Utah –– it may not be one of your post-quarentine-travel destinations, but don’t underestimate the insane beauty and top notch instagram photo ops the state offers. From the dry yet vibrant red canyons to the olympic level ski mountains, there’s show stopping instagram options for everyone’s grid no matter your aesthetic.
If you want to see it all, make sure to plan a road trip with a friend or two (you can find a link with multiple road trip guides here). Depending on what you’re most interested in, you can plan a trip that hits all the beautiful natural wonders and the best photo locations. So, what’s in Utah that’s worth posting to your followers? Here’s a list of 10 Utah destinations perfect for Instagram:
1. Arches and Canyonland National Park
You can’t visit Utah without seeing the famous red Arches and Canyonland national parks. You’ll find red rock formations and canyons split by the Colorado River, providing the perfect opportunity for some action shots or breathtaking scenery that resembles Mars.
While there are tons of spots for photos in the parks, here are the top five must-do’s:
- Delicate Arch
- Dead Horse Point
- Green River Overlook
- Mesa Arch
- The Maze Overlook
2. Potash Evaporation Pools
In between the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks you can find a cluster of bright blue pools among the ashy red earth. The Potash Pools (potash = potassium chloride) were created by the company Intrepid Potash, Inc., to extract the potassium chloride that is mined in the area. The pools are dyed blue to increase sunlight absorption and speed up evaporation, leading to a quicker harvest of potash. The vibrancy of the blue color depends on the stage of evaporation the pools are in, but if you want to see the pools are their photogenic best (or when the pools have the most variety of blue shades), visit in the summer when evaporation is most intense!
3. Great Salt Lake
A pink lake would be a showstopper on your grid and be sure to stand out on your followers’ timelines! The pink hue comes from microbes in the water that love the high salt content. The high mineral content from the lack of water outflow and the constant evaporation are what make the color so vibrant.
While you can’t go in the pink water, the rest of the Great Salt lake looks like a typical body of water, and you can go sailing, kayaking, and swimming (the water is salty enough to keep you afloat on your back).
4. Bonneville Salt Flats
West of the Great Salt lake lies the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is a lifeless plane of flat, white salt. If it looks familiar, that’s because this is the same location where Jack Sparrow got stuck in Davy Jones’s Locker in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. The flats are the result of the ancient Lake Bonneville drying up –– the Great Salt Lake is what’s left of it.
5. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
The Coral Pink Sand Dunes have a rusted rose hue that comes from the erosion of surrounding Navajo sandstone. While there, make sure to go on an off-roading adventure, because there’s nothing more bada** than riding an ATV through a pink desert. If you want to get a clear photo of the milky way, you can camp there overnight and take advantage of the minimal light pollution.
Activities that will guarantee cool photos perfect for instagram:
- ATV rides
6. The Wave at Coyote Buttes
Marbled pink, red, and white sandstone create an otherworldly landscape that makes it impossible to take a bad photo at the Wave. The fluid, rolling lines created by layers of sandstone are almost hypnotic and are sure to add pattern and dimension to your Insta grid. But there’s a catch: because of its popularity, only 20 people are allowed to visit per day. It’s incredibly tough to get a permit, but it’s worth testing your luck to be among the select few who have seen the Wave in real life and can share the experience with others via epic photos.
Ways to plan a visit to the Wave even though permits aren’t guaranteed:
- Be first in line at the GSENM Visitor Center in Kanab the day before you want to visit –– the first 10 people to show up get permits, but plan extra cushion days and stay flexible because it becomes a lottery system once more than 10 people show up.
- Enter the lottery online for permits months in advance, and keep trying until you get it. Once you have a permit for a far away date, there’s plenty of time to plan around that visit
- Apply for permits in the off season (winter months), because you’ll have a higher chance of snagging one.
7. Park City
Home to the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City has world class skiing/snowboarding terrain and a beautiful village at the base. It provides the perfect backdrop for an action shot on the slopes or a cozy après-ski pic with a mulled wine in hand. In the summertime you can still go up the mountain and see the views from above, or visit the lively Sunday farmers market that packs the colorful streets.
Things to do in Park City in the summer that are perfect for Instagram:
- Bring a bottle of wine and a blanket to one of the many free outdoor concerts
- Go for a hike on Armstrong Trail
- Have brunch outside and enjoy the mountain scenery
- Visit the Olympic Park training facilities
- Browse the Park Silly Sunday Market for food, crafts, clothes, and other trinkets
8. Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a massive lake that fills Glen Canyon on the border of Utah and Arizona. The towering canyon walls create an atypical backdrop for the classic summer lake photo. Boating is especially popular at Lake Powell, as well as other water activities. If you want to make Lake Powell even more memorable, gather some friends and rent a massive houseboat so you can live on the water and explore the lake at the same time.
Sample of Houseboat Options
|Boat Value Tier||Boat Name||Max Capacity (people)||Length (ft)||4-Day Rental Price|
9. Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon
If you want an up-close pic with the stunning sandstone formations, then Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon is where you want to go. The maze-like formations with sky high walls and narrow pathways creates tight spaces that provide unique photo opportunities.
Photo tip: if you intend on being the subject of the photo, make sure you plan a colorful outfit that contrasts against the deep red surroundings.
10. Temple Square in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is a harmonious mix of history and urban flair. Temple Square holds some of the city’s oldest buildings with beautifully intricate architecture that take stunning photos. The Salt Lake temple stands out for its architectural grandeur and is a piece of art in itself –– whether you want to highlight the details of the building itself or use it as a sophisticated backdrop, it’s sure to make a statement.
Here are some Instagrammable locations in Utah that didn’t make the list but definitely deserve a visit:
- Monument Valley Tribal Park
- Zion National Park
- Lower Calf Creek Falls
- Powder Mountain
- Sand Hollow State Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park