For the soul who wants to venture off the beaten path and explore hidden gems or yearns to visit places before they become Instagram-famous, we’ve got you covered. From stand-up paddleboarding through the tranquil, narrow slot canyons of Lake Powell to browsing through a massive vinyl collection at a small town record store, with this six-day itinerary you’ll find hidden gems all over Southern Utah.
Get your glamp on by spending a cool Moab night in the rustic elegance of a canvas tent warmed by a wood-fired stove. Go beyond the crowds at the national parks, finding hidden arches and views few people ever see.
Soak in the solitude that surrounds Monument Valley, its towering buttes standing as sentinels. Stay at a solar and wind-powered historic ranch house, and take in the grandeur of canyon land sunsets from the 75-foot porch.
Visit the red rock canyons, alpine peaks, forested plateaus and ruins from Ancestral Puebloans of the greater Cedar Mesa Area. Sing your heart out in the incredible acoustics of the aptly named Singing Canyon. Learn how to live off the land and survive in the wild at Boulder Outdoor Survival School. Then cap off your trip by cooling down in the mountain meadows of Eagle Point.
- Moab Under Canvas: Glamping
- Devil's Garden Primitive Loop
- Gooseberry Trail
Discover the less-visited trails of Arches and Canyonlands national parks and stay the night in a unique setting that feels like camping yet is somehow much more comfortable
A perfect treat for the road-weary traveler: glammed-up camping in beautiful white canvas tents, each with its own wood floor and furnishings. Did we mention the breakfast delivery or the proximity to Arches National Park?
If you take the 7.2-mile loop along with all the short spur trails to nearby arches and other features, this becomes the park’s longest maintained trail. It’s also one of the most spectacular hikes you can take in any national park. Follow the crowd toward Landscape Arch then leave them behind on the remote loop.
You can count the number of routes off the Island in the Sky mesa on one hand. Gooseberry is by far the steepest and the most ingeniously plotted route. The 5.4-mile round-trip hike sheds a total of 1,400 feet to the White Rim, then picks it back up on the return hike.
- Hovenweep National Monument
- Navajo Spirit Tours
- Greater Cedar Mesa
A day on the road. Explore 700-year-old (and older) archaeological sites well off the beaten path, see Monument Valley the way it’s meant to be seen, then grab a permit for the backcountry of Cedar Mesa, where indigenous peoples once lived yet few people today ever visit. Overnight at Valley of the Gods B&B (see Day 3) or camp under the stars at the world’s first International Dark Sky Park, Natural Bridges.
Hovenweep National Monument is an inspiring place that begs visitors to ask questions about the ancients. 700-year-old and older archaeological sites can be visited by paved and improved dirt roads, but hikes are necessary to fully explore the ruins.
Tour the living landscape of Monument Valley with a Navajo guide and learn about the area’s ancient lore and fascinating geology, then enjoy a spiritual musical performance in a natural amphitheater.
Cedar Mesa's remote, rugged backcountry trails are not for everyone. But for adventurers with a love of solitude, archaeology and geographic beauty, day use permits are available at most trailheads and overnight permits are available at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. A great place to start is the serpentine Grand Gulch.
- Valley of the Gods B&B
- Kayak and SUP Lake Powell
- Cohab Canyon to Grand Wash
This is the desert in high contrast, sharp relief, and lots of color. Rent a paddleboard at Bullfrog Marina for a tranquil day on Lake Powell, then head for Capitol Reef and introduce yourself to something called the Waterpocket Fold on the little-traveled Frying Pan trail between the more popular Cohab Canyon and Grand Wash. Overnight in Torrey or Boulder.
The only home within the 360,000-acre Cedar Mesa region of San Juan County is this solar and wind-powered historic stone ranch-house. Relax on their large porch in the solitude of the Valley of the Gods or use it as an adventure base camp.
Slip into the mighty Lake Powell with a personal, self-propelled watercraft, and have a whole different experience than the boats flying down the lake. You can rent SUPs or kayaks from the concessionaire at Bullfrog Marina and enjoy a tranquil day on the waters — powered by you.
Taken individually, the Grand Wash and Cohab Canyon are both excellent out-and-back hikes with distinct trails. Separate yourself from the crowd by combining the two with the Frying Pan Trail, an excellent exploration of the Waterpocket Fold. Arrange a shuttle or add 2.5 miles of hiking up the road.
- Singing Canyon
- Boulder Outdoor Survival School
- Upper Calf Creek Falls Hike
Explore the Burr Trail, a paved-then-graded gravel and dirt road passing through the slickrock mountains and sandstone dunes of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. At the very least, plan a stop at Singing Canyon though you can travel as far as you wish. With a week, stamina, and the right frame of mind, you might linger in Boulder for a serious lesson in outdoor survival. Otherwise, continue down the infamous, winding Hogsback of the All-American Road Scenic Byway 12 to the lesser-visited Upper Calf Creek Falls. Overnight in Panguitch or camp at Cedar Breaks.
Of all the stops on the Burr Trail, there’s really nothing like this little slot canyon at an inconspicuous turnoff 11 miles down from the starting point. Locals of Boulder, Utah, call this slot canyon, “Singing Canyon.” When you go, you'll know exactly why.
The Boulder Outdoor Survival School clearly states it is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not necessarily even for this itinerary without a custom booking. But if you commit to a week-long (or more) survival, explorer or skills course, you’ll certainly be more prepared for the unexpected on your journey.
Few hikes in the Escalante region offer the rewards of this fine short trip with such a minimal investment of time and effort — but be cautious as this trail is steep and requires good stamina and some rock scrambling. The reward is an 87-foot-high waterfall, pools of cool water and shady riparian oases. Image courtesy Elizabeth Haslam on Flickr.
- Kolob Reservoir
- Kanarraville Falls
- Groovacious Record Store
Linger at an idyllic reservoir on a scenic backway or set out for Kanarraville Falls, pushing yourself up the ladders and scrambles to the very end. If you feel pangs for a little civilization, drop into Cedar City for a visit to the Groovacious Record Store. Grab a bite at Centro then overnight in Cedar City.
In the subalpine zone above the famous sandstone canyons of Zion lies the pastoral Kolob Reservoir. Long known to locals for its fishing, it’s the perfect place to escape the summer heat, camp on the grassy shores, and paddle out onto its calm waters.
On one hand, you can expect a stunning slot canyon with one of the most photographed waterfall and ladder scenes in Southern Utah. On the other hand, you’ll get to adorn good water shoes and continuously cross the creek on the way to this fun, non-technical slot canyon.
Groovacious is an independent record store in Cedar City. That may not mean something to everyone, but those who appreciate some deep convo about music will get it. Time your trip to hit the Groovefest Music & Art Festival, which celebrates the best in Americana from blues and folk to bluegrass and jazz. Long live vinyl!
- Parowan Gap
- Wah Wah Mountains
- Summer at Eagle Point Resort
It’s hard not to feel awe at the Parowan Gap, which seems to demonstrate prehistoric people’s strong knowledge of astronomy. While you’re in the West Desert, a visit to one of the eponymous ranges of the Basin and Range Province will introduce you to this rugged and quiet topography. Finish up the trip with some organized outdoor fun at Eagle Point Resort. For one last dash of solitude, complete the Beaver Canyon Backway to Highway 89 rather than returning directly to the interstate.
Few physiographic provinces are as misunderstood as the Basin and Range. Passed over by many as empty space, the geology actually creates individual islands of ecology with endless opportunities to explore. Wah Wah is a 55-mile-long range with great summits, like the aptly named Crystal Peak. Image courtesy James Salvas on Flickr.
While it’s best known as a family-friendly ski area, Eagle Point’s fun carries on into the summer too. It’s the perfect spot for adventure lovers looking for a getaway. The resort offers hiking, mountain biking, disc golf, paintball and many more adventures in the setting of the dramatic Tushar Mountains.