Bordered by the US States of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and a small corner of New Mexico on the east, northeast, north, south, west, and southeast, respectively, Utah is a landlocked state that forms a part of the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. From snow-capped mountains, magnificent rock formations, arid deserts, and glistening lakes to the lively pine forests in mountain valleys, Utah is renowned for its natural diversity. Sprinkled all over this picturesque state are some gorgeous small towns that travelers must tour for lifetime experiences. Each of these pretty towns listed below is worth visiting on your next trip to the Beehive State.
The administrative center of Garfield County, Panguitch, is situated in the state’s south-central portion on the southern side of the fertile Panguitch Valley at an elevation of 6,666 ft. The name Panguitch, a Southern Paiute word meaning “Big Fish,” refers to the numerous adjacent pristine lakes and rivers that host rainbow trout and offer excellent year-round fishing opportunities. Initially settled in March 1864, this former lumber and ranching community presently caters to tourists with plenty of well-preserved red brick buildings, locally-owned shops, art galleries, cozy motels, and eclectic eateries that line its downtown. Panguitch also serves as an important base for those who wish to explore Southern Utah’s famed natural wonders: the Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks, as well as two national monuments (Cedar Breaks and Grand Staircase-Escalante), and vast national forests (Dixie and Fishlake). Every year, Panguitch hosts different annual festivals like the Quilt Walk Festival, Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally, and the Bryce ATV/UTV Rally.
Garden City is a renowned summer resort destination tucked along the vivid turquoise blue waters of Bear Lake (often called the “Caribbean of the Rockies”) in the northwestern part of Utah’s Rich County. The town’s location on the shores of Bear Lake State Park and at the end of the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway makes it a perfect place for vacationers to enjoy quality time amidst beautiful scenery. Every summer, tourists arrive at Garden City in large numbers to experience the spectacular Bear Lake and its spotless sandy beaches. Year-round, the visitors can enjoy ample water-based recreation activities like kayaking, water skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, etc., at the Bear Lake State Park Marina. Garden City’s Heritage Park hosts the annual Bear Lake Raspberry Days Festival, celebrating the region’s tasty raspberries with fun activities, live music performances, and an arts and crafts fair.
An attractive alpine town set on the eastern side of the lush Ogden Valley in Utah’s Weber County, Huntsville forms a part of the Ogden-Clearfield Metropolitan Statistical Area. Home to a population of only 608 residents, Huntsville, with its exquisite mountain scenery, rich history, and ample outdoor recreation, is a wonderful place to spend a few days away from the hustle and bustle of busy metropolises. Some of the town’s notable attractions include Huntsville Square with its well-known local businesses, the Huntsville Astronomic & Lunar Observatory, Mark B. Goodson Art Gallery, Snowbasin Resort, Pineview Reservoir, the 4.3-mile-long Sardine Peak Trail, Art Nord Trailhead, Ogden Canyon Overlook Trail, Green Pond Trail, Cemetery Point Beach, and the Shooting Star Saloon - considered the oldest continuously operating bar to the west of the Mississippi River.
This peaceful farming town in Sanpete County is renowned as an artist community. Initially settled by Mormon pioneers in the early 1800s and later populated by Danish immigrants in the 19th century, Spring City is home to several historic buildings, like the Old Spring City Schoolhouse and Spring City Chapel, that preserve the original pioneer architecture reflecting the town’s distinctive heritage. The entire town has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a casual stroll through the streets offers visitors a charming experience. During the annual Heritage Days celebration, a special historic home tour is provided for the tourists who wish to visit these pioneer homes. The many cafes and eateries on the northern side of the town (referred to by locals as “Little Denmark”) also serve authentic delicious cuisines throughout the year.
Named after the native Paiute term, which means “place of the willows,” Kanab, the administrative center of Kane County, is placed along the Kanab Creek, immediately north of the state boundary with Arizona. Kanab’s exquisite geological beauty has made it a filming site for movies and television series, earning its nickname, “Utah’s Little Hollywood.” This classic American West town is renowned for its location at the heart of the Grand Circle area, close to major national parks, monuments, and spectacular rock formations. Besides serving as a basecamp for outdoor adventurers exploring these famous sites, Kanab also offers vacationers opportunities to enjoy drinks and tasty meals at its many breweries and restaurants.
Noted for its dramatic desert scenery, Moab, the seat of Grand County, is situated on the La Sal Mountains’ western flanks just south of the Colorado River. Perfectly amalgamating exceptional natural beauty with small-town hospitality, Moab attracts numerous tourists who wish to experience some of the Western United States’ stunning landscapes. One of the most sought-after destinations for outdoor adventurers offering tons of recreational activities, visitors to Moab must stop by the notable attractions, including the Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, and a section of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Recreational and competitive mountain bikers are especially drawn to the Slickrock Bike Trail, the whole enchilada & Porcupine Rim, and the Intrepid Trail System. After a hectic day, visitors can unwind at one of the town’s multiple eateries serving delicious regional southwestern cuisines.
An adorable town on the western extremity of the Colorado Plateau, Springdale is just a stone’s throw away from the southern boundaries of Zion National Park in the state’s Washington County. This idyllic community perfectly acts as a base for tourists exploring the adjacent natural attractions and is a pleasant place to spend some time away from the noisy cities. Springdale’s downtown district features several fine art & photography galleries, theaters, cozy inns, local stores, gift shops, cafes, and excellent eateries. But, above all, Springdale is an adventure town. Besides being the gateway to Zion National Park, Springdale offers vacationers various opportunities like cycling the trails crisscrossing the gorgeous Gooseberry Mesa, tubing down the Virgin River, and visiting the Grafton Ghost Town.
Set on the western slopes of the Wellsville Mountains, a segment of the Wasatch Range, Brigham City in Utah’s Box Elder County is home to 19,650 inhabitants. Christened in honor of the Mormon pioneer Brigham Young, the town houses several historic sites, including Baron Woolen Mills, Cooley Memorial Hospital, Hotel Brigham, and Brigham City Cemetery. Brigham City’s Main Street archway proclaims it as the “Gateway to the World’s Greatest Wild Bird Refuge” and welcomes visitors to its business district that also functions as a part of a base camp for year-round adventures to the expansive Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and the Golden Spike National Historic Site. The Brigham City Museum of Art & History, the Box Elder Museum, and an LDS tabernacle are some of Brigham City’s notable cultural attractions that must not be missed. The annual “Peach Days,” held on the weekend after Labor Day, celebrates the region’s peaches with parades, carnivals, car shows, and other activities.
This small tree-lined town, bounded by the Capitol Reef National Park to the east and Boulder Mountain to the southwest, is situated along the northern shores of the Fremont River on State Route 24 in Utah’s Wayne County. The town’s location at an elevation of 6,830 ft makes it a superb summer destination where tourists can enjoy the area’s outstanding natural beauty, a multitude of outdoor recreations, and wholesome small-town fun. Filled with quaint cafes, bookstores, gift shops, art galleries, RV campgrounds, hotels, and restaurants, Torrey serves as an appropriate gateway for exploring the Capitol Reef National Park, Boulder Mountain, Thousand Lake RV Park, and Utah’s Scenic Byway 12. Moreover, the Big Apple Outdoor Dance Hall and the annual Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival attract many merrymakers to Torrey.
Acclaimed for its vintage charm, Mount Pleasant is a wealthy high-valley town in Utah’s Sanpete County. The town’s historic downtown district is filled with meticulously preserved 19th-century structures, besides specialty shops, art galleries, museums, and local eateries like Cavalier Pizza. History buffs must stop by the Wasatch Academy Museum and Fairview Museum of History & Art to get an insight into the region’s rich history. Every year, Mount Pleasant hosts Hub City Days, Fourth of July Celebration, and Mt. Pleasant Pioneer Day, all of which include parades, rodeos featuring local cowboys, delicious foods, carnivals, and fireworks.
Heber City, the county seat of Wasatch County, is situated in Northern Utah’s Wasatch Back region, about 43 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Named in honor of the Mormon leader Heber C. Kimball, Heber City gradually grew from a locally important agricultural and dairy production center to a popular vacation destination. Heber City is an outdoor lover's paradise, offering fishing, golfing, hiking, off-roading, and mountain biking activities during summer, to snowboarding, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling activities on the numerous trails and at the adjacent ski resorts during winter. Visitors also get to admire the fantastic fall foliage as they enjoy a ride on the Heber Valley Historic Railroad or take a scenic drive through one of the many neighboring canyons. One can also walk down the town’s Main Street and browse the various specialty shops, museums, theaters, breweries, and cozy eateries that perfectly complement the surrounding mountain vistas.
Affectionately referred to as “the Little Switzerland of Utah,” this stunning mountain town is situated in Heber Valley on the opposite side of Wasatch Mountains, about 28 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and 3 miles west of Heber City. Set amidst the awe-inspiring snowy peaks, Midway is an ideal getaway for those who wish to enjoy its scenic alpine tranquility. The nearby Wasatch Mountain State Park offers outdoor enthusiasts plenty of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. Tourists in Midway can visit the two renowned resorts: Deer Valley Resort and Sundance Mountain Resort, the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, Midway Recreation Center (Town Hall), Heber Valley Artisan Cheese Dairy Farm, the Homestead Resort, and the Midway Ice Rink – Utah’s largest outdoor ice rink. The annual “Midway Swiss Days” event celebrated on the Friday and Saturday before Labor Day also draws many merrymakers to Midway every year.
From acting as gateways to the thrilling recreational opportunities in the state’s Mighty Five national parks to the various historical landmarks, scenic byways, vibrant celebrations, and welcoming locals, the charming small towns in the nation’s 13th largest and 30th most populous state are waiting to be discovered. It is, therefore, no wonder why this magnificent state attracts travel enthusiasts from all over the globe. With so many things to do here, make sure to include these gorgeous Utah towns in your itineraries on your next tour to the Mormon State.