Planning a trip to Utah this summer?
There are so many things to do and places to see, especially if you enjoy the outdoors.
Utah’s diverse landscape features mountains, deserts, sandstone canyons, a salty lake and more!
We are sharing our top 9 Utah Destinations for summer so you can plan a fun-filled vacation.
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Map of 9 Utah Destinations for Summer
Summer Vacation Ideas in Utah: Visit Utah National Parks
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is located just outside the fun adventure town of Moab. The park hold the largest density of natural sandstone arches in the world!
Just a little tip when visiting visiting Arches National Park in the summer: avoid the hot temperatures and arrive between 7 and 8 in the morning or after 5 in the evening. You will find that the temperatures are cooler and it will be a more pleasant experience. .
Where to Stay Near Arches
There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. You’ll find restaurants and places to shop which adds to the appeal to find accommodations in Moab.
There are all types of lodging in and near Moab from budget-friendly hotels to higher-prices resorts. You’ll also find vacation rentals, a hostel, campgrounds and RV parks
READ OUR FULL GUIDE: Places to stay near Arches National Park in Moab
• Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
• Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
• Condos south of town – we really like the King size bed in the master, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab).
Bryce Canyon National Park
Just one day is all you will need to explore Bryce Canyon Park.
There are many hiking trails at Bryce where you can wander through the hoodoo landscape and experience the park in a completely different way!
The night sky at Bryce is amazing. Check out the full moon hikes and astronomy ranger programs. You won’t regret it!
→ We like to stay at the Ruby’s Inn Vacation Rentals right near the entrance to Bryce!
Places to Stay Near Bryce Canyon
Ruby’s Inn Vacation Rentals – we LOVE having a kitchen to cook our meals!
Best Western Ruby’s Inn – easy access right outside the park
Best Western Plus – also right outside the park
Capitol Reef National Park
A national park that is often overlooked, but worth adding to your list of Utah Destinations for summer is Capitol Reef.
This park offers plenty of hiking trails for you to explore at all levels. A fun easy hike is the Capitol Gorge trail. You’ll walk through a wide slot canyon where you will see some carvings in the stone from the pioneers that first went through the area.
No matter what Capitol Reef hiking trail you take you will love the views you see and may even see some big horned sheep on some trails.
Where to Stay Near Capitol Reef
Capitol Reef Resort – this is where we stay! Make it a unique experience and stay in a teepee or covered wagon!
Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel – basic rooms and cabins with a deli and store right on the property which is so convenient!
Airbnb Rentals – we like finding a place with a kitchen so we can prepare our own food.
Zion National Park
There is no secret that visiting Zion National park is on our top 10 for Utah destinations for summer.
While it is true that Zion National Park in Summer is a bit more crowded… and HOT… it is still worth the trip.
While there, you will want to take advantage of the amazing hiking trails in Zion. Be sure to hike early in the morning during the summer.
When it gets too hot for outdoor activity, you can drive along Highway 8 and Kolob Canyon Terrace.
Where to Stay Near Zion
You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay close to Zion:
Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel
Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!
Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.
Airbnb Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants.
Utah Summer Vacation Destinations: Visit Utah State Parks
Not to be overshadowed by the national parks in the state, there are also amazing state parks you should add to your Utah bucket list for summer travel.
Each state park is unique in its own way. And you’ll find a variety of things to do at Utah State Parks.
Here’s a list of the state parks we recommend:
Antelope Island State Park is located within the Great Salt Lake and accessed North of Salt Lake City.
You can camp, hike, horseback ride, and kayak … and of course wade into the salty lake.
We love visiting this state park to watch and photograph the sunset reflecting into the lake.
And it’s a fun place to see wildlife. Who knew you could see 500 bison on this island?
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
If riding ATVs is your thing, then you want to travel to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park where you can explore 3730 acres of dunes.
The entire area is also open for hiking or playing in the sand. The state park offers sand board (stand up) and sand sled (sit down) rentals. It’s a fun way to enjoy the dunes, although climbing the hill again afterwards can be a bit of a chore.
This state park is in the southern part of Utah so during the summer the sane will be hot! Early morning is the best time to visit.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes are close to Zion National Park, so be sure to visit them both on the same trip!
Dead Horse Point
If you want a vacation to take the most incredible pictures, then you will want to visit Dead Horse Point State Park. The views are incredible.
There is a reason why this area has some of the most photographed landscapes in the world. Dead Horse Point is a popular location to watch the sunset as it casts the orange/red glow on the canyon.
You will want to take advantage of our Dead Horse Point travel guide to plan your trip!
Goblin Valley State Park is so unique! It may sound cliche, but you really do have to see it to appreciate it.
The landscape is covered with sandstone goblins and formations that is often compared to Mars. Descend into the valley and explore the area to your heart’s content.
And be sure to stay up to experience the vast night sky. Due to its remote location, the park has one of the darkest night skies on earth!
Visit Goblin Valley as you travel between Capitol Reef and Green River on your way to Salt Lake or Moab.
Utah Lake, Provo
Home of the largest freshwater lake in the state is Utah Lake. Here you will find boating, sailing, paddle boarding, jet skiing and more.
Utah Lake State Park is the place to go if you want a fun in the sun trip. The park offers swimming beaches, picnic areas, and plenty of campsites.
It’s a wonderful location to enjoy the sunset. When the conditions are right, you’ll have clouds in the sky that light up with color, as well as the reflection in the water.
Other Utah Summer Vacation Destinations
Bonneville Salt Flats
The Bonneville Salt Flats is like no other place on earth.
It’s a vast salt crust ranging from a few inches to 5 feet thick that forms a perfectly flat, uniform, blindingly white landscape as far as the eye can see.
The flats are about 12 miles long and five miles wide, covering about 46 square miles in total.
Visitors from all around the world travel to see this pristine, otherworldly landscape about an hour and half west of Salt Lake City.
The Salt Flats are perfect to photograph sunrise and the milky way.
Park City is fun to visit during the summer in Utah.
There’s awesome shopping at the outlet malls and along historic Main Street.
Olympic Park houses one of only four sliding tracks in North America, six Nordic ski jumps, a 2002 Winter Games museum, and a multitude of adventure activities.
During the summer you can ride the alpine slide, tube down the ski jump, enjoy a wild zipline experience, or hike along the many trails in Park City.
Lower Calf Creek Falls
If you are looking for a great hiking location then Lower Calf Creek Falls is the place to visit.
When you view the spectacular desert waterfall that plunges 130 feet over a cliff into a pool of water you will agree it was worth the hike!
Using this Lower Calf Creek Falls hiking guide can help you be more prepared to hike the trails.
With 12 campsites to camp available at the trailhead, it allows you to explore the area and trails for more than one day. Just be aware that all the campsites are first come first serve!
If you want to see gorgeous scenery from a boat, then you need to add Lake Powell to your top Utah destinations for summer.
Lake Powell is the second-largest man-made reservoir in the USA, located in Southern Utah. This phenomenal site took 17 years to fill.
Lake Powell offers miles and miles of lakes to explore, things to do, and sites to see.
With so much to do at Lake Powell some visitors wonder where to even start so Lake Powell has sample itineraries to help you start exploring.
With a wide range of activities that include house boating, wakeboarding, fishing, hiking, and visiting Rainbow Bridge National monument, there is something for everyone to do and see while visiting.
MORE SUMMER VACATION IDEAS:
UTAH TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES:
National Parks Pass is worth getting if you’ll be visiting the parks in Utah.
The same goes for getting a Utah State Parks annual pass if you’ll visit more than one on your trip.