Utah is the perfect destination for lovers of the outdoors, and the state's hiking, mountain biking and winter sports are top notch. With five national parks, seven national monuments and endless other public lands and state parks, it can be hard to boil your must-sees down to a manageable list.

You can tick off all of Utah's national parks, delve into the state’s Mormon pioneer history, kick back in a hot spring or sample some craft brews. Here are the top things to do in Utah.  

Wander through the world’s largest tree at Fish Lake

Tucked into a high mountain basin between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks stands Pando, the world’s largest known tree. Pando is a massive grove of quaking aspens linked underground by a single root system. Each of the trees' 40,000-plus stems looks just like an individual tree, but they are genetically similar to one another. Visit in fall when Pando’s leaves turn a brilliant golden yellow or in summer when you can also swim and fish at Fish Lake.

Two hikers climb rocks on the Fiery Furnace backcountry trail in Arches National Park, Utah
Sign up for a ranger-guided hike through Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park © Katie Dobies / Getty Images

Find your way through a giant rock maze at Arches National Park

Delicate Arch and Park Avenue are definite must-sees in Arches National Park, but for a more intimate experience, hop on a ranger-led tour of the Fiery Furnace, a maze-like canyon of narrow passageways, sandstone fins and other interesting rock formations. The tour does require a bit of fitness, so make sure you’re comfortable squeezing through narrow canyons and hoisting yourself up and over large rocks before you sign up.

Glimpse an enormous earthwork at Great Salt Lake

Jutting out into Great Salt Lake at its northwestern shore in a coiled fashion, the Spiral Jetty is a massive work of art made entirely of mud, salt and basalt rocks. It was created in 1970 by Robert Smithson, an American artist famous for his land art. Hike up the hill near the parking area for the best spot for photographing the sculpture in its entirety. Stay for sunset to watch the colors reflect off the shallow waters of this unique saline lake. 

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Sample unique craft spirits inspired by the Utah landscape

Utah has a reputation for being a bit dry when it comes to wine, beer and spirits thanks to the state’s predominant religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (previously known as the Mormon Church), which formally forbids members from consuming alcohol. But despite some quirky liquor laws, you can get a drink in Utah, and the mountains, deserts and culture of this scenic state have inspired a burgeoning craft beverage scene. 

If you want to try a Utah beer, make it a Polygamy Porter, brewed at Park City’s Wasatch Brewery. Also in Park City, try High West Distillery’s Valley Tan, a style of whiskey originally concocted by Mormon pioneers. In the southern part of the state, stop by Etta Place Cidery, a small craft cider maker that showcases the flavors of their red rock desert orchards.

Hiker walking past a pool of water on the Subway trail in Zion National Park, Utah
Get a permit to hike Zion National Park's Subway trail © NatChittamai / Getty Images

Journey through Zion National Park’s underground passageway

The Subway is one of Zion National Park’s most popular backcountry canyoneering hikes – and for good reason. This uniquely shaped slot canyon resembles the tunnels of a subway system and is a gorgeous site to photograph. A permit is required to do the hike, as well as some technical know-how depending on which route you take. The hike is intense and requires scrambling down waterfalls and even some swimming through deep, green pools.

Zion or Bryce Canyon? How to choose between Utah's top national parks

Aerial view of Salt Lake City, Utah
Temple Square dominates the downtown neighborhood of Salt Lake City © ferrantraite / Getty Images

Delve into LDS church history at Temple Square

Temple Square in Salt Lake City is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and it’s the most visited attraction in Utah, clocking in even more visitors than Zion National Park. The Temple itself is considered sacred and is not open to the public, but visitors are welcome to tour the grounds, browse the exhibits at the Family History Library and catch a free live performance of the Tabernacle Choir. For a fantastic view of downtown Salt Lake City, venture up to the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Dive into a giant crater at Homestead Resort

Located at the Homestead Resort in Midway, the Homestead Crater is one of Utah’s most unusual attractions. It’s a geothermal spring hidden underneath the cover of a 55ft limestone dome, and it’s one of the few places in the US where you can enjoy a warm-water scuba dive. You also swim, paddleboard and snorkel in this underground cave, or if you prefer staying dry, go on a geology tour.

Woman sitting in a hot springs bathtub at Mystic Hot Springs in Utah during sunset
Enjoy a sunset soak at Utah's Mystic Hot Springs © Pavel Matejka / EyeEm / Getty Images

Soak in a bubbling bathtub at Mystic Hot Springs

Stopping by Mystic Hot Springs in central Utah for a soak in one of the vintage clawfoot tubs is quite the experience. Each tub is tucked into brightly colored orange mineral formations and filled with pure mineral water piped in from a nearby hot spring. You can also soak in one of the several large pools and stay overnight in a fleet of converted old school buses.

See stegosaurus fossils at Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaurs once roamed the wilds of Utah, and one of the best places to see them is at Dinosaur National Monument in the northeastern corner of the state. Don’t miss the “Wall of Bones,” a huge rock layer chipped away to reveal thousands of dinosaur bones frozen in time in their original resting place.

Woman picking apples in at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Take home the harvest from the orchards at Capitol Reef National Park © Barry Winiker / Getty Images

Help yourself to the fruits of Capitol Reef National Park

When the first settlers reached the rugged but fertile Fremont River Valley in the late 1800s, they planted thousands of fruit trees for both sustenance and income. Capitol Reef National Park now maintains the orchards as a monument to the pioneer lifestyle, and visitors are welcome to pick the apples, peaches and apricots during harvest season. While you’re there, stop by the historic Gifford Homestead for a locally baked pie or homemade ice cream. Make sure to get there early in the day because the freshly baked pies sell out quickly. 

View a bizarre sculpture garden in Salt Lake City

Tucked between new condo buildings and retail developments, the Gilgal Sculpture Garden in Salt Lake City is a wondrous little public park filled with curious sculptures such as a sphinx with the head of Joseph, the founder of the Mormon church, and stones engraved with cryptic scriptures and literary texts. The sculptures were created by Thomas Battersby Child, Jr., in the mid-1900s, and nobody quite knows what they mean.

Hiker walking through a slot canyon in Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, Utah
Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is full of dramatic slot canyons © Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

Squeeze through slot canyons in Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument

Hiking one of the Grand Staircase–Escalante's many narrow slot canyons is one of the best ways to experience this rugged and remote region of Utah, which makes up much of the wild red rock landscape between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks. Many of the slot canyons in Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument require technical skills, but several, such as Spooky and Peek-a-boo Gulch and the Willis Creek Narrows, require no ropes and are great for families.

Be an olympian for a day at Utah Olympic Park

Park City’s Utah Olympic Park still bustles with the energy and excitement of the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The park hosted the bobsled, skeleton, luge and ski jumping events in the 2002 games and acts as a training center for future Olympians today. Visitors can take a once-in-a-lifetime ride down the bobsled course, slide down the landing hill of the Nordic ski jump in a tube or join a tour of the venue and hear the stories of local Olympians' amazing achievements.

Woman looking out from the viewpoint at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
The view from Dead Horse Point State Park is arguably the best in Utah © Nico De Pasquale Photography / Getty Images

Enjoy Utah’s best view at Dead Horse Point State Park

Enjoy red rock desert views that rival those of neighboring Arches and Canyonlands national parks without the crowds at Dead Horse Point State Park. Towering 2000ft above the Colorado River, Dead Horse Point offers spectacular views of the maze-like canyons and winding river down below. The park also offers a huge range of hiking and mountain biking trails, many of which are dog friendly, unlike in the national parks.

Get spooked by the monster-shaped rocks at Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park is an eerie and arid landscape covered with thousands of sandstone rocks eroded into creepy goblin-like formations. The goblins are geological formations called hoodoos and were carved by wind and water over millions of years. Several miles of marked trails wind through the maze of monsters, but visitors are welcome to wander anywhere in the park off-trail as long as they respect the fragility of these creatures.

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