Cougar Ridge

What to See in Southern Utah State Parks

Oct 31, 2023 | Our Blog, Surrounding Area, Things to do in Utah | 0 comments

Utah is filled to the brim with incredible landscapes that are guaranteed to take your breath away. The state’s five national parks typically get all the credit. But Utah is also home to state parks with landscapes and views that rival those national parks. 

From towering red rock formations to expansive canyons to features you won’t find in one of the Mighty 5 national parks, like sand dunes and reservoirs, there’s a lot to discover. If you’re planning a visit to Cougar Ridge, you’ll be just a short drive away from several Southern Utah state parks.

Wander Among the Goblins

One of the most unique things to see in Southern Utah state parks located close to Cougar Ridge is to wander among the goblins in Goblin Valley State Park. Located just over an hour-and-a-half from the best resort Utah has to offer, this beautiful state park is the perfect spot for an afternoon of hiking and exploring.

This state park’s most famous and popular feature is Goblin Valley itself. This expansive valley is filled with other-worldly sandstone formations referred to as “goblins.” There are no designated hiking trails through this section of the park. Instead, you’ll wander freely among them, marveling at their size and unique shapes. The park is also home to some hiking trails, a slot canyon that’s popular for rappelling, and some incredible stargazing.

See Real Dinosaur Bones

Also just over an hour-and-a-half from the best resort Utah has to offer is Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. While Goblin Valley looks like a scene straight from Mars, this state park is far more lush and green. This is thanks in part to Wide Hollow Reservoir, a bright blue lake with clear water that’s great for kayaking, swimming, and paddleboarding. 

In the petrified forest section of the park, you’ll find colorful petrified wood and other fossils, including real dinosaur bones. From fossil searching to swimming in the reservoir, this state park is a great day trip for families of all ages.

Check Out Ancient Villages

If you have a history buff in your group or are looking for a unique way to spend a day during your stay at Cougar Ridge, this next Southern Utah state park is a must-see. Anasazi State Park is just an hour from Cougar Ridge. The park is located on the site of what was once an Ancestral Puebloan village, inhabited by around 200 people sometime between A.D. 1050 and A.D. 1200.

Today, visitors can see what remains of the village, as well as recreations of rooms and a wide variety of artifacts. This interactive, historical park is great for visitors of all ages and abilities. If you’re looking for a unique day trip during a corporate retreat in Utah, this is a great choice.

Snag A Record Catch

Otter Creek State Park is located more than a mile above sea level. It’s home to a crystalline, high-alpine lake with sparkling clear waters that have been open to the public since 1965. Dammed by early Mormon settlers looking to irrigate their farms, the lake is now a popular destination for boating and fishing—in fact, it’s a great spot to reel in a record catch! The state park is known as one of Utah’s premier trout fisheries.

Besides fishing and boating, other activities in the park include hiking and off-roading. Birding is also popular. The park falls directly in the path of the Pacific Migratory Bird Flyway, and there are plenty of spots to view rare species as they pass through the park and stop to feed at the reservoir.

Marvel at Monolithic Stone Spires

The furthest of the Southern Utah state parks on this list, Kodachrome Basin State Park is just under two-and-a-half hours from Cougar Ridge. But while it might be a bit of a drive, this state park might just be the most beautiful on this list.

Take a drive through this state park, and you’ll no doubt wonder why it wasn’t designated a national park. Towering red cliffs climb towards a brilliant blue sky. Challenging hiking trails take you into the remote corners of the park for some great views.

One of the park’s most unique features are the monolithic spires or chimneys that spot the valley floor. Made from sandstone rocks weathered over millions of years, these monoliths give the park its unique landscape.

Planning Day Trips to Southern Utah State Parks

While visit to Capitol Reef and Arches National Park are popular during a stay at Cougar Ridge, there’s more to discover during your stay. Southern Utah state parks offer some unique activities and beautiful landscapes that rival those found in national parks.

Ready to start planning your own adventure in Southern Utah? Now is a great time to book your stay at Cougar Ridge. Right now, when you book a stay of two or more nights before February 29, 2024, you’ll enjoy a 40 percent discount on your stay! Book today to take advantage of these incredible savings!

Skip to content