I took a 700-mile highway journey throughout Utah and these have been the 9 coolest locations I visited, plus 5 spots I might skip subsequent time


On my subsequent journey to Utah, I will cease at a soda store once more, however I will skip Arches Nation Park and go for a much less crowded park.Monica Humphries/Insider

  • In Might, I went to Moab, Utah. I rented a automotive for 5 days and traveled 700 miles throughout the state.

  • From Moab to Salt Lake Metropolis, I made greater than a dozen pit stops on my highway journey.

  • I might love to go to locations like Utah’s little Switzerland once more, however I might skip Arches Nationwide Park.

Utah is sprinkled with ghost cities, nationwide parks, cool eateries, and strange roadside points of interest. On my five-day journey driving throughout the state, I attempted to cram in as many stops as potential.

The author in front of her rental car in Moab, Utah.

Exploring Utah by automotive was an effective way to discover the state.Monica Humphries/Insider

In Might, I disembarked the posh Rocky Mountaineer practice and arrived in Moab, Utah.

I rented a Jeep for 5 days with a plan to discover Moab and its surrounding desert cities, earlier than heading as much as Halfway, and ending in Salt Lake Metropolis.

To interrupt up the driving, I deliberate my highway journey with stops at in style roadside points of interest and under-the-radar locations.

Whereas I assumed most of my highway journey stops have been well worth the mileage, there have been just a few locations I would not cease at once more.

The author ate and drank her way through Utah on a recent road trip.

The writer made many pit stops on a current highway journey.Monica Humphries/Insider

Between consuming, mountain climbing, and exploring Utah, there are many locations I am daydreaming about returning to, however there have been just a few pit stops that I do not suppose have been value my time.

Listed here are the locations I might go to once more in a heartbeat, and the place I will skip on future travels.

I assumed Canyonlands Nationwide Park felt like a hidden gem, particularly after spending two days within the extra crowded Arches Nationwide Park.

A view of the south section of Canyonlands National Park.

A view of the south part of Canyonlands Nationwide Park.Monica Humphries/Insider

I entered Canyonlands Nationwide Park and instantly puzzled the place all of the individuals have been. That query adopted me for the remainder of my afternoon within the nationwide park that is situated exterior Moab.

As I explored the 257,640-acre nationwide park, I parked in empty tons, hiked trails with out crossing paths with one other particular person, and noticed breathtaking views with out seeing one other soul.

It was a stark distinction from Arches Nationwide Park, the place I beforehand spent two days consistently attempting to find parking spots and avoiding individuals on crowded trails.

In 2019, Canyonlands welcomed 733,996 guests, in keeping with the Nationwide Park Service. That very same yr, Arches Nationwide Park had 1.65 million guests in a park that is about 180,000 acres smaller in measurement, in keeping with the identical supply. So regardless that I used to be visiting Canyonlands throughout its busy season, the park felt extra abandoned as a consequence of its giant measurement and fewer guests.

I assumed the views at Canyonlands alone have been worthy of a cease in Utah. However these views coupled with fewer crowds imply I will come again to this nationwide park over and over.

In Moab, I assumed the Jailhouse Cafe lived as much as its fame as a preferred highway journey pit cease.

The Jailhouse Cafe in Moab, Utah.

The Jailhouse Cafe in Moab, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

Tucked in an previous courthouse, Utah locals advised me that the Jailhouse Cafe is a Moab staple on the subject of breakfast. I attempted it earlier than heading into Arches Nationwide Park, and simply noticed why the breakfast eatery attracts each locals and vacationers alike.

In response to Solely in Your State, the constructing was initially a house. In 1892, it turned Moab’s county courthouse, and at the moment’s kitchen was as soon as the courthouse’s jail cell. The present house owners bought the constructing in 1992 and turned it into the Jailhouse Cafe.

After talking to buy house owners and different Moab residents, I took their recommendation and ordered two in style dishes: ginger pancakes and southwestern eggs benedict.

It was a few of the finest meals I had throughout my journey. I assumed the 2 eggs have been cooked to perfection and your entire dish had a pleasant kick, whereas the pancakes balanced the candy and spicy flavors of ginger.

After scarfing down the meal, Jailhouse Cafe earned its place on my must-visit record for Moab.

I assumed an in a single day cease in Utah’s little Switzerland was a worthwhile drive.

A sign at the entrance of Midway, Utah.

An indication on the entrance of Halfway, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

I opted so as to add an additional hour of driving to my highway journey throughout Utah simply so I might spend the evening in Halfway, which has been dubbed Utah’s little Switzerland, in keeping with Solely In Your State.

Initially, I wasn’t positive the additional mileage can be value it. However after visiting, I imagine it completely was.

The city is situated simply an hour southeast of Salt Lake Metropolis. It earned its comparability to Switzerland because of the close by Wasatch mountain vary, which Swiss settlers within the 1850s in comparison with the Alps, in keeping with The Herber Valley Utah.

Right this moment, bits of Swiss tradition are sprinkled all through Halfway. I noticed mattress and breakfasts that appear to be Swiss-style chateaus and chalets, and throughout city, I found Swiss-influenced structure with gabled roofs and ornate, overhanging eaves. And, like in Switzerland, the city is situated close to a few of Utah’s finest snowboarding.

Whereas I visited within the spring, I am desirous to return to Halfway within the winter, when winter actions are in full swing and the city is blanketed in snow.

In Utah’s little Switzerland, I additionally found a swimming gap that was a much-needed escape from the recent desert.

People swim, snorkel, and dive in the Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah.

Individuals swim, snorkel, and dive within the Homestead Crater in Halfway, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

Outdoors of the Alps-inspired chateaus and chalets, The Homestead Crater is one among Halfway’s hottest points of interest, in keeping with journey blogs like Journey Lens, VacationIdea, and Wanderlust with Lisa.

The crater is a geothermal scorching spring that is encapsulated in a limestone dome. Guests can snorkel or scuba dive within the heat waters, which hover round 94 Fahrenheit levels yr spherical. And, in keeping with the spring’s web site, it is the one place for heat water diving within the continental US.

The Homestead Crater’s web site states that it fashioned greater than 10,000 years in the past when melting snow seeped into the earth, the place it heated and percolated upward. Because the water moved upward, it collected minerals and deposited them on the floor, which fashioned the volcano-shaped dome.

I opted to go scuba diving one morning on my journey. It value me about $90, which included entrance into the crater, gear, and a diving companion since I used to be touring solo. Insider paid for the diving bills, per our reporting requirements.

I discovered the expertise to be fairly refreshing after spending a number of scorching days exploring Moab’s desert. On the floor, the water was a crystal-blue shade and I assumed it had the stress-free temperature of a heat tub.

For my part, the one draw back was that since no aquatic life lives within the crater, there was not a lot to view whereas diving. The following time I am in Halfway, I will nonetheless go to, however I might possible choose to only swim as an alternative of dive, which prices solely $18, or I might splurge for a $75 paddleboard yoga session within the crater.

It doesn’t matter what a part of Utah you go to, I feel that stopping at a pop store is a should.

Lop's Pop Stop in Moab, Utah.

Lop’s Pop Cease in Moab, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

Almost as in style as drive-thru espresso outlets and fast-food chains, Utah is understood for its soda outlets.

Almost 70% of individuals residing in Utah determine as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in keeping with the World Inhabitants Evaluation. For the reason that church’s members are urged to not eat alcohol, tobacco, and scorching caffeinated drinks like tea and low within the church, in keeping with The Washington Put up, some individuals turned to soda.

In 2012, after the church clarified that chilly caffeinated drinks like soda are allowed, soda outlets began popping up promoting what’s been nicknamed “Soiled Sodas,” Vice reported.

With soda outlets sprinkled throughout the state, I selected pop extra usually than espresso throughout my highway journey.

I discovered the expertise of driving as much as a soda drive-thru anytime through the day — since many open as early as 7 a.m. — to be easy, low cost, and enjoyable.

The outlets provided what felt to me like an countless mixture of soda, syrups, and flavors. Plus, a soda by no means value me greater than $3.14.

I assumed it was an iconic Utah expertise, and one I feel everybody ought to strive.

Insider paid for the soda, per our reporting requirements.

A Krishna temple was one among my favourite lunch stops on my solution to Halfway.

The exterior of the Krishna temple.

The outside of the Krishna temple.Monica Humphries/Insider

The affect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might be noticed throughout your entire state, however tucked in Spanish Fork Valley, about an hour south of Salt Lake Metropolis, is the Hindu Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple.

It is a Hare Krishna temple that celebrates Hindu devotion. Every year, the temple holds one of many largest shade festivals exterior India, its web site states.

Everyone seems to be welcome to cease and go to the temple, which was constructed within the late 1900s by Charu Das and Vaibhavi Devi Dasi, a pair that wished Utah’s Hindu inhabitants to have a spot to worship, in keeping with the temple’s web site.

As I handed via Spanish Fork, I made a decision to seize lunch on the temple’s vegetarian buffet. For $10, I loaded up on palak panir, Matar paneer, curried cauliflower, and salad. Insider paid for the meal, per our reporting requirements.

Past a stupendous temple and scrumptious meals, the property additionally has an animal park with llamas, cows, and peacocks, and presents yoga courses.

If I am passing via Spanish Fork once more, I plan to make one other pit cease for both a yoga class or lunch buffet.

In case you’re on the lookout for a picnic cease or place to stretch your legs, I feel the Fort Amphitheater in Provo is the place to go.

The sunset over the amphitheater.

The sundown over the amphitheater.Monica Humphries/Insider

I would not consider castles and hospitals going collectively, however in Provo, there is a castle-like amphitheater situated on Utah State Hospital’s property.

As I drove via Provo, which is situated 45 minutes south of Salt Lake, I used to be itching to stretch my legs. I seemed for a close-by park, and as an alternative, noticed the amphitheater on the map.

I later discovered on Atlas Obscura that the amphitheater, which is typically known as the Provo Fort, was constructed as a part of the New Deal applications in 1936 as an occasion house. Right this moment, it is used to host native theater teams, weddings, and different occasions.

It was a brief drive off the freeway. The parking zone was on the sting of a grassy park with the limestone amphitheater towering over it.

I walked via the park and navigated my solution to the doorway of the amphitheater the place a gaggle was working towards a play. In response to the Utah Division of Well being and Human Providers’ web site, state businesses, most people, and USH workers can reserve the amphitheater. Whereas the amphitheater does not have an internet site, I did discover its Fb web page, the place upcoming occasions are listed and shared.

I grabbed a seat, watched the rehearsal for a couple of minutes, after which headed again to my automotive to complete my drive.

Whereas I would not go far out of my solution to cease on the Fort Amphitheater, I assumed it was a perfect place for a fast break. Subsequent time, I might most likely pack a picnic or seize takeout and plan to spend longer on the amphitheater.

I stumbled right into a choir follow by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake and would counsel anybody — irrespective of their faith — go to.

A group rehearses in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A gaggle rehearses within the Tabernacle on Temple Sq. in Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

Each Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., the Tabernacle choir group in Salt Lake Metropolis hosts rehearsals which can be open to the general public, in keeping with the choir group’s web site.

I arrived in Salt Lake on Thursday, and the choir follow was beginning in slightly below an hour on the Tabernacle on Temple Sq.. Because the rehearsal started, I noticed a gradual however regular stream of people that walked into the constructing to observe.

It was clearly a preferred occasion, and a few half-hour into the rehearsal, I seen that almost half the church was crammed.

The 360-member refrain of women and men had highly effective voices, I assumed, and the design of the Tabernacle solely amplified their sound.

After spending an hour immersed within the music, I understood why so many individuals flock to those rehearsals each week, and if I ever occur to be in Salt Lake on a Thursday, I might make an effort to go to once more.

I assumed the Iosepa ghost city was properly value a cease.

A sign for Iosepa.

An indication for Iosepa.Monica Humphries/Insider

One in every of Utah’s most well-known ghost cities is Iosepa, which was designed to be an oasis for Hawaiian followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after they have been pushed out of Salt Lake Metropolis within the Eighteen Eighties.

The deserted settlement is about an hour exterior of Salt Lake, so I spent one morning exploring the property.

Whereas I did not discover rather more than a cemetery, I used to be engulfed by the ghost city’s historical past.

Within the Eighteen Eighties, 46 Hawaiians left their properties to journey to Utah for spiritual causes. After being pushed out of Salt Lake Metropolis, they relocated to the desert the place they managed to develop to a inhabitants of 228. Whereas in Iosepa, they maintained their Hawaiian language, tradition, and traditions, Insider beforehand reported. After the announcement {that a} temple was going to be constructed again in Hawaii, the vast majority of the settlers deserted Iosepa and returned dwelling.

As I explored Iosepa I used to be amazed by the settler’s resilience. The historical past and tales I discovered from the abandoned plot of land I discovered have been worthy of a pit cease.

On a return journey to Moab, I will skip visiting Arches Nationwide Park as a consequence of giant crowds.

People climb rocks at the windows section of Arches National Park.

Individuals climb rocks on the home windows part of Arches Nationwide Park.Monica Humphries/Insider

Do not get me improper, Arches Nationwide Park is a should for any first-time journey to Moab. The 76,000-acre park is dwelling to greater than 2,000 pure arches, otherworldly land types, and expansive views.

And whereas I had a blast exploring the geological wonderland, I will skip it on my subsequent go to.

Principally as a result of I assumed it was crowded and sophisticated to enter. I skilled crowds and needed to deal with the effort of needing a timed reservation to enter the park. Subsequent time, I will go for one of many less-crowded parks in Southern Utah like Lifeless Horse Level State Park or Canyonlands Nationwide Park, each of which do not require a reservation.

In case you do resolve to go to, do not make the errors park rangers usually see within the nationwide parks, like anticipating solitude or forgetting to pack sufficient water.

I assumed seeing thousand-year-old artwork in Thompson Springs can be unimaginable, however wished extra info was out there.

Newspaper Rock in Monticello, Utah.

Newspaper Rock in Monticello, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

Thompson Springs, which is a few 45-minute drive north of Moab, is dwelling to a set of petroglyphs known as the Sego Canyon Rock Artwork.

In response to Atlas Obscura, the petroglyphs and pictographs have been created by three Indigenous tribes, the Utes, Fremont, and Archaic teams, hundreds of years in the past.

I’ve by no means seen petroglyphs earlier than, so once I discovered Sego Canyon was inside driving distance from Moab, I added it to my record of pit stops.

After I arrived, I noticed faint petroglyphs that I might solely view from a distance. Since I could not get near the rocks, I strained my eyes to view the pale petroglyphs and pictographs. I might hardly spot what historians imagine are pictures of horses, pale white circles representing shields, and people.

Close by, there have been indicators with what I think about as soon as housed info on the rocks. Right this moment, they’re worn down, sun-bleached, and illegible.

With out cell service and any info on the website, it was onerous to understand and contextualize what I used to be seeing. If extra info had been supplied on the petroglyphs, I feel it could have been well worth the drive.

Subsequent time I am close to Moab, I might skip the Sego Canyon Rock Artwork and cease at Newspaper Rock as an alternative, which is about 50 minutes south of Moab. In response to Atlas Obscura, this set of petroglyphs is without doubt one of the world’s largest collections and appears rather more vivid than those I noticed in Thompson Springs, based mostly on footage I’ve seen on-line.

I might additionally skip visiting the ghost city, Residence of the Fact, except I used to be close to the southern entrance to Canyonlands.

Home of Truth ghost town outside of Moab, Utah.

Residence of Fact ghost city exterior of Moab, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

Residence of the Fact’s origin story is essentially the most fascinating ghost-town story I’ve heard. The city was inbuilt 1933 by Marie Ogden. After her husband died, she believed she was receiving messages straight from god, instructing her to construct a colony to outlive the approaching finish of the world.

The neighborhood did not final lengthy. Ogden managed to collect about 100 followers, however by 1937, seven individuals remained after the colony obtained dangerous press, Atlas Obscura reported.

The ghost city is situated 40 minutes from Moab and close to the south entrance to Canyonlands Nationwide Park.

Right this moment, the ghost city is privately owned, so individuals can solely view the remaining buildings from a distance. I explored the perimeter of the land, however I could not spot rather more past just a few crumbling cabins.

I feel my time would’ve been higher spent studying, researching, and imagining the life Ogden aimed to create for her followers.

In case you’re heading to the south entrance of Canyonlands Nationwide Park, I feel it is value it to take a second to look because it’s on the identical highway. However I can not say I might make the 40-mile trek out to the ghost city once more.

I finished at an deserted mine in Spanish Fork however I might solely see it from a distance.

An arrow points to Dream Mine in Spanish Fork, Utah.

An arrow factors to Dream Mine in Spanish Fork, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

As an avid ghost-town explorer, a handful of my pit stops revolved round stopping at Utah’s deserted mines, abandoned settlements, and empty, eerie motels.

So once I learn concerning the Dream Mine in Spanish Fork on Atlas Obscura, I knew I wished to go to. The mine, which is situated about an hour south of Salt Lake Metropolis, was bought by John Hyrum Koyle in 1894 after he obtained a message from an angel who instructed him to buy an already-abandoned mine, in keeping with the identical supply. In 1947, Atlas Obscura reported that Koyle mentioned he was pressured to signal a press release that admitted his prophecies have been false, and finally, the mine was re-abandoned.

I plugged within the Dream Mine on Google Maps, which led me to a gated highway. I rotated and tried one other path to get nearer to the Dream Mine. The second route additionally was blocked off. After failing for the third time, I obtained the sense that the house owners don’t need guests getting near the deserted mine.

So I gave up and seen the mine from a distance. Whereas I might spot the bright-white constructing, I assumed the far-away views weren’t well worth the time it took me to get there.

Whereas I loved my breakfast in Moab, I might skip the city’s well-known fine-dining Sundown Grill subsequent time.

The Sunset Grill in Moab, Utah.

Individuals wait exterior the favored Sundown Grill in Moab, Utah.Monica Humphries/Insider

Sundown Grill is a widely known Moab institution. It is onerous to overlook because it sits on a hill overlooking the desert city. It is also one among Moab’s few fine-dining eating places, situated within the former home of Charles A. Steen, a uranium miner who turned a millionaire.

Throughout my quick time in Moab, the Sundown Grill was talked about a number of instances by residents and as a consequence of its location, I used to be advised it is imagined to be the very best place to view a sundown (moreover contained in the close by nationwide parks).

On my final evening in Moab, I drove as much as the restaurant a few half hour earlier than sundown. I arrived and was advised there was a 60-minute await a desk.

By the point I sat down, the solar had totally set and the meals wasn’t as tasty as I might hoped. Insider paid for the meal, per our reporting requirements.

Subsequent time, I will watch the sundown in a nationwide park and take a look at a unique restaurant in downtown Moab.

I assumed a highway journey via Utah was among the best methods to discover the state — even when I would not return to a couple locations.

The author in front of her rental car in Moab, Utah.

Exploring Utah by automotive was an effective way to discover the state.Monica Humphries/Insider

As I dropped off my automotive and boarded a aircraft dwelling to Denver, Colorado, I felt like a highway journey throughout Utah was the easiest way to see the state for the primary time.

With the ability to cease wherever and every time is my ideally suited solution to discover. Certain, I would not advocate all of my stops to different vacationers, however for essentially the most half, I assumed Utah is filled with fascinating pit stops which can be properly well worth the time and gas.

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