Utah’s National Parks

Utah’s National Parks

The entire state of Utah is beautiful, especially at the national parks. The air is clean, the landscape is constantly capturing attention, and the sky is so clear that at night you can see millions upon millions of stars. The different parks in Utah are a favorite for my family, they offer something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re an experienced camper, or a weekend hiker, you will find the perfect accommodation at one of the many national parks Utah has to offer. The two I visited this time are Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.

 

We stayed at Zion Mountain Ranch, a working farm and buffalo sanctuary about 10 minutes past Zion park. Instead of a traditional hotel or lodge where all the rooms are together, here there are individual cabins, where you can relax on your own, yet not be too far from civilization.

There is a heard of buffalo roaming the field, and quite a few horses that work the farm, but that doesn’t stop other animals from wandering onto the property. On our first day we were visited by a heard of deer and while exploring the property I found a few snow bunnies too.

Because there are no major cities in this part of the state, the light pollution is almost non-existent which is perfect for star gazing (if you’re brave enough to face the cold). ZMR also puts on a great New Year’s celebration, complete with a bonfire, floating lanterns, and fireworks that can be seen even from the comfort (and warmth) of your own cabin.

 

Bryce Canyon

DSC_0387

One word to describe Bryce Canyon National Park: breathtaking. Actually breathtaking is an understatement.

We started our hiking adventure at Sunrise Point, there is a lookout over the canyon where you can see a lot of the different rock formations. In January the red cliffs are covered in snow, creating a beautiful color contrast.

We took the loop trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point, about 4 miles long, and it takes you all the way down the canyon at one point, and up again in another. The views were gorgeous, we got to see some tiny arches, rock towers, even rock bridges.

After we warmed up a bit we decided to drive up the main road in the park to see some of the viewpoints. First was Inspiration Point, gorgeous view of the other side of the cliffs at Sunset Point. Unfortunately, the viewpoint itself was closed, so we had to look out from the rim trail that runs all along the ridge of the canyon, but the view was just as amazing.

Next we went to Bryce Point, and honestly, I don’t know an adjective that would do the beauty of that view justice.

This is the point where you can see the entire Bryce Canyon in one swoop, and it’s one of those views that make you forget everything else in the world.

IMG_2835

After a quick stop at the Natural Bridge, the only true arch in Bryce, we made our way out of the park.

Zion

DSC_0555

 

The park was extremely busy for a cold, winter day. We went on New Year’s Day, so a lot of people were free to check out one of Utah’s most popular national park. We started the day at Zions most famous point, Angels Landing.

DSC_0573

It’s a 2 mile hike going up the meandering slope until you get to Scenic landing, and then another half mile of very steep and difficult climbing along a narrow ridge ridge to get to the top. The last half mile is almost like rock climbing, where you have to hold on to the supports drilled into the mountain, or risk falling off. In the winter this hike can be extremely dangerous, with icy conditions making it very hard to climb even with traction devices. We elected to end our hike at Scenic Landing, because we were hiking with a 5 year old and it became a bit perilous at one point. The view from Scenic Landing is just as breathtaking, and you can say you climbed a freaking giant mountain if you made it to that point.

We had to slide on our butts half the way down because there was so much ice, and the one place I felt brave enough to stand up was also the place I had an amazing banana peel wipe out (so bummed no one caught it on camera).We also got to see a family of deer grazing as we were heading down.

Next we moved on to Weeping Rock, which gets its name from the water seeping in through the rock. In the  winter this water can freeze and create the most beautiful icicles. The path up to the rock had almost frozen over, there was  a thick layer of ice completely covering the path and hanging off. It was so gorgeous, but also kind of dangerous.

After weeping rock we went down to the Riverside walk at the Temple of Sinawava.  Here we got to walk along the Virgin River, in the summer you can wade through the river and explore a harder to reach part of the park.

After this we went back into town to get some much deserved  food.

On Saturdays it was time to start the long drive home. Before we hit the road me decided to stop at the Corral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

While this park is interesting, its more of a summer attraction. Its the perfect place for driving ATVs and sand buggies (or a 4×4 car or truck would be fun too).  After this quick detour it was time to head home.

 

Coming from LA, this part of Utah is always a breath of fresh air and the perfect way to pause everyday life. The snow and red rocks are a beautiful change of scenery to my usual skyscrapers and traffic jams.

24 Comments

  1. January 17, 2016 / 3:03 am

    Your photos make me want to go back! I visited Zion and Bryce Canyon 10 years ago and loved it. It was a rushed visit, so I hope to go back and explore properly.

  2. January 17, 2016 / 10:14 am

    Wow, I’ve always wanted to visit Utah and its great National Parks! Your pictures make me want to come right away. Great post, keep up the good work!

  3. January 17, 2016 / 10:19 am

    Wow, I’ve always wanted to visit Utah and its magnificent National Parks! Your pics make me want to come immediately. Great post, keep up the good work!

  4. January 17, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    Great post! I was at the Grand Canyon and Antelope national park last year, but didn’t went to those two. Fortunately I will be there again in summer, so I can finally go there! And thanks for the hiking trail descriptions, I will probably take those – the pictures are amazing!

  5. January 21, 2016 / 12:59 am

    I’ve been reading a lot on Utah at the moment and it’s really making me want to visit even more! I love your photos, what type of camera do you use to get such stunning shots?

    • January 21, 2016 / 1:06 am

      Thank you! I use a Nikon D60 for all my shots, it’s small (so easy to hike and travel with) but powerful.

  6. January 21, 2016 / 1:04 am

    Bryce Canyon is on my dream list and I absolutely LOVE your photos. Do you have any tips on accommodation in the area?

    • January 21, 2016 / 1:09 am

      Thank you! I would highly recommend Zion Mountain Ranch (where we stayed). It’s about an hour away from Bryce, but the drive is gorgeous and there’s plenty to see along the way. If you’re looking for accommodation closer, there’s always the park lodge which is inside the park, so it makes getting around easier, or there’s a Best Western right outside. Just be aware of when you go, the winter is beautiful, but many places (even whole towns) are usually closed for the winter season.

  7. January 21, 2016 / 1:12 am

    Beautiful photos! I had never given Utah much thought (I am so woefully ignorant of American geography 🙁 ) but am going to have to add it to my dream hiking list!

    • January 21, 2016 / 1:18 am

      You really should! Utah has 5 national parts (and tons of state parks) all with amazing hiking and views.

  8. January 21, 2016 / 1:13 am

    Wow, amazing photos. I’ve visited the US but unfortunately not the national parks. I’m crazy about hiking though, so I definitely plan to visit. The red rock is stunning, especially in winter. It reminds me of the outback in Australia around Uluru… although they definitely don’t get any snow there 🙂

    • January 21, 2016 / 1:20 am

      The parks are gorgeous in the summer too! And they are a bit less dangerous, with less trail closures. Definitely a must visit if you love hiking!

  9. January 21, 2016 / 1:17 am

    Your photos make me want to travel so much more in USA! Whenever I visit I tend to stick to cities, but now I want to head into the bush (forest? wilderness?) and check out these places for myself. There are so many animals to see as well! Stunning photos, thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • January 21, 2016 / 1:22 am

      Thank you! I also love the cities, but these nature trips are a whole different experience!

  10. January 21, 2016 / 2:06 am

    Amazing pics. I definitely need to visit Utah’s National Parks!

  11. January 21, 2016 / 2:21 am

    Thanks for sharing..it’s on our travel plan for 2017…not sure if it is my phone, but several of the pics were blank. The ones I could see were gorgeous!!!

  12. January 21, 2016 / 3:17 am

    Thanks a lot for sharing your pictures!
    I am looking forward to visit Utah soon!

  13. January 21, 2016 / 9:45 am

    I’m absolutely in love with Utah! I’ve been doing a lot of road trips there lately and I dont think I’ll ever get sick of it.

  14. January 21, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Thank you for your great post. I have visited all those places in the autumn of 2013. Very nice memories. I also like the way how the pictures are placed in your post.

  15. January 22, 2016 / 12:13 am

    Heard great things about Utah. Your post just proves that

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *