Hidden Gems: 10 Secret Utah Adventures You Must Try
Sep 13, 2017
By: Jake Wilhelmsen
You know that pleasant surprise of putting on a pair of pants and finding a $20 in the pocket? Well Utah is cargo pants. With a thousand pockets.
Every state likes to talk about the variety of experiences it offers, but Utah is uniquely qualified to brag.
3 discrete geographical regions (Mojave Desert, Great Basin, Colorado Plateau) + 4 distinct seasons + a dozen different biomes and climates + thousands of years of human history = diverse adventure tucked into every corner of the state.
Here are 10 uniquely Utah sights that out-of-towners — and even lots of in-of-towners — may not have heard of. Ten points for each one you’ve seen, two points for each one you’ve heard of and five points for each one you start making plans to visit.
10. BONNEVILLE SEABASE, Grantsville
Near the southern point of the Great Salt Lake sits a weirdly natural inland sea. Spring water rising through the salty bed of the ancient Lake Bonneville reaches the same salinity as the ocean. Add some species of ocean fish and you have a perfect little snorkeling/SCUBA sanctuary, 600 miles from the coast.
9. HOMESTEAD CRATER, Midway
“Here’s what I’m thinking: geothermal spring.”
“With hot-tub temperature sapphire-blue water.”
“Inside an adorable mini volcano.”
“I mean, yeah, it sounds great, but where would that even happen?”
“Just like in the middle of a Swiss hamlet in Utah, maybe?”
8. CASCADE SPRINGS, near Midway
Crystal clear spring water flowing down terraced pools in a mountain forest. One of those places so naturally beautiful you couldn’t possibly paint it without your painting looking cheesy.
7. FIFTH WATER HOT SPRINGS, Spanish Fork
This is the last natural spring on the list, we swear. This one makes you earn your soak with a 2.3-mile hike up Diamond Fork Canyon that gains 700 feet. Worth it — especially with the three waterfalls you’ll find as a bonus. It’s on the way from the Wasatch Front to Moab, too, if that means anything to you.
6. SAND BOARDING AT CORAL PINK SAND DUNES, Kanab
No further description needed. Get onboard. (Ha!)
5. HOUSE ON FIRE, near Blanding
One of the more popular and easier to access of the thousands of Ancestral Puebloan ruins in Cedar Mesa. The area is remote but the hike itself is short and flat.
(* These are relative terms for places in Bears Ears.)
4. PAROWAN GAP PETROGLYPHS, Parowan
The permanent collection in a 1,000-year-old art gallery. Park, walk and ponder the signs made by civilizations that explored Utah before you.
3. SINGING CANYON, Boulder
You spent $10k at audio engineering and you’ve still got nothing on Mother Nature’s ear for acoustics. Hike a couple minutes on the flat trail off Burr Trail Road and stop when you hear sound the way it was meant to be heard. If you’re lucky, someone talented will be there making a joyful noise.
2. VALLEY OF THE GODS, Mexican Hat
In Greece the Gods live on Mount Olympus. In Utah they prefer the valley. While you’re in the neighborhood visiting House on Fire, stop by this mini-Monument Valley. If you happen to be there during the hot air balloon festival, lucky you, you just stumbled into the divine.
1. GILGAL SCULPTURE GARDEN, Salt Lake City
Most of the sights above are secret because they’re in some remote part of Utah. This one’s hiding in the middle of city block in downtown Salt Lake City. A devout Mormon named Thomas Child, Jr., created deeply personal and mystical sculptures that draw on Mormon theology but resist easy interpretation. Like a sphinx with the head of Joseph Smith, for instance.