11 Must See Off The Beaten Track Places in Utah
Utah is one of the most geologically diverse places in the USA. There is just so much to explore, below is a highlight of the most off the beaten path locations for adventure in Utah that aren't National Parks. Check out our list of hidden gems.
1. Monument Valley
On the border of Utah and Arizona, this is such a beautiful place with massive monument rocks, big red sand deserts, tons of land to explore and is known by some as “Forest Gumps Road”, as this is the road he is running along in the famous movie scene. This is also a great place for rock climbing, hiking, exploring sandstone cliffs and valleys. A certain bucket-list spot for anyone visiting Utah.
2. Goblin Valley
One of the more unique places in Utah. It has some of the really crazy rock formations unique to this area, and the surrounding rock Mesas have very distinct colorations and layering in the rock. There are also a really cool valley of “Goblins” where you can see thousands of small hoodoos that go on for miles inside the State Park. Consider this one of nature's greatest playgrounds.
3. Dead Horse State Park
This State Park is located in between Arches national park and Canyonlands National Park, and because of that it is often overlooked. But, this place is well worth the visit, and some of the overlooks have similarity to the Grand Canyon. There are so many layers and depth to the canyon making for a great off the beaten track trip void of mass crowds.
4. Blue Hill Badlands Region
A vast region where there are crazy rock formations in every direction, and the patterns in the landscapes are so diverse and colorful. In this region you can photograph the monolith mesa known as Factory Butte, or explore the badlands region known for its rainbow colored hills that are popular amongst photographers. The bluer colored hues can be found near The Mars Desert Research Station on Cow Dung Road of hwy 24 near Hanksville. No wonder people say this place feels like another planet.
5. Meadow Hotsprings
This hot springs is Located on private land, but the owner has granted access to the respectful public. This is a location unlike any other and offers 3 distinct pools of thermal hot springs. The first of the 3 pools is the warmest and is 27 feet deep, the second pool is a little cooler 40ft deep, the last one is the coolest so save that for the warmest months in the hot summer sun. There are also campsites around the pools with fire-pits, so it can be your own little oasis. As always be respectful of the land during your visit to keep it open to public access.
6. Bonneville Salt Flats
This unique landscape is just 1.5 hours west of SLC, and is a massive salt flat that goes on for miles (over 30 thousands acres). Depending on the time of you go you will witness the dry conditions that form endless hexagonal shapes in the salt, or you may see the amazing mirror reflection that happens during rainy times and offers a magical experience rarely seen. Be prepared to take lots of pictures, sunset and sunrise offer amazing light, and the astro photography is world class.
7. Cathedral Valley
This is a beautiful remote area in Capitol reef Utah. In the remote northern section of the park you will find Cathedral valley famous for its giant cathedrals and monoliths. The road to the valley starts at an unmarked dirt road near mile marker 91 on the north side of the road traveling to the east from the visitor center on Hwy 24. You have to forge a river at the start of the road, so be prepared with a 4x4 high clearance vehicle.
8. Hole in the Rock Road
From Hole-in-the-Rock Road in Escalate National Monument you can slot canyons, rock gardens & hoodoos, multi day hiking trails, and the unique views at Reflection Canyon. Below is an overview of where to access the impressive adventures down this 55 mile gravel road.
Mile 7.8, Zebra Slot Canyon
Located on the right side of the road you will see an unmarked parking area for the Zebra Slot Canyon trail. This is a 5.3 miles roundtrip trail taking around 3-4 hours to complete.
Mile 12, Devil's Garden
A fun little stop to explore some cool rock formations. You can weave in and out of the rocks making for a nice place to photograph and witness what makes this desert landscape so special. This site has been designated as an Outstanding Natural Area by the BLM.
Mile 26, (Peek-a-boo and Spooky slot canyons) via Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch trailhead
At mile 26 you will reach the turnoff for the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch trailhead. Make sure you have all the details and information before heading out on this hike, as there is no cell service. Upon arrival check your maps to ensure you are heading the right direction to explore the famed non-technical slot canyons known as Peek-a-boo and Spooky, from this gulch. (Both are doable as a day-hike.)
Mile 55, Reflection Canyon Hike
At the end of the 55 mile gravel road you will reach the trailhead for the amazing Reflection Canyon hike. This hike is on fairly easy terrain but you need to allow for 3-4 hours each way as it covers 18.7 miles in total. The rewards of reaching this place are well worth the efforts.
9. Corona Arch
This is a little off the beaten path and not on many peoples radar as it is just outside of Moab and Arches National Park. For this reason we love this lightly trafficked but spectacular trail to the Corona Arch. The trailhead is along the Potash Road on Hwy 191, and you will hit the trailhead sign about 10 miles into Potash road.
10. Petroglyphs + Dinosaur Tracks - Potash Road
There are many places to visit and view petroglyphs in Utah. One of our favorite places offers you the chance to see both dinosaur tracks imprinted in the sandstone, and some amazing petroglyph panels still in great condition.
Potash Road is just north of Moab and is well marked from Highway 191. The drive is along the Colorado river offering great views and sheer canyon walls making for an enjoyable drive in itself.
On your way, look for a sign pointing to petroglyphs and pull off to the side. Look up to see the petroglyphs on the sheer rock face. As you continue driving about 3 more miles you will see a turn off to a parking lot where you can see the dinosaur tracks and more impressive petroglyphs.
11. Homestead Crater
One of the most unique places to go swimming. This is a 65 feet deep geothermal hot spring located in a crater. There is scuba and snorkel gear you can rent on site. The water averages around 95 degrees, and is featured in the movie 127 hours. This crater dome costs $16usd to enter.
Explore our list of USA adventures HERE