Five Utah Places to Enjoy Open Spaces and Fewer Crowds
You don’t have to drive far to see and do some amazing things here in Utah! And if you love popular spots like Zions, or Moab, or Bryce Canyon but want to get away from the crowds, we’ve got a solution!
Bob and Mark with Road Trippin’ with Bob and Mark share a few suggestions for beautiful places to get away from it all! We often talk about the National Parks and things to do at really popular spots, but today’s list is for people looking for a little solitude, or at least, a few spots were there are fewer crowds and plenty of open space.
Emery County, Utah
Located 2.5 hours south of SLC on SR-10 in Emery County
Things to do:
- Although it’s not as well known as the national parks in Utah, the Wedge also know as the Little Grand Canyon, offers one of the most scenic views in the state. Set your alarm early and watch sunrise from the Wedge overlook.
- Explore the many pictographs and petroglyph sites in the San Rafael Swell and Buckhorn Draw. Two panels worth checking out are the Barrier Canyon Style Buckhorn Draw Pictographs located 12 miles northwest of the Wedge overlook. The Rochester Panel near the town of Emery is the other.
- Waterski, jet ski and fish at Huntington State Park and Joe’s Valley Reservoir
- Cool off in the Manti-La Sal Forest where you’ll find mountain lakes and some of Utah’s most popular ATV trails
- Step back in time and visit the Jurassic National Monument at the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry where you’ll find the densest collection of Jurassic aged dinosaur bones ever found.
Located 200 miles south of Salt Lake City on I-15
Things to do:
- Go peak bagging in the Tushar Mountains (UT’s 3rd highest mountain range), you might come across a mountain goat herd.
- Go rock hounding or rock climbing at the Rock Corral in the Mineral Mountains
- Go fishing and waterskiing at Minersville Lake Park
- Explore Frisco Ghost Town
- Visit the historic sites of Beaver where Butch Cassidy and Philo T. Farnsworth were born, stop at the Creamery to get an ice cream cone or squeaky cheese.
Located 17 miles west of Capitol Reef National Park on SR-24
Things to do:
- Explore Capitol Reef National Park and stop by the Gifford House for a homemade pie and ice cream.
- Cool off on Boulder Mountain and wet a hook on one of the many mountain lakes or simply enjoy a scenic drive offering breathtaking views of Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon.
- Go on a Jeep Tour in Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef’s backcountry.
- Go fishing at Fish Lake and visit the Pando Aspen Grove, the largest living thing on the planet.
- Eat a slice of Pickle or Pinto Bean Pie at the Sunglow Café
Located 110 miles from Salt Lake City on US-40
Things to do:
- Enjoy a day of watersports, fishing and 3d archery at Fred Haye’s State Park at Starvation Reservoir. Any water activity you want to engage in is possible at this wonderful location. Fishing, boating, water skiing, jet ski’s, paddle boarding and the list goes on. Don’t want to be on the water, a great beach is at the day use area. Perfect for any beach activity. Two full RV ready camp grounds and 3 primitive ones will give you any experience you are looking for.
- Drive the Wrinkles Road. This little known road is on a flat plateau between Nine Mile Canyon and the Bad Land Cliffs in the southern portion of the county. It features driving through an area that has been described as a mini Grand Canyon. It is a great side trip on your way to or from Nine Mile and the Great Hunt panel.
- Grab your camera when taking this scenic drive to the High Uintas. The forest road up Uinta canyon to Pole Creek, then continuing on to Chepeta is almost magical. The high alpine meadows on this route can leave you speechless. Don’t forget to take your fishing pole because there are streams and small lakes to fish in everywhere it seems. Hike, bird watch, explore and be inspired at every turn.
- Visit the Upper Stillwater Spillway and Dam. This rolled concrete dam features an over the top spillway that is impressive even when it is not spilling. When it is spilling it is a do-not-miss. Just to listen to the roar of the water cascading down the steps of this impressive feature is an amazing experience. The drive takes you through farm and ranch land, to sagebrush flats, a descent though cedars then into the Aspen and Evergreen forests. It is an unforgettable trip.
- Stop at Marion’s Variety Shop in Roosevelt Utah for a treat at this old-fashioned soda fountain, lunch counter, and gift shop.
San Juan County Utah
Located 300 miles from Salt Lake City
Things to do:
- Visit the Edge of the Cedars State Park and Dinosaur museum in Blanding to learn about the early inhabitant who lived in the Four Corners Region
- Take an easy hike on walking trails leading to ancient Native American pit houses and ruins at Hovenweep National Monument
- Visit Natural Bridges National Monument and hike to one of three natural bridges or visit all three. Stay late and view a starry sky at the world’s first International Dark Sky Park.
- Enjoy a relaxing float trip on the San Juan River, visit ancient native American archaeological sites and wildlife along the way.
- Visit Bluff Fort, travel back in time to when early pioneers from the Hole in the Rock trek first settled this wild and untamed region.