UTAH RICH WITH NATURAL TREASURES:
STATE’S FIVE NATIONAL PARKS ARE MUST-SEES
There are few places on earth where red rock towers, natural stone arches, colorful canyons and sheer cliffs are part of a stunning natural landscape in one “beauty wealthy” state. But this is the unique beauty of Utah where its record five national parks are all situated in the state’s southern region Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. It’s no wonder that Utah is one of the few states where National Park visitation is on the rise (by more than five percent in 2008). One of the most memorable ways to see Utah’s famed national parks is by doing the Grand Circle Tour of all five.
THE NATIONAL PARKS OF UTAH
Zion National Park
The oldest of Utah’s national parks, Zion will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2009. Sites of interest include The Narrows, Emerald Pools, Angels Landing and Weeping Rock, all of which are located at spectacular Zion Canyon, carved from the Virgin River. This popular park offers a shuttle that takes visitors through the canyon. For those who want to venture off the beaten path, both Kolob Canyon and Kolob Terrace are good areas to explore the backcountry. Hiking, climbing, biking, camping and horseback riding are some of the outdoor activities pursued here. The park features Zion Lodge, a dining room, gift shop and picnic area.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon’s red sandstone hoodoos, mazes, nature amphitheaters and lush forest draw visitors worldwide. From the edge of the canyon, visitors are treated to breathtaking views and displays of color as the natural light changes throughout the day. A 37-mile roundtrip drive through the park includes popular sites such as Sunrise, Sunset, Rainbow, Yovimba and Inspiration Point. Photographers find Bryce Canyon a perfect spot for stunning art photography. Hiking, camping, biking and horseback riding are among the activities offered here.
Arches National Park
Boasting more than 2,000 natural arches, Arches National Park presents the world’s largest concentration of these natural wonders. An arid desert environment is the interesting backdrop for these amazing displays. In addition to the famed Delicate Arch, major sites at Arches include Balanced Rock, Skyline Arch, Double Arch, Fiery Furnace and Devil’s Garden. A 40-mile roundtrip drive offers visitors a jaw-dropping journey through this “garden of natural wonders.” For adventurers, hiking, biking, climbing and camping are great ways to experience Arches National Park.
Canyonlands National Park
The rugged landscape of Canyonlands National Park was created by two rivers the Colorado and Green. Today the park is comprised of five unique regions, including Island in the Sky, Needles District, The Maze, Horseshoe Canyon and The Rivers. Challenging 4×4 roads and whitewater rapids are not for the faint of heart. Other popular activities here include rafting, climbing, biking, camping and hiking.
Capitol Reef National Park
A rocky wilderness, Capitol Reef National Park is characterized by sandstone formations, cliffs and canyons. A bulge in the earth’s crust created the park’s unusual Waterpocket Fold which features a variety of rock shapes that include Capitol Dome, Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash and Cathedral Valley. In addition to touring the park by car, visitors can bike, camp, climb, hike and ride horses in the park.
For more information about Utah’s five National Parks, visit http://www.utah.com/nationalpa rks.
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