Memorial Day heralds the return of sunny days in much of Utah — take advantage of the fantastic weather with a visit to one of the state’s many recreational areas. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re hoping for kid-friendly parades in Salt Lake City or rock climbing excursions in Maple Canyon. If you’re not quite ready to let go of winter, head toward higher elevations, where snow lingers well into June. Book your Utah vacation rentals early in these great spots, which are known for their fantastic scenery and abundance of exciting activities.

1. Moab

Get out into the red rock country with a Memorial Day trip to Moab. By the last weekend of May, the Colorado River is often at its peak flow rate, which means that you can enjoy some of the wildest whitewater rafting in the state. Check out Moab Adventure Center and Red River Adventures for guided trips. Try a backcountry Jeep tour with Outlaw Jeep Tours. The warm early summer weather is ideal for rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking in nearby Arches National Park.

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2. Bryce Canyon City

Step back in time to the Wild West in Bryce Canyon City. Each year, this tiny town kicks off the summer rodeo season with the Memorial Day Bryce Canyon Country Rodeo opener. After you watch cowboys rope steers and perform trick rides, head to nearby Bryce Canyon National Park for world-class hiking among the red-rock hoodoos. Daytime temperatures in May tend to sit in the mid-60s, making for comfortable hiking; escape the crowds and get a serious workout on the challenging Fairyland Loop, which boasts stunning views and low traffic levels.

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3. Snowbird

Bid farewell to the winter season with one final weekend of skiing. Snowbird, a ski resort located in Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, traditionally hosts its closing weekend on Memorial Day weekend. Prepare for bluebird days with lightweight ski gear, and don’t miss the live music on the Plaza Deck. Choose vacation rentals near the base of the mountain to be the first one on the slopes.

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4. Escalante

With its warm weather and minimal precipitation, Memorial Day is the perfect time to check out one of Utah’s most popular canyon trails: Coyote Gulch. As you make your way up the canyon, you can walk through the river, pass under enormous stone arches, and check out the brilliant green ecosystems that thrive in this desert paradise. If you’re in the mood for more hiking, head to the nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area. Both Escalante and nearby Boulder offer gorgeous rental properties, allowing you to enjoy a cozy home base between treks.

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5. St. George

If you’re ready for full-on summer weather by Memorial Day, head down to St. George. Here, hot weather is in full swing by the end of May, so you can get a tan while you explore the awe-inspiring natural scenery. The options are endless: see dinosaur tracks and climb up a waterfall in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, explore lava tubes in Snow Canyon, or drive out to Zion National Park. St. George is also home to the stunning Dixie Red Hills Golf Club, a brilliant green oasis in the middle of the vibrant red rocks.

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6. Moroni

May marks the beginning of the rock climbing season in Utah — celebrate with a weekend trip to Maple Canyon, one of the state’s most exciting spots for sport climbing. The unusual cobble pebble surfaces of the canyon create a wealth of natural grips, and the canyon’s many rock overhangs provide a challenge for even the most experienced climbers. Memorial Day weather in the canyon is usually pleasantly warm; pack snacks and water, and stay all day. Look for vacation rentals in Moroni, which is just a short drive from the canyon.

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7. Croydon

Celebrate summer in Croydon, the launch point for Weber River float trips. Most tour companies begin operating on Memorial Day weekend; trips include a tube rental and a shuttle back to the launch point. Pack snacks in a cooler tube and prepare for a wild ride on the river’s rapids, which are usually in full swing by the end of May.

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8. Fairfield

Step back in time on Memorial Day at the Civil War Encampment in Camp Floyd State Park. Each May, historical actors recreate a historic camp that’s open to the public. See how soldiers slept, watch actors shoot historic muskets, and learn drills with the “soldiers.” Other onsite activities include stagecoach rides and Civil War-era games. Look for rental cabins on nearby Utah Lake for the best views and great fishing opportunities. The shallow lake is also a popular spot for swimming and paddle boarding, making it a great option for families.

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9. Garden City

Explore Utah’s far northern border with a Memorial Day trip to Garden City. Take advantage of the late-May warmth with a boating trip on Bear Lake; rent boats from Bear Lake Rentals or Epic Recreation. If you prefer to stay on land, the flat, kid-friendly trails of Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge offer excellent views. For a more challenging hike, venture through the forest to beautiful Bloomington Lake to revel in the early-summer sunshine.

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