Canyonlands National Park
A 527-sq-mile vision of ancient earth, Canyonlands National Park is Utah's largest national park. Vast serpentine canyons tipped with white cliffs loom high over the Colorado and Green Rivers, their waters a stunning 1000ft below the rim rock. Skyward-jutting needles and spires, deep craters, blue-hued mesas and majestic buttes dot the landscape.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area & Lake Powell
In the 1960s the construction of a massive dam flooded Glen Canyon, forming Lake Powell, a recreational playground. Almost 50 years later this is still an environmental hot-button topic, but generations of Western families have grown up boating here.
En route between Bluff (22 miles) and Moab (75 miles), is this aptly-named agricultural and mining center. It's worth checking out for its two specialized museums and the nearby outdoors, though it's slim pickings for hotels and restaurants (which do not serve alcohol). At the Blanding Visitor Center the small pioneer artifact collection is worth a look.
The settlement of Mexican Hat is named after a sombrero-shaped rock off Hwy 163. The town is little more than a handful of simple, somewhat uninspired lodgings, a couple of places to eat and a store or two on the north bank of the San Juan River. The south bank marks the edge of the Navajo Reservation. Monument Valley is 20 miles to the south; Bluff is 27 miles to the east.