Situated in the western section of the United States, Utah is the 13th largest state in terms of land area and the 31st most populous state. It covers an area of 84,899 square miles in total and has an estimated population of 3.1 million, making it the 10th most sparsely populated state. Nicknamed the 'Beehive State' and 'The Mormon State', Utah is perhaps best-known as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.Salt Lake City
3.West Valley City
5 of the Largest Cities in Utah
- Overview, Photo: Jason/stock.adobe.com
- Salt Lake City, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- West Valley City, Photo: Jeremy/stock.adobe.com
- Provo, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- West Jordan, Photo: Jason/stock.adobe.com
- Orem, Photo: Johnny/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Canyonlands National Park
Located in southeastern Utah, Canyonlands National Park preserves more than 337,000 acres of land containing a pristine high desert atmosphere. Visitors will experience breathtaking colors spread throughout a rugged landscape just begging for adventure seekers. Hike or drive (if possible) through natural and primitive desert land filled with gorgeous canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires. There is too much to see in Canyonlands National Park to visit only once.
The history of the Canyonlands is vast and has been influenced by many groups of people, including Native Americans, European explorers, miners, and ranchers. However, it was most influenced by Bates Wilson and Stewart Udall, the founders who turned the area into a national park, preserving it for generations to come.
Bates Wilson was the Arches National Monument superintendent during the 1950s and 1960s. He advocated the creation of the park and sealed the deal by giving jeep tours to government officials. These tours were complete with campfires chats and hearty dinners deep in the desert. Stewart Udall attended one of these tours and helped push the legislation to establish Canyonlands a National Park. A bill was introduced by Utah Senator Frank Moss in 1962 to accomplish just that – it was entitled A Proposed Canyonlands National Park.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a public law on September 12, 1964, which officially established the Canyonlands as a National Park. The Canyonlands was expanded in 1971, when it obtained the Maze, the Land of Standing Rocks, and the Davis and Laender Canyons – making the park a whopping 337,598 acres today.
Things to Do
Island in the Sky & White Rim Road: This is the most accessible area of Canyonlands National Park; it offers many expansive, spectacular views from various overlooks and its scenic access route – White Rim Road. Hikers, bikers, or visitors with four-wheelers can choose from a variety of scenic routes and trails to reach the top of the mesa, which rests on sandstone cliffs positioned more than 1,000 feet above the surrounding area. Park rangers conduct tours and other activities from the months of March through October. There is a campground available all year round at the Willow Flat Campground near the visitors center.
The Needles: Forming the southeast corner of the Canyonlands, the Needles dominate the area and received their name because of their colorful spires made of Cedar Mesa Sandstone. There are many hiking trails, biking routes, and scenic drives for four-wheelers and cars. The featured overlooks are Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Hill, the Joint Trail, and Chesler Park. The Needles Campground has two sites – Loop A is open all year round and Loop B is open spring through fall. Park rangers will often give presentations at the campground at night.
The Maze & The Orange Cliffs Unit: This area is aptly named as it is the least accessible area of Canyonlands National Park. It is extremely remote, requiring visitors to access it by foot most of the time. The travel time is quite long and visitors must have basic wilderness and outdoor self-sufficiency skills. Though the trip and the terrain may be rough, the view is spectacular. The gorgeous cliffs, open plains, and colors are so breathtaking that visitors won’t want to leave. The Orange Cliffs and the Chocolate Drops are not to be missed.
Horseshoe Canyon Unit: This area contains some of the most significant and well-preserved rock art in the country. The Great Gallery is filled with life-size figures with extremely intricate designs that are sure to impress visitors. The area is also filled with beautiful wildflowers, sandstone walls, and a flowing stream at the bottom of the canyon. This area is prime for hiking, and guided tours are given daily during the spring and fall. Camping is allowed although pets are prohibited.
The Rivers: This area is home to the Green River and the Colorado River. Visitors can participate in flatwater and whitewater rafting trips along either. Cataract Canyon is 14 miles of rapids and is particularly hazardous water for inexperienced rafters. There are hiking trails along Cataract Canyon as well, however, lightweight boats and inflatables are not allowed.
Canyonlands National Park, 2282 Resource Blvd.Moab, UT 84532, Phone: 435-719-2313
Attraction Spotlight: Zion National Park
The mystical majesty of Zion National Park in Utah seems utterly otherworldly and it’s something you’ll certainly never forget. It is the distinctive reddish Navajo sandstone canyon which looks pinkish in certain lights and like yellow butter in other that gives Zion National Park its sense of the extraordinary. Scholars estimate that people first came to live in this area some 8,000 years ago, but they were nomadic people who were hunting and gathering what food they could find, and didn’t used the place as a fixed abode.
It took another 6,000 years before evidence of human agriculture was discovered: people were planting corn. And if you’re planning corn, chances are, you’re settling down into a place which you’re calling home, which is precisely what was happening. People were setting up villages in the area, and we know this because archaeologists have found traces of tools, fishing nets and the likes in this region, dating up until about 500 AD.
Some 200 years after that, so-called pithouses, where the semi-nomadic people known as the Anasazi took shelter from the elements, were found. Part shallow caves, part improvised shelters; these pithouses demonstrate how people were making a plan to make a life in a place that to all intents and purposes seemed overwhelmingly hostile. Just think of it: vast tracts of reddish stone, which are wide as they are deep, hard as they are slippery, little natural vegetation and a tendency to develop catastrophic weather – this area of the world is not your average Joe’s comfort zone and a place to call home.
It was the woodlands which first attracted farmers associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – also known as the Mormon community – in the 19th century. They began to tame the land, use the wood, and one thing led to another. So, when some of these farmers intrepidly made their way to the bottom of the canyon, they discovered the soil to have fertile potential and they began to set up their communities, planting corn – like their ancient forebears had, as well as tobacco and fruit. One of these farmers, a chap by the name of Isaac Behunin, is credited with having named the park “Zion”, drawing from a tractate in the bible and his Mormon heritage. This canyon floor was farmed by Behunin and several other families until 1909, when the park was declared a heritage site and a protected monument.
Jump ahead to the dire time of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and to United States President Franklin D Roosevelt’s idea to start the Civilian Conservation Corps, which effectively got young unemployed men out there into the world, and put them to use by getting them to help refine public land. By the sweat of their brows and strength of their bodies these young men reigned in the rivers, built the camp grounds and contained the occasional wildfires, thus making Zion National Park the oasis of beauty it is today. Indeed, many of the paths, campsites and protected canyon walls that you will still see there today, are the fruit of these men’s labor.
Hiking is probably one of the most popular pastimes in Zion National Park – and variations on that idea of hiking – whether you’re exploring the ground by foot, climbing a canyon or kayaking on the rivers around the area, let’s face it, it’s a form of hiking, just with different equipment. Either way, however you’re planning to get around, if you’re out for a day or less, you do not need a permit. But if you’re out in the wild exploring the park for longer than a day, even over one night, you do. It’s a good system that keeps the park authorities alerted in case you get into trouble.
Be warned, however, there’s a three month booking period and a tight roster as to where you can meander and when: you need to plan your time with great attention to detail and your own safety. The Zion National Park is magnificent, but it can be treacherous – particularly with regard to the weather. If you’re planning on canyoneering, be aware that the area is often subject to flash floods, which, in literally seconds could wash you away.
If you wish to cycle in the Zion National Park, you must head toward the Par’us Trail. It’s the only one in the park which is bicycle friendly. And it’s also one of the few areas in Zion National Park that are pet friendly too. But if you’re bringing your pup along, make sure you know all the rules about pet care in the vicinity.
And then, there are the rivers. Only if you’re a really expert paddler, should you even attempt getting into the rivers. It’s only recommended that you kayak in Zion National Park’s rivers when the water is flowing in excess of 150 cubic feet per second. This is white water rafting at its very best, but also most professional. Don’t even think about it if you’ve never done it before.
But day hikes seem truly to be the thing to do, particularly if you’re not a hardened white water rafter with tons of experience. The day hikes in the Zion National Park hold lots of delights – be it the Kolob Canyons, Timber Creek, Taylor Creek or Kolob Arch, these walks will generally take up to half an hour. They’re plotted trails with a length of about 1.5 miles and are at an elevation of 300 feet that will give you and your group – no more than 12 people are allowed to take part in any one of these trails at a time – some truly awesome sights, without your having to suspend yourself from the wall of a canyon.
Before you come to the Zion National Park in Utah, you must do your homework – and your shopping. Getting all the gear and maps that you need and establishing exactly when and where you will stay is very important. All the other variables with regard to unexpected weather or footholds will feel less stressful and frightening if you can orient yourself sensibly in a base camp and know where your next meal is.
There is an excellent video which offers an overview of the park in the Zion Human History Museum, which is located one half of a mile north of the park’s south entrance. It’s an important museum which will orient you to the functioning and history of the park, and reinforce your understanding of how important it is to honor the rules in place protecting the natural surrounds.
Are you eligible for a fee waiver to the park? If you’re traveling with a group for educational or research purposes, or are coming to explore the park for specific reasons, you may well be. Check with the local authorities before you make your commitment to the park’s fees.
In spite of the seemingly hostile environment, this park, considerably smaller, as it is, than a lot of America’s other Grand National parks, is a popular visiting place, and an estimate 3-million people visit it on a regular basis, each year – a number which has raised remarkably in the last several years. This is something to take into consideration while you are planning your trip: will you find parking readily? Will you need to travel in a shuttle? These elements are all available, but between March and October, the legal parking for private cars is normally completely full by 10am.
But there are a few possible solutions to the parking situation, which might open a whole different vista of experience for you. There is a small town embraced by the Zion National Park, called Springdale. It’s a proper residential town with all the normal amenities that you can expect in a modern environment. It’s a fair hike to the park proper, but it is worth it, to know that your vehicle is legally parked and is safe, while you meander through one of the world’s most unusual landscapes. It might also even be a good idea to base yourself at Springdale, even though Zion National Park has three camping grounds, as well as a lodge and several visitors centers, including the East Zion Tourism Council, the Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau, the St George Area Visitor Bureau and the visitors’ bureau at Kane County, Utah are there to give you all the help and support you might need.
Back to: Best Places to Visit in Utah
1 Zion Park Blvd. State Route, 9 Springdale, UT 84767, Phone: 435-772-3256