The western state of Utah is welcoming, exciting and diverse. It’s a place of extremes; think sun-scorched red rock landscapes and snow so thick and fluffy it’s called ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’. With 14 ski resorts, the ‘Mighty Five’ national parks and the sophisticated Salt Lake City, it’s an irresistible mix of adventure, history and culture.
Best time to visit Utah: In the late summer and early autumn.
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is 6.4km west of downtown Salt Lake City, and Canyonlands Field (CNY) is 33km northwest of Moab.
From snowy mountains to epic deserts, Utah offers year-round adventure. Book your Thomas Cook holiday to find out why the ‘Beehive State’ is buzzing with surprises.
Denver | Steamboat Springs | Rock Springs | Jackson | Yellowstone National Park | Salt Lake City | Bryce Canyon National Park | Lake Powell | Cortez | Durango | Taos | Denver
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Park City’s luxurious resorts offer dazzling views of snow-topped mountains, so pack your finest boards, skis and layers for a winter trip of a lifetime – its ski resorts and peaks are regarded as among the best in the world. If you’re yearning to venture into the desert, head south in spring or early summer to explore the deep and narrow slot canyons of Zion and Capitol Reef. Salt Lake City has a lively and welcoming atmosphere, with a world of artisan breweries and hip restaurants.
Up in northern Utah is the Wasatch Front area, home to the Wasatch Mountains and the state capital Salt Lake City. A big urban centre, it’s friendly and brimming with energy. It’s got the popular City Creek Center for shopping, vibrant nightlife, the Historic Temple Square, and snowsports resorts.
With a biblical name and suitably epic scenery to match, Moab in southern Utah (and the north-eastern part of Canyon County) is about 230 miles south-east of Salt Lake City. Come here to see the Arches and Canyonlands national parks, with their red rocks twisted and sculpted into the most incredible formations.
Set your camera to ‘panoramic’ for the views across the mountains after a day’s hiking, or when you hit the roads for an all-American road trip via the famous Rocky Mountains. Take the kids on a voyage of discovery through a real-life Jurassic Park, and explore the famously swooping, swirling and striped Wave formation, down by the Utah/Arizona border. In a place known for its mountains, rock and via-ferrata climbing is a favourite pastime during the warmer months, but Utah really comes into its own during winter. The world-renowned snow, plus thousands of acres of slopes, creates the perfect place for winter adventures.
There’s plenty to do in Utah, but if you’re overwhelmed with choice, start from the ground up. In a region that has the largest number of Jurassic-era bones ever uncovered, the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City offers dinosaur bones galore, along with the Quarry Visitors’ Center at Dinosaur National. See the weird and wonderful landscapes of Goblin Valley, and sail on the peaceful Salt Lake. Meanwhile, the Foothill Cultural District in Salt Lake City is brimming with attractions, including art galleries, restaurants and a zoo.
The harsh terrain and extremes of temperature only add to Utah’s mystique. The sense of freedom and space make it one of the finest places in the USA – or even the world – to enjoy sports. During spring and early summer is the perfect time to go climbing, sailing, on a road trip (the All-American Scenic Byway is a must), or a mountain bike ride with friends; wherever you stop to admire the scenery, it’s sure to be spectacular. The camping sites are at their best in late summer; if you’re trekking into the desert, make sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen.
Utah’s well-preserved historic sites and Native American history make it a great place to explore and learn about ancient life. In Sevier County alone there are several pre-historic places and artefacts. Then there are the National Parks – head to Arches (north-east of Moab) to see the stunning natural arches, cliffs and gorges. The multi-coloured limestone ‘hoodoos’ of Bryce were said to be the ‘legend people’, frozen in stone by an angry god. Come to the east-facing canyon just before daybreak, and feel like you’re the first in the world to see the sunrise.
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Utah’s spacious landscapes are perfect for journeys of discovery.
Goblin Valley’s scenery alone will capture kids’ imaginations, not to mention the dinosaurs.
SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS
No wonder it was a former Olympic base – Park City boasts world-class peaks and slopes.
Language: The language spoken in the USA is English.
Currency: The currency used in the USA is the American Dollar ($).
Local time: There are nine different time zones in the USA. New York is 5 hours behind GMT/UK time and California is 8 hours behind GMT/UK time.
Fly to: The main airport near Orlando is Orlando International Airport (MCO) which is 19km south-east of Orlando. The main airport near Las Vegas is McCarran International Airport (LAS) which is 8km south of downtown Las Vegas
Flight time from UK: Usually between 6-11 hours.
Tourist Information: Further Utah tourist information can be found here.
Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit here for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to the USA.
Temperature: The seasons are very clear-cut throughout Utah. It’s generally cooler in the north and the mountains, and hotter in the south and the desert. In summer (June-August/September), northern temperatures are 25°C to 37°C; down in the desert and southern valleys, they can reach a boiling 40-45°C. Snow begins dusting the mountains in September, and lingers until May.
Best time to visit Utah: In the late summer and early autumn.
By car: Thanks to the original Mormon settlers, the roads in nearly all Utah cities have a neat grid layout and a numbered system – it’s worth brushing up on the navigation before taking to the city roads.
By bus/train: The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) runs the state’s bus and rail networks. The TRAX light rail runs from Salt Lake Airport and through Salt Lake City. Fares are cheap too.
By hire car: This is the best way to explore the rugged terrain of the USA. See the snowy white Denali Mountains or the jade green forests surrounding the Rocky Mountains, all from the comfort of your own rental car.
Festivals: Jazz or bluegrass fans will enjoy the Moab Music Festival (September). Film buffs should head to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival (January). Downtown Salt Lake hosts the week-long X-Dance Film Festival, showcasing action sports culture.
All-American culture: The Days of '47 Parade and Rodeo (Downtown Salt Lake, July) tops a day of celebrating the pioneers with a lively rodeo. In Liberty Park (also July) is the Native American Celebration in the Park.
Full of hot air: Volunteer to crew a hot air balloon at the Sandy Balloon Festival (Storm Mountain Park, mid-August), or you simply enjoy the entertainment and atmosphere.