Utah National Parks
Like Picasso’s blue period, Utah national parks are variations on a theme — petrified Jurassic sediments sculpted by wind, water and time — but each one exhilarates in its own way.
Families/High-adventurers/Leisurely travelers can hike/bike/tour/explore southern Utah’s unending fins/buttes/hoodoos/canyons. Raft the Colorado River, walk the earth’s seams or watch the sunset through a hole in a mountain.
NATIONAL PARKS IN UTAH (AND THREE NEARBY)
A California CondoR Beds in Zion
(That’s not only true (they’re not extinct after all!), it’s a helpful mnemonic for remembering the Utah national parks from east to west)
Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion: Five sculptural interpretations of the Colorado Plateau, cut with a big, slow chisel.
38˚ North on the Utah Map
Something good happened a while back at 38˚ north latitude. All five of the national parks in Utah are within a sandstone’s throw of it — in fact, you could drive through them all in a single overstimulated afternoon. (You could, but you shouldn’t. That’d be like sprinting through the Louvre.)
Over 150 million years the soft-ish stone sediments in these five spots relented in weird, beautiful ways, cutting open a color spectrum of reds, pinks, yellows, grays and whites, all dappled with green. It’s called the Grand Staircase, but you could think of it as a peeling painting, a dozen layers on display from Bryce to the Grand Canyon.
The Holey Land (See: Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, Fiery Furnace)
The slow work of merciless rivers (See: Grand View Point, Horseshoe Canyon, how tough you are)
A snag in the earth’s crust, 100 miles long (See: Waterpocket Fold, historic Fruita)
Sometimes-snowy erosions, elevated (See: Navajo Loop, Fairyland Point/Loop)
The oldest, the most visited (See: Subway, Angels Landing, your life flash before your eyes)
Museums of Ancient Art
Michelangelo wasn’t bad; Rembrandt made nice pictures; and Kahlo had some interesting ideas; but the Earth’s greatest masterpieces weren’t made by human hands. And they’re all in southern Utah.
It’s a reddish-orangey-pink swath of a United State that’s eroded in audacious ways. New York’s got the Museum of Modern Art; Utah has FIVE museums of ancient art. Climb through a hole punched in a mountain, hike through a slot canyon, kayak the Colorado River and explore Bryce Canyon’s rock opera. It’s art appreciation... in hiking boots.
Explore Utah’s five national parks (plus two state parks!) in eight days without feeling exhausted. ...
Disneyland? Meh. California Adventures? Yawn. Epcot Center? Boooring. Sure, these theme parks have t...