One of the best ways to see Utah is to drive the state’s collection of scenic byways. There are seven US Scenic Byways and 19 State Scenic Byways that wind through every part of the state, offering interpretive lookouts, panoramic vistas and the chance to explore natural and human history.
The Great Outdoors are truly great here and have a profound influence on all that goes on in the state. There are five, count ‘em five, national parks: Arches National Park; Bryce Canyon National Park; Canyonlands National Park; Capitol Reef National Park; and Zion National Park. From the world’s largest concentration of natural arches, to haunting hoodoos, from extraordinary solitude to soul-satisfying vistas, each has its own unique attractions.
And then there are the National Monuments (seven), National Recreation Areas (two), National Historic Sites (one) and National Forests (six). Oh yeah, there are also 42 State Parks that offer boating, water sports, swimming, fishing, river running, biking, hiking, off-roading and horseback riding in summer and a host of winter sports, too.
Bikers come to Utah looking for the ultimate terrain to tackle and are never disappointed. Moab’s Slickrock Trail is arguable the most poplar mountain bike trail in the world, while Brian Head resort was voted “one of the best, unique and most unusual mountain bike vacation resorts” by Mountain Bike Action magazine. The fact is, every community in the state offers all levels of riders the chance to pedal through amazing scenery.
There are also literally thousands of miles of OHV and snowmobile trails for motorized off-road adventure. The Paiute ATV Trail was rated one of the best 15 trails in the U.S. by Dirt Wheels magazine; Skyline Drive/Arapeen Trail offers 560 kilometres of alpine off-road adventure; and Burr Trail area, connecting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with Lake Powell was the last area in the lower 48 states to be mapped.
Birders flock to Utah for the number of species (430) that have been spotted and the amazing range of habitat that attracts our feathered friends. From sub-alpine mountains, forest and sage-steppe, to upland, lake, wetland and high elevation desert, there is a place for every bird, and every birder. Great Salt Lake is a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve network site and Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is one of the best-known birding sites in the country.
Cache Valley, nestled between the Brigham City and Bear Lake bird refuges offers amazing birding opportunities. In spring and summer, Cutler Marsh offers viewing in classic wetland habitat. White pelicans, great blue herons, common egrets, western grebes, plus a variety of ducks, geese, and shorebirds are spotted from roadways, canoes and kayaks. In early autumn, the skies at the north end of the Wellsville Mountain wilderness are filled with the annual raptor migration. Northern harriers, kestrels, goshawks, red-tailed hawks and golden eagles float by on canyon updrafts.
Utah has a rich cowboy tradition. Law-abiding ranchers and farmers were attracted to the state’s wide open spaces. And so were outlaws, like Butch Cassidy, Billy The Kid and the Rough Riders. For western entertainment, you can head out to Ruby’s Inn, Utah Trails Resort, Bar M Chuckwagon and the Sundown Ranche Chuckwagon Dinner and Wild West Show. Book yourself into a dude or guest ranch to live the cowboy life. Or, head to The American West Heritage Center or Red Rock Ranch and Outfitters to watch someone else live it.
Utah Office of TourismThe Ancient Ones
Utah was home to not one, but two ancient Native American cultures – the Anasazi and Fremont, both of which left the area about 700 years ago. Evidence of their lives can be seen at a multitude of rock art sites throughout the state. Petroglyphs, images chipped into the stone, and pictographs, painted on the stones, leave a haunting, and indecipherable, record of their beliefs and everyday lives. You can also visit countless ruins of their communities and learn more at Utah’s numerous museums.
Utah Office of TourismDiggin’ It
Before the Ancient Ones, however, there were the dinosaurs. Everywhere it seems. Utah is home to more dinosaur species than any other state; the world’s largest collection of mounted dinosaur skeletons; and the world’s most famous dinosaur quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. Visit museums, parks, and digs in any corner of the state and you’ll come face-to-face with the past – the very distant past.
Golfers delight in the wide range of scenery and conditions, ranging from high elevation tacks to challenging desert conditions, presented by Utah golf courses. The Salt Lake Valley alone is home to more than 40 courses, with 30 less than an hour’s drive from downtown. Can’t decide? Follow the Red Rock Golf Trail, a collection of nine courses, all within a 24-kilometre radius in southern Utah that offer redrock desert scenery and world-class amenities. Golf Wasatch offers the state’s only mountain golf destination advance reservation system on five fine Heber Valley courses.
Park City CVB
The Greatest Snow On Earth
It really is. And Utah has 13 world-class ski resorts that offer 10,500 hectares of skiable terrain that boast an average of 1,250 centimetres of light, dry powder every year. Downhill/boarding areas include Beaver Mountain, Powder Mountain Snow Basin and Wolf Mountain in Logan and Ogden Canyons; Park City Mountain resort, The Canyons and Deer Valley Resort in the Park City area; Solitude Mountain Resort, Brighton, Alta and Snowbird in Salt Lake Canyons; and Sundance and Brian Head Resort in Provo/Orem.
Cross-country and Nordic skiers head to resorts like Sherwood Hills, White Pine Touring Center, The Viking Yurt, Solitude Nordic Center, Alta Nordic Center, Soldier Hollow, The Homestead Cross-Country Ski Center, Sundance Nordic Center, Best Western Ruby’s Inn, Brian Head Resort and Duck Creek Village, as well as National Forest Ski Areas, La Sal Mountain area and Wasatch Mountain State Park.
St George Area CVBCanyon Country
Southern Utah is indeed Canyon Country. From leisurely drives among inspiring views of wind-carved sandstone, washed out canyons, and massive sculpted cliffs, to mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing among the same scenery, there is plenty to discover here. There are also entire galleries of petroglyphs, rich pioneer heritage and artists colonies.
Centrally located in some of nature’s finest scenery, St. George has become a winter resort for snowbirds, as well as a key gateway to the greatest concentration of national parks and natural wonders on earth. Within easy driving distances are Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon national parks; Cedar Breaks and Pipe Springs National Monuments, Snow Canyon State Park, the Virgin River Gorge, Kolob Canyons, Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
The St. George area is a historical gold mine, full of 19th-century homes, buildings and old dirt roads leading to fascinating ghost towns and prehistoric dinosaur footprints. Interesting Mormon historic sites include the town of Pine Valley, where you can see one of the oldest surviving Mormon chapels. At Jacob Hamblin’s home in Santa Clara, you can experience rustic, pioneer living. Brigham Young's winter home in St. George is also open for tours. Several pioneer-era homes, including some built by prominent citizens, can be seen at Green Gate Village.
The St. George Temple and the St. George Tabernacle are great monuments to the determined efforts of the early pioneers who were sent to settle the area. A walking tour guide is available at the visitor’s centre housed in the old St. George Courthouse. Other historic sites in the area include Grafton, an old ghost town that served as a backdrop for the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Another ghost town is Silver Reef, where the Wells Fargo building and the ruins of silver mines tell the story of a boomtown that swelled to 1,500 people between 1878 and 1882.
But more than anything, St. George has become a place to relax and enjoy year-round leisure time. The area boasts 12 golf courses, with others nearby. The tennis college at Green Valley offers everything the tennis enthusiast could ask for.
St. George is the gateway to Zion National Park. Whether you walk under the towering overhangs, hike through the narrow canyons or scale the sandstone cliffs, Zion is an awe-inspiring experience. A variety of trails allow people of all ages and fitness levels to experience the grandeur of Zion Canyon. Stop by the visitor centres, museum and bookstores in the park to learn more about the park’s history and features.
For more information on travel to Utah, visit www.utah.travel