Cool(er) Places To Visit In Utah In the Summer
By Kim Merryman
I used to plan all my trips to Utah for spring or fall when the weather is milder and crowds are fewer. This year, shelter-in-place orders forced me to cancel a spring break loop through Utah full of salmon-colored slot canyons, desert waterfalls, and walls covered in petroglyphs. So I’m crossing my fingers I can get to Utah in the summer, only with a little bit of a different route to avoid the heat in some of my usual springtime spots.
Luckily I tried out some summer routes in the last couple of years and found a few Utah destinations with perfect temperatures in July and August due to their higher elevations. Book an Escape campervan or a Jeep camper from our Salt Lake City location for this summer and include these spots along your route to keep it cool(er)!
Spend A Few Days At Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is a perfect place to post up for a couple of days in Utah in the summer. With elevations over 8000 feet, the weather is almost always cooler than in nearby Zion National Park. Don’t get me wrong; from June to at least August Bryce definitely feels like summer, and you are going to want that soft-serve ice cream from the North Campground General Store.
In Bryce Canyon, it’s much easier to enjoy daylight in both of its forested campgrounds, and you’ll sleep more soundly in the balmy nighttime temperatures here than you might in Utah’s lower elevations in the summer. Autumn in Bryce Canyon is also spectacular and has fewer crowds, but we’re here to talk about the summer.
Not only is the summer weather pleasant, but Bryce has trails full of famous hoodoos to explore and a variety of ecosystems. Sunrises and sunsets overlooking the canyon are worth the walk from camp.
Take A Break At Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a small national monument all the way up at 10,000 feet, so it’s covered in snow for much of the year. But in the summer, Cedar Breaks secretly wins the Utah landscape beauty competition, and at nice temperatures to boot.
There is one campground with a few trails that seem like they are on different planets. They have fields and forests, an alpine pond, a red rock canyon, and the most wildflowers I’ve ever seen in one place. That’s probably why they hold an annual wildflower festival for a week in July. Remember at elevations this high, you’ll want to get outside early because altitude often makes for afternoon thunderstorms.
Discover The Beauty Of Brian Head
Brian Head, Utah is a secret I don’t tell very often for fear that I’ll start seeing another human when I stop here in the summer. Just down the road and 200 feet lower in elevation from Cedar Breaks is this tiny winter ski town. Don’t expect a bunch of amenities in the summer; the solitude and peacefulness here are the main draws. Though I hear the Brian Head Resort has some fun summer activities for families, including a mountain bike park and archery.
You can drive to the top of Brian Head Peak for a sunset view. There are lots of unique and off-the-beaten-path hikes around Brian Head. I wish I’d had a Jeep camper to get to the eerie Twisted Forest trail.
I’ve never found the supposed handful of restaurants in town, but I didn’t look very hard. I just picked up some provisions to cook on my camp stove at Apple Annie’s Country Store. They have a good local hiking and mountain biking map, so grab one of those, but watch out for the deer, Thunder, who often hangs out on the store’s porch looking for snacks.
If you’re planning your summer getaway, rent an Escape campervan or a Jeep camper from our Salt Lake City location and head up to Utah’s cool(ish) summer destinations!