5 of Utah’s Best-Kept Outdoor Secrets


In truth, each state has something special that’s sort of kept a secret from outsiders. The beauty of Utah’s outdoor majesty is not exactly hidden. People come from all over to hike around Utah’s parks, ski Utah’s slopes, and explore many other famed outdoor areas. However, Utah has some hidden treasures that aren’t as well known as Zion National Park or the Great Salt Lake.

Those that live in Utah or the surrounding areas probably don’t consider these areas hidden, but to outsiders these are the destinations that are hard to find in a tourism brochure or suggested attraction on travel sites. Not to say that these areas don’t see tourism, but they definitely don’t see tourism on the same scale as many other popular Utah destinations. Here are five of the best-kept secrets hiding in Utah.

Homestead Crater

The Homestead Crater is in Midway, Utah about 46 miles from Salt Lake City. This amazing location offers a natural hot spring of mineral waters that range between a cozy 90 and 96 degrees and is great for any time of year. The location feels otherworldly and magical in this limestone bowl with mineral deposits running down the rock faces. There’s an opening at the top that allows natural light inside and a look at the stars at night. This location attracts many different types of people, from the average soaker to scuba divers. Homestead Crater is the only warm scuba diving destination in the continental United States. Swimming, snorkeling, and even paddle board yoga are all popular activities to do in this amazing crater.

For those visiting, know that this pool requires a reservation and only an hour to partake. You should wear your swimsuit under your clothes to make life a little easier for yourself once you’ve arrived. The location also offers packages to stay and soak a few times a day. However you choose to visit, you wont regret experiencing this great underground secret near Salt Lake City.

Singing Canyon

Singing Canyon isn’t something you can find easily by Googling it and following your GPS. It’s nicknamed Singing Canyon because of its amazing acoustics that many slot canyons have. It’s a part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Boulder, Utah. This amazing location is beautiful, serene, and incredibly easy to get to. It’s located on Burr Trail just a short hike from the road. The landscape you see here is a tiny piece of what many of the state’s landscapes look like. Grab some easy-to-carry hiking snacks, some water, and your singing voice and experience the singing canyon. Its high red rock walls around you won’t leave you feeling as claustrophobic as some tighter slot canyons, but is still enveloping and beautiful.

To get to the Singing Canyon, drive 11 miles on the Burr Trail Road from Boulder. There will be an unmarked paved pullout on the north side of the road. Getting to the canyon from here is an easy and quick walk following some cottonwood trees. Since this location is difficult to find on a map if you’re unfamiliar with the area, you may want to use the GPS coordinates which are 37.864849, -111.30048.

Paria Canyon

Paria Canyon technically straddles the Utah/Arizona border, so it doesn’t just belong to Utah. However, this location is absolutely amazing. It may be a bit remote, but the canyon is breathtaking. The watercolor mountains, slot canyons, and the Paria river make for a location that has a little bit of everything. With its warm location on the Arizona border, it makes for a great spring destination for those suffering with symptoms of low vitamin D in Utah or surrounding cold-weather states over the winter. You can hike, picnic, camp, or take advantage of the amazing photographic opportunities offered by the sandstone formations.

Be aware before visiting Paria Canyon that permits are required in advance. The famous Wave formation in the Paria Wilderness area in the Coyote Buttes is breathtaking, but the permit for this hike is difficult to obtain and involves an extensive waiting list. If you do plan on spending a few days hiking through Paria, be sure to have the right gear for lightweight excursions and understand know the risks of an overnight stay through such a remote area. Despite the preparation for this experience, it’s well worth it.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

You don’t have to be in the remote areas of Utah to experience the outdoors. Bonneville Shoreline Trail is far from a secret — there’s an access point right near downtown Salt Lake City, but it’s not really a big tourist draw. It’s almost 100 miles long and is still being developed with the hope of being more than 280 miles and stretching from the Idaho border to Nephi, Utah. The views are great, the location is amazing, and it caters to a number of different recreational activities.

Biking is becoming a popular form of commuting for many young people, and Utah is following that trend. Not only is biking a popular alternative transportation in town, it’s also a popular recreation as well. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail bridges that gap by offering many great biking trails with access points in town as well as many other locations. Not only that, it’s shared with runners, hikers, walkers, and is dog friendly. It’s flexibility for runners make it one of the best trails for runners in SLC.

Tabernacle Hill

In central Utah, in the small town of Meadow, is a lava field created by lava flow from a volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. The exact number of lava tubes to explore is unknown, but the area is covered in lava for miles that haven’t been mapped. The blackened rock covering this area looks pretty out of place in the surrounding area which makes for a really fun and unique place to explore. There are caves, amazing formations, and even bats living in the lava tubes.

Exercise extreme caution when exploring as there will be no signs warning you of dangerous areas. Bring a flashlight, beware of cave-ins, and wear good shoes. Since the rock is so jagged and difficult to traverse, don’t bring your dog as they can easily tear their pads on the terrain.

From the Homestead Crater to Tabernacle Hill and everything in between, Utah’s outdoor adventures are vast. Some of Utah’s outdoor wonders are well known, others less so. Whether or not they see a lot of visitors doesn’t necessarily weight their beauty. In reality, just like many other places, this list could go on forever. There are so many secrets that the outdoor world has to offer. Though each state’s top attractions hold those titles for a reason, some of the most amazing places are a little further off the beaten path.


About Author

Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. When she isn’t writing she spends her time riding her bike, throwing a Frisbee for her dog, and exploring the outdoors in Boise.

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