Everyone wants to capture that perfect photo. Whether it’s to create a memorable piece of art or boost followers on social media, amateur photographers are out there looking for the perfect lighting, landscape, and scale.
When visiting Utah, there’s no shortage of amazing scenery. We have found several iconic photo ops in Utah perfect for a snap. If you want a place to make your friends and followers envious, head out to the Beehive State.
Let’s look at five iconic locations where you can snap that picture-perfect image for the “Gram.”
What Is Utah Known For?
Many people know that Utah has a thriving community for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Known as the Beehive State, this has little to do with actual bees and more with the work ethic of the Mormon pioneers who settled in the region.
The state also hosts the Sundance Film Festival every year. Over 40,000 people attend the largest film festival in the United States to celebrate independent films from all over the world.
Finally, the spectacular scenery surrounding you at every town and every turn will take your breath away. ATV and UTV trails are common as outdoor enthusiasts embrace the red desert dirt, sandstone slot canyons, and towering rock formations.
How Many National Parks Are in Utah?
The national parks in Utah are known as “The Big Five.” From east to west, they include Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park. Although they’re all in the same state, each one is unique and offers a different experience for visitors.
Arches is known for its thousands of sandstone arches, pinnacles, and balanced rocks. Canyonlands is only a few miles away but is known for its countless canyons carved by the Colorado River. In the south-central part of Utah lies Capitol Reef. Probably the least known of the five, Capitol Reef protects cliffs, canyons, and a 100-mile geologic monocline, a wrinkle in the Earth.
Bryce Canyon is famous for its hoodoos, which are irregular columns of rock. The largest concentration found on the Earth is in Bryce Canyon National Park. Finally, on the southwestern side of Utah is Zion National Park, one of the most visited parks in the country. It protects massive sandstone cliffs and paths where native people once walked.
Grab a drink at the Best Dirty Soda Shops in Salt Lake City.
5 Iconic Photo Ops in Utah for the ‘Gram’
Although there are endless photo opportunities within these five park boundaries, there are also amazing scenic spots in other parts of Utah. Here are five of the best places to capture the perfect photo for Instagram.
1. The Gateway in Salt Lake City
Location: In the heart of Salt Lake City and right across the street from Vivint Smart Home Arena, the Gateway Arts District is easily accessible by public transportation, on foot, by bike, or by car.
About: Once a dying retail mall, the Gateway is now undergoing a rebirth. The arts scene captured the attention of the Vestar company, which purchased the retail space in 2016. Stairways and store windows are now canvases for art. Murals and sculptures are plentiful, bringing life to what used to be a ghost town.
Where to Get the Photo Op: The mall’s two pop-up exhibits, “Dreamscapes” and “Love Letters,” have an admissions price to capture that perfect photo. “Dreamscapes” is $15, and “Love Letters” is $12 to $16.50. But you can also grab a selfie near rainbow-colored stairs or in front of Donovan Mitchell’s likeness along a pedestrian bridge.
2. Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Location: You can’t see Delicate Arch from the main road. If you want to get up close, you’ll need to hike the 1.5-mile trail. Parking is at Wolfe Ranch but will fill up quickly.
About: Standing 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, Delicate Arch is the largest free-standing arch in Arches National Park. It’s also one of the most visited places in the park so expect crowds. Sunset is the busiest time of the day.
Where to Get the Photo Op: When you arrive in Arches National Park, drive to the Wolfe Ranch parking lot and hike to the arch. To make the arch look more prominent in your photo, walk down the slope in front of it and position Delicate Arch in the center of your photo. You’ll be the envy of everyone on Instagram!
3. Bonneville Salt Flats
Location: About 90 miles west of Salt Lake City on Interstate 80 near the Nevada border lies the Bonneville Salt Flats.
About: The densely packed salt landscape is the remnants of the ancient Lake Bonneville. It’s so flat here that some people say you can see the curvature of the Earth. The 3,000 acres look like a barren wasteland, an other-worldly place.
Where to Get the Photo Op: Head over to the rest area off Interstate 80 and walk out onto the Salt Flats. You can even drive onto the Salt Flats when they’re dry. You’ll be in the middle of a white terrain with nothing but the rising mountains in the background.
This is a prime location to capture some stunning drone footage and to get creative with capturing that picture-perfect image for Instagram. Stand as far away from the camera as possible to make yourself look even smaller in this strange land.
4. Forrest Gump Point in Monument Valley
Location: Located near the border of Arizona off Highway 163 in southeastern Utah, Forrest Gump Point is about 10 minutes from the town of Mexican Hat at mile marker 13.
About: Monument Valley has been the backdrop for many films over the decades. It’s probably most famous for the scene in which Forrest Gump has had enough running. There’s a makeshift sign off the side of Valley Drive that marks the spot where he quits. The Navajo Nation manages this land. If you’re going to do some exploring, get a guide before venturing out on your own.
Where to Get the Photo Op: You can visit Forrest Gump Point easily just off Highway 163. There are pull-offs on both sides of the road. If there are no cars on the road, step out in the center to capture the deep landscape of the road disappearing into the mesas far in the background.
5. Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park
Location: Angels Landing is the sixth shuttle stop from the Grotto in Zion National Park. However, you must have a permit to hike the trail.
About: The Angels Landing Trail isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t like heights, this might be a photo op you just have to skip. Drop-offs are on both sides of the trail, but once you’re at the top, you have 360-degree views of the sandstone cliffs Zion National Park is known for.
Where to Get the Photo Op: The hike is about five miles round-trip. It’s strenuous and narrow. But when you get about half a mile from the summit and at the summit itself, the view of Zion Canyon will take your breath away. You don’t need much guidance to capture the beauty here. Position the camera where the farthest end of the valley is in the center of your frame and snap the photo.
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Is Utah Instagram-Worthy?
There may be no other state as Instagram-worthy as Utah. Whether you’re scaling the walls of Zion National Park to marvel at the majesty of Zion Canyon or watching a sunset at Delicate Arch, there’s a photo opportunity no matter where you go.
The hardest decision may be where to go first. Will you look like an alien on a foreign planet in the Bonneville Salt Flats or stand in the middle of a lonely road that meanders through buttes and mesas?
Where will you go to capture the perfect photo for Instagram?
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