Top 5 Desert Escapes in Utah

  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • The San Rafael Swell
  • Grand Staircase Escalante
  • Moab Desert
  • Bears Ears National Monument

The deserts of southern Utah are some of the most incredible landscapes in the United States. With endless unique rock formations, vibrant warm colors and deep canyons to explore, the expansive deserts offer untouched nature and a place to recharge. Late winter and early spring are the perfect time to visit the deserts of Utah to enjoy some cooler weather with very few crowds. Enjoy our top 5 desert escapes in Utah to take a quick break from the city and enjoy some fresh desert air this spring.

Goblin Valley State Park

Exploring the nooks and crannies of Goblin Valley State Park will make you feel you are on a different planet. Get lost for hours in the maze, finding new hoodoos and pinnacles around every corner. Escape the city for a night or two and camp in the state park or nearby in BLM land. The nearby caves and Little Wildhorse Canyon are worth your time if you are interested in hiking through tight slot canyons. This is one of the most picturesque places in the Utah Desert and is a quiet escape and a quick drive from Salt Lake City.

The San Rafael Swell

If you are looking for a remote desert getaway in Utah, the San Rafael Swell is the perfect place to get away in pristine nature. Whether you are looking to relax and car camp or enjoy the backcountry on foot, there are several trails and canyons you can have all to yourself. The San Rafael Swell is also a place to mountain bike, enjoy rugged beauty and ancient Native American rock art. Outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventures and remote backcountry trips should head to the Swell for a weekend trip.

Grand Staircase Escalante

Hike through towering cliffs and secret slot canyons while also discovering dinosaur fossils in this untouched piece of solitude. This southern Utah desert has even fewer people exploring it than the San Rafael Swell. If you want to go on a solo trip away from the rest of the world, this may be your spot. You have been warned though, the solitude is real. Head into the desert fully prepared and get excited to explore the 1.9 million acres of rugged wilderness, colorful rocks and wild looking geological features. 

Moab Desert

For epic destinations in Utah, Moab is usually at the top of the list. Moab is one of the best desert escapes in Utah because of the variety of stunning national parks and state parks on the outskirts of town. Although busy, Canyonlands and Arches have some of the most beautiful rock formations in the west as well as plenty of hikes in the Moab Desert that are less traveled. With endless mountain biking options, hikes and rock climbing, Moab is the best place to escape in Utah for adventure seekers. The Colorado River provides several swimming holes to cool off unlike other deserts in Utah and the views of the La Sal Mountains provide a stark contrast to the vast landscape.

Bears Ears National Monument

For another remote desert escape in Utah, Bears Ears National Monument is a great option. With over 1.3 million acres of terrain, this monument is home to many ancient cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and sacred sites. Explore the labyrinth of sandstone canyons and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this sacred desert. With its diverse ecosystems, Bears Ears provides a desert adventure for those seeking connection with nature, history and cultural heritage. 

Get rid of some tasks on your to-do list with White Cloud Concierge while you are taking a weekend trip to the desert. To learn about other outdoor recreation opportunities once ski season ends, check out more about summer outdoor recreation in Salt Lake City.