The charming town of Springdale, Utah.

6 Most Scenic Small Towns In Utah

Dotted around Utah's vast, dramatic landscapes are some of the most attractive small towns in the US, each offering an array of fun things to do for day-trippers, road-trippers, weekenders, and vacationers. From the red rock wonders of Moab, the state's hotbed of outdoor adventures, to the Swiss-inspired charm of Midway, these towns provide an excellent introduction to the best that the "Beehive State" offers.

These jewels of Utah also offer unique opportunities for visitors to experience a little of the spirit of the American West, which is very much alive and thriving in Utah. Find out more and be inspired by this list of Utah's six most scenic small towns.

Moab

Aerial view of Moab, Utah
Aerial view of Moab, Utah.

Moab has earned itself a reputation as the ultimate playground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. In the heart of the Colorado Plateau, a sprawling 240,000 square miles of some of the USA's most spectacular scenery, Moab offers access to two of the country's best national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Arches National Park, just a few miles north of Moab, is famous for its over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the famed Delicate Arch. Hiking trails of varying difficulties lead visitors through this otherworldly landscape, with breathtaking vistas and unique geological formations at every turn.

Canyonlands National Park, divided into four distinct districts by the Colorado River and its tributaries, presents a vastly different experience: the Island in the Sky district offers panoramic views over sheer sandstone cliffs, while the Needles district features a more rugged, remote landscape of spires and arches. Moab is also a center for mountain biking, with the Slickrock Bike Trail being popular for its challenging terrain and spectacular scenery. Whitewater rafting and kayaking adventures can also be enjoyed on the Colorado River, with courses ranging from gentle flows to adrenaline-pumping rapids.

Springdale

The charming town of Springdale, Utah.
The charming town of Springdale, Utah.

Springdale's location near the border with Arizona makes it an excellent spot for travelers heading from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas along the I-15. It serves as a great base from which to explore Zion National Park, a paradise for hikers, climbers, and nature lovers that's famous for its canyons, high plateaus, rock towers, and mesas. Highlights include traversing through the Narrows, where the North Fork of the Virgin River has carved a deep gorge in the Navajo sandstone, or ascending to Angels Landing, a trail that offers one of the most breathtaking panoramic views in the American Southwest.

Downtown Springdale is also fun to explore and offers a variety of dining options, from casual caf├ęs to upscale restaurants, many offering outdoor seating with views of the surrounding cliffs. The town also boasts numerous art galleries showcasing local and regional artists.

Midway

Aerial view of Midway, Utah
Aerial view of Midway, Utah.

Only a 50-minute scenic drive from downtown Salt Lake City, Midway's pleasant setting in the Heber Valley region makes it a popular spot for a Utah weekend retreat. Settled in the late 1850s, the arrival of immigrants from Switzerland a few years later left its mark, giving the town a uniquely European flavor. This is especially evident during the annual Swiss Days Fest, which celebrates the town's Swiss heritage with a large outdoor market, traditional foods, parades, and performances.

One of Midway's most unique attractions is the Homestead Crater, a natural geothermal spring hidden within a 55-foot tall, beehive-shaped limestone rock. Visitors can swim, soak, scuba dive, or even take a yoga class inside this unique geographic feature, enjoying the warm, mineral-rich waters in a truly one-of-a-kind setting. Visiting in winter? Head to nearby Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, where events were hosted during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Today, it features cross-country ski trails, tubing lanes, snowshoeing, and ice-fishing experiences.

Kanab

Hot air balloons take flight in Kanab, Utah
Hot air balloons take flight in Kanab, Utah.

Locally along the Utah state border with Arizona, Kanab has earned a reputation as "Little Hollywood" for having starred as a backdrop for numerous classic films and TV shows, particularly Westerns. Learn more about this unique facet of the town's past at Little Hollywood Land: Museum, Trading Post & Chuckwagon Cookout, which offers insights into Kanab's role in film history through its movie sets and collections of memorabilia.

The star attraction here is Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, a fascinating place of shifting sands and unique coral-hued dunes covering an area of over 3,700 acres. It's a natural playground perfect for sandboarding, off-roading, or simply enjoying a spectacular sunset that illuminates the sand in fiery shades of orange and red. Another must-visit site is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which has a vast and rugged landscape ideal for hiking, backpacking, and canyoneering through spectacular slot canyons.

Panguitch

Hitch N Post Campground and RV park in Panguitch, Utah
Hitch N Post Campground and RV park in Panguitch, Utah. Image credit: Susan Vineyard - stock.adobe.com.

Handily located just off the I-15 highway, Panguitch owes its name to the Paiute word meaning "big fish" in recognition of the area's rich fishing in nearby Panguitch Lake. In addition to checking out its attractive old downtown area, visitors should head to nearby Bryce Canyon National Park for its unique geological structures. These spire-like rock formations, known as hoodoos, attract hikers, photographers, and nature lovers. Trails range from easy strolls along the rim to more strenuous hikes into the canyon.

Try to time a visit to coincide with the Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally in June, a spectacular display of hundreds of colorful hot air balloons filling the skies around the community. The Quilt Walk Festival is another June date to mark in your calendars and commemorate the town's pioneer history with demonstrations, competitions, and displays.

Eden

The charming town of Eden, Utah
The charming town of Eden, Utah. Image credit: Tricia Simpson via Wikimedia Commons.

Being accessible from both the I-15 and I-84 highways has certainly served Eden well. This aptly named small community in the picturesque Ogden Valley is surrounded by the peaks of the Wasatch Range, making it a popular spot for photographers wanting a quiet, largely unspoiled setting. While the town itself is small - only around 820 people live here - it's fun to wander before heading out to the surrounding stunning scenery. Pineview Reservoir is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and water skiing, while hikers and mountain bikers will find their own little slice of heaven on the trails that crisscross the area.

In winter, Eden transforms into a skiing and snowboarding paradise, attracting snow-sport enthusiasts to the Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley ski resorts. Powder Mountain is renowned for its vast terrain, offering over 8,464 acres of skiable terrain, while Nordic Valley is popular for its family-friendly atmosphere and boasts runs suitable for all skill levels, along with night skiing options.

The Final Word

Utah's small towns each possess a distinct charm that warrants the inclusion of at least one or two of them on a Utah travel itinerary. From the adrenalin-soaked adventures on offer in Moab to the subdued scenic splendor of Eden, with stops at Springdale, Midway, Kanab, and Panguitch along the route, these communities offer an escape into a world where nature's majesty remains an unspoiled backdrop to an unforgettable travel experience. Whether you're in the Beehive State for a day, a weekend, or a longer vacation, this list of six of the most scenic small towns in Utah is guaranteed to inspire.

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