Hiker enjoying a hiking trail in UT

6 of the Best Hikes in Utah

The best hikes in Utah are the ones that highlight the beauty and diversity of the landscapes that make this state so unique. Over 75% of Utah is public land, so there are plenty of special places to explore. While well-known landmarks like Delicate Arch in Moab and Angel’s Landing in Zion are famous for a reason, getting off the beaten path makes it possible to experience Utah hiking at its best, minus the crowds of tourists eager to snap the perfect selfie. Here’s a half dozen of our favorite day hikes and backpacking opportunities in the Beehive State.

What Makes Hiking in Utah Unique?

Utah is a land of extremes. From the towering peaks of the Wasatch and High Uintas Range in the north to the desert landscapes that characterize much of the southern part of the state, Utah has a hike to suit every taste. This diversity of scenery includes high mountain meadows, lush woodlands, subalpine lakes, spectacular hoodoo formations, sandstone arches, and vast stretches of red deserts and canyons. Utah hiking is second to none.

Best Times of Year To Hike in Utah

There’s never a bad time to go hiking in Utah. The wide range of ecosystems offers something for every season. Utah’s more mountainous northern reaches are best experienced in the warmer months when the snow has melted out of the higher elevation trails. On the other hand, hiking in southern Utah is best done in the fall, winter, or spring seasons after the intense heat of the summer has subsided.

Our Best Hikes in Utah

Hiking in Utah’s national parks is amazing, but we prefer to get away from the crowds. Here are a few of our favorite out-of-the-way hikes in Utah with world-class scenery.

Wildcat Canyon - Virgin, UT

Hiking Wildcat Canyon, UT

  • Length: 11.3 miles
  • Difficulty: beginner to intermediate
  • Alltrail link

The Wildcat Canyon hike offers a Zion experience minus the crowds. This Utah hike accesses Zion from the lesser-known west side. This approach is higher in elevation and allows you to see Zion National Park from a different perspective than most folks see. Linking this hike to the West Rim Trail turns it into a backpacking trip, assuming you’ve made arrangements for a car shuttle. At 11.3 miles out and back, the mild terrain puts this hike at a beginner to intermediate level. Because it’s higher in elevation than the surrounding Zion area and contains a respectable amount of shade, it’s also a great way to beat the heat during the summer.

Bartlett Wash - Moab, UT

Hiking Bartlett Wash, UT

  • Length: 13.3 miles
  • Difficulty: intermediate to advanced
  • Alltrails link

Bartlett Wash isn’t as much of an established hike as it is a chance to explore gorgeous rock features, fun slickrock terrain, desert pools, and wide-open vistas. This is an area more popular with mountain bikers, so you won’t see many — if any — other hikers in the area. A solid Utah day hike, Bartlett Wash is an amazing area to wander around and explore, clocking in at a beginner to intermediate level. Pro tip: There are no bathrooms available, so be on top of your LNT ethics. Also, depending on the weather, a high-clearance 4x4 might be your best bet for accessing this trail.

Mineral Mountains - Beaver County, UT

Camping Mineral Mountain, UT

  • Length: various trails around 1.5-3 miles
  • Difficulty: beginner
  • Trails link

The Mineral Mountains are an entire wilderness playground located about an hour and a half north of Cedar City, UT, accessed via well-maintained dirt roads. The rugged granite peaks, scrambling, hiking, camping, and backcountry trails all accessed by dirt roads, make great opportunities for easy Utah hikes. There are tons of rock features to explore and plenty of places to backcountry camp with hardly anyone out there with you. Due to the remote area, the stars at night are definitely worth staying up for.

Toadstools Hoodoo Trail - Kanab, UT

Hiking Toadstools Hoodoo Trail, UT


Unearthly rock formations make this Utah day hike special! As the name implies, each one looks like a toadstool! There are lots of wildflowers out here in the springtime, too. At approximately 2 miles out and back, it’s the perfect hike for beginners. But heads up, there’s zero shade, so hiking this one in the summertime will be very hot! Located right off Highway 89 between Kanab and Page, parking is available at the trailhead right off the main road.

Virgin Rim - Duck Creek, UT

Views when hiking Virgin Rim, UT

  • Length: 27.6 miles
  • Difficulty: beginner-advanced pending on distance and sections you choose to hike.
  • Alltrails link

This Utah backpacking trail is long, but you can do it in sections and access it at multiple different locations, making it possible to tackle as a series of day hikes. This trail skirts along a high-elevation rim as it looks down on the incredible Virgin River Valley, including top-down views of Zion National Park. It’s another great hike to escape the heat, as you’ll be over 8,000 feet up and surrounded by towering pines and aspens. In spring, there are tons of wildflowers and baby Horned lizards, too! Pro tip: There is zero cell service in most areas up on the mountain, so be sure to download your trail map ahead of time. Also, in the winter it is cold and snowy meaning several access roads will be closed.

Red Mountain Trail - Ivans, UT

Views from Red Mountain Trail, UT

  • Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Difficulty: beginner to intermediate
  • Alltrails link

While the majority of the Red Mountain Trail isn’t that captivating, the payoff at the end makes it all worthwhile. The epic view you get of Snow Canyon is unbeatable, with lots of great spots to sit down and soak it all in. At 4.9 miles out and back, this Utah day hike would be a beginner-to-intermediate level trail. This trail is uneven and has a lot of loose rock, so the right footwear is a must. Located off Highway 18, there are parking spots and pit toilets at the trailhead; note the trailhead is technically outside of Snow Canyon State Park. Pro tip: At about 0.5 miles from the end, stay left at the fork to get to the vista.


National Parks in Utah

Utah is home to some of the country’s most amazing national parks, which are commonly known as the Mighty Five. In fact, only California and Alaska have more to choose from. Hiking in Utah national parks is an experience that’s difficult to rival.

Zion National Park

Located in southwest Utah, Zion is a wonderland of canyons, sandstone cliffs, and expansive desert landscapes. Home to iconic places like The Subway, The Narrows, and Emerald Pools, it hosts some of Utah’s most well-known hikes. 

Bryce Canyon National Park

This is Utah’s smallest national park. But don’t let that title fool you; it’s packed with amazing, multi-hued sandstone canyons, where postcard views await hikers around every bend.

Arches National Park

With the densest concentration of natural stone arches on the planet, Arches National Park gets its name honestly. It sports over 2,000 documented arches. Sandstone fins, towering pinnacles, and balanced rocks make Arches a mecca for desert lovers around the world.

Canyonlands National Park

Just down the road (literally) from Arches, Canyonlands National Park is a warren of amazing canyons, networked together like a world-class maze. Add a generous helping of Native American rock art, and you have a recipe for world-class Utah canyon hiking.

Capitol Reef National Park

Perhaps the least well-known of The Mighty Five, Capitol Reef is a gorgeous, open expanse of desert wonders. The wide, expansive vistas and muted creams, oranges, and reds of the desert sandstone make this national park home to some of the best hikes in southern Utah.


Ready To Lace Up Your Boots?

The desert is a source of near-endless opportunities for hiking and backpacking. Erem desert hiking boots are designed to help adventurers conquer the unique challenges of desert hiking. With soles made from a single durable piece of rubber instead of various materials glued together, Erem boots won’t delaminate and fall apart over time. The full-grain leather uppers are loose-lined with 100% Tencel™ Lyocell fabric that wicks away moisture, regulates foot temperature, and prevents odor.

Each pair is sustainably made using incredibly durable, eco-friendly materials. Our adherence to the Biocircular standard ensures our boots return to nature quickly when they’ve fulfilled their mission. If you’re not quite ready to say farewell to your favorite pair, Erem’s Reboot program restreams old boots into new, replacing the soles and reworking the uppers into new, “tough as a cactus” boots that are ready to tackle many more miles of Utah trails. So lace up and get out there. The desert is waiting.

 

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