Top Hidden Gems in Utah
As residents of Utah, we’re proud of our beautiful state and we’re glad that it attracts visitors from around the world. On occasion, though, we like to enjoy our landscape alone, apart from the crowds. Fortunately, there are plenty of lesser-known sites located far from the beaten path that Utah residents can enjoy on their road trips and outdoor adventures. As one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, Utah is filled with worthy destinations and it would be impossible to list all of its hidden gems. This short list, however, will give locals a place to start when looking for alternatives to the most popular tourist attractions.
Though it shares its name with Utah’s capital city, the Great Salt Lake doesn’t get a lot of love from tourists or local travellers. In fact, it’s gained a somewhat unfair reputation as unglamorous and unworthy of a visit. And, while some sections of the lake’s shoreline probably aren’t worth your time, other areas of the lake will surprise you with their beauty, serenity, and recreational potential. Antelope Island, located just a few miles off of the lake’s southeast shore, is one such destination. Easily accessible by a seven-mile causeway from the mainland, the island offers beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, hiking and biking trails, a marina and a number of other enjoyable activities.
Valley of the Gods
Utah is known for its stunning red rock formations, but Utahns don’t need to compete with out-of-town tourists to see their state’s natural beauty. Several out-of-the-way sites are just as pretty as the heavily trafficked national parks, but don’t attract masses of visitors. Valley of the Gods in the southeastern corner of the state is a breathtaking sandstone valley offering amazing views for drivers willing to brave the winding, unpaved roads and trails. As a backcountry destination with no services, this destination is the exact opposite of a tourist trap and should only be visited by well-prepared travellers.
Many Utah families have wonderful memories of visiting Lake Powell, the state’s favorite recreational lake. But Utah has another amazing lake that attracts very few out-of-town invaders. Bear Lake, which straddles the border between Utah and Idaho, offers a wide variety of summer recreational activities, including boating, waterskiing, jet skiing, and fishing. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and filled with some of the most stunning blue-green water in the state, visitors will also enjoy kicking back and taking in the sites.
Golden Spike National Monument
History buffs have no shortage of sites to visit in Utah, but the Golden Spike National Monument is definitely one they won’t want to miss. It’s impossible to quantify the economic and cultural impact that the first transcontinental railroad had on our nation and its completion happened right here in Utah. Despite its historical significance, the site hasn’t made its way onto the list of must-see tourist attractions. An officially authorized national historic site, the monument features an informative visitor center and several replicas of the original steam locomotives that met there.
Even with its unique hoodoo rock formations, Utah’s Goblin Valley is definitely not on the radar of most national and international visitors. As a state park, its visitation numbers are tiny in comparison to the millions of people that visit the state’s national parks each year. Surprisingly, though, it’s one of the best places to see the gorgeous red rock formations that Utah is known for. Offering camping, hiking, and biking, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast at Goblin Valley.
As Utahns, we love our state’s landscape, natural beauty, and recreational offerings. As world-class natural wonders, however, Utah’s sites attract the attention of people from around the globe. While a constant influx of tourists may be good for our economy and reputation, it can be off-putting for locals trying to enjoy their nearby attractions. When the crowds become overwhelming, Utahns can turn to these hidden gems to satisfy their itch for amazement without having to share the open road.