The Ultimate Utah Bucket List | 30 FUN Things to Do in the Beehive State

Utah is one of the most incredible states in the USA. Home to five national parks, known as the Mighty Five, as well as world-class mountain resorts and fun, underrated cities, Utah is one of only a handful of states that is worthy of its own bucket list. 

Whether you are an adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts or family travelers like us, this Utah bucket list details 30 incredible and memorable things to do in Utah. 

From the iconic red rock formations of Arches National Park to the snow-covered slopes of Park City, the state of Utah offers so many unique experiences that are nothing short of extraordinary. 

About Utah

a family of three standing in front of the welcome to utah sign
Utah is filled with bucket-list worth activities.

Located in the western United States, Utah boasts a geological marvel at every turn. 

A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll find some of the best national parks in the USA,  plus  mountains, arid deserts, and a unique history influenced by Native American tribes and pioneers from the Mormon religion. 

Quick Facts about Utah

  • Capital City: Salt Lake City
  • Established as a state: 1896 (45th State)
  • Population: 3.338 million (66% are Mormon)
  • National Parks: The Mighty 5, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches National Park
  • State Flower: Sego Lily
  • State Bird: California Gull
  • Known As: the Beehive State

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Topography of Utah

Utah has one of the most fascinating topographies of any state in the United States. The state is best known for its striking red rock formations, particularly evident in iconic places like Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. But the state has massively diverse landscapes.

It is home to expansive deserts, vast salt flats, majestic mountain ranges, alpine lakes, and lush forests. No joke, the state’s topography is complex and incredible. Regardless of what type of landscape you are looking for, you will find it in Utah!

30 things to add to your Utah bucket list

Whether you are planning a trip to Utah or you live in the Beehive State and are looking for new activities to try in Utah, we’ve created this Utah bucket list – filled with 30 of our favorite things to do in Utah. 

Stand Beneath Delicate Arch

a family of three standing beneath Delicate Arch
Standing beneath the towering Delicate Arch is worth the effort it takes to hike there.

Delicate Arch is an iconic symbol of Utah. This towering sandstone arch located in Arches National Park is even on the Utah license plate and ‘Welcome to Utah” signs at the state border. 

Carved by wind erosion over countless centuries, the arch’s dimensions are awe-inspiring. With a span of 32 feet and a height of 52 feet, it is the largest free-standing arch in the park.

Although considered a moderately challenging hike, the 3 mile out-and-back hike to stand beneath Delicate Arch has become one of the most popular things to do around Moab with kids

Its precarious position on the edge of a slickrock bowl makes it a fascinating geological marvel, and will give you a slight sense of vertigo walking to stand beneath Delicate Arch.

As one of Utah’s most famous landmarks, you’ll want to start this hike early in the morning to avoid the peak heat of the day. 

Another popular time to hike this trail is about an hour before sunset, which will give you enough time to get to the arch in time to watch the sun set. Seeing the warm hues of the fading daylight as it casts a glow upon the arch and the surrounding red rock formations is both serene and magical. 

Pose under icicles at Ice Castles

Father and daughter standing under an icicle arch at Ice Castles in Midway
Ice Castles in Midway is a Utah bucket list activity that is only available in winter.

While many Utah bucket list activities are geared more toward warm weather seasons, Ice Castles is a Utah attraction that can only be experienced in the coldest months of January and February. 

Located in the Heber Valley town of Midway, Ice Castles is one of the most stunning winter wonderland destinations in the world

Spanning roughly an acre and resembling frozen waterfalls, the Midway Ice Castles are not only beautiful but fun for families. With ice slides, igloos, ice sculptures and crawl spaces, the man-made, winter attraction is like an icy playground. 

Buy tickets to visit at night and you will get to see the ice aglow. Color-changing lights in the ice fade from blue, to white, to orange, pink, and green, creating an otherworldly ambiance as you explore the icy tunnels and caverns. 

Soak in a natural hot spring inside a cave

Ice Castles isn’t the only reason to visit the charming town of Midway. It’s one of the cutest small towns in the US, and boasts plenty of year-round activities.

One of the best things to do in Midway is to soak in the Utah Crater. This unique geological marvel offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. The geothermal spring is concealed within a limestone dome at the Homestead Resort

The warm mineral-rich waters are heated by the earth’s geothermal energy and offer both relaxation and adventure activities like swimming, snorkeling, and even scuba diving. 

See the Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake forms white crystals on the shore thanks to the high salinity of the water. | Photo by Mick Haupt from Unsplash

The Great Salt Lake, located on the outskirts of Utah’s capital city, is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. 

The lake offers a distinctive landscape characterized by white crystallized shores surrounded by the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains. 

Around the lake you’ll find plenty of recreational activities. You can kayak on the salty lake, book a tour to Antelope Island, a peninsula that extends out into the lake, or at times, even swim or float in the salty water.

Due to its high salt content, floating is much easier making those who dip into the water feel more buoyant than usual. 

Whether you choose to get in the water or not, seeing the Great Salt Lake is a memorable outdoor bucket list experience in Utah.

Explore Utah’s best slot canyons 

willis creek slot canyon
Willis Creek Slot Canyon is just one of Utah’s impressive slot canyons.

Utah is home to thousands of slot canyons. In fact, it is believed that the state has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world. 

These unique geological formations are defined by their narrow, winding passages that form between towering sandstone walls. The walls of many of the slot canyons in Utah can rise hundreds of feet, creating the feeling of being in a maze. 

Buckskin Gulch and The Narrows in Zion National Park are among the most famous slot canyons in the state, but you’ll find them as far north as Goblin Valley State Park. You’ll also find a huge number of slot canyons in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument including Peekaboo, Spooky, and Willis Creek Slot Canyon. 

Each slot canyon holds a unique charm. Regardless of which one you decide to visit, exploring these fantastic canyons are Utah bucket list-worthy. 

Day trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats

the bonneville salt flats
The Bonneville Salt Flats look otherworldly. | Photo by Dina GH from Unsplash

The Bonneville Salt Flats, located in Toole County in northwestern Utah, is an otherworldly natural formation spanning over 30,000 acres.

The flat, white salt crust creates a mesmerizing landscape that seems to stretch endlessly. 

The flats are best known for their role as a racing speedway, but in recent years, the Bonneville Salt Flats have drawn people looking for the perfect photo spot. The stark white salt contrasts with the blue sky, creating a visually stunning panorama, making it one of the best day trips from Salt Lake City. 

Hike through a river at The Narrows in Zion 

hiking the Narrows with kids in Zion National Park
The Narrows is a fun, yet challenging, hike for the whole family.

The Narrows is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park. This extraordinary adventure takes hikers through the middle of the Virgin River, with soaring sandstone walls that narrow dramatically in certain sections. 

The trail involves wading and navigating through the river, often with towering canyon walls rising hundreds of feet above. While the experience is challenging, it is one of the best things to do in Zion with kids

Whether hiking alone or with an expert guide, hikers forge through the water, surrounded by the mesmerizing sculpted rock formations. This out-and-back hike can be tailored to various skill levels, allowing you the opportunity to turn around whenever you want. 

This Utah bucket list hike is best done in the warm summer months, as the water in the river is frigid and way more tolerable on a hot day.

Visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Mormon Temple
The Mormon temple in Salt Lake City is a towering centerpiece for the city.

Temple Square is situated in the heart of Salt Lake City and stands as the religious hub for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the LDS church or Mormon religion. 

The focal point of Temple Square is the Salt Lake Temple, an impressive granite Mormon temple surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds, featuring gardens, statues, and reflecting pools.

While non-Mormons are not allowed to go into the temple, you can take free guided tours of the grounds which provides insights into the history and significance of the temple and why Utah has become the hub for the church. Or, book a complete Salt Lake City guided tour by bus to explore all of the city. 

While you cannot go inside the temple, it is worth visiting the Salt Lake Tabernacle across the street, on the west side of the square.

Additionally, the Family History Library allows you to delve into genealogical research. The LDS church, which owns Ancestory.com, does extensive genealogical research as part of the religion’s mission.

This massive temple and the surrounding area are just one of the reasons that Salt Lake City is among the most underrated cities in the United States

Attend the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point

a path lined with tulips at thanksgiving point
Spring is the most colorful time to visit Thanksgiving Point.

The Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah is an annual event that transforms the Ashton Gardens into a colorful display of fragrant blooms. Taking place in the spring, typically from late March to early May, the festival features more than 300,000 tulips in various hues reminiscent of the picturesque landscape the Netherlands is known for

Beyond the tulip displays, visitors can enjoy live music, art installations, and interactive activities, making it one of the best things to do in Utah each spring.

Stop for a middle-of-the-road photo at Forrest Gump Hill in Monument Valley

standing in the middle of the road at Forrest Gump Point in Monument Valley
Forrest Gump Point is a popular photo spot in a very remote area of Utah.

Forrest Gump Point feels like one or the most remote places in Utah. Located in Monument Valley, in the southeastern-most corner of the state, the photo spot gained its name after one of the scenes in the iconic film “Forrest Gump” was filmed there. 

This scenic viewpoint offers a spectacular panoramic vista of the majestic red sandstone buttes and mesas that characterize Monument Valley. 

The location became famous after the memorable scene where Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, decides to end his cross-country run. Visitors to Forrest Gump Point can stand at the edge of the road (or in the middle if no cars are coming) and witness the breathtaking desert landscape immortalized in the movie. 

The view captures the essence of the American Southwest, making it a perfect stop on a Southwest USA road trip

Go skiing at the United States’ largest resort

looking out at Park City Mountain Resort in winter
Park City is the largest ski resort in the United States.

While Colorado’s ski resorts may be known as some of the best in the United States, Utah is also home to its fair share of premier mountain towns – including the United States’ largest ski resort. 

Park City boasts more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and offers a diverse range of slopes, from gentle beginner runs to challenging expert trails. 

Beyond the slopes, the historic mining town turned ski destination provides a lively après-ski scene along Main Street, offering a blend of dining, shopping, and cultural attractions. 

Hike between hoodoos in Bryce Canyon

family of 3 looking out at the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon has the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world.

Bryce Canyon National Park, located in southwestern Utah, is renowned for its captivating hoodoos. In fact, it is known as the hoodoo capital of the world. Sculpted by the forces of erosion, hoodoos are intricate spires and geological pillar-like formations. 

With hues of red, orange, and pink found in the sedimentary rock, hiking among the hoodoos is a surreal feeling. 

Although a challenging hike due to the number of steep switchbacks, Navajo Loop to Queen’s Garden Loop up to Sunrise Point is a stunning 3-mile loop that takes you through the hoodoos. The hike provides an intimate encounter with these towering, whimsically shaped formations, making Bryce Canyon a must-visit Utah bucket list destination for those seeking the magic and mystery of nature’s intricate handiwork.

Go 4 Wheeling and sandboarding near Hurricane

a 4 wheel vehicle in sand overlooking a lake at Sand Hollow State Park near Hurricane Utah
Sand Hollow State Park is a great place for adventurers who want to go 4-wheeling or sandboarding.

Located just outside Hurricane, Utah, Sand Hollow State Park is an exhilarating playground for adventure enthusiasts. Its diverse landscape is perfect for sandboarding and 4-wheeling. 

Visitors can glide down the steep slopes on a sandboard or explore the park’s rugged terrain in an off-roading vehicle. This activity is so intense that helmets are required and insurance is strongly recommended.

Hike to Bridal Veil Falls

bridal veil falls in provo canyon in fall
Bridal Veil Falls is one of Utah’s most popular waterfall hikes. | Photo by David Wirzba from Unsplash

One of the prettiest waterfalls in the state, Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon is an easy hike surrounded by lush vegetation and framed by towering cliffs. As hikers ascend on the 1.4 mile trail the distant sounds of cascading water grow louder.

Bridal Veil Falls, a majestic 607-foot waterfall, gracefully descends from the rugged cliffs above. As you follow the river, you’ll pass by vibrant wildflowers in the spring and summer or take in the golden hues of fall foliage in autumn. 

The hike to Bridal Veil Falls is relatively easy and fun for families. 

Feel fancy at Deer Valley

the words Deer Valley carved into snow on the side of a mountain.
Skiing in Deer Valley is a luxurious experience.

Deer Valley is to Utah what Aspen is to Colorado. It is widely regarded as the most luxurious and upscale ski resort in Utah. 

Not far from Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley is often hailed for offering a more exclusive and refined atmosphere compared to some of the other ski resorts in Utah. 

It is particularly renowned for its upscale dining options, high-end lodging, and commitment to providing a premium skiing experience.

With meticulously groomed slopes, top-notch ski services, and a focus on limiting the number of skiers per day, Deer Valley has earned a reputation as a fancy and sought-after destination for those seeking a luxurious skiing getaway.

Snap a Photo outside the Up House

The Up House, located in Herriman, Utah, is an actual residence that is an exact replica of the house in the animated Disney Pixar film “Up”. While the real life setting of the Disney movie was not in Utah, this authorized replica house is. 

Painted in vibrant pastel colors and adorned with intricate details, the Up House is a delightful tribute to the heartwarming movie, the spirit of adventure, and the power of imagination. 

While the interior remains a private residence, the exterior has become a popular attraction in Utah, drawing fans of the film and curious onlookers eager to see the real-life embodiment of the animated film. 

Explore the largest national monument in the United States

a couple standing in front of the grand staircase-escalante national monument sign
Grand Staircase-Escalante may not be a national park, but it is equally as enchanting as Utah’s 5 national parks.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, spans more than 1.9 million acres in the remote southern part of Utah. This vast and striking area of protected public land was one of the last areas in the continental United States to be explored and officially mapped out. 

Home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, incredible backcountry hikes, active waterfalls, and slot canyons, Grand Staircase-Escalante is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

As the largest national monument in the United States, the sheer size and ecological significance of Grand Staircase-Escalante makes this off-the-grid experience well worth adding to your Utah bucket list.

“Journey through time” on the Scenic Byway 12 

a winding 2-lane road on the side of a cliff on the Scenic Byway 12
The Scenic Byway 12 is one of Utah’s most beautiful drives.

Scenic Byway 12 in Utah is often hailed as one of the most spectacular and diverse drives in the United States, earning the nickname “A Journey Through Time.” 

This scenic highway stretches approximately 124 miles, traversing a remarkable variety of landscapes, through deserts and forests and jaw-dropping canyons. 

The route begins in Panguitch and winds its way through the awe-inspiring landscapes of Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Capitol Reef National Park. 

The designation “Journey Through Time” is aptly bestowed upon Scenic Byway 12 because it takes travelers through millions of years of geological history, showcasing ancient rock layers, towering cliffs, and stunning canyons. 

You can purchase a self-guided audio tour to further immerse yourself in the landscapes as you drive.

Along the route you can detour to archaeological sites, petroglyphs, and see remnants of ancient civilizations. 

Watch the sunset at Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park

Sunset Over Canyonlands National Park
Sunset Over Canyonlands National Park – Image By Adam Derewecki From Pixabay

Island in the Sky, located in Canyonlands National Park, is a magical place to watch the sunset over the Utah desert landscape. 

Perched atop a massive mesa, Island in the Sky offers panoramic views of the vast canyons that stretch as far as the eye can see, giving the park its name. 

At sunset, the sun casts warm hues across the canyon walls, and the iconic formations become silhouetted against the evening sky. 

Sleep in a teepee near Capitol Reef National Park

Located just outside Capitol Reef National Park, the Capitol Reef Resort, offers a unique opportunity to spend the night in a Teepee, or a Conestoga Wagon. While the resort also has traditional rooms and suites, the glamping style Teepees and covered wagons  provide a cozy and memorable accommodation option. 

Nestled in the rugged beauty of Utah’s desert, guests can enjoy the tranquility and remoteness with the comfort of traditional bedding, furnishings, bathrooms, and hotel amenities.

Stand at the point where 4 states meet

4 people each putting a foot on the 4 corners emblem
Visiting 4 Corners Lets You Be In Four States At Once. | Photo By DHmyoo From Pixabay

Four Corners is not only a Utah bucket list experience , it’s also worthy of an Arizona, New Mexico, or Colorado bucket list.

The quadripoint is where the four states meet. It’s the only location in the United States where the boundaries of four states intersect at a single point. 

Visitors to Four Corners can stand on a marker that denotes the precise meeting point of these states, allowing them to be in four different states simultaneously. 

Attend Sundance Film Festival

banners for sundance film festival in winter
Sundance Film Festival is a Utah bucket list experience for cinema lovers. | Photo by Scott Greer from Unsplash

The Sundance Film Festival, held annually in Sundance, Utah, showcases independent films that have earned global acclaim. 

Founded by Robert Redford in 1978, the festival has grown into one of the most prestigious events in the film industry. Sundance serves as a platform for emerging filmmakers to present their  independent cinematic works.

The festival features documentaries, short films, and experimental projects, and has served as a launchpad for many successful films. 

The festival attracts film enthusiasts, industry professionals, and even celebrities. 

Hike Angels Landing (if you’re brave enough)

The spine - the most intense section of the Angel's Landing hike
The spine is the most intense section of the Angel’s Landing hike.| Photo by Sapan Patel from Unsplash

Angel’s Landing is one of the most famous and challenging hiking trails in the United States – if not the world. 

Located in Zion National Park, Utah, the trail is not a hike you will want to do with young kids, although adventurous teens could likely complete the extreme hike without issue. 

It is notorious for its steep and narrow sections with sheer drop-offs on either side.

The trail ascends through a series of switchbacks and exposed cliffs, leading hikers to the final stretch known as the “spine.” This spine is a narrow ridge with chain-assisted sections where hikers must carefully navigate the terrain. 

Completing the hike is a Utah bucket list item for many thrill-seekers and experienced hikers looking for an exhilarating experience. Doing so requires a permit, and if you are more comfortable hiking this trail with a guide, you can hire one to help you on the route.

Go Boating at Lake Powell

a boat in lake powell surrounded by cliffs
Lake Powell is a popular vacation spot in the southwest for water activities. | Photo by Emanuela Meli from Unsplash

Lake Powell straddles the border of Utah and Arizona. A popular lake escape for residents in the southwest, the massive reservoir created by the Glen Canyon Dam is set against a backdrop of towering red rock cliffs and mesas. 

Book a boat tour to see the beautiful lake from the water. Boaters at Lake Powell can explore its vast expanse, navigating through intricate canyons, hidden coves, and winding waterways. 

Houseboats, speedboats, and kayaks are popular choices for exploring the diverse terrain, offering opportunities for water sports, fishing, and simply soaking in the stunning landmarks.

Go bobsledding at Utah Olympic Park

the sign at Utah Olympic Park
Utah Olympic Park was home to many of the 2002 Winter Olympic events. | Photo by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Utah’s premier ski mountains hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, and you can still visit the Utah Olympic Park where winter sports like bobsledding were held. 

Located just outside Park City, this world-class facility now offers the public a chance to experience the thrill of bobsledding firsthand. Participants ride in a modified four-person bobsled, reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour as they hurtle down the track. 

With a professional bobsled pilot at the helm, the twists, turns, and G-forces create an intense and unforgettable adventure. The course, which combines straightaways with challenging curves, adds an element of excitement to the experience. 

Stand at Dead Horse Point 

Dead Horse Point in Utah
Dead Horse Point | Image By Vit Ducken From Pixabay

Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab is often overshadowed by the national parks of Arches and Canyonlands. But this state park is not to be missed. 

Perched on a high plateau overlooking the Colorado River within the park, Dead Horse Point looks out over the deep canyon below. The park gets its curious name from a historical anecdote where cowboys corralled wild mustangs onto the narrow neck of land, later becoming trapped with no access to water. 

The striking overlook provides visitors with vistas that stretch for miles. Sunset at Dead Horse Point is particularly spectacular, but standing on this peninsula which reaches out over the canyon, is stunning any time of day.

You can also book a jet boat tour to gaze up at the peninsula from the water.

Drive through Little or Big Cottonwood Canyon

a car driving through Big Cottonwood Canyon in fall
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a beautiful drive in Utah, particularly during autumn. | Photo by Alex Moliski from Unsplash

Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon are among the most scenic drives in Utah. Each possesses its own distinctive characteristics. 

Little Cottonwood Canyon is renowned for its towering granite cliffs and rugged terrain. Home to world-famous ski resorts such as Alta and Snowbird, the canyon offers breathtaking alpine vistas and pristine snow-covered landscapes during the winter months. 

In contrast, Big Cottonwood Canyon winds through dense forests and by cascading waterfalls. Ski resorts like Brighton and Solitude attract winter sports enthusiasts, while hiking and rock climbing opportunities abound in the warmer seasons. 

Both canyons offer stunning scenic drives and are well maintained in the winter months. So, even after a fresh snowfall, the canyons typically remain passable, although expect the drive to be much slower.

Rappel into a goblin’s lair 

Embarking on the Goblin’s Lair hike involves canyoneering into the state’s San Rafael Swell.

This 2.3 mile out-and-back excursion is located in Goblin Valley State Park. The journey to Goblin’s Lair involves navigating through the desert surrounded by hoodoos then scrambling over sandstone rocks, adding an element of excitement to the trek. 

While you can scramble down rocks into the hidden chamber known as Goblin’s Lair, for an added layer of adventure, book a guided canyoneering experience and you’ll beagle to rappel down the sculpted sandstone walls into the cave. 

Go horseback riding in Dixie National Forest

Looking out over Dixie National Forest
Looking out over Dixie National Forest.

While many people associate Utah with its red rock desert landscapes, the state also boasts beautiful, lush forests. Among them, Dixie National Forest, located in southern Utah, is a sprawling public forest encompassing nearly 2 million acres.  

Popular for wildlife spotting and horseback riding, Dixie National Forest stands as a haven for nature lovers looking for adventure or serenity among the tall Ponderosa pines and spruce trees.

Drink a Dirty Dr. Pepper from Swig

Utah’s large Mormon population has led to a rise in unique and beloved foods and drinks. 

Because most Mormons don’t drink coffee or tea, a different type of beverage shop is quite popular in Utah – modern day soda shops. Establishments like Swig are popular among Mormons and non-Mormons alike. 

While they serve sparkling and flavored water drinks, as well, a Dirty Dr. Pepper is a must try. This concoction involves adding coconut flavor to the classic Dr. Pepper soft drink, creating a slightly unconventional flavor profile. 

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