Four Epic Trails in Utah’s National Parks

Planning a trip or heading to Utah soon? Put these four trails in Utah’s national parks on your itinerary.

Observation Point

Zion National Park: Observation Point

Two trails seem to get all the attention in Zion National Park: the nail-biting razor’s-edge ascent of Angels Landing and the adventurous river trek of the Subway. But for day hikers, the less-traveled, 8-mile out-and-back to Observation Point is a must-do. This trail climbs more than 2,400 feet from the floor of the canyon through dramatic, narrow slots and past the upper-elevation pines before hugging an exposed cliff-side and ending at a promontory with expansive views of almost the entire canyon. Oh, and you get to look down at Angel’s Landing, too.

Bryce Amphitheater

Bryce Canyon National Park: Bryce Amphitheater Loops

Regardless of how many times you’ve seen them in pictures, the first time you lay eyes on the hoodoos in Bryce Amphitheater it’s nearly impossible not to break into a smile. Hiking through these delicate and whimsical structures is an experience like no other. For a hoodoo highlight reel, head to Sunset Point and enter the canyon via the Navajo Loop (or Wall Street if it’s open).  Combine the southern Peekaboo Loop with the Queens Garden back to Sunrise Point and finish with a hike along the Amphitheater Rim for an otherworldly six miles, or add on the Fairyland Loop to more than double the distance.

Devil's Garden

Arches National Park: Devil’s Garden

There are more than 2,000 natural arches in Arches National Park, so you won’t be hard-pressed to see them on your visit. The Devil’s Garden Trail is the park’s longest maintained trail and will take you to many of the park’s most prominent arches, including Landscape Arch. Taking the several short spur trails on this route makes it a 7.8-mile loop that travels on top of rock fins, beneath giant arches and ends at an impressive monolith known as Dark Angel.

syncline loop

Canyonlands National Park: Syncline Loop Trail

In the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands lies a mysterious formation called the Upheaval Dome. Geologists still don’t know how it formed. Some say it’s an impact crater; others think it’s the result of salt deposits pushing the ground upward. It’s like nothing else on the Colorado Plateau. Whereas most of the land looks flat and ordered, here it looks like an explosion went off underground. This incredible 10.5-mile loop takes you right inside it. This backcountry traverse requires a bit of route-finding and takes you through deep canyons, over and under giant boulders, and inside the strange crater. You’ll need to scramble, take plenty of water, and prep your knees. This challenging trail will reward the adventurous hiker.

No Comments