Goblin Valley State Park feels like another world - most say it resembles what would be Mars, however the park sits at the northern end of the San Rafael Swell. The hoodoos ("goblins") are mushroom-shaped pinnacles that are only a few feet high. The formations have large orange/red boulders of hard rock on top, with weaker sand layers below that have eroded more quickly over millions of years from the combined effects of rain and wind.
Spotted Wolf Canyon is located off I-70 at the Northern end of the San Rafael Swell, which makes up about 1/4 of Utah. "The Swell" as us Utahns call it, is what most people think of when they think of Utah. The arid area, with little vegetation is often very scenic, with mesas, cliffs, buttes, springs, and many canyons; these are sometimes wide or can be very narrow such as Little Wild Horse Canyon. Most of the swell is owned by the BLM and encompasses 2,000 square miles! This is great for 3 main reasons in my opinion: 1) the land is protected and will not be built on 2) dogs are allowed off leash 3) you can camp almost anywhere, for free!
The Wave is a hiker & photographers dream destination! The smooth, unique rock formations make for an unforgettable experience. The Wave has become so popular in the last few years due to social media, photographers, and many articles naming it one of the "coolest", "most unique", "most isolated", most blah blah places on earth! And it really is. However, people don't do their research before hiking here and many have needed to be rescued or have even died while gone missing. Why? The reason is because they go unprepared. There is no trail, the temperatures can be up to 115 degrees in summer, and people don't bring enough water and food.
Ibapah Peak is the tallest point in the Deep Creek Mountains and Juab County, at 12,087 ft. Getting to to the trail head is a long drive, since it's about a 4 hour drive from SLC. The Deep Creeks are truly a unique place in the West Desert. The long distance from major population allows hikers to find solitude. The desert at the foot of the mountain is at an elevation of about 4,800 ft, giving the mountains an enormous vertical rise of 7,300 ft - greater than that of the famous Teton's in Wyoming. Plan on camping near the TH the day before you hike here - camping is free, and there are a few spots that already have a fire ring. You'll want to have an early start to your hike, and be prepared to give your legs a workout.
Mt. Nebo (11,929 ft) is the highest peak in the Wasatch Mountains. and Utah County. Mt. Nebo actually has two summits, the north and south, with the North being the higher of the two. This is a popular hike, so the trail is well maintained and easy to follow. Around 9,000 ft a bench trail runs level North to South, as it reaches Wolf Pass. From there, the trail steadily climbs to a false summit, before reaching the ridge that leads to the true summit. This is a strenuous, yet very rewarding hike, as you can see for several miles around.
Rishel Peak (6,196 ft) is a fin-like peak created by volcanic activity, and is located in Utah's West Desert in the Silver Island Mountains. There is no trail, no shade, no water, and no true parking area or signs. Be aware that you MUST have a high clearance or 4X4 car to drive out here, and be prepared for flat tires from old mining nails still scattered about.The best time of year to hike this peak is in Spring or Fall when the temperatures are not as hot. Because this area is BLM Land, you can camp for free anywhere. However, there are no established camping areas, and Leave No Trace principles apply.
Cobb Peak (7,021 ft) was not my favorite hike or peak I've done. Let's just get that out of the way off the bat. This peak does not have a trail, very little shade, no water, has lots of bush whacking, and is very steep. Now, I've done my fair share of peaks with those qualities, but this one in the Silver Island Mountains seemed to kick my butt worse than the others. Although it is only 1.7 miles to the summit, it seemed to take forever, with lots of route finding. You don't want to do this hike alone - there were some really sketchy parts that I was nervous on, such as climbing up a rock slab for about 30 ft, and needing a hand to help pull me up in other areas. Getting to the summit took us about 3 hours, and another 3 hours to get back down. I have never been so nervous on a peak for how I would get back down.
The Subway in Zion National Park is a hiker and photographers dream destination! The Subway follows the Left Fork Canyon in Zion NP, and along the way you'll have a vast view of the canyon, you'll walk along the river and hike by several deep pools, and hike where only 80 people are allowed in each day. After living in Utah for 2 years, I finally got the opportunity to go by applying (and winning) a permit.
Kanarra Falls is a great Utah waterfall hike. You get to hike in a very accessible and beautiful slot canyon, a chance to walk in the river on a hot day, and see several beautiful waterfalls. The biggest downside to this hike is the crowds - it has become a big issue in the past year or so (read about the issues going on here). Kanarra Falls is the perfect stop for amateur photographers looking for professional photo opportunities. This is also a great family hike - it requires only a 2-3 hours, noequipment or gear is needed, nor a high level of hiking skill. Even the kids will love this hike! You'll want to be sure to wear sturdy, water shoes as most of this hike is in the river.
Kayenta Canyon Trail is known by two names: Kayenta Canyon, and to the locals, Hellhole Canyon. This trail starts in the town of Ivins, UT, about 15 minutes west of St. George, UT. If you don't like walking in sand washes, this is not the trail for you. 90% of this trail is walking in the wash, and on a sunny day (most days in Southern Utah), it can get very hot. There is no water, no shade, and no restrooms.