It’s no secret that Southern Utah is a hiker’s paradise. Of all the places to go, these ten hiking trails are worth visiting the next time you head down for a vacation or weekend getaway. You will love the dramatic terrain and the way that the red rocks look against green foliage or in the colors of sunrise or sunset. We recommend finding a vacation rental in Moab, Utah to set yourself up well for exploring these spectacular places.
1. The Narrows, Zion National Park
Located along a deep, winding river canyon, the Narrows is one of the most iconic sites in Zion National Park (a park with no shortage of icons).The hike is 10 miles out and back and the terrain is relatively easy, if you don’t mind getting your feet wet as you ford the Virgin River. The canyon offers cooler temperatures than most parts of Zion and is a great hike for hot summer days. Prepare for crowds, this is popular for good reason.
2. Red Cliffs Nature Trail, Red Cliffs Recreation Area
This quick two-mile in-and-out gains very little elevation and is an ideal hike for families with kids. From small sandy river canyons to wider expanses of sage-covered red rock desert, Red Cliffs makes for a stunning spring or fall hike (plan your hike for the early morning to avoid high temps in the summer).
3. Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park
If your ideal hike includes a touch of history and archaeology, you won’t be disappointed by Horseshoe Canyon, where you’ll come face-to-face with some of the most well-preserved ancient pictographs depicted on the sandstone cliff face. This intermediate seven-mile hike is well worth it for the once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of history. Visit in spring or fall when temperatures are cooler.
4. Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon Loop, San Rafael Swell
This otherworldly hike is nestled at the bottom of a canyon of unique stone features. The full 8.5 mile loop takes you through both canyons but if you need to cut it short, experts tout Little Wild Horse Canyon as the more impressive. A relatively easy hike, the rewards are plenty as you’ll feel like you’ve wandered into a Martian landscape.
5. Cassidy Arch, Capitol Reef National Park
This moderately challenging hike (thanks mostly to the stone stairs you’ll have to climb) affords you with a payoff well worth the effort. Named for infamous outlaw Butch, Cassidy Arch is a massive gravity-defying rock formation overlooking the stunning russet expanse of Capitol Reef National Park. Photographers love this spot for capturing nighttime shots of the desert.
6. Lower Calf Creek Falls, Calf Creek Recreation Area
As the name suggests, this relatively easy six-mile hike affords with views of the picturesque 130-foot Lower Calf Creek Waterfall. Located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the hike takes you through sandstone canyons before ending at the falls, with a pool that is prime for swimming, and opportunities to view ancient native pictographs.
7. Navajo Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
In Bryce Canyon National Park you’ll find a unique landscape of tall craggy spires of red rock, known as hoodoos. Take the Navajo Trail where you can take in wide-open vistas of the hoodoos and gaze up at these stone giants directly above your path. It’s a moderately challenging hike and offers a variety of route options. For a longer and more varied loop, combine with the Queens Garden Trail.
8. Druid Arch, Canyonlands National Park
The hike to Druid Arch is long (almost 11 miles) and not for beginners but the rewards are plenty. Druid Arch itself is a monumental stone figure that seems carved by the gods. To get there you’ll scramble over rocks through Elephant Canyon, in relative seclusion, and witness a panorama of stratified sandstone walls and spires at the top of the ravine.
9. Devils Garden Loop Trail, Arches National Park
Take on this moderately easy hike near Moab where you can view more natural stone arches than anywhere else. You’ll find up to six arches on this loop, depending on how far you want to hike, including Landscape Arch, an impossibly wide, thin arch that happens to be the longest in the world. Turn around if you want an easy hike or take the uphill climb from there to pass through the tunnel-like Navajo Arch and be awarded with views of Double Arch and Dark Angel Arch, just to name a few.
10. Golden Cathedral, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The hike to reach Golden Cathedral is no easy feat, but dedicated hikers who take on the challenge will be greeted with this stunning rock formation located in an overhanging canyon wall. It lives up to its name with an awe-inspiring glimpse into the heavens. The technical nine-mile trek takes you through lower Neon Canyon and along the Escalante River.
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