My husband Jacob and I, as permanent tourists who live outside of the States , meet a lot of travelers from other countries. As you might imagine, these folks have dreams of visiting the States, and I like to ask them where they plan on visiting. New York City, Las Vegas, and California are typically the three that get mentioned.
Now I may be biased because after all, I was born in Utah, but I think it’s a darned shame that so many people pass the state up. The number and quality of national parks and outdoorsy activities makes it an ideal place to visit with family. We road tripped through it a couple of years ago with my grandparents. I saw just about the whole state, in and out. And when we come back from our travels abroad, Utah always beckons with some especially unique and beautiful destinations and activities.
Here are some of the best ideas for Utah travel:
1. Float down a river in a tube.
The Virgin River in Saint George and the Provo River are both popular places to do this. Utah is the perfect place for tubing during the summer because it’s a dry kind of heat. It gets up to 100 degrees regularly in Utah during the summer and a dip in the river is refreshing. You can buy your own tube at any dollar store, or there are businesses renting tubes out during the summer.
2. Ski at Park City, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, or Sundance.
The lodges in Utah are first class. Utah likes to market itself as having the best snow on earth. You’ll find it potentially less expensive here than other more popular ski resorts like in Colorado.
3. Take a tour of Temple Square.
The Latter Day Saint religion took the spotlight when Mitt Romney ran for president. You can learn more about what some call the quintessential American religion here, as well as how Utah and much of the western US was founded and developed. It’s particularly beautiful at Christmastime when the lights are up.
4. Wade through the Narrows at Zion’s.
Although there are many hikes to do at Zion’s, the Narrows is a particular favorite because it is unusual and it involves water. Water always makes everything more fun. Zion’s is my favorite national park in the US.
5. Explore the iconic Arches National Park.
The arches found here are what you’ll find on most postcards about Utah. The rusty red color of the rocks is unlike anywhere else I’ve been.
6. Hike Squaw’s Peak to view the valley from above.
You’ll see why it’s considered the most romantic place around (according to local college students) if you go at dusk and watch the sun set. There are plenty of hikes to be done all over the state—the mountains are a key part of the terrain and they’re how Utahns determine direction.
7. Drive through the dusty roads to isolated Hell’s Back Bone.
It’s the scenic route between Escalante and Boulder. My grandpa says it, “Hell’s Back BONE” emphasis on the bone. Must be a Utahn thing.
8. Stop in Kanab before making your way down to see the Grand Canyon.
Kanab is a great base for exploring many popular spots that are nearby, like the Vermilion Cliffs national monument, featured in National Geographic this year, or Lake Powell.
When we’re abroad and in a beautiful place, I often find myself saying to my husband, “This reminds me of Utah…” If you and your family enjoy the outdoors and want to visit the western United States, consider putting Utah on your bucket list for your next family road trip.
Jacob and Kalli Hiller have been traveling for four years around the globe as a couple. They’ve lived in just about every area of the world. They now have a baby and are discovering the joys of parenthood and figuring out the tricks to traveling as a family. They’re hoping to live the nomadic life indefinitely. Follow their travels at http://www.portableprofessionals.com.