Smiling child and adult women ready to board a large inflatable raft as they travel down the scenic Colorado River near Moab, Utah and Arches National Park.

7 Most Charming River Towns in Utah to Visit in 2024

Utah is an inland state in the Mountain West subregion of the US. One of the things that makes Utah special is its beautiful landscapes. The State's diverse terrain is dotted with attractive towns nestled around its meandering rivers. From the stunning parks to the serene mountain valleys, each town is an ideal destinations for a leisurely getaway. If you fancy outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, or river rafting or prefer a more relaxed pace with pleasing drives, these towns have something for everyone.

Uncover the seven most charming river towns in Utah. Get your beachwear, sunscreen, and sunglasses ready for an adventure-packed journey in 2024.

Garden City

Aerial View of Garden City, Utah, on the shores of Bear Lake.
Garden City, Utah, on the shores of Bear Lake.

Garden City, a small town on the shores of Bear Lake, often called the "Caribbean of the Rockies'' for its stunning turquoise blue waters. This destination offers a mix of natural beauty and small-town charm. The town's location at the border of the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway makes it one of Northern Utah's best river getaway towns, giving you access to creeks and streams, including the Logan River and Bear River.

Visit Bear Lake State Park when in town. The Lake provides an abundance of water sports activities like jet skiing, wakeboarding, and kayaking. You can hire a boat service with Marina Rentals if you would like to go on a lake tour. Garden City is the ideal place to spend quiet time with the lovely landscape and partake in a raspberry shake. One of the town's huge annual draws, the Garden City Raspberry Festival, is held annually in August. Go hiking at Limber Pine Nature Trail. Watch a live performance at Pickleville Playhouse. Refuel at Bear Lake Pizza before leaving.


Woman sitting by the water in Kamas, Utah
Tranquil water in Kamas, Utah. Image credit Layne V. Naylor via Shutterstock

Kamas has long been known as the “Gateway to the Uintas” because of its close proximity to Utah's remarkable Uinta Mountain Range. Kamas also offers a spectacular view of the nearby Wasatch Mountains. The initial settlers came to the town because of their dairy farming and animal rearing business. However, the town is not only known for business, it also has tons of family-friendly attractions that have made it desirable for tourists and residents.

Stop by the Samak Smoke House, a must-stop roadside store featuring real house-smoked jerky and trout in a USDA-inspected facility. You can also snag fishing licenses and other important passes and rentals for fishing at the Provo River (just south of Kamas). If you are looking to catch an event opening while in town or you want to host an event in Kamas, DeJoria Center is your go-to place. The town hosts a popular Annual Rodeo as part of its Fiesta Days, held every July.


The Colorado River that runs through Canyonlands National Park is located near the city of Moab, Utah
The Colorado River runs through Canyonlands National Park near the city of Moab, Utah.

Moab is recognized for its stunning red rock landscapes and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, making it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. From mountain biking and sightseeing to river rafting, there’s so much to see in this breathtaking town. Check out Arches National Park, a stunning monument with more than 2,000 unique sandstone arches.

Experience the Canyonlands National Park, which is 34 minutes from Moab or take a 35-minute drive to Dead Horse Point State Park for spectacular views of the Colorado River, or take strides in the footprints of dinosaurs at Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trails, 15 miles north of Moab. Mountain bikers can ride the Slickrock Trail, which winds through the rugged terrain outside town. Off-road enthusiasts come for the Moab Jeep Safari to put their vehicles to the test. Don't leave the town without visiting its excellent Moab Brewery.


Mountain Lake in Midway Utah
Mountain Lake in Midway, Utah.

Midway is a small charming town in Wasatch County, located in the middle of an agricultural area in the Heber Valley. This quiet mountain town is home to several historical sites, including the Midway Swiss Village, reminiscent of a European Alpine village. The town is surrounded by creeks and rivers, with the Snake Creek to the west and Provo River to the east.

Hikers can tackle the Dutch Hollow Trailhead, accessible within a 10-minute drive from downtown. Midway becomes a snowy wonderland in winter with snowshoeing and snowmobiling among the town’s most popular activities, and the Homestead Crater is the destination for all of these activities. Also, for travelers with a sweet tooth for European pastries, Midway’s renowned Bakery at Zermatt is a must-visit.


U.S. Route 89 through Kanab, Utah
U.S. Route 89 through Kanab, Utah.

On Kanab Creek, near the border with Arizona, Kanab is the county seat of Kane County. Kanab is the commercial center of a large farming community and is often called "Utah Little Hollywood" because of its film-making history over the years.

Start your adventure at Kanab Visitor Center to learn about the town’s history. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the place to visit if you're a pet lover. Keep your camera close to you cause the vistas are very impressive. The Coral Pink Sand Dunes is another interesting place to visit. It is known for its buttes, plateaus, and sandstone cliffs. Go back in time at the Moqui Cave History Museum. The museum contains a variety of Native American artifacts and a collection of dinosaur tracks.

Green River

Mother and daughter paddling a canoe on Green River, Utah
Mother and daughter paddling a canoe on Green River, Utah.

The town of Green River, along the mighty river of the same name (a tributary of the Colorado River), is often overlooked, but this town is the local's best-kept secret if there ever was one. In this town, you can't run out of water activities to engage in and parks to visit. It has a population of over 900 residents.

To learn how centuries-old boats used to explore the waterways, visit the John Wesley Powell Museum. The town is a haven for river runners who raft in places such as Desolation and Gray Canyons. This is the perfect destination for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, offering serene river beauty and laid-back vibes. Return from your adventures to dine at Tamarisk Restaurant. If you love coffee, Green River Coffee Company is a must-see.


View of the Watchman mountain and the virgin river in Zion National Park located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah, Arizona
View of the Watchman Mountain and the Virgin River near Springdale, Utah.

The adorable town of Springdale is not just a stopover destination for those heading to Zion National Park. Enjoy palatable meals, beautiful artworks, and the stunning Virgin River. Go biking, hiking, and mountain biking at Zion's towering red rock cliffs. Rent a bike with Utah E-Bike Adventures.

Explore dine-ins such as Oscar's Cafe, Spotted Dog, and the artsy MeMe's Cafe. Go gallery-hopping at Worthington Gallery and David J. West Gallery. Go for a drink at Zion Canyon Brew Pub. Book a stay at the Desert Pearl Inn if you're staying the night. Discover the local culture of the people by taking a stroll through the historic Downtown area.

Utah's charming river towns offer a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and small-town charm that make them ideal destinations for visitors in 2024. From the picturesque landscapes of Moab to the natural beauty of Garden City, each town has its own attractions to explore. Whether you are looking to relax by the river, embark on an outdoor adventure, or simply soak in the local culture, these seven towns promise an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, hit the road, and discover the beauty and charm of Utah's river towns this year!

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