Utah is probably my favorite place so far, even though my kids accuse me of saying that about every thing and every place we see. But I mean it with Utah, just stunning beauty in every direction. I honestly could see myself living here at some point. (I know, I know, add it to the list!) The towns in Utah are far spread and separated by miles and miles of buttes, mesas, mountains, hoodoos, rivers and canyons. The sandstone is bright red, the mint green and red banded mountains painted with various shades of the rainbow have mountain tops covered in white snow, and they’re all against a flawless blue sky. Then at night, those colors disappear into the pitch black night and a sky full of stars comes out.
Utah is also home to five national parks- Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. The parks contain some incredible scenic drives, pull offs for spectacular photo opportunities, short walks and long hikes, and educational visitor centers that usually show a short film about the park and have exhibits on everything from the park’s geology and botany to its wild life and history. We don’t do any long strenuous hikes or anything that requires special equipment, but we do like to get out of the car and go see the sights on some of the shorter trails. We really like to get out and touch the rocks and the brightly colored earth as well as feel all the plants that we don’t have in New York. The sights and smells and the air on our faces help us to take it all in. It’s an awesome feeling being among the nature and all God’s artistic creations.
Arches has bright red sandstone naturally eroded into arches and rocks impossibly balanced on thin pillars that seem too fragile to exist. Canyonlands is series of colorful canyons with the snow capped mountains in the background. It has such a wide variety of plants and animals because of the desert climate in some areas and a river flowing through in other areas, much like Zion’s similar variety of animals and plants. Zion, which has landed near the top of the kid’s favorite parks list, is red and white sandstone formations too. It has a tunnel over a mile long through one of the mountains with windows cut out every so often to see the view, it was a really neat experience. Capitol Reef is an old fruit orchard with historic buildings almost like a little town such as a blacksmith, a school house, and a store selling fresh baked pies. Beyond that, you can drive through the canyon floor, looking up from the bottom, unlike the view at Canyonlands looking down from the top. Bryce Canyon is unique; more red sandstone worn down through erosion leaving behind spires as far as the eye can see. You can see them from different elevations and catch glimpses of arches and natural bridges as well.
Red Canyon, located between Bryce Canyons and Zion, isn’t a national park, but in my opinion is just as beautiful and if you’re in the area visiting the national parks, plan a day at Red Canyon as well.
We’re in Salt Lake City now for Christmas, soaking in as much Utah as we can before moving on through Colorado to New Mexico.
*pic- a view from the top of Canyonlands