25 Incredible Places To Visit Near Salt Lake City

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Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital, boasts a sunny climate and a business-friendly atmosphere, which has fueled its growth and diversification in recent years. It’s also, like some of the West’s other large cities, a great place to call home base when you want access to great places within a half-day’s drive.

These 25 destinations were chosen because they showcase the stunning natural beauty and recreational opportunities within reach of Salt Lake City. Each location provides a different slice of what the broader region has to offer, from serene state parks and rugged wilderness areas to fascinating historical sites and vibrant recreation hubs. Let’s take a little tour of some of these destinations, going roughly clockwise.

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park, Utah
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This state park is an island in the Great Salt Lake. The scenery is great, and there’s also a buffalo herd you might spot.

Logan Canyon

Logan canyon utah
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The scenery just keeps getting better the higher you climb (in your car). Don’t pass up hikes to natural arches and swimming holes that are just lovely in Utah’s hot summer.

Mt. Naomi Wilderness

Mt. Naomi Wilderness
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The crest of the road up Logan Canyon enters a sub-alpine zone. For amazing views, hike to the top of Naomi. If that’s not for you, you can still enjoy mountain lakes and wildflower meadows from your car.

Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake
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As you descend from the crest of the road up Logan Canyon, you’ll reach Bear Lake. It’s a huge, watery jewel sharing space in both Utah and Idaho.

Fossil Butte National Monument (Wyoming)

Fossil Butte National Monument
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It takes only a few hours of driving to reach this remote spot. Removing fossils you find is illegal. Keep an eye out for modern “fossils,” such as antlers shed by bull elk.

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway

Kamas Lake, Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, Utah
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This road takes you from Kamas up into Utah’s highest mountains. You’ll have many opportunities for hiking and sightseeing. I strongly recommend the short but strenuous hike up Bald Mountain. If you’re up for a really long day or an overnighter, go for Naturalist Basin. The many lakes there frame some of the best mountain scenery in Utah.

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
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Because of a dam, the Green River backs up here for miles to create a lake. It’s not an example of raw nature, but it is a great place for watersports and for admiring the steep cliffs the dam hasn’t come even close to covering.

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah
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This spot along the Utah-Colorado border is a world away from the vibrancy of Salt Lake City. That’s all the more reason to go and see its sandstone landscapes, prehistoric fossils, and ancient rock art.

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
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Now we’re back to the city for a bit. BCC, as it’s called by locals, climbs into the Wasatch Range to the Brighton ski resort. Along the way, there are many opportunities for outdoor recreation in all seasons.

Park City

Park City, Utah, USA
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If you’re a skier, Park City needs no introduction; it’s one of the most recommended ski areas on the planet. Try visiting in the summer, though, when prices are lower and you’re close to the alpine. When snow doesn’t close the road, you can drive directly in from Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Albion Basin

Albion Basin in Little Cottonwood Canyon
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If you drive all the way up Little Cottonwood Canyon, passing the ski resorts of Alta and Snowbird, you’ll reach Albion Basin. The meadows here are crazy with wildflowers, and hiking options take you to lakes, overlooks, and mountaintops.

Mt. Timpanogos

Mt. Timpanogos, Utah
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Timpanogos, or “Timp” as locals call it, the massive mountain that towers over Provo. It has multiple summits, and its highest is the second-highest peak in the Wasatch. Timp is one of the best mountains in the country because of its scenic beauty that includes a glacier, an alpine lake, resident mountain goats, waterfalls, wildflowers, and more.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Timpanogos Cave, National Monument, Utah
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On the flanks of Timpanogos is the entrance to this cave system. A steep paved trail leads you to that entrance, where you can go on guided tours of three caves open to the public.

Sundance

Sundance film festival
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Also in the shadow of Timpanogos is this community made famous by the Sundance Film Festival founded by actor Robery Redford. If you can’t make it to the festival, you can still visit the community and see what it’s all about.

San Rafael Swell

San Rafael Swell area, Utah
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West of Green River, I-70 goes through the most beautiful stretch of land that most people have never heard of. This is the San Rafael Swell, a huge expanse of desert wilderness in which you can find dinosaur tracks, natural arches, narrow canyons, ancient Native American rock art, spectacular sandstone formations, and a lot more.

Mt. Nebo Scenic Byway

Mount Nebo Scenic Byway in Utah
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Nebo is the highest mountain in the Wasatch. The scenic byway named for it winds along its western aspect, yielding frequent views of the mountain. There’s also a small stand of spectacularly eroded hoodoos reminiscent of Bryce Canyon but on a much smaller scale.

Maple Canyon

maple canyon utah
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Maple Canyon is on national forest land south of the Nebo area. It’s a popular spot for hiking, camping, and rock climbing. What distinguishes it is the cobble-like makeup of the rock here. The forest in the canyon also provides much-welcome summer shade.

Parowan

Brian Head Ski Resort in Parowan
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Parowan is a gateway town to Cedar Breaks National Monument, the other main one being Cedar City a little to the south. From Parowan, a road climbs up a pretty canyon and ultimately reaches Brian Head Mountain, also passing the Brian Head Ski Resort. Brian Head is not actually above timberline, but its summit is rocky and bare, and you’ll get great views up there.

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Big Rock Candy Mountain, Utah
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You might call this place a tourist trap, but it’s a fun spot in a beautiful setting. The resort provides a base for hiking, river floats, ATV trails, and more. Lodging options range from tent camping to staying in a converted caboose!

House Range

House Range, Utah, USA
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U.S. 50 west of Delta doesn’t get much traffic, and those who do travel it notice an impressive mountain range rising above the desert to the north. This is the House Range, and you can access it via some well-maintained unpaved road. Its standout feature is Notch Peak, a tall limestone peak with a huge sheer wall that earns it comparisons to El Capitan in Yosemite.

Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Great Basin National Park in Nevada
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Continuing west on 50, you’ll cross into Nevada, and to the south will be the Snake Range, home to Great Basin National Park. This is a “sky island” of peaks tall enough to retain snow well into summer. It’s one of the least-visited parks in the country due to its remoteness, and there’s a lot to do and see there. Some examples: mountain lakes, caverns, a natural arch, a rock glacier (permanent snow and ice beneath a boulder field), and bristlecone pines, which are the world’s oldest organisms.

Great Salt Lake State Park

The Great Salt Lake State Park in Utah, USA
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Just west of the city is this state park that provides easy public access to the Great Salt Lake. The lake is really shallow here, and you can walk out far into it without ever going in over your head.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Lake Flats
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As you go west from the city on I-80, you pass through the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, which have been featured in many movies. The flats contain the Bonneville Speedway, where several land speed records have been set. A rest area near the Nevada border provides a safe place to park and then get out to wander the flats.

West Wendover (Nevada)

West Wendover NV, USA
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Utah doesn’t allow legalized gambling, but if you like Casinos, you don’t have to go all the way to Vegas. West Wendover is waiting for you off I-80 just past the state line.

Ruby Mountains (Nevada)

Ruby Mountains (Nevada)
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After the Wendover area, I-80 goes through a lot of empty country until reaching Elko. South of Elko are the Ruby Mountains. Lamoille Canyon there has been called the Yosemite of Nevada, and at its top, you can park and enjoy trails that take you into the high country, which includes some beautiful lakes.

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smiling woman in car on road trip
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The open road has stories to tell. The Interstate Highway System, the iconic blue signs, and the crucial Highway Trust Fund come into focus in this article, showcasing the interconnected web that binds the nation. Join us on this road trip through time, where Ladybird Johnson’s vision for highway beauty meets the milestones and stories etched into the asphalt of the U.S. highway system. 

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The World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Ranges

woman sitting on mountain top
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For as long as humans have existed, mountains have inspired and daunted us. They’re the basis for countless legends, and although they can be deadly, have an irresistible pull on us, drawing millions of sightseers, hikers, climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts every year. Making a definitive list of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world is subjective, but the ones here are certainly strong contenders.

The World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Ranges

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Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.