The Utah state is definitely a story of its own while traveling in USA. Is there even possible to find an area or a state on this planet where there are so many different natural wonders than in Utah? We really doubt it.
Utah is a state located in the western part of United States. It’s well known for its deserted landscape and interesting rock formations.
During our road trip in USA we started our national parks tour in Utah. We knew the nature in these places is beautiful, but we didn’t know we will loose our breath so often. There is just one park better from another.
If you are in lack of time and you HAVE to choose just a few of National Parks in Utah, these are the ones we would recommend them to you.
1. ARCHES NP
Located just 8 kilometers north of Moab, this National Park offers some of the most spectacular landscapes in the region.
Red stone arch formations make this part of Utah something special. Usually the arches are not far away from the main road that runs through the park and they are easy to reach. The Delicate Arch – the symbol of Arches NP and the icon on Utah’s license plates, however, takes approximately 1 hour hike that also 3 years old kids can make. The hike is well worth the effort as some breathtaking views rewards you at the final point. But be prepared for a lot of enthusiasts like you.
Be sure not to miss the Windows section of the park (Turret Arch and the North and South Windows) and the Balanced Rock for some amazing views. The Sand Dune Arch, hidden between the walls of big fins, is also worth a visit and kids will love to run in the sand paved tunnels and play seek and hide. These places are all easily accessible with small kids.
Accomodation: campground in the park or plenty of all sort of accomodation in Moab (5 miles away). During the busy season (March – October) you have to book the campground in the park well in advance.
Suggested duration of stay: it’s possible to see the main sights in one day, but we recommend at least 2 nights (don’t miss the sunset at Delicate Arch).
2. CANYONLANDS NP
Maybe it’s strange to hear this, but we found Canyonlands much better than the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The canyon panoramas are incredibly spectacular, but without the crowds of Grand Canyon.
The Grand Viewpoint offers an unbelievable panorama of kilometers of canyon country. Located just beside the main park road, you just get from your car, make a few steps and voila!
The second great thing in Canyonlands is the Mesa Arch. This arch offers some of best view of sunrise in the world. The views through the arch are amazing, with a scenic canyon vista. It takes a short and easy 15 minute walk, a piece of cake also for small kids.
A little more difficult is the hike to another great viewpoint – False Kiva. It’s a 2 hour round trip, but if you are used to hike then there should be no problems – just bring enough water with you. False Kiva is not well known and there are chances you won’t see any other visitor during your hike. The extraordinary views, the beauty of the place and the lack of visitors makes this site very special.
Accomodation: we were camping in Willow Flat Campground in the park (but in high season book well in advance).
Suggested duration of stay: at least one night (don’t miss the sunrise at Mesa Arch).
3. CAPITOL REEF NP
We came in Capitol Reef in Autumn. We didn´t see it in any other season, but it was really glowing and we can say it loudly: go to Capitol Reef in Autumn!
Despite the colors, outstanding views and the amazing Native American and Mormon history of the area, you can enjoy in picking apples from the historical orchard just by the campsite, weigh them, pay in a box and eat them while observing deer herd relaxing in the shadows of apple trees. There is also a farmhouse with delicious all-kind-of homemade pies for sale. Bring it to the picnic table in front of the farmhouse and eat it in the surroundings of scenic views and quiet athmosphere.
The hiking trails are wonderful, you can pick a trail at a level that is suitable for you. The sights of the Petroglyphs and old Mormon school house are just by the main road and easy to reach.
Capitol Reef is sometimes overlooked by visitors of the National Parks in Utah. It`s a shame, beacuse it’s really beautiful, quiet, serene and offers a lot of fun for all ages.
Accomodation: we stayed in beautiful Fruita Campground.
Suggested duration of stay: at least one night. More if you would also like to visit spectacular Upper and Lower Cathedral Valley.
4. BRYCE CANYON NP
Bryce Canyon was our last stop on the road from Utah to Arizona. And what a stop it was! The views of the Bryce amfiteater from the main viewpoints are stunning, but when you take a hike, the looks at those towers of red rocks become almost surreal.
If you have time, be sure to do at least the short loop into the canyon. It`s so different to see the sculptures from the bottom – you realize how tall and majestic they really are. The hike is easy, although the way up takes a bit of extra energy. We did it with our 3 year old boy without any problem.
Bryce Canyon is also a cool place to observe the stars, because the nights there are very dark. At the Bryce Astronomy festival that is held each year in summer, the astronomy rangers are out with their telescopes for everyone to see the stars, planets and Milky Way, and there are even rocket building activities – kids will love that!
Accomodation: campgrounds in the park. In case of bad weather or low temperatures you can find accomodation in Bryce or Panguitch.
Suggested duration of stay: at least one night, but to fully experience the canyon, we recommend two nights (don’t miss the hike into the canyon).
All NP in the USA have a Visitors center at the beginning of the park. It`s great to stop there and have a look inside – the rangers at the desks are really helpful and have all the answers to your questions – about paths less traveled, trails to do with kids, where to get the best sunset shot, wheather conditions, etc. The visitors center is also a Wanderland for kids who love books (like our little bookworm) – there are many kind of books that you can take a look of. We bought some nice, simple children books with stories from native american culture that really impressed him.