17 Reasons Utah is the #1 Place to Visit in the World

17 Reasons Utah Is the #1 Place to Visit in the World

By Ann Whittaker
February 17, 2016 | Updated November 06, 2023
Snowbird Resort

If anyone has seen it all, it’s the crew over at Fodor’s Travel with all their pretty (and pretty practical) guidebooks. So when they say their top pick for 2016 travel is our pride and joy, Utah, we of course couldn’t agree more. What does Fodor’s think is so great about this state anyway? (Don’t worry, we’ll tell you what we think is so great as locals as well — the “why we freakin’ live here” reasons.)

Fodor's Utah Favorites

1. Ski-in whiskey distillery

Park City is ski-in/ski-out heaven, and High West is the only ski-in distillery and gastro-saloon in the world. Park City embraces its American West heritage and continues to be a place for innovation, adventure and exploration. Ski in the winter, mountain bike in the summer. This mountain town is year-round incredible. Read more...

High West Distillery, Park City

2. Park City Mountain, largest ski resort in the country

Park City Mountain is just 45 minutes from the Salt Lake International Airport, has 7,300 skiable acres, serves up farm-to-table local food, hosts world championship competitions, organizes incredible festivals throughout the year, and has some of the best mountain biking in the world during summer months. Read more...

Park City Mountain Resort

3. Utah's "Mighty Five" national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands

What can we say? We're spoiled rotten when it comes to magnificent landscapes. Zion's soaring sandstone cliffs, Bryce Canyon's hoodoos, Arches' arches, Capitol Reef's jagged Waterpocket Fold and Canyonlands' vast and infinite canyons and rivers. Read more...

A climber rappels the Watchman in the setting sun, Zion National Park

4. Scenic drives through aspen forests or petrified sand dunes

Utah's so dang pretty, the whole thing could be designated a national park. Mountain passes and desert beauty abound, and you can drive through most of it. So if your personal favorites are autumn aspen leaves in high alpine mountains, we've got you covered. Or if you prefer wide open skies and bizarre desert formations, you'll find that too. Often you'll find both on one highway. Read more...

Alpine Loop Scenic Drive

5. Dinosaur fossils all over the freakin' state

Hike to 185-million-year-old dinosaur footprints in Kanab, see fossils at museums, visit dinosaur quarries. This state is dripping with prehistoric remnants. Read more...

Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal

6. Mountain biking on slickrock trails

Mountain Biking Moab's Slickrock trail is a smooth and tacky ride — you'll be amazed at what you can stick on this sandstone. The trail is often referred to as the best mountain bike ride in America. Read more...

Mountain Biking, Gooseberry

7. White-water rafting through canyons that will change your soul

White-water rafting on Utah's rivers is the most intimate and awe-inspiring way to experience the mountains, plateaus, deserts and plains throughout the state. Plus, the river guides really really really love food, and you'll never eat better. And sleeping under remote desert skies? There are no words. So, read more...

White-water rafting on the Green / Yampa River, which flows through Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah.

8. Affordable price tag in a state with lots of kiddos and the aesthetic tastes of opera-goers.

It's hard when you have expensive tastes and you want to give the entire universe to the people you love most. Utahns get it. They get you because they are you. Affordability is a virtue in this state. Search hotels and lodging...

Deer Valley Resort

Allow us to add to the list

1. Monument Valley

The southwest's most recognizable geological formations for darn good reason. The dramatic buttes, mesas and sandstone towers demand ooh's and ahh's. Much of the monument is part of Navajo tribal lands and require a guide. Read more...

Monument Valley

2. World-class mountain biking and hiking in the north

Yes, Slickrock in Moab is incredible. But Park City, Ogden, and Salt Lake City have some of the world's most comprehensive and prolific trail systems. Whatever your skill level, you'll find more than enough trails to ride. People move here just for the trails. Seriously. Read more...

Little Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City

3. San Rafael Swell

The Mars Society thinks this is a swell place to practice landing on Mars, and teams of scientists spend weeks at a time researching in this other worldly landscape. You can go all sci-fi or old-school naturalist in this place as you explore deep canyons and muddy creeks. Discover constellations for yourself in some of the darkest skies. Read more...

San Rafael Swell

4. Bonneville Salt Flats

Where else would you go for your next album cover photo shoot? The Salt Flats are what every artist and photographer dream of. The lighting is different depending on the season and the time of day. The skies can be wonderfully terrible with monsoon storms in August. Read more...

Bonneville Salt Flats, west of Salt Lake City

5. Native American culture and history

Utah is a Ute name that means "people of the mountains." This state owes a lot of its beauty, arts, knowledge and innovation to a rich heritage. Learn about the first peoples to inhabit the land and how their ancestors continue tradition in a modern era. Read more...

Great Gallery, Canyonlands National Park

6. Lake Powell

This gigantic desert oasis powers much of the west's electricity — and much of the state's adventure. The lake's surface area is 161,390 acres. Visitors can boat, paddle board, kayak, waterski, wakeboard, tube and more on the lake. Read more...

Lake Powell

7. Buckskin Gulch

Probably the longest slot canyon in the world —15 miles of uninterrupted narrows. The route is a total of 21 miles, and you won't forget one inch. Get a permit and go. Read more...

Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon

8. Sundance Film Festival

Robert Redford is no dummy. He found Utah's beauty decades ago, bought himself some land, and, because he's our kind of hermit, decided to bring the world to him by hosting an independent film festival every year. Brilliant. Read more...

Sundance Film Festival

9. Camping under the darkest night skies and the brightest morning sunrises

Utah will reward you for stepping out your door and leaving behind the comforts of home to experience the wonders of the Earth and the entire cosmos. A good trade-off indeed. Camp in the mountains, in the deserts, in the woods, on the river banks and in your favorite spots. Read more...

Camping Under the Stars Near Zion National Park