Utah's tourism industry is a huge part of the economy and culture. According to a Travel.gov report, most visitors head to Salt Lake City, Provo/Orem or St. George areas.
Visitors who stick to those heavily trafficked areas will see some amazing sights, but they are missing out on some of Utah's most unique places. Although it doesn't get the same type of attention or traffic, Utah's northeast corner is filled with gorgeous views and activities galore.
So if the traffic and bustle of Utah's five spectacular national parks isn't your idea of solitude, fill your tank and head northeast. You'll be sure to find an unforgettable adventure (or six).
Lonely Planet calls the High Uintas Wilderness a "mini Yellowstone that hasn't been discovered." Situated within both the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and Ashley National Forest, the area is certainly worth the two-hour drive from Salt Lake City. Plan a quick day trip to enjoy hiking, fishing or paddleboarding along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.
For more adventure, grab your sleeping bag and explore the beautiful wildflowers, scenic mountain peaks, lush greenery and starlit summer skies by backpacking through the area.
Whether you're visiting for a day or a week, Lonely Planet says rain gear layers are an absolute must, as it's not uncommon to get rain or even snow—even during the summer season.
Dinosaur National Monument
If Jurassic Park didn't prove it, perhaps northeast Utah can—dinosaurs just bring people together. Visiting Dinosaur National Monument is a prehistoric adventure for the entire family, bringing to life the enormous creatures that once roamed the Beehive State.
Spread over more than 200,000 acres along the Colorado and Utah borders, the area holds a treasure trove of ancient dinosaur fossils and petroglyphs. Check out the Quarry Visitor Center, located seven miles north of Jensen, where you can learn more about Dinosaur Monument and catch a lift to the Quarry Exhibit Hall—an enclosed wall featuring more than 1,500 dinosaur bones.
On a hot summer day, you can just imagine the crowds flocking to a reservoir with more than 375 miles of shoreline. But according to Utah.com, the best-kept secret about Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the solitude you're sure to find when you're there.
Along with that solitude comes a healthy dose of adventurous recreation—if that's what you're into. From watersports like boating, jet-skiing and kayaking, to world-class trout fishing to camping and parasailing, you'll find something for everyone at Flaming Gorge.
The Green River
Of course, there wouldn't be a Flaming Gorge Reservoir if there wasn't first a Green River. Snaking from Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area through Dinosaur National Monument before crossing much of the state, the river is home to spectacular scenery and all kinds of recreation activities.
The Green River is world-renowned for its great fly fishing. Wild brown trout are the main quarry with a huge population of fish in the 15 to 17-inch range. But there are also occasional lunkers and trout approaching 30 pounds have been caught.
"The rugged terrain allows access in only three areas: just below the dam, Little Hole and Browns Park," reports Utah.com. "You can drive to those locations and fish your way up or down the stream, or float the river in a drift boat or rubber raft."
If river rafting is one of your favorite summer pastimes—or you're hoping to make it one—you'll find several local guiding companies ready to take you on a whitewater adventure.
You don't have to be a budding geologist to appreciate Fantasy Canyon near Vernal, but it sure doesn't hurt. Formed over time by natural weathering and erosion, the canyon is dotted with intricate stone figures resembling a child's fantasyland. With a short (just over half-mile) loop hike showcasing the various formations, Fantasy Canyon is the perfect day trip for adventurers of all ages and fitness abilities.
Start your trip at the Vernal BLM Field Office, where you'll find maps, directions and more information about the canyon.
Red Fleet State Park
Red Fleet Reservoir has been called a mini-Lake Powell because of the surrounding red sandstone cliffs and sparkling clear water.
Activities at the park include camping, picnicking, hiking, swimming, fishing and boating. Red Fleet State Park is also known for the Dinosaur Trackway. Dinoland.com reports hundreds of dinosaur tracks are visible in the area's sandstone.
One reviewer on TripAdvisor wrote: "Never knew a place like this existed—where we could actually find fossils 'in nature.' Best part was our swim at the end of the hike—cliff jumping ... and sunning on the rocks. ... Would absolutely recommend this—highlight of any hike we've been on."
This summer, a full tank of gas is all you need to find adventure in one of the most spectacular corners of the state—and the country, for that matter. A day, weekend or extended visit to Utah's northeast corner is the perfect outdoor excursion for adventurers of all ages. Be sure to stop by any Maverik location to fill up the tank and load up on your snacks and adventure essentials.