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All 5 Utah National Parks Ranked: Which One Should You Visit?

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Utah is known for its Mighty Five National Parks. From the top of the state to the bottom, magical landscapes house Utah’s flora and fauna, and we are lucky enough to have these spaces preserved so we can enjoy them.

While living in Colorado for 3 years, it became my mission to visit all of the Mighty 5 parks as many times as I could. I mean, have you seen them? They’re really unlike anything else there is. Over time, though, I definitely developed some favorites.

Below is a list of Utah National Parks ranked from best to “worst” (in quotes because, in truth, all of Utah’s parks are worth visiting).

Utah National Parks Ranked

1: Bryce Canyon National Park

Overhead view of red rocky cliffs

Crowds: 7/10
Hiking trails: 9/10
Views: 10/10
Camping/lodging: 8/10
Accessibility from nearby town: 8/10
Accessibility of best views/park attractions: 10/10

Bryce Canyon National Park is our favorite of the Mighty Five. It has it all: plenty of trails, which range from easy to difficult, sculpted canyons, reaching peaks, and vibrant color during every season.

Located in Southern Utah, the weather is generally pleasant as well. If you choose to take a trip to Bryce Canyon, you will be blown away by everything it has to offer you.

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    Rear view of hiker with white cap overlooking red rocky cliffs and green tree in background

    Recommended Time Needed: You may want to spend days and days here, but realistically, you can do the best that Bryce Canyon has to do in a day.

    Pros + Cons of Visiting Bryce Canyon

    Pros:

    • 12 beautiful trails to hike
    • Plenty of available campsites
    • Other accommodations, like hotels and glamping, can be found close by

    Cons:

    • Crowds flock to Bryce Canyon in the summer
    • Summer weather and winter weather can result in very high or very low temperatures
    Stone sign that reads Bryce Canyon National Park United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

    📅 Best Time to Visit: Visiting Bryce Canyon in the fall is an almost guaranteed success story. Summer crowds decrease, along with the heat, leaving behind a more intimate and comfortable Bryce Canyon.

    The vibrant leaves fade into mesmerizing oranges and reds, and coupled with the hoodoos and evergreens, the landscape becomes an autumn rainbow. This alone could give Bryce Canyon the #1 spot in the top 5 Utah National Parks.

    🌟 Things to do in Bryce Canyon:

    • Stargaze the Dark Sky Park’s expansive cosmos at Bryce Point
    • Hike the Fairyland Loop
    • Pick up a souvenir or two at the Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center
    • Wake up before the sun and watch the sunrise at Sunrise Point
    • Revel in the magnificent view at Inspiration Point
    • Experience one of the best scenic drives in Utah

    2: Zion National Park

    Red rocky cliffs in background with stream flowing towards the camera

    Crowds: 4/10
    Hiking trails: 10/10
    Views: 8/10
    Camping/lodging: 7/10
    Accessibility from nearby town: 8/10
    Accessibility of best views/park attractions: 7/10

    Zion National Park is arguably Utah’s most popular of the Mighty Five. It contains some of the most famous natural attractions in the state, such as Angel’s Landing and the Narrows.

    Located just a few minutes from Springdale, Utah, visitors can easily access the beauty of Utah’s wilderness, which Zion displays some of the best of. Despite the myriad of tourists, the views are worth the number two spot in our Utah National Parks ranked list.

    Recommended Time Needed: Unlike Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park cannot be completed in a day. To get to the best of the park, you’ll need to plan on spending two or three days here.

    Stone formation with 2 signs that read Zion national park and national park service

    Pros + Cons of Visiting Zion National Park

    Pros:

    • Hikes vary in difficulty and landscape, making it enjoyable for everyone
    • Water activities are available, perfect for combatting the summer heat
    • Unforgettable sights

    Cons:

    • It is very difficult to escape the crowds
    • Parking is extremely limited
    • You can’t drive into the park during the peak season

    📅 Best Time to Visit: Zion National Park is at its best in the shoulder seasons. Come fall, hiking conditions are exceptional, and the scenery is as beautiful as ever. Visitors still flock to the park, but not quite as heavily as they do during the height of summer vacations.

    Tall cliffs shadowed with bright blue sky above

    Taking a trip before the summer rush is also a great time to visit any of the Top 5 Utah National Parks, but Zion especially. The trees come back to life with a healthy green, and flowers line every trail.

    🌟 Things to do in Zion National Park:

    3: Arches National Park

    Stone arch in background with hikers overlooking rocky cliffs

    Crowds: 7/10
    Hiking trails: 7/10
    Views: 9/10
    Camping/lodging: 8/10
    Accessibility from nearby town: 8/10
    Accessibility of best views/park attractions: 7/10

    The third spot in Utah National Parks ranking goes to Arches. This desert gem is found on the eastern border of Utah and, as you might guess, has an abnormal number of arches.

    Here, erosion has created some of Utah’s greatest natural architecture. Ranging from massive to tiny, single to double, broken to unbroken, each arch has its own character, color, and beauty that visitors worldwide come to see.

    ⏰ Recommended Time Needed: To get the full Arches experience, plan on spending two days in the park. One of the days would include the ranger-only led hike, but if you’re not planning on doing that, one day would be an ideal amount of time.

    Hiker in black out walking between rocky cliffs

    Pros + Cons of Visiting Arches National Park

    Pros:

    • The arches are rock formations unlike anywhere else in Utah
    • Moab is easily accessible with everything you need during your stay
    • It is a great place for camping, ATVs, biking, and hiking

    Cons:

    • The summers in Moab are extremely hot
    • Both Moab and Arches can get very crowded

    📅 Best Time to Visit: Picking the best time to visit Arches National Park is simple: when is it not blazing hot or freezing cold?

    That answer would be spring or fall. With little to no trees for shade and not much to block the wind, the elements can get the best of you if you’re not careful. Sometimes even spring can be a little testy.

    Red rocky cliff surrounded by red clay dirt and 2 hikers walking through the scenery

    In the autumn months, the temperatures are perfect for being outside and the chances are good you won’t be bombed by a surprise snowstorm.

    🌟 Things to do in Arches National Park:

    • Take in the view of New York City’s natural mimic, Park Avenue
    • Hike Fiery Furnace with an experienced guide
    • Stand beneath the double arch
    • Relax in the shade near Sand Dune Arch
    • Catch the sunrise at the famous Delicate Arch

    4: Canyonlands National Park

    Crowds: 9/10
    Hiking trails: 7/10
    Views: 7/10
    Camping/lodging: 8/10
    Accessibility from nearby town: 5/10
    Accessibility of best views/park attractions: 6/10

    Overhead view of rocky cliffs with mountain range in the background

    Covering over 500 miles, Canyonlands is the largest on our list of Utah National Parks ranked. It is a wilderness of sandstone, consisting of four different sections: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the two rivers.

    Visiting Canyonlands is like seeing how the land used to be hundreds of years ago, untouched, wild, and beautiful.

    ⏰ Recommended Time Needed: To successfully visit all four sections of this national park, plan on spending three or more days on your trip. If you are planning to only visit the Island in the Sky, the most popular and accessible section, a day or two would suffice.

    Wooden sign that reads Canyonlands national park United States department of the interior national park service

    Pros + Cons of Visiting Canyonlands National Park

    Pros:

    • You could spend days here without running out of things to do
    • The size of the park allows for privacy and solitude while exploring
    • The Green River and the Colorado River flow through the park, adding even more life to the landscape

    Cons:

    • Due to much of the park being back country, it is not always safe to go during the winter or inclement weather
    • Depending on what section of the park you are in, the nearest town is over an hour away

    📅 Best Time to Visit: Canyonlands National Park is another one of Utah’s gems that doesn’t have much tree coverage, making the summers shadeless. The winter can get unpredictable, and the spring tends to hold onto winter chills just a little too long some years.

    Then, once again, visiting from the months of September to November will allow you the most enjoyable experience in this part of the state.

    Rocky overhang with view through showing mountains in background

    🌟 Things to do in Canyonlands National Park:

    • Hike the quick Cave Spring Trail to see reaching views, prehistoric marks, and a cowboy camp
    • Realize just how small you are while looking out over Grand View Point
    • Stop at the Visitor Center to get the scoop on the park and its history
    • Rent a 4×4 and summit White Rim Road
    • Go white water rafting in one of the rivers

    5: Capitol Reef National Park

    Crowds: 9/10
    Hiking trails: 7/10
    Views: 7/10
    Camping/lodging: 7/10
    Accessibility from nearby town: 4/10
    Accessibility of best views/park attractions: 7/10

    Rocky mountain line with trees in the foreground

    The park that falls in the final place of our Utah National Parks ranked is Capitol Reef National Park, but certainly not by any fault of its own.

    Capitol Reef is a park full of surprises, containing a beautiful orchard, an old schoolhouse, and some even older relics etched on canyon walls.

    Here, you can explore the sandstone hills and valleys without delving too deep into the backcountry, making the best parts of the park very accessible.

    ⏰ Recommended Time Needed: To discover all that the park has to offer, you should plan on two or three days, but feasibly, you can spend just one day and have a wonderful time.

    Rocky cliff line with trees and shrubs in foreground

    Pros + Cons of Visiting Capitol Reef National Park

    Pros:

    • There are never too many crowds in Capitol Reef
    • It is a perfect mix of history and nature
    • Capitol Reef is greener than both Moab and Canyonlands

    Cons:

    • Capitol Reef is nowhere near any cities and there are no food services in the park
    • The orchard is not available all year round
    • The limited facilities aren’t fully functional in the winter

    📅 Best Time to Visit: Remember when I said that fall is the best time to visit the other Mighty Five? Well, surprise, surprise, I’m going to say it again.

    In fall, the Fruita Orchard is ready to be harvested, the temperatures have cooled from the summer, and after Labor Day, the crowds are even smaller than they were before.

    You might want to think about taking an autumn month and hitting all the top 5 Utah National Parks at once!

    Wooden sign that reads capitol reef national park

    🌟 Things to do in Capitol Reef National Park

    • Drive the scenic Highway 24
    • Visit the Fruita Schoolhouse and Fruita Orchard
    • Locate the remnants of an ancient world by finding the petroglyphs
    • Enjoy the weaving view of Goosenecks Overlook
    • Hike the stunning Cassidy Arch trail

    Final Thoughts: Utah National Parks Ranked

    Compiling a list of the Utah National Parks ranked was not easy, believe me. All of these parks deserve so much love, but unfortunately, you can’t always visit them all.

    Now you know which parks should be at the top of your need-to-visit list.

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