Goblins, baby dinosaurs, and mythological teddy bear ears are some of Utah state parks' draws for children. Here's where to find the state's most family-friendly parkland:
Geological marvels abound throughout Utah, though some of the best are at Goblin State Park, where millions of years of weather have carved out mushroomy gremlins in the sandstone. They hide out in a sequestered valley, making them all the more intriguing for little ones to find. Marked trails guide you, and the visitor center offers an orientation tool, allowing you to lose yourselves among the formations.
Named by a National Geographic expedition in the 1940s, Kodachrome necessitates Instagram coverage. Ancient hot springs percolate beneath the desert-like surface of its vast mountains. Geysers have been petrified into strange-looking sand pipes. Your family will be speechless.
The Pueblo, Hopi, Ute, and Navajo people have long inhabited these lands, evidenced by petroglyphs and other relics tattooed on the landscape. Come see a ruinous Puebloan village on the fringes of Manti-La Sal National Forest. Kids will love the Bears Ears, two similarly shaped rocks that have inspired numerous local legends. Close by, the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding wows with fossilized eggs and baby dinosaurs.
Vast spaces and resounding stillness await hikers in Utah's grand state parks. Take in boundless vistas of wild rock formations, and you'll be bowled over by the sheer grandeur of Earth. A hike in Utah is a life-changing experience. Some of the most rewarding walks include the following:
In the 19th century, cowboys herded mustangs over the breathtaking pinnacle of this park. The legend goes that an unlucky bunch died of thirst when one cowboy forgot to open the gate to their enclosure. At 2,000 feet, Dead Horse Point overlooks spectacular Canyonlands National Park. Hike to the summit, and you'll be richly rewarded.
Margaret Atwood wrote, "Water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it." Nowhere illustrates these words more robustly than Goosenecks. Close to Mexican Hat, this spectacular overlook preserves the idiosyncratic motion of the mighty San Juan River. Nearby, the Valley of the Gods is clustered with dramatic mesas and buttes.
At the center of Great Salt Lake is an Eden grazed by 500 bison and aflutter with birds. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, and watersports such as sailing and kayaking are among the recreational options here, along with walking through sublime scenery to swimming holes where the salt concentration lifts you to the surface and lets you float away your worries.
Cowboy adventures are plentiful in Utah's state parks. Saddle up and head into mind-bendingly huge wildernesses via ATV, bike, or canoe. Here are some parks to sweep sports fans off their feet:
Sapphire waters warmed by the sunshine contrast with red rock formations weathered by time into smooth gradients. Boating, fishing, and diving at Sand Hollow Reservoir are popular activities at Utah's newest state park. Explore 20,000 acres by foot or bike, ATV, or horseback for stunning views at an elevation of 3,000 feet.
Embrace your inner cowboy at one of Utah's most rugged state parks. Horseback riding is practically mandatory in this red-rock-littered landscape. Lava flows jostle with red Navajo sandstone across almost 8,000 acres. Snow Canyon's basalt basins and sandstone canyons support diverse wildlife. Look out for coyotes, roadrunners, tortoises, and Gila monsters. Come in spring to see a show of blooming wildflowers.
Beneath a cottonwood tree canopy, a nine-hole golf course showcases dramatic vistas. Take a boat out and explore Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons. For nearly 300 miles, the Green River moseys between flat and whitewater, and at the park, you can catch it at its most peaceful. Fish for carp, catfish, and chub in its sparkling waters, or hike its surrounding trails for stunning views.