There are so many things to do and see in Southern Utah. To help you sort through everything, we brainstormed and came up with The Utahopian Dictionary: an A to Z guide to Southern Utah. While this doesn’t provide a total list of the things you might discover, we hope it helps spark your imagination.
A—Arches National Park protects the State’s largest collection of natural arches, more than 2,000 geological examples. It is located near the city of Moab. To really explore the best of the park, be prepared to hike. The iconic Delicate Arch is part of Arches National Park, a representation of which is found on the Utah Centennial license plate.
B—Bryce Canyon National Park is an amphitheater of impressive sandstone spires and pinnacles, affectionately known as hoodoos. The park also preserves hundreds of years of American Indian archeological history. This park can be visited year round, as the snow helps deepens the contrast between the hoodoos. It is best explored on foot and bicycle.
C—Canyonlands National Park is canyon network formed by the erosive powers of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Described as “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth” it is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and river rafters. The park can be accessed through Moab City.
D—Dixie National Forest is the largest forest in Utah, covering more than two million acres. The forest is perfect for all types of outdoor activities. You can enjoy camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and boating in various areas of Dixie National Forest. Cedar Breaks, known as “Little Bryce Canyon,” is part of Dixie.
E—Escalante Petrified Forest State Park has 1300 acres of petrified woods and dinosaur bones. Visitor can enjoy desert hiking on marked trails. The park also includes an off-highway vehicle designated area.
F—The Fremont River is a great river to float on, fly fish, photograph, or simply watch. It is named after the famous 19th century explorer John Fremont.
G—Glen Canyon National Recreation Area encompasses the renowned Lake Powell. A universal weekend vacation spot for residents of Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell contains 24 million-acre feet of water. It is the second largest man made reservoir in the United States.
H—High Country Skiing is a great way to get out during the winter. You can enjoy the sun and pristine beauty of the mountain snow. High country and backcountry skiing is popular in areas of Dixie National Forest.
I—Indian Monuments and archeological sites are plentiful in Southern Utah. Evidences of Anasazi, Ute, and Navajo tribes can be found in many locations. Hovenweep National Park, the town of Boulder, Canyonlands and National Bridges National Monument are some examples of preserved Native American history.
J—Johnson Reservoir is part of Fish Lake National Forest. In addition to the obvious water recreational opportunities, Johnson Reservoir connects to one of the finest scenic byways in the state. Early autumn is the most popular time to drive this route.
K—Kolob Canyon, a section of Zion National Park, is a beautiful finger canyon that is relatively unvisited. It is located just off Interstate 15. This remarkable area of the park is noted for its huge, red cliff faces. There are plenty of hikes and scenic drives to enjoy.
L—Labyrinth Canyon is a section of the Green River. The drop-off point for rafting and kayaking is at Green River State Park. The twisting canyon river is slow and lazy, making it the ideal for families with small children, and first-time rafters.
M—Moab is a city that lies between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. As a result, the surrounding desert is a montage of sandstone cliffs and sifting dunes. The area receives and influx of annual tourists who come to use the desert as their playground. A perfect spot for off-highway vehicles.
N—Natural Bridges National Monument is home to three of the world’s best natural bridges. It is also a haven of Indian archeological treasures. The monument is one of the best stargazing locations in the state, having the least light pollution in Utah. It is the world’s first International Dark Sky Place.
O—Off-road vehicle trails abound in Southern Utah. Many are designed specifically for ATV use. Some of the most popular routes include the Great Western Trail, the Canyon Rims Recreational Area, and the various trails in Dixie National Forest.
P—Palisade State Park holds a pristine mountain reservoir that allows all types of non-motorized water sports. The park also has an incredible 18-hole golf course. Six-mile canyon is nearby and provides hours of fun for hikers and those riding off road vehicles. The park is near Manti, Utah.
Q—Quail Creek State Park is a perfect place for boaters that want to enjoy the southern sun without the usual crowds. The surrounding desert produces a Lake Powell-like feel, but with much less competition.
R—Rainbow Bridge National Monument is home to Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world. It spans a length of 270 feet, and is 290 feet tall. The monument includes many desert hiking opportunities, and can only be reached by foot, horse or boat.
S—Snow Canyon State Park lies just 11 miles north of Saint George. It is a compilation of Navajo sandstone and black volcanic rock, formed in spectacular manner. Hiking and photography are the avid pastimes here.
T—Temple of the Sun and Moon is an isolated part of Capitol Reef National Park. Visitors enjoy hiking, rock climbing, nature photography and exploring the area around these temples. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended to reach this location.
U—Utah Shakespeare Festival is a collection of the Bard’s plays performed in Cedar City. The sets, production, acting and re-creation of Shakespeare’s classics are top-notch. For those who don’t relish Elizabethan language, check out the works of other world famous playwrights.
V—The Valley of the Gods lies to the northeast of Monument Valley and Mexican Hat. The area is famous for its “eerie” monoliths and for the dirt road that switchbacks up the mountain face, climbing 1200 feet. The view from the top is stunning.
W—Waterpocket Fold is the geographical feature that defines the southern part of Capitol Reef National Park. The dozens of unvisited slot canyons make the Waterpocket Fold a cult classic for photography aficionados and adventurous backpackers. Most trailheads are accessible by car.
X—Extreme Sports are for people who are bored with regular excitement. Whether it’s repelling down canyons, trick boarding, shooting the rapids, sports climbing, or kickin’ it on dirt bike, nothing says extreme like Southern Utah.
Y—Yuba State Park is another of Utah’s fine water recreational parks. Located near Nephi, Yuba reservoir provides ample boating, fishing and swimming for all visitors.
Z—Zion National Park is perhaps the pinnacle of all Utah parks and monuments. Every year over 2.6 million visitors come to experience this park. Zion has been used extensively in film, adding to its popularity. The park offers hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and the splendor of the natural world.
We hope that this list has been helpful for all those interested in Southern Utah. Contact us if want more suggestions or have other ideas to add. Best of luck in your exploration!