If you’ve followed us for very long, then you know we’ve spent a lot of time exploring Utah. Today, I’m excited to share 45+ of the best things to do in Southern Utah with you!
Utah is one of our favorite states to explore because of the many things to do and the vast differences you’ll find from place to place.
From sand dunes and slot canyons to hoodoos and arches, Utah is sure to impress.
We’ve spent many months in southern Utah, so naturally, that is where most of our favorite places in Utah are at.
We are hoping to explore northern Utah more in-depth in the future!
Visit the Southern Utah National Parks – “The Mighty 5”
Utah has five incredible national parks, often called “The Mighty 5”.
It costs between $20-35 to visit each park, or you can invest in a yearly America the Beautiful national park pass for $80, which will get you access to over 2,000 recreation sites across the United States.
One thing to keep in mind when visiting these national parks is that dogs are not allowed on most (if not all) of the hiking trails.
Make sure to plan ahead if you are traveling with pets and find somewhere safe for them to stay if you are planning on doing any hiking.
1. Arches National Park
Arches National Park is easily one of our favorite places in Utah. In fact, it’s one of our favorite national parks from all of our travels so far!
The park boasts over 2,000 natural rock arches that are each beautifully unique.
Some of our personal favorites were the Window Arches, Double Arches, Landscape Arch, and Sand Dune Arch.
In addition to the beautiful arches, the park also offers towering spires, balancing rocks, and plenty of rock climbing and exploring!
There are also off-road trails for Jeeps, although ATVs and OHVs are not allowed in the park.
You’ll want to give yourself several days to explore Arches National Park if you’re able. Below are a few of our favorite hiking trails in Arches National Park:
- Double Arch Trail (easy 0.6 miles roundtrip)
- Park Avenue Trail (easy 1.8 miles roundtrip)
- Sand Dune Arch Trail (easy 0.3 miles roundtrip)
- Landscape Arch Trail (easy 1.9 miles roundtrip)
- Broken Arch Trail (easy 1.7 miles roundtrip)
- Balanced Rock Loop Trail (easy 0.3 miles roundtrip)
- Windows Loop and Turret Arch Trail (easy 1.2 miles roundtrip)
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most unique and gorgeous national parks!
Once again, this park makes it into the list of our favorite things to do in Southern Utah for sure!
One of the best things about this park? It contains the largest concentration of hoodoos found anywhere on Earth. How awesome is that?!
We have been lucky enough to visit Bryce during three different seasons. Fall, winter, and summer.
Although it is always beautiful, winter was especially appealing to us. Not only are the crowds lower, but the contrast of the white snow on the orange and red hoodoos was stunning!
Although you can see most of Bryce Canyon National Park in a full day, we recommend staying for 2-3 days if you can.
You can take a horseback ride down into the hoodoos, go on a bike ride, or of course, hike one of the amazing trails the park has to offer.
Below are a few of our favorite bucket list National Park hikes in Bryce Canyon:
- Navajo Loop Trail (moderate 1.5 miles roundtrip)
- Peekaboo Loop Trail (moderate 5.2 miles roundtrip)
- Wall Street & Queen’s Garden Loop Trail (moderate 3.2 miles roundtrip)
- Bristlecone Loop Trail (easy 1-mile roundtrip)
- Mossy Cave Trail (easy 1-mile roundtrip)
3. Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is unique and very different from any of the other national parks we’ve visited.
The Fruita Valley (considered the heart of Capitol Reef) was first settled by Mormon settlers in the 1800s.
Many of the original buildings are still in use today.
When visiting Fruita, make sure to stop at the Gifford House for amazing homemade goodies, including scrumptious pies! Personally, I liked the apple pies best.
We found a beautiful boondocking location just outside the park and stayed for a few days.
A few of the most common activities in the park are biking, wildlife viewing, visiting petroglyphs, and horse riding.
There is also plenty of great hiking in Capitol Reef National Park. Below are a few of our favorite hiking recommendations for your visit to Capitol Reef National Park:
- Cassidy Arch Trail (moderate 3.1 miles roundtrip)
- Grand Wash Trail (you can hike as much or as little of this as you’d like to)
- Capitol Gorge Trail (moderate 4.5 miles roundtrip)
- Capitol Reef Petroglyph Trail (easy 0.3 miles roundtrip)
- Panorama Point (easy 0.3 miles roundtrip)
- Goosenecks & Sunset Point (easy 2.5 miles roundtrip)
4. Zion National Park
Arguably one of the most beautiful national parks, Zion National Park is one of the top 10 most visited national parks in the USA with over 5 million visitors last year alone.
Because of the park’s popularity, they have implemented a shuttle system. Visitors cannot drive personal vehicles on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during shuttle season.
You are still able to drive the main road (Hwy 9) through the park, but most of the scenic locations and popular hiking trails can only be reached by shuttle. Another option is to take a Zion National Park tour.
There is currently no additional fee to ride the park shuttle, but you will have to pay the park entrance fee if you do not have a national park pass.
Zion National Park has some of the best national park hiking trails, but below are just a few of the most popular ones:
- Angel’s Landing (hard 4.4 miles roundtrip)
- Narrows Bottom-Up to Big Springs (hard 8.9 miles roundtrip)
- Narrows Riverside Walk (easy 1.9 miles roundtrip)
- Emerald Pools (moderate 3.0 miles roundtrip)
- The Watchman Trail (moderate 3.1 miles roundtrip)
- Kolob Canyon (moderate 10.4 miles roundtrip)
After a long day of hiking in Zion National Park, check out these nearby restaurants in St George, Utah.
5. Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is the park to visit if you are hoping to avoid crowds. It is one of the lesser-visited Utah national parks, but it boasts some incredible views of the surrounding area.
It wasn’t quite as impressive after visiting Grand Canyon National Park, but it’s still worth a visit, especially if you are already in the area.
You won’t need as much time at this national park unless you are planning on hiking some of the longer trails.
We easily saw everything we wanted to see in the park in just a few hours.
The most popular park activities are the viewpoints and the hiking trails. Below are a few of the most popular trails in Canyonlands National Park:
- Mesa Arch (easy 0.7 miles roundtrip)
- Grand View Point Trail (easy 1.8 miles roundtrip)
- White Rim Overlook (easy 1.8 miles roundtrip)
- Aztec Butte Trail (moderate 1.7 miles roundtrip)
- Druid Arch Trail (moderate 10.4 miles roundtrip)
The Best State Parks in Southern Utah
Utah holds some unique and beautiful state parks. From hoodoos and slot canyons to bright pink sand dunes and petrified wood, these state parks hold many adventures, just waiting to happen!
Utah state parks typically charge between $10-30 per day or you can also buy an annual Utah state parks pass for $100 if you’re a Utah resident or $150 if you’re from out-of-state.
There are currently 43 state parks in Utah, with 11+ being in southern Utah.
We haven’t been able to visit all of them yet, but here are a few of our favorites and the best ones in our opinion.
6. Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is another destination that should make the top of your Utah bucket list!
The park is almost like a giant playground with endless hoodoos to play in and explore.
You can purchase a permit to fly a drone for $5 and dogs are allowed which makes this an even more appealing place to visit for dog parents like us!
We actually made a short YouTube video about this park, which you can watch below.
Seriously, do yourself a favor and add this one to your Utah bucket list!
We have visited Goblin Valley State Park multiple times now, and each time we enjoy it more and more!
This is also a great park to visit in the winter when temperatures aren’t extremely high.
We loved seeing the hoods and rock formations covered in snow!
7. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
The sand at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is true to the name, a beautiful vibrant coral color!
There are many activities in the park including sandboarding, ATVing, and hiking.
We booked an ATV tour with Kanab Tour Company, and riding through the sand dunes was so fun!
We even had the chance to try sandboarding on the dunes. I have horrible balance, so I just ended up embarrassing myself the whole time, haha!
You are also able to purchase a drone permit for $5 which we did. However, be aware that sometimes there is more wind out on the dunes than it first appears. We had some trouble with our drone due to the wind.
There is also nice camping in the park with shower houses and other amenities.
However, there is poor to no cell service in the park so don’t plan to stay if you need to be connected.
8. Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park is just outside Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah.
It is a great alternative if you travel with pets, as dogs are allowed. The viewpoints in this park are incredible!
There are also hiking trails and biking and horseback riding are also popular.
We didn’t spend very long at this park since we were on a tight schedule but it was worth the stop for the views.
If you don’t have long to spend here, we recommend at least stopping at a few overlooks.
We really enjoyed the gorgeous views that this state park has to offer!
9. Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park, nestled just north of St. George, is an enchanting medley of red and white Navajo sandstone cliffs.
The contrasting colors are something you’ve got to see to believe!
There’s no shortage of fun activities to enjoy at this state park. Whether you’re into hiking, horseback riding, or simply enjoying a picnic amidst a scenic backdrop, Snow Canyon has something for you.
The Jenny’s Canyon trail is a relatively short and easy hike that leads to a beautiful slot canyon and is quite popular.
You might also see a few rock climbers taking on challenging routes during your visit. You should bring your climbing gear along if that’s up your alley.
Lastly, camping here is serene, with the stars at night shining brilliantly against the dark canvas of the sky.
But just like Coral Pink Sand Dunes, don’t rely too heavily on your cell service. Sometimes, unplugging is the best part of the experience!
10. Kodachrome Basin State Park
Not too far from Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park stands out with its spectacular color-filled landscapes.
The park gets its name from the Kodak film, and once you visit, it’s easy to understand why!
You’re greeted with multi-colored sandstone spires that soar into the sky, providing a mesmerizing backdrop for any outdoor enthusiast.
With over 67 monolithic stone spires to admire, you won’t run out of sights anytime soon.
One of the best hikes here is the Shakespeare Arch and Sentinel Trail. It’s an accessible route, yet rewards you with unparalleled views of the park’s famed geological structures.
11. Quail Creek State Park
Located just a few miles away from St. George, Quail Creek State Park offers a refreshing oasis amidst the iconic Utah desert landscape.
The reservoir here is the main attraction, and it’s a haven for water lovers! Whether you’re into kayaking, fishing, or just fancy a leisurely swim, the clear blue waters of Quail Creek won’t disappoint.
The park boasts a picturesque setting with the Pine Valley Mountains in the backdrop, making every moment photo-worthy.
One thing you shouldn’t miss out on is renting paddle boards and gliding over the calm waters, especially during sunrise. The reflections and the tranquility are hard to beat!
If you’re more of a landlubber, there are several trails surrounding the reservoir, perfect for a peaceful stroll or a bike ride.
For campers, the sites by the water are incredible. Waking up to the sound of gentle waves? Yes, please!
But, echoing our experiences at other parks, remember that cell service can be hit or miss. So, prepare to unplug and soak up the serenity.
12. Sand Hollow State Park
Just south of Quail Creek State Park, you’ll find Sand Hollow State Park. This one is a must-visit for anyone who loves a mix of water activities and striking red rock landscapes.
The big draw here is, of course, the sprawling reservoir. Boating, fishing, and jet skiing are among the top activities on the water. The water here is very refreshing, especially under the Utah sun.
There’s also a sandy beach area that’s great for sunbathing or building sandcastles.
The surrounding landscape, dotted with red sand dunes, is also worth exploring.
You can rent an off-road vehicle and have a blast zooming around the dunes, taking in the views!
If you decide to camp here, there are some great spots with views of the water.
13. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
A hidden gem near the town of Escalante is the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
This state park is a treasure trove for those intrigued by colorful petrified wood!
Walking the Petrified Forest Trail, you can marvel at the remnants of ancient trees, now turned to stone.
The vibrant colors and patterns in the wood pieces are stunning!
For those looking to extend their adventure, the park also offers a reservoir. It’s a serene spot, ideal for fishing or simply unwinding by the water.
If camping’s on your mind, the park offers sites with some lovely views, especially as the sun sets over the petrified landscapes.
14. Goosenecks State Park
Located near the town of Mexican Hat, Goosenecks State Park offers one of the most stunning overlooks in all of Utah.
The big allure? The mesmerizing meanders of the San Juan River below.
Standing at the park’s viewpoints, you’ll be struck by the sheer depth and beauty of the winding river canyons.
While there aren’t established trails in the park, the panoramic views alone are worth the visit.
With nearly 1,000 feet down to the river, it’s a photographer’s dream.
For those wanting to stay overnight, only eight first-come, first-serve campsites are available.
Set up your tent, enjoy a night under the stars, and watch the sunrise light up the canyons.
The Best National Monuments in Southern Utah
Southern Utah, renowned for its jaw-dropping landscapes, doesn’t stop at state parks or the famed “Mighty 5.”
Beyond these well-trodden paths lies another layer of preserved beauty: the national monuments.
Often overshadowed by their national park counterparts, these sites offer a unique blend of natural, historical, and cultural treasures.
Entrance fees for national monuments vary, but many are more affordable than national parks, making them a great option for budget travelers.
While some national monuments offer more relaxed pet policies than national parks, it’s essential to double-check regulations if traveling with furry companions.
Many of these monuments are also less crowded, providing a more intimate experience with nature.
Southern Utah boasts a number of these hidden gems, each telling its own ancient tale of geology, archaeology, and history.
From vast plateaus to intricate rock formations, let’s delve into the region’s best national monuments.
15. Cedar Breaks National Monument
I’ll be honest, this was not originally on our list, but we were driving by and decided to stop in.
And I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found!
Cedar Breaks National Monument had incredible views that reminded us of Bryce Canyon National Park!
At over 10,000 feet in elevation, the weather was unexpectedly cool in the summer.
The elevation here is so high, that there were still snow mounds visible when we visited in June!
Due to snow, the park is only open from late May to mid-October each year.
If you happen to be visiting Utah in the summer months, this national monument is worth a visit.
We didn’t have much time to spend since we were just passing through, but we plan to return and visit again.
16. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spanning a vast area in southern Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a sheer showcase of geologic marvels and rugged landscapes.
This area is all about its vast plateaus, intricate slot canyons, and layers upon layers of ancient rock formations.
One key draw is the monument’s grand staircase of cliffs and terraces.
The slot canyons here, like Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulch, are definitely favorites.
Navigating the narrow paths and winding passageways feels like you’re on a real adventure.
Off-roading and backpacking enthusiasts will find plenty to rave about, too.
With vast stretches of untouched land, the opportunities for exploration are virtually endless.
If you’re planning an extended stay in the area, dispersed camping (also known as boondocking) offers an authentic wilderness experience.
But be prepared: amenities are few and far between.
17. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Located near Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge National Monument is home to one of the world’s largest known natural bridges.
Towering against the backdrop of scenic canyon walls, this impressive sandstone arch is a testament to the power of erosion and time.
The monument is often accessed via a boat trip from Lake Powell, followed by a manageable hike.
The journey offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, leading up to the magnificent bridge itself.
Rainbow Bridge is also a sacred place for Native American tribes, echoing tales and traditions that span generations.
While the monument stands in a rather remote location, nearby Lake Powell provides accommodation options for those looking to stay in the vicinity.
18. Natural Bridges National Monument
Situated in the southeastern corner of Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument showcases some of the finest natural stone architecture in the Southwest.
This area is marked by its distinctive set of large natural bridges, each carved by the power of water.
The monument encompasses three remarkable stone bridges: Sipapu, Kachina, and Owachomo.
These formations, though created by similar processes, each have their own unique shape and characteristics, making them a delight for both casual visitors and avid photographers.
A scenic drive around the monument offers viewpoints of all three bridges. However, to truly experience their grandeur, one can take the trails descending into the canyon and walk beneath their massive stone spans.
Beyond the bridges, the monument is steeped in cultural history, with remnants of ancestral Puebloan dwellings and petroglyphs adding to its allure.
The park becomes a stargazer’s dream in the nighttime, having been designated as a Dark Sky Park. The vast, unpolluted skies offer an unparalleled view of the stars above.
19. Dixie National Forest/Red Canyon
Nestled within the vast expanse of the Dixie National Forest, Red Canyon stands as a lesser-known but equally captivating counterpart to Bryce Canyon, just a short drive away.
Its fiery red hoodoos and winding trails offer a breathtaking landscape that’s both accessible and dog-friendly. Our dogs really enjoyed hiking with us here!
Besides the stunning rock formations, what makes Red Canyon a standout destination is its relative tranquility compared to some of the busier neighboring parks.
Here, you can lose yourself amidst the towering hoodoos and pine forests without the usual crowds.
Our favorite hike here was the Hoodoo and Pink Ledges Trails, but the area offers an abundance of hiking options suited for all various skill levels.
Many trails provide panoramic views of the canyon, while others wind through dense forests, occasionally revealing glimpses of the vibrant red rocks that give the area its name.
For those looking for more than just hiking, Red Canyon has an array of activities, from mountain biking to horseback riding.
The scenic drive through the area is a visual treat, and there are several pull-offs and viewpoints for those wanting to capture the beauty in photographs.
With its welcoming visitor center, helpful rangers, and an abundance of natural wonders, Red Canyon proves that sometimes, the road less traveled can lead to the most unforgettable experiences.
Adventurous Attractions in Southern Utah
With its rugged landscapes and untouched beauty, Southern Utah is a vast playground for adventure seekers.
Whether you’re scaling crimson cliffs, navigating mysterious slot canyons, or racing down sand dunes, the region has boundless opportunities for adrenaline-packed experiences.
In this section, we’ll go over some of the most exhilarating activities Southern Utah has to offer!
20. Mountain Biking
Southern Utah’s terrains are a mountain biker’s dream come true! With a blend of challenging inclines, rolling hills, and smoother trails, riders can find a path that matches their individual pace.
Whether you’re speeding down dirt tracks or navigating technical sections, there’s no denying the allure of mountain biking amidst the breathtaking backdrops of southern Utah!
21. White Water Rafting
For thrill-seekers, white water rafting in Utah’s roaring rivers is a must-try. The gushing waters, set against a backdrop of towering canyons and verdant valleys, offer an adrenaline-pumping experience.
While navigating the rapids, rafters can also soak in the pristine beauty surrounding them. One popular place to raft in southern Utah is on the Colorado River near Moab, Utah.
We loved hiking in Southern Utah! It seemed there was an adventure at every turn.
Some of our favorites were the hiking trails in Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Red Canyon.
There are so many great hiking trails in Southern Utah! No matter what your skill level, you’re sure to find something perfect.
23. Explore Slot Canyons
Exploring the slot canyons in Utah was a highlight for us! These narrow, winding paths, carved by erosion, were a maze of mesmerizing light and shadows.
Some of our favorite slot canyons in southern Utah were Wire Pass, Peekaboo Slot Canyon, and Wall Street.
24. Rock Climbing
Utah’s rugged cliffs and varied rock formations attract climbers from all around the world.
Whether you’re a beginner seeking your first ascent or an experienced climber chasing a challenging route, the region offers diverse climbing opportunities.
And the reward? Unparalleled views from the top! If you enjoy rock climbing, don’t miss out on a chance to enjoy this fun activity in southern Utah!
Backpacking in Southern Utah is basically a journey into the heart of the wilderness!
Backpackers can discover remote vistas, hidden waterfalls, and untouched camping spots with every step.
Carrying your home on your back, there’s a profound sense of freedom as you traverse the expansive landscape of southern Utah.
One of our most memorable adventures in southern Utah was canyoneering near Kanab!
Rappelling down rocky cliffs, we were amazed at the untouched beauty that lay hidden from the everyday eye.
Each descent was challenging but totally worth it!
Even if you’ve never been canyoneering before, I highly recommend adding this to your list.
We took a canyoneering tour with Kanab Tour Company; our guides were the best!
Another one of our favorite activities in southern Utah was renting ATVs!
We did so as a birthday splurge for Tucker, and it ended up being one of his favorite birthdays ever!
The highlights for us were the trails to Peekaboo Slot Canyon, and racing around on the coral pink sand dunes!
Speaking of sand dunes, we also tried sandboarding.
This was a first for me, and I quickly found out that I am not cut out for it, haha!
You can get board rentals relatively cheap, making this a fun and affordable experience that you can enjoy during your visit to southern Utah.
There’s nothing quite like setting up camp under the vast Utah sky!
We’ve been both tent camping and RV camping in Utah, and it’s one of our favorite states to camp in by far.
While we did camp in a few RV parks and campgrounds, our favorite is boondocking in southern Utah!
There are so many places that you can find dry camping here.
If you’re looking for remote boondocking in southern Utah, we recommend using these boondocking apps to find the best spots.
With minimal light pollution, Southern Utah’s skies can reveal a dazzling array of stars, planets, and meteor showers.
We loved watching the stars while we were camping.
It’s also a great way to try astrophotography! I got a few pretty cool pictures of the stars with our tent…it was something I’ll never forget!
31. Horseback Riding
Exploring Southern Utah’s landscapes on horseback is an adventure you won’t soon forget!
There’s something magical about seeing the world from the back of a horse.
A few of the most popular places to take horseback riding tours in southern Utah include Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Snow Canyon State Park.
32. Take a Scenic Drive
Southern Utah boasts some of the most breathtaking scenic drives in the U.S., winding through dramatic red rock formations, stunning valleys, and iconic landmarks.
Routes like the Scenic Byway 12 offer unparalleled views of landscapes, stretching from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park.
Meanwhile, the Monument Valley Scenic Drive provides an epic journey through the timeless sandstone buttes and vast desert landscapes that have become emblematic of the American Southwest.
Head to places like Lake Powell or Sand Hollow Reservoir for the ultimate Southern Utah boating experience.
Gliding over shimmering waters with red rock formations in the backdrop is ideal for relaxing and taking in the region’s natural splendor.
For those looking to cast a line, Southern Utah offers unparalleled fishing locations, from the flowing Sevier River to the tranquil Panguitch Lake.
Surrounded by scenic beauty, anglers can immerse themselves in the serene environment, feeling the gentle ripples, hearing the soft calls of nearby wildlife, and anticipating the thrill of an exciting catch!
Southern Utah is one of the best places to enjoy a peaceful kayak excursion.
As you paddle, the towering canyons and vibrant rock formations of Southern Utah envelop you, offering a deeper connection to the region’s dramatic landscapes.
Some of the best places to enjoy kayaking in Southern Utah include Lake Powell, Quail Creek Reservoir, and Deer Creek Reservoir.
Challenge yourself on a paddleboard amidst locations like Sand Hollow State Park.
With each stroke, you’ll feel the gentle push of the water and the sun’s warm embrace, all against a picturesque backdrop of red rocks and sandy shores.
Beyond just a physical activity, paddleboarding here becomes a peaceful encounter with nature, where balance meets beauty.
For those craving an extreme thrill, imagine the sensation of skydiving above areas like Moab.
As the ground rushes towards you, the vast landscapes of Southern Utah sprawl out below, offering a bird’s-eye view of iconic red rock canyons and expansive deserts.
Your heart will be racing, not just from the jump but also from the sheer majesty of the vistas beneath.
The Best Towns to Visit in Southern Utah
Southern Utah isn’t just about the jaw-dropping landscapes; it’s also home to some pretty incredible towns.
Each one, with its own distinct charm and story, serves as a cozy basecamp for all our adventures in the region.
From historic main streets to buzzing local cafes, here’s a dive into the must-visit towns that capture the essence of Southern Utah.
Often referred to as “Little Hollywood” due to its storied history as a backdrop for many classic Western films, Kanab is a must-visit town nestled in the heart of Southern Utah.
This charming community offers more than just cinematic allure; it’s a gateway to some of the region’s most spectacular natural wonders, including the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and a convenient proximity to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
For those keen on adventures, Kanab provides ample opportunities.
Here you can find scenic hikes, take part in guided tours, or simply wander the town to visit its quaint shops, museums, and local eateries.
Visitors should also consider checking out the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest no-kill shelter.
And if you’re there in the summer, the annual Balloons & Tunes Roundup, a vibrant hot air balloon festival, is not to be missed.
When planning a trip, it’s worth noting that while Kanab captures the essence of a small town, it’s increasingly popular among tourists.
As such, booking accommodations in advance, especially during peak seasons, is a smart move to ensure a smooth experience.
Moab, often dubbed the “Adventure Capital of the West,” is an unmissable gem in Southern Utah.
With its iconic red rock landscapes and the Colorado River running through, Moab is more than just a scenic wonder; it’s an epicenter for outdoor enthusiasts.
This vibrant town acts as the doorway to two of the nation’s most revered national parks: Arches and Canyonlands.
With over 2,000 natural stone arches, vast mesas, and deep canyons, the opportunities for exploration are boundless.
Whether it’s mountain biking on the world-famous Slickrock Trail, river rafting on the Colorado, or simply taking a scenic drive to soak in the vistas, adventure is always just around the corner in Moab.
The town itself buzzes with energy. From eclectic shops and art galleries to delightful restaurants that offer a taste of the local cuisine, there’s plenty to explore within Moab’s limits.
Given its growing reputation as a top tourist spot, visitors are advised to plan their stay ahead of time, particularly in the bustling spring and fall seasons, to secure the best accommodations and experiences.
40. St. George
Nestled in the southwestern corner of Utah, St. George is a picturesque stop that brilliantly combines the charm of a small town with the vibrancy of a thriving cultural hub.
Often considered the gateway to Zion National Park, St. George offers more than just its prime location.
This sun-soaked city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting numerous golf courses, scenic hiking trails, and the captivating Snow Canyon State Park with its unique blend of red and white Navajo sandstone cliffs.
Downtown St. George is alive with activity, featuring a mix of quaint boutiques, galleries, and an array of restaurants showcasing local flavors.
As the city continues to grab attention for its appeal and amenities, visitors are encouraged to book early, especially if planning a trip during popular events like the St. George Marathon or Arts Festival.
Panguitch, a Native American word meaning “Big Fish,” is a charming small town that exudes an old-world charm nestled in Southern Utah.
Located just a stone’s throw away from the majestic Bryce Canyon National Park, Panguitch serves as a convenient stopover.
With its charming history, Panguitch feels like a step back in time. But beyond its historical roots, the town is a hub for outdoor activities.
From the clear waters of Panguitch Lake, ideal for fishing and boating, to the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival that paints the sky with vibrant colors, there’s no shortage of adventures awaiting.
As you stroll through its streets, you’ll discover local shops, eateries, and the warmth of a close-knit community.
Nestled at the doorstep of Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey is a quaint and inviting town that’s become an essential stop for travelers venturing through Southern Utah.
With its backdrop of red rock cliffs and sprawling orchards, Torrey effortlessly marries natural splendor with small-town charm.
Beyond its stunning scenery, Torrey is a hub for outdoor exploration. From winding hiking trails to scenic drives through the Waterpocket Fold, adventures here are just a moment away.
And when the day’s activities wind down, the town itself beckons with cozy diners, local art galleries, and the warmth of a community that cherishes its roots.
43. Cedar City
Often dubbed the “Gateway to the National Parks,” Cedar City is so much more than just a pit stop in Southern Utah.
Surrounded by a canvas of towering red cliffs and verdant meadows, this lively town is a must-visit.
At its heart, Cedar City is an arts and festival town. It’s home to the renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival, drawing theater enthusiasts from all corners.
But beyond the stages and performances, the city unfolds as an adventurer’s playground, with the nearby Cedar Breaks National Monument and Brian Head Ski Resort offering endless exploration opportunities.
As you wander through Cedar City, you’ll find an array of local boutiques, hearty diners, and the undeniable spirit of a community proud of its rich heritage.
Given its multifaceted appeal, a visit during peak festival seasons or during fall’s vibrant foliage display is the best!
Ps…our favorite pizza place ever is located here! It’s located downtown and is called Centro Woodfired Pizza.
Other Southern Utah Things to Do
Here are a few final things to do in southern Utah for you to add to your Utah bucket list!
44. Lake Powell
Nestled amidst the vast canyons of Southern Utah, Lake Powell is an oasis of blue in a world of red rock.
With miles upon miles of winding waterways, it’s a paradise for those looking to dive into aquatic adventures or simply unwind by the water.
For the adventurous, Lake Powell offers boating, kayaking, and even hidden canyons waiting to be explored.
But if relaxation is what you’re after, just find a quiet bay, drop anchor, and let the beauty of the surrounding cliffs and sky wash over you.
And, for those looking for a unique experience, the labyrinthine Antelope Canyon, with its mesmerizing light beams and narrow passages, is just a stone’s throw away.
We loved visiting Lake Powell, and I know you will too!
45. Glen Canyon
Glen Canyon, stretching across Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, is a vast expanse of intricate landscapes and breathtaking beauty.
With its deep canyons carved over millennia by the Colorado River, it’s a testament to the power of nature.
This area isn’t just about the landscapes, though. It’s a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
From the serene waters of Lake Powell, which rests within the canyon, to the numerous hiking trails that offer panoramic views of the surrounding cliffs and plateaus, there’s no shortage of adventures to embark on.
History buffs can also delve into the ancient stories etched into the walls here, with petroglyphs and remnants of past civilizations offering a peek into bygone eras.
When visiting, it’s important to remember that while Glen Canyon’s vastness offers solitude, it’s also a popular spot for many.
Thus, early planning and respecting the land’s pristine nature are key to a memorable visit.
46. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is just barely inside of southern Utah on the Arizona border.
This is a popular stop as many movies have been shot in the area.
We stopped through on our way from Moab, Utah to the Grand Canyon.
The landscape is very unique and beautiful! We recommend stopping by even if you only grab a few quick pictures.
Visit early in the day to avoid crowds and get a picture without anyone else in it. Be sure to stay safe and watch for vehicles!
47. The Moqui Caverns
If you’re up for a short adventure near Kanab, Utah, the Moqui Caverns are a must-see!
These sand caves are located just off U.S. 89 outside of Kanab, Utah.
Visitors used to be able to park on the side of the highway and hike up to them but due to growing popularity, you now have to park in a parking lot down the road and hike further in.
We took our dog Cap with us, and he loved the hike and exploring the caves!
Once you make it up to the caves, there are several openings and you can explore back into them a little bit.
The sand is also fun to play in. We recommend coming early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid having a lot of people in your photos.
48. Toquerville Falls
Before I tell you too much about Toquerville Falls, I must warn you. The road to get to the falls is very (and I mean very) rough.
You must have a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle to make it.
We almost got stuck with our Jeep and passed three vehicles that had broken down due to the road conditions.
The worst part is the first few miles, and then it smooths out from there.
Most people actually drive ATVs to get to the falls. You can even drive across them once you get to the top if you want to.
The falls are beautiful and are quite rewarding once you reach them. If you’re up for the drive, add this to your southern Utah bucket list!
Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds! The Belly of the Dragon is located on U.S. 89 outside of Kanab, Utah, and is actually a culvert that runs under the road.
Over time, water has eroded the sand walls and has created an ominous passageway that is super fun to explore!
You can continue on through the other side and hike through the wash for a while.
We even did a little rock climbing! This is a neat spot and is great for kids and dogs to explore as well.
There is also a great free campground right next to the Belly of the Dragon that we tent camped at for two nights.
You can watch our short review of the area and see more of the passageway in our Youtube video below.
50. Peekaboo Slot Canyon
Another one of our favorite places in Utah is Peekaboo Slot Canyon. This canyon is absolutely breathtaking and was a blast to explore!
It is located just outside of Kanab, Utah, and is reached either by an 8-mile round-trip hike or by driving in with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
It’s not as easily accessible as some of the other slot canyons in Utah, and as a result, it’s not as overrun by tourists.
When we visited near the end of October, we only saw a few other people there. This was our favorite slot canyon so far in all of our travels!
We chose to book an ATV tour with Kanab Tour Company to reach the slot canyon, and it was so much fun!
You can read all about our experience ATVing to Peekaboo Slot Canyon here.
51. Toadstool Hoodoos
The toadstool hoodoos are located in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument area outside of Kanab, Utah.
There is a short 1.8-mile round-trip hike to reach the hoodoos, but it’s a really fun hike including a few rock scrambles!
Dogs are also allowed on this hike, which is a great bonus.
Although it’s not quite as impressive as some of the other hoodoos Utah has to offer, they are still worth a stop.
We did this hike on a Saturday in the summer, and surprisingly only saw three other hikers.
I’m not sure if we just lucked out or if that is common, but it was a great stop and we fully enjoyed it!
52. Wire Pass
Wire Pass is a great slot canyon trail in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
It does not require a permit, but there is a fee of $5 per person. Dogs are also allowed on this hike.
The hike is 3.7 miles round trip and much of the distance is in a wash with no shade at all.
The sun can be brutal especially in the summer so make sure that you bring plenty of water and avoid hiking during the heat of the day if you can.
As you can see above, once you get to the slot canyon the passageways are narrow and there is some maneuvering required, including the iconic wooden ladder.
This was a great hike, and we really enjoyed it! It was a little challenging getting our dogs up and down the ladder, but it was totally worth it!
Tips for Visiting Southern Utah
Now that we’ve covered the best things to do in Southern Utah let’s go over a few tips for visiting this beautiful location!
- Plan Ahead: Southern Utah’s breathtaking beauty is no secret, which means many of its prime spots can get crowded, especially during peak seasons. To secure accommodations, tours, or permits, it’s always a good idea to book in advance.
- Pack for the Weather: The desert climate can be deceiving. While days can get blisteringly hot, nights often cool down significantly. It’s wise to pack layers and always have plenty of water on hand to stay hydrated.
- Respect the Land: From ancient petroglyphs to delicate natural arches, Southern Utah is brimming with delicate wonders. Always stay on marked trails, avoid touching or defacing cultural artifacts, and pack out whatever you bring in.
- Be Pet-Prepared: If you’re traveling with furry friends like we often do, keep in mind that many national parks in the region have restrictions on where pets can go. Always check park policies ahead of time and consider exploring the equally beautiful state parks and BLM lands that are more pet-friendly.
- Travel Off-Peak: If you have flexibility in your schedule, consider visiting outside of the busy summer months. Not only will you encounter fewer crowds, but the milder temperatures in spring or fall can make outdoor activities more enjoyable.
- Stay Connected: While most of us try to stay connected during our travels, remember that cell service can be spotty in more remote areas. It’s a good idea to inform someone of your itinerary or download offline maps to ensure you always have a guide, just in case.
How Long to Visit Southern Utah
Deciding how long to spend in the vast beauty of Southern Utah can be a challenge.
With its many national parks, charming towns, and countless adventures, even a week can feel too brief.
For a short trip, consider 3-4 days to hit the highlights, like Zion or Bryce Canyon.
However, if you truly want to drink in the region’s diverse landscapes and delve into local experiences, a stay of 7-10 days allows for a more leisurely pace.
For those with the luxury of time, spending a couple of weeks exploring ensures that both the iconic spots and hidden gems get their well-deserved attention.
Best Time to Visit Southern Utah
Southern Utah’s allure shifts with the seasons, making any time of year perfect for exploration.
However, if you’re looking for the sweet spot of pleasant weather and fewer crowds, spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) are ideal. These months offer milder temperatures, perfect for hiking and outdoor activities.
Summers, while bustling with tourists, can see temperatures soar, so early morning excursions and plenty of hydration are key.
Winter, on the other hand, paints iconic red rocks with a dusting of snow, creating a unique, serene landscape. But remember that some higher-elevation areas might be less accessible due to snowfall.
Consider your priorities, be it perfect weather or peaceful solitude, to pick the perfect window for your visit!
Where to Stay in Southern Utah
Accommodations in Southern Utah span a wide variety of options, ensuring every traveler finds their perfect fit.
For those seeking convenience, towns like Moab, St. George, and Kanab offer a mix of hotels, motels, and B&Bs, placing you right in the heart of the action.
If you’re traveling in an RV, you will find no shortage of options and can stay at one of the many campgrounds or RV parks dotting the region; there’s nothing quite like waking up to a sunrise over the red rocks or sleeping under the vast starry skies.
For a touch of luxury, there are also several upscale resorts and lodges, especially around areas like Lake Powell or Zion, providing both comfort and breathtaking views.
Regardless of where you choose, it’s essential to book early, especially during peak seasons, to snag the best spots!
Things to Do in Southern Utah Map
Below is a map I put together showing the location of everything on this list! Click here to access all of the map details.
Conclusion: Things to Do in Southern Utah
I hope that you’ve found these Utah bucket list destinations inspiring for your next Utah road trip!
Which of these places will you be adding to your Utah bucket list? Drop a comment below and let me know!
Find More Utah Travel Adventures & Inspiration
- 2023 Guide to Visiting Belly of the Dragon – Kanab, Utah
- 20 of the Best Epic Southern Utah Hiking Trails
- 11 Utah Slot Canyons That Should Be On Your Bucket List
- Top 50+ Amazing Things to Do in Southern Utah in 2023
- 15 of the Best Hikes in Arches National Park (2023 Guide)
- ATVing & Canyoneering with Kanab Tour Company