Stop the wagon train and cast off your bonnet, O pioneer! You’re in Utah!
Whether you’re visiting, passing through, or the descendant of pioneers who survived on roots and berries because a famous guy said This Was The Place, there are about a million postcard-worthy things to explore. Luckily for you, we’ve narrowed that list to the top ten most pressing things to do in Utah.
Get gazed and confused staring out at one of Utah’s trippiest landscapes, a hodgepodge of rounded white domes, jutting spires and even a landlocked version of a tropical reef. Keep the contradictions going by cruising along the Waterpocket Fold, a water-free buckle of land that serves as the backbone of the park. Take only pictures, leave only gobsmacked.
Check some celebrity sightings off your bucket list in this high-alpine boomtown, a former coal-mining epicenter and a current playground for the rich and outdoorsy and/or famous. Stroll Main Street pretending to take pics of the quaint buildings while actually playing paparazzi. If all else fails, photobomb the nearest A-list selfie and drown your sorrows in an expensive new down-alternative puffer coat.
Before you die and they lay you to rest, you gotta go to the place that’s the best. Before they lay you down to die, may we suggest you see the Island in the Sky — a top-of-the-world portion of the park where you can get an aerial view of Utah’s remix of the Grand Canyon. Oh, and in our version, you won’t have to elbow a busload of retirees out of the way to get that perfect pic.
If you’re still waiting with bated breath for Jurassic Park 6 or Land Before Time 15 (yes, 15), distract yourself from the anticipation by visiting the real-deal dinos in Vernal (or, as we Utahns would say, the rill-dill.) Basically, a whole lotta feathered reptiles died here a long time ago, and we humans are reaping the benefits. Snap a pic with one of the realistic reconstructions and try to find that tree star.
If you ever wanted to feel like you were dead-center in a car commercial or classic Western, take a trip to this mesa-studded menagerie in Navajo land. Just about everyone and John Wayne’s dog has filmed something here and you’ll quickly see why. One drive on the park’s 17-mile loop of geologic majesties will make you wonder if you shouldn’t quit your accounting gig and become a cinematographer or a cattle rustler after all.
Something should tell you you’re not in Kansas anymore. (Hint: It’s the miles and miles of brain-boggling and strangely, orangely vertical rock formations known as hoodoos.) No, it’s not Oz, but in this high-elevation sandstone playland, anything is possible. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet a member of the Lollipop Guild or just see rocks that look like lollipops. Either way, there’s no place like this home away from home.
So you wanna see an icon of Gothic architecture, get your bridal photos taken, listen to an award-winning choir and convert to an up-and-coming world religion, but you only have time for one stop? Hmm… where to go, where to go…
You like the beach but you’re kind of a desert guy, too. Why pick? At this colossal reservoir, water and sand meet in the perfect marriage. Sun yourself on the beaches, shade yourself in a cove and cut some serious lake glass on your waterskis — all in one place. Just don’t drop your sunglasses, ’cause baby, they’ll be gone.
The landscape looks like Mars and the place names sound like purgatory. But stroll through Devils Garden or claw your way out of the Fiery Furnace and you’ll feel like you landed in a corner of heaven. That is, if you’re a person who enjoys exploring over 2,000 mind-bending natural arches backed by brilliant blue skies. But who knows? Maybe you prefer firm, flat ground with gray buildings obstructing your view of brown skies. To each their own!
Even the godless will get some religion looking out on this national park, a promised land of rose-colored cliffs, dancing waterfalls, and (caution!) angels landing. Wandering this wilderness is no punishment, so take your time fording the river, reflecting at the reflecting pools, and bowing at the edges of canyons, shouting, “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”