7 Must Do Outdoor Activities in Utah

7 Must Do Outdoor Activities in Utah

 Whitewater Rafting the Gates of Lodore on the Green River

This river meanders through the Utah/Colorado border but is so spectacular we had to keep it number 1 on our list. Entering through the Gates of Lodore sends you on a 44-mile expedition through technical whitewater rapids like Hell’s Half Miles, lets you sleep on peaceful beaches, watch the stars swirl around the canyon at night, explore vista hikes that will drop your jaw hundreds of feet back to the river, and let you live among the mule deer and bighorn sheep for a few days. Luckily the river is permitted, so although over 9,000 people apply to go down the river every year, it will never be overcrowded and you’ll sure to have an unforgettable wilderness experience. Once you have experienced a Green River Gates of Lodore trip you will have to come back and see the Yampa River another western river gem located in the heart of Dinosaur National Monument.

 Hiking in the Uinta Mountains

This is one of the more underrated mountain ranges in Utah.  Just a few hours outside of Park City, the Uinta’s are home to Utah’s tallest peak, Kings peak at 13,534 feet.  The wooded area is home to beautiful mountain lakes, wild flowers, and crisp mountain air and due to its high elevation, it stays cooler in the heat of the Utah summers.  With plenty of trails for day hikes or backpacking, it’s on the list for a Utah must-see.

Canyoneering in Canyonlands

 The slot canyons in Southern Utah are worth getting yourself into.  Spend a day hiking through one of the wider canyons, like the Narrows, or hire a guide to take you and your friends repelling down a longer more technical canyon.  Be sure not to attempt to do this on your own unless you know what you are doing. The canyons and change quickly with weather and you don’t want to be a search and rescue story. You will more than likely spend some time in Moab while you are there stop in to the local owned outdoor recreation and gear experts Moab Gear Traders.

 Backpack the Grand Gulch in Bears Ears

This stunning 52-mile backpacking trip will take you into the heart of Bears Ears. The steep canyon takes you out of this world as you walk past ancient pueblo ruins: everything from granaries and kivas to petroglyphs and pottery shards. It’s believed that Bears Ears was a hub for pre-colonized North America, like and ancient city. Ruins from many tribes can be found throughout the hike, but don’t forget to visit Newspaper Rock on your way out, with hundreds of petroglyphs from centuries of Native Americans.

Fly Fishing on the Green River

The A-Section of the Green River attracts Anglers from around the world. With over 1000 trout per-mile and cold crystal-clear waters, just below Flaming Gorge Dam, you’d be hard pressed to find a better fly-fishing zone in Utah.  Float the 7 miles section in a drift boat or walk along the banks of the river along a trail that runs the length of the first section.  While the A-section is the most popular, the B and C sections also offer amazing fishing with a few less people.  Make a weekend of it and float the A, B, and C sections, reserving a campsite on the riverbanks. Want to learn more about fishing or just need some help with your casting? Not to worry, there is a whole city of fishing guides in Dutch John, Utah happy to take you. Fishing is not your thing but you would still love to see the river, we offer a fantastic scenic river rafting day trip give us a call or book online for Utah one day on the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam.

 Mountain Biking in Vernal, Utah

 Vernal is giving Moab a ride for its money.  It has something for everyone; easy beginner trails to learn or ride with kids, self-inflicted suffer fest, flowy downhills with a few drops if you are daring, and everything in between. The city sits on the edge of the North-Eastern Utah desert and the Uinta Mountains giving it a uniquely diverse landscape. Within 20- minutes of Vernal in either direction you can ride on Moab Style slick rock or Montana-esque packed dirt in the woods. There are dozens of well-made trails and not as crowded as Fruita or Moab.  Head into the local bike shop, Altitude Cycle, for tips on which trails to ride.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

This Utah view is iconic for a reason. The three-mile hike takes you along sandstone slick rock, winding through desert half pipes and bowls. It’s a moderately-difficult hike and worth the trek to see the arch in person.

5 Amazing River Canyons in Utah & Colorado for Whitewater Rafting

5 Best Canyons to White Water River Raft in Utah and Colorado:

  • The Yampa

Sometimes referred to by boaters as a “little Grand Canyon,” the Yampa Canyon is potentially the most beautiful place in Colorado. Located just a short distance outside of Vernal, Utah, the Yampa River is an amazing combination of peaceful flat water and big rapids. The bigger rapids are sure be a thrill at any level sending water over your head throughout the trip.  The biggest rapid, Warm Springs is one boaters talk about all over the country. The flat water gives you time to explore the waters on paddling your a paddle board or inflatable kayak. Paddling solo truly gives you a feeling of the wilderness and  isolation of the canyon. At night, the campsites are typically big beaches perfect for a game of beach volleyball, kids to play, or just enjoying the firelight with the company of your family and friends.

The 700 foot tall white sandstone walls act as a time machine, sending you back a 1,000 years when the Fremont native Americans called the canyon home. Unlike most western rivers the Yampa is free flowing, meaning it looks almost exactly as it did 1,400 years ago. The trip has many stops where you will be able to see 800 year old petroglyphs, ancient storage granaries and maybe a little wildlife like mule deer or bighorn sheep. Beyond the native history, the canyon is a cornerstone for environmental history, at the center of the first ever grassroots environmental movement. This also makes it one of the most competitive private river permits to get in the US.

This canyon truly has it all, epic whitewater, peaceful flatwater, stunning geological landscapes, and history dating back thousands of years.  It’s hard to travel through this canyon and not be simply overwhelmed by it beauty.

  • The Gates of Lodore
Confluence in Echo Park

The Yampa River may be tops on this list but the Green River Gates of Lodore takes a tight number two spot. Both trips are unbelievable and either one is spectacular depending on the time of year you can go rafting. The Powell expedition was one of the first to stare awestruck at the Gates of Lodore on the Green River with a mix of fear and enthusiasm. Today, the reaction to the dark red sandstone at the beginning of the canyon is the same no matter who rafts through the gates of lodore. The aw only escalates upon learning that it is the oldest rock in Utah and Colorado, dating back almost a billion years, predating life itself. The stunning views are matched with amazing white water. At high water (5-9,000 CFS), you are signing up for a “hold on tight” sure to find a thrill adventure and at lower water a family friendly continuous splashy 42 miles.

  • Cataract Canyon

This is the place to go if you are looking for massive rapids. Just outside of Moab, Cataract Canyon is home to the biggest whitewater in Utah and at high water, the biggest rapids on the Colorado river.  At anything above 20,000 CFS (Cubic Feet per Second) three biggest rapids turn into one long whitewater ride, so don’t worry about the desert heat, you are sure to get wet.

  • Split Mountain

A beautiful stretch of canyon if you are just looking for a day of rafting. This section of river is the last 9 miles of a Green River Gates of Lodore or Yampa River trip through Dinosaur National Monument. The mouth of the canyon gives it the name, as it appears the river is cutting the mountain it half. Multiple layers of rock bend and twist here giving it an other worldly look. The rock formations drip and twist the whole way down the canyon allowing for a common game of “what shapes can you see in the rocks,” in between the fun class 2 and 3 rapids. Remember to ask your guide about the Pirate watching over you in the second half of the river!

Split Mountain on the Green River


  • Desolation and Gray Canyon

Knock out two canyons in one river trip with this 84 mile float. The Gray/Deso combination is a beautiful river trip in eastern Utah with great views and fun class 2-3 rapids and an abundance of native American history, wildlife and spectacular Utah River Rafting scenery.