Travel, USA

Top Tips for Visiting Utah

Utah is a very popular state to travel to. You have a lot of national parks here. Zion, Arches, Bryce national parks just to name a few. Not to mention the stunning scenery and variety of other activities to do, travelers have Utah on their bucket list for sure.

If you are one of these travelers that has Utah on the list, you’re in for a real treat. You won’t be disappointed, believe me. Whether you’re visiting Salt Lake City, the national parks or anything in between, be sure to save these tips for visiting Utah.

Get to parks before or after peak hours

When visiting any national park, try to get there before or after peak hours which is from 9am to 2pm. If you try to visit anytime in between, like I did while in Utah, you’ll run into problems. You either won’t find parking or won’t get into the park altogether until it’s less crowded.

Be sure to check out my other posts where I share tips on visiting Zion National Park and Arches National Park.

Parks accept debit/credit cards for entrance fee

When I visited Arches and Zion National Parks, they said they only accepted debit/credit cards. I thought they’d accept cash but at that time they didn’t. So, be sure to have either a debit or credit card on hand to pay the entrance fees.

Bring water and snacks with you

No matter where you’re traveling to in Utah, be sure to bring lots of water and snacks with you.

When partaking in any outdoor activity, this is important as there are no, or there may be no, stores around. Even if you’re just driving throughout Utah, lots of gas stations and food places are 20 to 60 miles apart. You literally drive through mountains, cliffs and deserts where there’s nothing for miles. Stock up while you can.

Bring sunscreen

It’s super important to ensure your skin is well protected against the sun while in Utah. Especially during the hotter months, it’s important to have sunscreen on hand to avoid sunburns and damage from the sun.

Bring sunglasses

When it’s sunny out, it helps to have a pair of glasses on hand. It’s useful to have them just in case you’re driving, walking or hiking and need to shield your eyes from the sun.

Bring a hat

Going along the same lines of protecting your skin from the sun, you want to protect your scalp from the sun as well. So, bring a hat along. Not only does it protect your scalp, but it provides shade and cools you down a bit.

Bring a day bag

Bringing a day bag with you is an essential whether you’re going out for the day or for several days. In your day bag, you should bring your essentials to ensure you’re prepared for your day.

What I like to pack in my day backpack is:

  • My first aid kit
  • Rain jacket
  • Hoodie
  • Had
  • Camera equipment
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks

Those are the primary things I tend to carry no matter the type of trip. If you’re going to a specific type of climate, environment or terrain, pack accordingly.

Wear comfy clothing and shoes

Wearing comfy shoes and clothing is another essential when traveling and exploring Utah. A lot of the activities there are outdoor type of activities. So, it’s crucial you are prepared with comfy items when out exploring.

Have wet wipes and sanitizer

Especially during these times, it’s important to have hand sanitizer and wet wipes with you. Even without a pandemic, it’s still good to carry these items with you to keep your hands clean.

Have a full tank of gas

Be sure to have a full tank of gas when you’re driving around Utah. Unless you’re staying close to an attraction, you have to drive for miles on end through different terrain with gas stations being far, few and in between.

Don’t get caught out in the middle of nowhere because you ran out of gas. Have a full tank of gas and when it’s time to top up, head towards the next available station and don’t want.

Rent a car with good gas mileage

If you plan on renting a car in Utah like I did for my solo trip, ensure you get a car that has good gas mileage. The full-sized SUV I had was a gas guzzler and I spent more money than I would have liked on gas.

Bring sandals

You never know when you might need sandals for something. For instance, like when I made an unplanned trip to the coral pink sand dunes in Kanab. I didn’t have any sandals so I just walked in my shoes.

It’s good to have a pair on hand for when you need to be in sand or close to water.

Expect long wait times for national parks

Just know that trying to get into any of the national parks is going to take a very long time. Even when you go during off peak hours, there’s still a long wait to get in.

So even if you plan to beat the traffic, there’s a good chance there will still be some traffic. When I went to Arches NP during off peak hours, around 3pm, I waited in traffic for an hour to get inside.

Catch a free shuttle at Zion National Park

If you are planning to visit Zion NP, catch the free shuttle. You can either catch it from the visitors center inside the park or at one of the shuttle stops in the town of Springdale.

There’s another option for a shuttle but it’s a paid shuttle. It only costs $1 but tickets sell out quickly.

Have some spare cash

This is a rule of thumb I live by no matter where I’m traveling to and you should to. Always bring some spare cash on you. You never know when your card might be declined, lost or stolen. Or if a location doesn’t accept cards, at least you’ll have cash as a backup for those types of situations.

Ask locals for recommendations

If you’re trying to go off the beaten track places or find something that’s less touristy, definitely ask locals for recommendations.

That’s how I discovered a little stream and the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, I asked a local. They weren’t on my itinerary and I didn’t even know they existed. Had I not asked a local for recommendations, I would’ve missed out on these hidden gems.

Explore towns and lesser known parks

Part of the fun of solo traveling, or any type of traveling, is to explore places that are not as touristy or popular. It shows you a whole other side to a location and you appreciate the environment more.

Try local cafes and restaurants

Of course, it’s cool when you’re able to try the local restaurants or cafes in the area. The local cuisines are amazing and give you that extra something big chain places can’t.

I loved eating at a restaurant in SLC and this cool restaurant in Kanab that weren’t very touristy. The food was wonderful and I enjoyed the unique decor and atmosphere each place had.

Download the Transit app

If you’re planning on staying near Salt Lake City, or any other major city, then I recommend you download the Transit app. It’s an app that connects and shows the city’s public transportation lines in the area. You can look up directions on how to get to specific locations as well.

It’s a really handy app to have. That’s how I discovered where the train lines next to my Airbnb were.

Bring extra layers of clothing

Last but not least, make sure you bring extra layers of clothing. You never know when you’re going to be in a chilly place or get cold.

As someone who gets cold real easily, this is a must for me. But if you’re someone who doesn’t get cold that easily, it’s still good to have extra clothing for when the temperature drops.

I hope these tips serve you well while you’re traveling to Utah!