8 Utah State Parks – Things to See, Do and Photograph

Utah is home to 5 spectacular national parks and numerous national monuments and historic sites. These national landmarks usually overshadow the state parks in Utah. There are 8 Utah State Parks that offer amazing things to see, do and photograph. Take time to explore and enjoy the unique beauty each park provides.

8 UTAH STATE PARKS

Antelope Island, Syracuse

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

Antelope Island is located within the Great Salt Lake about 41 miles north of Salt Lake City. You drive along a narrow causeway from the mainland to the island. Recreational activities at this state park include camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, sailing and kayaking. Enjoy floating in the water where the salt content is several times more salty than the ocean.

We enjoy visiting the island to photograph the wildlife. Antelope Island is home to over 500 bison and a variety of other animals and birds.

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

PHOTO TIP: The island is a perfect location to photograph reflections in the water and watch colorful sunrises and sunsets.

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

 

Credit to @photojeepers : "Antelope Island is one of our favorite places to photograph the sunset." . Beautiful colors. Thanks for sharing! . . #utah #utahgram #igutah #utahisrad #wowutah #utahphotographer #visitutah #instautah #utahphotography #iloveutah #beutahful #beautahful #exploreutah #hikeutah #utahtravels #weloveutah #utahlife #utahbound #utahrocks #utahexperience #utahisawesome #igersutah #ig_utah #utahcaptures

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IMPORTANT NOTE: During warm months, insects are present on the island and emerge at different times.

  • Biting gnats (no-seeums) are the worst! They are very tiny biting flies that emerge in the spring from April to June. Insect repellent is ineffective against these gnats. They are not present near the water’s edge.
  • Mosquitos are around from mid-spring to early fall. Insect repellent is effective.
  • Midges and brine flies are non-biting flies so they are harmless, but annoying, and can ruin a good photo! The midges form columns along the causeway mid-spring through early fall and cover your windshield while driving to and from the island. The brine flies cover the shorelines and can move onto land early-summer through fall. They move out of the way when approached.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kanab

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is 3,730 acres of uninterrupted sand dunes that are a soft red color. For thousands of years the sand has been collecting as the wind whips the grains from the sandstone formations. About 90% of the dunes in the park are open to ATV riders.

All of the dunes are open for hiking and playing in the sand. The park is in southwest Utah near Zion National Park.

It was a windy day when we visited. We tried to explore a bit, but turned back because the sand being blown into our faces was no fun! This is one park we want to be sure to visit again.

Dead Horse Point, Moab

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

The view from Dead Horse Point towers 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and the canyons it carved. This state park is 32 miles from Moab and just outside the entrance to Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky.

There are miles of pet-friendly hiking trails, an intrepid trail system for mountain bikers, and camping options in the park. The name of the park comes from the legend that states horses were left corralled atop the mesa and died of thirst.

This state park has a separate entrance fee from Canyonlands National Park. It is well worth the money to see this view that cannot be seen from Canyonlands. There is a reason it is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world! Use our guide to Dead Horse Point State Park to plan your visit.

PHOTO TIP: Due to the vast distances seen at the overlooks, photography is best in the morning when there are calm atmospheric conditions and less haze than late day views. Scattered clouds and passing storms can add depth to the image and dramatic lighting.

Edge of the Cedars, Blanding

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

You will find the largest collection of Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) pottery on display in the Four Corners Region at Edge of the Cedars State Park. The park sits on the site of an authentic Puebloan village.

Explore the kiva and other structures that have been restored here. You can descend the ladder and go inside the kiva.

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

The junior ranger program for kids is simple and fun. The room dedicated for children includes a house to play in, puzzles and books to read, drawers with various activities to do, and pottery to sort by shape and size.

Goosenecks, Mexican Hat

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

This primitive state park offers camping, picnicking, photography and stargazing. The remote location of Goosenecks State Park means there is little light pollution. The stargazing here is some of the best in Utah.

The scene at Goosenecks is so spectacular that it’s hard to describe. The landscape of the area is vast. The canyons carved over time are a distance of one and a half miles, yet the San Juan River winds more than six miles through them.

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

This location was difficult to photograph. The edge of the canyon blocked the view of the river with no way to get a better perspective. We had been to Horseshoe Bend a few weeks prior to this and expected the view into the canyon to allow us to photograph the full river as it flowed around the bends of the goosenecks. There is no way to get the same result here.

PHOTO TIP: Capture the sense of a place. Goosenecks is not Horseshoe Bend and should not be photographed the same way. The beauty of Goosenecks State Park is the vast landscape with views stretching to the horizon and deep canyons with the river meandering back and forth for miles. Find the thing that best represents the location and focus on creating that image.

Jordanelle, Park City

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

The reservoir at Jordanelle State Park is very popular during the summer for boating, watersports and fishing. Due to the close proximity to Salt Lake City, it is a popular place for an afternoon escape or a quick overnight trip. Park City is minutes away where you can enjoy food and shopping along historic Main Street. At the Utah Olympic Park you can ride the bobsled and watch athletes in training. Enjoy hiking and fishing along nearby Mirror Lake Highway or Provo Canyon.

If you’ve followed us long enough, you know Dave enjoys photographing birds of prey. We participated in a Bald Eagle photography tour last year that was amazing. This year we spent a few weeks in the Grand Teton National Park searching for Osprey. But guess what!? These wonderful birds are less than an hour away from our home near Jordanelle State Park!

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

PHOTO TIP: Sometimes you don’t need to travel far from home in order to see and photograph amazing things. What sites do tourists visit or photographers shoot when they travel to the city where you live? View your city with new eyes and explore all it has to offer.

Kodachrome Basin, Cannonville

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

The towering red rock spire formations at Kodachrome Basin State Park are wonderful subjects to photograph against blue skies. It’s easy to see how the National Geographic Society came up with the name. Enjoy hiking, mountain biking and camping in the park.

If you have time, visit nearby Grosvenor Arch about 10 miles southeast of the park. It is one of the more impressive double arches in the state. But you travel along a dirt road to the arch which means it takes more time to travel those 10 miles. We started our journey to the arch too late in the day and had to turn back since it was getting too dark.

Utah Lake, Provo

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the state. It is located adjacent to Provo City and 38 miles south of Salt Lake City. Utah Lake State Park offers boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and jet skiing. Facilities include a swimming beach, picnic areas and campsites.

The lake is a wonderful location to photograph birds, reflections and sunsets.

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

We knew the lake produced interesting ice chunks and formations during the winter and made a point to visit during this time. The sunset glow on the sheets of ice made a wonderful photo.

Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

PHOTO TIP: When photographing a sunset, look for locations where foreground detail can lead the eye through the shot. This could be a path, fence, stream or objects such as trees, rocks and structures. This will create a an interesting composition that’s more three-dimensional.

TRAVEL TIPS:

If you plan to visit even a few of the State Parks in Utah, it’s worth it to buy the annual pass. If purchasing the pass doesn’t save money in the end, you can feel good knowing you have made a donation to the Utah State Parks.

Utah is also home to 5 National Parks and numerous other National Monuments. Read why we feel purchasing the US National Parks Pass is a good deal.

Use our Travel Guides and Tips to help you plan a trip to any Utah location or US National Park.

We utilize Pinterest to organize the information we find when researching travel locations. Photo Jeepers has a Utah Travel and US National Parks board where we only pin things we have read and find worthwhile. Save this to your travel board and share with your friends!

  Utah has many beautiful state parks to explore. If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Utah, you’ll want to check these state parks out. They’re perfect for hiking in Utah, taking pictures, and seeing the diverse landscapes Utah has to offer. Make sure you save these Utah state parks to your Utah travel board so you can find them later.

Resources for outdoor adventure we recommend and use:

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18 comments

Wow, I’ve heard about the wondrous places Utah has to offer but didn’t know about most of these parks. Goosenecks State Park definitely caught my eye, even though I haven’t gone, I’d say it’s definitely worth the trip to the remote location. So many great places, need to get myself to Utah soon!

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Goosenecks is remote, but within an hour of Monument Valley, Natural Bridges and Moab (Arches, Canyonlands) – so you can easily see many of these places in one day.

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Wow, these photos are stunning! I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never heard of any of these. But I’ve learned about them all thanks to your post. I would love to see and do more things in this country. These are moving towards the top of my list. And thanks for the photo tips, will come in handy when I go 😉

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I hope you get to visit Grand Teton NP one day – it’s a spectacular location!!

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One reason i love the US so much is because of its national and state parks. Recently I had been to Arizona and was so close to Utah. I so wanted to visit all the places you mentioned above but i was hard pressed for time and didn’t want to do it in hurry. So, I left it for next time. Looking at your pics and article, I really need to plan early.

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There is so much to see in the southwest US – we live in Utah and still feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface of visiting all the amazing places in the area!

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First of all, I must say that you have taken stunning pictures of state parks in Utah. Also the photography tips provided by you are so helpful. I would love to visit Goosenecks State Park and would like to take 100’s of shots. Also I would like to do stargazing which is best in Utah. Thanks for sharing!

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These parks are lovely. Besides the gnats, every where looks spectacular and each park is loaded with its uniqueness. I can’t even choose a favorite, a read from this to that and I get the the ‘more is yet to come feeling.’ I’d consider exploring my home town for incredible scenery. I’m sure I don’t have to go far like you said to discover the best.

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We have enjoyed taking the time to visit points of interest in our state – it’s a wonderful and economical way to travel!

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I totally thought Goosenecks WAS Horseshoe Bend in the photos! They look so similar. Utah is so beautiful and underrated I feel like. I go a few times a year because a good friend lives there and people always looveeee the photos and are surprised to hear it is Utah. Have you been to the salt flats? That is my fav photo opp! Great info – thanks for sharing.

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I had no idea the state if UTAH was filled with such beautiful treasures. what stunning natural environments and wildlife. fantastic post and pictures!

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I’m lucky to live in Utah – I am surrounded by mountains, deserts, a salt lake, mountain lakes, state parks and 5 national parks.

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I’d love to have my kids participate in the junior ranger program at the Edge of the Cedars State Park! It looks like such a fun place for families to explore and learn! I love all your photo tips!

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The Junior Ranger programs at the State and National Parks provide a fun incentive for kids to learn about the parks. I’m so glad they do it!

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These parks are incredible, brought to life even more by your photos! I love their names too, Goosenecks, Mexican Hat. Thank you for the advice about those gnats, how annoying that the insect repellent didn’t work! I can imagine it must have been annoying when taking photos.

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Yes, the gnats are the worst! We usually visit Antelope Island in the winter now.

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