Utah is a state in the Mountain West, a region famed for its breathtaking landscapes courtesy of the Rockies.
Adventure enthusiasts will find boundless opportunities in Utah’s wild desert expanse worth exploring and capturing for posterity.
Outside big cities like the state capital, Salt Lake City, and West Valley City, you find yourself immersed in a mountainous, desert country that can’t help bringing to mind Zane Grey novels.
For the adventurer hoping to find natural wonders in the Beehive State, you’ll be spoilt for choice as Utah outdoors is the perfect setup.
This guide to must-see natural wonders in Utah will make your adventure memorable.
Prepping for Your Utah Adventure
Whether you’re a visitor or a local, exploring Utah’s natural wonders will take you to all corners of the state. That makes preparation crucial.
When to Visit or Explore
You can explore most of Utah’s natural attractions year-round. Remember that how you experience certain places will vary depending on the season.
March to November, which are spring, summer, and fall months in the state, are the best times to visit or explore its wild wonders while enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, camping, scenic drives, and boating.
Cold temperature variation in the winter months will likely limit your exploration.
What to Pack
Utah’s natural wonders are usually a few hours’ drive from cities and towns across the state. Unless you’re using a motorhome and wish to be self-sufficient, you can always get whatever you need from the towns before you head off into the desert.
Anyhow, items that will be useful in the desert are hiking boots, sunscreen, sunhat, flashlights, plenty of water, and snacks.
Bring a first-aid kit and medications but avoid marijuana as it’s illegal in the state except for medical use. You’ll need to register for a medical marijuana card in Utah to travel with your subscription.
5 Must-See Natural Wonders in Utah
1. Provo Canyon
If you’re starved for scenic views, there’s no better place to be than Provo Canyon in Utah Valley.
Experience the dramatic, colorful scenery leading up to the canyon walls. Hikers tend to take on the trails to Bridal Veil Falls and along the Provo River, resting on vistas with sweeping views of the valley.
You may also want to drive the popular Alpine Scenic Loop, stretching 20 miles through alpine canyons from Provo to Heber.
The drive features breathtaking views of Mt. Timpanogos and Heber Valley, an area considered particularly stunning in autumn.
2. Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake is one of the top natural wonders in the state, known for its surreal reflection of the Uinta Mountains.
The lake is located along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway on State Route 150. You’ll appreciate the equally scenic trails heading into the Uinta Mountains before you’re rewarded with the spectacular, crystal-clear lake.
Popular activities along the drive and the lake area include camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing, mountain biking, etc.
3. Factory Butte
Out in the wild and rugged Caineville badlands stands an imposing sandstone hill called Factory Butte. It’s one of the region’s striking mesas standing at over 6,000 ft.
At any other time, Factory Butte is a stunning sight, a colorful presence in the sprawling emptiness.
But there’s nothing as breathtaking as the sun setting on the mesa. It’s nothing short of an otherworldly desert backdrop.
4. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
If you’ve never seen a natural bridge, heading to Utah offers you a unique opportunity to witness some.
The striking rock formations are created through wind and water erosion over millions of years, shaping the boulders into bridge-like monuments.
One of these rock formations you can’t afford to miss is the Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Glen Canyon near Lake Powell.
A visit to the impressive rock bridge spanning 290 ft. wide and 275 ft. high rewards you with picturesque views of the surrounding red rock walls and Lake Powell.
5. Kodachrome Basin State Park
The landscape in southern Utah is well suited for unique geological formations.
A 277-mile drive south of Salt Lake City lands you in Cannonville, home to the scenic Kodachrome Basin State Park.
The park is a natural wonder famed for its sandstone-layered sedimentary spires that cast a dramatic scenery.
Utah is packed with fantastic outdoor destinations, some of which are extraordinary pieces of nature’s handiwork.
For an adventurous soul, regardless of your outdoor exploration skills, you’ll find much to love in the state’s rugged and diverse landscape.