Utah is all about National Parks. There are quite a few of these gems in the state and other places which have not achieved that rarefied status are almost as spectacular. Geology has blessed this region with incredible canyons and other erosional features. Here are my choices of the best of Utah. A photo album will follow shortly.
1. Bryce Canyon National Park – This fairytale landscape of sandstone pinnacles called hoodoos adorning vast amphitheaters of bright colors is one of America’s premier national parks. Drive along the rim from overlook to overlook, reveling in the spectacular views, or pick a trail and descend among the hoodoos for an up-close and personal look at the effects of erosion.
2. Monument Valley Navaho Tribal Park (with Arizona) – The classic Western scenery of Monument Valley has been featured in many vintage American films, yet its vast panoramas still stir the imagination and humble us when we consider the power and beauty of Nature.
3. Arches National Park – Nowhere in the world are there more natural arches in one location than here. The power of erosion is on display everyday at this beautiful park. Take one of the many walking trails to discover hidden gems within the park.
4. Zion National Park – This upside-down version of the Grand Canyon puts visitors at the bottom of a valley looking up at the sheer cliffs and interesting formations. The checkerboard mesa section of the park showcases ancient sand dunes sculpted into beautiful stone mounds.
5. Dinosaur National Monument (with Colorado) – See partially excavated dinosaur bones and learn about the Jurassic Age and the changes which have taken place in this landscape since the time of these great behemoths.
6. Canyonlands National Park – Here is another location where the Colorado River has gouged out a long series of canyons as this part of America was uplifted. Dramatic lookouts allow visitors to see the river winding for miles.
7. Capitol Reef National Park – In this park, visitors can drive or walk along a dramatic ridge created as a section of the continent was uplifted. Another section of the park displays the "graffiti" of pioneers who participated in the great Western Expansion in America.
8. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – This huge area of canyons and buttes preserves another example of the power of erosion on sandstone. Drive along Highway 12 through the region and admire the views along the way.
9. Salt Lake City – Utah’s capital is a pleasant place and the headquarters for the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). The city is modern and well-laid-out. Temple Square is the main tourist stop here, where visitors can see the Mormon Tabernacle Auditorium, the Mormon Temple, the Seagull Memorial, etc., and otherwise become absorbed in this religion.
10. Great Salt Lake – This vast, shallow lake is so salty that few creatures live in its water. Those who venture into the water find that they float very high in the water, due to its density.