Utah is a spectacular state with five National Parks and a host of State Parks and National Forests that would likely be National Parks in any other state. But getting the most out of your visit to the great state of Utah, is somewhat of a local’s secret! Here are 7 secrets to planning the ultimate Utah vacation and making Utah, a trip you’ll want to come back to again and again!
Secret number one to planning the ultimate Utah vacation (and maybe we’re a little biased…) is: Don’t Stay in a Hotel! The most fantastic things Utah has to offer are spectacular nature and a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of common city life. While Salt Lake City, Provo, Park City, and even St. George, all have great things to see and do, our real treasures are just off the beaten path a little bit.
Sundance Mountain Resort, for example, is smaller than Park City/Canyons (the largest ski resort in North America), but that’s what’s so great about it! It has far more spectacular views, and it has a nostalgic charm that we find to be simply magical.
One thing Sundance doesn’t have is a large, chain hotel. The same is true of most of Utah’s best experiences and attractions. So what should you do? In each of these areas, there are plenty of non-affiliated, vacation rentals, made available by real locals who know and love the area and want to share the very best of each area with their guests.
These vacation rentals are more homey and accommodating than hotels, and sure to make your vacation much more enjoyable, and memorable, plus, you’ll often be closer to what you really wanted to experience that way.
Our vacation rental cabins in Northern Utah, for example, are within walking distance of the mountain resort, and our Southern Utah condos, are right in Eagle Point Ski Resort and within walking distance of the main lodge there! Neither location has a hotel for miles.
See it all! Actually, that’s not possible. Even our most adventurous locals haven’t seen everything this great state has to offer. But what you can do is plan your trip from North to South. A lot of our guests fly into SLC International Airport, then stop in at the world-famous Temple Square to see some of Utah’s oldest and most impressive architecture. Then they might skip the crowds and the construction on I-15, and instead drive through Park City, stopping for world-class dining and shopping on Historic Main Street.
After all of that, it’s a calming, scenic drive through Heber City, and down Provo Canyon along the Provo River (a Blue Ribbon Fly Fishing destination) and Deer Creek State Park. Sundance and Mountain Cabins Utah are about the same distance from the airport either way, so why put up with the interstate when you can see more and enjoy more on this scenic route?
Head down South! Utah’s five National Parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyon Lands, Capitol Reef & Zion) are all in Southern Utah, but there’s plenty to see and do on your way down from Northern Utah, to our National Parks. The first park to see when you’re going from North to South is Bryce Canyon National Park. If you’re booking with Mountain Cabins Utah for our Northern Utah properties, you might want to consider booking one of our Southern Utah properties in Eagle Point Ski Resort as well.
Our Eagle Point ski-in/ski-out condos near Beaver, Utah, aren’t the closed vacation rentals to Bryce Canyon, but they’re a great escape from the summer heat, or, if you’re looking to ski some of Utah’s greatest snow on earth, Eagle Point is a great ski resort that can promise zero lift lines most of the time. From there, it’s about an hour-long, scenic drive to Bryce Canyon.
After exploring Bryce Canyon, you can drive South to the North Entrance of Zion National Park, and tour the Park from North to South, exiting the park toward the St. George area.
If you want to avoid the crowds at Zion National Park (probably our busiest National Park), or you’re just more of water explorer, you might want to skip Zion, and check out Lake Powell? Although Lake Powell is a registered National Park in Arizona, and most of the lake is in fact in Utah, it doesn’t count as a Utah National Park (probably because we’re already the 3rd state for the most National Parks, and all of Southern Utah could be a National Park really).
If you really want to explore some of the hidden gems in Utah, that are NOT National Parks, there are plenty of State Parks like Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Goose Necks, Pink Coral Sand Dunes, The Anasazi State Park Museum, The Escalante Petrified Forrest, Snow Cayon, Lake Yuba, The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail, Paiute State Park (very close to our Eagle Point Ski Resort Condos), & Kodachrome Basin, just to mention a few in Southern Utah.
Then there’s the more Northern Utah State Parks we love, like Deer Creek State Park (just minutes from our Sundance, Utah Cabins), Antelope Island, Bear Lake, Flight Park (a world-renowned paragliding destination), East Canyon, or Jordenelle.
Want even more freedom and adventure in Utah’s great outdoors? Our National Forests are as epic as many National Parks but left the way nature intended them to be. Take the Fish Lake National Forrest for example. Home to our Southern Utah properties, the historic Paiute Trail, incredible fishing, and the largest living organism in the world, “Pando Aspen Grove“!
Our Northern Utah Cabins, sit right on the edge of the Mount Timpanogos Wilderness Area, and our favorite pocket of the Uinta National Forest. Here you can drive through an equally impressive grove of aspens (probably larger than Pando Forest, but not all from one seed) and explore the Timpanogos Cave National Monument or relax at Tibble Fork Reservoir, where you can paddle, fish, hike or just hang out on a mountain beach and soak in the mountain splendor.
And finally, our last of 7 Secrets to Planning The Ultimate Utah Vacation, is less nature exploration and little more of the city life and entertainment that goes on here. Many people don’t realize how much talent comes from Utah. Celebrities like “Dancing With The Stars” champions Deryk and Julian Hough, numerous “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol” contestants like David Archuletta, have originated from Utah.
This is because Utah has a strong culture for the performing arts, which you can enjoy any time of year in Utah. Like the symphony? Check out Utah Symphony’s calendar of performances here. Love dance or modern concerts? Check out SmithTix online for all kinds of events happening in Utah.
Some of our favorite annual events are the Symphony on the grass and other concerts at The Deer Valley Music Festival, but one of our all-time favorites is the Sundance Blue Bird Cafe Concert Series just down the road from our Mountain Cabins in Sundance, Utah.
Other annual events worth checking out in Utah include Stadium of Fire (the largest patriotic concert & fireworks show in the Western US. This is event is broadcast live to our troops overseas each year around or on the 4th of July),
Check out our Year-Round Activities list for a great list of activities right around our vacation rental cabins and ski-in/ski-out mountain condos in Northern and Southern Utah.