Utah's National & State Parks

Date

September 25 - 30, 2022

Location

Utah, USA

Utah is an absolute gem. It has so much to offer in both its National and State Parks and I had an amazing week exploring some of these spots (which was not nearly enough time). Looking forward to visiting again.

Date

September 25 - 30, 2022

Location

Utah, USA

Utah is an absolute gem. It has so much to offer in both its National and State Parks and I had an amazing week exploring some of these spots (which was not nearly enough time). Looking forward to visiting again.

April 9, 2022

Canyonlands

I had 3 days in Moab to explore as much of Canyonlands and Arches as I could. Initially I was much more excited to see Arches and Canyonlands wasn’t on the top of my list for must-visits in Utah, but I’m glad I didn’t skip it. It ended up being one of my favorite spots on this trip.

I ended up here on the first day because I found out at the Arches entry gate that they now require timed entry reservations, so I zipped over to Canyonlands in 30 minutes. First stop was the Mesa Arch. It was crowded with tourists and several engagement photo shoots, but well worth the visit.

It was a pretty easy day hopping from spot to spot in the car. Grand Point at the southernmost end of the park is stunning and well worth exploring. There are longer hikes like the Chesler Park Loop trail in the Needles portion of the park, but this is a 2 hour drive back through Moab and around to the other side of the canyon. This is on the list for next time.

August 13, 2022

Arches

I spent two half-days in Arches. Arches implemented a timed entry rule so I visited after that expired at 5pm (which worked out since the heat is so intense during the day). The first evening I drove down the scenic route and explored the Double Arch, North and South Window Arch, Turret Arch, and Balanced Arch area. All of these destinations are right next to one another and very easy to explore right off the road. I hung around for some astro photography and it was quite crowded with other independent photographers and photography classes.

The second evening I drove all the way through the park to check out Landscape Arch, which is about a mile off the road. I made my way back towards Delicate Arch for the sunset. There is a fairly challenging hike up to Delicate Arch and there were already crowds of people taking pictures at sunset. Astrophotographers were already set up here for photos. The prime spot for these astro photos puts you on a fairly slippery rock opposite Delicate Arch. It's a little tricky getting your tripod and moving around comfortably with your gear in the dark.

August 13, 2022

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point is right next to Canyonlands (you have to drive by it on your way in) and is a Utah State Park. It’s small and after an easy drive to the end of the road you’re treated to some stunning views over the canyon. I had a great time shooting some astro photography here as it was way less crowded than any of the National Parks I visited. 

Just before entering Dead Horse there’s a fork in the road and bearing left brings you down Long Canyon Road In my experience most of the road is closed for camping because of the protected animal habitat but there are some great, uncrowded views of another canyon down this way. I spent the night nearby at Horse Thief Campground for $20.

August 13, 2022

Goblin State Park

I only had a few hours in the late afternoon to visit Goblin State Park and it was virtually empty when I visited - amazing! After a suggestion from another photographer I opted to visit Goblin instead of Capitol Reef on this trip and I’m glad I did. You’re free to walk amongst all the hoodoos in the valley. It feels like Mars. The Three Sisters is a bit closer to the park entrance and definitely worth a stop. I found that oftentimes the State Parks, while usually smaller, are just as amazing as many of the National Parks but far less crowded.

August 13, 2022

Bryce Canyon

I managed to make it from my airbnb in Teasdale, UT to Inspiration Point in the park just in time for sunrise. Watching the Hoodoos in the canyon illuminate as the sun rose on the horizon was well worth the 4:30am wake up call. Bryce was super easy to navigate and is much smaller than I initially thought. It’s about a 30 minute drive from the park entrance to Rainbow and Yovimpa Points, the southernmost part of the park.

I opted for the Fairyland Loop Trail (8 miles, 1,500 feet) as it offers an amazing view of several portions of the canyons. It’s not terribly difficult since you gradually go up and down throughout the hike, but my timing made for some rough, midday sun. There’s not much shade so pack some water and sunscreen.

After a stunning sunset at Bryce Point I left the park to camp in the Dixie National Forest. It’s a free dispersed camping area and the road was fairly flat and I had no issue finding a camping spot.

August 13, 2022

Zion

I woke up on the later side near Bryce Canyon and drove the hour and a half to the Zion east entrance. After a quick drive through the park I arrived at the visitors center around 9:30am to a full parking lot. I managed to snag the last spot at the campground nearby. Zion was significantly busier than any of the other parks I had visited so far.

Pretty much all the hikes you would want to do are off the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Road heading north in the park. Only Shuttles are allowed up this road. It’s super easy to grab a shuttle at the visitors center and they make frequent stops along this road.

I made a quick stop at The Narrows (northern most point) and saw the river before making my way back to Angel's Landing. I proceeded up the West Rim Trail and after a number of switchbacks you arrive at the intersection that juts out to Angel’s Landing. It’s a super impressive rock face. While I was visiting the park permits were required to access this last portion of the tail out to the end of Angel’s Landing. There are some fairly exposed portions but there are chains attached to the rock to help with grip. In all it’s not an easy climb especially in the heat.

 Zion is truly beautiful but arrive early to avoid some of the crowds and parking stress and be prepared for all the tourists.