By Michael Lanza
All of America’s 59 national parks possess special qualities and scenery, without a doubt. But southern Utah’s concentration of unique and awe-inspiring landscapes sets its five parks apart from the rest—and they’re each quite different from one another. Arches has more than 2,000 natural stone arches, as well as hundreds of soaring pinnacles, giant fins, and balanced rocks. Bryce Canyon holds the world’s greatest number of hoodoos, or bizarrely shaped pinnacles created by erosion.
Canyonlands is a vast wonderland of multi-colored cliffs, deep canyons, tall spires, and two major rivers. Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile-long, jumbled ridge of solid rock, conceals sandstone domes, natural bridges, beautiful canyons, and bighorn sheep. And Zion, Utah’s first and one of America’s flagship national parks, defies easy description from the 2,000-foot cliffs of Zion Canyon to a backcountry filled with geologic anomalies.
The gallery below contains photos from adventures dayhiking, backpacking, and paddling in Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Park. I think you’ll find inspiration and ideas in those images for future trips of your own.
You’ll find stories about all of the places shown in these photos at The Big Outside, along tips for taking each trip yourself. Scroll down to Utah on my All Trips By State page for a menu of all Utah-based stories at this blog, or click on thebigoutside.com/tag/utah-parks for a multi-page menu of stories about Utah national parks.
See the All National Parks Trips page for a menu of all stories about national parks adventures at The Big Outside.
Read about my National Outdoor Book Award-winning book, Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, which chronicles the year my family spent taking wilderness adventures in 11 parks threatened by climate change.
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