Bryce Canyon National Park Bryce, UT

Utah is known for its natural beauty and parks. Our list of Utah state parks includes the 10 best state parks in Utah as well as some national parks you won’t want to miss. Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks feature some of the most stunning and fascinating landscapes in the nation – hoodoo-filled valleys, natural arches looming over the desert, ancient Navajo sandstone dunes and cliffs, prehistoric dinosaur tracks, volcanic lava tubes, glistening freshwater lakes, and breathtaking views that will blow your mind!

These include favorites like Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park near the southern Utah border, Arches National Park and Canyonlands near Moab, and Capitol Reef National Park, an oasis in the heart of the south-central desert.

In addition to Utah’s Big 5 National Parks, there are 44 smaller Utah state parks to explore – with the same fascinating features and a fraction of the crowds. Whether you’re a nature lover, avid outdoor adventurer, or a landscape photographer inspired by stunning settings, Utah’s best state parks are sure to hit the sweet spot!

1. Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake utah state parks

Located along the Utah-Idaho border, Bear Lake State Park is fondly known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” – a destination that attracts visitors year-round for endless outdoor recreation, the best boating in Utah, and the tastiest Raspberry Shakes you’ll ever try! Bear Lake Utah boasts over 110 miles of shoreline and 109 square miles of brilliant blue waters for activities and adventures of all kinds.

Bear Lake State Park has several marinas with everything from power boat and pontoon rentals to water trampolines for hours of family fun and bucket-list ice fishing experiences in the winter. The natural freshwater lake is lined with sandy beaches for sunbathing and swimming, cafes, restaurants, and raspberry stands for a midday break or sunset dinner. There are also two golf courses, and endless trails for hiking, biking, horse riding, or ATV rides from the heart of Garden City, UT.

As the snow falls, Bear Lake State Park transforms to a wilderness wonderland for winter sports. Visitors have easy access to snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing at Beaver Mountain. The highly anticipated Bear Lake Monster Winterfest attracts anglers of all ages, and world-class snowmobiling awaits on 350 miles of backcountry trails.

2. Antelope Island State Park

Situated on the Great Salt Lake’s largest island, Antelope Island State Park is a worthy destination for wildlife watching and outdoor recreation. Antelope Island is home to Utah’s largest free-roaming bison herd and a large population of pronghorn antelopes, mule deer, bighorn sheep, birdlife, and other cute critters scurrying the desert landscapes.

The Great Salt Lake is one of Utah’s top attractions, best experienced with a pass to Antelope Island State Park! The park offers 45+ miles of diverse backcountry trails for horse riding, mountain biking, and hiking. There is also a marina for kayaking or SUPing, and a visitor center for tours and activities on the island. If swimming or floating in the Great Salt Lake is on your bucket-list, head to Bridger Bay Beach, the best place to take a dip in the Great Salt Lake! The beach at Bridger Bay has a wide stretch of sand for a classic beach day, calm buoyant waters for swimming or floating, covered picnic tables, shower facilities, and the Island Buffalo Grill for a classic Buffalo Burger!

3. Wasatch Mountain State Park

Wasatch Mountain State Park - utah state parks

Situated only 18 miles south of Park City in Utah’s beautiful Heber Valley, Wasatch Mountain State Park is one of Utah’s most developed state parks and a popular destination for year-round outdoor recreation. A major venue during the 2002 Winter Olympics, Wasatch Mountain State Park offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. There are miles of trails for hiking, biking, horse riding, ATV adventures, and championship state park greens with stunning views of the Wasatch Mountains.

For golf enthusiasts, Wasatch Mountain State Park is home to four 18-hole high-elevation golf courses nestled beneath the Wasatch peaks – the Gold and Silver courses at Soldier Hollow Golf Course and the well-known Mountain and Lake courses at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course, rated one of Utah’s best places to play golf by Golf Digest.

4. Red Fleet State Park

Located in the heart of Utah’s Dinosaur Land, Red Fleet State Park is a scenic state park with red sandstone cliffs surrounding a small reservoir. The park is popular for paddling, swimming, fishing, and biking but is best known as a destination for tracking dinosaur prints, and a basecamp for nearby Dinosaur National Monument on the Colorado and Utah border.

The Red Fleet Dinosaur Trackway is one of Utah’s top natural history sites and the park’s main attraction. The easy 1.5 mile trail winds through forests of fragrant junipers, exposed sandstone, and sandy sections to 200-million year old three-toed dilophosaurus tracks preserved in the Nugget sandstone along the shoreline of Red Fleet Reservoir. Following the Dinosaur Tracks of Red Fleet is best done at low tide and when the sun is low.

5. Goblin Valley State Park

Nestled between Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park in the San Rafael Desert region of Southern Utah, Goblin Valley State Park is a weird and wonderful destination! The surreal landscapes are like something out of a sci-fi movie with whimsical goblin-like sandstone structures, known as hoodoos, and other mars-like rock formations believed to have been deposited during the Jurassic period 140-180 million years ago.

Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park has one of the highest concentrations of hoodoos on earth (Bryce Canyon National Park has the highest!) and is a top destination for photography and geology exploration with miles of interconnected trails for hiking, mountain biking, and fantasy fueled outdoor adventures.

6. Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is located 10 miles from Canyonlands National Park and 30 miles from Arches National Park near Moab, UT. This high-desert park is perched atop a 2,000 foot mesa with sweeping views of the Colorado River and surrounding canyonlands, and miles of trails to explore. According to legend, the mesa point was used as a corral for wild mustangs who were accidentally left waterless, within full view of the raging Colorado River.

The park has several viewpoints and overlooks accessible on a scenic drive or hike along the Rim Trail from the visitor center, the Intrepid Trail System for mountain biking, and International Dark Skies for incredible stargazing or night sky photography.

7. Kodachrome Basin State Park

Located only 20 miles east of Bryce Canyon National Park lies one of Utah’s best hidden gems, Kodachrome Basin State Park. Surrounded by the colorful cliffs and canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this Utah state park was named after the vibrant colors of the ancient rock formations, reminiscent of those found in Kodachrome film.

The serene and colorful landscapes of Kodachrome Basin feature 67 unique monolithic sandstone spires towering over the colored dunes, some 170 feet tall, with multi-colored layers created over millions of years of erosion, weathering, and geological activity. Hiking and biking trails wind through the spires and natural arches for self-guided exploration, or reserve a Red Canyon Trail Ride to explore Kodachrome Basin on a guided horseback ride.

8. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park - utah state parks

Situated near Zion National Park in southern Utah, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is the only major sand dune field on the Colorado Plateau. The park encompasses 3,730 acres of ponderosa pine forests and pink and red hued sand dunes formed by the constant erosion of the Navajo Sandstone over the decades. The dunes are estimated to be between 10,000 to 15,000 years old and are home to a wide range of desert wildlife species including rare desert tortoises, kangaroo rats, and the Coral Pink tiger beetle, found only in the state park.

Coral Pine Sand Dunes State Park is Utah’s favorite destination for sandboarding, sledding, and ATV dune riding – with 90% of the dunes open to ATV riders. Visitors can rent sandboards, sleds or ATVs within the park or explore Coral Pink Sand Dunes on a guided scenic tour.

9. Sand Hollow State Park

Located near St. George in southern Utah’s Greater Zion desert, Sand Hollow State Park is a hidden oasis and another favorite Utah destination for dune adventures. The park features 15,000 acres of naturally sculpted sand dunes accessible for off-road enthusiasts, scenic hiking trails through striking red rock formations, and a crystal clear reservoir with sandy beaches to enjoy time in and on the water.

Sand Hollow State Park has several outfitters on site offering ATV/UTV tours and rentals, kayak and paddleboard rentals, and scuba and snorkeling gear to explore the dive sites in Sand Hollow Reservoir.

10. Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park - 4hrs from Salt lake city

Snow Canyon State Park is a scenic 7,400 acre park situated within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in southwest Utah. Snow Canyon State Park is a geological gem with diverse landscapes of petrified sand dunes, soaring sandstone cliffs, slot canyons lined with rock art, and ancient lava tubes that leave a lasting impression. The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve was established as a protected habitat for the rare desert tortoise Mojave Desert Tortoise – please admire from a distance!

This scenic Utah State Park has been the backdrop for many movies including the timeless 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. With 38 miles of hiking trails, a paved biking trail, equestrian trails for horseback riding, rock climbing in the slot canyons, sand dunes for playing, and majestic Mojave Desert views, it’s another stunning southern Utah state park to visit without the National Park crowds!

11. Deer Creek State Park

Nestled amidst the rugged beauty of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Deer Creek State Park offers a tranquil escape for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Spanning over 3,000 acres near the town of Heber City, this picturesque park boasts Deer Creek Reservoir as its centerpiece, a shimmering body of water framed by towering peaks and lush forests. Visitors flock to the reservoir’s shores to partake in a myriad of water-based activities, from boating and fishing to paddleboarding and kayaking, while soaking in the breathtaking vistas that surround them.

Beyond its pristine waters, Deer Creek State Park invites adventurers to explore its extensive network of trails, perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. As visitors traverse the park’s diverse terrain, they may encounter an array of wildlife, including mule deer, elk, and songbirds. Picnic areas are located among the trees and offer idyllic spots for family gatherings or quiet moments of reflection, while campgrounds provide the opportunity to extend the outdoor adventure beneath the starlit Utah sky.

Beyond Utah’s State Parks

Looking outside the best Utah state parks be sure to check out these national parks. All the these National parks are south of Salt Lake City in central Utah or southern Utah.

  • Zion National Park: Zion National Park has towering red rock cliffs and the winding Virgin River make it a paradise for hikers and adventurers.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park: With its unique hoodoos and ever-changing vistas, Bryce Canyon is a surreal landscape sculpted by erosion.
  • Arches National Park: Home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch, Arches National Park boasts fiery sunsets and star-studded night skies.
  • Canyonlands National Park: Rugged canyons, towering mesas, and the mighty Colorado River carving through the landscape make Canyonlands a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers alike.
  • Capitol Reef National Park: Capitol Reef offers a glimpse into the geologic wonders of the Waterpocket Fold, along with slot canyons, towering cliffs, and historic orchards planted by early Mormon settlers.

Explore The Best Utah State Parks with Bear Lake Premier Cabins

Book your stay in a Utah state park today with Bear Lake Premier Cabins. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an iconic road trip of Utah’s best state parks, Bear Lake State Park is a destination worthy of your bucket-list.

Our collection of Bear Lake Utah cabin rentals are designed to cater to large crowds and family reunions with easy access to the shoreline of Utah’s famous Caribbean of the Rockies, and some of the best Bear Lake activities on your doorstep. Inside, guests have all the comforts of home with features like swimming pools, private hot tubs, home theaters and media rooms, outdoor firepits, and perfect play areas for the kids … including your pooch!

Your Bear Lake State Park vacation starts here with our local team at Bear Lake Premier Cabins!