While not as famous as its fellow Utah parks, Capitol Reef National Park delivers the dramatic cliffs, canyons, domes and natural bridges you’ve come to expect from the heart of red rock country. Perfect for day hikes or week-long backcountry adventures, visitors can discover 200 million years of geologic history and pick fresh fruit and nuts from the 3,000-tree historic orchard. It’s a really sweet experience, but please remember to follow the posted rules and drop your money in the self-pay station. Photo by Douglas Croft (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Dinosaur National Monument offers a lifetime of places to explore. Depending on your interest and time, you can discover dinosaur fossils, Native American rock art, homesteader cabins, early 20th century ranches, remote canyons, dramatic vistas, peaceful rivers or windswept peaks. Some places are easily accessible from the monument’s roads, while others may require extended hikes or river trips. Looking down hundreds of feet to the Green River as it curls past narrow canyon walls, you’ll know it was worth the exercise. Photo by National Park Service.
Shifting light and dramatic skies make every view at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah unique. Along the rim of this natural amphitheater, visitors can look out over the forest of hoodoos from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point. Inspiration Point – seen here – offers an incredible panorama of this incredible landscape. Put it on your bucket list! Photo by Michael Barbuti (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Located between Monticello and Moab, Utah, is Canyon Rims Recreation Area. The exposed rock layers of the buttes, canyons and spires are 150-300 million years old and have been formed by erosion and weathering. It’s the perfect place for hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping and wildlife watching. While visiting, keep an eye out for mule deer and pronghorn antelope that live in the area. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
Little Sahara Recreation Area in Utah includes a vast area of open sand dunes located less than two hours from Salt Lake City. Small rolling dunes offer fun for the family, while climbing the 700-foot tall Sand Mountain is not for the faint of heart. Nearby is perfect of fat-tire biking on the dunes, sandboarding or skiing down Sand Mountain, and viewing wildlife in their natural habitat. The area is most popular during the spring and fall, but if you go in the summer, be sure to bring plenty of water! Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
Hoodoos are weathered rock formations carved by the forces of nature into fascinating shapes. Bryce Canyon National Park preserves the world’s largest display of hoodoos in a remarkable natural amphitheater. As sunlight and shadows move across the stunning landscape, the park takes on different moods, offering photographers chances for spectacular shots. This towering hoodoo is called Thor’s Hammer. Photo by James Fishman (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Did you know there are places in the world’s oceans and lakes that have yet to be mapped in detail? Lake Powell, a critical reservoir that is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in southern Utah and northern Arizona, is one such place. Scientists at U.S. Geological Survey recently set out to map the depth of the lake and examine bottom sediment using sophisticated sonar equipment. Early results reveal the lake floor topography in incredible detail. This study will provide information to the Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado River water users and the National Park Service to improve management of water resources in the Colorado River Basin and Lake Powell. Photo by Robert Cole (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The name Observation Point mildly describes the epic view from this overlook at Zion National Park in Utah. More than 2,000 feet below, the North Fork of the Virgin River winds through the lush canyon, curving around the dramatic fin of Angels Landing. If the elevation gain of the hike there doesn’t take your breath away, then the view surely will. Photo by Leslie Poole (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, intriguing petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure. Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike to spectacular views, the thrill of rafting through a twisting canyon, or sitting quietly and watching the sunset, Dinosaur National Monument offers a myriad of activities for you to enjoy. This photo is from the Cub Creek area, which includes hiking trails, petroglyphs and pictographs, historic structures from the monument’s homesteading history and more. Photo by National Park Service.
There are no live dinosaurs today at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, but there are other surprises. For most of its length, the Ruple Point Trail crosses a rolling terrain filled with sagebrush and juniper. Near the end of the trail, a short descent suddenly reveals breathtaking views of Split Mountain Canyon and the Green River 2,500 feet below. It’s a great reward at the halfway point of this 9.5 mile hike. Take plenty of water! Photo by National Park Service.