Utah, your next big adventure

Canyonlands National Park Mesa Arch . Picture: Utah Office of Tourism

With its Mighty 5 National Parks in the south, the famous Rocky Mountains to the north and its iconic movie scenery, the western state of Utah offers up an adventure playground like no other

Red rock. Deep canyons. Wild rivers. Snowy peaks. Dense forests. There’s no denying that Utah puts the great into the Great Outdoors. Seducing travellers with its spectacular terrain and jaw-dropping vistas, the western state offers up the kind of grown-up playground that most adrenaline addicts, nature lovers and thrillseekers can only dream of.

With a sky that never ends and a vivid palette of chromatic panoramas, Utah’s terrain is unapologetically wild and vibrant. Begging to be explored, adventure lovers will find new and unique challenges around every bend. Climbing and canyoning. Rafting and horse riding. Biking and hiking. Swimming and stargazing. From the powder-capped slopes to the red-rock mesas and skinny slot canyons to sandstone trails, Utah is the place to experience new highs and rediscover nature’s power and beauty.

A wide-screen drama delivering a cinematic spectacle around every bend, Utah’s remarkable scenery is endless. Take the ultimate road trip to the Mighty 5 National Parks – Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion – along stunning scenic routes with national monuments, vast forests, vibrant towns and state parks along the way. Here, in southern Utah you’ll find red rock icons alongside 1,000-year-old petroglyphs and stone goblins among miles of wild rivers.

With the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world, there’s no finer place to try canyoning. Narrow gorges cut into the soft, sedimentary rock, canyons offer a fun challenge for the body and mind, as you jump, scramble and navigate your way between the boulders and the spectacular terrain. Beginners will find a guided adventure offers the best experience, providing all the gear and advice you need, while giving you the inside track on these remarkable geological features. Perfect canyoning routes include the Narrows in Zion National Park, Peek-a-Boo Canyon and the 1.75 mile long Buckskin Gulch, the longest slot canyon in the world.

Fancy a little aquatic fun on your outdoor adventures? From white water thrills to blissed out boating, Utah offers fast-flowing and slow-moving ways to experience the state by water. The Colorado River runs for 1,440 miles through seven states, including Utah, ensuring river rafting challenges for all levels, with white-water sports fans drawn to the energetic Green River. And if white water seems a little too wild, Lake Powell, the second largest man-made lake in the USA, offers a gentler pace of life with boating, fishing and houseboats. A wild-swimmer’s paradise in southern Utah, the dreamy desert backdrop will take your breath away. Bear Lake’s turquoise waters, known as the Caribbean of the Rockies, is another irresistible spot, with boating, fishing and SUP boarding slowing life right down.

For something completely different, head north to Homestead Crater, a mesmerising geothermal hot spring hidden within a 17-metre beehive-shaped limestone rock 10,000 years in the making. Experience the extraordinary here by scuba diving, SUP boarding, snorkelling and swimming in the heated mineral waters deep within.

Utah’s is a cyclist’s delight; its thrilling topography ideal for two-wheeled adventures. Hit the roads for an exhilarating day trip, or head off on an extended bike-packing adventure enveloped in Utah’s sensational scenery. Casual cyclists and e-bikers will find Antelope Island a joy, combining wonderful wildlife sightings with relaxed cycling around the largest of the ten Great Salt Lake islands. Along the 48-mile route from Syracuse to Antelope Island State Park look out for bison, over 250 species of bird and the eponymous pronghorn antelope.

The famous slickrock of the south and mountain terrain of the north are destinations for serious mountain bikers, with Gooseberry Mesa, Wasatch Crest Trail and the Slickrock Trail famed for providing high-octane thrills. The state’s new Aquarius Trail has been designed for bikepackers, the 190-mile route passing through some of Utah’s most scenic backcountry. Five waypoints along the trail offer fully solar-powered and off-grid shipping containers repurposed as huts for overnighting.

For a real sense of escapism, a guided 4WD tour will introduce you to Utah’s back country, where you’ll find thousands of miles of land inaccessible by car. Specialist companies will take you off the beaten track to experience the solitude and splendour of regions like the White Rim Road, Canyonlands National Park and private areas of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

If you like your adventure served up with a side order of luxury, Amangiri in southern Utah enjoys an incredible setting on 600 acres of the Colorado Plateau. One hundred miles from Zion National Park and 60 miles from Lake Powell, the ultra high-end hideaway offers sensational views of the desert’s canyons, mesas, ridges and gorges. Guests can experience Amangiri’s new Cave Peak Stairway, a one-of-a-kind suspended stairway, traversing 400 feet high above the rugged Utah desert floor. The aerial stairway seems to hang in the air, spanning a distance of 200 feet and linking to the resort’s Cave Peak Via Ferrata trail, a climbing route of steel cables, rungs and ladders that will safely lead you up the rock face to the summit.

Utah isn’t just a summer destination, and winter sports fanatics will find perfect powder and challenging pistes on the state’s many impressive peaks. Known as the Greatest Snow on Earth, ten of Utah’s 15 ski resorts are located within an hour of Salt Lake City airport. The Winter Olympics were held here in 2002, thanks to the state’s excellent infrastructure and world class facilities. Utah’s Olympic Park is open year round, offering a seasonal mix of thrills including guided tours, bobsleigh track, zip line, rope courses and tubing. And with nine dedicated snowmobile trails across Utah, there’s always time to discover a new way to travel!

Wild, dramatic and extraordinary, Utah’s cinematic beauty has earned the state the moniker of America’s Film Set. A favourite location for the film industry, Thelma and Louise, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Forrest Gump and Marty McFly have all been immortalised against Utah’s panoramic perfection. All wide open spaces, dramatic colours and futuristic sandscapes, Utah is the kind of epic setting your next adventure deserves.


To plan your next big adventure visit visitutah.com