Unique Places in Utah

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by blueskyjohn
  • Pilot Peak
    Pilot Peak
    by Segolily
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by blueskyjohn

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Utah

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    Land of Goblins

    by emw.weaver Written Dec 18, 2011

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    Goblin Valley State Park is an unusual park full of rock formations. The formations look like little goblins scattered throughout, hence the name. A nice game of capture the flag in the park is a must and a once in a lifetime opportunity. There are some hidden gems around the park in the form of caves, climbing walls, natural slides, and just some plain awesome scenery. Plus it's free!

    Goblin Valley State Park in January Photo Op
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    Red Canyon - Bryce Canyon's little sibling

    by AcornMan Updated May 16, 2011

    Just west of Bryce Canyon on Highway 12 is a lesser known region of similar rock formations called Red Canyon. The rocks are - as you may have guessed - a more distinct reddish color here than in Bryce Canyon. And although it's not as dramatic as Bryce Canyon, it is definitely worth a visit, especially considering close it is to is more famous sibling. There are a number of easy hiking trails that don't venture far from the road, making it an ideal place for a family hike or for anyone else who is not interested in a more rigorous backpacking trip.

    Be aware, however, that the The Red Canyon Visitor Center is open only from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so there are no amenities available during the "off-season."

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    Don't miss Goblin Valley State Park

    by AcornMan Written May 15, 2011

    Easily overlooked in a state full of world-famous national parks that attract visitors from all over the globe, Goblin Valley State Park is a relatively small and isolated destination that should not be missed. Located about two hours west of Moab on the way to Capitol Reef National Park, it is easy to drive right past this place without even noticing it is there because, from the main highway, it is necessary to take a couple smaller roads to access it. But the detour is well worth your time, because Goblin Valley State Park is like nothing else in the state, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Wind and water have carved fantastic and unique goblin-like sculptures out of rock, creating an outdoor playground that inspires the imagination. Numerous rocks and coves offer unlimited walking, exploring, or hiking opportunities. It is well worth the time to hike through the area for a few hours, to enjoy the desert beauty and fascinating comical goblin forms that you find here.

    Goblin Valley State Park is an especially great place to take your kids if, like mine, they are full of energy and get restless sitting in the car for long drives. That's because visitors are free to roam throughout the park and climb all over the rock formations as they please. It's like a giant playground created by nature. And it's only $7 for an entire car-load of people, so you can't beat the price.

    Related to:
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    Horseshoe canyon unit - Canyonlands N.P.

    by pfsmalo Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Although officially part of Canyonlands N.P., Horseshoe Canyon is a seperate entity, not even attached to "The Maze". A lovely hike down the cliff and into the canyon itself is a bit steep in places but well-marked with cairns and traces of passage. Turning right at the bottom you walk along the streambed. I was here in April and there was very little water in the bed so no need for wet weather footwear. Afair distance along you first come to the Alcove where there are a set of Pictographs. Further along there is the Shelter where the images are so much clearer. Upon reaching the end of the canyon after a slight bend, wonder of wonders, "The Great Gallery" appears. Approx. 50 metres long the panel painted in the "Barrier Canyon"** style is like a giant slap in the face. Standing looking at these images that may be up to 5000 y.o. is so moving. When we arrived there were two rangers there who gave us a detailed visit of the gallery. Stupendous!!!
    One of the highlights of my first trip to this side of the U.S. The whole hike is about 10 kms there and back and in all can take 5/6 hours. Make sure you have enough water for the climb out of the canyon.
    **Horshoe Canyon used to be called Barrier Canyon and Barrier Canyon style was a term first used by Polly Schaafsma an expert on rock art. For those that wish to learn a bit more about the style can have a look here. http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/upload/HorshoeBook.pdf

    Another site for a look at the gallery is :http://www.so-utah.com/capitol/horsshoe/homepage.html

    Directions : From Ut.24 there is an entrance close to the Goblin Valley turnoff on the opposite side of the road. almost 50 kms of graded dirt but with a fair amount of sand. Passable in good weather. Have a map with you as navigation is not easy. Another route in is directly from Green River along 75 kms of graded dirt.

    View down the canyon from the trailhead. Under the shelter. Getting closer. Close up after clambering up the screed. Seen along the wash, needs some climbing.

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    Golden Spike Momument at Promontary Point

    by JREllison Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Located North of the Great Salt Lake, Promontary Point Vistors Center celebrates the connection of the Eastbound and Westbound legs of the first transcontentinal railroad. The active roadway no longer travels this route but even though the drive seems long and desolate the road is good and the trip worth while

    From Salt Lake City go North on I-15 to exit 365 and drive west on Utah Highways 13 and 83 to Corinne. The highways divide in Corinne; take the left fork continuing west on Hwy 83. Follow the brown Golden Spike destination signs. Turn left at the sign by Thiokol and follow signs to visitor center.

    Lots of great old pictures at http://www.nps.gov/archive/gosp/clr/clrt.htm

    Promontary Point
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    Calf Creek Recreation Area

    by windsorgirl Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This park is located 15 miles east of Escalante on Scenic Byway 12. There is a campground and picnic area here as well as a six mile round trip hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls.

    I have seen many photos of the falls and they are quite beautiful. They fall 126 feet into a deep pool surrounded by trees.

    We had hoped to do the hike but the skies were very grey and it had just started to rain. I hope to return one day and make the hike out to the waterfall.

    Calf Creek Recreation Area
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    Topaz Prospecting

    by Astrobuck Updated Apr 4, 2011

    If you like Topaz, try Topaz Mountain, outside of Delta. If you do choose to go, be sure you bring an old pair of sneakers, a sledgehammer, and a film cannister to keep the topaz you find. The rock that the topaz is inside of is called Rhyolite. Rhyolite will destroy a pair of shoes in a single day due to it's coarseness. After you hit the rhyolite with the sledgehammer, it may bounce off at first. However, after hitting it a couple of more times, it will break. The topaz will be a honey color. Be sure you keep the topaz in the film cannister because sunlight will turn it clear (honey colored is worth more). There are also wild animals here and it is desert. So, be vigilant and bring water with you.

    Topaz
    Related to:
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    • Desert
    • Road Trip

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    Fort Deseret

    by Segolily Written Feb 26, 2011

    Fort Deseret is the remains of an old adobe fort built to protect the settlers against Indian aggression. The Black Hawk war of 1865-67 was a difficult time for all involved. Many of the white settlements were abandoned, deaths on both sides were high, many of the forts around the state date from this time (Cove Fort, Fort Pierce are two others still extant).

    Approval was given to build the fort and it was completed in 18 days by 98 men and women, digging trenches, gathering and adding straw for the adobe walls. The walls topped out at 10 feet, about 3 feet at the base. The fort was 550 ft square with entrances on all sides and two defensive towers on opposite corners. It was used mostly to protect the livestock which were a major target of Indian raiders. There is indication the settlers also retreated here once for protection as well.

    Today the east wall remains in good shape due to some upkeep from interested parties. The rest of the walls are falling to the destruction of rain and are barely keeping the fort site intact. There is nothing much else to see. For those interested in the old west, in the white/indian conflicts or adobe buildings it might make an interesting detour.

    South of Delta, Ut about 5 miles, on hwy 257.

    East Wall Rifle lookout Interior of the fort
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    Hanksville, a one-horse town ??

    by pfsmalo Updated Jan 4, 2011

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    Originally settled in 1882 but only incorporated in 1999,lying on the intersection of Hwys 24 and 95, and not far from Capitol Reef N.P. and Goblin Valley, Hanksville is one of the original remote "frontier" towns (pop. 203 at last census 2006). There are a couple of good stores for stocking up, a couple of motels I didn't find and Hollow Mountain filling station, but apart from that........We just took a walk into the historic section for a couple of photos and found the "one-horse" part of town.

    Old barn with the Hanksville meeting house behind. An old settlers house. The

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    Fairfield Stage Coach Inn and Camp Floyd

    by Segolily Written Dec 31, 2010

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    I guess this is off the beaten path since VT doesn't have a Fairfield page that I can post on.

    Back in 1857 the Federal government heard falsely that the Mormons in Utah territory were rebelling. Pres Buchanan sent an army west to establish a new territorial governor and "put down the rebellion".

    Lead by Albert Sidney Johnston, with many other army personnel who would later find fame in the Civil War, the army came west. They were harassed by the Mormons who burned out their supply wagons and Ft Bridger, successfully delaying the army's arrival. In Salt Lake the Mormons covered the foundations of the temple and left the city bare and empty when the army finally marched through.

    The war was over before the army marched through. They chose a spot 40 miles south of Salt Lake to set up camp. Not far from the stagecoach and California emigrant trail in what is now Fairfield they named their small city Camp Floyd after the Secretary of War. It was the largest US Army camp in the country at the time. With 7,000 people in the town it actually helped the struggling economy of Utah by providing a demand for their food and supplies.

    Today Fairfield is a very small town with no services in a nearly empty valley on the edge of the barren West Desert. The old Stagecoach Inn (where Mark Twain would have stayed on his trip west, retold in "Roughing It") has been preserved and Camp Floyd is being excavated and documented. There is a small museum, a memorial plaque, a self guided tour through the Inn, a Pony Express monument and a little further out of town is the old cemetery. It still holds the graves of some of those young men and soldiers who came west and died a long way from home. There are infrequent reenactment gatherings at the cemetery area.

    Camp Floyd Museum Camp Floyd Cemetery Stagecoach Inn Stagecoach dining room
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    Johnson Canyon near Kanab.

    by pfsmalo Updated Sep 10, 2010

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    Johnson Canyon can be used as a through road if coming from Page and going up towards the Bryce Canyon area. Easy paved road at the beginning becomes graded dirt after about 25 kms and is treacherous in the wet. Has the added interest of being the home of the "Gunsmoke" film set, plus about 50 other films have some scenes shot here. The movie set is on private grounds and was closed to the public for many years but apparently there is a plan to restore it and there will be guided tours. The movie set is about 8 kms up the canyon road from Hwy. 89. The canyon road starts about 16 kms from Kanab and is also the route for Willis Creek and Bull Valley slot canyons that I have yet to visit.

    Update from Sept.'09 - All the photos are from Sept. 2009 showing that nothing in the way of renovation had been undertaken since my first time here in 2003.

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    Giles "ghost" town, near Hanksville.

    by pfsmalo Written Sep 9, 2010

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    Along Hwy 24 heading towards Capitol Reef and Torrey, about 8 kms from Hanksville is this strange scene, showing all that remains of the ghost town of Giles. There is a small parking lot with an information board. Settlers came here in the 1880's to farm the land on the banks of the Fremont River, but after withstanding much flooding and ruined crops, by 1919 the town was empty. Depicted on the photos are the relics at the entrance to the old "Blue Valley" farm. The original town site is further on, down the trail, but when I tried to walk there I was halted bya swift flowing creek. Apparently there are only a couple of roofless crumbling ruins to see now.

    Entrance to Blue Valley Ranch. Outlaw known as Gruesome !!!!

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    Zion West Rim Trail

    by Segolily Written Aug 3, 2010

    This is a section of Zion National Park that few people venture to. It is a shame because it offers outstanding views into the Zion backcountry and is a reasonably accessible trail.

    It goes 13 miles from Lava Point Trailhead off the Kolob Terrace road to the Grotto trailhead in the main canyon. It connects up with the side trail out to Angel's Landing which is often included in any hike to the west rim.

    Leaving from Lava Point the trail heads through fairly level top land covered with grasses, pines and cactus. Once you climb up to Horse Plateau the views of the canyons are truly incredible. For about 5 miles the trail hugs the edge and the views of red and white sandstone monoliths, deeply carved canyons and green mesa tops are non-stop.

    Then it begins the descent into the main canyon, giving a close up view of what those sandstone slots can offer- shady hidden canyons and hot open slickrock.

    For someone strong and in good shape doing this as a day trip would not be unreasonable. A shuttle would be necessary for a drop off at the trailhead. There are 8 campsites along the way, half reservable, permits required for overnight stays.

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    Benson Grist Mill

    by Segolily Updated Jul 10, 2010

    Just off interstate I-80 is the town of Stansbury Park. It is built around an artificial lake. This lake was fed by the waters of a small spring. Back in the 19th century this area was known for awhile as Twin Spring City.

    In 1849 Ezra Benson was asked by Brigham Young to come out here and build a mill. This was only 2 years after the first pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake area. They needed somewhere to get flour ground. Thomas Lee and his sons took the main role in building and operating the mill. The resulting 4 story building was finished in 1854 and had a rock foundation and timber upper stories. The millstone, which is now displayed out front, had to be ordered from France and weighed over 800 pounds.

    It was an active mill, at times grinding up to 200 bushels of wheat a day. It also processed corn and bran. It had 21 "elevators" to transfer material between floors. It was upgraded once with metal turbines and crushers. Finally becoming outdated in the 1940's it ceased operations and was left to deteriorate.

    It was placed on the national historic sites list in 1972 despite its condition. In 1983 a group of devoted citizens promoted restoring the mill. By this time it was in bad shape and needed an extensive rebuild. It was rededicated in 1986 and open to the public.

    Besides the Mill there are several other buildings of significance that have been relocated here. Several shepherd camps, some historic log cabins, a blacksmith shop, and a barn. A small mill has been built to illustrate the process of mill grinding. The Mill site also has a small amphitheatre and hosts several events throughout the year. There is a gift shop and a small picnic area.

    My visit took about an hour. I picked a slow day and was the only one visiting. Entrance and a guided tour are free.

    Benson Grist Mill Original Millstone What is looked like before restoration The Mill park Salt encrusted skull on display
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    Watch Summer Solstice

    by Segolily Updated Jul 8, 2010

    There are a couple places that have significance at Summer Solstice. One is an ancient calendar, another a modern piece of art.

    The modern art has been placed in the wastelands of the Great Salt Lake desert...giant culverts called Sun Tunnels placed so that the summer sun rises and shines through them. I am still looking to get there.

    Far to the south a unique piece of geology left a cleft in a mountain pass just west of what is now Parowan Utah. At the beginning of its historic time ancient people would pass through the gap to reach the shores of Lake Bonneville which stretched north from here past what is now the Idaho border over 300 miles away. Somewhere along the years it was used as a solar and lunar calendar with petroglyphs left on the rock to explain it all.

    Of course no one since has been able to figure it out until an astrophysicist took a look. It is way too complicated to explain here, but we went on a warm mid summers eve to participate in the ancient practice. There Nowell Morris explained the markings on the rock and then led us to the ancient pile of rocks which marked the spot where we needed to stand in order for it all to work. And sure enough just like the markings on the rock showed the sun went down right in the center of the gap.

    Setting in the Gap Summer Solstice gathering The famous Zipper Glyph
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Utah Off The Beaten Path

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