drops on both sides. There is a chain for hikers to hold in the precarious spots, but it can get crowded during peak season. The traffic also goes two ways on the trail. However, for those who make it to Angel’s Landing, the views are out of this world.

Southern Utah Attractions - Angel's Landing
The Angel’s Landing Trail at Zion National Park
READ MORE:
Zion National Park Utah
Zion Visitor Guide

New Signature

Get My Ultimate Travel Guide

Sign-up to receive the latest updates from my travel blog and start receiving premium content that you will not find on this blog, starting with my Ultimate Travel Guide.  This comprehensive guide outlines the process that I use to book all of my trips and includes tips and tricks for streamlining the travel planning process and saving you money on travel.

Premium Guides

Email Address:


First Name:


Interests:


Please follow along with our adventures:
RSS
Follow by Email
Twitter
Visit Us
Follow Me
YouTube
YouTube
Instagram

7 replies »

  1. Oh, this makes me long for Utah! I’ve been to many of these places over several trips, but not all. Didn’t know about Reflection Canyon, but now I do and it just went on the list. Thank you!

    • You are very welcome! I am doing the reflection canyon hike in October. Will let you know how it goes.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.