Some of the best-kept travel secrets are hidden in and around Utah state parks.
We reveal unexpected attractions and little known destinations, worth discovering on your next road trip.
Studio 5 Contributor and outdoor enthusiast, Sheryl McGlochlin, shares a few secrets about her favorite Utah State Parks.
Choosing just 5 out of 43 Utah State Parks to feature is a hard thing! I been either visited or camped at most of them and have never been disappointed. They all have their own unique personalities. One thing they all have in common – they are all clean and very well maintained!
1. Bear Lake State Park:
Bear Lake is a large scenic lake often called “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its intense turquoise blue water
Located in Northern Utah
Half of the lake is in southern Idaho
Approx. 2 hours from SLC
Lots of white sandy beaches
Camp at Rendezvous Beach, near Laketown, south end of Bear Lake
Bear Lake Loop Bicycle Trail: From May to October, bicyclists can see Bear Lake from every angle on this easy 45-mile loop with interpretive signs discussing the history and geology of Bear Lake.
The loop begins and ends in Garden City.
Raspberry Days in August are the BEST! Enjoy delicious Bear Lake raspberry shakes all summer long.
Water sports include sail boating, speed boating, water skiing, jet skiing, rafting, fishing, kayaking, and stand up paddle surfing
Scenic byway Logan Canyon – One of the prettiest canyons in Utah to drive through
Camping at Tony Grove Lake, just 24 miles from Bear Lake
Hike to Naomi Peak, the highest peak in the Bear River Mountain Range and Mount Naomi Wilderness.
Visit Minnetonka Cave, near Bear Lake State Park
Some favorite hiking trails fairly close to Bear Lake:
Garden City Park Walkway
A raised wooden walkway to the lake at Garden City Park.
Limber Pine Trail
A relaxing one-mile loop to the 2,000-year-old limber pine.
Great Western Trail
A trail that extends from the Arizona border all the way to the Canadian border. The trail passes through the Wasatch/Cache National Forest and Bear Lake area.
Bloomington Lake Trail
Less than 20 miles from Garden City
Hike or drive via a rough, unpaved road. This small glacial lake is located in a spectacular setting of cliffs and waterfalls. During the summer, wildflowers surround this clear mountain lake. Watch for moose!
A 55-mile trail accessible from Bloomington Canyon, Paris Canyon, Emigration Canyon and Logan Canyon. Open to hiking, horseback riding, motor bikes and mountain bikes.
A 3.5-mile RT hike in Logan Canyon. Millennia of wind and water erosion have created a delicate triple arch and natural cave in the limestone outcropping at the end of this 1.9-mile trail. Also known as Witch’s Castle, the location of this interesting formation provides a clear view of the China Wall, a limestone rock formation, as it winds through most of the canyon’s midsection.
2. Kodachrome Basin State Park
Showcases 67 rock spires and other geologic wonders in a basin so photogenic it was named after Kodachrome film.
Find the hidden arches on some of the trails
Incredible photography opportunities, especially at sunrise and sunset
Located in Southern Utah – approx. 4 hours from SLC
Giant crazy creatures made of bright red sandstone
Giant “Fred Flintstone” sandstone geologic wonder
Willis Creek – A favorite slot canyon not far from Kodachrome Basin
Romantic hiking and camping getaway
Close to Bryce Canyon National Park and Red Canyon
Horseback riding tours out of Tropic
Handprints in the soft sandstone
3. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Located in Southern Utah
Camping in single sites or book the newly built group campsite
Kayak or canoe in the park reservoir
Hike in a Petrified Forest
Hike to one of Utah’s most spectacular waterfalls: Calf Creek Falls, just 15 miles away
Explore and climb all over Devil’s Garden. It’s also a great photo shoot.
Hike in nearby Slot Canyons down Hole in the Rock Road
Take a “Canyoneering Class” with The Best Canyoneering Guides in America, located in Escalante
Visit Anasazi State Park, less than 30 miles away
Driving over the Hogback to Anasazi State Park is a thrill by itself
Enjoy Utah’s ONE and ONLY All American Scenic Highway, Hwy 12, which runs through Escalante!
4. Green River State Park
This is the BEST place to camp on your way to or from Southern Utah. You are not far from the San Rafael Swell, Lake Powell, Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, etc.
Located in Central Utah
Approx. 3 hours from SLC
Green River is a calm, quiet, mesmerizing river that provides great photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset, especially with the train going over the bridge in the background!
The park features a shady campground and nine-hole golf course
Great boat launch for a raft, canoe or kayak.
Enjoy a memorable floating trip down the Green River.
Lots of soft grass to pitch your tent
Be prepared to hear a train passing by every night.
5. Fremont Indian State Park
A deceivingly beautiful State Park in Utah! Thousands of people drive past the State Park on I-70 and have no clue how many adventures are just a few minutes away from the freeway! Hike, explore, bike ride, camp and river raft are just a few of the adventures waiting for you.
Located in Central Utah
Walk, run or bike ride along a 7-mile winding, paved trail that follows the Sevier River
Pass by an old train tunnel on the paved trail. Look for old boxcars on the other side of the river
Trail ends at Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort
Fremont Indian State Park has 697 rock art panels!
Utah’s largest Fremont site excavation artifact collection is housed in the museum near the campsite
14 hiking trails, easy to moderate, will take you to hidden Indian treasures
Find the BEST example of how to go “green” and recycle by visiting Cove Fort, just 18 miles from Fremont Indian State Park. This is one of my favorite places to visit in Utah.
From Fremont Indian State Park, take the back roads to Cove Fort rather than I-70 all the way.
Enjoy river rafting down the Sevier River. Start at Big Rock Canyon Mountain.
Award winning family campground among trees and streams
Mini slot canyons that kids will love and fun hiding places inside giant rock columns in Fremont State Park
Photography opportunities are everywhere!
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