This year the National Park Service is celebrating their 100th birthday! In honor of that milestone, we thought we’d cover a few of our favorite national parks in the great state of Utah.
Being from Utah, people often ask about the famous national parks there. What are they like? How do they differ? Which ones to visit? If visiting all of the parks isn’t an option, doing some research and knowing what they each offer can help with the choosing process. Today we’ll cover the top 3, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, and Arches National Park.
Zion National Park:
Located roughly 3 hours from Las Vegas and 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City, Utah’s first National Park offers everything an outdoor enthusiast can ask for. Activities vary from mountain climbing, biking, fishing, and, of course, hiking.
The most popular place to hike in the park is The Narrows. The hiking in this canyon varies from easy to difficult where the canyon walls can become very, well, narrow! Hiking through water makes you feel like an explorer heading deeper and deeper into the canyon. This hike is very pleasant during the hot summer months when the shaded canyon has cooler temperatures. Hikers can walk through The Narrows for hours and hours or just go a little way and turn around. Majestic views are found beyond every wall.
Other highlights of Zion National Park include Angels Landing (a strenuous 5 mile hike), to the more family-friendly Emerald Ponds and Weeping Rock hikes.
Lodging and shuttles are available near the park as well as our favorite option, camping! Whatever approach you take, Zion National Park will WOW even the most un-outdoorsy individual.
Bryce Canyon National Park:
Bryce Canyon National Park is located 1.5 hours north of Zion National Park. With horseback tours, star gazing at night and numerous trails among the hoodoos (rock pillars left standing after years of erosion), spending a few days here will not get dull.
This park is not as large as the other two. However, visitors can plan on spending a day or two getting an overview of the most popular sites at Bryce or they can stay for a week or more discovering additional wondrous aspects of the park. If you have a car, it’s definitely doable to visit Zion and Bryce National Park in the same trip.
Arches National Park:
Located 4 hours north-east from Bryce National Park or 3.5 hours from Salt Lake City in Moab, this is a very popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
Arches National Park has many claims to fame including Delicate Arch–one of the 7 Wonders of the Geological World. The canyoning, camping, mountain biking and hiking are among the more popular activities in this park. Many visitors are able to identify Arches National Park by the striking red rock found all over the area. Trails cater to the most inexperienced hiker as well as to the avid outdoorsman.
Part of the fun at any of these National Parks is striking up conversation with those around you. People travel from around the globe to see the views and landscape offered at each park. Although I live far from Utah now, I’m always proud to claim it as my home state and love hearing other’s Utah National Park experiences!
Written by Ashley Bardsley