I'm excited to be partnering with Utah State Parks this year! I love spending our weekends and school holidays exploring outstanding destinations close to home, and state parks always rank high on my list because they are fun, accessible, and inexpensive.
Camping, hiking, fishing, four-wheeling and boating are popular activities at many of Utah's 43 state parks, but that's not all. Golf, archery, wildlife, museums, historical sites and other fun family activities can also be found. For kids, ask for Junior Ranger packets at any ranger desk. It's a FREE way to learn about the park and take home a souvenir ranger badge.
In recent years, Utah State Parks has upgraded many of its facilities, which means that they are even easier to enjoy. I'm talking about clean, modern restrooms! Many of the parks now offer cabins, yurts or canvas cabins with real beds, so you don't need to bring your own tent or RV to stay at the park. Look for boat and equipment rentals too.
Here are my favorite Utah State Parks.
People come from all over the world to float in the Great Salt Lake, and Antelope Island State Park is one of the best places to do it. The experience of effortlessly floating in the briny water of this unusual lake is worth the trip on its own.
There are lots of other fun things to do at Antelope Island State Park too. My favorite the the half-mile trail to Buffalo Point at sunset. The views of the sunset and the surrounding mountains are gorgeous! If that's not enough, the point is covered in hundreds of boulders that make a fun natural playground for families. Biking, kayaking, sailing and picnicking are also popular activities. Antelope Island is conveniently located less than an hour's drive from downtown Salt Lake City.
Read my how-to guide for swimming in the Great Salt Lake here.
Goblin Valley State Park is perhaps the best park in Utah for kids and kids at heart. The unearthly rock “goblins” that made this Utah state park famous are the perfect size for climbing, exploring and imaginative play. Goblin Valley is remote, but worth the drive. Pair it with a visit to Capitol Reef National Park or Canyonlands National Park.
The campground can fill quickly so make reservations and avoid school holidays if you can. Bring your own tent or RV, or reserve a yurt. Staying at the park is the best way to enjoy a game of flashlight Capture the Flag after dark!
Read my full review of Goblin Valley State Park here.
Dead Horse Point
Despite its strange name, Dead Horse Point State Park has some of the most spectacular scenic views in the State of Utah. In a state with an extra helping of amazing scenery, that's saying something. The view is the biggest selling point, but this park is a fun place to go hiking, mountain biking and camping too.
The story goes a herd of horses was penned on this point and left too long without water, so they jumped to the Colorado River far below. It's probably not true because horses have always been a valuable commodity, but the name stuck. Dead Horse Point is located near Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
A dedicated post about Dead Horse Point State Park is on the way!
Starvation State Park
This is another park with an odd name, but Starvation State Park is one of several Utah State Parks that is fun for boating and fishing. The beautiful turquoise water of Starvation Reservoir is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.
In addition to the reservoir, Starvation State Park has a 3D archery course, sand volleyball, a new slack line course, grassy picnic areas and camp sites, and cabins. Starvation State Park is located about two hours from Salt Lake City, and one hour from Dinosaur National Monument.
Read my full review of Starvation State Park here.
Utah Field House of Natural History
The Utah Field House of Natural History is unique because it is a dinosaur museum, rather than an outdoor recreation destination. The new museum is chock full of hands on, educational activities for dinosaur lovers of all ages. With indoor and outdoor exhibits, the museum is a fun year-round destination.
Located in Vernal, just minutes from Dinosaur National Monument, the Field House is a natural addition to any trip to Utah's Dinosaurland. If you haven't been here lately, a lot has changed. Be sure to add this unique state park to your list!
Read my full review of the Utah Field House of Natural History here.
Snow Canyon State Park has the distinction of being one of the best off-season parks in Utah. It is located just a few minutes' drive from St. George where the year-round sunshine is most welcome in the fall, winter and spring. Ancient lava flows, colorful sandstone cliffs and blue skies create a beautiful backdrop for all your favorite activities at Snow Canyon.
Hiking and biking are popular at Snow Canyon State Park, and it has several unique features as well. Our favorite activity was digging in the clean, fine orange sand, so be sure to pack your flip flops and beach toys. Snow Canyon pairs well with nearby Zion National Park.
Read my full review of Snow Canyon State Park here.