3 Must See National Parks in Southern Utah

Updated: May 30, 2019 This website uses cookies, ads and affiliate links.

Utah is most famous for its five national parks and many state parks. On our trip to Denver and Colorado Springs areas, we decided to come into Southern Utah and visit three of its famous national parks. While these national parks are very hot during the summer, they are unique in providing a close look to the other-worldly landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. Come with me as we explore 3 must see national parks in Southern Utah.

If you are visiting the Denver area and have a few extra days, you will really enjoy visiting 3 amazing national parks in Southern Utah very close to the Colorado border. The trip takes some planning, but it is well worth your efforts.

Arches National Park

Arches is the most famous of all National Parks in Southern Utah. It attracts visitors from all over America. We started our visit to Arches National Park early in the morning in July. We knew it would be hot and it was….over 100 F degrees.

Arches National Park, Utah - The large North and South Window Arches
Arches National Park, Utah – The large North and South Window Arches
See my photos from Arches National Park

Knowing that staying hydrated was our biggest concern, we purchased two gallons of water from a local grocery store. In addition, we purchased some coconut water as it provides great nutrients in addition to hydration. Arches National Park is very easy to visit. When we entered the park, we received a park map that had all the stops, viewpoints and trails available. The map was very easy to follow.

Arches National Park, Utah - People hiking to Double Arch
Arches National Park, Utah – People hiking to Double Arch
See my photos from Arches National Park

We started visiting with the first stop. We noticed that everyone seems to be doing the same thing. I recommend that you drive to the end of the park and work your way back towards the entrance. This way it will feel less crowded.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands’ most visted area is almost across the street from Arches. More specifically, it takes about 20 minutes to drive from Arches to Canyonlands entrance for Island in the Sky area. However, Canyonlands is very impressive on its own, even compared to its more popular brother across the street. Only here at Canyonlands, you get to experience the vastness of the high desert Colorado Plateau. There are canyons and gorges as far as your eyes can see.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah - Deep canyon seen from the Fist Viewpoint at Upheaval Dome
Canyonlands National Park, Utah – Deep canyon seen from the Fist Viewpoint at Upheaval Dome
See my photos from Canyonlands National Park

In addition to the Island in the Sky area, there are two more areas of Canyonlands National Park, but they are a lot more difficult to get to and consequently a lot less popular with tourists.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks made us realize that we never got to see the mighty Colorado River. These parks do not have any viewpoints of the river even though Colorado River is the main cause for these beautiful parks.

Dead Horse Point, Utah - The round bend in the Colorado River
Dead Horse Point, Utah – The round bend in the Colorado River
See my photos from Dead Horse Point

However, when returning from Canyonlands we had time to stop at Dead Horse State Park which was on our way back to the highway. Much smaller than the nearby national parks, Dead Horse Point has a dramatic view of the Colorado River. Dead Horse Point is easy to visit. We drove to the visitor center for a quick walk through an exhibit detailing the park’s history and features. Afterwards, we kept driving to the end of the road where the actual Dead Horse Point is.

Dead Horse Point, Utah - The Colorado River seen meandering through canyons
Dead Horse Point, Utah – The Colorado River seen meandering through canyons
See my photos from Dead Horse Point

And there it was…the Colorado River! A dramatic bend in the river surrounded by a vast expanse of canyons and gorges. Dead Horse Point closes my beautiful list of National Parks in Southern Utah.

My best tips for planning your trip to South Utah’s National Park

Find a budget hotel in nearby Moab, Utah. Moab is your only nearby town that provides easy access to these parks. We stayed at the more reasonable Super 8 motel which had a great location and free breakfast, plus cheap laundry service.

Find a great deal on a rental car. You will definitely need a rental car for visiting these national parks in Utah as they are difficult to get to otherwise. If you are coming from Colorado towards Moab, the most scenic way is to take the 128 state highway from Cisco instead of staying on the interstate 70 freeway to the Crescent Junction as most people do.

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