There are a few solutions to this problem. First, visit during the off-season, when the tourists are all at Disney World. Second, visit the secret places in each park that tourists tend to avoid. Here are 11 secret places to check out in Utah’s national parks this summer.
1. The Needles, Canyonlands National Park
The Needles is one of the more remote districts of Canyonlands National Park. The area requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle or some backcountry hiking to access it. There’s a trail system that includes both day and multi-day hikes. This is Chesler Park.
2. Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park
Most tourists visit the Zion Canyon portion of the park, completely missing Kolob Canyons, which is 40 miles north. Find solitude and discover a much quieter beauty in the Kolob Canyons region. Stop at the Visitor Center to check in and get information about the 20 miles of trails in the area. Take a hike to Kolob Arch.
3. The Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park
The Fiery Furnace is tricky to navigate - visitors often get lost or stuck on cliffs due to inexperience. As a result, the park rangers offer two tours into the area.
4. Skull Arch, Arches National Park
Reserve a spot on the three-hour tour and see some amazing formations and Skull Arch.
5. Waterpocket District, Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is Utah’s least-visited park, probably because of its remote location. The Waterpocket Fold stretches for 100 miles and includes slot canyons, cliffs and domes.
6. Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef National Park
You’ll typically need a high-profile vehicle to reach Cathedral Valley - the road to access it is unpaved. You can drive the 57.6-mile Cathedral Valley Loop Tour, which offers plenty of scenery and is not crowded - in fact, you may not see another car all day. Check with the Visitor Center first; you’ll have to ford the Fremont River at one point, which is not usually a problem, but is very dangerous during times of flooding. For even more solitude, stop along the way and take one of many hiking trails in the area.
7. Temples of the Sun and Moon, Capitol Reef National Park
You'll see the Temples of the Sun and Moon when you drive the Cathedral Valley Loop.
8. Upper Muley Twist Canyon
This hike is somewhat difficult, and fairly remote, so few visitors bother. You’ll see some great views of the Waterpocket Fold and several arches along the way. Start at the Strike Valley Overlook parking lot, then hike nine miles.
9. Upper Muley Twist Arch
Just one of the natural arches you'll encounter on the Upper Muley Twist trail.
10. Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park
Horseshoe Canyon is one of the frequently missed parts of Canyonlands, because it’s remote and not really connected with the rest of the park. To reach it, you’ll drive turn off SR 24 near Hanksville and drive 30 miles on a dirt road. The trail into the canyon is 6.5 miles round-trip; plan on about four hours.
11. The Great Gallery
Most Utahns don’t get to see this large panel of rock art; the figures are life-sized, highly detailed and very well-preserved. You’ll find the Great Gallery along the Horseshoe Canyon trail.