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In our last "State parks of Utah" feature we highlighted the state parks of Northern Utah. However, some of most iconic natural beauties in Utah are located in the Southern part of the state.
With its unique red rock landscape and warm climate (okay, we admit that in the summer it is nothing but hot), Southern Utah draws huge crowds throughout the Southwest (and really, from around the world).
Here is a list of some of those parks, and what you can expect when you visit:
1. Kodachrome Basin State Park
Reds, yellows, greens and blues. Why color film was invented. Located 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, Kodachrome Basin State Park is best known for its gorgeous scenery.
There are 67 monolithic stone spires (don't worry, we pulled out the dictionary for you on this one: monolithic is just a fancy word for something that is formed of a single large block of stone) called sedimentary pipes, featuring multihued sandstone layers created over a period of 180 million years.
Pass the time by camping, horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking. There are ATV trails nearby, as well as the well-known Grosvenor Arch (which is actually two sandstone arches towering 150 feet above the ground. Bonus!).
As far as park fees go, day-use passes are $6 per vehicle. There is a $3 day pass for Utah seniors who are 62 and older. An annual pass is available for $75, with a special $35 rate for senior citizens.
Photo credit: http://www.brycecanyoncountry.com
This state park comes with its very own nine-hole public golf course, in case the incredible scenery and traditional types of state park recreation aren't enough.
The course offers up a gorgeous backdrop for those lucky golfers with one of its holes (which happens to be our personal favorite), sitting next to a waterfall. You can't beat it.
Besides golf, Millstate provides ample opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking, biking and camping.
Millstate State Park is located just on the west edge of town in Ferron. Day-use fees are $5 and include use of watercraft launches. Annual passes for $75 are also available.
Photo credit: http://www.utahgolfguru.com
If you're craving trout for dinner, the reservoir at Otter Creek State Park near Antimony is where you want to go.
Located approximately 220 miles south of Salt Lake City, this park is also a favorite camp spot for deer and elk hunters as well as ATV enthusiasts. Venison or fish, the decision is yours.
Activities include fishing, boating, camping and ATV riding.
There is a $5 day-use fee per vehicle and includes use of watercraft launches. For vehicles carrying a senior 62 or older, only $3 will be charged. Annual passes are available for $75, $35 for seniors.
Photo credit: http://www.utah.com
Palisade State Park can be found tucked away in the mountains above a small reservoir 133 miles south of Salt Lake City near Sterling.
Along the shoreline of the reservoir are campsites and picnic areas. A popular golf course is located here as well.
At Palisade, you can golf, camp, fish, canoe, or ride your ATV. Better put, you can practice your short game, reel in your dinner, glide along the glass-like water, hone your dutch oven skills, or go rogue and off-road.
Day-use fees are $6 per vehicle, and $3 per vehicle for seniors 62 or older. Annual passes are $75 and $35 for seniors.
Photo credit: http://www.utah.com
Not as well-known as other parks, Piute State Park is the perfect place for a peaceful getaway. This park is located 198 miles south of Salt Lake City near Marysvale.
Have fun fishing, boating, camping and riding ATV's.
Fees for the day are $5 per vehicle unless a senior 62 or older is present, making the day fee $3. Annual passes are $75 and $35 for seniors.
Photo credit: http://www.utah.com
A popular park year-round, Quail Creek State Park is located near St. George about 293 miles South of Salt Lake City.
Are you a warm water snob? The reservoir at this park offers some of the warmest water in the state, making it extremely popular for all types of water sports.
But don't worry if you didn't bring your paddleboard, Quail Creek also offers plenty of boating, fishing, ATV riding, and camping.
Park fees are $10 for day-use, which includes the use of boat ramps. A $5 day use pass is available for seniors 62 and older. A $75 annual pass is available, $35 for seniors.
Photo credit: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com
Four miles south of Quail State Park near St. George is Sand Hollow State Park. It offers a scenic view of red rocks with sandy beaches and warm water.
Just as you would expect, you'll have access to boating, water sports, fishing, ATV riding, hiking and camping.
Day-use passes are $10 per vehicle, or $5 for seniors 62 and older. Day passes include use of watercraft launches and OHV access. Annual passes are $75 each, or $35 for seniors.
Photo credit: http://philandtropic.com
Snow Canyon captures some of Utah's otherworldliness. Smothered between red rocks and black lava caps, the park is a popular hotspot (pun intended) year-round.
It is located near St. George, approximately 312 miles south of Salt Lake City. The mild weather is ideal for camping, and a sand dune inside the park is the perfect play area.
You'll have a good chance of catching some wildlife in action, or if you want to be the one in action, enjoy hiking, biking, camping, or horseback riding at the park.
Park fees are $6 for a day-use pass per vehicle, or $3 per vehicle with a Utah senior 62 or older. There is a group pass for pedestrians or cyclists, up to eight people, available for $4. Annual pass options include the regular $75 pass, $35 for seniors and $24 for pedestrians or cyclists.
Photo credit: http://geology.utah.gov
9. Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum
Originally built to be Utah's state capital, Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum offers historic and cultural displays. You'll find it 141 miles south of Salt Lake City in Fillmore, and is Utah's oldest existing government building.
Fun fact for you: Did you know that when Utah became a territory in 1850, Fillmore was chosen as the territory's capital city? In 1856, it was decided that the capital should be moved to a larger community, and so it was given to Salt Lake City.
Visitors can view historic artifacts and enjoy the gardens while visiting this museum. A bookstore on-site offers a variety of reading material from cookbooks to children's books, and includes a gift shop with treats and fun activities.
Entrance fees to the museum are $2 per person or $1 for Utah seniors 62 or older.
Photo credit: https://res.cloudinary.com
10. Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum
This is a spot for anyone who was ever a kid, and a must-see for dinosaur lovers. Approximately 175 miles east of Salt Lake City, near Vernal, you can see these massive monsters reconstructed.
The educational displays in the museum actually add to T-Rex and friends' visceral appeal. Fans of these prehistoric animals will be able to visit the Dinosaur garden, the biggest attraction in the park, with full-size replicas and a huge collection of fossils to view.
The cost to visit is $6 for adults and $3 for children 6 and older. Children 5 and under are free.
Photo credit: http://i.ytimg.com
11. Yuba State Park
The warm water and sandy beaches of Yuba State Park lures tons of visitors during the summer months. Yuba Reservoir is the key attraction and its sprawling waters provide a variety of recreation opportunities to keep busy.
It is also one of the few parks in the state with boat-in camping. While you're there, take a dip in the warm water and do some laps. Or find a new fishing spot. Or take a bike ride around the park. The possibilities are endless.
Day-use fees are $7 and include the use of watercraft launches. A $4 day pass is available for Utah seniors 62 and older. Annual passes are $75 and $35 for seniors.
Photo credit: http://icons.wunderground.com
For more information on any of these state parks, including additional information on campgrounds and operation hours, visit Utah.com.