Utah Parks

Arches National Park

Over 2,000 natural arches curve up from the earth here, some seeming to defy gravity itself. According to the Natural Arch and Bridge Society, the definition of a natural arch is “A rock exposure that has a hole completely through it formed by the natural, selective removal of rock, leaving a relatively intact frame.” In other words, an arch is created mostly through erosion. If water played a big part in the process, the feature is called a natural bridge.

Bryce Canyon National Park

At 9,000 feet, Bryce sports unparalleled views of the surrounding mesas and mountains. Not actually a canyon, Bryce is an amphitheater that is home to hundreds of “hoodoos,” those spiky red rocks fashioned by wind into a multitude of wacky but gorgeous formations that point skyward. Nineteenth century cattleman Ebenezer Bryce was reported to have said “It's a hell of place to lose a cow.”

Canyonlands National Park

Utah is home to five spectacular and diverse national parks. The largest, at a massive 337,570 acres, is Canyonlands, an immense wilderness of rock at the heart of the Colorado Plateau. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, cutting flat layers of sedimentary rock into hundreds of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires. At center stage are two great canyons carved by the Green and Colorado rivers that have their confluence in the heart of the park, Cataract Canyon.

Capitol Reef National Park

Far off the main roads, Capitol Reef sees fewer visitors but has no less astounding scenic delights. The benefit of this is that you have fewer people to compete with for seasonal fruit picking in the park system's oldest orchards (peaches, apricots, plums, apples, pears, and much more), hiking to astounding views of the Waterpocket Fold, or overnighting it in the sandstone-blanketed backcountry.

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) spans nearly 1.9 million acres of some of America’s most remote and ruggedly beautiful public lands. From its spectacular Grand Staircase of cliffs and terraces, across the rugged Kaiparowits Plateau, to the wonders of the Escalante River Canyons, the Monument’s size, resources, and remote character provide extraordinary opportunities for geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists in scientific research, education, and exploration.  GSENM is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. President Bill Clinton designated the area as a national monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act. Grand Staircase-Escalante encompasses the largest land area of all U.S. National Monuments.  
There is very little infrastructure in the monument and the BLM intends to keep it that way  Only two paved roads are within GSENM - one US89 from Kanab, Utah to Page, Arizona on the southernmost end, and the other UT12 from Bryce Canyon City to Boulder bordering the north.   There are a few backcountry roads with traveler’s advisories in effect almost always.  Only one developed campground.  No motels, restaurants, shops and very limited cell service.  However, plenty of permitted guide services for hiking, pack trips, canyoneering, backpacking and photography.  The BLM has Visitor’s Centers in Kanab, and Big Water on US89 and in Cannonville and Escalante on UT12.  Kanab has several fine lodging properties, a variety of good restaurants and one of Utah’s best outdoor gear shops.  Panguitch has several motels and an old west Main Street. Smaller Escalante has very good, although limited lodging, eateries and shops.  VisitSouthernUtah.com  BryceCanyonCountry.com

Zion National Park

Utah's oldest national park is also its most accessible, being close to St. George and Las Vegas. Separated into two parts, the main Zion Canyon sees the lion's share of the park's 2.5 million annual visitors, while the far less visited but no less breathtaking Kolob Canyons area receives a more modest amount. Along with basic hiking, canyoneering and climbing are the two most popular activities in Zion.