Updated 5.2.24

Utah is already on the radar for many outdoor enthusiasts, and this spectacular state is truly an epic outdoor adventure playground. Many visitors associate Utah outdoors with its five stunning National Parks with their iconic red rock landscapes. One could spend years exploring these five parks alone. Nevertheless, Utah has over 22 million acres of public lands making up almost 42% of the state and is ideal for outdoor exploration far beyond the National Parks.

Here are 18 incredible outdoor activities to get out and explore our Utah public lands!

Mountain Biking Utah’s Famous Red Rock

1. Moab Mountain Biking

One of the top Utah mountain biking destinations is the world-renowned Moab area. Moab offers numerous trails from beginner to extremely technical through the various rock features this area is famous for. We recommend visiting in the late spring/early summer (April through June) and the fall (September to October) for the best riding weather. Moab can get very hot in the summer, so be prepared! If you are visiting during the summer, many bike rental shops will allow you to ride only early in the morning. Temperatures typically cool off at night since it’s the desert, but there is little shade during the day.

Rent a Scott mountain bike online from Rim Cyclery, located right downtown Moab with top quality mountain bikes and experienced staff. It’s one of the oldest bike shops in Moab!  Or check out Doubledown Bike Shop, which carries bike rentals from Revel, Norco and Niner, and is the newest bike shop in town.

Don’t have a way to transport bikes?  Big Horn Mountain Biking offers the most convenient way to rent mountain bikes by delivering bikes right to the Moab Brand Trailhead, one of the most popular spots for mountain biking in Moab.  They also rent bikes right at Moab’s most popular state park, Dead Horse Point. Scenic trails overlook the Colorado River with breathtaking views of Canyonlands National Park.

To get to Moab, the closest major airports are Grand Junction Regional Airport (70 miles away) or Aspen–Pitkin County Airport (150 miles away). Alternatively, Salt Lake City is 234 miles from Moab.

2. Park City Mountain Biking

Park City is another amazing place to mountain bike – you will never get bored// with all of the different options available. The surrounding area has over 450 miles of trails to explore and varying terrains from easy and flowy to technical downhills passing through incredible scenery. Park City has something to offer for every type of rider! It’s no wonder why Park City is rated one of the top mountain biking locations in the U.S.  We even featured Deer Valley bike park in our top 10 top downhill bike parks list!

The best time to visit is from late May through September, sometimes extending to October depending on the weather each year. Park City is located just 32 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, and it is possible to fly into Salt Lake City and rent a car, take a bus or shuttle, and be in the mountains in under an hour!

Renting a bike for your trip to Park City is easy with our vetted and top rated outfitters.

3. Mountain Biking in Hurricane

If you’re heading to Zion, there are also many options to hit the stunning trails surrounding the National Park.  While there aren’t trails right in the park, the many trail systems near Hurricane, UT are a short drive away.  Some of our favorites include Wire Mesa (intermediate), Little Creek Mountain (intermediate/advanced), Gooseberry Mesa (all levels of trails) and Guacamole (intermediate/advanced).  The Hurricane Cliffs area has fun, flowy trails for all levels.  Rent a bike with Over the Edge Sports in town, and head out to the endless singletrack!

Rafting Utah’s Mighty Rivers

4. Moab Rafting on the Colorado River

In addition to incredible mountain biking, rafting in Moab is also a must-do outdoor adventure. Explore the beautiful scenery of the Colorado River and its infamous canyons, red rocks, and buttes. Rafting in early summer is best for whitewater opportunities, while later in the summer the water is calmer and temperatures are warmer.  Booking a rafting adventure in Moab let’s you choose between everything from multi-day class III and IV whitewater trips to scenic Class I and II floats through Moab’s spectacular red rock scenery.

Packrafting in Moab is another fantastic way to take in the spectacular scenery.  If you haven’t tried packrafting yet, it’s a great adventure for combining river exploration with hiking or biking, since packrafts are ultra-light, pack down really small, and can even be carried in a backpack.  Packrafting adventures are one of the best ways to enjoy the infamous Colorado River as it carves it’s way through Moab’s red rock.  Whether you have zero boating experience or are a whitewater aficionado, you’re sure to have a blast in these versatile  boats. From relaxing flat-water to Class I, II and (sometimes) III rapids, they can cater to your idea of fun on the Colorado.

5. Rafting or Paddling in Canyonlands National Park

If you’re staying near Moab, Canyonlands National Park is a phenomenal destination for rafting, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. You can plan a half day or full day trip to explore the beautiful canyons and red rock towers of the Green River or the Colorado River. Both rivers meander through the park and join at an impossibly beautiful convergence. Your trip to Canyonlands can be booked online with our vetted local rafting guides. Moab is one of the best adventure playgrounds in Utah – outdoor activities abound!

6. Provo River Rafting, Park City

Not only is Park City a great destination for mountain biking, you can also raft in the summer months. Booking a rafting trip allows you to explore the fantastic scenery and light rapids of the Provo River. The river is just 35 minutes from Park City and shuttles are included in the trip. Summer months from June to August are the best months to explore what the Provo River has to offer.

Skiing or Snowboarding the “Greatest Snow on Earth”

7. Hitting the Slopes at Brighton or Solitude Ski Resorts

Both Brighton Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort offer incredible opportunities to experience Utah’s famed “greatest snow on earth”. The resorts reside in Big Cottonwood Canyon, just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City. The two ski resorts are connected, offering a multitude of options for ski and snowboard enthusiasts of all levels. Brighton gets dumped on with over 500 inches annually of Utah’s celebrated dry snow. It also has the second highest base elevation of all Utah ski resorts. Solitude is much more tranquil and is often favored by skiers. Both resorts are local favorites and less touristy than the Park City resorts. The most popular time to visit is between January through March. Both resorts are located just 30 miles outside of Salt Lake City making it easy to fly into SLC airport.

8. Skiing/Snowboarding Park City Ski Resort

In terms of outdoor activities, Park City, Utah has it all. And in the winter, skiing and snowboarding dominates. Park City offers up loads of accommodation options, a quaint Main Street and a variety of restaurants, bars and shops. Skiers and snowboarders can have their rental equipment delivered right to their accommodation by renting online with Black Tie Ski Rental Delivery (10% discount when you use TripOutside!) Park City resort combined with The Canyons resort in 2014 to make the largest lift-served ski resort in the U.S. We recommend hitting the slopes between January and March for the best snow.

Exploring the “Big 5” National Parks (and 7 National Monuments)

9. Hike Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

Nothing is quite like experiencing the views of Zion’s Canyon from the hike up to Angel’s Landing. This 5-mile round trip trail offers astounding 360 degree views, and is one of the most popular trails in the Park for good reason. The trail is best hiked in spring, summer, and fall. During the winter months the trail can get icy and extreme caution is necessary (although it’s a great time to avoid the crowds!). In the summer months you’ll want to get up early to hike in the morning as it can get extremely hot (and busy) in the afternoon. Zion National Park is located in southern Utah and is not close to any major airports, so you’ll likely want to rent a car. The closest major airport is McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, 170 miles away.

10. Hike Riggs Spring Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park

This 8.8-mile loop is a challenging hike as you take in the panoramas of the legendary Bryce Canyon hoodoos, and descend into the peaceful pine forest below. This hike is perfect for a day trip as it will take roughly 4 hours. Alternatively, you can turn the hike into a 2-day backpacking trip, camping at Coral Hollow and rising early to view pink cliffs at sunrise as you hike out of the canyon. Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah, and the closest major airport is Las Vegas. The 270-mile drive from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park is well worth it however – southern Utah’s landscapes are truly astonishing.

11. Hiking in Arches and Canyonlands National Park

Hiking is a big draw for most visitors to Arches and Canyonlands – the two parks have some of the most incredible scenery in Utah.  Private hiking tours are a great way to ensure you see the best sights in the parks, and can be booked for half day or full day. Learn about how Arches became home to the highest concentration of natural arches in the world, and take a tour to some of the most impressive formations in the park.  Or explore the world-class views of the remote Maze district, the fins and arches of the Needles District, or the grand mesas of Islands in the Sky district.  Your expert local guide will tailor the trip to the hiking and scenery goals of your group!

The Fiery Furnaces hike is a unique loop through canyons, spires, arches and buttes, making it one of the most famous and challenging hikes in Arches National Park. To do the Fiery Furnaces hike you must register for a permit at the Arches Visitor Center. Register for a permit at the start of your trip, because it may take a few days before you are issued one. We recommend visiting in late spring and early fall when temperatures are warm, but not too hot yet.

12. Enjoy the Dark Skies in Capital Reef National Park

If you want to see the Milky Way like you’ve never seen it before, Capital Reef National Park is one of the best locations in the U.S. for stargazing. Most of the park is at around 7,000 feet elevation in an area with low smog and light pollution, making it one of the clearest and darkest places in the country to observe the night sky. Choose a night when the moon is not out to experience pitch black skies and more stars than you can imagine. Grand Junction Regional Airport is a 3-hour drive and Salt Lake City airport is 3.5 hours.

13. Hiking Slot Canyons in Grand Staircase Escalante

You could spend days exploring the many hiking options through the slot canyons of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It would be challenging to find a more scenic, remote and rugged place to hike. Buckskin Gulch is one of the world’s longest slot canyons and was carved by the Escalante River. There are a variety of hikes to choose from ranging from beginner to difficult to explore this extraordinary red rock paradise. Two of our favorites are Spooky Gulch and Peek a Boo Gulch. The best time to visit the Monument is late March through June and early September through October. Weather conditions and water temperatures are generally most favorable for hiking slot canyons during these time periods.

14. Finding Ancient Relics in Bears Ears

In Bears Ears National Monument, you can explore not only the mind-blowing red rock formations, but also learn about ancient cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and well-preserved Native American artifacts. There are countless hiking and camping options within Bears Ears, especially for outdoor enthusiasts looking to combine the great outdoors with history. Explore this sacred land full of early human and Native American historical artifacts, and learn about how to help preserve and protect this important place. Grand Junction Regional Airport is a 3-hour drive, and Salt Lake City airport is 5 hours.

15. Canyoneering the Utah’s Red Rock Slot Canyons

Canyoneering in Utah is a world-class adventure, thanks to its unique and rugged landscape that’s unlike anywhere else on the globe. With its maze of narrow, twisting canyons and towering red rock walls, Utah offers an unbeatable setting for descending into spectacular slot canyons and rappelling down sheer cliffs. This is the ultimate playground for canyoneering adventures.  Many trips start out of Moab, and visit revered locales like the San Rafael Swell, Grand Staircase Escalante, and the skinny slots near Hite and Lake Powell.

Paddling Lakes & Reservoirs

16. Quail Creek State Park Kayaking or Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) and kayaking are excellent activities to explore the beautiful lakes and reservoirs that Utah has to offer. Quail Creek State Park in southern Utah has some of the warmest waters in the state. Rent SUPs and kayaks online and pick them up right on the reservoir. We recommend staying for a few days to hike, camp, and explore around Zion National Park or St. George while visiting southwest Utah.

The best time for paddleboarding and kayaking is between spring and fall when the water is warm. To get to Quail Creek State Park, the closest major airport is Las Vegas, 140 miles away.

Utah’s Legendary Outdoor Adventures

Utah has some of the best outdoor adventure activities in the world – pack your bags and get out there! We think the best way to visit them all is by road trip. Rent an RV, van or trailer with Outdoorsy, which is a is safe, easy, fully insured, peer to peer RV rental marketplace with a great local selection. We hope that our list above will help guide your adventures!

No matter where you recreate in Utah, make sure you follow Leave No Trace principles, and recreate responsibly outdoors to ensure our wilderness areas stay pristine for generations to come.

Why Trust Us?

We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy travel advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built TripOutside. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these blogs and content very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:

  • We only work with the highest-rated outfitters in the industry.

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