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Experience The Mighty 5: Utah's National Parks

Experience The Mighty 5: Utah's National Parks
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Northern Utah: ‘Peak’ Your Curiosity

A road trip in Northern Utah might include motoring up Logan Canyon – loaded with high alpine scenery, campsites, and hiking and biking trails – to Bear Lake for boating and summer festivals, and to Ogden's Union Station for a visit to its own railroad museum. On the way south through Davis County, look west and you can't miss the Great Salt Lake, and you'll want to check it out via Antelope Island State Park.

Of course, you're never far from Wasatch Mountains where you can ski, snowboard, hike, bike and camp to our hearts' delight. In Northeastern Utah, the High Uintas Wilderness invites exploration on horseback or with backpacks and fishing rods, or you can sneak a peek at Utah's Dinosaur past at sites near Vernal.

Maybe you'll just want to spend your time in the Salt Lake Valley, our largest metropolitan area. Here, you'll find Temple Square and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony and Opera, plus world-class ballet, theaters, events, museums, professional sports, dining, shopping and nightlife. Park City, a resort town that famously hosts the Sundance Film Festival every January and is home to three world-class resorts, is about a half hour to the east of Salt Lake.


Central Utah: The Exhilaration of Life!

Central Utah, a transitional stretch of land between the alpine forests of the north and the red rock canyons of the south, is a vast expanse of mountain, plateau and high desert, and ideal for the traveler in search of true solitude. It is an area rich in natural resources: from vast coalfields, to hunting and fishing meccas, to rich farmlands and mystical deserts. One of Central Utah's best historic and cultural attractions in is Heritage Highway 89. South of Price, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry has the densest concentration of Jurassic-era dinosaur bones on the planet. From there, it's an easy jaunt to the San Rafael Swell. While "The Swell" may not be a national park, it boasts remote canyons and awesome views that rival those found anywhere in the state.


Southern Utah: Inspiring, Spectacular and Unlike Any Other Place in the World

Southern Utah is a land of unsurpassed, surprising beauty, characterized by contrasting landscapes of snow-capped mountains; towering fins of orange sandstone cut by erosion into bridges, arches and strange "hoodoos" of sculpted red rock; dramatic faults where the earth twists; and gentle, rolling hummocks of "slickrock." You'll want to plan some extra time in this place. To be precise: Top 10 Bucket List Destinations and fulfilling life lists can be built around Southern Utah alone.

Experience The Mighty 5: Utah's National Parks

Experience The Mighty 5: Utah's National Parks
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Fun Fact

Sunrise at the Mesa in Canyonlands National Park just north of Moab, Utah
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Only in Utah can one explore the National Park Service’s Mighty 5 – Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion.

Skiing at Snowbird resort near Salt Lake City, Utah
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There is a science to The Greatest Snow on Earth®. According to research by atmospheric scientist Jim Steenburgh, the climate conditions of the Wasatch Mountain create optimal “flotation,” a term describing the density of snow, which makes Utah snow among the best for deep-powder skiing and snowboarding.

Photo: Scott Markewitz Photography

Must see places

Incredible scenery in Utah's Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

The sandstone masterpieces, from 120 to 300 meters tall, on the remote border with Arizona are among the most photographed points on Earth. Hike a trail, take a guided tour and see buttes and mesas.

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Historic Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

Historic Temple Square

The 4-hectare Salt Lake City complex, with gardens and historic buildings and museums, is one of Utah’s top tourist destinations. Book a free tour of the site, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Bison grazing at Antelope Island State Park in Utah

Antelope Island State Park

In this 11,300-hectare park, hike, bike, ride horseback, boat, camp and see animals – including antelope and bison – on a nearly deserted swath of land that juts into Great Salt Lake, northwest of Salt Lake City.

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Stunning canyon scenery at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Covering an astounding 508,000 hectares, this park encompasses the area around Lake Powell and lower Cataract Canyon. On the water and in the backcountry, go boating, hike near canyon walls and be amazed by geologic wonders. 

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Wading and hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park

The Narrows

The section is the narrowest portion of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park. Hike along the gorge, which has walls more than 300 meters tall and where the Virgin River is sometimes just six to nine meters wide.

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Paddleboarding at Bear Lake State Park in Utah

Bear Lake State Park

Find sandy beaches and intense turquoise-blue water at this lake, which is called the Caribbean of the Rockies. Fish, boat, ski, swim and camp around the 280-square-kilometer lake on the Utah-Idaho border. 

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Looking up at the starry sky and Owachomo Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
Jacob W. Frank

Natural Bridges National Monument

Don’t miss nighttime in the world’s first International Dark Sky Park, located in Southern Utah near Lake Powell. One of many Dark Sky Parks in Utah, Natural Bridges is still recognized as one of the best for its low light pollution, brilliant stars and dramatic landscape, which can also be explored in the daytime.

Hiking at Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park

Between the towns of Hanksville and Green River, discover otherworldly beauty in The Valley of the Goblins, home to sandstone formations resembling goblin-like creatures. Within this state park, three main trails lead you to scenic overlooks and immerse you in the mystical landscape. An added bonus: Visitors are allowed to wander off trail to get a closer look or photo.

Incredible mountain views while skiing at Park City Mountain Resort
Scott Markewitz Photography

Park City Mountain Resort

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting or accessible playground for winter sports lovers than this resort featuring slopes on nine mountains, three terrain parks and access to even more snow at adjacent Canyonlands Resort. Located just 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, the resort also boasts luxury accommodations and easy access to all the dining, shopping and entertainment of Park City itself.

Crossing under a tunnel carved into the red rock along Scenic Byway 12 in Utah

Scenic Byway 12

Be endlessly inspired by the scenery and history along this designated All-American Road, also known as “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.” The 198-kilometer route connects Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks in Southern Utah. You’ll drive winding mountain roads and seemingly endless straightaways, while spotting view after view of red rock and sandstone formations, plunging canyons, aspen and pine forests, idyllic meadowlands and more.

Hot air balloon over Asheville, North Carolina
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Riding an ATV at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, Utah
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Riding an ATV at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, Utah
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