We never thought we could fall in love with the desert, but southern Utah proved us wrong. Our goal was to visit Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks with a twelve-day road trip starting and ending in Las Vegas. Instead of telling you all about it, we thought you might enjoy a short postcard tour of our favorite natural wonders from southern Utah.
Postcards from Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park was everything we hoped it would be, grand and unique.
We were most surprised by just how much vegetation and life filled this “Grand Canyon in the making.” Mule deer and very cheeky chipmunks were in abundance, but we even spotted a herd of big horn sheep crossing the road.
Want to know the best place to watch sunrise at Zion National Park?
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Postcards from Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Zion gets all the hype, but it was Bryce Canyon National Park that kept part of our hearts.
The highest peak on the canyon’s relatively flat rim sits at 9,100 feet (2,778 meters). For us eastern North Americans, Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi is only 6,684 feet. We could really feel the difference in altitude.
Other than its elevation, Bryce Canyon is also known for its hoodoos. We felt like tiny ants in a labyrinth walking amongst these massive pinnacle shaped rock formations.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef is the least visited national park in Utah, but we found it no less deserving of our time. Actually, it had little samplings of what all the parks are known for, from petroglyphs to natural arches, to slot canyons.
Postcards from the Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Though Bryce Canyon was our favorite of the parks, Canyonlands was a close second place.
There are four districts of the Canyonlands, most of which are unreachable without an ATV. We visited the area known as the “Island in the Sky.” As we looked down on the various layers of the canyon below, we felt the name was fitting.
Dead Horse Point State Park
You could probably tell from this postcard; we didn’t have the greatest weather in Dead Horse Point State Park.
We went to the park for sunrise and instead were met by this massive storm quickly sweeping across the canyon. As the first drops of rain reached us, the sky let out a terrifying boom. Luckily, we made it safely to the car to wait out the hail and snowstorm. We were still able to get some great photos before we left.
Arches National Park
We weren’t prepared for just how popular and crowded The Arches National Park gets. Though it’s beautiful, we found it hard to escape the masses here.
However, with over 2,000 documented arches in the park, it is quite impressive.
Postcards from Around Moab, Utah
While looking for ways to escape the crowds, we found some Bureau of Land Management hiking spots in Moab. Not only were these spots a lot less crowded, but they were also free to visit.
With arches, petroglyphs, and even dinosaur footprints, these hikes rivaled anything found in the national parks.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
We visited Cedar Breaks National Monument twice.
The first time we were on our way to Bryce Canyon when we heard the aspen trees at Cedar Breaks were peaking in their fall color.
Only eight days later we returned to find the amphitheater blanketed in snow. What a difference a couple of days made!