A trip to Southern Utah should be on every nature-lover’s bucket list. There are so many awesome things to do in Southern Utah, most of which involve landscapes that look like a different planet! Keep reading to check out the best hikes in southern Utah + other fun things to do in the area.
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Before we cover the best things to do in Southern Utah, let’s go over some logisitics:
Southern Utah – Trip Overview
- Nights: 2-3
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 1-3
- I recommend spending at least 3 days in Southern Utah, if not longer. If you go over the weekend, that means you just need to take off at least one day of work (Friday or Monday) to make it a 3-day trip!
- Cost: $
How to Get to Southern Utah
I recommend flying into Las Vegas for close proximity to the Southwest Utah area. From here, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive. If you’re wanting to start in the Moab, Utah – the closest major airport is Salt Lake City, which is about a 4 hour drive.
Where to Stay in Southern Utah
If you’re up for an adventure, it would be a great idea to rent an RV or a campervan for this trip! That way, you can make your way from the southwest area up to Moab and sleep wherever the road takes you along the way. Check out my blog post on how to get super cheap RV deals. If you get lucky with a one-way rental that fits your itinerary, you can get one for as low as $1/day!
If you want to camp but also want the comforts of home, renting a campervan is a great option! My favorite campervan company is Travellers Autobarn. Their vans have a stove, microwave, fridge and sink, and can sleep 3 people inside of it. Also, they have unlimited miles which is something that most campervan companies don’t offer! You can pick up the van at their location in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Las Vegas.
Pro tip: Download the Dyrt Pro app to find the best spots to park your RV each night.
Best Place to Stay in Southwest Utah
If you’re starting out at Zion National Park, I definitely recommend staying at Under Canvas Zion for an amazing glamping experience if you have the budget to splurge a bit. These luxury yurts have king size beds and all the comforts of home, except immersed in nature with beautiful views!
After Zion, I recommend staying in Kanab, UT which is central to other spots in Southwest Utah. I’ve stayed at both the Quality Inn Kanab and Travelodge Kanab. Both are in a good location and are affordable. Alternatively, you could stay at a cool VRBO in Kanab such as this cool house with epic views of surrounding red rock formations!
Kanab is also close to the border of Arizona, where there are other amazing spots to check out as well. Check out my Arizona/Utah Road Trip Itinerary for the deets.
Best Place to Stay in Moab, UT
As you make you way up to the Moab area of Southern Utah (near Arches National Park), I recommend staying at either Under Canvas Moab (same company as the one in Zion!) for an awesome glamping experience. I stayed at this one during my 2 days in Moab trip, and it was amazing.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, try the Rustic Inn located in downtown Moab.
Southern Utah Packing List
Don’t leave home without these items!
- Nano Puff Jacket (packs up small and keeps you warm when it gets chilly at night!)
- The COLDEST Water Bottle (seriously – it stays colder than Hydroflask!)
- Hiking Boots (these are my fave)
- REI Soft Cooler (I have this and love it!)
- Cliff Bar Energy Chews (great to give you a boost of energy on hikes!)
- Sony A6000 (I’m just starting to learn photography, but this is the camera I’ve been using! I love it)
- Day Pack
- SmartWool Hiking Socks
Best Things to Do in Southern Utah
Zion National Park
While in southern Utah, you definitely can’t miss Zion National Park. 2 of the best hikes in Southern Utah are located in this park!
The Narrows is hands down one of the best hikes in Southern Utah, but is also one of my favorite hikes of all time. On this hike, you are wading through the river in between two towering red canyon walls. It’s absolutely beautiful, and a super unique hike. It’s also great for all skill-levels!
Angels Landing, located in Zion National Park, is one of the most popular hikes in Southern Utah. It’s also one of the most dangerous! On this hike, you start out on some switchbacks until you reach the top section, where you have to use ropes and chains to make your way up narrow rock paths with steep drop-offs on either side of you. If you’re scared of heights, this is not the hike for you!
Check out my full Zion itinerary for more details for this portion of your trip.
Bryce National Park
About 1.5 hours from Zion National Park is Bryce National Park, which is equally as amazing. Bryce National Park is known for their unique “hoodoo” rock formations that look like little red rock towers scattered throughout the park.
Navajo Loop Hike
One of the best hikes in Bryce, (and also one of the best hikes in Southern Utah) is the Navajo Loop Hike. This 1.5 mile hike takes you through the iconic “Wall Street” section of Bryce National Park, with towering red rock canyon walls surrounding the trail. Once you get to the bottom, you have the option to add on the 1.7-mile “Queens Garden” trail, which is known to be the “World’s Best 3-mile Hike”!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Only about 30 minutes from Zion National Park lies Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, which is definitely worth a stop on your Southern Utah road trip. Here you can ride ATVs through the sand dunes, go sandboarding, or simply take a hike around the dunes and soak in the scenery. It’s beautiful!
The Toadstools are these mushroom-like rock formations located in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The trailhead is about an hour East from Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and the trail itself is only 1.5 miles round trip. It’s a perfect quick hike in Southern Utah where you can easily bring along kids or dogs!
Lake Powell is simply amazing! This lake is located on the border of Utah and Arizona, so it technically spans both states. I recommend either renting a kayak or taking one of the 1-hour boat tours to cruise through the lake in between the canyon walls. It’s a very unique experience!
We did the 1-hour boat ride from Antelope Point Marina for $30. It was great!
If you have more time to spend here, consider renting a house boat for a night or two.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park, about 4.5 hours from Lake Powell area, is simply amazing. To explore Arches National Park and the next few spots I recommend, you’ll want to make Moab your home base (preferably at Under Canvas! It’s awesome!)
One of the most iconic hikes in Southern Utah is Delicate Arch. This arch formation is even featured on the Utah license plates! I recommend hiking the 1.5 mile trail at sunrise to beat the crowds, but any time of day the hike is epic.
Devil’s Garden is another super scenic hike in Southern Utah, in Arches National Park. This 7.5 mile flat trail meanders through different rock formations. Even just going about 2 miles you’ll have the chance to see some awesome scenery.
For more details on the best things to do in Arches National Park, check out my 2 Days in Moab post.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Head to Dead Horse Point State Park, about 40 minutes from Arches National Park, and check out the Rim Trail. This short hike offers sweeping aerial views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.
Canyonlands National Park
The entrance to Canyonlands National Park is just about 15 minutes from Dead Horse Point State Park. Canyonlands National Park is huge, and is made up of 3 districts. I recommend sticking to the ‘Islands in the Sky” area of the park if you don’t have time to explore the whole park. Take the short 0.5 mile hike to Mesa Arch – one of the most iconic spots in Southern Utah!
Want more info on Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands? Check out my post 2 Days in Moab post.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is definitely an underrated Utah national park. At this hidden gem, you’ll find barely any crowds among the epic red rock views, canyons, scenic rivers, and natural bridges. It’s a must-see during your Utah road trip!
Cassidy Arch Trail
This thrilling 3.1 mile out-and-back trail leads you along a cliff-side, rocky trail to the impressive Cassidy Arch. This trail is super scenic but has no shade – make sure to hike it in the morning to make it more bearable!
Hickman Bridge Trail
This 1.7-mile out and back trail is one of the most popular hikes in Capitol Reef National Park. It’s manageable for most skill levels, showcases beautiful scenery, and leads to the Hickman Bridge – a natural arch rock formation.
Want more details on Capitol Reef National Park? Check out my post on how to spend an epic one day in Capitol Reef National Park!