National Parks are a good anchor in figuring out where to start when visiting Southern Utah, but there are some pretty incredible State Parks, Monuments and small towns that you’d regret not popping by.
- Dead Horse Point State Park
Known for it’s vast and incredibly beautiful panorama of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse State Park is a great pitstop between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park if you have the time to stop by. Just a heads up, your All Parks pass will not work here, but the entrance fee is well worth the stop. It has been rumored to have been named Dead Horse because horses died of exposure and lack of water when being corralled here.
2. Great Staircase-Escalante National Monument
There is a lot to explore within Escalante National Monument. Routing between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, we decided to check out the Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slots along the way. Arguably the other must go to spots include Lower Calf Creek Falls, Zebra Slot Canyon and Devil’s Garden. Whichever you choose, make sure to bring your hiking boots and some strong sunscreen! Fun fact, there have been many a dinosaur fossil discovered in Great Staircase-Escalante that date back to tens of millions of years ago.
3. Town of Moab
If you’re visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, there’s probably a 99% chance that you’re staying in Moab for at least one night. And why wouldn’t you? There are a wide array of breweries and restaurants there to check out which make for a nice way to cap off a long day of hiking and exploring. Some our favorite spots in Moab included where we stayed (Moab Springs Ranch), where we drank (Moab Brewery) and some other cute pandemic safe outdoor joints like Quesadilla Mobilla and Moab Food Truck Park where there were a multitude of choices.
4. Dixie National Forest / Black Dragon Canyon
I tried to jam two spots into one for my number 4. Both Dixie National Forest and Black Dragon Canyon were two of the most spectacular roadside attractions that we saw when traveling through Utah. In both instances, we felt as if the scenery was engulfing our car with out of this world views while we were driving down the highway. Black Dragon Canyon Viewpoint is right off of I-70, so taking a little peek on our way over to Colorado wasn’t difficult. Dixie National Forest we drove through both on our way to Bryce Canyon, but also into Escalante via Highway 12.
5. Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is filled with the cutest little hoodoos you ever did see. Known for their shorter and more mushroom-like shared rocks, the Valley of the Goblins allows you walk amongst them for miles. It truly feels like you’re on a different planet in a sci-fi movie. Actually speaking of that, the 1999 Galaxy Quest movie filmed in this park, who woulda thought?! While we were there, we embarked on the Valley of Goblins, Carmel Loop and Goblin’s Lair. All great hikes, but just a warning Carmel Loop can get narrow in spots so get ready to crawl/climb through it at the end of the loop!