Utah is the second-driest state in the country, landlocked by Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Arizona, and yet it offers a host of culturally and geographically diverse experiences for travelers looking to escape to a small town in the State. Although most of Utah's landscape is arid, it is home to numerous canyons, mountains, and deserts, which make it a state full of exciting adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. On the other hand, the region also houses incredible archaeological sites and informative museums, inviting all history buffs to explore its rich heritage. From mountainous resorts to desert oases, there is a small town in Utah waiting to be the perfect vacation destination for you.
Midway is an alpine town located in Heber Valley, just 3 miles west of Heber City, and celebrates the Swiss culture left behind by Swiss settlers from the 18th century. Attend the annual Swiss Days festival, which is held every summer, to learn more about the international heritage left behind. To witness a unique wonder of nature, tour the Homestead Crater. Over 10,000 years in the making, this crater is the only warm scuba diving destination in continental America. Tourists can hike the Dutch Hollow Trailhead for autumnal views in the fall and practice their skating skills at Midway's outdoor Ice Skating Rink in the winter.
Kanab is a desert oasis located on the western Colorado Plateau, just north of the Arizona state line. The town has become famous as "Little Hollywood" as numerous filmmakers make it a backdrop for Western movie sets. Visitors can explore this bedazzled history by finding abandoned film sets, movie posters, and autographed photos all over the town or by venturing to the Little Hollywood Museum. Take in the red rock landscape at Bryce Canyon National Park or the nearby Zion National Park. A great time to visit Kanab is in February, during the Balloons & Tunes Roundup Festival, where 40 hot air balloons are launched over the rocky landscape on three consecutive days and are a sight not to be missed.
Park City is a mountainous town and an ideal resort destination for the holiday season. This town is a sweet haven for skiers as it is the largest ski resort in the country, with 426 downhill trails across 9,326 acres and numerous spots to Nordic ski. Historic Main Street is the place for history buffs, where visitors can explore the restored architecture of old mining cabins. In the summer, take gentle strolls or mountain bike on the spectacular, winding trails on the Rail Trail. Head to Park City in January to attend the Sundance Film Festival, one of the world's largest independent film festivals, attracting tourists from all over the country.
Spring City is a small farming town becoming increasingly popular for its historic and artistic atmosphere. The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, where Mormon pioneer architecture from the 19th century remains well-preserved even today, making it an ideal destination to explore on foot. In the summer, visitors should take the historic home tour that is held during the town's annual Heritage Days. Delve into the city's arts scene by touring the local galleries on the town's Main Street or visiting Horseshoe Mountain Pottery. Make sure to stop by the Das Café to indulge in the unique American-German-Mormon fusion cuisine it offers.
Mount Pleasant is a historic small town known most famously for the Wasatch Academy, the oldest continuously operating secondary school in Utah. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the town's Main Street. Hence, this is the ideal destination for those looking to step back in time, and the perfect spot to do so is the Mt. Pleasant Pioneer Museum and Relic Home. Then, visitors can take to the original Wasatch Academy schoolhouse, now a museum, or walk around the town to explore century-old buildings. One can also cool down in Mount Pleasant's Pool and Recreation Area or enjoy the thrill of off-roading around The Mt. Pleasant Loop.
Eden is a rustic town located in Ogden Valley, Utah, that invites visitors looking for a peaceful getaway. The town is home to the expansive Powder Mountain ski resort, where tourists can enjoy miles of skiing and snowboarding fun in the snowy season. For those not as interested in athletic activities, a gondola ride takes tourists 9,000 feet in the air to catch breathtaking views of the valley below. In the summer, the town transforms the same landscape into a plethora of hiking and mountain biking trails, such as the 6.5-mile Brim Trail loop, mainly known for blooming in the wildflower season. End your trip with comfort food from Eats of Eden.
Vernal is the largest city in Uintah County, Utah, and is nicknamed "Dinosaurland" because it is the only place in the world where visitors will find 1,500 dinosaur bones in their original resting place. Delve into this dinosaur world by heading to the Dinosaur National Monument, where tourists can explore the quarry filled with bones and fossils. After taking in all the preserved remains, hike on the trails nearby or enjoy other outdoor activities such as white-water river rafting, bird-watching, fishing, and biking in the surrounding natural area. For an even more exciting outdoor experience, stop by the Buckskin Hills Recreation Complex to mountain bike, explore an ATV trail, or practice your mark at the shooting range.
Blanding is the most populous city in San Juan County, Utah, according to the 2010 census, and it is abundant in natural and archaeological resources. Dedicate a day of the trip to explore the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, where visitors can find ancient relics and restored ruins from Anasazi (Pueblo People) and delve into the rich heritage of the region, as it is the only sanctioned repository for ancient artifacts in the Four Corners. Then, head to the park outside to walk along a paved trail around the ruins and investigate native plants and outdoor sculptures. History enthusiasts can continue a deep dive into the past at the Dinosaur and Pioneer Museums. Visit Blanding in the summer to enjoy the Four Corners Indian Art Market, the San Juan ATV Safari, or the Hillman Triathlon.
These lesser-known towns in Utah, therefore, have a lot more to offer in terms of experiences than one would expect from an arid and rocky state. From the alpine beauty of Midway and the mountainous haven of Park City to the stunning red rock landscapes of Kanab and the ancient remains and heritage in Vernal and Blanding, there is a small town on this list that will cater to the particular needs of every kind of wandered. Take in the pioneering architecture, archaeological wonders, and rugged terrain in the heart of this Mountain West region.