Budget Travel

11 free and fun things to do in Utah

Thanks to plenty of wide-open space and its focus on all things outdoors, Utah is an excellent destination for travelers on a budget.

From countless acres of public lands and also the occasional fee-free day at the state's majestic nature to natural hot springs and land art in the middle of the desert, a lot of Utah's natural attractions can visit. And it is not just about the great outdoors: you'll also find lots of parks, historic sites and architectural wonders in Utah which require no fee. Here's our list of the top free things to complete in Utah.

Squeeze through slot canyons in the San Rafael Swell

There are millions of acres of public lands in Utah which are just as scenic because the official state and nature – and, unlike them, free of charge to go to. The San Rafael Swell, an enormous uplift within the earth's surface between Arches and Capitol Reef Nature, is among the most impressive of these free areas to go to. The “Swell,” as it is known, is home to dozens of narrow slot canyons, from easily accessible, family-friendly hikes like Little Wild Horse Canyon to full-day adventures requiring ropes along with a lot of technical skill. There are also lots of free camp spots in the San Rafael Swell, particularly round the Temple Mountain Area.

Visit the orphaned animals at Close friends Animal Sanctuary

Just 30 minutes from Zion National Park in Kanab, Utah, is America's largest animal sanctuary for homeless pets. Close friends Animal Sanctuary is located in beautiful red-rock Angel Canyon and it is the place to find roughly 1600 rescue animals, from dogs and cats to parrots, pigs, goats, horses and more. The sanctuary offers free daily tours, including animal-specific visits where you can walk one of the pot-bellied pigs, take a trip to Horse Haven or visit the wildlife being rehabilitated for release at Wild Friends. Even better, prepare yourself to volunteer and spend the day walking dogs, serving pet food or grooming the mules.

Wander beaches near the once-great Saltair Resort

Just 15 miles west of Salt Lake City, you'll see an unusual pavilion with turrets close to the shores of Great Salt Lake. This is the third iteration of the Saltair Resort, a once-bustling lakeside resort and theme park whose previous versions burned down. Just beyond the Saltair, you'll find easy beach accessibility briny Great Salt Lake – a fun spot to explore, especially with kids.

Visit certainly one of Utah's best-preserved ghost towns

Grafton is a well-preserved ghost town just outside Zion National Park where several classic western movies were shot (including several scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). The settlement goes back a lot more than 150 years, when early Mormon pioneer families settled along the fertile lands from the Virgin River, building small villages and looking to grow cotton. The river had other ideas – and frequent flooding drove the last hearty residents out by the late 1940s, leaving a picturesque if forlorn site for visitors to explore today. Don't miss a vacation to the cemetery, which offers a sobering reminder of methods difficult it was for early pioneers to make a life here.

Catch a free performance through the Tabernacle Choir

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, formerly referred to as Mormon Tabernacle Choir, is one of the most famous chorales in the world, and visitors can also enjoy free performances each week. On Sunday mornings, the choir performs its Music & the Spoken Word broadcast in the Conference Center, without any tickets required (though guests should be eight years or older). Guests will also be thanks for visiting attend daily free organ concerts and Thursday-night choir rehearsals in the Tabernacle at Temple Square.

See a distinctive land-art installation in the middle of the desert

Known best for her public sculptures and land art, American artist Nancy Holt has established a massive installation in the middle of the Great Basin Desert. Located through the Utah -Nevada border near the abandoned railroad capital of scotland- Lucin, her Sun Tunnels are four huge concrete cylinders arranged to capture the sun's rays during the summer and winter solstices. Each cylinder has small holes drilled through the concrete which allow sunlight or moonlight through, casting enchanting projections of constellations.

Hike and bike across the Jordan River Parkway

Paralleling the Salt Lake Valley's Jordan River and weaving in and out of cities and parks, the Jordan River Parkway is really a 40-mile pathway for foot and bike travel. The location where three Salt Lake City creeks come together and flow in to the Jordan River before it empties into Great Salt Lake, the 3 Creeks Confluence is one of the best spots to visit along the parkway. A number of bridges span the creeks in the park, offering an attractive spot to relax or fish.

Take a dip in a natural hot spring

Fifth Water Hot Springs is really a gorgeous collection of hot spring pools built along a creek around an hour south of Salt Lake City. The springs are free of charge to visit but need a 2-mile hike from the trailhead in Diamond Fork Canyon to achieve. Just south of the town of Fillmore, Meadow Hot Springs can also be liberated to visit. These springs are a short walk from the car park and contain three clear pools with temperatures hovering around 100°F. Both hot springs could possibly get just a little crowded given their popularity, so for any quieter experience attempt to plan your visit for a weekday.

Explore certainly one of America's most breathtaking libraries

With curved glass walls, spiraling fireplaces and a public piazza, the six-story Salt Lake City Public Library is a thing of beauty and something of the best samples by mail to determine in Salt Lake City. Don't miss the panoramic views from the city in the rooftop terrace – that is the place to find a metropolitan hive of honey bees – and then descend down to the plaza through the curved and walkable wall.

Stroll along Park City's historic Main Street

Although Park City is definitely an expensive spot to visit, there are numerous samples by mail to complete within this resort. When a silver boomtown, Park City had been all but abandoned before its rebirth as a year-round adventure sports destination. A lot of the city's Main Street has maintained much of its late 1800s character; these charming Victorian-style buildings are now full of boutique shops, galleries, restaurants and more. Parking can be a challenge so find a space several blocks away and take advantage of the free trolley that runs down and up the road.

Take advantage of free days at the national parks

Entrance to any or all National Park Service sites is free a handful of days a year. Visiting on a single of these fee-free days is a superb method for saving on money and see a new place. If you're overly enthusiastic you can even visit two nearby parks for example Arches and Canyonlands or Zion and Bryce Canyon in one day. Also keep in mind that current military members and veterans, all American 4th graders and their families, and people with disabilities qualify for free parks passes.

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