Setting our sights on the most picturesque places in the state
Anyone who has seen the sun set over Utah’s tangerine-colored rocks, felt small before its white-capped mountain tops, or admired the golden leaves of a quaking aspen, full-heartedly understands the state song, “Utah, This is the Place.”
The ode to Utah tells of the state’s mountains and valleys, canyons and streams, and it’s true, no matter which direction you look, Utah’s beautifully jarring scenery awaits. But while the jagged mountain ranges and twisted rock formations are naturally dramatic, Utahans have enhanced the landscape with their own artistic touches, too.
Because Utah’s lovely scenery and exquisite architecture are too much to ignore, we went on a mission to find some of the best towns in Utah for their good-looking qualities. We focused on natural charisma, such as scenic hikes, epic vistas, surrounding landscapes, and easy access to parks; but we also considered the manmade elements, from intricate architecture to historical structures. All across the state we found sights for sore eyes, but the following 10 cities and towns are our picks for the top places to see in Utah for their beauty:
Natural looks: Beauty? Ephraim was born with it. Boasting the Wasatch Plateau to the east, it serves views of rolling hills for days. Hike the steep “S” trail for an unrivaled perspective of the town and beyond, find solitude along the creek in Pioneer Park, or embark on the Ephraim Canyon Heritage Tour to arrive at the scenic Summit Overlook.
Manmade beauty: A historical tour of Ephraim shows the city’s stories through its sophisticated architecture. The 1879 John Dorius Home, with a Queen Anne design, was the first in town to have a furnace and plumbing, while the 1862 Hansen-Sparks Home was the talk of the town for its green-painted door. Look for the 1870s Co-op, and the neo-classical Anderson Drug Store, which has remarkably been under the same family ownership since 1910.
Natural looks: At the base of the Wasatch Range, Springville dazzles with its au natural appeal. A hike to Fifth Water Hot Springs will reveal an oasis of heated pools and waterfalls, and a picnic to Kelly’s Grove will show off the canyon’s thick, leafy foliage.
Manmade beauty: Some masterpieces are made by hand, and the Springville Museum of Art goes to prove it. The 1937 mission revival-designed museum is beautiful both inside and outside, as it houses more than 2,000 American and local Utahan pieces of art. Much of downtown also still retains its original charm, such as the Victorian Romanesque Reynolds Building. See the structure up close and personal, and then search for it in photographs from its early days.
Natural looks: The desert sun shines brightly on the handsome city of Green River. It’s here where you’ll stumble across Goblin Valley State Park, a stark desert landscape with other-worldly rock formations that make it look like you’ve traveled to Mars. It’s not all brown and earthy though; find shade under the cottonwood trees at the emerald Green River State Park, or raft along the shimmering waterways with Colorado River & Trail Expeditions.
Manmade beauty: Green River’s pure, organic looks are apparent throughout, but there are some lovely additions that don’t always stand out at first glance. Search for the delicate arched gateway leading into the lovely OK Anderson City Park, gaze over the gothic revival architecture of the 1906 Green River Presbyterian Church, and hike to the rock carvings at nearby Petroglyph Canyon. Sometimes beauty is worth the wait.
Natural looks: Mother Nature has outdone herself in the city of Beaver. Beaver River meanders through the city from the mountain tops, and maple and aspen trees thrive in Beaver Canyon. Set your sights on Eagle Point Ski Resort, where lush hiking trails abound in the summer and sparkling snowflakes blanket the ski terrain come winter.
Manmade beauty: Between the basalt rock houses and log cabins, you’ll find plenty of eye-pleasing attractions in this town. The Beaver Opera House, with its pink stone classical renewal style, has long shined as a progressive symbol for the community, while the 1876 Beaver Territorial Courthouse Museum has stood the test of time—even surviving a fire.
Natural looks: Of the best cities in Utah, Salt Lake City has scenery that certainly steals the spot light. Sitting along the Great Salt Lake, it’s a mountain mecca, with the Wasatch and Oquirrh ranges standing tall in the background. Soak up the orange lay of the land with a trek to Ensign Peak at sunset or hike up Lake Blanche Trail to eye the famous Sundial peak.
Manmade beauty: This mountain town may have it made in the natural looks department, but its buildings and architecture only add to its finesse. Visit the Historic Temple Square to admire the castle-like LDS Temple, and then sneak a peek of the elegant Historic Governor’s Mansion, built in 1902 for senator Thomas Kearns. Before leaving town, find solace in the Gilgal Sculpture Garden, where sculptures and engraved stones give way to a practically secret hideaway.
Natural looks: Red rocks merge with mountainscapes in St. George, where the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave meet. Of course, nearby Zion National Park showcases the stunning vistas, but to see the high drama of the landscape from a different perspective, take flight with Palledin Balloon Excursions and view it from the skies. Alternatively, get in the thick of it all at Chuckawalla Climbing Area, where you can clamber up the rock walls and relish the views.
Manmade beauty: If you can tear yourself away from the natural eye candy, take a walking tour to familiarize yourself with this town’s delightful architecture. The captivating 19th-century Pioneer Courthouse and the St. George Opera House and Social Hall invite you back in time.
Natural looks: Ogden is surrounded by spectacular terrain; Mount Ogden towers in the east and Ben Lomond Mountain stands to the north. Engulf yourself in the unspoiled beauty with a visit to Ogden Nature Center, a 152-acre oasis where birds fly overhead and walking trails snake through grassy meadows. Or venture to Ogden Canyon to spend the day boating on the glassy waters of Pineview Reservoir—serenity at its finest.
Manmade beauty: Once the home of the Eccles family, the impressive mansion on the corner, with its rust-colored façade and dramatic black spires, is now the Eccles Community Art Center, where rotating exhibits adorn the walls. Take some time to absorb the Victorian architecture and the art gallery inside, and then skip over to Washington Boulevard to admire Peery’s Egyptian Theater’s rococo terracotta exterior.
Natural looks: Of all the stunning Utah places to visit, Sandy certainly turns some heads. Located near Little Cottonwood Canyon, its hiking trails reveal nature’s handiwork. Bells Canyon Trail brings you to waterfalls and a reservoir, while nearby Mount Olympus leads to knockout views of the Salt Lake City Valley. For a whole network of picturesque pathways to romp around, place Dimple Dell Park at the top of your list.
Manmade beauty: Perhaps the only views to rival the city’s wild, natural scenery are those found at the perfectly manicured River Oaks Golf Course. The sweeping green lawns frame the Jordan River with the Wasatch Mountains as the backdrop. After tee time, charter your own walking tour around the scenic Sandy City Historic District to get a sense of this pioneer town’s past.
Natural looks: Any way you look at it, Panguitch is drop dead gorgeous. It’s the gateway to adventure, with peaceful Panguitch Lake, the painted cliffs of Cedar Breaks, and the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon just on the outskirts of town. To marvel at intricate red and orange terrain in all its glory, cruise down Utah’s Patchwork Parkway toward Parowan—just try to keep your eyes on the road!
Manmade beauty: Red brick homes and log cabins give Wild West appeal to the untamed elegance of this natural landscape. Found along Main Street, the brick homes, made from local clay, date back to the 1800s. For more picturesque wonder, tour the Alexander cabin, located in the north of town, and discover the relics inside.
Natural looks: With its striking red rocks, Moab is an absolute stunner. Sitting south of the Colorado River, it’s a stone’s throw from the majestic Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. Within the city, the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve is an excellent example of Mother Nature’s workmanship. Even after the sun sets, the beauty is still evident: join Moab’s RedRock Astronomy after dark to see the stars sparkle over the desert landscape.
Manmade beauty: With a little help from humans, Spanish Valley Vineyards & Winery is an enchanting setting where lush grape vines are enveloped by red rocks in the distance. Trust us, a glass of cab on the patio will only compliment the rich views. Another brilliant attraction that works with the eye-popping scenery is the Moab Giants. It’s here where 100 life-sized dinosaur replicas linger around the dusty desert trails—can you count them all?
What other big and small towns in Utah belong on this list?
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