9 Best Utah Day Hikes

Hiker sits in front of a scenic view in Bryce National Park

Red rock landscapes, magical slot canyons, and snow-capped mountains await. Utah boasts five National Parks, 44 State Parks, nine National Monuments, and five National Forests for you to play in. Whether you’re after a family-friendly outing or more challenging full day trips, we have a trail for you. Below, we’ve chronicled a list of our top 9 Utah Hikes.  

1. The Narrows, Zion National Park

Hikers wearing waders stand ready to begin the Zion Narrows hikePrepare to be humbled by Zion National Park’s quintessential hike: the Narrows. Embrace the magic of the thousand-foot sandstone canyon walls as you twist your way around river bends, over boulders, and alongside waterfalls. Wade through knee-to-chest deep water and discover the history of the water-carved canyon, 18 million years in the making.  

The trail starts at the Riverside Walk and continues through the canyon up the North Fork of the Virgin River. Day hikers can travel up to 4.3 miles upstream to Big Springs without a permit but should be prepared for deep water and changing conditions. 

  • Please note: it is important to check weather forecasts and river flow rates before entering the Narrows as flash flooding can occur. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure can present a challenge as hiking through water makes creates added difficulty, but the Zion Narrows are an unforgettable experience and one of the quintessential Utah hikes. 

Don’t want to be responsible for equipment rentals and safety precautions? Hire a Wildland hiking guide for the day. Or read more about the Riverside to Zion Narrows hike on our blog.  

2. Fisher Towers, Moab

Fisher Towers in MoabFeatured on HBO’s Westworld, the otherworldly terrain outside of Moab is a must-see. Journey past sandstone pinnacles and sweeping desert views on the epic 5.2-mile Fisher Towers trail.  

The trail starts in a canyon and ascends to Cottonwood Tower, an 800ft spire. Follow the trail back into the canyon, navigate a brief ladder crossing, and ascend around the Titan Tower, the tallest of the Fisher Towers spires. Reach a high ridge for rewarding views of the surrounding pinnacles and towers.  

3. Petrified Dunes Trail, Snow Canyon State Park

The red rocks of Snow Canyon State Park are set off by the glow of the setting sunNestled in prime red-rock country just outside of St. George, Utah, Snow Canyon State Park offers an off-the-beaten path alternative to Zion and an array of equally stunning classic Utah hikes. Blending Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Colorado Plateau scenery, the park boasts a wide array of adventures to choose from. One of our favorite trails in the park is the Petrified Dunes Trail, a moderate, 1.2-mile round-trip hike.  

Perhaps connect this trail with another at Hidden Pinion Overlook, where you can take in sweeping views of the canyon or pause to enjoy a picnic lunch.  

Whatever you do, don’t miss the often-overlooked corner of Utah – prized by Hollywood as the movie set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We offer tours year-round to Snow Canyon State Park. 

 Don’t miss the chance to see this under-rated park (or add it on to your Zion trip).  

4. The Toadstools, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Toadstool rock formations jut against the sky in Grand Staircase Escalante National MonumentIf you are driving from Kanab to Page, AZ or vice versa, don’t miss this quick (but beautiful) detour off highway 89A.  

Park at an unassuming pull-off, wander .75 miles into the desert, and transport yourself into an Alice-in-wonderland-esque world of red, green, and white mushroom-shaped, toadstool rock formations. This stop is perfect for those with kids in tow, with a child-like sense of wonder, or with an eye for photography. It’s a literal nature’s playground.  

5. Syncline Loop, Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

Warning sign on the Syncline Loop in Canyonlands National Park notes trail is strenuousIf you’re up for a more strenuous day-hike, head to the northern-most portion of Canyonlands National Park. Prepare for a series of delicious switchbacks, some light scrambling, and a stunning canyon view payoff on this 8-mile (1,700ft gain) adventure.  

Meander through colorful desert washes, hike near the center of a 3-mile-wide meteorite crater, scramble up slick rock, and enjoy a rainbow of desert hues. This is also one of the better trail running routes in the park (if that’s your speed).  

If you plan to tackle the loop unguided, we recommend downloading the trail map on your phone. The trail markers are few and far between and it’s easy to get lost.  Alternatively, allow our guides to show you the way.  

6. Druid Arch Trail, The Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

The Druid Arch in stands tall in the Needles District of Canyonlands National ParkTucked away in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, this ultra-scenic 11-mile trail is one of our favorite Utah hikes. Dominated by colorful sandstone spires and rocks to ogle around every turn, our recommended route begins on the Chesler Park trail before meandering down into the Elephant Canyon wash.  

The final mile(ish) includes more steep terrain, with some rock scrambling and a ladder. The panoramic views of Druid Arch offer the ultimate reward.  

Our guides serve a delicious lunch beneath the arch – discover the best parts of Canyonlands with our guides on a Druid Arch Trail Private Day Hike.  

7. Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park dominates the sunrise skylineChances are you’ve seen this iconic Arch before. It’s one of the most photographed arches in the world and is also depicted on the Utah license plate. Arches National Park offers a couple of different ways to experience this magnificent Arch, but our favorite approach is to begin at the Wolfe Ranch Trailhead and hike 1.5 miles (480ft up) past Wolfe Ranch Cabin and the Ute Petroglyphs.  

This is probably one of the most popular Utah hikes so we recommend going at sunrise to avoid the crowds and beat the heat, or after sunset for amazing dark sky views. Making the pilgrimage to the arch is an experience you won’t soon forget.  

  • Pro Tip: For those who want to take this experience to the next level, book a private sunrise hike with us – you’ll experience the magic of the arch, discover the history of the region, and savor an amazing breakfast spread at the top. 

8. Queens Garden to Navajo Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park

A hiker outfitted for a day in the desert stands in front of Bryce Canyon National Park hoodoosBryce Canyon National Park boasts an array of otherworldly Utah hikes. It is most famous for its red rock hoodoos, some 60 million years in the making, and its vanilla-scented Ponderosa Pines. It’s impossible to go wrong when picking a hike in Bryce, but one of our favorites is the Queens Garden to Navajo Loop Trail.  

This popular trail descends into the canyon from the main lodge to wind among the other-worldly rock spires. Pause to smell the sweet ponderosa pines before climbing back up the rim via the famous Wall Street switchback section. This hike is just a little over 3 miles long. Those looking for more of a challenge will enjoy the Bryce Rim to Rim trail – a 10.7 mile/moderately graded route.  

9. Upper Mulley Twist Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park sign marks the entrance to a great hiking destinationAlthough Capitol Reef is Utah’s quietest National Park, it is undeniably one of the state’s hidden gems. Created by a 100-mile-long geologic monocline, the park’s alien-looking landscape is known for its enormous domes, rainbow of rock layers, and equally colorful history. It is also home to some of the most underrated Utah hikes and backpacking routes.  

For those with just a little time to spare, our favorite short hike in the park is Chimney Rock Loop Trail, a 3.5 mile stretch best completed at sunset. Alternatively, those looking for a longer daytrip should consider Upper Mulley Twist Canyon, a 9-mile, loosely marked trail through the park’s backcountry. 

Plan your trip to Capitol Reef National Park. 

Planning your Utah Hiking Trip

Utah offers countless trails, canyons, cliffs, and rivers to explore. Whether you want to hit all 5 mighty Utah National Parks or wander off the beaten path, we are happy to recommend an unforgettable adventure. Chat with us about our day-trip possibilities or  consider booking a multiday trip. Any one of these iconic Utah hikes is sure to leave you hungry for more.  

Utah Mighty 5 Nation Parks TOUR

About Claire Van Winkle

Claire V. Wildland Blog Contributor

– Willdland Hiring Coordinator and Blog Contributor –

Claire grew up in the Midwest – swimming in cold Lake Michigan, picking cherries, and running through sandy birch forests. She has spent the last 10 years working in various roles in the tourism industry even bumping into several Wildland/Intrepid folks along the way. She came to us with guiding experience (everywhere from Iceland to Alaska), in addition to hiring, training, freelance design and operations knowledge. She earned a B.A. in Enviornmental Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and has already been put to work writing some SEO boosting recruitment-oriented blog posts. Claire has been a great addition to the team jumping in mid-hiring season with her sharp, positive attitude, relevant experience and a willingness to jump into anything sent her way! In her free time, Claire can be found in the mountains and especially enjoys recharging her soul via trail running and backcountry skiing.

Check out her website at: http://www.clairekalinadesigns.com/

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