Fun Things To Do in Utah in the Summer

Utah is a beautiful state that offers something for everyone in the summertime. Check out these fun activities and things to do in Utah in the summer!

There are a variety of places to visit in Utah and things to do in the summer. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure or a relaxing day out, Utah has it all!

things to do in Utah in the summer

There’s always something fun to do in Utah during the summer months: hiking, biking, amusement parks, camping, and more! So plan your trip today and get ready for an unforgettable experience!

Use our Utah Packing Lists to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the summer (UV protection clothing, sunscreen, lotion)! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

Utah packing lists for spring summer fall and winter
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Visiting Utah in the Summer

Utah’s summer weather and temperatures will vary between Northern and Southern Utah. Also the higher elevation temperatures will be cooler than the lower elevations by 10 to 20 degrees.

There are a lot of Utah destinations for summer vacations like exploring the National and State Parks. In the summer many visitors opt to enjoy outdoor activities in the mountains where the temperatures aren’t as hot.

The weather and temperatures in Utah during the summer vary depending on the month and location.

Things to Do in Utah in the Summer

We asked our travel friends to share their favorite things to do during the summer months in Utah. Add some of these Utah vacation spots and summer activities to your bucket list!

Mesa Arch in the morning
Mesa Arch at Canyonlands

Utah National Parks in the Summer

It will be HOT and crowded at all five Utah National Parks in the summer. Bryce Canyon is a “bit cooler” due to its elevation.

We don’t plan summer vacations at the Utah National Parks, but if that’s the only time you have available, as long as you’re prepared for the heat and sun, you can have a great time.

Outdoor activities like hiking and biking should be limited to the cooler morning and evening hours. Stay hydrated, eat salty snacks, use sun protection, and if you’re not used to dry heat, you’ll want lotion and lip balm handy!

Here’s our tip for summer: visit any park early for a hike or bike ride, go back to your hotel to enjoy the AC or pool, then head back to the park to enjoy another hike or bike ride in the late afternoon.

Capitol Reef scenic drive
Capitol Reef scenic drive

Utah Scenic Drives in the Summer

Scenic drives are one of our favorite summer activities. From winding mountain roads to beautiful desert landscapes, Utah scenic drives have some of the most stunning views in the United States.

You’ll find a scenic drive in all five National Parks in Utah. In the summer, driving with the AC is a great way to beat the heat! We recommend the Utah National Parks GuideAlong App – it’s like having your own private guide to hear fun behind-the-scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

Summer is a perfect time to take a drive in the mountains:

sunrise at Bryce Canyon
Sunrise at Bryce Canyon

Utah Sunrise Photography in the Summer

Utah has some of the most beautiful places on earth. With breathtaking landscapes, you’ll find stunning sunrise photography locations around the state!

The best sunrise photography at many of the Utah National Parks happens when the stone structures glow from the golden hour light. At some locations, you won’t see the sun crossing the horizon. Instead, you’ll capture the soft golden light on the landscape!

Check out these amazing sunrise locations in Utah:

Delicate Arch at sunrise
Delicate Arch at sunrise

Delicate Arch Sunrise Hike in the Summer

If you find yourself in Utah this summer then be sure to stop by Arches National Park. This awe-inspiring place is home to many stunning natural wonders, but the most famous is Delicate Arch

It’s a stunning natural arch that sits in a slick rock bowl with the La Sal Mountains in the background. And because it’s summer in the desert, the best time to do this hike is before the sun even comes up. 

This way, you can avoid the intense heat of the day, skip the crowds, and can arrive in time to watch the sunrise as the horizon comes alive with a variety of gorgeous colors. 

Do not try and visit any later than 7:30 am or the area will be mobbed with people. Enjoy this relatively easy, 3-mile round trip hike with stops at the petroglyphs and Wolfe Ranch. Recommended by Meg, Fox in the Forest

Kanarra Falls hike
Kanarra Falls hike

Kanarra Falls Hike in the Summer

The Kanarra Falls Trail is located in Kanarraville, Utah and is open daily from dawn to dusk. You will need a ticket to hike along the trail, so be sure to reserve one in advance or take your chances in person at the ticket kiosk. There is a maximum of 150 tickets available per day, with a fee per person.

While you can hike at any point in the summer, I would recommend you start early in the morning in order to avoid the brutal afternoon heat. 

The Kanarra Falls Trail is approximately 3.8 miles (~6.1 kilometers) round trip with 650 feet (~198 meters) in elevation gain. Moreover, there are two waterfalls plus one natural slide along the trail. You will reach the first waterfall at the 1.6 mile (~2.6 kilometer) mark. You will then reach the natural waterslide after just another 0.2 miles (~0.3 kilometers) and the second waterfall after another 0.1 miles (~0.2 kilometers). 

You will have to walk within small gorges full of shallow water to reach the waterfalls, so it is recommended to wear shoes that you do not mind getting wet. Recommended by Alaina, Beyond the Moments

Man carrying child on shoulders on The Narrows hike
Narrows Hike at Zion National Park

The Narrows Hike in the Summer

Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park is a unique and unforgettable experience. The hike takes you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, where you’ll wade through the North Fork of the Virgin River for much of the hike.

The deeper into the canyon you go, the walls of the Utah slot canyon grow taller and narrower, until eventually the towering walls of the canyon create dramatic scenery. The in-and-out hike allows you to journey as far into the canyon as you wish before turning around. Most people, however, hike approximately 3 miles into the canyon to a point in the Narrows known as Wall Street.

The water in the Virgin River can be very cold, so the Narrows is best hiked in late summer on a hot day. You’ll also want to start this Zion National Park summer hike in the morning hours and only hike on a day that rain is not expected because flash flooding is a common and dangerous occurrence in the Narrows. You’ll also need to be prepared for the wet and slippery conditions, so hiking poles and shoes and clothing you don’t mind getting wet are a must!

Considered a challenging hike, the Narrows is a true test of endurance. Hiking through water is a slow and often exhausting process, but it’s also an opportunity to connect with nature and experience something truly unique. Recommended by Melissa, Parenthood and Passports

Hickman Bridge
Hickman Bridge

Hickman Bridge Hike in the Summer

One of the best things to do in Utah in the summer is visit Capitol Reef National Park. Sitting at a slightly higher elevation versus Zion or Arches National Parks (about 5,330 vs 4,000 feet above sea level), the park is a great spot for hiking. To combat the heat, be sure to get an early start on the day and finish hiking by noon, especially in July and August.

While there are many things to do and see in Capitol Reef National Park, the Hickman Bridge Trail stands out as a quick, interactive hike that’s great for all ages. It’s just 1.7 miles and rated as moderate difficulty, with 416 feet of incline. The trail will take you between an hour or hour and a half, depending on how many stops you make.

The highlight of the hiking trail is seeing the Hickman Bridge, which is a natural bridge made of stone. The trail takes you right under the bridge, and you can get good photos from either side of it. The arch also creates shade which is a nice break in the summertime. 

Before heading out on any Capitol Reef National Park summer hike, be sure to wear sun protection, sun hat and take plenty of water with you. You’ll need lots of water, even for a short hike. Grippy hiking shoes are also helpful for this hike, as a large part of it is on slickrock. 

While there’s no reservations required for this hiking trail, the parking lot is rather small so you’ll want to get there early before it fills up. If that’s not possible or if it’s full when you arrive, you could always check out the Fruita Historic District and then try again later. Recommended by Nikki, Inspired Routes

View while horseback riding in Monument Valley
View while horseback riding in Monument Valley

Horseback Riding in Monument Valley in the Summer

One of the best things to do in Utah during the summer is going horseback riding in Monument Valley early in the day. This is one of the most unique experiences one can ever experience. 

Though not a national park, Monument Valley is famous for its immense ocher-colored buttes that create an incredible landscape. Monument Valley is also famous for being on sacred grounds and part of the territories of the Navajo mention.

Mix sacred grounds with fascinating history and you’ve got one of the most inspiring locations in the world. That’s why horseback riding in Monument Valley is incredible! You’ll feel free, close to nature but also close to earth and humans. 

The best time to go horseback riding in Monument Valley during summer is at sunrise. First, sunrise is a lot less busy so the experience is that much more authentic. You’ll get a Navajo guide and will be able to gallop through the valley and along the river without being overwhelmed by tourists. Sunrise is also ideal as temperatures can rise quickly during the day at that time of the year.

To experience riding horses in Monument Valley, you will need to book ahead on site. You’ll see small wooden shops on the parking lot where you can purchase the tour. It is recommended to wear pants and walking shoes for optimal comfort. Recommended by Mary, Be Right Back

One of the most unique Bryce Canyon National Park summer activities is horseback riding through the hoodoos!

starry sky over Delicate Arch
Starry sky over Delicate Arch

Utah Stargazing in the Summer

Utah has a total of 21 places out of a list of 90 Dark Sky locations around the world. Utah is a good place for visitors hoping to observe the Milky Way or pick their favorite constellations out of the night sky without traveling far.

Visit one of Utah’s national parks or Utah State Parks on a cloudless night for some prime stargazing — no telescope required.

Arches National Park is one of the most popular destinations in Utah… but unfortunately, it can be scorching in the summertime. Usually, the only way to beat the heat is to head there early in the morning, in the afternoon, or even at night. 

While nighttime is the least popular time of the day to visit the park, it’s equally as dazzling once the sun sets for the day, thanks to the thousands of glimmering stars over Moab’s red rocks.

The reason for the fantastic stargazing opportunities here is the limited light pollution from the surrounding area’s sparse population. In fact, Arches was named an International Dark Sky Park in 2019, thanks to its spectacular stargazing conditions!

For the best experience, consider hiking the Delicate Arch trail, one of the best hikes in Arches National Park, and watch sunset by the 52-foot tall sandstone arch. While the view of the sun sinking below the horizon is usually nothing short of stunning, the real show will start once the Milky Way and seemingly countless stars twinkle to life. Recommended by Jessica, Uprooted Traveler

Lagoon ride
Lagoon ride

Lagoon in the Summer

If you are looking for one of the best things to do in Utah with kids in the summer, Lagoon should be at the top of your list! 

One of the oldest amusement parks in the United States, Lagoon was founded in 1886 and has created a history of entertaining Utah families for generations. 

Lagoon is a unique amusement park that has a variety of entertainment options.  There are 10 roller coasters, a water park, a zoo, and even historic museums.  

This Utah amusement park caters to all ages. There are a lot of little kid rides as well as intense rides your teens will love. You’ll also find top-quality shows your family will love. 

If you need a break from the heat you can enjoy a lot of fun water slides and relax in the lazy river. One of our favorite rides is the train ride. You will be able to see all sorts of exotic animals. Lagoon is a Utah treasure you will be sure to enjoy! Recommended by Lisa, Planning Away

Bryce Canyon RV Vacation
RV Camping at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Camping in the Summer

Bryce National Park is an otherworldly desert landscape located in Southern Utah. The park is known for its unusual and interesting rock formations. Bryce has the largest collection of the towerming mushroom shaped Hoodoos in the world; visitors feel as if they have been transported to another planet.

With altitudes reaching up to 9,000 feet above sea level, temperatures at Bryce Canyon remain pleasant, even during the summer months. If you’re looking to escape the oppressive heat that blankets most of the US in the summertime, this National Park is an excellent place to do just that.

Bryce Canyon National Park camping is a popular summer activity. You can park your camper, or pitch a tent among the pine trees, which provide protection from summer rays. 

There are two campsites at Bryce, North and Sunset, both include tent sites and RV sites. It is possible to reserve a site during the high season (May 19- October 7). The reminder of the year is first come first serve. In addition to camping, visitors can enjoy miles of scenic hiking trails. Recommended by Angie, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Here’s a list of more places for summer camping in Utah:

River rafting in Utah
River rafting in Utah

Utah Boating and River Rafting in the Summer

The Colorado and Green Rivers offer miles and miles of flatwater for canoes, sea kayaks and shallow-water boats. There are also sections for whitewater river rafting!

In early summer the water might still feel a bit cold, especially in the morning. But the water flow is high so it’s the perfect time to enjoy river rafting in Utah!

Boating, kayaking and SUP are fun summer activities at the various State Parks in Utah: Bear Lake, Flaming Gorge, Lake Powell, Sand Hollow, and Utah Lake State Park to name just a few.

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

Where to Stay in Utah

Utah Bucket List

To help make your trip planning easier, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of must-do activities that belong on every Utah Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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