If I had to pick one desert state to say was my favorite, Utah would almost certainly win. I love the rock formations, the arches, the canyons, the scrubby desert; it’s all lovely in a very rustic sort of way. So it only seemed natural to list my favorite hikes in southern Utah.
How do I define southern? Basically, anything south of I-70. Some are in established parks, while others are a bit more out in the wilderness. Always make sure you are prepared for a trek into the unknown before you attempt these hikes, and bring plenty of water!
Here are 15 of my favorite / the most spectacular hikes I’ve done in southern Utah, in no particular order. Enjoy!
- Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
Probably the most iconic feature in Utah (after all, the license plates showcased it for years), Delicate Arch is worth the short-but-crowded hike up the slickrock. Snow on the nearby La Sal Mountains makes the view even so much better… 3.0 miles RT.
- Neon Canyon (Beeline Route), Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Want to ditch the crowds and get a bit more into the wilderness? Try this route (no trail) across the Utah desert to a spectacular canyon with the incredible arches in the Golden Cathedral. About 8 miles RT.
- Grand View Point, Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park
This is by far my favorite hike in Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands. The trail is short, but the views are far-reaching across the rest of the national park, especially its canyons and buttes. Amazing! 2.0 miles RT.
If spectacular arches are your thing, you should really check out Corona Arch northwest of Moab. The somewhat primitive trail is more than worth the sheer size of this arch extending out from a cliff face, as well as nearby Bowtie Arch. Pretty cool stuff! 3 miles RT.
- Druid Arch, Needles District of Canyonlands National Park
While we’re on the topic of spectacular arches, Druid Arch certainly looks like none other you’ve ever seen. The trail is a bit of a trek, but the views just might make it worth the length and sandy washes. 10.25 miles RT.
- Dry Fork Slots, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
There are a few really cool things about the Dry Fork Slots: 1) they’re really narrow (like, you can’t walk through them with even a daypack on, and you’ll probably have to walk sideways), 2) there are lovely arches in Peek-a-Boo Slot, and 3) you can make a loop of the two really narrow slots (Peek-a-Boo and Spooky) if you’re feeling adventurous (and if not, then just walk up and down each as you feel comfortable). About 3.5 miles RT
- Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park
Now if you really want and adventure – or if narrow squeezes just aren’t your thing – check out Angel’s Landing, where hundreds of people literally tiptoe along the edge of 1,000ft. cliffs to the top of a rock outcrop high above Zion Canyon. Pretty cool? Pretty scary if you ask me! About 5 miles RT.
- Fairyland Trail, Bryce National Park
I can’t say it’s exactly fairyland you’ll find among the hoodoos and colorful rock formations in Bryce Canyon, but it is a lengthy and lovely experience of a very unique area of the United States. 8 miles RT.
- Broken Bow Arch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Broken Bow Arch is just huge. That’s all there is to it. You just have to experience it to know what I mean. And if you want a bit more adventure, walk down the stream for a bit to more canyon views and a waterfall or two. 6 miles to the arch and back.
- Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Arches National Park
If you’ve been to Delicate Arch but want a different view of this iconic arch, this viewpoint is a great place to visit (especially considering how very short the trail is). Extend the hike by “accidentally” missing the end of the trail and striking out across the slickrock. 1 or more miles RT.
If you really want to see the best of Bryce Canyon, this suggested loop is the trail to take. Hoodoos galore, tons of colorful formations, and epic scenery you can’t find elsewhere. Need I say more? 5.5 miles RT.
- Devil’s Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
If wandering is more your thing, this is a great place to do it among rock formations, under arches, and through scrubby Utah desert. It would be hard to get lost, but there’s still so much to see. RT length is as far as you want to make it, but likely less than 2 miles RT.
- Devil’s Garden Trail, Arches National Park
One thing you can say for this hike is that you get bang for your buck. The trail is 7.2 miles RT for the entire experience, but you get to see at least 7 arches along the way, not to mention sandstone fins, canyons between the fins, etc. It comes highly recommended! 7.2 miles RT.
- Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Ok, so this one is a real adventure: first you cross the desert (not even a hint of a trail), then it’s down an almost sheer sandstone rock face into a slot canyon (doable without ropes), then the “trail” is the streambed as you wade up and down stream to arches, waterfalls, and generally spectacular canyon scenery. About 8 miles RT.
- Chesler Park and the Joints, Needles District of Canyonlands National Park
And now for one of my favorites. Imagine strolling through a desert meadow near tri-colored rock pillars to a place where you can explore 2ft.-or-less wide slots in the rock. It’s truly an epic hike! About 9 miles RT.
What are your favorite hikes in Southern Utah?
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