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8 Of The Best Hikes in Southern Utah To Conquer!

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Calling all nature and hiking lovers, don’t miss out on these stunning and best hikes in Southern Utah!

Southern Utah is a hiker’s paradise. With five national parks, multiple national monuments, dozens of state parks, and a seemingly endless amount of public lands, it can be hard to narrow down which ones belong on your bucket list. 

Let us guide you to the top 8 best hikes in Southern Utah. We’ll show you the best hike in each of the five national parks (some considered the best National Parks on the West Coast) plus some local hidden gems that most out-of-state visitors don’t know about. 

The variety is incredible! Our list has everything from soaring red rock cliffs to slot canyons and waterfalls… and even a volcano. 

Without further ado, here are the ten best hikes in Southern Utah! 

Contributed by: JJ Haglund from The Minivan Bucket List

5 Must-Have Hiking Essentials To Grab Before Your Southern Utah hike!

  1. A hiking day backpack
  2. Comfy pair of men’s boots, or woman’s hiking boots
  3. Hiking water bottle for hydration
  4. A cozy men’s and woman’s windbreaker for those gusty summits
  5. A set of hiking poles

8 Of The Very Best Hikes in Southern Utah For Outdoor Enthusiasts

1. Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park 

Angel's Landing in Zion National Park © Image Courtesy of wundervisuals from Getty Images Signature by Canva
Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park © Image Courtesy of wundervisuals from Getty Images Signature by Canva
  • Difficulty: 4.4-miile
  • Distance: Difficult
  • Type: Round trip

You’ve probably heard of this hike, and it might already be on your bucket list. In 2021, five million people made their way to Zion, making it one of the most popular national parks. Angel’s Landing, in particular, has gained so much acclaim that Zion implemented a permit system to manage the crowds. But rest assured, it’s a renowned destination for a good reason, much like Yosemite’s Half Dome – it’s almost a rite of passage for hikers like yourself. 

As you tackle this challenging 4.4-mile round trip trail, you’ll encounter steep and potentially perilous drop-offs on one side. Thankfully, a reassuring handrail is in place for those with a more delicate disposition. 

Your determination will be handsomely rewarded at the summit with awe-inspiring views of the iconic Zion cliffs and the sprawling valley below.

In case you strike out with an Angel’s Landing permit, try Zion Canyon Overlook. It’s an easier alternative with equally stunning views.  

2. Santa Clara Volcano 

Cinder Cone Trail © Image Courtesy of Salil Bhatt from Getty Images by Canva
Cinder Cone Trail © Image Courtesy of Salil Bhatt from Getty Images by Canva
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 17.-mile
  • Type: Round trip

In the Greater Zion region, you’ll discover our first hidden gem hike – the Santa Clara Volcano, waiting to be explored. Just a stone’s throw from Snow Canyon State Park, a short drive from St. George, this hidden treasure awaits you. Have you ever wanted to hike a volcano? Now’s your chance! It’s definitely one of the coolest things to do in St. George Utah

Embark on the Cinder Cone Trail, a moderate 1.7-mile round trip adventure that leads you to the volcano’s rim. As you journey upwards, the captivating views of Snow Canyon unfold before you. On the rim, you’ll have the opportunity to amble around, taking in the breathtaking landscapes, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can venture into the heart of the cinder cone itself. 

While the trailhead offers only a handful of parking spots, the good news is that it’s outside the bustling state park, ensuring you’ll enjoy the serenity of this hidden gem. Santa Clara Volcano is undoubtedly one of the best-kept secrets in Southern Utah – relish the solitude it offers before you plunge into the throngs of Zion National Park’s crowds. 

3. Peekaboo Canyon  

Peekaboo Slot Canyon near Kanab – best hikes in Southern Utah © Image Courtesy of pick-uppath from Getty Images by Canva
Peekaboo Slot Canyon near Kanab – best hikes in Southern Utah © Image Courtesy of pick-uppath from Getty Images by Canva
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 0.7-miles (8.7-miles if hiking from the parking lot)
  • Type: Out-and-back trail

The next hike on our list is one you’ll for sure want to include on your Utah bucket list. Not to be confused with the Peekaboo Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante near Spooky Gulch, Peekaboo Canyon near Kanab and East Zion is sure to be a favorite. That’s because your journey to this slot canyon is an adventure in itself, demanding a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to navigate the terrain. 

You have two options at your disposal: either rent a rugged vehicle like a Jeep or 4Runner once you touch down in Salt Lake City, or enlist the expertise of a local guide company to usher you there. The “road” leading to Peekaboo takes you through deep sands for a couple of miles, so being well-prepared is crucial. 

If off-road driving is uncharted territory for you, the UTV tour is the wiser choice. For the self-explorers, the Kanab Trails app is your trusty companion, tracking your GPS location and guiding you along the trail. 

Upon reaching the canyon’s entrance, a short and level trail leads you through the mesmerizing slot canyon that shares an uncanny resemblance with the renowned Antelope Canyon in Arizona. 

As you journey deeper into the canyon, discover an intriguing piece of history: the Anasazi people once used this very canyon as a granary, and you can still trace the steps they carved into the canyon walls, which they used to ascend and store their grain. 

Opting for the UTV tour offers an added layer of insight, as you delve into the rich history of the canyon and the Native American civilizations that thrived here centuries ago. 

Regardless of your choice, time your visit in the morning to witness the magic of Peekaboo Canyon at its finest. As the sun’s rays infiltrate the canyon, the rock walls come alive with an ethereal glow, and singular beams of light pierce through, casting an enchanting spell that distinguishes this hike as one of the finest in Southern Utah. 

4. Navajo Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park 

Navajo Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park © Image Courtesy of kojihirano from Getty Images by Canva
Navajo Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park © Image Courtesy of kojihirano from Getty Images by Canva
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging
  • Distance: 1.7-miles
  • Type: Loop

Bryce Canyon National Park is a captivating place renowned for its enchanting hoodoos. Guaranteed it will be one of the most unique landscapes you’ll ever hike. If you’ve never heard of a hoodoo, picture massive limestone pillars, bathed in an orange hue, and you’re just beginning to grasp their otherworldly charm. 

Interestingly, despite its name, it’s not a conventional canyon but a natural amphitheater, sculpted over eons to unveil thousands of these remarkable hoodoos. In fact, the park hosts multiple amphitheaters, each offering a trove of potential hikes to uncover their secrets. 

For an extraordinary encounter with the hoodoos that will leave you with a profound sense of your own insignificance in the most uplifting way, embark on the Navajo Loop trail, down steep slopes into the heart of the amphitheater. As you traverse winding switchbacks, marvel at the tenacious trees that have miraculously taken root in the valley floor and, against all odds, grown to tower over the hoodoos.  

Along the way, you’ll pass famous landmarks such as Wall Street and Thor’s Hammer, each lending a unique character to this remarkable landscape. These distinctive features are what solidify Bryce Canyon as one of the premier hikes in all of Southern Utah. 

Though the Navajo Loop spans a mere 1.7 miles, underestimate it at your own peril, for what descends must inevitably ascend. In other words, be prepared for a challenging climb back to the rim, especially on a scorching day. 

This is an adventure that rewards with every step, but it demands respect for its terrain and a keen sense of awe for the natural wonders that surround you.  

5. Lower Calf Creek Falls near Escalante 

Lower Calf Creek Falls © Image Courtesy of Don Miller from Getty Images by Canva
Lower Calf Creek Falls © Image Courtesy of Don Miller from Getty Images by Canva
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging
  • Distance: 6.7-miles
  • Type: Out-and-back trail

It doesn’t get much more remote than Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There are limitless adventures and opportunities to get off-grid in this part of Utah, but for now you’re just going to sample one of its hidden treasures – Lower Calf Creek Falls.  

This trail has rightfully earned its place among the finest hikes in Southern Utah, mainly because it’s a rarity in this arid region, boasting one of the few waterfalls that flow consistently (excluding the flash flood waterfalls that make a cameo during monsoon season).  

Your path will lead you through a mesmerizing tapestry of sandstone cliffs, where the echoes of the ancients are etched in the form of captivating rock art. The grand finale, however, is the sight of the majestic 130-foot waterfall, soaring like a natural masterpiece against the backdrop of Utah’s red rock landscape. 

After this 6.7-mile trek, treat yourself to a refreshing respite by taking a dip in the deep and inviting swimming hole beneath the falls. It’s a revitalizing experience, rejuvenating your spirit and soothing your senses as you immerse yourself in the pristine waters. In this remote and untouched corner of the world, Lower Calf Creek Falls stands as a testament to the beauty and grandeur of nature, inviting you to savor its unspoiled charms. 

6. Cohab Canyon at Capitol Reef National Park 

View from Cohab Canyon at Capitol Reef National Park © Image Courtesy of Photosbyjam from Getty Images by Canva
View from Cohab Canyon at Capitol Reef National Park © Image Courtesy of Photosbyjam from Getty Images by Canva
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3-miles
  • Type: Out-and-back trail

Unlike most hikes on this list, the payoff isn’t about the views – it’s about the pies. Fresh fruit pies baked daily in an old pioneer cabin. 

Capitol Reef National Park might not get all the attention that Zion or Arches do, but it has a little bit of everything that the other more famous parks offer – from towering red rock cliffs to Native American petroglyphs, and even massive arches that you can walk on top of. While Cassidy Arch and Hickman Bridge are the most well-known hikes in the park, Cohab Canyon is a real hidden gem.  

The trailhead starts near the Fruita orchards, then the trail takes you up steep switchbacks along the mountainside with stunning views along the way. The green orchards below against the backdrop of the red cliffs with some black lava rock flows mixed in make for Mother Nature’s artwork at its finest! From there the trail levels out and you start to descend in between the walls of Cohab Canyon with lots of little side slot canyons to explore as you wish.  

Once you finish the hike, head back down to the trailhead and cross the street to the old Gifford Homestead and reward yourself with some hard-earned baked goods. The combination of stunning views and delicious pies are what make this one of the best hikes in Southern Utah.  

7. Mesa Arch at Canyonlands National Park 

Mesa Arch Sunrise © Image Courtesy of tobiasjo from Getty Images Signature by Canva
Mesa Arch Sunrise © Image Courtesy of tobiasjo from Getty Images Signature by Canva
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 0.7-miles
  • Type: Loop 

Ever since Mesa Arch graced the wallpapers of Windows 7 users everywhere over a decade ago, capturing the iconic arch during sunrise has become a bucket list shot for almost all aspiring photographers. Admittedly, you’ll share the moment with other enthusiasts and their tripods, but trust us, it’s absolutely worth the experience. 

The trail is short and easy and the arch is smaller than it looks. If you don’t go at sunrise, it might even be a bit disappointing. But at sunrise, it offers a glowing window to the incredible canyons below, and it is no wonder this easy hike in Southern Utah is so popular!

And if that doesn’t leave you satisfied, Canyonlands is the least visited of all of Utah’s national parks. It’s a colossal expanse of wilderness with multiple hiking trails beckoning you to escape the bustling crowds. You’re sure to discover a hidden gem or two.  

8. Delicate Arch at Arches National Park 

Delicate Arch at Arches National Park © Image Courtesy of Bartfett from Getty Images by Canva
Delicate Arch at Arches National Park © Image Courtesy of Bartfett from Getty Images by Canva
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.2-miles
  • Type: Round Trip

Arches National Park has over 2,000 natural arches. One of them, Landscape Arch, is the longest in the world. But one arch stands out from all the rest – Delicate Arch. It’s a Utah icon. It’s almost the unofficial logo of the state and has been featured on everything from state license plates to the Utah Jazz home court. 

Not only is it one of the best hikes in Southern Utah, it’s arguably one of the best in the world, and worthy of inclusion on anyone’s bucket list.  

It’s a moderate 3.2 miles round trip with a mild elevation gain of 480 feet. You climb over rolling hills along slickrock with no shade, so come prepared with lots of water. When you finally round the corner and see it for yourself, you’ll know why it’s such a Utah classic. Pictures won’t do it justice, but you’ll want to take one anyway. Even if you have to wait in line to do it. Stand right under the arch and snap a pic for the memory books.  

Conclusion – Best Southern Utah Hikes

Southern Utah, with its spellbinding landscapes, mystical slot canyons, and awe-inspiring vistas, is a treasure trove of natural wonders. There is an endless supply of incredible Southern Utah hiking trails and outdoor adventures. 

These eight are just a sampling of the best hikes in Southern Utah. Whether you’re chasing waterfalls, navigating narrow slot canyons, or gazing upon towering hoodoos, Southern Utah’s trails are bound to leave an indelible mark on your soul. 

So, pack your gear, prepare for unforgettable journeys, and let the red rocks and serene vistas be your companions as you explore the magic of Southern Utah’s diverse and enchanting landscapes. Happy hiking! Disclaimer: This post contains links to services or products that I trust and recommend and from which I may earn commissions. Read our privacy policy for more.

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