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Top 12 Best Hikes In Utah | Ultimate Guide

Utah is one of Jake’s and my favorite landscapes to explore. From the towering mountains right from the city of Salt Lake, to the vast canyon hikes and the ever-changing landscapes that make you feel like you are on a different planet, this state has endless adventures. So much that narrowing it down just 12 hikes was a real challenge. We have been through Utah too many times to count and yet still have so many areas we want to explore more. But during our travels we have been able to narrow it down to our all-time favorites. So here are the top 12 best hikes in Utah that you must add to your bucket list. 

A view down the Zion National Park valley from Angel's Landing Trail which is one of the best hikes in utah

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Reflection Canyon:  

18.7 miles – 1873 ft elevation 

First on the list of best hikes in Utah is Reflection Canyon. It is one of the most rewarding hikes in Utah as I’m sure you can see from this picture above. It is located down a long dirt road (Hole In The Rock Road) in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Southern Utah.

Reflection Canyon is primarily done as a backpacking trip, but can also be done as a very long day hike. But the view at the end is one of the most breathtaking views. But do note, the hike is hard to navigate toward the end because you can no longer follow foot traffic on the slickrock, so it’s best to have a GPS to help you navigate the route.

The hike starts down a dirt path that is easy to follow, along a large sandstone cliffs. The large canyon wall to your right will eventually end and this is where the hike begins to get more challenging. This is where we suggest having a GPS tracker, but there are also cairns placed along the route to help guide you to the end. Once you reach the end, you will be standing on the canyon rim of Lake Powell looking down to a beautiful rock landscape. The difficulty of getting to the trailhead and hiking 18 miles with no shade should not be taken lightly. Please read more in our post below to ensure that you truly are prepared attempt this challenging adventure.

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Backpacking Reflection Canyon | Everything You Need To Know 

The Subway: 

9.1 miles – 1305 ft elevation 

The Subway hike is honestly what started Jake’s and my hiking journey. We visited Zion National Park for one of our first vacations together and we were absolutely hooked on exploring more of what Mother Nature designed over hundreds of thousands of years. The subway was carved out by rushing water from flash floods and left behind some of the most beautiful nature around. 

The subway hike can be done 2 different ways, and both require a permit. Top-down is probably the most fun route because it is a one-way hike, but that also means you need to carpool or get a shuttle. The top-down route requires some canyoneering experience. Therefore, the more popular route is from bottom-up because no canyoneering experience is required. 

Therefore I will be referring to the bottom-up route for this best hike in Utah. This hike can be difficult because you there are endless river crossings and some stretches of just walking right in the river. So following the “trail” can be a little challenging, but luckily following the canyon makes it hard to truly get off-track.

There will come a point when you can no longer avoid walking through the river. Toward the end you will run into running water over flat red rock formations. At this point you know you are getting close to the Subway. You will hike up the small cascading waterfalls and eventually run into the subway-like walls till there is no more trail to hike. The water is pretty cold, but you can swim in the little pools for a nice refreshing swim! Also if you venture toward the true end, there is a waterfall. This is where you may encounter people who hike this trail top-down jumping in to continue on the trail.

The most challenging part about this hike is finding your way back up to the parking lot, because most of the scenery toward the end looks the same. There’s potential to miss the split where you exit the canyon floor and climb out. It’s very easy to just keep following the river, and miss the turn. So having a GPS tracker to help guide you there and back is very helpful. 

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Everything You Need To Know About The Subway At Zion NP (Bottom-Up)

The Narrows: 

A famous rock that sits right in the middle of the canyon floor of The Narrows.

16 miles – 1300 ft elevation

The Narrows is another staple within Zion National Park and for a good reason. There are two different ways to access the Narrows. One being a 16-mile, one-way backpacking trip with a night camping in the canyon. Or you can hike out-and-back via the last stop on the Zion Shuttle (Temple of Sinawava).  You can choose how far to hike via this version.

But, generally, people try to hike from the bottom to Big Spring which is a 9.4 mile hike with 334 ft elevation change. This route doesn’t require a permit.

If you have the time, Jake and I definitely suggest the backpacking trip, but it does require a permit and a shuttle ride to the ranch where you start.  It is an absolutely unreal experience to spend the night between the massive canyon walls listening to the river flow.

But ultimately, you will be walking through the river for majority of the hike no matter what route you choose, and renting water shoes and a hiking stick is strongly encouraged. You can rent the gear from Zion Outfitters

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Hiking The Narrows At Zion National Park | Ultimate Guide

Lake Blanche: 

Sunrise at Lake Blanche

6.9 miles – 2706 ft elevation

Lake Blanche is located just east of Salt Lake City and one the most beautiful lakes in the area. This hike can be done either as a day hike or backpacking trip. It is definitely a climb either way with 2706 ft elevation. But to wake up to a view of the lake right from your tent is absolutely extraordinary so we highly suggest backpacking if you have the time. You will get to experience sunrise and sunset, plus more solitude once the day-hiking crowd leaves.

We do suggest trying to get an early start no matter what because the parking lot often fills up before 8am and the road is flooded with a long line of cars. 

From the start of the trail, you will be hiking along the river on a paved path. About 1/2 mile down the path there will be a turn-off to the right and the climb up start from here. The trail is a rocky dirt path that is easy to follow. But prepare to need occasional breaks along the hike as it doesn’t flatten out much until you reach the lake. 

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Lake Blanche | Ultimate Backpacking Guide

Sulphur Creek:

sulphur creek: one of the best hikes in utah

5.5 miles (8 miles including the road section) – 547ft elevation

One of the most unique best hikes in Utah is Sulphur Creek in Capitol Reef National Park. The hike does require some hitchhiking or two cars if you are traveling with a party. But the hike meanders along the Sulphur Creek down some stunning burnt orange canyons and rock formations. We also didn’t see many people on the hike, so it was cool to have some solitude in a National Park. 

But do note that this is a challenging hike as you have to climb down 8-10 foot boulders and ledges in some areas. Plus you will also be hiking through the creek most of the route, so plan for soggy feet. Our suggested route is to leave your car at the visitor center and start at Chimney Rock Trailhead.

It can be nice to have a GPS tracker to help you pick the right path out of the river toward the visitor center at the end. But plan to have a waterproof bag to protect any belongings because you will be hiking through the creek.

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Sulphur Creek | Unique Hike In Capitol Reef National Park

Fifth Water Hot Springs:

Fifth Water Hot Springs during fall with beautiful tree colors with the aqua blue hot springs which is one of the best hikes in utah

 4.5 miles – 636 ft elevation change

If you are looking for some of the coolest hot springs to soak in, Fifth Water Hot Springs are some of the most stunning, natural hot springs in Utah. Fifth Water Hot Springs are located about an hour South of Salt Lake City, UT. The hike follows the creek most of the route but you never really have to get your feet wet unless you plan to go into the hot springs at the end. There is a bridge in place where you have to cross the creek toward the beginning of the hike.

It is a fairly easy hike and winds up through a luscious forest. This hike is especially stunning during fall as the leaves range between many different colors. 

Please follow the LEAVE NO TRACE principles as many people have failed to do this. This really applies to everywhere, but hot springs tend to be the place where forget they are in nature. We want to keep this place as clean as possible. Pack out everything you pack in, and maybe a few additional items to help clean up this area for future adventurers. 

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Fifth Water Hot Springs | Everything You Need To Know

Little Wild Horse:

7.8 miles – 793 ft elevation

Little Wild Horse is a hidden gem on the list of top 12 best hikes in Utah. It’s located in the San Rafael Swell near Hanksville, UT. The hike is generally done as a loop through Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon, which offers some of the most stunning slot canyons.

There are a few challenging sections where you have to climb up/down boulders, so it does require a decent amount of physical strength. Also, there is a section of this hike where you hike along a dirt road that is exposed. So plan to bring plenty of water and layers to shade yourself from the sun. But overall, this hike is a must-see destination in Utah. 

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon Loop | Ultimate Guide

Delicate Arch:

 3 miles – 480 ft elevation

There is nothing more iconic to Utah than Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch is located in Arches National Park and is one of the most popular hikes in the park. But don’t be fooled by this short hike, because there is still a pretty steep section up to the arch. You can hike right up to the rim as you see in this picture or take in the majestic view right underneath it. 

If you want to beat the crowds, we suggest doing the hike at sunrise or sunset, but do note this spot is a photographer’s paradise, so inevitably you will still be sharing the famous arch with others. It truly is a sight to see as the arch towers 52 feet tall.  

Buckskin Gulch:

buckskin gulch: Unique Attractions near Kanab, UT
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

 Ranges from 5.6-45 miles – 616-5400 ft elevation change

Jake and I have yet to make it to Buckskin Gulch, but we felt like it deserves to be on the list because it is high on our bucket list. And it is known to be one of the coolest slot canyons in Utah. Buckskin Gulch is located in Southern Utah along the border of Arizona. But Buckskin Gulch is not easy to get to, nor easy miles to hike, therefore it is best done as a backpacking trip. 

The backpacking trip ranges from 20 miles to 45 miles depending on the route you choose. Obviously the longer the route, the cooler attractions you will see along the way. But you will need to carpool or find a shuttle to bring you to or from the start or finish. Also, a permit is required for backpacking. 

Although if you are limited on time there are a few shorter day hikes you can find on AllTrails, Wire Pass Trail to Buckskin Gulch (5.6 miles-616 ft elevation change) or Buckskin to Wire Pass (11.2 miles- 1246 ft elevation change). No permit is required if you choose to day-hike. 

Kanarra Creek:

 3.8 miles – 600 ft elevation

Kanarra Creek is a unique stop east of Zion National Park. It has gained popularity over the years, so a permit is now required, which you can get online at or at the Kiosk in the parking lot. Only 150 people are allowed into the canyon per day. 

You will start by climbing up a dirt road for the beginning of this hike. At the top of the incline of the road you will encounter the river which you will cross various times before you reach the canyon. 

After you cross the river multiple times for another ½ mile you will soon reach the narrow canyon walls. This is where the fun begins! It is common to experience a 10-20F degree drop in temperature, so it’s a good idea to bring layers. You will be walking through cold water from this point on. Shortly after you will reach the first waterfall, there is a man-made ladder placed next to the waterfall for you to climb up if you plan to continue on. Climb the ladder at your own risk because it is slippery and not necessarily well maintained.

Once you make it up the ladder the canyon opens up a little and it’s a great place to have a snack and enjoy the flowing water. We made it to this neat little baby waterfall.

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Kanarra Creek

Angel’s Landing:

a view from angel's landing trail, which is one of the best hikes in utah

 5 miles – 1630 ft elevation

Angel’s Landing is one of the most dangerous hikes in the U.S. because the hike has 1500 foot cliffs on both sides. Therefore, we don’t suggest this hike to everyone, but the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking. If you are scared of heights, than this hike is not for you. But if you dare to make the climb, there are chains to help guide you to the top. 

Angel’s landing is a challenging hike and does require some physical endurance. The hike climbs up elevation from the start and then gradually continues to climb toward the top once you hit the cliff section. We suggest hitting the trail in the morning so you avoid the crowds and have plenty of time to make the trek at your own pace. 

For more details on this best hike in Utah check out our post: Angel’s Landing Vs Observation Point | Which Hike Is Better

Wall Street & Queens Garden Loop:

 3.2miles – 643 ft elevation

You can’t successfully hike all of the best hikes in Utah without a stop at Bryce Canyon National Park. Simply just driving in this area to any viewpoint will blow your mind. But hiking amongst the hoodoos of the Bryce Canyon “amphitheater” is truly legendary. Wall Street and Queens Garden Loop is one of the most popular hikes in the park and for a good reason. The bright orange hoodoos offer some of the most aesthetically pleasing views within the park.

By doing this loop hike you will get to experience a few different parts of Bryce Canyon National Park. Wall Street offers the famous switchbacks with hoodoos towering above you. And along the trail you will see panoramic views of the famous hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. 

Takeaway | Top 12 Best Hikes In Utah | Ultimate Guide

The list simply doesn’t stop here for best hikes in Utah. The possibilities are endless for some epic adventures in this state. These just happen to be some of our all-time favorites throughout the years! Some are extremely popular, while others offer a bit more solitude. But nonetheless, please keep these beautiful places pristine by following the leave no trace principles.

Be mindful that many of these slot canyon hikes are prone to flash flooding if there is rain nearby.  So check the weather or ask a park ranger for guidance.

Have fun exploring some of the best hikes in Utah!

If you are looking for a road trip guide, use this: Ultimate Guide To A Southern Utah Road Trip

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Epic Self-Guided Brewery Tour in Salt Lake City, Utah - tworoamingsouls

Monday 3rd of April 2023

[…] If you are looking for something fun to do in Salt Lake City, this brewery tour is a great way to see the city and hop around to taste great beers! The breweries aren’t super far from each other, therefore it can be easy to hop around to a few different ones! We had so much fun, but be safe out there because you will be on busy traffic roads. Enjoy! Also, check out some other fun attractions near Salt Lake City or some epic hikes in Utah. […]