Utah, located in the western United States, became the 45th state in 1896. The state is home to diverse landscapes, including vivid red deserts, the majestic Rocky Mountains, and picturesque lakes.
Utah offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities, such as skiing, hiking, and visiting national parks, including popular destinations like Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. It is also well known for being the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, and for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The state has some great towns to visit, each offering a unique blend of charm and modern amenities, making Utah a compelling destination. Here are some of the top-rated towns you can find in Utah:
When you come to Kanab, you are coming to the gateway of the vast, unspoiled land of Utah. All around town are stunning red rock landscapes, and Kanab is in close proximity to some of the best parks in the country.
Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Canyon are all within a two hour’s drive. Zion is the closest, only about 50 minutes away, and is a breathtaking natural wonder with red rock formations and surreal slot canyons to explore. The town is named after Kanab Creek, which flows through both Utah and Arizona and is significant tributary of the Colorado River.
The surrounding landscape of the town is incredibly captivating, frequently chosen by movie productions as a setting for their films. Numerous Western films have been filmed in close proximity.
The town celebrates the connection to the film industry and is home to the Little Hollywood Museum, which teaches about the history of movie-making in the area.
Midway played an important role in the 2002 Winter Olympics, holding events during the games. When you see the nearby snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, you will understand why.
The Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, located in nearby Wasatch Mountain State Park was the venue for the cross-country skiing and biathlon events during the Olympics. The town itself has a distinct Swiss influence in its architecture and spirit, sporting Chalet-style buildings with steep roofs and wooden accents adding to the aesthetic.
This aesthetic really comes alive with the architecture of the Homestead Resort, a historic site in Midway, known for its iconic Homestead Crater. This natural spring is housed in a beehive-shaped limestone rock and is a popular spot for swimming.
Make sure to visit Midway winter, just to see the Ice Castles attraction, where you can witness beautifully designed ice structures and tunnels. Just remember to wear some long underwear.
When you walk into Mount Pleasant, the crisp air of the Wasatch Plateau and the Manti-La Sal National Forest will hit your face. The city was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was originally called Hambleton, but was renamed due to its ‘pleasant’ setting among the mountains.
The town has a fun collection of events year-round, like the Hub City Days Rodeo in the summer and the Christmas Light Parade in wintertime. Anyone looking for some adventure outside the town can find iat at the nearby Manti-La Sal National Forest. The forest is a massive collection of land, with over 1.4 million acres of forest covering parts of Utah and Colorado.
To the east of town, Sanpete North Recreation Area in Utah offers stunning landscapes. The site is found in a scenic region of the mountain range and is great for camping or other outdoor activies.
If you want a peaceful drive through the mountains, the Manti-La Sal National Forest includes scenic byways and drives providing breathtaking views of the landscapes.
Right along the southern shores of Bear Lake near the Idaho border is a beautiful town with stunning views of the lake's turquoise waters. Garden City is not just any ordinary lake either. Bear Lake is named the 'Caribbean of the Rockies,' because of the intense blue color of its waters.
In the northern part of town, Bear Lake State Park has a good collection of beaches and a marina for hitting the water. It also lot of spots to have a picnic on a pleasant, warm day.
The area has iconic raspberry orchards, and the local raspberry industry is a significant part of the town's identity. Every year in either July or August, Garden City holds The Raspberry Days Festival to celebrate the fruit. You can see everything from a colorful parade, contests, all the way to fireworks closing off the celebration.
Moab is a vibrant town, surrounded by stunning red rock scenery, and is the perfect location for outdoor adventure. First off, Moab is close to some world-class parks. The Delicate Arch, one of the most iconic sites in the state and country, is located on the red rock terrain inside Arches National Park, standing distinctively amidst more than 2,000 natural stone arches.
Canyonlands National Park, characterized by deep canyons carved by the Colorado River, lies right to the southwest. The park has been designated as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association, so it is an excellent location for stargazing.
Moab is famous for the Slickrock Bike Trail, a challenging mountain biking trail that winds through a unique, grippy sandstone surface. The trail is a must-visit for mountain bikers. If you want to do some off-roading, the nearby desert terrain includes areas like 'Shafer Trail' and 'Hell's Revenge,' both of which have become a hit with off-road enthusiasts.
This town gets its name from an old Indigenous word meaning ‘big fish,’ and if you like fishing, this place is for you. Not far from town is Panguitch Lake, which is stocked full of different kinds of trout to catch.
The town was home to a historical event, the ‘Panguitch Quilt Walk,’ in the winter of 1864-65. Settlers facing starvation used quilts to protect their feet from snow as they walked to get much-needed supplies.
Now the town holds an annual celebration in June in remembrance, and a memorial of the event stands in the middle of town. A significant portion of the town's downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has a very distinct Western theme.
If you are feeling the urge to get out of town and explore, it serves as a pivotal base camp for some of Southern Utah's foremost natural marvels, including Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks.
Park City is found down in Summit County, only half an hour from Salt Lake City. Back in the old days, Park City was a mining town after silver and lead was discovered nearby.
The town has undergone considerable changes since then. Nowadays, Park City hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival, one of the largest independent film festivals in the world, drawing attention from Hollywood and film enthusiasts.
It typically takes place in January and you are bound to see filmmakers and actors wandering the town. The town is also home to the Utah Olympic Park, constructed as part of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
It serves as a training facility for athletes, and visitors can come experience Olympic activities such as bobsledding and ski jumping. Park City also has some great skiing options. Both Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort are only a stone’s throw away from the town.
This town was founded back in 1851 by Mormon pioneers and named after Brigham Young. Young was the second president of the Mormon Church and a key figure in their migration to the Salt Lake Valley.
Brigham City has the best of both worlds. The signage heading into the historic downtown district readings ‘Gateway to the World's Greatest Wild Bird Refuge,’ shows the duality of the town.
It has both captivating outdoor options, exemplified by the nearby bird refuge, and a charming, rustic historic town that preserves the essence of its rich heritage.
The twin spires of the stark white Brigham City Utah Temple contrast beautifully against peaceful blue skies. Right across the street is the smaller, but equally as interesting, Box Elder Tabernacle, a brick-built, neo-Gothic Mormon Church.
The aforementioned Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is a vital wildlife sanctuary, less than 10 minutes away. With around 80,000 acres of wetlands, it is crucial for migratory birds, particularly birds flying along the Pacific Flyway.
These Utah towns have an impressive assortment of attractions, from natural wonders to historical sites. Whether it is the outdoor adventures around Moab or watching movies at the Sundance Kanab in Park City, each town has its distinct offerings.
Visitors can explore landscapes, enjoy festivals, and experience a slice of Utah's rich culture. So, if you feel like hitting hiking trails in the cool air of the Rockies or exploring arid canyons in the desert, Utah has what you need.