The south-central region of Utah is dominated by three vast tracts of public land, the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument  (GSENM), Capitol Reef National Park , and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area , at the heart of which lies Lake Powell.
While these public lands are not as famous as the brand-name national parks of southern Utah, they have much to offer travelers—particularly those people who love backcountry and solitude.
GSENM represents a unique combination of archaeological, historical, paleontological, geological, and biological wonders. Capitol Reef National Park is for the connoisseur of Utah backcountry—it may not be the first park you plan to visit, but it’s the one that you will focus on as you hone your enthusiasm for the desert outback.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area encompasses the rugged canyons leading to the Colorado River’s Glen Canyon, which was once considered the equal of the Grand Canyon  for drama and beauty. The canyon is now trapped beneath the waters of Lake Powell , a magnet for boating and water sports.
A popular side-trip—usually visited via tour boats from Lake Powell marinas—is to Rainbow Bridge National Monument , where an enormous stone bridge spans an arm of the lake.
In addition to these vast federal parks and recreation areas, there are a number of smaller public land preserves which offer stunning scenery and recreation but in smaller units; these are often a better destination for day hikes or a half-day of exploration. While officially part of the vast GSENM agglomeration, Kodachrome Basin State Park  is often overlooked, but it offers a colorful landscape dominated by towering sand pipes, a range of hiking trails, and an excellent campground. Goblin Valley State Park  also offers easy hiking trails through a bizarre series of hoodoos, spires, and balancing rocks, many with wind-carved "eyes" that explain the area's supernatural moniker.