5 Amazing State Parks to Visit in Utah

Goblin Valley State Park October 2020-02069

For those visiting, Utah offers endless attractions: amazing hikes in its 5 National Parks (the Mighty Five), fun water sports in Lake Powell, and an extraordinary ski scene in Park City. Often forgotten about, Utah is also home to exceptional state parks. So, if you are spending time in the “Life Elevated” state, then read on to find 5 state parks to add to your trip.

 

Goblin Valley State Park

Where is it

Goblin Valley is located in Green River, approximately 220 miles from Salt Lake City, 60 miles from Capitol Reef National Park, and 90 miles from Arches National Park. Due to its location, the park makes a great addition to your itinerary as you visit the National Parks in Utah.

Hoodoos-at-Goblin-Valley-State-Park

 

Why Visit It

This park is very singular and displays thousands of stone gnomes of various sizes and shapes. The uniquely shaped goblins attract visitors who wander around these marvelous geological formations. If you have been to Bryce Canyon National Park and enjoyed seeing the hoodoos from afar, then make sure to visit Goblin State Park because here you can actually walk around and get up close to them.

Also, Goblin State Park is a Certified Dark Sky Park enabling you to admire the night sky and incredible views of the Milky Way. So, make sure to visit this state park if you happen to be in Utah.

 

Entrance Fee

US$ 20 per vehicle

Hotels Nearby

The closest hotel to the park, 20 miles away, is the OYO Hotel Hanksville. Additionally, you can easily visit it from one of the hotels near Capitol Reef National Park.

 

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Where is it

Coral Pink Sand Dunes is located in Kanab, 180 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, or 95 miles from Paige, Arizona. The park is located between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park (40 miles and 75 miles of distance, respectively), so it’s the best pitstop between both if you are visiting the Mighty Five in Utah.

Coral-Pink-Sand-Dunes-State-Park-Utah

 

Why Visit It

Dreaming of walking among gorgeous sand dunes, like the Wahiba Sands desert in Oman, without having to travel abroad? Then a trip to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is definitely a must-do! Here you can walk across the dunes, go sandboarding, or just appreciate the stunning landscape from the lookout point.

Once at the park you can a handful of hikes around the area, and explore the nearby attractions in Utah that are easily reached by just a short drive: Grand Staircase Escalante, Lake Powell, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park.

For me, Coral Pink Sands Dunes is one of the best state parks in Utah.

 

Entrance Fee

US$ 10 per vehicle.

Coral-Pink-Sand-Dunes-State-Park-Utah

 

Hotels Nearby

There are many hotels in Kanab, though the best options are Red Canyon Cabins, Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile, and Hampton Inn Kanab.

 

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Where is it

Kodachrome Basin State Park is located close to 3 of the National Parks in Utah: 23 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, and 100 miles from both Zion National Park and Capitol Reef National Park.

Kodachrome-Basin-State-Park-Utah

 

Why Visit It

The striking landscape of Kodachrome Basin State Park is very unique – with its red-tinged rock formations changing colors according to the time of the day. Also, its sandstone chimneys are especially remarkable against blue skies and are a gem for photographers!

While visiting the park, you can make your way along one of the several hikes available (I hiked Angel’s Palace), or even go horseback riding or mountain biking.

 

Entrance Fee

US$ 10 per vehicle

Kodachrome-Basin-State-Park-Utah

 

Hotels Nearby

The closest hotels to Kodachrome Basin are located near Bryce Canyon National Park, where you can stay at Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn and Bryce Canyon Lodge.

 

Dead Horse Point State Park

Where is it

Dead Horse Point State Park is located about 35 miles north of Moab, approximately 30 miles away from Arches National Park and 12 miles from Canyonlands National Park.

Dead-Horse-Point-State-Park-Utah

 

Why Visit It

If you are in Utah and planning to spend a few days in Moab while visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, then why not take a few hours to visit Dead Horse Point State Park? This park is genuinely one of the most beautiful state parks in Utah due to the sheer magnitude of landscapes, its geological features, and spectacular views, resulting from millions of years of geological activity.

The overlooks found in the state park provide awe-inspiring panoramic views of the red-colored rock formations forming an infinity landscape. You can even catch a glimpse of the bright blues of the potash mines down below.

The name Dead Horse Point is rather odd for a state park. Legend has it that at the turn of the century the area was used by cowboys to corral wild horses through the narrow “neck” of the park – which provided a convenient place to sort out the horses. Once the horses entered the narrow area, the cowboys would choose the ones they wanted, and let the other ones go. Unfortunately, one day the cowboys left the horses corralled and the horses died of thirst – gazing upon the Colorado River some 2,000 feet below.

 

Entrance Fee

US$ 20 per vehicle for a 3-day pass.

Dead-Horse-Point-State-Park-Utah

 

Hotels Nearby

Due to its proximity to the National Parks near Moab, the best hotels are located in the Moab area, for example, Red Cliffs Lodge, SpringHill Suites, Under Canvas Camp, and Hyatt Place Moab.

 

Goosenecks State Park

Where is it

Goosenecks State Park is situated north of Mexican Hat, almost at the border between Utah and Arizona. You can make the 130-mile drive from Moab to visit or combine it with your visit to Monument Valley (35 miles away).

Goosenecks-State-Park

Why Visit It

Being a small state park in Utah, Goosenecks is often overlooked compared to the ones mentioned above. However, its proximity to Monument Valley allows visitors to stop by for a few minutes to stand on the edge of this deep, maze of a canyon rising above a deeply cut river bend shaped as a gooseneck.

 

Entrance Fee

US$ 5 per car (cash only).

Goosenecks-State-Park-Utah

Hotels Nearby

If you are combining this state park with a visit to Monument Valley, then consider staying at The View Hotel or Goulding’s Lodge.

 

Note – your America the Beautiful Pass does not get you into these parks

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YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO VISIT THE NATIONAL PARKS IN UTAH AND IN THE US:

Arches National ParkThe Complete Guide to Arches National Park and The Best Hikes in the Park

Capitol Reef National ParkEverything you Need to Know to Visit Capitol Reef and The Best Hikes in the Park

Bryce Canyon National ParkThe Ultimate Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park

Rocky Mountain National ParkFirst-Timer’s Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park and 3-day itinerary to the park.

Canyonlands National Park: The Complete Guide to Canyonlands National Park

Zion National Park: Best Hikes in Zion National Park

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I am Elen and I curate travel experiences, from places to sip a coffee to stays in boutique hotels, and I am here to help and guide you in planning your next vacation.

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