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Utah's beautiful parks
Utah's beautiful parks
Posted at: 11:00pm , 14 May 2019 By James Eacott

Utah's beautiful parks

Claire recently spent a week in and around Utah visiting some of its National and State Parks.

A long journey outbound from Heathrow via JFK to Salt Lake City meant a late arrival and straight to sleep, ready to embark on the journey the next day. (Note: direct flights with Delta do operate seasonally).

We spent the first morning in Salt Lake City. At Temple Square - the spiritual centre of the city - we enjoyed a free guided tour of the missionary to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first-hand (Mormon Church) and viewed the exterior of Salt Lake Temple and strolled through the pristine gardens.

We visited Red Butte Gardens which in winter doesn't offer much but during Spring and Summer I imagine are beautful. Next door, the Natural History Museum displays an incredible selection of dinosaur bones and remains of exotic creatures alive today (but note that it's closed on Mondays).

Finally we hit the road to Moab  the gateway to Arches National Park. It's a charming small town with plenty of hotels and restaurants. It can get very busy so pre-booking accommodation is a must here. The highlight in Moab is “Delicate Arch”. An approximate 5km round trip hike but plenty of uphill on mixed terrain...but the viewpoints en route are worth the effort and the sunrise was stunning.

 
From Moab you can take an all-terrain vehicle trip to secluded canyons. Some hairy up and downhill moments I would say, driven by a very experienced driver. For the more adventurous you can hire your own vehicles.

Onward we go again onto Torrey, a small town acting as the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park. There's a tonne of scenic drives in the area, the main one being the 21-mile Capitol Reef Scenic drive, all clearly signposted and on a good road.

The hiking trail to Hickman’s Bridge is an uphill, roundtrip of about 2-miles. The Bridge is a stunning formation that has evolved into a bridge over millennia.

Onward we went to Bryce Canyon via Scenic Byway 12 - about a 4.5 hour drive. We stopped en route to hike a few shorter trails and then again at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. After (another!) uphill hike, the colours of the petrified wood were quite incredible and not what I expected.

As we drove through sun, rain and snow we arrived in the Bryce Canyon area. There are numerous trails and view points here. Unfortunately due to the recent heavy snow all the hiking trails were closed so a walk through the hoodoos was not possible but this did not take away the amazing views.

An after dark visit, with very little light pollution, gives some amazing star gazing … if the skies are clear.

En route to Zion National Park - our next main stop - we visited Red Canyon where we hiked some shorter trails amongst the hoodoos, having missed this opportunity at Bryce due to the weather.

At Zion National Park we stayed outside the park in Springdale and this gives you much more choice of restaurants and activities. There is a free shuttle bus that runs from Springdale right through the park making stops along the way, and you can even take a bicycle (limited space).

Zion means a place of peace and refuge and it certainly can be, but be prepared for crowds in peak season.

There are a range of hikes here from short easy ones to the challenging Angel’s Landing or even the Narrow’s. There really is something for everyone. Hire a bike in Springdale and ride through the park or bus it with your bike to the top and ride downhill (mostly downhill!) all the way back. Take a gentle horse ride along the river (and through it) if the water level is not too high.

   

All too quick the week was over. Feeling energised from exercise, clean air and stunning landscapes I returned to the UK.

Tips for travel:

  • Keep an eye on your petrol tank: journeys between towns can be long and not all towns have a petrol station so make sure you top up when you can.
  • Take lots of water: temperatures can get very high and if you are out hiking for the day then there aren’t usually shops in the parks so having a stock of water is essential. 
  • Always stop at the visitor centre: each National Park and most State Parks will have a visitor centre, these are great to find out current weather information and any trail updates and they can provide you with the best routes to fit your time frame. 
  • When visiting more than three or more National Parks in one trip it is more cost effective to purchase the annual America The Beautiful pass which includes entry to the majority of National Parks across the U.S. 
  • Dress in layers if not travelling in peak summer months, you can hit 4 seasons in one day
  • Remember UTAH is a “dry “ State so no alcohol is served without food (some hotels do have bars but you cannot take a drink out of the bar)
  • Get to the parks early in the day to avoid the crowds 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to chat about this National Park haven!

#beUTAHful #LifeElevated

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