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See where High School Musical was born

2–4 DAYS
This could be the start of something new

You know the songs like you know your own name. You’ve still got a fat crush on Zac Efron, even if you won’t admit it. You’ve binge-watched every episode of the new "High School Musical: The Musical" series on Disney+ and loved every dramatic second of it. Now it’s time to plan a trip to the iconic Utah sites where the "High School Musical" movies and TV series were filmed.

This four-day itinerary is every fan’s guide to the High School Musical universe. It will take you to the stage where Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez made their musical debut, the golf resort and baseball diamond featured in "High School Musical 2," and the hallways of the real-life East High School in Salt Lake City, where you can walk, sing, and dance where the cast once walked, sang, and danced.

Just like Troy and Gabriella, Utah’s heart can be found in two places: the surprisingly rich arts and cultural scenes in its urban spaces and its beautiful mountain and desert landscapes. Along with taking you to iconic film sites, this guide will throw you headfirst into both Utah’s performing arts scene and its sports and recreation experiences, with day one spent in the buzzing grid of downtown Salt Lake City and day two spent in the towering Wasatch Mountains that run like a spine down the city’s west edge.

Finally, you’ll end your journey at the striking red rocks of St. George and one of Utah’s natural leading ladies: Zion National Park.

Arianna Rees is a freelance writer living in Salt Lake City, but her heart is in Cache Valley, where she grew up. Her work has been featured in over a dozen publications, including Deseret News, The Startup, and The Beehive. When she isn't hurriedly typing away at her computer, Arianna can be found hiking and bouldering in the mountains or neck deep in a good book. Follow her on Twitter @AriWRees.

Header photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All rights reserved. NO ARCHIVING. NO RESALE.


Day 1 7 Miles
  • Salt Lake Film Society
  • East High School
  • Utah Jazz

Salt Lake City has a thriving film scene that puts you on-set as well as in front of it. Run by the Salt Lake City Film Society, The Broadway Centre Cinemas downtown plays exceptional independent films that make for great post-lunch matinees. After you’ve cozied up to a good flick, get a taste of what it would be like to be in one by taking a self-guided tour of East High School, where "High School Musical" was born and the "High School Musical" series was filmed. Stand in the cafeteria where the cast sang “Stick to the Status Quo,” shoot hoops on the court where Troy led the Wildcats to victory, and get a selfie at Sharpay’s locker(s), which are still painted pink to this day. East High can be toured from 2:30 to 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. 

End your day the way Troy might by catching a Utah Jazz game and watching Utah’s favorite basketball team fight for a win.

Foodie Pick: Grab an espresso and a delicious piece of gourmet toast at Publik Coffee Roaster, which was featured in episode four of the "High School Musical" series. 

Alternative Nighttime Activity: If you’d rather indulge your musical-loving side than your sports side, plan a trip to the Eccles Theater downtown, which features several award-winning Broadway plays a year, or hit some pins at the Bonwood Bowl, featured in episode five of the High School Musical: The Musical series.

Overnight: Salt Lake City

Extend Your Trip: If you’ve got extra time to explore downtown, visit the Utah State Capital Building and meander through Temple Square to learn some of the more fascinating parts of Utah’s political and religious history.

Photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All rights reserved. NO ARCHIVING. NO RESALE.

Salt Lake Film Society

The Salt Lake Film Society offers the best permanent independent film viewing facilities in Utah. Film junkies can sit back, relax and enjoy some of the greatest shows of the year at the downtown Broadway Centre Cinemas, or catch a flick at the Tower Theatre, the oldest operating movie theater in the Salt Lake Valley.

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East High School

Featuring prominently in the "High School Musical" movies and the new High School Musical series, the real-life East High hasn’t changed much from how it first looked on-screen. From 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, visitors can take a self-guided tour through the East High halls and the iconic cafeteria and basketball court featured in the films.

Photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All Rights Reserved.

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Utah Jazz

Utah sports fans are known for their passion and loyalty to their teams. No other team in the state has fans that exemplify such dedication than the fans of NBA's Utah Jazz. Vivint Smart Home Arena, the raucous home of the Utah Jazz, is located in downtown Salt Lake City within the Free Fare Zone of TRAX light rail or a couple of blocks' walking distance from Temple Square. The city's love for the team has even poured into the local street art; use this map to find the murals.

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Day 2 52 Miles
  • Murray High School
  • Hale Center Theatre
  • Alta or Snowbird

While most of the "High School Musical" movie was filmed at East High, you can see the stage where Troy and Gabrielle auditioned at Murray High School — just make sure to call ahead and set up an appointment to see it beforehand. Travel east from Murray and bop to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon to spend the day at Snowbird or Alta ski resort. Though you might not find true love and a duet partner there, you’re sure to find The Greatest Snow on Earth®. Snowbird boasts 2,500 acres and has the longest ski season in Utah, while Alta offers over 116 runs and enjoyable skiing for beginners. Both resorts are spiderwebbed with a network of trails that can be accessed for hiking, mountain biking, and beautiful wildflower viewing in the summertime.

After you’ve spent the day on the slopes or on the trails, wind down by seeing a musical in-person at the famous Hale Centre Theatre, one of the most technological theatrical spaces in the world with a stage that will make your head spin.  

Foodie Pick: Utah got its first Shake Shack in 2019, and its burger is one of the best in the state. 

Overnight: Provo/Utah County

Extend Your Trip: If you’re visiting Utah at the end of January, consider purchasing tickets for the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the U.S. You’ll get the very first look at upcoming films and might also run into a celebrity or two.

Photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All Rights Reserved.

Murray High School

Murray High is one of the smaller high schools in the Salt Lake City area, but its beautiful auditorium plays a starring role in the "High School Musical" films. You can’t take a self-guided tour in this one, but call ahead and speak to an administrator to get a close-up look at the Wildcat stage.

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Hale Center Theatre

The Hale Centre Theatre is consistently ranked the best professional theater in Utah, and its stage has played host to hundreds of familiar favorites, like "Cinderella," "Peter Pan," "The Phantom of the Opera," and more. The theater boasts a high-tech theatrical experience that includes a rotating stage, innovative lighting and lift technology, and water effects.

Photo provided by Hale Centre Theatre.

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Alta or Snowbird

Pick from either Alta or Snowbird for your day in Little Cottonwood Canyon, or purchase a combined AltaSnowbird Pass. You’ll also find plenty of gear rental outfitters if you don’t have your own equipment. Alta is a ski-only resort, so if you've brought your board, Snowbird is the place for you. Come summertime, both resorts continue the outdoor adventure with an array of on-mountain adventure, quiet hikes and dining options.

Day 3 310 Miles
  • St. George Area
  • The Entrada Inn and Canyons Complex
  • Tuacahn Amphitheatre

Set out from Utah’s urban center and drive south to play among the dramatic red rocks of St. George just like a Wildcat. St. George is a sports and recreation lover’s paradise, with great cycling, golfing, and climbing among other thrilling sports. For the full "High School Musical" experience, visit The Inn at Entrada and hit the same greens Troy and Gabriella danced on in the second film, then catch a softball game at the Canyons Complex where the Wildcats won the staff baseball game. Near the end of your day, head northwest to Tuacahn where you can watch a musical under the desert sky on the weekends. 

Foodie Pick: Eat at the Cliffside Restaurant for breathtaking sunset views of the city. 

Overnight: St. George

Photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All Rights Reserved.

St. George Area

Below the rim of the Great Basin sits Utah's warm-weather retreat, the town of St. George. The stunning valley combines transitional land features from the neighboring basin and Colorado Plateau with the landscapes and wildlife of the Mojave Desert and is an excellent base camp to southwestern Utah's adventures and most scenic movie backdrops.

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The Entrada Inn and Canyons Complex

Shrouded by Southern Utah’s striking red cliffs, the Inn at Entrada is a luxury resort that offers guests the full Wildcat vacation experience: golfing, swimming, tennis, pickleball, and more, all beneath the desert sky. The Inn offers premier accommodations and quick access to St. George’s expansive urban and outdoor landscapes, including Snow Canyon State Park and the nearby Canyons Softball Complex.

Photo provided by ©2007 DISNEY CHANNEL. All rights reserved. NO ARCHIVING. NO RESALE.

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Tuacahn Amphitheatre

It’s the greatest show in Earth. On the southern edge of Snow Canyon State Park, tucked away within a red rock canyon, the Tuacahn Amphitheatre hosts concerts, broadway shows and more under the brilliantly clear night sky. It’s the perfect blend of culture and nature you’re apt to find on your entire journey.

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Day 4 50 Miles
  • Riverside Walk
  • Emerald Pools Trail
  • Zion Canyon Drive

Utah’s national parks aren’t featured in the "High School Musical" films, but you’ll catch them in hundreds of other films and TV shows because of their goosebump-inducing landscapes. Zion, which is an hour away from St. George, is no exception. Once in the park, step aboard a shuttle bus where you can relax and enjoy a brief history of the park while you get humbling views of its red rock cathedrals. Take the gentle Riverside Walk (which is wheelchair accessible) for a snippet of Zion’s beautiful scenery. Expert hikers can take the harrowing Angels Landing Trail to see the park from a dizzying bird’s eye view. Just be extremely careful when hiking it.

Extend your stay: Trek deeper into Zion National Park to explore the world-famous Narrows and other popular backpacking trails.

Riverside Walk

The Riverside Walk of Zion National Park — also known as The Gateway to the Narrows — is quite possibly the best, most scenic wheelchair accessible, family-friendly hike around. (Wheelchairs may need assistance through some stretches.) Though it's listed at just over two miles, the Riverside Walk seems to fly by.

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Emerald Pools Trail

Outside of Angels Landing, it doesn't get much more classic than the Emerald Pools. There are three Emerald Pools — Upper, Middle and Lower — and visitors may choose from as many trails. For families with young children, stick to the 1.2-mile round-trip loop to the Lower Pool.

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Zion Canyon Drive

Zion is a hebrew word meaning “sanctuary” or “refuge,” and as you’re winding your way between the park’s red rock cathedrals and waterfalls, it’s easy to feel like you’re in one. The scenic drive is a 54-mile stretch that takes you past the Virgin River and Zion’s most iconic landmarks. During peak season, you’ll need to hop on a shuttle bus to see the belly of the canyon, but December–February, you can drive the entire stretch and explore the ghost towns and state parks on the outskirts.

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