San Juan County, also known as Utah’s Canyon Country, is an iconic piece of the American West. There are tons of things to do and see, whether you’re looking for outdoor activities, old west history, or scenic landscape and views. There’s something for everyone here, and there are memories to be made. These are some of the most popular things to do in the San Juan County area.
Even if you've never visited Utah's Canyon Country before, you've probably seen it on TV or a magazine before. This area of the west is a unique and iconic stretch of landscape that many visitors come to just to see with their own eyes. San Juan County has many designated landmarks and parks with plenty to see.
Monument Valley is perhaps the most recognizable site in Canyon Country. The towering rock pillars that rise up from the desert floor in Monument Valley have been the backdrop for many western films. It’s a lonely but beautiful place unlike any other in the world. Visitors can enjoy a driving tour from their vehicle to hit all the main spots in the valley in a day.
As the largest national park in the state of Utah, Canyonlands is one you definitely don’t want to miss. This site is divided into 3 distinct areas. Visitors spend hours and even days exploring the winding canyons, mesas, and trails. The Green River and Colorado River meander back and forth across the 527.5 square miles of wilderness.
From March to October, the park rangers lead special activities for visitors.
Bears Ears has been designated a national monument to preserve its unique landscape and ancient history. Prehistoric cliff dwellings, tools, pictographs, petroglyphs, and other artifacts have been left here from civilizations of the past and are available for viewing today!
Be prepared for a more rugged, less-developed experience in nature if you go to visit Bears Ears National Monument. Much effort has been taken to preserve this piece of land as it has been left. Some Native American tribes consider this land sacred.
Did you know there are places in the world that have been designated as official “dark sky parks”? These special areas are places where light pollution is prohibited so that the clear night sky is as visible as possible. There are multiple dark sky parks found in Canyon Country and throughout Utah, where thousands of stars can be seen at night.
If you’ve never been to a place without light pollution, you may not even realize how many more stars you can see with the naked eye. Visiting one of these spots at night is one of the more popular things to do in San Juan County. Take a look for yourself one night and you’ll see why. Check out the list of dark sky parks in Utah’s Canyon Country and add it to your itinerary!
Are you a fan of water sports, fishing, or just relaxing by the lake? Lake Powell is the largest man-made lake in the world, and one of the most popular lakes in Utah.
Visitors can enjoy tours, camping, boating, and hiking in the area for days at a time. Lake Powell isn’t just popular with tourists, it’s also a local favorite. But with over 1,800 miles of shoreline, visiting the lake is still a great thing to do if you just want to get away and relax for a while without fighting crowds.
Rainbow Bridge is one of the largest natural-forming bridges on the planet. As you might expect, it’s also a selfie-taker’s paradise. You have to snap a photo or two when you visit a gigantic, rainbow shaped rock bridge, right? This is another site that holds sacred significance for the native tribes with history in the area.
Access to Rainbow Bridge is a little bit tricky. You’ll need to either get their with a boat ride across Lake Powell followed by a short hike, or take a long hike through Navajo backcountry. You won’t be able to get there by road. But the rugged and secluded beauty of this rare structure are what help make it one of the more popular places to visit in southern Utah!
Besides all the incredible sites and monuments, San Juan County is also the perfect place for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. You’ll never run out of things to do here.
Miles and miles of wilderness await you, full of hiking and ATV trails, fishing holes, mountain biking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, kayaking and river rafting. And in the winter, San Juan County gets snow, which allows for all the cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow-mobiling you could ever want!
Within the communities scattered throughout San Juan County, visitors can enjoy activities like golfing, axe throwing, and a discovery and learning center.
Learn more about the most popular recreational activities you might want to add to your plans.
If you’re looking to head out and explore on your own, you’re welcome to. But Utah’s Canyon Country also has a variety of expert guides and outfitters to help you get the most out of your visit. Some of the most exciting things to do require the knowledge or equipment of a guide.
For example, you might want to book a special Sacred Monuments Tour, or a guided hunting trip. Or perhaps you would enjoy some dirt bike racing or a float down the majestic San Juan River. Check out some of the best guides and outfitters in Canyon Country to start planning your next adventure!
For the visitor that likes to take it easy and just enjoy the landscape around them, southern Utah offers some of the prettiest stretches of road you can find anywhere in the West. From arid desert terrain to high-mountain forests, there’s a picture-perfect view around every turn. Even if you aren’t able to stay and enjoy the history and adventure available in this part of the country, just passing through will be something to remember.
Many of the scenic drives through Canyon Country have periodic pullouts and overlooks where you can stop for a moment to take it all in, and maybe snap a photo. But nothing does it justice like being there in person! This truly is a majestic place that embodies the iconic “West” better than anywhere else.
While comfortable lodging options are available in the communities throughout Canyon Country, some visitors enjoy staying out in nature! Campgrounds can be found at various locations, as well as RV parks and bunkhouses. Check out some of the more popular places to camp out here.
San Juan County has a rich history and is proud to put on many local celebrations and events. If you’re planning a trip to Utah’s Canyon Country, be sure to check out the events calendar to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the local fun happening during your visit.
The locals here are a friendly bunch that are always eager to welcome a visitor and show the unique entertainment and culture that help form the community.
So, if you decide to take a trip to Utah’s Canyon Country, it’s going to be monumental! There is so much to do here that it will be difficult to fit it all in during one visit. You may just have to come back again soon!
We’ve put together some helpful information that you can use to plan your trip and get where you want to go. Feel free to download one of our free brochures or a regional itinerary. You can also request a travel guide that we will happily send you free of charge.
Get ready for an adventure, an escape, a step into nature and a step into history! Utah’s Canyon Country has it all. Are you ready to #MakeItMonumental?